Seed Of Faith

Weekly Seed of Faith 8/7/20

Seed of Faith – Walk With God   By Pastor Dave  

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:21-24

Dear Faithful and Fearless Friends and Family,

As I have been reading and thinking about this message,  I thought about Enoch and his short story in Genesis 5.  We do not know a lot about Enoch but what stopped me was verse 22.  It was after Enoch became the father of Methuselah that we are told that he walked with God.  I have read this passage many times, but was never stopped by the fact that it was after Enoch became a father that he walked with God.

I think sometimes it takes children to bring a father to God. Here are a few lessons that we can learn from Enoch:

1. Be sure you are on the right path.  Before Methuselah was born, we are not told much about Enoch. But after his son was born, old Enoch finally gets on the right path. I do not know where you are in your walk with God. I do not know if you have been walking with God a long time or maybe you are like Enoch–waiting for a good reason to walk with God. Friends, it is never too late to start walking with God. Just DO it!

2. Be sure you are walking at the right pace.  I remember when our children and grandchildren were beginning to learn to walk. As a dad and paw paw, I had to really slow my pace so that their little feet could walk alongside of me.  Sometimes I set them on my feet so they could walk as Daddy or Paw Paw walked. Since moving our 88 year-old-father-in-law in with us,  I have had to relearn to walk at his pace. His eyes are dim, his feet are wobbly and his pace is slow. I do not know who you are walking with, or  with who God may be calling you to walk with, but I encourage you to walk at the right pace. Life and death hang in this delicate balance; learning this skill can bring such life if we only learn.

3. Be sure you are going to the right place.  The Bible says that Enoch walked with God and then God took Enoch up to heaven. Enoch went to heaven without dying. He went right into glory and he never died. But his son, Methuselah died. Who do you think was the first person who met Methuselah when he went through the gates of glory (after Christ, of course) ? I have a feeling it was Enoch. By walking with God, Enoch had led his son to the right place.  Remember that there are people following in your footsteps and learning from your examples.

When I was in the tire business, I would take my children to work with me on Saturdays.  I thought it would be good for them to see their father in his work environment. One Saturday, I took our son along with me.  Of course, we stopped in the morning for donuts, juice and coffee. We also made a stop at one of my customers and picked up a load of truck tires.  The truck tires were stacked high in the truck bed and they were hanging out over the edges. I could not see out of my rear-view mirror or out my side mirrors very well.  When we arrived at the tire store, one of my employees stood behind me to help me back up the truck into the shop to unload.  I opened my driver’s door and leaned out in order to see how close I was to the opening of the garage bay.  My son imitated me, he opened his door on the passenger side and was mimicking what I was doing.  The only problemwas that there was a cement pole by his door., When he opened his door, I backed up and the door was crumpled up by the cement pole. When I heard the crashing metal, I hit the brake and looked over at my son.  His eyes were wider than flying saucers.  Tears were beginning to fill them.  I pulled ahead and jumped out of the truck to make sure that he was not hurt.  I know that for sure he thought he was going to be in trouble.  I was thankful that he was not hurt.  I did not yell, I did not belittle him, I did not get mad.  I was thankful that he was not hurt.  I told him that doors can be fixed, and it was not a big deal.  I believe that morning I taught my son to walk the right path, at the right pace, so that we can get to the right place.

Enoch’s life is one of the shortest recorded in the genealogy. It is an amazing fact that Enoch never dies, he just walked with God all the way to heaven.  Yet, did you know, Enoch’s son, Methuselah, lived is the longest life recorded in Scripture — 969 years. Methuselah is the oldest person to live and we are told in the Gospel of Luke that Methuselah is in the genealogy of Jesus.  A fine example of walking on the right path, at the right pace, and ending up at the right place.

So What?
Maybe some earlier so what questions.
Are you walking on the right path?
Are you walking at the right pace?
Are you walking to the right place?

Walk in faithfulness!  Walk on the right path, at the right pace, heading yourself to the right place.  I pray that during this pandemic you do not panic.  I pray that during this time of uncertainty you find for certain the ONE and ONLY HOPE that is our anchor in all storms of life.  Our HOPE is Jesus!

It is never too late to turn over a new leaf in your life. What a great example we have here in Enoch. Enoch did not walk with God early in his life but after his son was born we are told that he walked with God.  Enoch ended up on the right path walking at the right pace heading to right place.  Enoch walked with God and never died!

Are you walking with God today? Know this: It is never too late to get on the right path and walk with God. My guess is that even when you’ve crumpled your life up, God is more concerned if you are okay than in punishing you. God is love, never forget that. Bring your walk to God and let our Father teach you: the right path, the right pace, the right place!

Join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific for some wonderful worship, fantastic fellowship through our online chats and prayer and our weekly message that will help you walk on the right path with God. We have been doing a series on John 4 called “Surprised By God.” May you be surprised by God this day, and every day!

Here is the link for the online service

www.theseedchristianfellowship.online.church 

If you miss the live online service you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the weekly worship service or just the weekly message. Please, during this time of the pandemic, FEED YOUR SPIRIT! Feast on God’s word.

Our YouTube channel is The Seed Christian Fellowship. Go to YOU TUBE online and be encouraged by The Seed–Jesus Christ himself.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/17/20

Seed of Faith – Jesus In My Heart   By Pastor Dave  

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,…” Ephesians 3:16

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers,

Over the next few weeks, our Seed of Faith will be looking at Paul’s powerful prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. I encourage you take this passage and read it over and over again for a week.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and strengthen you.  Here is the passage:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV)

Slow down this week and ponder all of the possibilities of being filled with the power of God!

The Apostle Paul emphasizes the activity and the initiative of God, the Father. This is not our work or initiative or activity, it is not something we could ever accomplish on our own.  This work of love does not happen if we think more positively, do more good works, or work harder. The work belongs to God and is all about the superabundant gift of God called grace!

Paul tells us that this work begins INSIDE OF US—our “inner being”; we are being given strength and power through the Holy Spirit so that Christ will be able to “dwell in our hearts through faith” and we can become “rooted and grounded in love.” Have you ever thought of that?  The Holy Spirit helps Christ dwell in our hearts through the exercising of our faith. Christ takes root…and grounds us and establishes us and grows us in His boundless love.  WOW.

This prayer is also a model prayer representing the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit strengthening our inner being with His power, Christ dwelling in our hearts so that we are rooted and grounded in boundless love; a love that is so deep, so wide, so long and so tall that finally—we become filled with the fullness of Father Creator God

Alexander MacLaren, a famous minister in Great Briton, gave six sermons on this passage.  In his commentary on this passage, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones  took two hundred and sixteen pages to search out the meaning of these verses. I wish we had that kind of time!  This morning I would like for us to put to memory verse 19:

“to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Where does the boundless love of God dwell?
 
“Where is the dwelling of God?” 

This was the question with which the rabbi of Kotzk surprised a number of learned men who happened to be visiting him. They laughed at him, “What a thing to ask! Is not the whole world full of his glory?” Then the rabbi answered his own question,  “God dwells wherever man lets him in.” [i]

What a powerful statement!  God dwells wherever we let God in! 

The questions for us today is:

·         where am I allowing God to dwell?

·         Am I being rooted and grounded more and more each day with the power of the Holy Spirit?

·         Is Christ dwelling in my heart?  In the original Greek, the word that Paul uses for “dwell” in verse 17 means “permanent residence, not a transitory stop along the way.”

Paul wants to encourage the people of Ephesus that even when times get hard, the road gets long, the way becomes difficult, the journey becomes too weary–don’t quit! Remain in the boundless love of Christ.

This brings me back to my homechurch long ago. I will never forget little Ben; he was all of 4 years old at the time.  He is the son of dear friends back in Illinois and Ben was going to have eye surgery.  On Sunday after worship, Ben’s family and a few friends gathered in the church office to pray for little Ben.  We formed a circle around Ben by holding hands and we went around the room and prayed.  We thought we were all done, when all of a sudden little Ben shouted, “Hey, what about me!?  I want to pray!”  We grabbed hands again and little Ben prayed, “Jesus, in my heart.  Amen.”  Wow!  What a prayer — “Jesus In My Heart.  Amen.”

So What?
This is what Paul is trying to remind the people of Ephesus, and you and me, today.  We are to keep Jesus in our hearts no matter what comes our way.  Let’s say it together — “JESUS, IN MY HEART!”

We are in uncharted waters. We’ve never been this way before but God has. The creator is not surprised. Ever watchful, ever guiding, we have a God who hears our cries. I just received a call from a dear friend. Her son started watching our online worship services and told his mom he’s rededicated his life to Christ. Sometimes, just those four words can still the storm: Jesus, in my heart. Sometimes, just those four words can build a bridge from chaos to peace: Jesus in my heart. Sometimes a little four year old’s prayer is more powerful than the pastor’s: Jesus, in my heart.

Thanks, Ben! God bless your heart!

Join us on Sunday at 10am Pacific time for our online service.  We are having a little sermon series on John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.  You join in the fellowship through a live chat, prayer time and worship.  The link for the live Sunday service is … theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

If you miss the online service, you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship and watch our YouTubes. or go to our website and click on icon for messages.

See you Sunday,

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/10/20

Seed of Faith – Hope and Dry Bones   By Pastor Dave  

“I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:14

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,

It with joy that I sit down to write a Seed of Faith.  It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty, confusion, doubts and fears that this message will bring you HOPE!  I encourage you to read Ezekiel 37:1-15.  Maybe your bones feel dried up during this time of quarantine and social distancing. During this time of staying home, I have had time to wait and read.  I have been reading a book by Dr. A. W. Tozer, author, and pastor.  Tozer wrote, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.[i]

In my reading, I was struck by verse eleven in Ezekiel, “Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’”

Do you feel like Ezekiel? Are your bones beginning to dry up? Or are they dried up already? Is your hope strong or is your hope gone? Do you feel cut off? Just today I have heard from two other men who texted me and said, “I’m really struggling, Pastor Dave. Please pray for me.” I heard from two men yesterday. The world has been dealing with the pandemic since March? Four months and it’s not over yet. I don’t know the answers but I do know the ONE who knows the answers.

I remember a time in my first church when I was going through a difficult situation. To be plain honest, I was wondering why in the world I ever went into ministry.  I had given up everything to follow Christ. I had planned to serve one church and retire in the Ozarks but things were not working out. The church I served was in conflict. Jac and I lived in southwest Missouri—30 miles from Silver Dollar City, which we dubbed “Steal Your Dollar City”.  One thing about Jac and I, we love to escape and get away where no one knows our name (opposite of “CHEERS”!) We got away just about every Sunday night. One Sunday night as the park was closing, we noticed that there were as many people flooding into the park as out of the park. “Aren’t they closing?” Being the extrovert, Jac asked someone who was heading into the gate, “Where are you headed? Isn’t the park closed? Are you the clean up crew?” The woman explained that every Sunday night there’s an open-air concert. We Turned around and followed the other crowd! We made our way into the rock-cut amphitheater and sat down in the back row. Little did we know that God had a huge blessing/gift waiting for us as we waited for the concert. The group walked out onstage and played. They were great. And, as usual, for a Christian band, the leader of the group began to witness. He said, “We’re going to sing a song and I want to ask you to remain seated until you can honestly stand and say, ‘Jesus, MY HOPE IS YOU.’” I will never forget this moment as long as I live. The band leader talked about the hope he had in God the Father, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. The leader said, “Please don’t stand until you are 100% sure that GOD IS YOUR HOPE” and they started to play, “My Hope Is You.” The scene was holy and humble. 

One by one the crowd began to stand.  Slowly at first.  “My Hope is You” by Third Day, listen to the words.

TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT MY SOUL.
IN YOU, O GOD, I PLACE MY TRUST.
DO NOT LET ME BE PUT TO SHAME NOR LET MY ENEMIES TRIUMPH OVER ME.
MY HOPE IS YOU.
SHOW ME YOUR WAYS.
GUIDE ME IN TRUTH
IN ALL MY DAYS
MY HOPE IS YOU.
I AM, O LORD, FILLED WITH YOUR LOVE.
YOU ARE, O GOD, MY SALVATION.
GUARD MY LIFE AND RESCUE ME.
MY BROKEN SPIRIT SHOUTS.
MY MENDED HEART CRIES OUT:
MY HOPE IS YOU…SHOW ME YOUR WAYS…GUIDE ME IN TRUTH…IN ALL MY DAYS…MY HOPE IS YOU.

I don’t know how many times they played the song. I was the last one in the crowd to stand. Yes, me, the pastor. I did not want to place all of my hope in God—I wanted to help God out. The Holy Spirit came into my life in a powerful way that night and spoke to my heart. Jac and I had given up everything we had, everything we knew in order to follow God’s call on our lives. I had actually been thinking that maybe I was not cut out for ministry after all. Maybe Jac and I should go back to selling trucks and tires. Keep our world small and comfortable.

And then the band played that song.

I knew that I knew that I knew that God had confirmed, yet again, our call to ministry. I was undone. Sitting and standing in a rock cut amphitheater, God reached down into my heart and said, “Your only job is to follow where I lead.”

I do not know WHERE your hope is. I do not know WHO your hope is in. I do know that many of us feel like the dry bones in passage from Ezekiel. The pandemic has shut us down. We can agree with Ezekiel, “Our bones are dried up. Our hope is gone. We are cut off.”

My prayer is that you will allow the power of the Holy Spirit to breathe life back into your dry bones. Here is a link for a YouTube for “MY HOPE IS YOU” by Third Day.

https://youtu.be/85XmMoYlTPU

Sit down and listen…and do not stand up until you can say, “I believe that GOD MY HOPE.” Worship our God, the healer of our dry bones. Think about all of the blessings God has showered your life with. Think of your life. It really is a wonderful life. I will be praying for you as you listen. I’m praying now!

An American with an English gentleman was viewing the Niagara whirlpool rapids, when he said to his friend: “Come, and I’ll show you the greatest unused power in the world.” And taking him to the foot of Niagara Falls, “There,” he said, “is the greatest unused power in the world!” “Ah, no, my brother, not so!” was the reply. “The greatest unused power in the world is the Holy Spirit of the living God.[i]

Our reading of the prophecy in Ezekiel tells us that the power of the Holy Spirit can bring life into dead bones. Do you remember the last verse in our reading from Ezekiel this morning?  “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”(Ezekiel 37:14)

The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring life!  The big, theological word for the work of the Holy Spirit is “regeneration.”  Regeneration: “to form again, to replace broken body parts with new growth, to restore spiritually.”  For all you computer techies, “regenerate” means “to restore signals to original wave shapes.”  I cannot tell you how to do that electronically but what I can tell you is that the Holy Spirit can! The HOLY SPIRIT’S JOB IS TO regenerate you!  The Holy Spirit wants to form you into the image of Christ!  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken parts of your life.  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships between us…between you and God—all because of sin.  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships we have and wants to heal the brokenness of the world. And, BTW–by the way–regenerate is a verb so that means that the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit is not a noun (a thing, a place, a person) but the regeneration is an action!  The third person of the Holy Trinity—the Identical Twin of Jesus—the promised Holy Spirit, wants to form us anew, wants to replace our broken parts with new growth, and wants to restore us spiritually! The Holy Spirit wants to bring life into your dry bones. Holy Cannoli—think about that!

So What?
The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of power!  The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of fullness so that we can be God’s witnesses to others! The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of hope!

We started with A. W. Tozer; we will end with Tozer:

Ninety-five percent of what the early church did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What if the disciples had not listened? What if they had not waited like they were instructed?  What if they had gone out in their own power?

Here is the real “so what” for us: Put yourself in the story! You are there in the Upper Room. Plenty of your friends. You’ve just witnessed the crucifixion. Yet, Jesus has appeared to you in this very room. You were asked to wait.

What are you waiting for?

Remember the Holy Spirit? Remember the regenerating work?

WAIT.

And soon they all received the power of the Holy Spirit.  They burned with a steady, inward fire.  They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon. They turned the entire world upside down.

Will you? Will we? Will the church wait for the Holy Spirit’s wind and fire to fill them? The pandemic has all waiting in one way or another. I’m praying for the regeneration of our generation by the HOLY SPIRIT.

Join us for worship on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time.  You can go to theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 a.m. Sunday and join in the fellowship with live chats and prayers.  You can join in the worship and sing your heart out.  You can joinin a study of God’s word.  If you miss the live service you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

May the Holy Spirit fill your heart and your “upper room”/home/work with the fire and grace and mercy of God’s love.  May the HOPE of the Lord be your strength and joy as your dry bones are healed.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/2/20

Seed of Faith – Freedom   By Pastor Dave  

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” Galatians 5:13

Dear “faithful & free” Seed Sowers,

This weekend we will be celebrating the freedom we have in our nation.  May we never forget the great cost of freedom and may we always remember the freedom we have in Christ.

When you hear the word “FREEDOM,” what are you are thinking? There’s all types of freedom: political freedom, economic freedom, financial freedom, there’s free speech, free will, free-lance, free-fall, free for all, and/or free agent.  This coming Saturday, our nation has a day set aside to remember our freedom: July 4th, Independence Day!

Webster defines “freedom”: “the state or quality of being free; exemption or liberation from control of some other person or some arbitrary power; liberty; independence.”[i]

The Greek word for “freedom” that our good friend, Paul, uses in Galatians 5:1 is “eleutheria” which is pronounced “el-yoo-ther-ee’-ah.”  Paul is talking about the liberty that is found only in, and through, Jesus Christ.

The concept of freedom in the New Testament is freedom from the law, freedom from sin and freedom from death.  This kind of freedom was achieved by Christ on the cross. Christ was ultimately free from the law, from sin and death!

Atop the hill in Washington D.C. stands the Capitol building of the United States of America.  The cornerstone was laid in 1793 but the crowning touch is the statue on top of the rotunda known as the “Freedom Lady” placed there in 1863.  The “Freedom Lady” stands nearly 20 feet tall and stands proudly atop the dome.  A crest of stars frames her face.  A shield of Stars and Stripes is in her left hand. How did the Freedom Lady find her way to the top of the Capital building?

“Freedom Lady” was sculpted in Rome and brought to America aboard a sailing ship.  During the trip across the Atlantic, a fierce storm developed.  The captain ordered all cargo to be thrown overboard in order to lighten the load.  The sailors wanted to throw the heavy statue overboard, but the captain refused, shouting over the wind, “No! Never! We will flounder before we throw ‘Freedom’ away.”  “FREEDOM” was saved, and the statue now stands above the dome–because one man stood for “FREEDOM.”

When I think of America, I think of freedom!  In a few days people will be celebrating Independence Day.  With Covid 19, all of our normal and familiar 4th of July activities will not be taking place like they have in years past. Many people will not travel to see loved ones; most will stay home.  Some will BBQ and have their own fireworks, while others will go on picnics or hikes. My guess is there will not be very many hometown parades or fireworks displays.

This can lead us to stop and pray, and to stop and think about why we celebrate our country’s freedom in the first place. There’s a great question: Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

In order to answer this question, we need to go back and search our US History. We celebrate this July 4th because of what happened in 1776!  We celebrate the actions of other people—people we only know about by reading history books. We celebrate the actions of Americans who lived without electricity, running water, regular mail service, internet, cell phones or Super Walmarts!  Think about it, what a stark existence these Americans were willing to fight for.

The Declaration of Independence was written to break the stranglehold of tyranny.  Oppression, abuse, removal of rights, false justice and punishment were the charges that were brought to the King. There’s a Scriptural comparison found in a writing of Paul, the apostle. For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.

Today I want you to think about three things:

1. the purpose of freedom,

2. the perseverance of freedom

3. the person of freedom.

THE PURPOSE OF FREEDOM
The purpose of our freedom is defined in Galatians 5:  “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”  In Christ we are set free from a set of rules.  Did you know that by the time of Christ, the Jewish leaders had taken the Ten Commandments and had added over 600 rules to live by? Jesus Christ has set us free from the Law—from a set of over 600 rituals.

Over the next few weeks of this summer, I want to talk about worship.  I will use John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well as our springboard for worship.  We are going to look at “Why We Do What We Do.”  In Michael Horton’s book, A Better Way; Rediscovering The Drama of Christ-Centered Worship, he gives an illustration of great revivals of worship.  Horton says, “When God’s people understand who God is, who they are in His presence, and what is happening to them when they come into His presence, not only their minds but their hearts are transformed.”[i]

John Calvin called worship “the great theater”[ii] in which God descends to act before a watching world.

Have you ever thought that maybe the purpose of our freedom in Christ is for us to truly accept who we are in Christ?  Do you know who you are in Christ? My last thought that I want you entertain is this: What two laws did Jesus establish for believers to obey? (Love God. Love others as you love yourself?) Doesn’t it seem foolish then to trade the freedom you now have in Christ in these two laws for a different (or former) yoke of slavery? Pray about this.

THE PERSON OF FREEDOM
“It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”  It is Christ who set us free–not the “Freedom Lady,” “Statue of Liberty,” “Declaration of Independence,” or the “Constitution.” Though all of these are good and give us freedom, true freedom comes from Christ alone.  In John 8:32, ?”Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” and later on in John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“So what?” do these ancient words have to share with us today?  What does freedom really mean to me?  Are we free from the law?  Are we free from sin? Are we free from death?

With the shut-down, I have a lot of time to think and pray.  I’m thinking about this SEED OF FAITH.  I’m deep in thought about the true meaning of worship. I really want you to read John chapter four this next week. It’s been since March that we have not been able to go into our physical buildings in order to attend church.  This is what I’ve been pondering: WORSHIP. Did I go to church on Sundays prepared to worship God?  Do I honestly  understand that I have been set free from 600+ rituals?  Do I realize that my great God entered my life by sending Christ to set me free?  Isn’t this the truth of why we worship?

This week don’t just celebrate our country’s 244th birthday as a free nation! Celebrate your freedom in Christ! Celebrate your freedom from adhering to 600+ rules and regulations! Celebrate loving God and loving others! And truly stop and think about this: am I honestsly ready to return to worship?

This whole covid-19 has deeply affected each one of us. One thing I know, God is God. I am not. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart when I was 12. My oldest brother had been killed in a car accident. Thirteen years later, I rededicated my life to Christ and have followed these two laws: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS AS I LOVE MYSELF. I am forgiven and I am set free because of the cross of Christ.

Join us live on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific time for worship at

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

You can chat, pray and fellowship with others as we worship in the freedom of Christ.  If you miss the live worship on Sundays, you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship and watch the weekly service or just the Sunday Message. This Sunday my wife is back giving the kid message because our awesome Miss Sherri is traveling home from vacation. What I want you to know is that the Holy Spirit is still busy working in the body of Christ–even as we are apart from one another. Miss Jac is doing a July 4th message on cupcakes: same but different…and different is okay. JOIN US!

See you Sunday

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Michael Horton, A Better Way; Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mi.; 2002

[ii] John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, Psalms III:12, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mi.; 1998

[i] David Guralnik, Webster’s New World Dictionary, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York,; 1972

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/25/20

Seed of Faith – Surely – Goodness and Mercy  By Pastor Dave  

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” Psalm 23:6

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and SHEEP brothers and sisters in Christ,

For the past five weeks, we have been  taking a journey with our Good Shepherd. We have been sharing together a slow, but wonderful, walk through the six verses of Psalm 23. I pray that our walk with the Good Shepherd has given us a fresh, new and life-giving perspective on the goodness and mercy of our Great Shepherd.

Psalm 23 is about security!  Security found in the promises of God.  Security found in the provision of God. This Psalm also speaks to me of confidence — the kind of “Tarzan chest thumping, end-zone dancing, we will ROCK you” confidence.  This Psalm oozes with confidence.

Why is this Psalm so confident? 
How can it be so confident? 
What is the secret to the confidence found in this Psalm?

The answer is found here in verse six.  There is one word that summarizes the entire Psalm: “SECURITY!”

Where does this security come from? Our security is found in the goodness and mercy of God! This Psalm is all about being secure in God’s love and care as we journey through green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, valleys of the shadows, dining at the table in the presence of our enemies, and finally going home with our Good Shepherd eternally, forever and ever.

Listen to the verse again, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”   Did you catch it?  Did you hear it?  It is the very first word.  Surely.

Heads up: don’t miss this word: “SURELY!”

The psalmist did not say, “ Well maybe, it could be, or possibly.” The writer didn’t say, “I have a hunch, or this sounds like a good idea.” Nope. Nada. The psalmist said, “SURELY!”

I like Webster’s definition, “surely”: “safe, secure, will not fail, always effective, can be relied on, depended on, trustworthy —cannot be doubted, questioned, or disputed; absolutely true.”[ii]

The Hebrew word for “surely” is “awkal,” and it is used as a marker for emphasis in the Hebrew language.  This marker wants to tell us something important: God is SURELY with YOU and because God is with you, YOU can be secure!  David is telling us: What goes before this word and what follows this word (surely) can be relied on, depended on and is trustworthy! In other words that you might understand better:

TAKE IT TO THE BANK! THIS PROMISE IS 100% BACKED UP BY GOD’S SECURE PROMISES!

What words follow “surely”?  Goodness and mercy. Go through this entire Psalm and know:  God is your shepherd and you shall not want. You will lie down in green pastures; you will be led beside still waters; you will be restored! Our good shepherd will leads you in right paths. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death—you will fear no evil because God’s rod and staff– will comfort you. There will be a table prepared for you in the presence of your enemies. You will be anointed with oil; and your cup is promised to overflow.  And…if you’re not certain of all of this…the psalmist says the one word above all the others: SURELY! Take it to the bank, dear sheep, because GOD’S goodness and mercy will follow each one of us all the days of our lives, and we are promised that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord our whole life long. SURELY! I think of, “I PROMISE.”

In his book God’s Psychiatry, Dr. Charles L. Allen told of a man who came to see him. This fellow had risen to the top of his company, but along the way he had lost his peace of mind. He was a worried, tense, sick man. He had been to doctors and taken bottles of pills, but nothing helped. Dr. Allen took out a sheet of paper and wrote a “prescription” for the man. He prescribed the Twenty-third Psalm five times a day for seven days. He insisted the man carry out the assignment to the letter. Upon awakening each morning, the man was to read through the psalm carefully, meditatively, and prayerfully. Immediately after breakfast, he was to do the same, then after lunch, again after dinner, and finally the last thing before going to bed. Allen gave the prescription with the confidence that it would work, because he had given out that same advice many times, and it had never failed. “That prescription sounds simple,” he wrote in his book, “but really it isn’t. The Twenty-third Psalm is one of the most powerful pieces of writing in existence, and it can do marvelous things for any person. I have suggested this to many people, and in every instance where I know it was tried, it always produced results. It can change your life in seven days.”[iii]

Now listen to the promise from Paul in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

SURELY…be convinced…take God’s word to the bank of heaven…and be convinced that there is nothing in all creation that can separate you from the love of God—found in Christ, our good Shepherd! You see, this psalm has nothing to do with us being anything but sheep! We are sheep, we are always going to be sheep. God is the action maker:  GOD is our GOOD SHEPHERD…GOD WILL LEAD US, FEED US, GUIDE US, ANOINT US, and CARE AND LOVE US…and nothing can ever separate us from our Good Shepherd–not death, not a motorhome trip from Florida to California, not covid 19. NOPE. NOTHING.

Speaking of a 2,600 mile motorhome trip,  I had some great alone, driving time! I was reminded of the first time I came to California in the summer of 1999. I came to do an interview for a church in Upland, California.  I had been interviewing with other churches at the time, in fact, I was getting close to accepting a call from a church in Boca Raton, Florida. Then the Upland church called and asked me to fly out and do an interview with them. I am going to tell you the truth, I did not want to go to California but our oldest daughter was in graduate school at BIOLA in Southern California.  The church said, “We think you’re the guy, so come and stay a week and visit your daughter on us. We only want three days of your time.” It was the week of her birthday.  I thought it was a good idea, even though I thought for sure that I was going to Boca Raton, Florida. I will tell you the church in Boca Raton called me and offered me a “signing” bonus if I did not go to California for this visit.  I told them I had given the church in Upland my word and I will fulfill my word. We landed in Ontario, CA, for our interview.  The church put us up at the Doubletree Hotel.  That next morning I was reading my Psalms, Psalm 92. I got to verses12-15, and the Holy Spirit told me to look up. Right outside my second-story, outdoor balcony were tall, majestic palm tress. I know that this will sound strange but the Holy Spirit spoke right to my heart. “How do these palm trees grow? They grow straight and point their branches to heaven.”  Then I read the next part of the Psalm 92 where it talked about the cedars of Lebanon. Again, the Holy Spirit interrupted my reading and said, “Look higher.”  It was a clear morning and you could see the cedar trees standing strong up on Mt Baldy and Cucamonga Peak.  The next part of Psalm 92 is that the righteous will be planted like those palm trees and cedar trees–in the house of the Lord … they will bear fruit even in their old age. I started weeping. What you don’t know is that I had told God a long time ago that I would go anywhere he called me to go except to Alaska, New York or California. I knew at that moment that God was calling me to California. You see, I don’t boss my shepherd. My shepherd bosses me. I don’t tell my shepherd where I will or won’t go. My shepherd finds the right pastures, and still waters for me. Following my shepherd is my job. My shepherd’s job is to lead me, protect me, guide me–all the way home.

The Final word of Psalm 23 is “forever” and it literally means “from sunrise to sunset.” What I hear is that from my first breath to my last breath, from my first sunrise to my final sunset–I am surely safe in my Good Shepherd’s care…not just yesterday, not just today, but I am safe FOREVER! (Think about that the next time you enjoy a sunrise or sunset.)

SURELY and FOREVER what wonderful words!

So What
So what do these ancient words written thousands of years ago have to do with me today?

What are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” 

I cannot guarantee what your future holds, or what mine holds.  I cannot open the palm of my hand and tell you the length of your days, or how things will work out.  I cannot tell you who you are going to marry, how many children or grandchildren you will have.  I cannot tell you if you will succeed in your business, if you will be rich or in debt.  I cannot promise that you will not have your heart broken, that you will not be hurt or suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually or spiritually. I cannot tell you that you will not panic or face a pandemic. But I do know that I can trust the living words of our Good Shepherd.

What I can tell you is that you have a Good Shepherd who holds your future in His loving hands.  Listen, Psalm 139 states that you are wonderfully made. The GOD who thought you up cared so much about you that you’ve been provided a Good Shepherd to lead you home. The Good Shepherd’s goodness and mercy that this psalm talks about is the embrace of GOD around your past, your present and your future.

TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!

The LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD — that is all we need.

In this very unpredictable and unstable season, we can be secure. We have all the security we will ever need: Jesus Christ, a cross, and an empty tomb–talk about a GOOD SHEPHERD.

Join us this Sunday for our online worship service at 10 A.M. Pacific.  You can chat and offer up your prayer concerns.  The link for the online service is  — theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

If you miss the online service you can always watch our complet service or just the Sunday message on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship

May the Lord bless you with His goodness and mercy as you go this week, and as you go each day of your wonderful life. You are loved.

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[ii] Guralnik, David, Editor, Webster’s New World Dictionary, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970), 1432

[iii] Allen, God’s Psychiatry,13-14

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/20/20

Seed of Faith – My Cup Overflows   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers, and Lovers of GOD:

It is my prayer that as we go through this world-wide pandemic, with it’s shutdowns, slowdowns and stay-at-home times, that we will come to know one thing: our Good Shepherd will never leave nor forsake us. Are you having a difficult day? Pick up your bible and read Psalm 23, turn on a Christian radio station. PRAISING GOD will lift your heart, mind and spirit! In our home I say, “Alexa, play Christian piano music.” It’s the background music for most of my day.

We have been in Psalm 23 for weeks now!  I think it is providential that we are walking with Good Shepherd during this season of life.  Last week, we took a few minutes to look at the first part of verse five. Today we study and learn that our Good Shepherd wants to anoint our heads with oil and have our cup overflow.

Hear the Good News!  Hear or read the promises in the LIVING WORD that God has promised us repeatedly. As I have reflect on this passage, I have asked myself a few so what questions — maybe they are for you too!

Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a great and grand Feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do we hold back? 

Have you ever thought about these things?

Have you ever stopped to ponder this part of verse five?

“You anoint my head with oil.”
I wonder if many of us miss out on the great banquet table of the Lord because we do not know, understand, or are afraid of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. “In ancient Israel shepherds used oil for three purposes: to repel insects, to prevent conflicts, and to heal wounds.” Jesus gives us wonderful promises of the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John during the Upper Room Discourse found in chapters 14 through 17.  The promise of the Holy Spirit is that He will anoint us with His power.  The moment that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the moment you say that you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us to dwell within us.  We are sealed with this anointing.  Have you ever tried to unseal a coat of wax from a freshly sealed floor?  How hard would it be to unseal a freshly heated road of blacktop?  The word (bible) tells us that we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. It is this promised Holy Spirit who comes to comfort us, convict us, and guide us into all truth.  The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is a gentleman and anoints us with grace to live in the present, to reconcile our past and to hope for our future. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has come in to dwell within you and will guide you.  My prayer is that each one of us reading this message has been anointed with the gift and the person of the Holy Spirit. If so, you have Spiritual Gifts that are important to the body of Christ. (You may not know what you Spiritual Gifts are! Our website has a FREE Spiritual Gifts test on our website … www.theseedchristianfellowship.com  Go to the website and take your Spiritual Gift test.)

It’s true: You have been anointed by the Spirit of God. I love to think of the Holy Spirit as the spiritual identical twin of Jesus, that is comforting to me.  May this holy anointing help you to repel the enemies of your soul.  May this holy anointing help you to prevent conflicts in your life.  May this holy anointing heal your wounds.  A simple prayer you can pray every morning or at any time … “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your love. Guide me and teach me. Give me wisdom and understanding for today.  Amen”

Let us look at this portion of this verse in Psalm 23,  “my cup overflows.”
Not only is the table spread for us in the presence of our enemies, not only does the Holy Spirit anoint us with the oil of gladness to guide us, comfort us and convict us but the final promise of verse five is that we will be blessed with an overflowing cup.  In the Sacrament of Communion, we are reminded of the cup of redemption that was poured out in the blood of Christ during his crucifixion. “This cup is the cup of the new covenant poured out in my blood for the forgiveness of sin.”

Did you hear it, can I comprehend this?

This overflowing cup is the cup of forgiveness!

We are told to remember this every time we drink from the cup. We are made one (that is atonement—at one-ment) with God through the sacrifice of the Great Shepherd of the sheep who laid down His life.  This atonement (our at one-ment) takes care of our past, present, and future sin.  I believe that if you could grasp, comprehend, come to understand the idea that our cup of life is full and overflowing, that your life would change. May your cup overflow this day.

Maybe the so what question today is “How do you see your cup?” Is your cup half full or half empty!  Is your cup overflowing so much that you are drinking from the saucer? Truth is: your cup of life is overflowing with forgiveness.  Forgiveness of sin!  Forgiveness that will overflow into the lives of our enemies as we forgive them as Christ has forgiven us. I believe if we learn to live in the forgiveness of the overflowing cup for us then we will learn to become more and more forgiving of others, and we will learn to live as forgiven people.

Our cup overflows with unfailing, unending, and everlasting love.  God has loved us before we were created, and God will continue to love us throughout all eternity.  God’s love never end. and never fails. My prayer today that you will come to comprehend and, hold deeply in your heart, this overflowing cup that the Good Shepherd offers you.  If we would see this overflowing cup extended into our lives, we would be totally and radically changed. We would live our lives with a fresh kingdom view. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been made ONE with God.  Christ’s blood has filled our cup to overflowing.

So What?
So what do these ancient words written over two thousand years ago have do with us today?  Since we didn’t grow up in ancient Israel, and since most of us didn’t grow up on a sheep farm, we really don’t know much about sheep. We don’t understand about being a shepherd.   My guess is that we know a lot about computers, engineering, and education, but not about sheep.  The idea of sharing a meal is largely lost in our western culture.  In the day of David and Jesus when you were invited to share a meal, it was an invitation to dinner.  Their saying was “mikdash me-at” which literally translates intocome into my miniature sanctuary, my dining room and we will celebrate the most beautiful experience that life affords — it is called friendship.”[ii]  The invitation from the Great Shepherd is for each one of us to become friends, to come into the miniature sanctuary and sit at the banquet table prepared for us.  It is the wedding feast of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and this Great Shepherd anoints us with the power, comfort, and grace of the Holy Spirit. Best of all, there is a chair reserved just for you with your name written on it!

I am reminded of my little grandson so many years ago who wanted to play in the dog’s bowl.  Friends, we have so much more prepared for us.  Our Great Shepherd has painstakingly prepared a banquet table for each one us in the presence of our enemies.  Will you come to the table each day and allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you?  Our cup will surely overflow with forgiveness—for Christ has nailed our sin to His cross. Our debt is paid and we are forgiven. It is our turn now to begin living as a forgiven person.

There is an old hymn called “Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us”.  It is my prayer that we will allow our shepherd to lead us through the valleys of our life to the banquet table, the mikdash me-at, the miniature sanctuary of friendship with God.  God has provided for us in our past.  God is providing for us today and God will provide for us in the future.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

My closing prayer is verse two of our closing hymn.
“Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou has mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse us, and power to free us:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee.” [iii]

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online service, you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message (hint) on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I have a friend who always tells me, “I’m so blessed, Dave, that I’m drinking from my saucer.” That, my friend, is my prayer for YOU!
God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/11/20

Seed of Faith – The Shepherd’s Provision   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,
What a season we are in. I met with a group of 35 pastors from Rancho Cucamonga this week. How encouraging this was for me to know that I have 35 brothers and sisters in Christ from every tribe who are praying for our city and our nation and our world. Friends, you are not alone! Don’t believe that lie for one second. There’s an army of prayer with us.

I have been lifting you up in prayer.  I know that the times we have been living in have been tumultuous. The world wide pandemic, the recent protests, riots and confusion are all happening all around the globe. It is good that we can center ourselves in God’s Word. My prayer is that we will let the Words of life provide us with safety and security.

Today we look at verse five of Psalm 23.  For many scholars, there is another noteworthy  transition in the Psalm.  The Psalmist is bringing us home by telling us of the Good Shepherd’s past, present and future provisions. Let us listen to God’s Word for us today and may we hear how the Great Shepherd of the sheep has provided for us in the past, will provide for us today and will continue to provide for us in the future until we reach our final heavenly home.

Psalm 23
1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3. He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.
5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

I would encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Mark 6:34-44 when you have time to study and reflect on this Psalm and Jesus’s words and actions in Mark.

I want you to stop and think about God’s provision for you in your past, in today’s present, and in the future to come.  Stop for a moment right now and list ten things that you are thankful for, think of all God has given you. (pause) (Here’s my list: a home, a family, friends, sunshine, beautiful palm trees, water, toilet paper, sanitizer, masks, and the sun, moon and stars!)

Many years ago, when our grandson was only two or three years old, I had a powerful experience during a communion service that blessed my life. Normally our daughter, son-of-love and wonderful grandchildren attended the second service at church, and I rarely had the opportunity to sit by them to share in communion with them.  However, this communion Sunday they showed up at the first service and sat in the front row with me.  While I was holding my grandson during the service, little chunks of dog food fell out of his little overalls and onto my lap and then onto the floor. Our grandson, had been playing in the dog’s bowl at home and some of the dog food had fallen in between his shirt and overalls. He he carried it to church with him.  As I bent over and picked up the dog food, it hit me: how often do we settle for so much less?   Here we were about to celebrate in the Sacrament of Communion, the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup,and I was holding my grandson and a little chunk of dog food.

So What?
How often do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies …”
The Bible is the story of God’s provision in the past all the way through our future. If we were to start with the book of Genesis and follow it through to the book of Revelation, we would see, we would hear and we would read how God has provided over and over for His people.  God has done genuinely great things to show us His compassion, mercy, and love for us. From the Exodus wanderings in the wilderness to the Revelation River of Life, the Great Shepherd steadily provides a table for us–even in the midst of our enemies.

One of the most powerful illustrations of this table is found in the story of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.  This miracle story is recorded in all four Gospel accounts. (I say, “This must have been a big deal.)  In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we hear almost the same words at the beginning of the story. “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  (Mark 6:34)

The crowds were gathering around Jesus and pressing in on Him; He brought them up on a mountainside — a tableland — a mesa — and prepared a feast for them with fives loaves and two fish.  Matthew and Mark tell us how Jesus had compassion on the people for they were like sheep without a shepherd.  This is the same image David describes in Psalm 23.  We are so often like sheep and we so often act as if we do not have a shepherd. How in the world would the sheep be able to go through the dark valleys alone without a shepherd?  Would they ever be able to arrive to the tableland, the mesas of life—without a shepherd?

The first promise of verse five is that the Great Shepherd of the sheep has compassion on us and works to prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies.   The past few weeks, I have been asking you to take time to read the Gospel of John chapter 10. In this chapter we have the story of Jesus telling his disciples that he is the Good Shepherd who will lay down His life for the sheep.  In verse ten of John, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The way I see it, we have three battlegrounds we wrestle in: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every nation has their enemies, every person has their adversaries, every person has their own personal battles with self.

I appreciate what Keller said in his book, “It is rather fashionable in some contemporary Christian circles to discredit Satan.  There is a tendency to try and write him off, or laugh him off, as though he was just a joke.  Some deny that such a being as Satan exists.  Yet we see evidence of his merciless attacks and carnage in society where men and women fall prey to his cunning tactics almost every day.  We see lives marred and seared by his assaults though we never see him personally.”[i]

Keller used the illustration of the cougar that attacks the sheep, yet he never saw a cougar on his land, but saw the death and destruction that the big cats left behind. In his first letter. Peter tells us, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

The words Satan, devil, thief, enemy are used over 100 times in the Bible.  The Bible has much to say about our enemy, the devil.  We are reminded in Scripture that our enemy is alive and prowling around to steal, kill and destroy. Just look what has happened with this worldwide pandemic.  Look at the lives that have been lost, the physical sickness and the mental, physical, and emotional stress caused by it.

SO WHAT?
The Good News is that our Scripture has so much more to tell us about the victory we have over the power of the enemy.  We find our personal victories in the love of God, the compassion of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

David says that the Great Shepherd of the sheep prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemy. I do not know all the enemies and that you are facing. The enemies of fear, doubt, shame, and guilt.  The enemies of broken relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.  The enemies of financial debt and despair. The enemies of sickness, panic, and pandemics. The enemies of loneliness and isolation. We all have enemies.

So What?
Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a feast prepared for us? 
How often do you hold yourself back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do you hold back?  Have you ever thought about it?

I think we are afraid that maybe, just maybe, that this feast is meant for everyone BUT us. Maybe I have gone too far, or sinned too deeply or maybe I have been too bad to deserve a feast. Maybe I just deserve a P & J or a McDonald’s cheeseburger. A feast? In the middle of my enemies? 

That’s what God’s word says. Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of this pandemic. Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of your broken relationship.  Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of your illness. 

Don’t miss this: YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD IS GOING TO PREPARE A FEAST FOR YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR BADNESS, IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SIN, IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SLIPPING DOWN THE SLOPE OF LIFE. Why? Because Jesus is the GOOD shepherd who takes care of his sheep. The goodness part is His not yours. We’re in good hands if Christ is our shepherd.

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online serves you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I want to close in prayer, “God, thank you.  Thank you that despite my badness you have given me a good shepherd in your one and only Son, Jesus. Help me to stop running away. Turn me to the truth of your Word. Help my disbelief. Things are terribly crazy right now. I need your mercies. Thank you that they are new every morning.  Help me to slow down so that I can recognize them. Amen.”

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/6/20

Seed of Faith – Valley of Vision   By Pastor Dave  

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
Greetings from the GOOD SHEPHERD of our souls! I hope you have been enjoying this series as we journey through Psalm 23.  I pray that by taking our time these six verses will minister to you.  Today we study verse 4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.”

Psalm 23 has ministered to many in times of trouble, trial, danger, sorrow, grief, and death. In December, my dear friend of 20 years passed from this life to eternal life. As I type this SEED OF FAITH, my wife and his wife are zooming as they read “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser. They are doing a study on each chapter of the new edition with the questions in the back of the book. (A great read for those who hurt.) My friend’s widow knows we are journeying through Psalm 23, and sent me a copy of my friend’s Bible with his copious notes written on the pages for Psalm 23: “A Psalm for the Living not the Dead.  This is not the Psalm for my funeral. It is the poem for my life.”   Wow!  “A Psalm for the living not the dead… not a Psalm for a funeral but a poem for my life!”

Over these weeks as we finish our study on Psalm 23, I encourage you to write your own notes on how the Good Shepherd has been with you throughout the poem of your life.  You can even write to me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and let me know how this psalm speaks to you and why!

Long ago, I was a pastor in a church in Round Rock, Texas. A member of the church, Tom, told me he flew 104 combat missions during his tours in Vietnam.  In his combat missions, he flew over the dreaded Red River Valley–called the “thud” area. He explained that the “thud area” was where most of the F105’s were shot down–going down with a loud thud.  Tom shared that as he was flying to his destination, he would recite Psalm 23. When he came to verse four, he changed it to, “Even though I fly over the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  Tom’s plane was hit several times by anti-aircraft but he was never shot down.

How about we fly over this passage today?  Let us journey with our Good Shepherd through the valleys of life!

The first part of verse 4 teaches us, point blank, that we will have valleys in life. Maybe you are in a valley right now during this worldwide pandemic. Life as we have known it has been shut down. All of us are living in this valley today. Some of us go to work, exposing ourselves (and our loved ones) to the dangers of the pandemic. Others of us are sheltered and staying home in the hopes the virus will soon be under control. Talk about a dark valley. The real truth is just by living we will walk through many dark valleys. We will all experience trials, tribulations, temptations, hardships, addictions, suffering, pain, anxiety, grief, and so many other valleys. The hope I offer to you today is that it is exactly in these valleys of life where we develop our character.

Your first “SO WHAT?” is here. Write it down:

“What kind of character is God developing in me through this pandemic aka valley?”

What a loaded “SO WHAT?”

The first promise of this verse is that we will go THROUGH the valleys.  The Great Shepherd does not keep us in the valley of the shadow of death forever but promises to lead us through it.  We do not take up permanent residence in the valley. We do not build homes in the valley of the shadow of death. Right here in verse four we learn that the valley of the shadow of death is a valley we will go through. The valley of the shadow of death is not our permanent resting place; the valley is a passageway to the next mountaintop. The promise for us is that we will walk through the valley of our problems, the valley of our pain, the valley of our pandemic, the valley of our mistakes, missteps, and miseries.

There is a famous valley near Bethlehem where David, the author of this psalm, took his sheep.  Jesus also walked through this same valley as He traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem.  The valley runs from Jericho to Jerusalem and is called the “Wadi Kelt.” “Wadi” means “deep valley.”  This is the same route that Jesus would have taken in Biblical times. (You can read references to this in Matthew 19 & 20.) In Jesus’ day, this wadi was dubbed the “The Bloody Pass” or “The Way of Blood.” Could this be the valley that David is writing about? “The valley of the shadow of death”—seven words. But David puts a key word at the beginning of those seven words: THROUGH. Do not forget that, friends, we are following our good shepherd and our good shepherd is leading us THROUGH… THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. When we are in this valley, we do not need to worry or be frightened because our Shepherd has already passed through this valley himself.  Listen — when you are changing pastures, or changing locations, or facing difficulty, or even facing death, you can be assured that your good shepherd, Jesus, knows this wadi/route well. Jesus traveled the valley of the shadow of death on His way to the cross. Jesus fills this valley with promises of His presence and peace. There is resurrection light at the far end of the valley.

Here is the stark reality: One day our Good Shepherd will lead us through the final valley of the shadow of death.  He will take us to the mountaintop of life eternal by way of this valley.  He will guide us to His house–the one with many rooms where our personal room is ready and waiting for us.  This is the promise Jesus gave to His disciples shortly before he was handed over to be killed. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”  (John 14:1-3)

Do you hear the words of the shepherd and king, David, our Psalmist?  Do you hear the words of promise from the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who lays His life down for the sheep?  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you and me, a house with many rooms. Jesus has already passed through the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus has conquered the “bloody pass” once and for all. We are not to let our hearts be troubled, we are to trust in God and trust our Good Shepherd, Jesus. His promise is that He will come back for us.  The Good Shepherd will not leave us in the valley of the shadow of death—He is merely leading us THROUGH.

It reminds me of the children’s nursery song, “Going on a Bear Hunt.”

“We can’t go OVER it, we can’t go UNDER it—we must go THROUGH it.” 

Point 1: THROUGH!

Our Good Shepherd will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.
In March of 2000, I sat by my mom’s bedside and read Psalm 23.  This Psalm brought my mom much comfort during her final days.  As I sat there holding her hand, I reflected on verse four.  I shared with my mom that death is but a shadow. I shared that Jesus had already prepared her room for her in heaven and that soon Jesus was coming to bring her to her heavenly home. In February of this year, I sat with my mother-in-law as she was preparing to go through her final valley of the shadow of death.

Do you know for there to be a shadow, there must be a light somewhere? Jesus is the light of the world! Am I making sense? Are you hearing what the living word is saying? At the end of your valley of the shadow of death is a light. And that light of the world has already conquered  the way of the blood — the bloody pass — the shadow of death and has made a way for each one of us.   He is our Good Shepherd! He has gone to prepare a place for us! He will come again to bring us home! Jesus knows the valley. We can trust our Good Shepherd to lead us all the way safely through every valley we will ever face, even THIS valley.

Our Good Shepherd is with us—in green pastures, beside still waters and through the valleys.

SO WHAT?
So, what do these ancient words written thousands of years ago have to do with us today?  Do you know the Great Shepherd?  This verse speaks not only to the dark valleys of death; it speaks to all the dark valleys of life.  Some of us here today are walking through the valley of the shadow of death with a loved one.  Some of us are walking through the valley of the shadow of broken dreams, a broken heart, a broken relationship, a valley of financial debt, a valley of addiction. I know several people who are walking through the valley of physical pain. Each day they wake up, the pain is there with no relief in sight. I know of a woman walking through the valley of a heart attack. She had heart surgery, alone in the hospital due to covid-19. But was she really alone? Was our Good Shepherd with her, bringing her through this dark valley?

I close today’s message with a prayer from the old Puritan prayer book.  The name of the prayer is “The Valley of Vision”. (As always contact me, pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com if you want a copy.)

The Valley Of Vision
A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Edited by Arthur Bennett

Lord, High, and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision.
Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by the mountains of sin, I behold thy glory.
 
Let me learn by paradox
That the way down is the way up,
That to be low is to be high,
That the broken heart is the healed heart,
That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
That to have nothing is to possess all,
That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
That to give is to receive,
That the valley is the place of vision.
 
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
 
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty
Thy glory in my valley.

See you Sunday online at 10am Pacific time at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Or check out our Youtube channel and watch our services when you have time.

We will continue our journey in Psalm 23 next week. Until then, your “SO WHAT?” homework is for you to figure out if knowing that Jesus has already traveled and conquered the valley of the shadow of death–if that’s good enough for you. Do you fully trust your good shepherd?

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/29/20

Seed of Faith – RESTORATION BUSINESS   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pasture; he leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for His name sake.” Psalm 23:1-3 

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers,

Many of you know that this past week, my wife and I traveled by motor-home from Florida to California.  We brought Jac’s 88 year-old father-in-law to live with us.  What a journey of 2,600 miles with an 88 year-old traveler.  Andy was truly a trooper with all of the miles, gas stops, rv parks and daily traveling of 300 miles at the least! The trip was torture for him but he never complained. He did smile when the motorhome was safely returned and said, “My first and last trip in a motorhome is over.” Thank you to all who prayed for us. We could not have made the trip as well as we did without your prayers.

On another note, while we were still in Florida and during our trip home across the lower half of the USA, we had many family members and friends remodel our home. They put a bedroom in our garage and remodeled the downstairs’s bathroom so that my father-in-law is able to walk in to the shower. I owe a debt I cannot ever repay to these amazing people: Rick, Clay, Colon, Cassie and Tammy Warner. Thank you to the entire team of MY GUY construction with a special shout out to Mike, the plumber, and Charlie, the tiler!  Thank you to Javon, Jodi, Jaden, Jace and Juliet Collins who moved our entire garage into storage and took countless trips to the dump for us.  Thank you for all of the many things that were done in order to have the house ready for Great Grandpa and for us. Thank you to Don Eddy for the electrical work in the garage bedroom. Thank you to our son who helped us get a good price on our splitter AC/heat and who drove the final three days with us so that I had a break in the driving. Thank you to everyone who donated any time, talent or treasure. Our hearts are blessed beyond measure. Thank you for the prayers, the labors of love and the financial support.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying Psalm 23. The Lord, Yahweh, is our personal God who never changes.  What a comforting thought to know that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  What a consoling thought that our God is personal; we can claim Him as our personal shepherd. (The Lord is MY shepherd.) Our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us by still waters.

Have you ever thought about the image of God being a Shepherd? Do you know that the early patriarchs of the Bible stories were shepherds?  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers.  How about Moses shepherding his fathers-in-law’s sheep on the far side of the wilderness? (Maybe, you feel like you are on the far side of the wilderness during this stay at home time.)  What about Amos, the shepherd, who was called to be a prophet of God? Weren’t the shepherds the first to hear the Good News that Jesus Christ was born? Weren’t they the first to go and proclaim this Good News?  In John 10, Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd. He will be the gate that protects us.  Jesus will lead the sheep out to pasture and bring them back home.  The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and follow where the shepherd calls.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down His life for the sheep. These are powerful thoughts to pause and reflect upon as we prepare to break down verse three.

Is Jesus your Good Shepherd?

There is no better time than today to ask Jesus into your heart.  Ask Jesus, God’s Son, to forgive you, guide you and call you by name as He shepherds you.

I grew up in the farm country of Northern Illinois. While growing up, my three brothers and I spent many nights with our aunts and uncles who were farmers. One of my uncles had sheep and dairy cattle, the other uncle had pigs and raised corn and beans. The other uncle was a grain farmer with horses. During my time on the farm, I learned a lot about livestock and farming.  I learned that when a sheep fell over and landed on their back, the sheep could not roll over on their own. The farming term for this is “cast.”  If a sheep is cast, they lay on their back until the shepherd (or farmer) comes and restores them back to their feet. It was not a matter of flip the sheep right-side up, there was a process to this restoration. The shepherd reaches around the sheep’s body and lifts the cast sheep. The shepherd places the sheep between his legs and massages the legs until all the circulation has been restored, and the sheep can now stand on its own strength. If the shepherd does not find the sheep soon enough, the cast sheep would die from the lack of circulation.

I believe that this image of restoring the soul is what David is describing here in verse 3.  The shepherd knows His sheep and will find them and restore them back to life—even when we are helplessly flat on our back, our Good Shepherd will find us and restore us.

I want to spend a few minutes reflecting on the word restore. The word “restore” in Psalm 23 is one of the verbs in this sentence.  Verbs are action words. The verb “restores” in verse 3 is an active preterite verb which means the action is a completed action yet is always continuing.

Stop and think about the action of the Good Shepherd here!  The Shepherd has restored our soul; it is a done and completed task, but the Hebrew language is telling us that the Shepherd will also continue to restore our souls over and over and over.  “Restore” is used 93 times in the Old Testament and 108 times in the New Testament. (Sounds like a good word study if you just happened to be bored!) Jesus, our Good Shepherd, restores a crippled man’s hand, restores sight to the blind and restores life to the dead. I wish we had time to go study these wonderful passages.

One of my favorite restoration illustrations is found in Psalm 51.  King David, who wrote this psalm, had fallen into sin and was now cast down.  As King, David had sinned by having an adulterous affair with Bathsheba. When Bathsheba was found pregnant, King David orchestrated the murder of her husband, Uriah, on the batlefield. (Want to look up this story? II Samuel 11) David now pens Psalm 51, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12)

Restore: “to bring back, to return to a former condition, to repair, to mend, to furnish completely, to give back, to renovate.WOW! Did you hear that? Restore means to bring back, to return to a former condition, to repair, to mend, to furnish completely, to give back, to renovate. The former shepherd of the sheep is now a King and he has fallen. He writes, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Listen!  If God can restore a cast sheep like King David from his sins and failures, God can restore you when you have fallen and are cast down. This is the cry of verse 3 of Psalm 23, “He restores my soul.”

When a sheep is cast, they will die unless the shepherd restores their soul and circulation. How often are we cast down?  Psalm 42 — “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

SO WHAT?
I marvel at our Good Shepherd impressing upon us to study Psalm 23. How many of us have been cast down lately? Does this world-wide pandemic have you cast down?  Perhaps your sins have you cast down? Maybe stress has you cast down? Maybe sorrow over the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, the loss of a job has you cast down. Maybe just being locked in during this time of quarantine has you cast down. Maybe being an essential worker has you cast down. This message is for you!

Cast down by sin, sickness, stress or sorrow? Turn to the Good Shepherd who will restore you.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he RESTORES my soul.” As we close, hear the Psalm this way: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul: he brings me back, he returns me to a former condition, he repairs, and mends me. He furnishes me completely. He renovates me and puts me back on my feet.”

OUR PERSONAL, GOOD SHEPHERD IS ALWAYS ABOUT RESTORING US! The best thing I know to be true of God: GOD IS FAITHFUL EVEN WHEN WE’RE NOT. God always wants to restore us. Let Him. Open your living word (BIBLE) up to Psalm 136 and read about the steadfast love of God that never ends. Read about all God has done, is doing and will do for you. Listen, you belong to the GOOD SHEPHERD. He cares for you.

Join us on Sunday mornings at 10 A,M. Pacific time for worship at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church if you connect at 10 am on Sundays you can chat live with others, fellowship and share your prayer concerns.

If you need prayer email me or go to our website and click on the prayer icon and write out your prayer concern.

See you Sunday.

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/16/20

Seed of Faith – Green Pastures   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters;” Psalm 23:1-2

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and Faithful Friends,

As we move to Pentecost, May 31st, and the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church, we have been walking slowly through Psalm 23.  We are walking verse by verse. As always, I encourage you take this Psalm, or any Psalm, read a verse and stop and pray that verse. During this time of worldwide pandemic, Psalm 23 is a good idea.

In our last few Seeds of Faith, we’ve spent our time looking at this beloved psalm. we’ve learned that when the shepherd boy, David, wrote this Psalm he was declaring that HIS personal shepherd, MY Lord, My Yahweh, was unchanging. How comforting it is for us to study and know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday, and God will be the same tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).

I am going to digress for a minute. `

With this pandemic, our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. Each one of us is trying to find a new, different normal. Are we called to stay home? Are we called to stay away from others and stay safe. Our teachers and students are working from home, many of our business are closed or only open for drive-up. Many of our city, county and state offices are closed or working with a skeleton crew. Our churches are closed and the fellowship and communion we share as a community is now being done through the internet. We are so thankful for each and every essential workers, for all the hospital staff — Doctors, nurses, technicians, and support staff. We are thankful for our first responders, firefighters, EMTs, ambulance drivers, police officers and our military personnel. What amazing courage and bravery they show us daily. Pray they (and their families) remain safe from all harm.

As I was reading this week during my stay at home orders, I decided to read Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Do you know that Jesus’ longest teaching is found in Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7? Off the top of your head, do you know what the main theme of this teaching is? Worry? In your spare, quarantine time, go read Matthew 6:25-34. You will read profound words about worry:  Look at the birds of the air and how God takes care of them. Look at the lilies of the field and see how God takes care of them. Hear Jesus saying to you, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew  6:33-34)

We need to remember this: do not worry about tomorrow. The Lord, who is our Good Shepherd, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and the Good Shepherd has much to say to us if we only will STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.

Before we turn to God’s Word for us today, we come to throne of grace and mercy in prayer, “Lord, God, remind us that You are unchanging. Remind us that You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Remind us to put our trust in You. During this time of Covid-19, we need to stop our worrying and listen to You, our Good Shepherd.  We trust that You will bring us to green pasture and still waters. We pray that You will restore our souls and bless each one of us with a new normal. Lord, lead us in paths of righteousness and be with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Fill our cup to overflowing. O, great, shepherd of the sheep, help us to trust that Your goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives so that we will live with You forever. Amen”

A boy named Geoffrey heard that evangelist D. L. Moody was coming to preach at a nearby church. Geoffrey had walked all day to get to the church where the great man was to speak. When he was about to enter the church, a doorman noted Geoffrey’s unwashed face and shabby clothes, “You’re too dirty to go inside!” Geoffrey was turned away.

Just then a distinguished-looking man arrived. Seeing tears on the boy’s face, he asked the boy, “What’s wrong?” Geoffrey blurted out, “I came to hear Dr. Moody, but they said I’m too dirty to go inside.” “Here, take my hand. Come with me.” Geoffrey took the man’s hand and was led inside — where he was promptly seated in the front row! The man who had gotten out of the car, the man who had been holding his hand and then walked to the pulpit and began to preach was none other than D.L. Moody! Geoffrey had held the hand of D. L. Moody. Jesus offers us His hand at the cross. Take it. You will be welcomed and accepted in His heavenly home.[i] Better than the front row, you get the front row for all eternity.

Psalm 23 is an invitation to enter into a trusting relationship with our Good Shepherd. Psalm 23 is an invitation to a front row seat with Good Shepherd. We are dirty, shabby and worn from walking in the world. Take the Good Shepherd’s hand. He will lead you and guide you to a front row seat in the stadium of life! ALL are welcome! Psalm 23 is a song of trust! Psalm 23 teaches us how the Good Shepherd is Personal, takes us by the hand and will lead us out. In verse two, we hear that the Good Shepherd provides for us. There are seasons when the Good Shepherd will make us to lie down in green pastures. The Good Shepherd protects us. Jesus mans the gate and lays down His life in order to protect us. (I think of our essential workers. Laying down their own lives in order to be ESSENTIAL! Thank you again!)

Our verse for today paints a picture of us resting in lush, green pastures besides refreshing, still waters.

Over the next two Seed’s of faith we are going to look at two words: “PROVISION” and “PEACE”.

1. “PROVISION.” What is provision? Where do we find provision? In whom do we find our provision?

2. “PEACE.” Where do we find peace? Who is our peace?

In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 Phillip Keller writes, “The strange thing about sheep is that because of their make-up, it is almost impossible for them to lie down unless four requirements are met. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear. Because of their social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind. If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only free of these pests can they relax. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They must be free from hunger.”[ii]

Think about these four words that begin with the letter “F”

1. Free from Fear!

2. Free from Friction!

3. Free from Flies!

4. Free from Famine!

Sheep must be free from all four of these in order to be able to rest. Keller writes that only the shepherd can provide what is needed in order to free the sheep to  be able to rest and lie down in peace.

Isn’t it interesting that Psalm 23 begins with rest? I might expect it to begin with motion, action, or activity, but the Psalm begins with sheep resting in green pastures, beside still waters. Maybe, just maybe, we are studying this Psalm so that we can hear that this stay at home time is a time for us to rest. Friends, we all need to rest from the ways of the world. Take a rest from the electronics and find that in your quiet, God has provided for you. Lord, walk each one of us—essential or not—to the green pastures and sill waters that we will benefit from. Remember: it will look different for each one of us. I hear of people who are making masks by the 100’s and GIVING them away! I hear of friends ZOOMING with their families! I hear of many teachers and students who are e-learning each day: teachers grasping at new ways of technology in order to reach and teach their students. I hear of families hosting GAME NIGHT! I know a man who is busy recording music and setting it to videos on YouTube. (FaithfulSeedMusic on youtube.)  Just the other day, my wife tried out her mom’s paint pencils. She found a frame and is now adding her prayer concerns to that. I know of a woman who can’t sit still inside her home, so she is INSTACART shopping for others—with a huge smile on her face! I know of a mom who converted her garage into a playground for her preschool son! Our Good Shepherd is impressing upon each of us some pretty great ideas during this Covid-19 season but I pray we don’t get so busy that we miss…green pastures and still waters.

Without a shepherd, the sheep cannot rest.

SO WHAT?
I have a “SO WHAT?” homework assignment for you: Circle the pronouns in Psalm 23. I found 28 personal pronouns in these six verses in my translation. Let’s see, 28 words of the 118 total words in the Psalm is almost 25 percent of the entire text! This Psalm is a personal note to you and me!

Here in verse 2, notice the two personal pronouns in front of the two verbs:

HE makes me … HE leads me …

Who is the active one? Who is in charge of the action? It is the shepherd!

The shepherd selects the trails, removes the rocks, and clears the way for reaching green pastures. The shepherd finds the clear, refreshing water that will RESTORE our SOUL! What’s the job of the sheep? To watch, to follow, to eat, to rest, and to trust the Good Shepherd.

SO WHAT? HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:  watch, follow, eat,  rest and trust the Good Shepherd. Enjoy those green pastures and still waters. It could get really crazy really soon.

If anyone needs prayer please write me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will pray for and we will add your prayer concern to our church’s prayer tree of faith and our church will prayer for you!  You can always go to our YouTube channel and watch our weekly messages or you can watch our online service on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific and chat and with as we worship the Lord.  The online access is theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Just a note for fun. My former AP (Associate Pastor) was raised in a family that raised sheep. She taught me that sheep can be really dumb. That’s a side note, what I want you to know is that last Sunday I decided to listen to her preach, she’s really a great preacher. Hmm, she was teaching her people how to pray the psalms! It was fantastic to see how God is still intersecting our lives–all of our lives.  Open up a Psalm this week and give it a try: Pray Psalm 23. Let me know how it goes!

See You Sunday!
God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 8/7/20

Seed of Faith – Walk With God   By Pastor Dave  

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:21-24

Dear Faithful and Fearless Friends and Family,

As I have been reading and thinking about this message,  I thought about Enoch and his short story in Genesis 5.  We do not know a lot about Enoch but what stopped me was verse 22.  It was after Enoch became the father of Methuselah that we are told that he walked with God.  I have read this passage many times, but was never stopped by the fact that it was after Enoch became a father that he walked with God.

I think sometimes it takes children to bring a father to God. Here are a few lessons that we can learn from Enoch:

1. Be sure you are on the right path.  Before Methuselah was born, we are not told much about Enoch. But after his son was born, old Enoch finally gets on the right path. I do not know where you are in your walk with God. I do not know if you have been walking with God a long time or maybe you are like Enoch–waiting for a good reason to walk with God. Friends, it is never too late to start walking with God. Just DO it!

2. Be sure you are walking at the right pace.  I remember when our children and grandchildren were beginning to learn to walk. As a dad and paw paw, I had to really slow my pace so that their little feet could walk alongside of me.  Sometimes I set them on my feet so they could walk as Daddy or Paw Paw walked. Since moving our 88 year-old-father-in-law in with us,  I have had to relearn to walk at his pace. His eyes are dim, his feet are wobbly and his pace is slow. I do not know who you are walking with, or  with who God may be calling you to walk with, but I encourage you to walk at the right pace. Life and death hang in this delicate balance; learning this skill can bring such life if we only learn.

3. Be sure you are going to the right place.  The Bible says that Enoch walked with God and then God took Enoch up to heaven. Enoch went to heaven without dying. He went right into glory and he never died. But his son, Methuselah died. Who do you think was the first person who met Methuselah when he went through the gates of glory (after Christ, of course) ? I have a feeling it was Enoch. By walking with God, Enoch had led his son to the right place.  Remember that there are people following in your footsteps and learning from your examples.

When I was in the tire business, I would take my children to work with me on Saturdays.  I thought it would be good for them to see their father in his work environment. One Saturday, I took our son along with me.  Of course, we stopped in the morning for donuts, juice and coffee. We also made a stop at one of my customers and picked up a load of truck tires.  The truck tires were stacked high in the truck bed and they were hanging out over the edges. I could not see out of my rear-view mirror or out my side mirrors very well.  When we arrived at the tire store, one of my employees stood behind me to help me back up the truck into the shop to unload.  I opened my driver’s door and leaned out in order to see how close I was to the opening of the garage bay.  My son imitated me, he opened his door on the passenger side and was mimicking what I was doing.  The only problemwas that there was a cement pole by his door., When he opened his door, I backed up and the door was crumpled up by the cement pole. When I heard the crashing metal, I hit the brake and looked over at my son.  His eyes were wider than flying saucers.  Tears were beginning to fill them.  I pulled ahead and jumped out of the truck to make sure that he was not hurt.  I know that for sure he thought he was going to be in trouble.  I was thankful that he was not hurt.  I did not yell, I did not belittle him, I did not get mad.  I was thankful that he was not hurt.  I told him that doors can be fixed, and it was not a big deal.  I believe that morning I taught my son to walk the right path, at the right pace, so that we can get to the right place.

Enoch’s life is one of the shortest recorded in the genealogy. It is an amazing fact that Enoch never dies, he just walked with God all the way to heaven.  Yet, did you know, Enoch’s son, Methuselah, lived is the longest life recorded in Scripture — 969 years. Methuselah is the oldest person to live and we are told in the Gospel of Luke that Methuselah is in the genealogy of Jesus.  A fine example of walking on the right path, at the right pace, and ending up at the right place.

So What?
Maybe some earlier so what questions.
Are you walking on the right path?
Are you walking at the right pace?
Are you walking to the right place?

Walk in faithfulness!  Walk on the right path, at the right pace, heading yourself to the right place.  I pray that during this pandemic you do not panic.  I pray that during this time of uncertainty you find for certain the ONE and ONLY HOPE that is our anchor in all storms of life.  Our HOPE is Jesus!

It is never too late to turn over a new leaf in your life. What a great example we have here in Enoch. Enoch did not walk with God early in his life but after his son was born we are told that he walked with God.  Enoch ended up on the right path walking at the right pace heading to right place.  Enoch walked with God and never died!

Are you walking with God today? Know this: It is never too late to get on the right path and walk with God. My guess is that even when you’ve crumpled your life up, God is more concerned if you are okay than in punishing you. God is love, never forget that. Bring your walk to God and let our Father teach you: the right path, the right pace, the right place!

Join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific for some wonderful worship, fantastic fellowship through our online chats and prayer and our weekly message that will help you walk on the right path with God. We have been doing a series on John 4 called “Surprised By God.” May you be surprised by God this day, and every day!

Here is the link for the online service

www.theseedchristianfellowship.online.church 

If you miss the live online service you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the weekly worship service or just the weekly message. Please, during this time of the pandemic, FEED YOUR SPIRIT! Feast on God’s word.

Our YouTube channel is The Seed Christian Fellowship. Go to YOU TUBE online and be encouraged by The Seed–Jesus Christ himself.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/17/20

Seed of Faith – Jesus In My Heart   By Pastor Dave  

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,…” Ephesians 3:16

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers,

Over the next few weeks, our Seed of Faith will be looking at Paul’s powerful prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. I encourage you take this passage and read it over and over again for a week.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and strengthen you.  Here is the passage:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV)

Slow down this week and ponder all of the possibilities of being filled with the power of God!

The Apostle Paul emphasizes the activity and the initiative of God, the Father. This is not our work or initiative or activity, it is not something we could ever accomplish on our own.  This work of love does not happen if we think more positively, do more good works, or work harder. The work belongs to God and is all about the superabundant gift of God called grace!

Paul tells us that this work begins INSIDE OF US—our “inner being”; we are being given strength and power through the Holy Spirit so that Christ will be able to “dwell in our hearts through faith” and we can become “rooted and grounded in love.” Have you ever thought of that?  The Holy Spirit helps Christ dwell in our hearts through the exercising of our faith. Christ takes root…and grounds us and establishes us and grows us in His boundless love.  WOW.

This prayer is also a model prayer representing the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit strengthening our inner being with His power, Christ dwelling in our hearts so that we are rooted and grounded in boundless love; a love that is so deep, so wide, so long and so tall that finally—we become filled with the fullness of Father Creator God

Alexander MacLaren, a famous minister in Great Briton, gave six sermons on this passage.  In his commentary on this passage, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones  took two hundred and sixteen pages to search out the meaning of these verses. I wish we had that kind of time!  This morning I would like for us to put to memory verse 19:

“to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Where does the boundless love of God dwell?
 
“Where is the dwelling of God?” 

This was the question with which the rabbi of Kotzk surprised a number of learned men who happened to be visiting him. They laughed at him, “What a thing to ask! Is not the whole world full of his glory?” Then the rabbi answered his own question,  “God dwells wherever man lets him in.” [i]

What a powerful statement!  God dwells wherever we let God in! 

The questions for us today is:

·         where am I allowing God to dwell?

·         Am I being rooted and grounded more and more each day with the power of the Holy Spirit?

·         Is Christ dwelling in my heart?  In the original Greek, the word that Paul uses for “dwell” in verse 17 means “permanent residence, not a transitory stop along the way.”

Paul wants to encourage the people of Ephesus that even when times get hard, the road gets long, the way becomes difficult, the journey becomes too weary–don’t quit! Remain in the boundless love of Christ.

This brings me back to my homechurch long ago. I will never forget little Ben; he was all of 4 years old at the time.  He is the son of dear friends back in Illinois and Ben was going to have eye surgery.  On Sunday after worship, Ben’s family and a few friends gathered in the church office to pray for little Ben.  We formed a circle around Ben by holding hands and we went around the room and prayed.  We thought we were all done, when all of a sudden little Ben shouted, “Hey, what about me!?  I want to pray!”  We grabbed hands again and little Ben prayed, “Jesus, in my heart.  Amen.”  Wow!  What a prayer — “Jesus In My Heart.  Amen.”

So What?
This is what Paul is trying to remind the people of Ephesus, and you and me, today.  We are to keep Jesus in our hearts no matter what comes our way.  Let’s say it together — “JESUS, IN MY HEART!”

We are in uncharted waters. We’ve never been this way before but God has. The creator is not surprised. Ever watchful, ever guiding, we have a God who hears our cries. I just received a call from a dear friend. Her son started watching our online worship services and told his mom he’s rededicated his life to Christ. Sometimes, just those four words can still the storm: Jesus, in my heart. Sometimes, just those four words can build a bridge from chaos to peace: Jesus in my heart. Sometimes a little four year old’s prayer is more powerful than the pastor’s: Jesus, in my heart.

Thanks, Ben! God bless your heart!

Join us on Sunday at 10am Pacific time for our online service.  We are having a little sermon series on John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.  You join in the fellowship through a live chat, prayer time and worship.  The link for the live Sunday service is … theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

If you miss the online service, you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship and watch our YouTubes. or go to our website and click on icon for messages.

See you Sunday,

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/10/20

Seed of Faith – Hope and Dry Bones   By Pastor Dave  

“I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:14

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,

It with joy that I sit down to write a Seed of Faith.  It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty, confusion, doubts and fears that this message will bring you HOPE!  I encourage you to read Ezekiel 37:1-15.  Maybe your bones feel dried up during this time of quarantine and social distancing. During this time of staying home, I have had time to wait and read.  I have been reading a book by Dr. A. W. Tozer, author, and pastor.  Tozer wrote, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.[i]

In my reading, I was struck by verse eleven in Ezekiel, “Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’”

Do you feel like Ezekiel? Are your bones beginning to dry up? Or are they dried up already? Is your hope strong or is your hope gone? Do you feel cut off? Just today I have heard from two other men who texted me and said, “I’m really struggling, Pastor Dave. Please pray for me.” I heard from two men yesterday. The world has been dealing with the pandemic since March? Four months and it’s not over yet. I don’t know the answers but I do know the ONE who knows the answers.

I remember a time in my first church when I was going through a difficult situation. To be plain honest, I was wondering why in the world I ever went into ministry.  I had given up everything to follow Christ. I had planned to serve one church and retire in the Ozarks but things were not working out. The church I served was in conflict. Jac and I lived in southwest Missouri—30 miles from Silver Dollar City, which we dubbed “Steal Your Dollar City”.  One thing about Jac and I, we love to escape and get away where no one knows our name (opposite of “CHEERS”!) We got away just about every Sunday night. One Sunday night as the park was closing, we noticed that there were as many people flooding into the park as out of the park. “Aren’t they closing?” Being the extrovert, Jac asked someone who was heading into the gate, “Where are you headed? Isn’t the park closed? Are you the clean up crew?” The woman explained that every Sunday night there’s an open-air concert. We Turned around and followed the other crowd! We made our way into the rock-cut amphitheater and sat down in the back row. Little did we know that God had a huge blessing/gift waiting for us as we waited for the concert. The group walked out onstage and played. They were great. And, as usual, for a Christian band, the leader of the group began to witness. He said, “We’re going to sing a song and I want to ask you to remain seated until you can honestly stand and say, ‘Jesus, MY HOPE IS YOU.’” I will never forget this moment as long as I live. The band leader talked about the hope he had in God the Father, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. The leader said, “Please don’t stand until you are 100% sure that GOD IS YOUR HOPE” and they started to play, “My Hope Is You.” The scene was holy and humble. 

One by one the crowd began to stand.  Slowly at first.  “My Hope is You” by Third Day, listen to the words.

TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT MY SOUL.
IN YOU, O GOD, I PLACE MY TRUST.
DO NOT LET ME BE PUT TO SHAME NOR LET MY ENEMIES TRIUMPH OVER ME.
MY HOPE IS YOU.
SHOW ME YOUR WAYS.
GUIDE ME IN TRUTH
IN ALL MY DAYS
MY HOPE IS YOU.
I AM, O LORD, FILLED WITH YOUR LOVE.
YOU ARE, O GOD, MY SALVATION.
GUARD MY LIFE AND RESCUE ME.
MY BROKEN SPIRIT SHOUTS.
MY MENDED HEART CRIES OUT:
MY HOPE IS YOU…SHOW ME YOUR WAYS…GUIDE ME IN TRUTH…IN ALL MY DAYS…MY HOPE IS YOU.

I don’t know how many times they played the song. I was the last one in the crowd to stand. Yes, me, the pastor. I did not want to place all of my hope in God—I wanted to help God out. The Holy Spirit came into my life in a powerful way that night and spoke to my heart. Jac and I had given up everything we had, everything we knew in order to follow God’s call on our lives. I had actually been thinking that maybe I was not cut out for ministry after all. Maybe Jac and I should go back to selling trucks and tires. Keep our world small and comfortable.

And then the band played that song.

I knew that I knew that I knew that God had confirmed, yet again, our call to ministry. I was undone. Sitting and standing in a rock cut amphitheater, God reached down into my heart and said, “Your only job is to follow where I lead.”

I do not know WHERE your hope is. I do not know WHO your hope is in. I do know that many of us feel like the dry bones in passage from Ezekiel. The pandemic has shut us down. We can agree with Ezekiel, “Our bones are dried up. Our hope is gone. We are cut off.”

My prayer is that you will allow the power of the Holy Spirit to breathe life back into your dry bones. Here is a link for a YouTube for “MY HOPE IS YOU” by Third Day.

https://youtu.be/85XmMoYlTPU

Sit down and listen…and do not stand up until you can say, “I believe that GOD MY HOPE.” Worship our God, the healer of our dry bones. Think about all of the blessings God has showered your life with. Think of your life. It really is a wonderful life. I will be praying for you as you listen. I’m praying now!

An American with an English gentleman was viewing the Niagara whirlpool rapids, when he said to his friend: “Come, and I’ll show you the greatest unused power in the world.” And taking him to the foot of Niagara Falls, “There,” he said, “is the greatest unused power in the world!” “Ah, no, my brother, not so!” was the reply. “The greatest unused power in the world is the Holy Spirit of the living God.[i]

Our reading of the prophecy in Ezekiel tells us that the power of the Holy Spirit can bring life into dead bones. Do you remember the last verse in our reading from Ezekiel this morning?  “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”(Ezekiel 37:14)

The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring life!  The big, theological word for the work of the Holy Spirit is “regeneration.”  Regeneration: “to form again, to replace broken body parts with new growth, to restore spiritually.”  For all you computer techies, “regenerate” means “to restore signals to original wave shapes.”  I cannot tell you how to do that electronically but what I can tell you is that the Holy Spirit can! The HOLY SPIRIT’S JOB IS TO regenerate you!  The Holy Spirit wants to form you into the image of Christ!  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken parts of your life.  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships between us…between you and God—all because of sin.  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships we have and wants to heal the brokenness of the world. And, BTW–by the way–regenerate is a verb so that means that the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit is not a noun (a thing, a place, a person) but the regeneration is an action!  The third person of the Holy Trinity—the Identical Twin of Jesus—the promised Holy Spirit, wants to form us anew, wants to replace our broken parts with new growth, and wants to restore us spiritually! The Holy Spirit wants to bring life into your dry bones. Holy Cannoli—think about that!

So What?
The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of power!  The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of fullness so that we can be God’s witnesses to others! The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of hope!

We started with A. W. Tozer; we will end with Tozer:

Ninety-five percent of what the early church did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What if the disciples had not listened? What if they had not waited like they were instructed?  What if they had gone out in their own power?

Here is the real “so what” for us: Put yourself in the story! You are there in the Upper Room. Plenty of your friends. You’ve just witnessed the crucifixion. Yet, Jesus has appeared to you in this very room. You were asked to wait.

What are you waiting for?

Remember the Holy Spirit? Remember the regenerating work?

WAIT.

And soon they all received the power of the Holy Spirit.  They burned with a steady, inward fire.  They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon. They turned the entire world upside down.

Will you? Will we? Will the church wait for the Holy Spirit’s wind and fire to fill them? The pandemic has all waiting in one way or another. I’m praying for the regeneration of our generation by the HOLY SPIRIT.

Join us for worship on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time.  You can go to theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 a.m. Sunday and join in the fellowship with live chats and prayers.  You can join in the worship and sing your heart out.  You can joinin a study of God’s word.  If you miss the live service you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

May the Holy Spirit fill your heart and your “upper room”/home/work with the fire and grace and mercy of God’s love.  May the HOPE of the Lord be your strength and joy as your dry bones are healed.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/2/20

Seed of Faith – Freedom   By Pastor Dave  

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” Galatians 5:13

Dear “faithful & free” Seed Sowers,

This weekend we will be celebrating the freedom we have in our nation.  May we never forget the great cost of freedom and may we always remember the freedom we have in Christ.

When you hear the word “FREEDOM,” what are you are thinking? There’s all types of freedom: political freedom, economic freedom, financial freedom, there’s free speech, free will, free-lance, free-fall, free for all, and/or free agent.  This coming Saturday, our nation has a day set aside to remember our freedom: July 4th, Independence Day!

Webster defines “freedom”: “the state or quality of being free; exemption or liberation from control of some other person or some arbitrary power; liberty; independence.”[i]

The Greek word for “freedom” that our good friend, Paul, uses in Galatians 5:1 is “eleutheria” which is pronounced “el-yoo-ther-ee’-ah.”  Paul is talking about the liberty that is found only in, and through, Jesus Christ.

The concept of freedom in the New Testament is freedom from the law, freedom from sin and freedom from death.  This kind of freedom was achieved by Christ on the cross. Christ was ultimately free from the law, from sin and death!

Atop the hill in Washington D.C. stands the Capitol building of the United States of America.  The cornerstone was laid in 1793 but the crowning touch is the statue on top of the rotunda known as the “Freedom Lady” placed there in 1863.  The “Freedom Lady” stands nearly 20 feet tall and stands proudly atop the dome.  A crest of stars frames her face.  A shield of Stars and Stripes is in her left hand. How did the Freedom Lady find her way to the top of the Capital building?

“Freedom Lady” was sculpted in Rome and brought to America aboard a sailing ship.  During the trip across the Atlantic, a fierce storm developed.  The captain ordered all cargo to be thrown overboard in order to lighten the load.  The sailors wanted to throw the heavy statue overboard, but the captain refused, shouting over the wind, “No! Never! We will flounder before we throw ‘Freedom’ away.”  “FREEDOM” was saved, and the statue now stands above the dome–because one man stood for “FREEDOM.”

When I think of America, I think of freedom!  In a few days people will be celebrating Independence Day.  With Covid 19, all of our normal and familiar 4th of July activities will not be taking place like they have in years past. Many people will not travel to see loved ones; most will stay home.  Some will BBQ and have their own fireworks, while others will go on picnics or hikes. My guess is there will not be very many hometown parades or fireworks displays.

This can lead us to stop and pray, and to stop and think about why we celebrate our country’s freedom in the first place. There’s a great question: Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

In order to answer this question, we need to go back and search our US History. We celebrate this July 4th because of what happened in 1776!  We celebrate the actions of other people—people we only know about by reading history books. We celebrate the actions of Americans who lived without electricity, running water, regular mail service, internet, cell phones or Super Walmarts!  Think about it, what a stark existence these Americans were willing to fight for.

The Declaration of Independence was written to break the stranglehold of tyranny.  Oppression, abuse, removal of rights, false justice and punishment were the charges that were brought to the King. There’s a Scriptural comparison found in a writing of Paul, the apostle. For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.

Today I want you to think about three things:

1. the purpose of freedom,

2. the perseverance of freedom

3. the person of freedom.

THE PURPOSE OF FREEDOM
The purpose of our freedom is defined in Galatians 5:  “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”  In Christ we are set free from a set of rules.  Did you know that by the time of Christ, the Jewish leaders had taken the Ten Commandments and had added over 600 rules to live by? Jesus Christ has set us free from the Law—from a set of over 600 rituals.

Over the next few weeks of this summer, I want to talk about worship.  I will use John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well as our springboard for worship.  We are going to look at “Why We Do What We Do.”  In Michael Horton’s book, A Better Way; Rediscovering The Drama of Christ-Centered Worship, he gives an illustration of great revivals of worship.  Horton says, “When God’s people understand who God is, who they are in His presence, and what is happening to them when they come into His presence, not only their minds but their hearts are transformed.”[i]

John Calvin called worship “the great theater”[ii] in which God descends to act before a watching world.

Have you ever thought that maybe the purpose of our freedom in Christ is for us to truly accept who we are in Christ?  Do you know who you are in Christ? My last thought that I want you entertain is this: What two laws did Jesus establish for believers to obey? (Love God. Love others as you love yourself?) Doesn’t it seem foolish then to trade the freedom you now have in Christ in these two laws for a different (or former) yoke of slavery? Pray about this.

THE PERSON OF FREEDOM
“It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”  It is Christ who set us free–not the “Freedom Lady,” “Statue of Liberty,” “Declaration of Independence,” or the “Constitution.” Though all of these are good and give us freedom, true freedom comes from Christ alone.  In John 8:32, ?”Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” and later on in John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“So what?” do these ancient words have to share with us today?  What does freedom really mean to me?  Are we free from the law?  Are we free from sin? Are we free from death?

With the shut-down, I have a lot of time to think and pray.  I’m thinking about this SEED OF FAITH.  I’m deep in thought about the true meaning of worship. I really want you to read John chapter four this next week. It’s been since March that we have not been able to go into our physical buildings in order to attend church.  This is what I’ve been pondering: WORSHIP. Did I go to church on Sundays prepared to worship God?  Do I honestly  understand that I have been set free from 600+ rituals?  Do I realize that my great God entered my life by sending Christ to set me free?  Isn’t this the truth of why we worship?

This week don’t just celebrate our country’s 244th birthday as a free nation! Celebrate your freedom in Christ! Celebrate your freedom from adhering to 600+ rules and regulations! Celebrate loving God and loving others! And truly stop and think about this: am I honestsly ready to return to worship?

This whole covid-19 has deeply affected each one of us. One thing I know, God is God. I am not. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart when I was 12. My oldest brother had been killed in a car accident. Thirteen years later, I rededicated my life to Christ and have followed these two laws: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS AS I LOVE MYSELF. I am forgiven and I am set free because of the cross of Christ.

Join us live on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific time for worship at

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

You can chat, pray and fellowship with others as we worship in the freedom of Christ.  If you miss the live worship on Sundays, you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship and watch the weekly service or just the Sunday Message. This Sunday my wife is back giving the kid message because our awesome Miss Sherri is traveling home from vacation. What I want you to know is that the Holy Spirit is still busy working in the body of Christ–even as we are apart from one another. Miss Jac is doing a July 4th message on cupcakes: same but different…and different is okay. JOIN US!

See you Sunday

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Michael Horton, A Better Way; Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mi.; 2002

[ii] John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, Psalms III:12, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mi.; 1998

[i] David Guralnik, Webster’s New World Dictionary, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York,; 1972

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/25/20

Seed of Faith – Surely – Goodness and Mercy  By Pastor Dave  

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” Psalm 23:6

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and SHEEP brothers and sisters in Christ,

For the past five weeks, we have been  taking a journey with our Good Shepherd. We have been sharing together a slow, but wonderful, walk through the six verses of Psalm 23. I pray that our walk with the Good Shepherd has given us a fresh, new and life-giving perspective on the goodness and mercy of our Great Shepherd.

Psalm 23 is about security!  Security found in the promises of God.  Security found in the provision of God. This Psalm also speaks to me of confidence — the kind of “Tarzan chest thumping, end-zone dancing, we will ROCK you” confidence.  This Psalm oozes with confidence.

Why is this Psalm so confident? 
How can it be so confident? 
What is the secret to the confidence found in this Psalm?

The answer is found here in verse six.  There is one word that summarizes the entire Psalm: “SECURITY!”

Where does this security come from? Our security is found in the goodness and mercy of God! This Psalm is all about being secure in God’s love and care as we journey through green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, valleys of the shadows, dining at the table in the presence of our enemies, and finally going home with our Good Shepherd eternally, forever and ever.

Listen to the verse again, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”   Did you catch it?  Did you hear it?  It is the very first word.  Surely.

Heads up: don’t miss this word: “SURELY!”

The psalmist did not say, “ Well maybe, it could be, or possibly.” The writer didn’t say, “I have a hunch, or this sounds like a good idea.” Nope. Nada. The psalmist said, “SURELY!”

I like Webster’s definition, “surely”: “safe, secure, will not fail, always effective, can be relied on, depended on, trustworthy —cannot be doubted, questioned, or disputed; absolutely true.”[ii]

The Hebrew word for “surely” is “awkal,” and it is used as a marker for emphasis in the Hebrew language.  This marker wants to tell us something important: God is SURELY with YOU and because God is with you, YOU can be secure!  David is telling us: What goes before this word and what follows this word (surely) can be relied on, depended on and is trustworthy! In other words that you might understand better:

TAKE IT TO THE BANK! THIS PROMISE IS 100% BACKED UP BY GOD’S SECURE PROMISES!

What words follow “surely”?  Goodness and mercy. Go through this entire Psalm and know:  God is your shepherd and you shall not want. You will lie down in green pastures; you will be led beside still waters; you will be restored! Our good shepherd will leads you in right paths. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death—you will fear no evil because God’s rod and staff– will comfort you. There will be a table prepared for you in the presence of your enemies. You will be anointed with oil; and your cup is promised to overflow.  And…if you’re not certain of all of this…the psalmist says the one word above all the others: SURELY! Take it to the bank, dear sheep, because GOD’S goodness and mercy will follow each one of us all the days of our lives, and we are promised that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord our whole life long. SURELY! I think of, “I PROMISE.”

In his book God’s Psychiatry, Dr. Charles L. Allen told of a man who came to see him. This fellow had risen to the top of his company, but along the way he had lost his peace of mind. He was a worried, tense, sick man. He had been to doctors and taken bottles of pills, but nothing helped. Dr. Allen took out a sheet of paper and wrote a “prescription” for the man. He prescribed the Twenty-third Psalm five times a day for seven days. He insisted the man carry out the assignment to the letter. Upon awakening each morning, the man was to read through the psalm carefully, meditatively, and prayerfully. Immediately after breakfast, he was to do the same, then after lunch, again after dinner, and finally the last thing before going to bed. Allen gave the prescription with the confidence that it would work, because he had given out that same advice many times, and it had never failed. “That prescription sounds simple,” he wrote in his book, “but really it isn’t. The Twenty-third Psalm is one of the most powerful pieces of writing in existence, and it can do marvelous things for any person. I have suggested this to many people, and in every instance where I know it was tried, it always produced results. It can change your life in seven days.”[iii]

Now listen to the promise from Paul in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

SURELY…be convinced…take God’s word to the bank of heaven…and be convinced that there is nothing in all creation that can separate you from the love of God—found in Christ, our good Shepherd! You see, this psalm has nothing to do with us being anything but sheep! We are sheep, we are always going to be sheep. God is the action maker:  GOD is our GOOD SHEPHERD…GOD WILL LEAD US, FEED US, GUIDE US, ANOINT US, and CARE AND LOVE US…and nothing can ever separate us from our Good Shepherd–not death, not a motorhome trip from Florida to California, not covid 19. NOPE. NOTHING.

Speaking of a 2,600 mile motorhome trip,  I had some great alone, driving time! I was reminded of the first time I came to California in the summer of 1999. I came to do an interview for a church in Upland, California.  I had been interviewing with other churches at the time, in fact, I was getting close to accepting a call from a church in Boca Raton, Florida. Then the Upland church called and asked me to fly out and do an interview with them. I am going to tell you the truth, I did not want to go to California but our oldest daughter was in graduate school at BIOLA in Southern California.  The church said, “We think you’re the guy, so come and stay a week and visit your daughter on us. We only want three days of your time.” It was the week of her birthday.  I thought it was a good idea, even though I thought for sure that I was going to Boca Raton, Florida. I will tell you the church in Boca Raton called me and offered me a “signing” bonus if I did not go to California for this visit.  I told them I had given the church in Upland my word and I will fulfill my word. We landed in Ontario, CA, for our interview.  The church put us up at the Doubletree Hotel.  That next morning I was reading my Psalms, Psalm 92. I got to verses12-15, and the Holy Spirit told me to look up. Right outside my second-story, outdoor balcony were tall, majestic palm tress. I know that this will sound strange but the Holy Spirit spoke right to my heart. “How do these palm trees grow? They grow straight and point their branches to heaven.”  Then I read the next part of the Psalm 92 where it talked about the cedars of Lebanon. Again, the Holy Spirit interrupted my reading and said, “Look higher.”  It was a clear morning and you could see the cedar trees standing strong up on Mt Baldy and Cucamonga Peak.  The next part of Psalm 92 is that the righteous will be planted like those palm trees and cedar trees–in the house of the Lord … they will bear fruit even in their old age. I started weeping. What you don’t know is that I had told God a long time ago that I would go anywhere he called me to go except to Alaska, New York or California. I knew at that moment that God was calling me to California. You see, I don’t boss my shepherd. My shepherd bosses me. I don’t tell my shepherd where I will or won’t go. My shepherd finds the right pastures, and still waters for me. Following my shepherd is my job. My shepherd’s job is to lead me, protect me, guide me–all the way home.

The Final word of Psalm 23 is “forever” and it literally means “from sunrise to sunset.” What I hear is that from my first breath to my last breath, from my first sunrise to my final sunset–I am surely safe in my Good Shepherd’s care…not just yesterday, not just today, but I am safe FOREVER! (Think about that the next time you enjoy a sunrise or sunset.)

SURELY and FOREVER what wonderful words!

So What
So what do these ancient words written thousands of years ago have to do with me today?

What are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” 

I cannot guarantee what your future holds, or what mine holds.  I cannot open the palm of my hand and tell you the length of your days, or how things will work out.  I cannot tell you who you are going to marry, how many children or grandchildren you will have.  I cannot tell you if you will succeed in your business, if you will be rich or in debt.  I cannot promise that you will not have your heart broken, that you will not be hurt or suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually or spiritually. I cannot tell you that you will not panic or face a pandemic. But I do know that I can trust the living words of our Good Shepherd.

What I can tell you is that you have a Good Shepherd who holds your future in His loving hands.  Listen, Psalm 139 states that you are wonderfully made. The GOD who thought you up cared so much about you that you’ve been provided a Good Shepherd to lead you home. The Good Shepherd’s goodness and mercy that this psalm talks about is the embrace of GOD around your past, your present and your future.

TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!

The LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD — that is all we need.

In this very unpredictable and unstable season, we can be secure. We have all the security we will ever need: Jesus Christ, a cross, and an empty tomb–talk about a GOOD SHEPHERD.

Join us this Sunday for our online worship service at 10 A.M. Pacific.  You can chat and offer up your prayer concerns.  The link for the online service is  — theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

If you miss the online service you can always watch our complet service or just the Sunday message on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship

May the Lord bless you with His goodness and mercy as you go this week, and as you go each day of your wonderful life. You are loved.

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[ii] Guralnik, David, Editor, Webster’s New World Dictionary, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970), 1432

[iii] Allen, God’s Psychiatry,13-14

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/20/20

Seed of Faith – My Cup Overflows   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers, and Lovers of GOD:

It is my prayer that as we go through this world-wide pandemic, with it’s shutdowns, slowdowns and stay-at-home times, that we will come to know one thing: our Good Shepherd will never leave nor forsake us. Are you having a difficult day? Pick up your bible and read Psalm 23, turn on a Christian radio station. PRAISING GOD will lift your heart, mind and spirit! In our home I say, “Alexa, play Christian piano music.” It’s the background music for most of my day.

We have been in Psalm 23 for weeks now!  I think it is providential that we are walking with Good Shepherd during this season of life.  Last week, we took a few minutes to look at the first part of verse five. Today we study and learn that our Good Shepherd wants to anoint our heads with oil and have our cup overflow.

Hear the Good News!  Hear or read the promises in the LIVING WORD that God has promised us repeatedly. As I have reflect on this passage, I have asked myself a few so what questions — maybe they are for you too!

Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a great and grand Feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do we hold back? 

Have you ever thought about these things?

Have you ever stopped to ponder this part of verse five?

“You anoint my head with oil.”
I wonder if many of us miss out on the great banquet table of the Lord because we do not know, understand, or are afraid of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. “In ancient Israel shepherds used oil for three purposes: to repel insects, to prevent conflicts, and to heal wounds.” Jesus gives us wonderful promises of the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John during the Upper Room Discourse found in chapters 14 through 17.  The promise of the Holy Spirit is that He will anoint us with His power.  The moment that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the moment you say that you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us to dwell within us.  We are sealed with this anointing.  Have you ever tried to unseal a coat of wax from a freshly sealed floor?  How hard would it be to unseal a freshly heated road of blacktop?  The word (bible) tells us that we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. It is this promised Holy Spirit who comes to comfort us, convict us, and guide us into all truth.  The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is a gentleman and anoints us with grace to live in the present, to reconcile our past and to hope for our future. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has come in to dwell within you and will guide you.  My prayer is that each one of us reading this message has been anointed with the gift and the person of the Holy Spirit. If so, you have Spiritual Gifts that are important to the body of Christ. (You may not know what you Spiritual Gifts are! Our website has a FREE Spiritual Gifts test on our website … www.theseedchristianfellowship.com  Go to the website and take your Spiritual Gift test.)

It’s true: You have been anointed by the Spirit of God. I love to think of the Holy Spirit as the spiritual identical twin of Jesus, that is comforting to me.  May this holy anointing help you to repel the enemies of your soul.  May this holy anointing help you to prevent conflicts in your life.  May this holy anointing heal your wounds.  A simple prayer you can pray every morning or at any time … “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your love. Guide me and teach me. Give me wisdom and understanding for today.  Amen”

Let us look at this portion of this verse in Psalm 23,  “my cup overflows.”
Not only is the table spread for us in the presence of our enemies, not only does the Holy Spirit anoint us with the oil of gladness to guide us, comfort us and convict us but the final promise of verse five is that we will be blessed with an overflowing cup.  In the Sacrament of Communion, we are reminded of the cup of redemption that was poured out in the blood of Christ during his crucifixion. “This cup is the cup of the new covenant poured out in my blood for the forgiveness of sin.”

Did you hear it, can I comprehend this?

This overflowing cup is the cup of forgiveness!

We are told to remember this every time we drink from the cup. We are made one (that is atonement—at one-ment) with God through the sacrifice of the Great Shepherd of the sheep who laid down His life.  This atonement (our at one-ment) takes care of our past, present, and future sin.  I believe that if you could grasp, comprehend, come to understand the idea that our cup of life is full and overflowing, that your life would change. May your cup overflow this day.

Maybe the so what question today is “How do you see your cup?” Is your cup half full or half empty!  Is your cup overflowing so much that you are drinking from the saucer? Truth is: your cup of life is overflowing with forgiveness.  Forgiveness of sin!  Forgiveness that will overflow into the lives of our enemies as we forgive them as Christ has forgiven us. I believe if we learn to live in the forgiveness of the overflowing cup for us then we will learn to become more and more forgiving of others, and we will learn to live as forgiven people.

Our cup overflows with unfailing, unending, and everlasting love.  God has loved us before we were created, and God will continue to love us throughout all eternity.  God’s love never end. and never fails. My prayer today that you will come to comprehend and, hold deeply in your heart, this overflowing cup that the Good Shepherd offers you.  If we would see this overflowing cup extended into our lives, we would be totally and radically changed. We would live our lives with a fresh kingdom view. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been made ONE with God.  Christ’s blood has filled our cup to overflowing.

So What?
So what do these ancient words written over two thousand years ago have do with us today?  Since we didn’t grow up in ancient Israel, and since most of us didn’t grow up on a sheep farm, we really don’t know much about sheep. We don’t understand about being a shepherd.   My guess is that we know a lot about computers, engineering, and education, but not about sheep.  The idea of sharing a meal is largely lost in our western culture.  In the day of David and Jesus when you were invited to share a meal, it was an invitation to dinner.  Their saying was “mikdash me-at” which literally translates intocome into my miniature sanctuary, my dining room and we will celebrate the most beautiful experience that life affords — it is called friendship.”[ii]  The invitation from the Great Shepherd is for each one of us to become friends, to come into the miniature sanctuary and sit at the banquet table prepared for us.  It is the wedding feast of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and this Great Shepherd anoints us with the power, comfort, and grace of the Holy Spirit. Best of all, there is a chair reserved just for you with your name written on it!

I am reminded of my little grandson so many years ago who wanted to play in the dog’s bowl.  Friends, we have so much more prepared for us.  Our Great Shepherd has painstakingly prepared a banquet table for each one us in the presence of our enemies.  Will you come to the table each day and allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you?  Our cup will surely overflow with forgiveness—for Christ has nailed our sin to His cross. Our debt is paid and we are forgiven. It is our turn now to begin living as a forgiven person.

There is an old hymn called “Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us”.  It is my prayer that we will allow our shepherd to lead us through the valleys of our life to the banquet table, the mikdash me-at, the miniature sanctuary of friendship with God.  God has provided for us in our past.  God is providing for us today and God will provide for us in the future.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

My closing prayer is verse two of our closing hymn.
“Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou has mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse us, and power to free us:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee.” [iii]

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online service, you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message (hint) on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I have a friend who always tells me, “I’m so blessed, Dave, that I’m drinking from my saucer.” That, my friend, is my prayer for YOU!
God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/11/20

Seed of Faith – The Shepherd’s Provision   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,
What a season we are in. I met with a group of 35 pastors from Rancho Cucamonga this week. How encouraging this was for me to know that I have 35 brothers and sisters in Christ from every tribe who are praying for our city and our nation and our world. Friends, you are not alone! Don’t believe that lie for one second. There’s an army of prayer with us.

I have been lifting you up in prayer.  I know that the times we have been living in have been tumultuous. The world wide pandemic, the recent protests, riots and confusion are all happening all around the globe. It is good that we can center ourselves in God’s Word. My prayer is that we will let the Words of life provide us with safety and security.

Today we look at verse five of Psalm 23.  For many scholars, there is another noteworthy  transition in the Psalm.  The Psalmist is bringing us home by telling us of the Good Shepherd’s past, present and future provisions. Let us listen to God’s Word for us today and may we hear how the Great Shepherd of the sheep has provided for us in the past, will provide for us today and will continue to provide for us in the future until we reach our final heavenly home.

Psalm 23
1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3. He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.
5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

I would encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Mark 6:34-44 when you have time to study and reflect on this Psalm and Jesus’s words and actions in Mark.

I want you to stop and think about God’s provision for you in your past, in today’s present, and in the future to come.  Stop for a moment right now and list ten things that you are thankful for, think of all God has given you. (pause) (Here’s my list: a home, a family, friends, sunshine, beautiful palm trees, water, toilet paper, sanitizer, masks, and the sun, moon and stars!)

Many years ago, when our grandson was only two or three years old, I had a powerful experience during a communion service that blessed my life. Normally our daughter, son-of-love and wonderful grandchildren attended the second service at church, and I rarely had the opportunity to sit by them to share in communion with them.  However, this communion Sunday they showed up at the first service and sat in the front row with me.  While I was holding my grandson during the service, little chunks of dog food fell out of his little overalls and onto my lap and then onto the floor. Our grandson, had been playing in the dog’s bowl at home and some of the dog food had fallen in between his shirt and overalls. He he carried it to church with him.  As I bent over and picked up the dog food, it hit me: how often do we settle for so much less?   Here we were about to celebrate in the Sacrament of Communion, the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup,and I was holding my grandson and a little chunk of dog food.

So What?
How often do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies …”
The Bible is the story of God’s provision in the past all the way through our future. If we were to start with the book of Genesis and follow it through to the book of Revelation, we would see, we would hear and we would read how God has provided over and over for His people.  God has done genuinely great things to show us His compassion, mercy, and love for us. From the Exodus wanderings in the wilderness to the Revelation River of Life, the Great Shepherd steadily provides a table for us–even in the midst of our enemies.

One of the most powerful illustrations of this table is found in the story of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.  This miracle story is recorded in all four Gospel accounts. (I say, “This must have been a big deal.)  In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we hear almost the same words at the beginning of the story. “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  (Mark 6:34)

The crowds were gathering around Jesus and pressing in on Him; He brought them up on a mountainside — a tableland — a mesa — and prepared a feast for them with fives loaves and two fish.  Matthew and Mark tell us how Jesus had compassion on the people for they were like sheep without a shepherd.  This is the same image David describes in Psalm 23.  We are so often like sheep and we so often act as if we do not have a shepherd. How in the world would the sheep be able to go through the dark valleys alone without a shepherd?  Would they ever be able to arrive to the tableland, the mesas of life—without a shepherd?

The first promise of verse five is that the Great Shepherd of the sheep has compassion on us and works to prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies.   The past few weeks, I have been asking you to take time to read the Gospel of John chapter 10. In this chapter we have the story of Jesus telling his disciples that he is the Good Shepherd who will lay down His life for the sheep.  In verse ten of John, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The way I see it, we have three battlegrounds we wrestle in: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every nation has their enemies, every person has their adversaries, every person has their own personal battles with self.

I appreciate what Keller said in his book, “It is rather fashionable in some contemporary Christian circles to discredit Satan.  There is a tendency to try and write him off, or laugh him off, as though he was just a joke.  Some deny that such a being as Satan exists.  Yet we see evidence of his merciless attacks and carnage in society where men and women fall prey to his cunning tactics almost every day.  We see lives marred and seared by his assaults though we never see him personally.”[i]

Keller used the illustration of the cougar that attacks the sheep, yet he never saw a cougar on his land, but saw the death and destruction that the big cats left behind. In his first letter. Peter tells us, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

The words Satan, devil, thief, enemy are used over 100 times in the Bible.  The Bible has much to say about our enemy, the devil.  We are reminded in Scripture that our enemy is alive and prowling around to steal, kill and destroy. Just look what has happened with this worldwide pandemic.  Look at the lives that have been lost, the physical sickness and the mental, physical, and emotional stress caused by it.

SO WHAT?
The Good News is that our Scripture has so much more to tell us about the victory we have over the power of the enemy.  We find our personal victories in the love of God, the compassion of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

David says that the Great Shepherd of the sheep prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemy. I do not know all the enemies and that you are facing. The enemies of fear, doubt, shame, and guilt.  The enemies of broken relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.  The enemies of financial debt and despair. The enemies of sickness, panic, and pandemics. The enemies of loneliness and isolation. We all have enemies.

So What?
Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a feast prepared for us? 
How often do you hold yourself back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do you hold back?  Have you ever thought about it?

I think we are afraid that maybe, just maybe, that this feast is meant for everyone BUT us. Maybe I have gone too far, or sinned too deeply or maybe I have been too bad to deserve a feast. Maybe I just deserve a P & J or a McDonald’s cheeseburger. A feast? In the middle of my enemies? 

That’s what God’s word says. Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of this pandemic. Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of your broken relationship.  Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of your illness. 

Don’t miss this: YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD IS GOING TO PREPARE A FEAST FOR YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR BADNESS, IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SIN, IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SLIPPING DOWN THE SLOPE OF LIFE. Why? Because Jesus is the GOOD shepherd who takes care of his sheep. The goodness part is His not yours. We’re in good hands if Christ is our shepherd.

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online serves you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I want to close in prayer, “God, thank you.  Thank you that despite my badness you have given me a good shepherd in your one and only Son, Jesus. Help me to stop running away. Turn me to the truth of your Word. Help my disbelief. Things are terribly crazy right now. I need your mercies. Thank you that they are new every morning.  Help me to slow down so that I can recognize them. Amen.”

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/6/20

Seed of Faith – Valley of Vision   By Pastor Dave  

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
Greetings from the GOOD SHEPHERD of our souls! I hope you have been enjoying this series as we journey through Psalm 23.  I pray that by taking our time these six verses will minister to you.  Today we study verse 4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.”

Psalm 23 has ministered to many in times of trouble, trial, danger, sorrow, grief, and death. In December, my dear friend of 20 years passed from this life to eternal life. As I type this SEED OF FAITH, my wife and his wife are zooming as they read “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser. They are doing a study on each chapter of the new edition with the questions in the back of the book. (A great read for those who hurt.) My friend’s widow knows we are journeying through Psalm 23, and sent me a copy of my friend’s Bible with his copious notes written on the pages for Psalm 23: “A Psalm for the Living not the Dead.  This is not the Psalm for my funeral. It is the poem for my life.”   Wow!  “A Psalm for the living not the dead… not a Psalm for a funeral but a poem for my life!”

Over these weeks as we finish our study on Psalm 23, I encourage you to write your own notes on how the Good Shepherd has been with you throughout the poem of your life.  You can even write to me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and let me know how this psalm speaks to you and why!

Long ago, I was a pastor in a church in Round Rock, Texas. A member of the church, Tom, told me he flew 104 combat missions during his tours in Vietnam.  In his combat missions, he flew over the dreaded Red River Valley–called the “thud” area. He explained that the “thud area” was where most of the F105’s were shot down–going down with a loud thud.  Tom shared that as he was flying to his destination, he would recite Psalm 23. When he came to verse four, he changed it to, “Even though I fly over the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  Tom’s plane was hit several times by anti-aircraft but he was never shot down.

How about we fly over this passage today?  Let us journey with our Good Shepherd through the valleys of life!

The first part of verse 4 teaches us, point blank, that we will have valleys in life. Maybe you are in a valley right now during this worldwide pandemic. Life as we have known it has been shut down. All of us are living in this valley today. Some of us go to work, exposing ourselves (and our loved ones) to the dangers of the pandemic. Others of us are sheltered and staying home in the hopes the virus will soon be under control. Talk about a dark valley. The real truth is just by living we will walk through many dark valleys. We will all experience trials, tribulations, temptations, hardships, addictions, suffering, pain, anxiety, grief, and so many other valleys. The hope I offer to you today is that it is exactly in these valleys of life where we develop our character.

Your first “SO WHAT?” is here. Write it down:

“What kind of character is God developing in me through this pandemic aka valley?”

What a loaded “SO WHAT?”

The first promise of this verse is that we will go THROUGH the valleys.  The Great Shepherd does not keep us in the valley of the shadow of death forever but promises to lead us through it.  We do not take up permanent residence in the valley. We do not build homes in the valley of the shadow of death. Right here in verse four we learn that the valley of the shadow of death is a valley we will go through. The valley of the shadow of death is not our permanent resting place; the valley is a passageway to the next mountaintop. The promise for us is that we will walk through the valley of our problems, the valley of our pain, the valley of our pandemic, the valley of our mistakes, missteps, and miseries.

There is a famous valley near Bethlehem where David, the author of this psalm, took his sheep.  Jesus also walked through this same valley as He traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem.  The valley runs from Jericho to Jerusalem and is called the “Wadi Kelt.” “Wadi” means “deep valley.”  This is the same route that Jesus would have taken in Biblical times. (You can read references to this in Matthew 19 & 20.) In Jesus’ day, this wadi was dubbed the “The Bloody Pass” or “The Way of Blood.” Could this be the valley that David is writing about? “The valley of the shadow of death”—seven words. But David puts a key word at the beginning of those seven words: THROUGH. Do not forget that, friends, we are following our good shepherd and our good shepherd is leading us THROUGH… THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. When we are in this valley, we do not need to worry or be frightened because our Shepherd has already passed through this valley himself.  Listen — when you are changing pastures, or changing locations, or facing difficulty, or even facing death, you can be assured that your good shepherd, Jesus, knows this wadi/route well. Jesus traveled the valley of the shadow of death on His way to the cross. Jesus fills this valley with promises of His presence and peace. There is resurrection light at the far end of the valley.

Here is the stark reality: One day our Good Shepherd will lead us through the final valley of the shadow of death.  He will take us to the mountaintop of life eternal by way of this valley.  He will guide us to His house–the one with many rooms where our personal room is ready and waiting for us.  This is the promise Jesus gave to His disciples shortly before he was handed over to be killed. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”  (John 14:1-3)

Do you hear the words of the shepherd and king, David, our Psalmist?  Do you hear the words of promise from the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who lays His life down for the sheep?  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you and me, a house with many rooms. Jesus has already passed through the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus has conquered the “bloody pass” once and for all. We are not to let our hearts be troubled, we are to trust in God and trust our Good Shepherd, Jesus. His promise is that He will come back for us.  The Good Shepherd will not leave us in the valley of the shadow of death—He is merely leading us THROUGH.

It reminds me of the children’s nursery song, “Going on a Bear Hunt.”

“We can’t go OVER it, we can’t go UNDER it—we must go THROUGH it.” 

Point 1: THROUGH!

Our Good Shepherd will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.
In March of 2000, I sat by my mom’s bedside and read Psalm 23.  This Psalm brought my mom much comfort during her final days.  As I sat there holding her hand, I reflected on verse four.  I shared with my mom that death is but a shadow. I shared that Jesus had already prepared her room for her in heaven and that soon Jesus was coming to bring her to her heavenly home. In February of this year, I sat with my mother-in-law as she was preparing to go through her final valley of the shadow of death.

Do you know for there to be a shadow, there must be a light somewhere? Jesus is the light of the world! Am I making sense? Are you hearing what the living word is saying? At the end of your valley of the shadow of death is a light. And that light of the world has already conquered  the way of the blood — the bloody pass — the shadow of death and has made a way for each one of us.   He is our Good Shepherd! He has gone to prepare a place for us! He will come again to bring us home! Jesus knows the valley. We can trust our Good Shepherd to lead us all the way safely through every valley we will ever face, even THIS valley.

Our Good Shepherd is with us—in green pastures, beside still waters and through the valleys.

SO WHAT?
So, what do these ancient words written thousands of years ago have to do with us today?  Do you know the Great Shepherd?  This verse speaks not only to the dark valleys of death; it speaks to all the dark valleys of life.  Some of us here today are walking through the valley of the shadow of death with a loved one.  Some of us are walking through the valley of the shadow of broken dreams, a broken heart, a broken relationship, a valley of financial debt, a valley of addiction. I know several people who are walking through the valley of physical pain. Each day they wake up, the pain is there with no relief in sight. I know of a woman walking through the valley of a heart attack. She had heart surgery, alone in the hospital due to covid-19. But was she really alone? Was our Good Shepherd with her, bringing her through this dark valley?

I close today’s message with a prayer from the old Puritan prayer book.  The name of the prayer is “The Valley of Vision”. (As always contact me, pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com if you want a copy.)

The Valley Of Vision
A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Edited by Arthur Bennett

Lord, High, and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision.
Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by the mountains of sin, I behold thy glory.
 
Let me learn by paradox
That the way down is the way up,
That to be low is to be high,
That the broken heart is the healed heart,
That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
That to have nothing is to possess all,
That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
That to give is to receive,
That the valley is the place of vision.
 
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
 
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty
Thy glory in my valley.

See you Sunday online at 10am Pacific time at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Or check out our Youtube channel and watch our services when you have time.

We will continue our journey in Psalm 23 next week. Until then, your “SO WHAT?” homework is for you to figure out if knowing that Jesus has already traveled and conquered the valley of the shadow of death–if that’s good enough for you. Do you fully trust your good shepherd?

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/29/20

Seed of Faith – RESTORATION BUSINESS   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pasture; he leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for His name sake.” Psalm 23:1-3 

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers,

Many of you know that this past week, my wife and I traveled by motor-home from Florida to California.  We brought Jac’s 88 year-old father-in-law to live with us.  What a journey of 2,600 miles with an 88 year-old traveler.  Andy was truly a trooper with all of the miles, gas stops, rv parks and daily traveling of 300 miles at the least! The trip was torture for him but he never complained. He did smile when the motorhome was safely returned and said, “My first and last trip in a motorhome is over.” Thank you to all who prayed for us. We could not have made the trip as well as we did without your prayers.

On another note, while we were still in Florida and during our trip home across the lower half of the USA, we had many family members and friends remodel our home. They put a bedroom in our garage and remodeled the downstairs’s bathroom so that my father-in-law is able to walk in to the shower. I owe a debt I cannot ever repay to these amazing people: Rick, Clay, Colon, Cassie and Tammy Warner. Thank you to the entire team of MY GUY construction with a special shout out to Mike, the plumber, and Charlie, the tiler!  Thank you to Javon, Jodi, Jaden, Jace and Juliet Collins who moved our entire garage into storage and took countless trips to the dump for us.  Thank you for all of the many things that were done in order to have the house ready for Great Grandpa and for us. Thank you to Don Eddy for the electrical work in the garage bedroom. Thank you to our son who helped us get a good price on our splitter AC/heat and who drove the final three days with us so that I had a break in the driving. Thank you to everyone who donated any time, talent or treasure. Our hearts are blessed beyond measure. Thank you for the prayers, the labors of love and the financial support.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying Psalm 23. The Lord, Yahweh, is our personal God who never changes.  What a comforting thought to know that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  What a consoling thought that our God is personal; we can claim Him as our personal shepherd. (The Lord is MY shepherd.) Our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us by still waters.

Have you ever thought about the image of God being a Shepherd? Do you know that the early patriarchs of the Bible stories were shepherds?  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers.  How about Moses shepherding his fathers-in-law’s sheep on the far side of the wilderness? (Maybe, you feel like you are on the far side of the wilderness during this stay at home time.)  What about Amos, the shepherd, who was called to be a prophet of God? Weren’t the shepherds the first to hear the Good News that Jesus Christ was born? Weren’t they the first to go and proclaim this Good News?  In John 10, Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd. He will be the gate that protects us.  Jesus will lead the sheep out to pasture and bring them back home.  The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and follow where the shepherd calls.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down His life for the sheep. These are powerful thoughts to pause and reflect upon as we prepare to break down verse three.

Is Jesus your Good Shepherd?

There is no better time than today to ask Jesus into your heart.  Ask Jesus, God’s Son, to forgive you, guide you and call you by name as He shepherds you.

I grew up in the farm country of Northern Illinois. While growing up, my three brothers and I spent many nights with our aunts and uncles who were farmers. One of my uncles had sheep and dairy cattle, the other uncle had pigs and raised corn and beans. The other uncle was a grain farmer with horses. During my time on the farm, I learned a lot about livestock and farming.  I learned that when a sheep fell over and landed on their back, the sheep could not roll over on their own. The farming term for this is “cast.”  If a sheep is cast, they lay on their back until the shepherd (or farmer) comes and restores them back to their feet. It was not a matter of flip the sheep right-side up, there was a process to this restoration. The shepherd reaches around the sheep’s body and lifts the cast sheep. The shepherd places the sheep between his legs and massages the legs until all the circulation has been restored, and the sheep can now stand on its own strength. If the shepherd does not find the sheep soon enough, the cast sheep would die from the lack of circulation.

I believe that this image of restoring the soul is what David is describing here in verse 3.  The shepherd knows His sheep and will find them and restore them back to life—even when we are helplessly flat on our back, our Good Shepherd will find us and restore us.

I want to spend a few minutes reflecting on the word restore. The word “restore” in Psalm 23 is one of the verbs in this sentence.  Verbs are action words. The verb “restores” in verse 3 is an active preterite verb which means the action is a completed action yet is always continuing.

Stop and think about the action of the Good Shepherd here!  The Shepherd has restored our soul; it is a done and completed task, but the Hebrew language is telling us that the Shepherd will also continue to restore our souls over and over and over.  “Restore” is used 93 times in the Old Testament and 108 times in the New Testament. (Sounds like a good word study if you just happened to be bored!) Jesus, our Good Shepherd, restores a crippled man’s hand, restores sight to the blind and restores life to the dead. I wish we had time to go study these wonderful passages.

One of my favorite restoration illustrations is found in Psalm 51.  King David, who wrote this psalm, had fallen into sin and was now cast down.  As King, David had sinned by having an adulterous affair with Bathsheba. When Bathsheba was found pregnant, King David orchestrated the murder of her husband, Uriah, on the batlefield. (Want to look up this story? II Samuel 11) David now pens Psalm 51, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12)

Restore: “to bring back, to return to a former condition, to repair, to mend, to furnish completely, to give back, to renovate.WOW! Did you hear that? Restore means to bring back, to return to a former condition, to repair, to mend, to furnish completely, to give back, to renovate. The former shepherd of the sheep is now a King and he has fallen. He writes, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Listen!  If God can restore a cast sheep like King David from his sins and failures, God can restore you when you have fallen and are cast down. This is the cry of verse 3 of Psalm 23, “He restores my soul.”

When a sheep is cast, they will die unless the shepherd restores their soul and circulation. How often are we cast down?  Psalm 42 — “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

SO WHAT?
I marvel at our Good Shepherd impressing upon us to study Psalm 23. How many of us have been cast down lately? Does this world-wide pandemic have you cast down?  Perhaps your sins have you cast down? Maybe stress has you cast down? Maybe sorrow over the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, the loss of a job has you cast down. Maybe just being locked in during this time of quarantine has you cast down. Maybe being an essential worker has you cast down. This message is for you!

Cast down by sin, sickness, stress or sorrow? Turn to the Good Shepherd who will restore you.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he RESTORES my soul.” As we close, hear the Psalm this way: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul: he brings me back, he returns me to a former condition, he repairs, and mends me. He furnishes me completely. He renovates me and puts me back on my feet.”

OUR PERSONAL, GOOD SHEPHERD IS ALWAYS ABOUT RESTORING US! The best thing I know to be true of God: GOD IS FAITHFUL EVEN WHEN WE’RE NOT. God always wants to restore us. Let Him. Open your living word (BIBLE) up to Psalm 136 and read about the steadfast love of God that never ends. Read about all God has done, is doing and will do for you. Listen, you belong to the GOOD SHEPHERD. He cares for you.

Join us on Sunday mornings at 10 A,M. Pacific time for worship at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church if you connect at 10 am on Sundays you can chat live with others, fellowship and share your prayer concerns.

If you need prayer email me or go to our website and click on the prayer icon and write out your prayer concern.

See you Sunday.

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/16/20

Seed of Faith – Green Pastures   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters;” Psalm 23:1-2

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and Faithful Friends,

As we move to Pentecost, May 31st, and the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church, we have been walking slowly through Psalm 23.  We are walking verse by verse. As always, I encourage you take this Psalm, or any Psalm, read a verse and stop and pray that verse. During this time of worldwide pandemic, Psalm 23 is a good idea.

In our last few Seeds of Faith, we’ve spent our time looking at this beloved psalm. we’ve learned that when the shepherd boy, David, wrote this Psalm he was declaring that HIS personal shepherd, MY Lord, My Yahweh, was unchanging. How comforting it is for us to study and know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday, and God will be the same tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).

I am going to digress for a minute. `

With this pandemic, our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. Each one of us is trying to find a new, different normal. Are we called to stay home? Are we called to stay away from others and stay safe. Our teachers and students are working from home, many of our business are closed or only open for drive-up. Many of our city, county and state offices are closed or working with a skeleton crew. Our churches are closed and the fellowship and communion we share as a community is now being done through the internet. We are so thankful for each and every essential workers, for all the hospital staff — Doctors, nurses, technicians, and support staff. We are thankful for our first responders, firefighters, EMTs, ambulance drivers, police officers and our military personnel. What amazing courage and bravery they show us daily. Pray they (and their families) remain safe from all harm.

As I was reading this week during my stay at home orders, I decided to read Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Do you know that Jesus’ longest teaching is found in Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7? Off the top of your head, do you know what the main theme of this teaching is? Worry? In your spare, quarantine time, go read Matthew 6:25-34. You will read profound words about worry:  Look at the birds of the air and how God takes care of them. Look at the lilies of the field and see how God takes care of them. Hear Jesus saying to you, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew  6:33-34)

We need to remember this: do not worry about tomorrow. The Lord, who is our Good Shepherd, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and the Good Shepherd has much to say to us if we only will STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.

Before we turn to God’s Word for us today, we come to throne of grace and mercy in prayer, “Lord, God, remind us that You are unchanging. Remind us that You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Remind us to put our trust in You. During this time of Covid-19, we need to stop our worrying and listen to You, our Good Shepherd.  We trust that You will bring us to green pasture and still waters. We pray that You will restore our souls and bless each one of us with a new normal. Lord, lead us in paths of righteousness and be with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Fill our cup to overflowing. O, great, shepherd of the sheep, help us to trust that Your goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives so that we will live with You forever. Amen”

A boy named Geoffrey heard that evangelist D. L. Moody was coming to preach at a nearby church. Geoffrey had walked all day to get to the church where the great man was to speak. When he was about to enter the church, a doorman noted Geoffrey’s unwashed face and shabby clothes, “You’re too dirty to go inside!” Geoffrey was turned away.

Just then a distinguished-looking man arrived. Seeing tears on the boy’s face, he asked the boy, “What’s wrong?” Geoffrey blurted out, “I came to hear Dr. Moody, but they said I’m too dirty to go inside.” “Here, take my hand. Come with me.” Geoffrey took the man’s hand and was led inside — where he was promptly seated in the front row! The man who had gotten out of the car, the man who had been holding his hand and then walked to the pulpit and began to preach was none other than D.L. Moody! Geoffrey had held the hand of D. L. Moody. Jesus offers us His hand at the cross. Take it. You will be welcomed and accepted in His heavenly home.[i] Better than the front row, you get the front row for all eternity.

Psalm 23 is an invitation to enter into a trusting relationship with our Good Shepherd. Psalm 23 is an invitation to a front row seat with Good Shepherd. We are dirty, shabby and worn from walking in the world. Take the Good Shepherd’s hand. He will lead you and guide you to a front row seat in the stadium of life! ALL are welcome! Psalm 23 is a song of trust! Psalm 23 teaches us how the Good Shepherd is Personal, takes us by the hand and will lead us out. In verse two, we hear that the Good Shepherd provides for us. There are seasons when the Good Shepherd will make us to lie down in green pastures. The Good Shepherd protects us. Jesus mans the gate and lays down His life in order to protect us. (I think of our essential workers. Laying down their own lives in order to be ESSENTIAL! Thank you again!)

Our verse for today paints a picture of us resting in lush, green pastures besides refreshing, still waters.

Over the next two Seed’s of faith we are going to look at two words: “PROVISION” and “PEACE”.

1. “PROVISION.” What is provision? Where do we find provision? In whom do we find our provision?

2. “PEACE.” Where do we find peace? Who is our peace?

In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 Phillip Keller writes, “The strange thing about sheep is that because of their make-up, it is almost impossible for them to lie down unless four requirements are met. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear. Because of their social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind. If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only free of these pests can they relax. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They must be free from hunger.”[ii]

Think about these four words that begin with the letter “F”

1. Free from Fear!

2. Free from Friction!

3. Free from Flies!

4. Free from Famine!

Sheep must be free from all four of these in order to be able to rest. Keller writes that only the shepherd can provide what is needed in order to free the sheep to  be able to rest and lie down in peace.

Isn’t it interesting that Psalm 23 begins with rest? I might expect it to begin with motion, action, or activity, but the Psalm begins with sheep resting in green pastures, beside still waters. Maybe, just maybe, we are studying this Psalm so that we can hear that this stay at home time is a time for us to rest. Friends, we all need to rest from the ways of the world. Take a rest from the electronics and find that in your quiet, God has provided for you. Lord, walk each one of us—essential or not—to the green pastures and sill waters that we will benefit from. Remember: it will look different for each one of us. I hear of people who are making masks by the 100’s and GIVING them away! I hear of friends ZOOMING with their families! I hear of many teachers and students who are e-learning each day: teachers grasping at new ways of technology in order to reach and teach their students. I hear of families hosting GAME NIGHT! I know a man who is busy recording music and setting it to videos on YouTube. (FaithfulSeedMusic on youtube.)  Just the other day, my wife tried out her mom’s paint pencils. She found a frame and is now adding her prayer concerns to that. I know of a woman who can’t sit still inside her home, so she is INSTACART shopping for others—with a huge smile on her face! I know of a mom who converted her garage into a playground for her preschool son! Our Good Shepherd is impressing upon each of us some pretty great ideas during this Covid-19 season but I pray we don’t get so busy that we miss…green pastures and still waters.

Without a shepherd, the sheep cannot rest.

SO WHAT?
I have a “SO WHAT?” homework assignment for you: Circle the pronouns in Psalm 23. I found 28 personal pronouns in these six verses in my translation. Let’s see, 28 words of the 118 total words in the Psalm is almost 25 percent of the entire text! This Psalm is a personal note to you and me!

Here in verse 2, notice the two personal pronouns in front of the two verbs:

HE makes me … HE leads me …

Who is the active one? Who is in charge of the action? It is the shepherd!

The shepherd selects the trails, removes the rocks, and clears the way for reaching green pastures. The shepherd finds the clear, refreshing water that will RESTORE our SOUL! What’s the job of the sheep? To watch, to follow, to eat, to rest, and to trust the Good Shepherd.

SO WHAT? HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:  watch, follow, eat,  rest and trust the Good Shepherd. Enjoy those green pastures and still waters. It could get really crazy really soon.

If anyone needs prayer please write me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will pray for and we will add your prayer concern to our church’s prayer tree of faith and our church will prayer for you!  You can always go to our YouTube channel and watch our weekly messages or you can watch our online service on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific and chat and with as we worship the Lord.  The online access is theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Just a note for fun. My former AP (Associate Pastor) was raised in a family that raised sheep. She taught me that sheep can be really dumb. That’s a side note, what I want you to know is that last Sunday I decided to listen to her preach, she’s really a great preacher. Hmm, she was teaching her people how to pray the psalms! It was fantastic to see how God is still intersecting our lives–all of our lives.  Open up a Psalm this week and give it a try: Pray Psalm 23. Let me know how it goes!

See You Sunday!
God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 8/7/20

Seed of Faith – Walk With God   By Pastor Dave  

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:21-24

Dear Faithful and Fearless Friends and Family,

As I have been reading and thinking about this message,  I thought about Enoch and his short story in Genesis 5.  We do not know a lot about Enoch but what stopped me was verse 22.  It was after Enoch became the father of Methuselah that we are told that he walked with God.  I have read this passage many times, but was never stopped by the fact that it was after Enoch became a father that he walked with God.

I think sometimes it takes children to bring a father to God. Here are a few lessons that we can learn from Enoch:

1. Be sure you are on the right path.  Before Methuselah was born, we are not told much about Enoch. But after his son was born, old Enoch finally gets on the right path. I do not know where you are in your walk with God. I do not know if you have been walking with God a long time or maybe you are like Enoch–waiting for a good reason to walk with God. Friends, it is never too late to start walking with God. Just DO it!

2. Be sure you are walking at the right pace.  I remember when our children and grandchildren were beginning to learn to walk. As a dad and paw paw, I had to really slow my pace so that their little feet could walk alongside of me.  Sometimes I set them on my feet so they could walk as Daddy or Paw Paw walked. Since moving our 88 year-old-father-in-law in with us,  I have had to relearn to walk at his pace. His eyes are dim, his feet are wobbly and his pace is slow. I do not know who you are walking with, or  with who God may be calling you to walk with, but I encourage you to walk at the right pace. Life and death hang in this delicate balance; learning this skill can bring such life if we only learn.

3. Be sure you are going to the right place.  The Bible says that Enoch walked with God and then God took Enoch up to heaven. Enoch went to heaven without dying. He went right into glory and he never died. But his son, Methuselah died. Who do you think was the first person who met Methuselah when he went through the gates of glory (after Christ, of course) ? I have a feeling it was Enoch. By walking with God, Enoch had led his son to the right place.  Remember that there are people following in your footsteps and learning from your examples.

When I was in the tire business, I would take my children to work with me on Saturdays.  I thought it would be good for them to see their father in his work environment. One Saturday, I took our son along with me.  Of course, we stopped in the morning for donuts, juice and coffee. We also made a stop at one of my customers and picked up a load of truck tires.  The truck tires were stacked high in the truck bed and they were hanging out over the edges. I could not see out of my rear-view mirror or out my side mirrors very well.  When we arrived at the tire store, one of my employees stood behind me to help me back up the truck into the shop to unload.  I opened my driver’s door and leaned out in order to see how close I was to the opening of the garage bay.  My son imitated me, he opened his door on the passenger side and was mimicking what I was doing.  The only problemwas that there was a cement pole by his door., When he opened his door, I backed up and the door was crumpled up by the cement pole. When I heard the crashing metal, I hit the brake and looked over at my son.  His eyes were wider than flying saucers.  Tears were beginning to fill them.  I pulled ahead and jumped out of the truck to make sure that he was not hurt.  I know that for sure he thought he was going to be in trouble.  I was thankful that he was not hurt.  I did not yell, I did not belittle him, I did not get mad.  I was thankful that he was not hurt.  I told him that doors can be fixed, and it was not a big deal.  I believe that morning I taught my son to walk the right path, at the right pace, so that we can get to the right place.

Enoch’s life is one of the shortest recorded in the genealogy. It is an amazing fact that Enoch never dies, he just walked with God all the way to heaven.  Yet, did you know, Enoch’s son, Methuselah, lived is the longest life recorded in Scripture — 969 years. Methuselah is the oldest person to live and we are told in the Gospel of Luke that Methuselah is in the genealogy of Jesus.  A fine example of walking on the right path, at the right pace, and ending up at the right place.

So What?
Maybe some earlier so what questions.
Are you walking on the right path?
Are you walking at the right pace?
Are you walking to the right place?

Walk in faithfulness!  Walk on the right path, at the right pace, heading yourself to the right place.  I pray that during this pandemic you do not panic.  I pray that during this time of uncertainty you find for certain the ONE and ONLY HOPE that is our anchor in all storms of life.  Our HOPE is Jesus!

It is never too late to turn over a new leaf in your life. What a great example we have here in Enoch. Enoch did not walk with God early in his life but after his son was born we are told that he walked with God.  Enoch ended up on the right path walking at the right pace heading to right place.  Enoch walked with God and never died!

Are you walking with God today? Know this: It is never too late to get on the right path and walk with God. My guess is that even when you’ve crumpled your life up, God is more concerned if you are okay than in punishing you. God is love, never forget that. Bring your walk to God and let our Father teach you: the right path, the right pace, the right place!

Join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific for some wonderful worship, fantastic fellowship through our online chats and prayer and our weekly message that will help you walk on the right path with God. We have been doing a series on John 4 called “Surprised By God.” May you be surprised by God this day, and every day!

Here is the link for the online service

www.theseedchristianfellowship.online.church 

If you miss the live online service you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the weekly worship service or just the weekly message. Please, during this time of the pandemic, FEED YOUR SPIRIT! Feast on God’s word.

Our YouTube channel is The Seed Christian Fellowship. Go to YOU TUBE online and be encouraged by The Seed–Jesus Christ himself.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/17/20

Seed of Faith – Jesus In My Heart   By Pastor Dave  

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,…” Ephesians 3:16

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers,

Over the next few weeks, our Seed of Faith will be looking at Paul’s powerful prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. I encourage you take this passage and read it over and over again for a week.  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and strengthen you.  Here is the passage:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV)

Slow down this week and ponder all of the possibilities of being filled with the power of God!

The Apostle Paul emphasizes the activity and the initiative of God, the Father. This is not our work or initiative or activity, it is not something we could ever accomplish on our own.  This work of love does not happen if we think more positively, do more good works, or work harder. The work belongs to God and is all about the superabundant gift of God called grace!

Paul tells us that this work begins INSIDE OF US—our “inner being”; we are being given strength and power through the Holy Spirit so that Christ will be able to “dwell in our hearts through faith” and we can become “rooted and grounded in love.” Have you ever thought of that?  The Holy Spirit helps Christ dwell in our hearts through the exercising of our faith. Christ takes root…and grounds us and establishes us and grows us in His boundless love.  WOW.

This prayer is also a model prayer representing the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit strengthening our inner being with His power, Christ dwelling in our hearts so that we are rooted and grounded in boundless love; a love that is so deep, so wide, so long and so tall that finally—we become filled with the fullness of Father Creator God

Alexander MacLaren, a famous minister in Great Briton, gave six sermons on this passage.  In his commentary on this passage, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones  took two hundred and sixteen pages to search out the meaning of these verses. I wish we had that kind of time!  This morning I would like for us to put to memory verse 19:

“to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Where does the boundless love of God dwell?
 
“Where is the dwelling of God?” 

This was the question with which the rabbi of Kotzk surprised a number of learned men who happened to be visiting him. They laughed at him, “What a thing to ask! Is not the whole world full of his glory?” Then the rabbi answered his own question,  “God dwells wherever man lets him in.” [i]

What a powerful statement!  God dwells wherever we let God in! 

The questions for us today is:

·         where am I allowing God to dwell?

·         Am I being rooted and grounded more and more each day with the power of the Holy Spirit?

·         Is Christ dwelling in my heart?  In the original Greek, the word that Paul uses for “dwell” in verse 17 means “permanent residence, not a transitory stop along the way.”

Paul wants to encourage the people of Ephesus that even when times get hard, the road gets long, the way becomes difficult, the journey becomes too weary–don’t quit! Remain in the boundless love of Christ.

This brings me back to my homechurch long ago. I will never forget little Ben; he was all of 4 years old at the time.  He is the son of dear friends back in Illinois and Ben was going to have eye surgery.  On Sunday after worship, Ben’s family and a few friends gathered in the church office to pray for little Ben.  We formed a circle around Ben by holding hands and we went around the room and prayed.  We thought we were all done, when all of a sudden little Ben shouted, “Hey, what about me!?  I want to pray!”  We grabbed hands again and little Ben prayed, “Jesus, in my heart.  Amen.”  Wow!  What a prayer — “Jesus In My Heart.  Amen.”

So What?
This is what Paul is trying to remind the people of Ephesus, and you and me, today.  We are to keep Jesus in our hearts no matter what comes our way.  Let’s say it together — “JESUS, IN MY HEART!”

We are in uncharted waters. We’ve never been this way before but God has. The creator is not surprised. Ever watchful, ever guiding, we have a God who hears our cries. I just received a call from a dear friend. Her son started watching our online worship services and told his mom he’s rededicated his life to Christ. Sometimes, just those four words can still the storm: Jesus, in my heart. Sometimes, just those four words can build a bridge from chaos to peace: Jesus in my heart. Sometimes a little four year old’s prayer is more powerful than the pastor’s: Jesus, in my heart.

Thanks, Ben! God bless your heart!

Join us on Sunday at 10am Pacific time for our online service.  We are having a little sermon series on John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.  You join in the fellowship through a live chat, prayer time and worship.  The link for the live Sunday service is … theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

If you miss the online service, you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship and watch our YouTubes. or go to our website and click on icon for messages.

See you Sunday,

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/10/20

Seed of Faith – Hope and Dry Bones   By Pastor Dave  

“I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:14

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,

It with joy that I sit down to write a Seed of Faith.  It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty, confusion, doubts and fears that this message will bring you HOPE!  I encourage you to read Ezekiel 37:1-15.  Maybe your bones feel dried up during this time of quarantine and social distancing. During this time of staying home, I have had time to wait and read.  I have been reading a book by Dr. A. W. Tozer, author, and pastor.  Tozer wrote, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.[i]

In my reading, I was struck by verse eleven in Ezekiel, “Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’”

Do you feel like Ezekiel? Are your bones beginning to dry up? Or are they dried up already? Is your hope strong or is your hope gone? Do you feel cut off? Just today I have heard from two other men who texted me and said, “I’m really struggling, Pastor Dave. Please pray for me.” I heard from two men yesterday. The world has been dealing with the pandemic since March? Four months and it’s not over yet. I don’t know the answers but I do know the ONE who knows the answers.

I remember a time in my first church when I was going through a difficult situation. To be plain honest, I was wondering why in the world I ever went into ministry.  I had given up everything to follow Christ. I had planned to serve one church and retire in the Ozarks but things were not working out. The church I served was in conflict. Jac and I lived in southwest Missouri—30 miles from Silver Dollar City, which we dubbed “Steal Your Dollar City”.  One thing about Jac and I, we love to escape and get away where no one knows our name (opposite of “CHEERS”!) We got away just about every Sunday night. One Sunday night as the park was closing, we noticed that there were as many people flooding into the park as out of the park. “Aren’t they closing?” Being the extrovert, Jac asked someone who was heading into the gate, “Where are you headed? Isn’t the park closed? Are you the clean up crew?” The woman explained that every Sunday night there’s an open-air concert. We Turned around and followed the other crowd! We made our way into the rock-cut amphitheater and sat down in the back row. Little did we know that God had a huge blessing/gift waiting for us as we waited for the concert. The group walked out onstage and played. They were great. And, as usual, for a Christian band, the leader of the group began to witness. He said, “We’re going to sing a song and I want to ask you to remain seated until you can honestly stand and say, ‘Jesus, MY HOPE IS YOU.’” I will never forget this moment as long as I live. The band leader talked about the hope he had in God the Father, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. The leader said, “Please don’t stand until you are 100% sure that GOD IS YOUR HOPE” and they started to play, “My Hope Is You.” The scene was holy and humble. 

One by one the crowd began to stand.  Slowly at first.  “My Hope is You” by Third Day, listen to the words.

TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT MY SOUL.
IN YOU, O GOD, I PLACE MY TRUST.
DO NOT LET ME BE PUT TO SHAME NOR LET MY ENEMIES TRIUMPH OVER ME.
MY HOPE IS YOU.
SHOW ME YOUR WAYS.
GUIDE ME IN TRUTH
IN ALL MY DAYS
MY HOPE IS YOU.
I AM, O LORD, FILLED WITH YOUR LOVE.
YOU ARE, O GOD, MY SALVATION.
GUARD MY LIFE AND RESCUE ME.
MY BROKEN SPIRIT SHOUTS.
MY MENDED HEART CRIES OUT:
MY HOPE IS YOU…SHOW ME YOUR WAYS…GUIDE ME IN TRUTH…IN ALL MY DAYS…MY HOPE IS YOU.

I don’t know how many times they played the song. I was the last one in the crowd to stand. Yes, me, the pastor. I did not want to place all of my hope in God—I wanted to help God out. The Holy Spirit came into my life in a powerful way that night and spoke to my heart. Jac and I had given up everything we had, everything we knew in order to follow God’s call on our lives. I had actually been thinking that maybe I was not cut out for ministry after all. Maybe Jac and I should go back to selling trucks and tires. Keep our world small and comfortable.

And then the band played that song.

I knew that I knew that I knew that God had confirmed, yet again, our call to ministry. I was undone. Sitting and standing in a rock cut amphitheater, God reached down into my heart and said, “Your only job is to follow where I lead.”

I do not know WHERE your hope is. I do not know WHO your hope is in. I do know that many of us feel like the dry bones in passage from Ezekiel. The pandemic has shut us down. We can agree with Ezekiel, “Our bones are dried up. Our hope is gone. We are cut off.”

My prayer is that you will allow the power of the Holy Spirit to breathe life back into your dry bones. Here is a link for a YouTube for “MY HOPE IS YOU” by Third Day.

https://youtu.be/85XmMoYlTPU

Sit down and listen…and do not stand up until you can say, “I believe that GOD MY HOPE.” Worship our God, the healer of our dry bones. Think about all of the blessings God has showered your life with. Think of your life. It really is a wonderful life. I will be praying for you as you listen. I’m praying now!

An American with an English gentleman was viewing the Niagara whirlpool rapids, when he said to his friend: “Come, and I’ll show you the greatest unused power in the world.” And taking him to the foot of Niagara Falls, “There,” he said, “is the greatest unused power in the world!” “Ah, no, my brother, not so!” was the reply. “The greatest unused power in the world is the Holy Spirit of the living God.[i]

Our reading of the prophecy in Ezekiel tells us that the power of the Holy Spirit can bring life into dead bones. Do you remember the last verse in our reading from Ezekiel this morning?  “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”(Ezekiel 37:14)

The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring life!  The big, theological word for the work of the Holy Spirit is “regeneration.”  Regeneration: “to form again, to replace broken body parts with new growth, to restore spiritually.”  For all you computer techies, “regenerate” means “to restore signals to original wave shapes.”  I cannot tell you how to do that electronically but what I can tell you is that the Holy Spirit can! The HOLY SPIRIT’S JOB IS TO regenerate you!  The Holy Spirit wants to form you into the image of Christ!  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken parts of your life.  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships between us…between you and God—all because of sin.  The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships we have and wants to heal the brokenness of the world. And, BTW–by the way–regenerate is a verb so that means that the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit is not a noun (a thing, a place, a person) but the regeneration is an action!  The third person of the Holy Trinity—the Identical Twin of Jesus—the promised Holy Spirit, wants to form us anew, wants to replace our broken parts with new growth, and wants to restore us spiritually! The Holy Spirit wants to bring life into your dry bones. Holy Cannoli—think about that!

So What?
The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of power!  The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of fullness so that we can be God’s witnesses to others! The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of hope!

We started with A. W. Tozer; we will end with Tozer:

Ninety-five percent of what the early church did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What if the disciples had not listened? What if they had not waited like they were instructed?  What if they had gone out in their own power?

Here is the real “so what” for us: Put yourself in the story! You are there in the Upper Room. Plenty of your friends. You’ve just witnessed the crucifixion. Yet, Jesus has appeared to you in this very room. You were asked to wait.

What are you waiting for?

Remember the Holy Spirit? Remember the regenerating work?

WAIT.

And soon they all received the power of the Holy Spirit.  They burned with a steady, inward fire.  They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon. They turned the entire world upside down.

Will you? Will we? Will the church wait for the Holy Spirit’s wind and fire to fill them? The pandemic has all waiting in one way or another. I’m praying for the regeneration of our generation by the HOLY SPIRIT.

Join us for worship on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time.  You can go to theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 a.m. Sunday and join in the fellowship with live chats and prayers.  You can join in the worship and sing your heart out.  You can joinin a study of God’s word.  If you miss the live service you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

May the Holy Spirit fill your heart and your “upper room”/home/work with the fire and grace and mercy of God’s love.  May the HOPE of the Lord be your strength and joy as your dry bones are healed.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/2/20

Seed of Faith – Freedom   By Pastor Dave  

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” Galatians 5:13

Dear “faithful & free” Seed Sowers,

This weekend we will be celebrating the freedom we have in our nation.  May we never forget the great cost of freedom and may we always remember the freedom we have in Christ.

When you hear the word “FREEDOM,” what are you are thinking? There’s all types of freedom: political freedom, economic freedom, financial freedom, there’s free speech, free will, free-lance, free-fall, free for all, and/or free agent.  This coming Saturday, our nation has a day set aside to remember our freedom: July 4th, Independence Day!

Webster defines “freedom”: “the state or quality of being free; exemption or liberation from control of some other person or some arbitrary power; liberty; independence.”[i]

The Greek word for “freedom” that our good friend, Paul, uses in Galatians 5:1 is “eleutheria” which is pronounced “el-yoo-ther-ee’-ah.”  Paul is talking about the liberty that is found only in, and through, Jesus Christ.

The concept of freedom in the New Testament is freedom from the law, freedom from sin and freedom from death.  This kind of freedom was achieved by Christ on the cross. Christ was ultimately free from the law, from sin and death!

Atop the hill in Washington D.C. stands the Capitol building of the United States of America.  The cornerstone was laid in 1793 but the crowning touch is the statue on top of the rotunda known as the “Freedom Lady” placed there in 1863.  The “Freedom Lady” stands nearly 20 feet tall and stands proudly atop the dome.  A crest of stars frames her face.  A shield of Stars and Stripes is in her left hand. How did the Freedom Lady find her way to the top of the Capital building?

“Freedom Lady” was sculpted in Rome and brought to America aboard a sailing ship.  During the trip across the Atlantic, a fierce storm developed.  The captain ordered all cargo to be thrown overboard in order to lighten the load.  The sailors wanted to throw the heavy statue overboard, but the captain refused, shouting over the wind, “No! Never! We will flounder before we throw ‘Freedom’ away.”  “FREEDOM” was saved, and the statue now stands above the dome–because one man stood for “FREEDOM.”

When I think of America, I think of freedom!  In a few days people will be celebrating Independence Day.  With Covid 19, all of our normal and familiar 4th of July activities will not be taking place like they have in years past. Many people will not travel to see loved ones; most will stay home.  Some will BBQ and have their own fireworks, while others will go on picnics or hikes. My guess is there will not be very many hometown parades or fireworks displays.

This can lead us to stop and pray, and to stop and think about why we celebrate our country’s freedom in the first place. There’s a great question: Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

In order to answer this question, we need to go back and search our US History. We celebrate this July 4th because of what happened in 1776!  We celebrate the actions of other people—people we only know about by reading history books. We celebrate the actions of Americans who lived without electricity, running water, regular mail service, internet, cell phones or Super Walmarts!  Think about it, what a stark existence these Americans were willing to fight for.

The Declaration of Independence was written to break the stranglehold of tyranny.  Oppression, abuse, removal of rights, false justice and punishment were the charges that were brought to the King. There’s a Scriptural comparison found in a writing of Paul, the apostle. For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.

Today I want you to think about three things:

1. the purpose of freedom,

2. the perseverance of freedom

3. the person of freedom.

THE PURPOSE OF FREEDOM
The purpose of our freedom is defined in Galatians 5:  “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”  In Christ we are set free from a set of rules.  Did you know that by the time of Christ, the Jewish leaders had taken the Ten Commandments and had added over 600 rules to live by? Jesus Christ has set us free from the Law—from a set of over 600 rituals.

Over the next few weeks of this summer, I want to talk about worship.  I will use John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well as our springboard for worship.  We are going to look at “Why We Do What We Do.”  In Michael Horton’s book, A Better Way; Rediscovering The Drama of Christ-Centered Worship, he gives an illustration of great revivals of worship.  Horton says, “When God’s people understand who God is, who they are in His presence, and what is happening to them when they come into His presence, not only their minds but their hearts are transformed.”[i]

John Calvin called worship “the great theater”[ii] in which God descends to act before a watching world.

Have you ever thought that maybe the purpose of our freedom in Christ is for us to truly accept who we are in Christ?  Do you know who you are in Christ? My last thought that I want you entertain is this: What two laws did Jesus establish for believers to obey? (Love God. Love others as you love yourself?) Doesn’t it seem foolish then to trade the freedom you now have in Christ in these two laws for a different (or former) yoke of slavery? Pray about this.

THE PERSON OF FREEDOM
“It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”  It is Christ who set us free–not the “Freedom Lady,” “Statue of Liberty,” “Declaration of Independence,” or the “Constitution.” Though all of these are good and give us freedom, true freedom comes from Christ alone.  In John 8:32, ?”Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” and later on in John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“So what?” do these ancient words have to share with us today?  What does freedom really mean to me?  Are we free from the law?  Are we free from sin? Are we free from death?

With the shut-down, I have a lot of time to think and pray.  I’m thinking about this SEED OF FAITH.  I’m deep in thought about the true meaning of worship. I really want you to read John chapter four this next week. It’s been since March that we have not been able to go into our physical buildings in order to attend church.  This is what I’ve been pondering: WORSHIP. Did I go to church on Sundays prepared to worship God?  Do I honestly  understand that I have been set free from 600+ rituals?  Do I realize that my great God entered my life by sending Christ to set me free?  Isn’t this the truth of why we worship?

This week don’t just celebrate our country’s 244th birthday as a free nation! Celebrate your freedom in Christ! Celebrate your freedom from adhering to 600+ rules and regulations! Celebrate loving God and loving others! And truly stop and think about this: am I honestsly ready to return to worship?

This whole covid-19 has deeply affected each one of us. One thing I know, God is God. I am not. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart when I was 12. My oldest brother had been killed in a car accident. Thirteen years later, I rededicated my life to Christ and have followed these two laws: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS AS I LOVE MYSELF. I am forgiven and I am set free because of the cross of Christ.

Join us live on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific time for worship at

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

You can chat, pray and fellowship with others as we worship in the freedom of Christ.  If you miss the live worship on Sundays, you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship and watch the weekly service or just the Sunday Message. This Sunday my wife is back giving the kid message because our awesome Miss Sherri is traveling home from vacation. What I want you to know is that the Holy Spirit is still busy working in the body of Christ–even as we are apart from one another. Miss Jac is doing a July 4th message on cupcakes: same but different…and different is okay. JOIN US!

See you Sunday

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[i] Michael Horton, A Better Way; Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mi.; 2002

[ii] John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, Psalms III:12, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mi.; 1998

[i] David Guralnik, Webster’s New World Dictionary, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York,; 1972

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/25/20

Seed of Faith – Surely – Goodness and Mercy  By Pastor Dave  

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” Psalm 23:6

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and SHEEP brothers and sisters in Christ,

For the past five weeks, we have been  taking a journey with our Good Shepherd. We have been sharing together a slow, but wonderful, walk through the six verses of Psalm 23. I pray that our walk with the Good Shepherd has given us a fresh, new and life-giving perspective on the goodness and mercy of our Great Shepherd.

Psalm 23 is about security!  Security found in the promises of God.  Security found in the provision of God. This Psalm also speaks to me of confidence — the kind of “Tarzan chest thumping, end-zone dancing, we will ROCK you” confidence.  This Psalm oozes with confidence.

Why is this Psalm so confident? 
How can it be so confident? 
What is the secret to the confidence found in this Psalm?

The answer is found here in verse six.  There is one word that summarizes the entire Psalm: “SECURITY!”

Where does this security come from? Our security is found in the goodness and mercy of God! This Psalm is all about being secure in God’s love and care as we journey through green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, valleys of the shadows, dining at the table in the presence of our enemies, and finally going home with our Good Shepherd eternally, forever and ever.

Listen to the verse again, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.”   Did you catch it?  Did you hear it?  It is the very first word.  Surely.

Heads up: don’t miss this word: “SURELY!”

The psalmist did not say, “ Well maybe, it could be, or possibly.” The writer didn’t say, “I have a hunch, or this sounds like a good idea.” Nope. Nada. The psalmist said, “SURELY!”

I like Webster’s definition, “surely”: “safe, secure, will not fail, always effective, can be relied on, depended on, trustworthy —cannot be doubted, questioned, or disputed; absolutely true.”[ii]

The Hebrew word for “surely” is “awkal,” and it is used as a marker for emphasis in the Hebrew language.  This marker wants to tell us something important: God is SURELY with YOU and because God is with you, YOU can be secure!  David is telling us: What goes before this word and what follows this word (surely) can be relied on, depended on and is trustworthy! In other words that you might understand better:

TAKE IT TO THE BANK! THIS PROMISE IS 100% BACKED UP BY GOD’S SECURE PROMISES!

What words follow “surely”?  Goodness and mercy. Go through this entire Psalm and know:  God is your shepherd and you shall not want. You will lie down in green pastures; you will be led beside still waters; you will be restored! Our good shepherd will leads you in right paths. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death—you will fear no evil because God’s rod and staff– will comfort you. There will be a table prepared for you in the presence of your enemies. You will be anointed with oil; and your cup is promised to overflow.  And…if you’re not certain of all of this…the psalmist says the one word above all the others: SURELY! Take it to the bank, dear sheep, because GOD’S goodness and mercy will follow each one of us all the days of our lives, and we are promised that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord our whole life long. SURELY! I think of, “I PROMISE.”

In his book God’s Psychiatry, Dr. Charles L. Allen told of a man who came to see him. This fellow had risen to the top of his company, but along the way he had lost his peace of mind. He was a worried, tense, sick man. He had been to doctors and taken bottles of pills, but nothing helped. Dr. Allen took out a sheet of paper and wrote a “prescription” for the man. He prescribed the Twenty-third Psalm five times a day for seven days. He insisted the man carry out the assignment to the letter. Upon awakening each morning, the man was to read through the psalm carefully, meditatively, and prayerfully. Immediately after breakfast, he was to do the same, then after lunch, again after dinner, and finally the last thing before going to bed. Allen gave the prescription with the confidence that it would work, because he had given out that same advice many times, and it had never failed. “That prescription sounds simple,” he wrote in his book, “but really it isn’t. The Twenty-third Psalm is one of the most powerful pieces of writing in existence, and it can do marvelous things for any person. I have suggested this to many people, and in every instance where I know it was tried, it always produced results. It can change your life in seven days.”[iii]

Now listen to the promise from Paul in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

SURELY…be convinced…take God’s word to the bank of heaven…and be convinced that there is nothing in all creation that can separate you from the love of God—found in Christ, our good Shepherd! You see, this psalm has nothing to do with us being anything but sheep! We are sheep, we are always going to be sheep. God is the action maker:  GOD is our GOOD SHEPHERD…GOD WILL LEAD US, FEED US, GUIDE US, ANOINT US, and CARE AND LOVE US…and nothing can ever separate us from our Good Shepherd–not death, not a motorhome trip from Florida to California, not covid 19. NOPE. NOTHING.

Speaking of a 2,600 mile motorhome trip,  I had some great alone, driving time! I was reminded of the first time I came to California in the summer of 1999. I came to do an interview for a church in Upland, California.  I had been interviewing with other churches at the time, in fact, I was getting close to accepting a call from a church in Boca Raton, Florida. Then the Upland church called and asked me to fly out and do an interview with them. I am going to tell you the truth, I did not want to go to California but our oldest daughter was in graduate school at BIOLA in Southern California.  The church said, “We think you’re the guy, so come and stay a week and visit your daughter on us. We only want three days of your time.” It was the week of her birthday.  I thought it was a good idea, even though I thought for sure that I was going to Boca Raton, Florida. I will tell you the church in Boca Raton called me and offered me a “signing” bonus if I did not go to California for this visit.  I told them I had given the church in Upland my word and I will fulfill my word. We landed in Ontario, CA, for our interview.  The church put us up at the Doubletree Hotel.  That next morning I was reading my Psalms, Psalm 92. I got to verses12-15, and the Holy Spirit told me to look up. Right outside my second-story, outdoor balcony were tall, majestic palm tress. I know that this will sound strange but the Holy Spirit spoke right to my heart. “How do these palm trees grow? They grow straight and point their branches to heaven.”  Then I read the next part of the Psalm 92 where it talked about the cedars of Lebanon. Again, the Holy Spirit interrupted my reading and said, “Look higher.”  It was a clear morning and you could see the cedar trees standing strong up on Mt Baldy and Cucamonga Peak.  The next part of Psalm 92 is that the righteous will be planted like those palm trees and cedar trees–in the house of the Lord … they will bear fruit even in their old age. I started weeping. What you don’t know is that I had told God a long time ago that I would go anywhere he called me to go except to Alaska, New York or California. I knew at that moment that God was calling me to California. You see, I don’t boss my shepherd. My shepherd bosses me. I don’t tell my shepherd where I will or won’t go. My shepherd finds the right pastures, and still waters for me. Following my shepherd is my job. My shepherd’s job is to lead me, protect me, guide me–all the way home.

The Final word of Psalm 23 is “forever” and it literally means “from sunrise to sunset.” What I hear is that from my first breath to my last breath, from my first sunrise to my final sunset–I am surely safe in my Good Shepherd’s care…not just yesterday, not just today, but I am safe FOREVER! (Think about that the next time you enjoy a sunrise or sunset.)

SURELY and FOREVER what wonderful words!

So What
So what do these ancient words written thousands of years ago have to do with me today?

What are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” 

I cannot guarantee what your future holds, or what mine holds.  I cannot open the palm of my hand and tell you the length of your days, or how things will work out.  I cannot tell you who you are going to marry, how many children or grandchildren you will have.  I cannot tell you if you will succeed in your business, if you will be rich or in debt.  I cannot promise that you will not have your heart broken, that you will not be hurt or suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually or spiritually. I cannot tell you that you will not panic or face a pandemic. But I do know that I can trust the living words of our Good Shepherd.

What I can tell you is that you have a Good Shepherd who holds your future in His loving hands.  Listen, Psalm 139 states that you are wonderfully made. The GOD who thought you up cared so much about you that you’ve been provided a Good Shepherd to lead you home. The Good Shepherd’s goodness and mercy that this psalm talks about is the embrace of GOD around your past, your present and your future.

TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!

The LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD — that is all we need.

In this very unpredictable and unstable season, we can be secure. We have all the security we will ever need: Jesus Christ, a cross, and an empty tomb–talk about a GOOD SHEPHERD.

Join us this Sunday for our online worship service at 10 A.M. Pacific.  You can chat and offer up your prayer concerns.  The link for the online service is  — theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

If you miss the online service you can always watch our complet service or just the Sunday message on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship

May the Lord bless you with His goodness and mercy as you go this week, and as you go each day of your wonderful life. You are loved.

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

[ii] Guralnik, David, Editor, Webster’s New World Dictionary, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970), 1432

[iii] Allen, God’s Psychiatry,13-14

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/20/20

Seed of Faith – My Cup Overflows   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers, and Lovers of GOD:

It is my prayer that as we go through this world-wide pandemic, with it’s shutdowns, slowdowns and stay-at-home times, that we will come to know one thing: our Good Shepherd will never leave nor forsake us. Are you having a difficult day? Pick up your bible and read Psalm 23, turn on a Christian radio station. PRAISING GOD will lift your heart, mind and spirit! In our home I say, “Alexa, play Christian piano music.” It’s the background music for most of my day.

We have been in Psalm 23 for weeks now!  I think it is providential that we are walking with Good Shepherd during this season of life.  Last week, we took a few minutes to look at the first part of verse five. Today we study and learn that our Good Shepherd wants to anoint our heads with oil and have our cup overflow.

Hear the Good News!  Hear or read the promises in the LIVING WORD that God has promised us repeatedly. As I have reflect on this passage, I have asked myself a few so what questions — maybe they are for you too!

Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a great and grand Feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do we hold back? 

Have you ever thought about these things?

Have you ever stopped to ponder this part of verse five?

“You anoint my head with oil.”
I wonder if many of us miss out on the great banquet table of the Lord because we do not know, understand, or are afraid of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. “In ancient Israel shepherds used oil for three purposes: to repel insects, to prevent conflicts, and to heal wounds.” Jesus gives us wonderful promises of the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John during the Upper Room Discourse found in chapters 14 through 17.  The promise of the Holy Spirit is that He will anoint us with His power.  The moment that we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the moment you say that you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us to dwell within us.  We are sealed with this anointing.  Have you ever tried to unseal a coat of wax from a freshly sealed floor?  How hard would it be to unseal a freshly heated road of blacktop?  The word (bible) tells us that we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. It is this promised Holy Spirit who comes to comfort us, convict us, and guide us into all truth.  The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is a gentleman and anoints us with grace to live in the present, to reconcile our past and to hope for our future. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has come in to dwell within you and will guide you.  My prayer is that each one of us reading this message has been anointed with the gift and the person of the Holy Spirit. If so, you have Spiritual Gifts that are important to the body of Christ. (You may not know what you Spiritual Gifts are! Our website has a FREE Spiritual Gifts test on our website … www.theseedchristianfellowship.com  Go to the website and take your Spiritual Gift test.)

It’s true: You have been anointed by the Spirit of God. I love to think of the Holy Spirit as the spiritual identical twin of Jesus, that is comforting to me.  May this holy anointing help you to repel the enemies of your soul.  May this holy anointing help you to prevent conflicts in your life.  May this holy anointing heal your wounds.  A simple prayer you can pray every morning or at any time … “Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your love. Guide me and teach me. Give me wisdom and understanding for today.  Amen”

Let us look at this portion of this verse in Psalm 23,  “my cup overflows.”
Not only is the table spread for us in the presence of our enemies, not only does the Holy Spirit anoint us with the oil of gladness to guide us, comfort us and convict us but the final promise of verse five is that we will be blessed with an overflowing cup.  In the Sacrament of Communion, we are reminded of the cup of redemption that was poured out in the blood of Christ during his crucifixion. “This cup is the cup of the new covenant poured out in my blood for the forgiveness of sin.”

Did you hear it, can I comprehend this?

This overflowing cup is the cup of forgiveness!

We are told to remember this every time we drink from the cup. We are made one (that is atonement—at one-ment) with God through the sacrifice of the Great Shepherd of the sheep who laid down His life.  This atonement (our at one-ment) takes care of our past, present, and future sin.  I believe that if you could grasp, comprehend, come to understand the idea that our cup of life is full and overflowing, that your life would change. May your cup overflow this day.

Maybe the so what question today is “How do you see your cup?” Is your cup half full or half empty!  Is your cup overflowing so much that you are drinking from the saucer? Truth is: your cup of life is overflowing with forgiveness.  Forgiveness of sin!  Forgiveness that will overflow into the lives of our enemies as we forgive them as Christ has forgiven us. I believe if we learn to live in the forgiveness of the overflowing cup for us then we will learn to become more and more forgiving of others, and we will learn to live as forgiven people.

Our cup overflows with unfailing, unending, and everlasting love.  God has loved us before we were created, and God will continue to love us throughout all eternity.  God’s love never end. and never fails. My prayer today that you will come to comprehend and, hold deeply in your heart, this overflowing cup that the Good Shepherd offers you.  If we would see this overflowing cup extended into our lives, we would be totally and radically changed. We would live our lives with a fresh kingdom view. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been made ONE with God.  Christ’s blood has filled our cup to overflowing.

So What?
So what do these ancient words written over two thousand years ago have do with us today?  Since we didn’t grow up in ancient Israel, and since most of us didn’t grow up on a sheep farm, we really don’t know much about sheep. We don’t understand about being a shepherd.   My guess is that we know a lot about computers, engineering, and education, but not about sheep.  The idea of sharing a meal is largely lost in our western culture.  In the day of David and Jesus when you were invited to share a meal, it was an invitation to dinner.  Their saying was “mikdash me-at” which literally translates intocome into my miniature sanctuary, my dining room and we will celebrate the most beautiful experience that life affords — it is called friendship.”[ii]  The invitation from the Great Shepherd is for each one of us to become friends, to come into the miniature sanctuary and sit at the banquet table prepared for us.  It is the wedding feast of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and this Great Shepherd anoints us with the power, comfort, and grace of the Holy Spirit. Best of all, there is a chair reserved just for you with your name written on it!

I am reminded of my little grandson so many years ago who wanted to play in the dog’s bowl.  Friends, we have so much more prepared for us.  Our Great Shepherd has painstakingly prepared a banquet table for each one us in the presence of our enemies.  Will you come to the table each day and allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you?  Our cup will surely overflow with forgiveness—for Christ has nailed our sin to His cross. Our debt is paid and we are forgiven. It is our turn now to begin living as a forgiven person.

There is an old hymn called “Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us”.  It is my prayer that we will allow our shepherd to lead us through the valleys of our life to the banquet table, the mikdash me-at, the miniature sanctuary of friendship with God.  God has provided for us in our past.  God is providing for us today and God will provide for us in the future.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

My closing prayer is verse two of our closing hymn.
“Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou has mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse us, and power to free us:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us return to Thee.” [iii]

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online service, you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message (hint) on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I have a friend who always tells me, “I’m so blessed, Dave, that I’m drinking from my saucer.” That, my friend, is my prayer for YOU!
God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/11/20

Seed of Faith – The Shepherd’s Provision   By Pastor Dave  

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,
What a season we are in. I met with a group of 35 pastors from Rancho Cucamonga this week. How encouraging this was for me to know that I have 35 brothers and sisters in Christ from every tribe who are praying for our city and our nation and our world. Friends, you are not alone! Don’t believe that lie for one second. There’s an army of prayer with us.

I have been lifting you up in prayer.  I know that the times we have been living in have been tumultuous. The world wide pandemic, the recent protests, riots and confusion are all happening all around the globe. It is good that we can center ourselves in God’s Word. My prayer is that we will let the Words of life provide us with safety and security.

Today we look at verse five of Psalm 23.  For many scholars, there is another noteworthy  transition in the Psalm.  The Psalmist is bringing us home by telling us of the Good Shepherd’s past, present and future provisions. Let us listen to God’s Word for us today and may we hear how the Great Shepherd of the sheep has provided for us in the past, will provide for us today and will continue to provide for us in the future until we reach our final heavenly home.

Psalm 23
1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3. He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.
5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

I would encourage you to pick up your Bible and read Mark 6:34-44 when you have time to study and reflect on this Psalm and Jesus’s words and actions in Mark.

I want you to stop and think about God’s provision for you in your past, in today’s present, and in the future to come.  Stop for a moment right now and list ten things that you are thankful for, think of all God has given you. (pause) (Here’s my list: a home, a family, friends, sunshine, beautiful palm trees, water, toilet paper, sanitizer, masks, and the sun, moon and stars!)

Many years ago, when our grandson was only two or three years old, I had a powerful experience during a communion service that blessed my life. Normally our daughter, son-of-love and wonderful grandchildren attended the second service at church, and I rarely had the opportunity to sit by them to share in communion with them.  However, this communion Sunday they showed up at the first service and sat in the front row with me.  While I was holding my grandson during the service, little chunks of dog food fell out of his little overalls and onto my lap and then onto the floor. Our grandson, had been playing in the dog’s bowl at home and some of the dog food had fallen in between his shirt and overalls. He he carried it to church with him.  As I bent over and picked up the dog food, it hit me: how often do we settle for so much less?   Here we were about to celebrate in the Sacrament of Communion, the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup,and I was holding my grandson and a little chunk of dog food.

So What?
How often do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a feast prepared for us? 

How often do we hold ourselves back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies …”
The Bible is the story of God’s provision in the past all the way through our future. If we were to start with the book of Genesis and follow it through to the book of Revelation, we would see, we would hear and we would read how God has provided over and over for His people.  God has done genuinely great things to show us His compassion, mercy, and love for us. From the Exodus wanderings in the wilderness to the Revelation River of Life, the Great Shepherd steadily provides a table for us–even in the midst of our enemies.

One of the most powerful illustrations of this table is found in the story of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.  This miracle story is recorded in all four Gospel accounts. (I say, “This must have been a big deal.)  In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we hear almost the same words at the beginning of the story. “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  (Mark 6:34)

The crowds were gathering around Jesus and pressing in on Him; He brought them up on a mountainside — a tableland — a mesa — and prepared a feast for them with fives loaves and two fish.  Matthew and Mark tell us how Jesus had compassion on the people for they were like sheep without a shepherd.  This is the same image David describes in Psalm 23.  We are so often like sheep and we so often act as if we do not have a shepherd. How in the world would the sheep be able to go through the dark valleys alone without a shepherd?  Would they ever be able to arrive to the tableland, the mesas of life—without a shepherd?

The first promise of verse five is that the Great Shepherd of the sheep has compassion on us and works to prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies.   The past few weeks, I have been asking you to take time to read the Gospel of John chapter 10. In this chapter we have the story of Jesus telling his disciples that he is the Good Shepherd who will lay down His life for the sheep.  In verse ten of John, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The way I see it, we have three battlegrounds we wrestle in: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every nation has their enemies, every person has their adversaries, every person has their own personal battles with self.

I appreciate what Keller said in his book, “It is rather fashionable in some contemporary Christian circles to discredit Satan.  There is a tendency to try and write him off, or laugh him off, as though he was just a joke.  Some deny that such a being as Satan exists.  Yet we see evidence of his merciless attacks and carnage in society where men and women fall prey to his cunning tactics almost every day.  We see lives marred and seared by his assaults though we never see him personally.”[i]

Keller used the illustration of the cougar that attacks the sheep, yet he never saw a cougar on his land, but saw the death and destruction that the big cats left behind. In his first letter. Peter tells us, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

The words Satan, devil, thief, enemy are used over 100 times in the Bible.  The Bible has much to say about our enemy, the devil.  We are reminded in Scripture that our enemy is alive and prowling around to steal, kill and destroy. Just look what has happened with this worldwide pandemic.  Look at the lives that have been lost, the physical sickness and the mental, physical, and emotional stress caused by it.

SO WHAT?
The Good News is that our Scripture has so much more to tell us about the victory we have over the power of the enemy.  We find our personal victories in the love of God, the compassion of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

David says that the Great Shepherd of the sheep prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemy. I do not know all the enemies and that you are facing. The enemies of fear, doubt, shame, and guilt.  The enemies of broken relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.  The enemies of financial debt and despair. The enemies of sickness, panic, and pandemics. The enemies of loneliness and isolation. We all have enemies.

So What?
Why do we settle for little chunks of dog food when there is a feast prepared for us? 
How often do you hold yourself back from experiencing the wonderful, amazing, and life-changing love of Christ?  Why?  Why do you hold back?  Have you ever thought about it?

I think we are afraid that maybe, just maybe, that this feast is meant for everyone BUT us. Maybe I have gone too far, or sinned too deeply or maybe I have been too bad to deserve a feast. Maybe I just deserve a P & J or a McDonald’s cheeseburger. A feast? In the middle of my enemies? 

That’s what God’s word says. Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of this pandemic. Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of your broken relationship.  Your good shepherd is going to prepare a feast for you in the middle of your illness. 

Don’t miss this: YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD IS GOING TO PREPARE A FEAST FOR YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR BADNESS, IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SIN, IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SLIPPING DOWN THE SLOPE OF LIFE. Why? Because Jesus is the GOOD shepherd who takes care of his sheep. The goodness part is His not yours. We’re in good hands if Christ is our shepherd.

Join us this Sunday online at 10 A.M. for our live interactive worship service.  You can chat with others and send your prayer concerns. the link for the live online service is theseedchristianfellowship.online.chuch

If you miss the live online serves you can always go and watch the whole service or just the message on our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.

I want to close in prayer, “God, thank you.  Thank you that despite my badness you have given me a good shepherd in your one and only Son, Jesus. Help me to stop running away. Turn me to the truth of your Word. Help my disbelief. Things are terribly crazy right now. I need your mercies. Thank you that they are new every morning.  Help me to slow down so that I can recognize them. Amen.”

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 6/6/20

Seed of Faith – Valley of Vision   By Pastor Dave  

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
Greetings from the GOOD SHEPHERD of our souls! I hope you have been enjoying this series as we journey through Psalm 23.  I pray that by taking our time these six verses will minister to you.  Today we study verse 4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.”

Psalm 23 has ministered to many in times of trouble, trial, danger, sorrow, grief, and death. In December, my dear friend of 20 years passed from this life to eternal life. As I type this SEED OF FAITH, my wife and his wife are zooming as they read “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser. They are doing a study on each chapter of the new edition with the questions in the back of the book. (A great read for those who hurt.) My friend’s widow knows we are journeying through Psalm 23, and sent me a copy of my friend’s Bible with his copious notes written on the pages for Psalm 23: “A Psalm for the Living not the Dead.  This is not the Psalm for my funeral. It is the poem for my life.”   Wow!  “A Psalm for the living not the dead… not a Psalm for a funeral but a poem for my life!”

Over these weeks as we finish our study on Psalm 23, I encourage you to write your own notes on how the Good Shepherd has been with you throughout the poem of your life.  You can even write to me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and let me know how this psalm speaks to you and why!

Long ago, I was a pastor in a church in Round Rock, Texas. A member of the church, Tom, told me he flew 104 combat missions during his tours in Vietnam.  In his combat missions, he flew over the dreaded Red River Valley–called the “thud” area. He explained that the “thud area” was where most of the F105’s were shot down–going down with a loud thud.  Tom shared that as he was flying to his destination, he would recite Psalm 23. When he came to verse four, he changed it to, “Even though I fly over the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  Tom’s plane was hit several times by anti-aircraft but he was never shot down.

How about we fly over this passage today?  Let us journey with our Good Shepherd through the valleys of life!

The first part of verse 4 teaches us, point blank, that we will have valleys in life. Maybe you are in a valley right now during this worldwide pandemic. Life as we have known it has been shut down. All of us are living in this valley today. Some of us go to work, exposing ourselves (and our loved ones) to the dangers of the pandemic. Others of us are sheltered and staying home in the hopes the virus will soon be under control. Talk about a dark valley. The real truth is just by living we will walk through many dark valleys. We will all experience trials, tribulations, temptations, hardships, addictions, suffering, pain, anxiety, grief, and so many other valleys. The hope I offer to you today is that it is exactly in these valleys of life where we develop our character.

Your first “SO WHAT?” is here. Write it down:

“What kind of character is God developing in me through this pandemic aka valley?”

What a loaded “SO WHAT?”

The first promise of this verse is that we will go THROUGH the valleys.  The Great Shepherd does not keep us in the valley of the shadow of death forever but promises to lead us through it.  We do not take up permanent residence in the valley. We do not build homes in the valley of the shadow of death. Right here in verse four we learn that the valley of the shadow of death is a valley we will go through. The valley of the shadow of death is not our permanent resting place; the valley is a passageway to the next mountaintop. The promise for us is that we will walk through the valley of our problems, the valley of our pain, the valley of our pandemic, the valley of our mistakes, missteps, and miseries.

There is a famous valley near Bethlehem where David, the author of this psalm, took his sheep.  Jesus also walked through this same valley as He traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem.  The valley runs from Jericho to Jerusalem and is called the “Wadi Kelt.” “Wadi” means “deep valley.”  This is the same route that Jesus would have taken in Biblical times. (You can read references to this in Matthew 19 & 20.) In Jesus’ day, this wadi was dubbed the “The Bloody Pass” or “The Way of Blood.” Could this be the valley that David is writing about? “The valley of the shadow of death”—seven words. But David puts a key word at the beginning of those seven words: THROUGH. Do not forget that, friends, we are following our good shepherd and our good shepherd is leading us THROUGH… THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. When we are in this valley, we do not need to worry or be frightened because our Shepherd has already passed through this valley himself.  Listen — when you are changing pastures, or changing locations, or facing difficulty, or even facing death, you can be assured that your good shepherd, Jesus, knows this wadi/route well. Jesus traveled the valley of the shadow of death on His way to the cross. Jesus fills this valley with promises of His presence and peace. There is resurrection light at the far end of the valley.

Here is the stark reality: One day our Good Shepherd will lead us through the final valley of the shadow of death.  He will take us to the mountaintop of life eternal by way of this valley.  He will guide us to His house–the one with many rooms where our personal room is ready and waiting for us.  This is the promise Jesus gave to His disciples shortly before he was handed over to be killed. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”  (John 14:1-3)

Do you hear the words of the shepherd and king, David, our Psalmist?  Do you hear the words of promise from the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who lays His life down for the sheep?  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you and me, a house with many rooms. Jesus has already passed through the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus has conquered the “bloody pass” once and for all. We are not to let our hearts be troubled, we are to trust in God and trust our Good Shepherd, Jesus. His promise is that He will come back for us.  The Good Shepherd will not leave us in the valley of the shadow of death—He is merely leading us THROUGH.

It reminds me of the children’s nursery song, “Going on a Bear Hunt.”

“We can’t go OVER it, we can’t go UNDER it—we must go THROUGH it.” 

Point 1: THROUGH!

Our Good Shepherd will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.
In March of 2000, I sat by my mom’s bedside and read Psalm 23.  This Psalm brought my mom much comfort during her final days.  As I sat there holding her hand, I reflected on verse four.  I shared with my mom that death is but a shadow. I shared that Jesus had already prepared her room for her in heaven and that soon Jesus was coming to bring her to her heavenly home. In February of this year, I sat with my mother-in-law as she was preparing to go through her final valley of the shadow of death.

Do you know for there to be a shadow, there must be a light somewhere? Jesus is the light of the world! Am I making sense? Are you hearing what the living word is saying? At the end of your valley of the shadow of death is a light. And that light of the world has already conquered  the way of the blood — the bloody pass — the shadow of death and has made a way for each one of us.   He is our Good Shepherd! He has gone to prepare a place for us! He will come again to bring us home! Jesus knows the valley. We can trust our Good Shepherd to lead us all the way safely through every valley we will ever face, even THIS valley.

Our Good Shepherd is with us—in green pastures, beside still waters and through the valleys.

SO WHAT?
So, what do these ancient words written thousands of years ago have to do with us today?  Do you know the Great Shepherd?  This verse speaks not only to the dark valleys of death; it speaks to all the dark valleys of life.  Some of us here today are walking through the valley of the shadow of death with a loved one.  Some of us are walking through the valley of the shadow of broken dreams, a broken heart, a broken relationship, a valley of financial debt, a valley of addiction. I know several people who are walking through the valley of physical pain. Each day they wake up, the pain is there with no relief in sight. I know of a woman walking through the valley of a heart attack. She had heart surgery, alone in the hospital due to covid-19. But was she really alone? Was our Good Shepherd with her, bringing her through this dark valley?

I close today’s message with a prayer from the old Puritan prayer book.  The name of the prayer is “The Valley of Vision”. (As always contact me, pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com if you want a copy.)

The Valley Of Vision
A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Edited by Arthur Bennett

Lord, High, and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision.
Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by the mountains of sin, I behold thy glory.
 
Let me learn by paradox
That the way down is the way up,
That to be low is to be high,
That the broken heart is the healed heart,
That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
That to have nothing is to possess all,
That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
That to give is to receive,
That the valley is the place of vision.
 
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
 
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty
Thy glory in my valley.

See you Sunday online at 10am Pacific time at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Or check out our Youtube channel and watch our services when you have time.

We will continue our journey in Psalm 23 next week. Until then, your “SO WHAT?” homework is for you to figure out if knowing that Jesus has already traveled and conquered the valley of the shadow of death–if that’s good enough for you. Do you fully trust your good shepherd?

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/29/20

Seed of Faith – RESTORATION BUSINESS   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pasture; he leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for His name sake.” Psalm 23:1-3 

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers,

Many of you know that this past week, my wife and I traveled by motor-home from Florida to California.  We brought Jac’s 88 year-old father-in-law to live with us.  What a journey of 2,600 miles with an 88 year-old traveler.  Andy was truly a trooper with all of the miles, gas stops, rv parks and daily traveling of 300 miles at the least! The trip was torture for him but he never complained. He did smile when the motorhome was safely returned and said, “My first and last trip in a motorhome is over.” Thank you to all who prayed for us. We could not have made the trip as well as we did without your prayers.

On another note, while we were still in Florida and during our trip home across the lower half of the USA, we had many family members and friends remodel our home. They put a bedroom in our garage and remodeled the downstairs’s bathroom so that my father-in-law is able to walk in to the shower. I owe a debt I cannot ever repay to these amazing people: Rick, Clay, Colon, Cassie and Tammy Warner. Thank you to the entire team of MY GUY construction with a special shout out to Mike, the plumber, and Charlie, the tiler!  Thank you to Javon, Jodi, Jaden, Jace and Juliet Collins who moved our entire garage into storage and took countless trips to the dump for us.  Thank you for all of the many things that were done in order to have the house ready for Great Grandpa and for us. Thank you to Don Eddy for the electrical work in the garage bedroom. Thank you to our son who helped us get a good price on our splitter AC/heat and who drove the final three days with us so that I had a break in the driving. Thank you to everyone who donated any time, talent or treasure. Our hearts are blessed beyond measure. Thank you for the prayers, the labors of love and the financial support.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying Psalm 23. The Lord, Yahweh, is our personal God who never changes.  What a comforting thought to know that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  What a consoling thought that our God is personal; we can claim Him as our personal shepherd. (The Lord is MY shepherd.) Our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us by still waters.

Have you ever thought about the image of God being a Shepherd? Do you know that the early patriarchs of the Bible stories were shepherds?  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers.  How about Moses shepherding his fathers-in-law’s sheep on the far side of the wilderness? (Maybe, you feel like you are on the far side of the wilderness during this stay at home time.)  What about Amos, the shepherd, who was called to be a prophet of God? Weren’t the shepherds the first to hear the Good News that Jesus Christ was born? Weren’t they the first to go and proclaim this Good News?  In John 10, Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd. He will be the gate that protects us.  Jesus will lead the sheep out to pasture and bring them back home.  The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and follow where the shepherd calls.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down His life for the sheep. These are powerful thoughts to pause and reflect upon as we prepare to break down verse three.

Is Jesus your Good Shepherd?

There is no better time than today to ask Jesus into your heart.  Ask Jesus, God’s Son, to forgive you, guide you and call you by name as He shepherds you.

I grew up in the farm country of Northern Illinois. While growing up, my three brothers and I spent many nights with our aunts and uncles who were farmers. One of my uncles had sheep and dairy cattle, the other uncle had pigs and raised corn and beans. The other uncle was a grain farmer with horses. During my time on the farm, I learned a lot about livestock and farming.  I learned that when a sheep fell over and landed on their back, the sheep could not roll over on their own. The farming term for this is “cast.”  If a sheep is cast, they lay on their back until the shepherd (or farmer) comes and restores them back to their feet. It was not a matter of flip the sheep right-side up, there was a process to this restoration. The shepherd reaches around the sheep’s body and lifts the cast sheep. The shepherd places the sheep between his legs and massages the legs until all the circulation has been restored, and the sheep can now stand on its own strength. If the shepherd does not find the sheep soon enough, the cast sheep would die from the lack of circulation.

I believe that this image of restoring the soul is what David is describing here in verse 3.  The shepherd knows His sheep and will find them and restore them back to life—even when we are helplessly flat on our back, our Good Shepherd will find us and restore us.

I want to spend a few minutes reflecting on the word restore. The word “restore” in Psalm 23 is one of the verbs in this sentence.  Verbs are action words. The verb “restores” in verse 3 is an active preterite verb which means the action is a completed action yet is always continuing.

Stop and think about the action of the Good Shepherd here!  The Shepherd has restored our soul; it is a done and completed task, but the Hebrew language is telling us that the Shepherd will also continue to restore our souls over and over and over.  “Restore” is used 93 times in the Old Testament and 108 times in the New Testament. (Sounds like a good word study if you just happened to be bored!) Jesus, our Good Shepherd, restores a crippled man’s hand, restores sight to the blind and restores life to the dead. I wish we had time to go study these wonderful passages.

One of my favorite restoration illustrations is found in Psalm 51.  King David, who wrote this psalm, had fallen into sin and was now cast down.  As King, David had sinned by having an adulterous affair with Bathsheba. When Bathsheba was found pregnant, King David orchestrated the murder of her husband, Uriah, on the batlefield. (Want to look up this story? II Samuel 11) David now pens Psalm 51, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12)

Restore: “to bring back, to return to a former condition, to repair, to mend, to furnish completely, to give back, to renovate.WOW! Did you hear that? Restore means to bring back, to return to a former condition, to repair, to mend, to furnish completely, to give back, to renovate. The former shepherd of the sheep is now a King and he has fallen. He writes, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Listen!  If God can restore a cast sheep like King David from his sins and failures, God can restore you when you have fallen and are cast down. This is the cry of verse 3 of Psalm 23, “He restores my soul.”

When a sheep is cast, they will die unless the shepherd restores their soul and circulation. How often are we cast down?  Psalm 42 — “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

SO WHAT?
I marvel at our Good Shepherd impressing upon us to study Psalm 23. How many of us have been cast down lately? Does this world-wide pandemic have you cast down?  Perhaps your sins have you cast down? Maybe stress has you cast down? Maybe sorrow over the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, the loss of a job has you cast down. Maybe just being locked in during this time of quarantine has you cast down. Maybe being an essential worker has you cast down. This message is for you!

Cast down by sin, sickness, stress or sorrow? Turn to the Good Shepherd who will restore you.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he RESTORES my soul.” As we close, hear the Psalm this way: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul: he brings me back, he returns me to a former condition, he repairs, and mends me. He furnishes me completely. He renovates me and puts me back on my feet.”

OUR PERSONAL, GOOD SHEPHERD IS ALWAYS ABOUT RESTORING US! The best thing I know to be true of God: GOD IS FAITHFUL EVEN WHEN WE’RE NOT. God always wants to restore us. Let Him. Open your living word (BIBLE) up to Psalm 136 and read about the steadfast love of God that never ends. Read about all God has done, is doing and will do for you. Listen, you belong to the GOOD SHEPHERD. He cares for you.

Join us on Sunday mornings at 10 A,M. Pacific time for worship at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church if you connect at 10 am on Sundays you can chat live with others, fellowship and share your prayer concerns.

If you need prayer email me or go to our website and click on the prayer icon and write out your prayer concern.

See you Sunday.

God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www,theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 5/16/20

Seed of Faith – Green Pastures   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters;” Psalm 23:1-2

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers and Faithful Friends,

As we move to Pentecost, May 31st, and the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church, we have been walking slowly through Psalm 23.  We are walking verse by verse. As always, I encourage you take this Psalm, or any Psalm, read a verse and stop and pray that verse. During this time of worldwide pandemic, Psalm 23 is a good idea.

In our last few Seeds of Faith, we’ve spent our time looking at this beloved psalm. we’ve learned that when the shepherd boy, David, wrote this Psalm he was declaring that HIS personal shepherd, MY Lord, My Yahweh, was unchanging. How comforting it is for us to study and know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday, and God will be the same tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).

I am going to digress for a minute. `

With this pandemic, our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. Each one of us is trying to find a new, different normal. Are we called to stay home? Are we called to stay away from others and stay safe. Our teachers and students are working from home, many of our business are closed or only open for drive-up. Many of our city, county and state offices are closed or working with a skeleton crew. Our churches are closed and the fellowship and communion we share as a community is now being done through the internet. We are so thankful for each and every essential workers, for all the hospital staff — Doctors, nurses, technicians, and support staff. We are thankful for our first responders, firefighters, EMTs, ambulance drivers, police officers and our military personnel. What amazing courage and bravery they show us daily. Pray they (and their families) remain safe from all harm.

As I was reading this week during my stay at home orders, I decided to read Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Do you know that Jesus’ longest teaching is found in Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7? Off the top of your head, do you know what the main theme of this teaching is? Worry? In your spare, quarantine time, go read Matthew 6:25-34. You will read profound words about worry:  Look at the birds of the air and how God takes care of them. Look at the lilies of the field and see how God takes care of them. Hear Jesus saying to you, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew  6:33-34)

We need to remember this: do not worry about tomorrow. The Lord, who is our Good Shepherd, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and the Good Shepherd has much to say to us if we only will STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.

Before we turn to God’s Word for us today, we come to throne of grace and mercy in prayer, “Lord, God, remind us that You are unchanging. Remind us that You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Remind us to put our trust in You. During this time of Covid-19, we need to stop our worrying and listen to You, our Good Shepherd.  We trust that You will bring us to green pasture and still waters. We pray that You will restore our souls and bless each one of us with a new normal. Lord, lead us in paths of righteousness and be with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Fill our cup to overflowing. O, great, shepherd of the sheep, help us to trust that Your goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives so that we will live with You forever. Amen”

A boy named Geoffrey heard that evangelist D. L. Moody was coming to preach at a nearby church. Geoffrey had walked all day to get to the church where the great man was to speak. When he was about to enter the church, a doorman noted Geoffrey’s unwashed face and shabby clothes, “You’re too dirty to go inside!” Geoffrey was turned away.

Just then a distinguished-looking man arrived. Seeing tears on the boy’s face, he asked the boy, “What’s wrong?” Geoffrey blurted out, “I came to hear Dr. Moody, but they said I’m too dirty to go inside.” “Here, take my hand. Come with me.” Geoffrey took the man’s hand and was led inside — where he was promptly seated in the front row! The man who had gotten out of the car, the man who had been holding his hand and then walked to the pulpit and began to preach was none other than D.L. Moody! Geoffrey had held the hand of D. L. Moody. Jesus offers us His hand at the cross. Take it. You will be welcomed and accepted in His heavenly home.[i] Better than the front row, you get the front row for all eternity.

Psalm 23 is an invitation to enter into a trusting relationship with our Good Shepherd. Psalm 23 is an invitation to a front row seat with Good Shepherd. We are dirty, shabby and worn from walking in the world. Take the Good Shepherd’s hand. He will lead you and guide you to a front row seat in the stadium of life! ALL are welcome! Psalm 23 is a song of trust! Psalm 23 teaches us how the Good Shepherd is Personal, takes us by the hand and will lead us out. In verse two, we hear that the Good Shepherd provides for us. There are seasons when the Good Shepherd will make us to lie down in green pastures. The Good Shepherd protects us. Jesus mans the gate and lays down His life in order to protect us. (I think of our essential workers. Laying down their own lives in order to be ESSENTIAL! Thank you again!)

Our verse for today paints a picture of us resting in lush, green pastures besides refreshing, still waters.

Over the next two Seed’s of faith we are going to look at two words: “PROVISION” and “PEACE”.

1. “PROVISION.” What is provision? Where do we find provision? In whom do we find our provision?

2. “PEACE.” Where do we find peace? Who is our peace?

In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 Phillip Keller writes, “The strange thing about sheep is that because of their make-up, it is almost impossible for them to lie down unless four requirements are met. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear. Because of their social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind. If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only free of these pests can they relax. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They must be free from hunger.”[ii]

Think about these four words that begin with the letter “F”

1. Free from Fear!

2. Free from Friction!

3. Free from Flies!

4. Free from Famine!

Sheep must be free from all four of these in order to be able to rest. Keller writes that only the shepherd can provide what is needed in order to free the sheep to  be able to rest and lie down in peace.

Isn’t it interesting that Psalm 23 begins with rest? I might expect it to begin with motion, action, or activity, but the Psalm begins with sheep resting in green pastures, beside still waters. Maybe, just maybe, we are studying this Psalm so that we can hear that this stay at home time is a time for us to rest. Friends, we all need to rest from the ways of the world. Take a rest from the electronics and find that in your quiet, God has provided for you. Lord, walk each one of us—essential or not—to the green pastures and sill waters that we will benefit from. Remember: it will look different for each one of us. I hear of people who are making masks by the 100’s and GIVING them away! I hear of friends ZOOMING with their families! I hear of many teachers and students who are e-learning each day: teachers grasping at new ways of technology in order to reach and teach their students. I hear of families hosting GAME NIGHT! I know a man who is busy recording music and setting it to videos on YouTube. (FaithfulSeedMusic on youtube.)  Just the other day, my wife tried out her mom’s paint pencils. She found a frame and is now adding her prayer concerns to that. I know of a woman who can’t sit still inside her home, so she is INSTACART shopping for others—with a huge smile on her face! I know of a mom who converted her garage into a playground for her preschool son! Our Good Shepherd is impressing upon each of us some pretty great ideas during this Covid-19 season but I pray we don’t get so busy that we miss…green pastures and still waters.

Without a shepherd, the sheep cannot rest.

SO WHAT?
I have a “SO WHAT?” homework assignment for you: Circle the pronouns in Psalm 23. I found 28 personal pronouns in these six verses in my translation. Let’s see, 28 words of the 118 total words in the Psalm is almost 25 percent of the entire text! This Psalm is a personal note to you and me!

Here in verse 2, notice the two personal pronouns in front of the two verbs:

HE makes me … HE leads me …

Who is the active one? Who is in charge of the action? It is the shepherd!

The shepherd selects the trails, removes the rocks, and clears the way for reaching green pastures. The shepherd finds the clear, refreshing water that will RESTORE our SOUL! What’s the job of the sheep? To watch, to follow, to eat, to rest, and to trust the Good Shepherd.

SO WHAT? HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:  watch, follow, eat,  rest and trust the Good Shepherd. Enjoy those green pastures and still waters. It could get really crazy really soon.

If anyone needs prayer please write me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com and I will pray for and we will add your prayer concern to our church’s prayer tree of faith and our church will prayer for you!  You can always go to our YouTube channel and watch our weekly messages or you can watch our online service on Sunday mornings at 10 A.M. Pacific and chat and with as we worship the Lord.  The online access is theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Just a note for fun. My former AP (Associate Pastor) was raised in a family that raised sheep. She taught me that sheep can be really dumb. That’s a side note, what I want you to know is that last Sunday I decided to listen to her preach, she’s really a great preacher. Hmm, she was teaching her people how to pray the psalms! It was fantastic to see how God is still intersecting our lives–all of our lives.  Open up a Psalm this week and give it a try: Pray Psalm 23. Let me know how it goes!

See You Sunday!
God loves you and so do i,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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