Seed Of Faith

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 5/8/20

Seed of Faith – My Shepherd   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Dear Faithful Friends and Servant Seed-Sowers,

In last week’s Seed of Faith we began a study in Psalm 23.  For the 7 Sundays from Easter to Pentecost, we are taking one verse of this beloved Psalm a week and slowing meditating on it.  (Please know, you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the service or just tune in to hear the Sunday Message.)

GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY!
Does it make sense then that TRUST IS A REQUIREMENT OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SHEPHERD!?

An amazing idea in verse 1 in Psalm 23 is found in two words: “my Shepherd.”  Sheep are the most dependent animals of all livestock. Sheep depend on the shepherd to lead them to clean water and to fields green with fresh grass. Sheep depend on the shepherd to heal their wounds, protect them from wild animals and lead them safely on dangerous mountain slopes.

Here is a fun thought: Let’s pretend you wake up this morning, YOU ARE THE SHEPHERD and you have a flock of sheep that you are leading up to Mount Baldy (that is a mountain outside our windows)! Now, THAT’S A JOB! When I was a  pastor in Round Rock, Texas, our associate pastor came from a farming family. She raised sheep. She always said, “Sheep are the dumbest!” Just imagine that you have just woken up from a nice, peaceful sleep in some dirt field with lots of rocks. Morning is here. I have no idea if there’s coffee but I do know that it is your job to get those 100 sheep up the dirt mountain road! Good luck!

This reminds me of the story found in Luke 15. Jesus is telling the story. The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep. Did you hear that? Listen! The shepherd goes looking for lost sheep.

We’ve been in this COVID-19 pandemic now for almost two months. Do you feel lost? Hear the GOOD NEWS: The Good Shepherd comes to look for you! The GOOD shepherd takes care of the sheep because if anything would ever happen to the sheep, it would be a personal reflection on the shepherd.  In other words, the sheep and the shepherd have a relationship of trust. Read that out loud! The sheep and the shepherd have a relationship of trust.

When we say the first five words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” we are expressing our trust in God.

The Lord is not just any shepherd, The is my personal Shepherd. The personal pronoun used is a first-person singular. Psalm 23 could have read this way, “The Lord is A Shepherd.” That would suggest that there are many shepherds and the Lord is one among many of them. Or it could have read this way,  “The Lord is THE Shepherd” suggests that the Lord is the shepherd but the Lord is not MY personal shepherd. David could have written, “The Lord is OUR Shepherd” which implies a universal shepherd for a vast number of sheep. Instead David starts the Psalm with, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” I wonder what prompted the writing of the song? Did David’s two universes collide–you know the one with the real sheep he’s in charge of and the universe where he can relate to GOD being the trustworthy shepherd of which David belongs to that fold?

David suggests that we are given a personal relationship with a personal YAHWEH.

When we read and recite the words, “The Lord is MY Shepherd” we are expressing our trust in our personal relationship with our unchanging Shepherd. We are saying, “The unchanging God of yesterday, today and tomorrow in my personal Shepherd. If the Lord is MY shepherd, I’m going to trust my shepherd.”

Dwight L. Moody’s favorite verse was Isaiah 12:2: “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Listen to Moody, “You can travel first-class or second-class to heaven. Second class is, ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust.’ First class is, ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’ That is the better way. Why not buy a first-class ticket?” (Ps 56:3)[i]

I don’t know about you, but I am buying the first-class ticket! “The Lord is my shepherd. I will trust and not be afraid.”

I like the small boy’s interpretation of the hymn, “Trust and Obey.”  The real words are, “Trust and obey, there is no better way to be happy in Jesus, trust and obey.” The young boy’s version that he came home with from Sunday School was, “Trust and ok.  There is no better way to be happy in Jesus. Just trust and OK!”   Isn’t that great?

Friends, everything must be O. K. if our life has been committed to our Shepherd’s precious keeping and we are trusting Him as our personal shepherd.

TRUST AND OK…there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus. TRUST AND OK.[ii]
(Although please don’t miss the real TRUST AND OBEY part of the song because it’s straight-up important!)

I want us to make a note: As we begin to study Psalm 23, we are called to trust in God! Like sheep who trust their shepherd, having the Lord as my shepherd means I will trust God to provide for me, protect me, and care for me.

CONTENTMENT COMES FROM TRUSTING THE SHEPHERD
There is a story told of a Sunday school teacher who asked her class if anyone could recite the entire twenty-third Psalm. One little girl waved her arm and told the teacher she had memorized the whole Psalm. The teacher invited the girl up to the front of the class. The little girl stood, faced the class and said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.”  Oh, that we would come to know the good shepherd in this way! “The Lord is my shepherd—that’s all I want!”  Are you content in knowing “the Lord is MY shepherd”? Is that all you want?

One of my favorite authors is Brennan Manning. In his book “Ruthless Trust,” Manning shares a story about going to visit his spiritual director. “Brennan, you do not need any more insights into the faith. You have enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust that which you have received.”[iii]

I don’t know about you but this hits home for me. I need to trust what I’ve already received. My shepherd has cared for me my whole life long. I am building a trust relationship with my good shepherd. How about you?

Jesus says in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”

I would like to share how God taught me to trust Him. As many of you know, I wear a cross on the outside of my shirt. The cross was given to me in 1986 when I attended a Cursillo Weekend in Indiana.  The back of the cross says, “Christ is counting on you.”  I have worn this cross for 34 years. Each morning when I put on my cross, I repeat the words “Christ is counting on me” and then say “And I am counting on Christ.” Every day for the past 34 years, over 13,000 days, this cross has been a reminder for me to count on Christ!

Just recently, I lost my cross. I’ve been helping my wife care for her 88 year-old dad after her mom died. Covid happened, and I’ve been here since mid-March. Anyway, I looked all over the house for my lost cross. I could not find it. Then I remembered that my wife and I had gone for a walk late the night before. It was dark out and Jac kept telling me that we needed to go back and trace our steps. Jac said, “Remember when you thought you stepped on a snake? We need to go look there.”  (I suppose Jac was counting on Christ while I must have been counting sheep!)  I knew, or I thought I knew, that there was no way the cross could have come loose and fallen off —I would have felt it—it is a heavy cross!  I would have heard it clink on the cement sidewalk. At her insistence, we went for a walk and retraced our steps. I remembered the tree branch that I stepped on. It had rolled and I had stumbled. Jac was sure that was where I lost the cross. I looked. “Nope. Not there.” Then Jac walked over to the same spot, rustled around the branches and said, “Hey, lookyloo—your cross.”

I must confess. Jac calls me a KIA: KNOW IT ALL. I am a pretty confident person who often thinks I know it all—I do not need anyone else to help me, I got it covered—ha-ha. The truth was that I did not want to go on a RETRACE YOUR STEPS walk because I knew I had not lost my cross on that walk and I did not want to waste my time. Jac insisted. Even when we stopped at the spot where I had tripped on the tree branch the night before, I was still certain that I had not lost my cross there. Jac was doing TRUST AND OBEY. I was doing my own version of TRUST AND OK. I’M A KIA, I KNOW I’M RIGHT, WE ARE WASTING TIME HERE! Well, I was wrong. Sometimes the shepherd likes to teach me contentment through my wife who was perfectly willing to waste her time looking for my cross. TRUST AND OBEY, THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO BE HAPPY (CONTENT) IN JESUS? TRUST AND OBEY!

From that simple experience, even after 34 years of wearing my cross, I am still always learning to trust my good shepherd even more! I am learning to be CONTENT as my shepherd leads me, guides me, and protects me.

“The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.”

1. My shepherd is YAHWEH…I AM WHO I AM..I AM UNCHANGING…I AM THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW….

2. MY shepherd is TRUSTWORTHY…and this trust is the FOUNDATION of my faith and the foundation of Psalm 23: THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD…I SHALL NOT WANT.

3. From these two points—that my shepherd is unchanging, and my shepherd is trustworthy–from here will come my contentment. If I am called to STAY HOME during the pandemic, I will TRUST MY UNCHANGING SHEPHERD AND STAY HOME.  If I am called out to work because I am an essential worker, I WILL TRUST MY UNCHANGING SHEPHERD AND GO TO WORK.

So What?!
The Allied soldiers gathered many hungry, homeless children after World War II and placed them in large camps. The children were abundantly fed and cared for. However, at night they did not sleep well; they seemed restless and afraid. Finally, a psychologist offered a solution. After the children were put to bed, they each received a slice of bread. If they wanted more to eat, they could have it, but this particular slice was not to be eaten—it was just to be held. The slice of bread produced marvelous results. The children went to sleep, subconsciously knowing there was definitely something there for them to eat tomorrow. This was all it took to calm the children.

In Psalm 23 David says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Instinctively, the sheep knows the shepherd has made plans for its grazing. He knows the shepherd has made ample provision, so the sheep will lie down in peace, as if with a piece of bread in their hand.[iv]

What is the one thing that is separating you from finding this kind of contentment? What is it that you trust? What do you need to hold on to so you can sleep at night? Are we all a little bit like Brennan Manning having enough information to last us a lifetime but learning to trust what we already know? Are you like me, doubting when you should be trusting? Do you need the ability to trust that what you have read in the Scriptures, prayed in your prayers and heard in church is true? Is the LORD your shepherd? Are you content?

We have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting, and unchanging. We have a God who hears us, we have the love of Christ that died for us and rose again, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. This is our SO WHAT for today!  If only we could learn to fully trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd,” we would have more than enough grace for every sin, more than enough direction for every decision and more than enough healing for our hurt.

“The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want!”

Trust and okay, there’s no better way to be happy in Jesus…TRUST AND OKAY.
Let us pray:

Dear Shepherd of the sheep. We come to You today not because we are good, but because YOU are good. We belong to You. We praise You because You are unchanging, You are the “Great I Am” –YOU are the shepherd who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Let us say with boldness and trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.”   Amen

See you Sunday!

Join us on Sunday mornings at 10am Pacific for our online interactive service with chats prayers and fellowship … here is the link theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Or you can go to our YouTube Channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship https://youtu.be/aP1YDktBLwg

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 4-30-20

Seed of Faith – Shepherd Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers,

Grace and peace to you during this time of the Covid-19 shutdown and slow down. For the next six weeks, we are going to walk slowly through Psalm 23. Psalm 23 is only six verses and 117 words.  During your stay-at-home time, or go and work and go home time, why not open your bible and slowly read and pray this Psalm? When I was in seminary, a group of us got together and taught ourselves how to pray the psalms. We picked a psalm and went line by line, reading it out loud and then pausing to see if we were inspired to pray. You know what? It was an amazing experience. I encourage you to pick up this Psalm and pray a word or a sentence. Ask God to fill your heart and mind on how to pray for those you love. The Holy Spirit will move you and lead you. I’m praying for you! Let me know how it goes!

Martin Luther called this psalm “a little Bible,” and he just might be right. There are six verses, 117 words but we will certainly come to know the Lord as we study this psalm.  Once we know him as our shepherd, we can find it easier to trust him. The twenty-third Psalm is the most beloved Psalm in the Psalter and possibly is the best- loved chapter in the entire Bible. The great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, called it “the pearl of Psalms.”[i]

Millions of people have memorized this Psalm. Ministers have used this Psalm to comfort those going through personal trials, suffering illnesses, and facing death.  Max Lucado has a way with words, he described Psalm 23 this way, “Do more beloved words exist? Framed and hung on hospital walls, quoted by the young and whispered by the dying. In these lines, sailors have found a harbor, the frightened have found a father and the strugglers have found a friend. And because the passage is so deeply loved and widely known can you find ears on which these words have never fallen? Set to music in a hundred songs, translated into a thousand tongues, domiciled (God makes his home) in a million hearts. One of those hearts might be yours.”[ii]   

King David, the shepherd boy, gives us 115 words to explain the first two words of his psalm, “The Lord.”  In the opening of his book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, Phillip Keller presents us with probing questions, “The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character? Does He have adequate credentials to be my Shepherd — my manager — my owner?”

The word “Lord” is the English translation of the great Old Testament personal name for God. This name for God was first revealed to another shepherd of long ago–Moses. To read about Moses, go back to Exodus 1! Moses—the baby born and set in a basket floating on the Nile. Moses—found by pharaoh’s daughter. Yes, THAT MOSES! By now Moses is an adult, he has run away from the palace and is on the backside of the wilderness when he encounters a burning bush. In this encounter with the burning bush, God reveals His name to Moses as “Yahweh.”  The word “Yahweh” is a verb and it literally means “I AM who I AM — I will be who I will be.”  The word “Yahweh” appears over 6,800 times in the Bible. “Yahweh” was so holy of a name that the Hebrew people didn’t use it, instead they used the names “Jehovah” and “Adonai” in place of “Yahweh.”

This is the name “Yahweh” that David gives us in Psalm 23.  What the shepherd King is telling us is that the Shepherd Lord is inexhaustible, self-sufficient, all powerful and timeless.  “I am who I am” needs no power, He is all powerful.  “Yahweh — I AM who I AM” is UNCHANGING!  Unchanging means that God was, is, and will always the same. Yahweh was the same yesterday, Yahweh will be the same today, and Yahweh will be unchanged and unchangeable tomorrow and forever and ever.  Yahweh is our great “I AM.”

I have a poster in my office that reminds me that no matter what I am going though, Yahweh is with me: “I was regretting the past and fearing the future.  Suddenly my Lord was speaking: ‘My name is I AM’ He paused.  I waited.  He continued, ‘When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I WAS.  When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I WILL BE.  When you live in this moment it is not hard.  I am here.  My name is I AM.’”[ii]

This is exactly the promise that David is giving us when he begins Psalm 23 by saying, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  The Lord is our Shepherd NOW — not just in the past or in the future. The Lord is with us now and He is Yahweh– UNCHANGING! The Lord wasn’t your shepherd yesterday and turned the job over to a new shepherd. NO. The LORD is your shepherd from all your yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows!

Friends, this is Good News! This is grand news! This is glorious news as we find ourselves in the middle of a stay-at-home order with only essential people working. As we wonder what will happen to our future, we are to remember that no matter what changes are happening around us, one thing is certain: our God will never change.  His love for us is unchanging–even in the middle of a pandemic. YAHWEH remains the same despite everything else around us. YAHWEH, I AM, our GOD is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We can rest secure in who God is.  We can exclaim with David — “The Lord is my shepherd” — no matter what else is going on in the world. Say it with me, “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD!”

POINT 1: GOD IS UNCHANGING. GOD IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW.

So What?
We have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting, and unchanging. We have a God who hears us, we have the love of Christ who died for us and rose again, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. That is our SO WHAT for today!  If only we could learn to fully trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd”, we would have more than enough grace for every sin, more than enough direction for every decision and more than enough healing for our hurts.

I’ll write more in a few days and tell you a story about the little child who exclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want!” For now, I want you to pray, “THE LORD IS…” We are just about to find out that the holiest name on the planet is MY SHEPHERD, my personal shepherd.

Baa?

See you Sunday on our online church ….
theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 A.M. Pacific Time

Or you can tune in to our YouTube Channel — The Seed Christian Fellowship
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsvcuFYZUngDyH1Y-D_F3gw

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

[i] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), 335

[ii] Max Lucado, Safe In The Shepherd’s Arms, (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2002) 10

[i] Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 1

[ii] Helen Mallicoat

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 4/24/20

Seed of Faith – Stop, Look, Listen   By Pastor Dave  

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  John 20:21-23

Dear Faithful Friends and Fellow Seed-Sowers,
The above Scripture verses are powerful to ponder. We recently celebrated Easter and we celebrated that death has been conquered! The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive! The empty tomb declares, once and for all, that no matter what our deepest fears are we have victory. The empty tomb tells us that darkness is defeated and the light of Christ will forever shine.  Because Jesus lives, we live! He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

So what? do you believe about the resurrection?  What do you see during this pandemic and crisis?

These are great questions for us to pray about as we sit in our homes and look outside. Unless you are an essential worker at work during this time, you have been ordered to stay home, stay inside, stay away from others, and keep your social distance. Many of us are growing weary. Worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, and concern about our health, finances, families, and friends are beginning to mount. Many of us know friends and family members who have forever been traumatized by COVID-19. Life has changed. Many of us wonder if we will recover and get back to “normal.”  We see crisis and chaos. We see a worldwide pandemic that has claimed the lives of so many and is changing our world forever. We are helpless to control any of it.

A pandemic is “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the populationa pandemic outbreak of a disease?”  Yes, there has been a pandemic that has spread over this world, not just the coronavirus but I am talking about the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. This ancient, global pandemic is called “death.” This is the bad news but the good news is that Jesus came to earth to conquer death once and for all. And this is what Easter is all about: Jesus Christ died on the cross for our SINS, He was buried and the tomb is empty! Over 500 people encountered the risen Christ after He rose. Hallelujah! Death, hell and the grave have been defeated forever!

My “so what?” question comes early in today’s SEED OF FAITH:

So what?  Do we say to this ancient pandemic? So what? Do I believe about God’s resurrection power?  If God can resurrect our lives from the grave, hell and death, can God get us through this current epidemic?

Ever since my mother-in-law passed away, I have been spending a lot of time sitting quietly on my father-in-law’s covered porch. They call it a LANAI down here in The Villages. I was with Mom when she passed, and then I flew to see my Dad in Rochelle, IL. Then I returned for Mom’s funeral in mid-March and I have been here ever since due to the global epidemic. I’ve been helping my wife as she is caring for her dad. During my quiet times on the lanai, the Lord has impressed upon my heart to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN. 

Do you remember when you learned to cross the street? Stop. Look.  Listen.

These simple words are true today as we face the pandemic called  the Corona-virus.

STOP:  Stop worrying, stop fearing, stop doubting God’s goodness.
LOOK: Look up! Instead of looking down, look into God’s word. Instead of looking into the world’s ways, look around and count all of the blessings you’ve been given.
LISTEN: Listen for the still, small voice of God. Listen to Christian music, radio or television. Listen to the sounds of silence. As I sit on the lanai and I STOP, LOOK and LISTEN, I am hearing so many things! I am hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit as I read God’s word. I am hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit whisper names of those who need prayer, a letter, text, email or phone call. I hear the sounds of nature: songs of many different birds–blue jays, wrens, finches, cardinals, mockingbirds, mourning doves and even an egret, who stops by daily. This morning I listened to the sounds of lightning, thunder, wind and rain.

STOP — LOOK — LISTEN! I am praying for you, too, to join me. I want to know what God is doing in your lives as you stop, look and listen. I think of those essential workers and the bravery it must take to rise up and go be essential! How is their STOP, LOOK and LISTEN different from mine?

Maybe with this pandemic and crisis, your vision has been diminished, decreased, devastated, depleted and/or darkened.

I am sure this is how Jesus’ disciples felt. They watched as they saw their leader and teacher, Jesus, betrayed, beaten, crucified, and buried. They were part of the darkness that covered the earth for three hours on Good Friday. I am sure darkness covered the disciples’ dreams, hopes, and vision. Much like the darkness of this pandemic has covered our lives. The disciples were hiding away in the Upper Room. Afraid. Unsure. I think we can relate!

Today I encourage you to STOP and take some time to read the Gospel of John, chapter 20. Look what Jesus does!  Listen to what Jesus says!  See how the early disciples responded! Put yourself into this story.  How would you respond if Jesus walked into your house today, doors closed from fear, and said to you, “PEACE BE WITH YOU”?

I want to close out today’s SEED OF FAITH with the main theme of last Sunday’s message:
Never put a final period on your life. Instead, put a comma…and let God finish the story. God is the best storyteller I know!  Do you feel finished? Down and out with only a few seconds left? Go out for the pass, get in the end zone–and LET GOD THROW THE HAIL MARY! WHY? Because it’s not over until it is over.

This is precisely what God showed the women at the tomb on Easter morning. They were not expecting the stone to be rolled way. They were not expecting to see an empty tomb. They were not expecting to see angels, let alone HEAR them speaking. They were not expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead. They were carrying 100 pounds of spices to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. They thought the game was over. They thought darkness had won. They expected death had spoken the final word. The disciples were not expecting Jesus to enter through the locked doors. Everyone had put a period on their lives and Jesus’ life! “Jesus died. He is buried.”

FRIENDS, there’s no period here in this story, there’s a comma.  There’s a pause. We call it Holy Saturday!

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

GOD IS AT WORK. IT AIN’T OVER TIL IT’S OVER. Let the greatest storyteller of all finish your story. Let the greatest storyteller of all, finish THIS story.

Is that a period I see in the story of your life?

STOP —- worrying and doubting.
LOOK — to God and to the Words of Life. 
LISTEN —  Jesus says it all, 
 “PEACE BE WITH YOU!”

Here we sit. We each have our very own kind of STAYCATION 2020. Do you remember that we started 2020 with a challenge to see our life more clearly? We did. We asked for 20/20 vision regarding our lives. Wow. Are you beginning to see your life in a new way now? Are you realizing what is most important?

I have a 2020 vision passage for you: John 20:20 (get it, John 20:20?)
“After he said this, Jesus showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.  Drop the period at the end of this global pandemic and put a comma there instead. Let God finish the story.  I can guarantee you from reading the Bible what God is saying. Here it is:
“(Put your name here), I’m the greatest quarterback of all time. Somehow you cut free from all the confusion of your life, and get into the end zone! It ain’t over until it’s over. It ain’t over until I say so and even then, it ain’t over! I bring LIFE from DEATH. There’s no grave that can hold you. Hell cannot claim you. JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. THE TOMB IS EMPTY! I have plans for you that no one can STOP…so LOOK…and LISTEN. I’m resurrecting YOU in 2020!”

Let’s pray: “Jesus, I believe you are God’s one and only SON. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe I am forgiven. Jesus, I want YOUR LIFE TO LIVE IN MY HEART and I want your plans for my good, with a hope for today and hope for all the tomorrows of my life. I believe in eternal life and that one day I will live with YOU in heaven. My heart is yours, your life has cleansed me whiter than snow. I’m ready for the end zone pass! Amen.”

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 4/16/20

Seed of Faith – Weeping and Singing   By Pastor Dave  

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:3-6

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that we experience the PEACE of God during this time of uncertainty, confusion, crisis, shutdowns, slowdowns, fear, doubt, anxiety and panic. Before Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would be betrayed, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

One look at the news and it is clear: we have trouble in our world today. What are we to do? We are to take heart! Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world. With all the worlds’ wars, famines, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and pandemics, Jesus has overcome the world. In the midst of this pandemic, Jesus is our hope and anchor.  Listen to John in chapter 16:33, “Jesus has told you these things, so that in Jesus you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus have overcome the world.” (Pastor Dave’s paraphrase.)

Do you believe that God knows your future and will fulfill all of the plans He has for you? Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Israelite people had been taken captive from their home town of Jerusalem and were being held in Babylon–for 70 years.  I love Jeremiah 29:11. Listen to verses 12-14,  “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Six months ago, the Lord put it on my heart to do a sermon series based on the Psalms of Ascent, psalms 120-134. These are the Psalms the Israelites sang as they journeyed to Jerusalem for their three major, holiday festivals: Passover, Pentecost, and the Day of Atonement — Yum Kippor.

So far in the SEED OF FAITH we’ve looked at Psalms 120, 121 and 125.  In Psalm 120 we learned to call out to God in our distress and that we are pilgrims on a journey; this home is not our eternal home. In Psalm 121 we learned to sing, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” We are reminded daily that our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God watches over us and will not let our foot slip.  Hear me when I say, God watches your daily going out and coming in.

We’ve also looked at Psalm 125.  The Psalmist sings, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”   We may be surrounded by a global outbreak of a pandemic but Psalm 125 is telling us to trust in the Lord because we will not be shaken.

Today’s Psalm of Ascent was written after the Israelites returned home from their captivity in Babylon.  This Psalm is the fulfillment of the promise of Jeremiah 29. Listen to their Psalm of joy:

Psalm 126
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  2Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

We are going to find ourselves in this Psalm as we study today. The world has been taken captive by a pandemic. The Israelites had been in captivity for seventy years; they longed to be home. (We can identify with longing for the way things used to be.)  They Israelites had heard over and over the prophecies and promises of Jeremiah.  They believed God had plans for them. They knew being held captive was not the forever plan.

Psalm 126 is a song of joy and remembrance. The people sang this song and declared joy and laughter because God had brought them out of captivity.  “The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

They sang despite their circumstances: they were under the oppressive hand of the Romans. They cried and sang and  asked God to restore their fortunes.  They felt like a dried-up wasteland yet in this Psalm they are heard begging God to bring streams of living water to restore their souls“We are like those who sow in tears but we wait upon the promises of God: we will reap with songs of joy.”  There is a great principle for us here: we may be in captivity; we may be weeping. We may be carrying seed to sow but one day, if we remain faithful, we are promised to return with songs of joy. We must learn to trust that the maker of heaven and earth will see us through to a better day and to the plans He has for us.

I don’t know where you are at.  I don’t know the captivity that has a hold of each one of us. We all have a Covid-19 story to share. Here is what I do know. Here is our lesson for today:

1. Jesus brings us hope in the midst of our helplessness. We serve a God who knows us.  God knows our past, our present, and our future. The Lord has need of us. TRUST Him. (TRUST acronym: to rest under salvation’s tree. Try grabbing your psalms and sit tight and rest in God’s promises here.)

2. God will fulfill His promises to us. God has plans for us. Jeremiah 29 is true.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

3. In the midst of turmoil…. God promises to bring triumph. We may be sowing in tears right now…but we are promised to sing songs of JOY.  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping…will return with songs of joy.”

We stare ahead at the peak of the bell curve. There are some dire predictions out there. A few nights ago, Mom and Dad’s neighbor, Carol, died of Covid -19. Around 9 pm, we heard her only daughter weeping and wailing. We knew the hospital had called and that she had received the news that her mom had passed. Listening to her cry, my wife and I prayed for her. I asked my wife for permission to just knock on her door (with gloves on). I knocked on her door and gave her words of hope. I gave her 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  I told her of the hope we find in Psalm 23. I told her that after her mom’s last breath on earth she was present with Christ in heaven. (II Corinthians 5:8) I prayed for her and for her family. I kept my social distance, but I couldn’t just stand outside in the backyard and listen to her cry. We had just gone through this. Carol was a great neighbor who had come over to visit Mom as Mom’s health failed. She sent cards. She brought banana bread. She knew Jesus and she made sure that Mom knew Jesus, too.  Carol had no idea that her going out and her coming in were only weeks away.

I’m a pastor. Helping people live well and die well is my job.  I want you to know the peace and forgiveness of Jesus.  I want you to know the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  I want you to know the love and mercy of God our Father. If you need a friend, email me. I’m already praying for you. We may be going out sowing in tears but we are promised to reap songs of  joy.

Promise me one thing as we travel the path of pandemic 2020, let us lift our eyes to God the maker of the mountains and hill. We don’t have the answers to this pandemic…but we know THE ONE WHO DOES. I want you to know that as Carol’s daughter closed the house up, she hollered across the yard, “What you did for me the other night will never be forgotten. My heart is strangely warmed from hearing the promises of God’s word. Thank you.” That, my friends, is a song of joy. A song of joy born of deep, deep sorrow. And that is my promise for you today. No matter how deep your sorrow, I am praying for God to give you a song of joy in some way or fashion that will hold you and carry you forward. “Grief may last for a night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5.

See you Sunday as we worship at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10AM Pacific Time

Or you can go to our church’s YouTube channel and watch the messages any time day or night:
https://youtu.be/2d4yh8dm-m4
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.

Seed of Faith 4/7/2020

Seed of Faith – Holy Week By Pastor Dave  

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers,
We have begun HOLY WEEK—the week we celebrate and remember the final week of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth.  This is one of the most important weeks of the Christian year.  Jesus lived thirty-three years, His ministry lasted three years.

Here’s a great question: Why do the four Gospel writers write extensively about the last week of Jesus’ life? 

Listen to these facts:

  • Matthew devotes one-fourth of his 28-chapters to Jesus’ last week (chapters, 21-28).
  • Mark devotes one-third of his Gospel to the last week of Jesus’ life (chapters, 11-16).
  • Luke devotes one fifth of his writings to the last week of Christ’s life (chapters, 19:28-24).
  • What I find most remarkable is that John devotes half of His Gospel to recounting the story of Jesus’ last week of His life (Chapters 11-21).
  • Let’s think about this for a moment. There are 89 chapters in these four Gospels. Over one third of them (29), are given to tell the story of Jesus’ last week of His life!  A third of the Gospels are dedicated to telling the story of Jesus’ last week on planet Earth: His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, washing the apostles’ feet, His high priestly prayer, His promise of the Holy Spirit, His arrest, persecution, crucifixion, death and resurrection! All of these events occurred in one week.

Put this in the context of your own life: 1/3 of the story of your life is going to boil down to the final week of your life.

WOW! That’s just about too much to think about. Lord, give us YOUR 2020 vision.

As we all face the covid 19 pandemic, it is my prayer that you will experience the PEACE of God.

I want you to remember what Jesus said when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He was minutes away from being betrayed by Judas and arrested. What was it Jesus said? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Did you hear that? “In this world you are going to have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world.”

Friends, we have some serious trouble in our world today. What are we to do? We are to take heart! Why are we to take heart? Because Jesus has overcome the world. With all of the worlds’ wars, famines, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and pandemics, Jesus has overcome the world.

So What?
It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty you will turn to the One who promises you peace. Jesus was in the final week of His life, He wasn’t sitting in a classroom, or a church, or on his patio. He wasn’t sitting in His favorite restaurant, or preaching from a pulpit. Jesus was just about to be betrayed by one of His friends. Jesus knew what was just ahead. He knew there was going to be an arrest, a trial, and a crucifixion. How in the world could he tell us that in Him we could have peace? How could he say, “…you will have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART…”? How could Jesus tell us that? Because Jesus knew that not only did an arrest, a trial, and a crucifixion lie just ahead but so did a resurrection.

Listen, Jesus is telling us today to take heart. Jesus is telling us to have peace. Why can we listen to Jesus? Because the tomb is going to be empty. Jesus has already overcome the world. No matter where we are during this pandemic, we can take heart (courage) and we can find the peace that we need.

How? That is the “So what?” for this week.

Grab your Bible. I just listed the 89 chapters that are going to fill you with the peace you are looking for. Study the last week of Christ’s life.  The WORDS you will read are words of life, hope, peace and light. In this world, we are going to have trouble….  but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

I just received a text from a friend. He said one of his coworkers asked him how he could come to work each day. Wasn’t he worried?  My friend said, “You know, Dave, I’m a man of few words. I really didn’t know what to say.” And then his friend said, “It’s your faith. It’s your faith that helps you.”

Take heart, friends, Jesus has overcome the world. Good Friday is days away with Easter Sunday just three days later. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THREE DAYS CAN MAKE.  Take heart!

God loves you with an unfailing, inexorable, inconceivable love. God’s mercy to you is unending. God’s grace for you far outreaches your pile of sins and failures.

Holy Week is here. No wonder there’s 89 chapters for us to read. Find your bible. Open it up. See yourself in the story. It’s quite a story.

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.

Seed of Faith 4/2/2020

Seed of Faith – Not Shaken By Pastor Dave  
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:1-2

Dear Friends, Family and Faithful Seed-Sowers,

It is hard for me to believe that Easter is only days away.  Sunday is Palm Sunday, the following week is Easter.  Easy to forget that Easter is so close because we are all inside the windows of the Coronavirus shutdowns, slow-downs, lock-downs, lockouts, and quarantines. It is my prayer that during this crisis, and during these times of fear, worry, anxiety, and uncertainty, we will not lose our focus on this 2020 Lenten season. I pray we keep our eyes upon Christ, the cross and the empty tomb.

Easter tells us of the power of the resurrection! 
Easter shouts out that death has been swallowed up in victory. 
Easter proclaims the forgiveness of sin.
Easter declares the victory won by Christ on the cross!
Easter shouts the tomb is empty!
Easter is hope! Christ is our hope.

Isn’t that what we need today? Don’t we all need a giant dose of HOPE? (Heaven’s One Promise:  ETERNITY!)

Today I want you to have a dose of hope.

Despite these times of worry, fear, anxiety and uncertainty, hope lives. Despite coronavirus, we have HOPE.

Our Psalm for today is Psalm 125.  How appropriate. When I set my preaching and teaching schedule six months ago, who would have thought that we would be in such a time of uncertainty? The title of today’s message is “Not Shaken.” I’m praying that after today’s message, you will be able to say, “I’m not going to be shaken. I’m choosing to believe God’s word is alive and redemptive. I’m choosing to believe Jesus REDEEMED (bought me back) me!  I’m choosing to believe that Christ’s death on the cross has secured my victory, once and forever.

I have a few early “so what” questions:

What does it mean to trust God?
How do I trust God?
Can I trust God when a pandemic comes?
Can I trust God when everything is so uncertain?
Can I trust God during a crisis?

The Hebrew word used for “trust” is “batach”. Batach is the verb in this first sentence of Psalm 125.  To the Hebrew people, “batach” meant “put your confidence in, rely on, be secure, put your hope in and believe.” Homework time: “SO WHAT is it that you put your confidence in, rely on, and are secure in? What do you hope in and believe?”

For the Israelites, as they climbed the 3800 feet from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, they lifted their eyes up to the Lord and trusted that God would not let their feet slip. They trusted that God was watching over them—in their coming and their going.  They felt secure despite the uncertain times they lived in. Enemies were all around them but they were choosing to put their “batach” trust in God. The Israelites have faced all kinds of enemies throughout their existence, from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelation. TRUST: to rest under Salvation’s tree.

When I was in seminary, I worked for my best friend, PJ.  He and his two brothers have a construction company.  They built new homes, hotels and barns. When we laid out the foundation to every new home, we measured it two or three times before we started to dig it out. When the basement had been dug out, we measured again in order to lay the forms that would set the walls.  It was only then that we got the okay to pour the foundation.  The foundation had to be 100% square and level before the house could be built.  I think back to those days and I know that life is all about building on the right foundation.

Jesus had a lot to say about the wise and foolish builders in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7). The foolish builder built his house on sand. When the winds, rain and storms came, the house fell. Splat. Contrast that with the wise builder who built his house on the rock. When the storms, winds and rain came, his house stood firm. The foundation had been DUG and those walls stood the tests of time.

With our times being uncertain, there’s a lot we can learn from these two builders! Are we building on the sand or on the rock? Jesus is the chief cornerstone, the rock of our salvation.  When we build our lives upon Jesus, there is no pandemic, no panic, no fear, no worry, no uncertainty, and no insecurity that will shake your house so badly that your foundation (Christ) will fall.  This is what the Psalmist is saying, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in 2 Kings, chapter 6; the story of Elisha and his servant. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. Ben Hadad was the king of Syria who had been fighting the king of Israel. Every time Ben Hadad made plans to attack Israel, God revealed the plans of Hadad to Elisha. Elisha then told the king of Israel of the plans, and the Jewish armies escaped. Ben Hadad thought there was a traitor among his officers.  He was going to figure out who the dirty rat was until one of his officers told him that Elisha, the prophet of God, was the one telling the King of Israel all Ben Hadad’s plans. Ben-Hadad decided to go and capture the dirty rat, Elisha. Elisha was at Dothan with his servant when Ben Hadad marched his armies all around Dothan. At daybreak, Elisha’s servant went out to draw water, he saw Hadad’s soldiers and was terrified. The servant ran back into the house, woke up Elisha, and said, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

Isn’t that the question and the cry of so many of us in these times of uncertainty?  We look around. We see that we are surrounded on all sides by an out-of-control virus. Listen again to the servant’s cry, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

Listen (and hear) what the prophet of God says, “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha told him.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16.  Elisha then prayed, asking God to open the eyes of the servant. The young man saw that the surrounding hills were “full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).

I’m wondering if David was prophesying about this when he wrote Psalm 34, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” Psalm 34:7. 

What happened next is nothing short of miraculous: God afflicted the enemy soldiers with blindness! Elisha was able to capture them and lead them into Israel’s capital city, Samaria. The enemy soldiers were treated kindly and then sent home. And after this event, the Syrian bands stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

“Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” 2 Kings 6:16. 

It’s not that we don’t have enemies. We do. Look up…look past your enemy and know that God is surrounding you with a vast heavenly host. Those who are with you are more than those who are with them.

Today we have an out of control coronavirus. Tomorrow it will be another enemy. What are the fears we face? Fear in our finances, pain from broken relationships, panic during health concerns, worry over our children and family members. Anxiety weighs heavy over all that is going on around us.  The facts are in: we live in a broken, fallen world. There are many things that make us feel insecure. But…today…I want us to do what Psalm 121 taught us last week: LIFT OUR EYES UP. Take your eyes off the crisis and look to the cross.

Today we have another wonderful truth in Psalm 125: Those who BATACH…those who TRUST…in the Lord are like Mount Zion. We are like a mountain.  As we trust, we are building  our lives on the SOLID ROCK of Jesus Christ and not on the shaky sands of the world. As the mountains surround Jerusalem…God promises to surround us!

When I first moved to California, I couldn’t believe that I was surrounded by mountains to the north, south, east and west. Psalm 125 came alive to me; like the servant who came running in from the storm of soldiers shouting, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” we already know the answer. Are you ready? Repeat after me:

“Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and the Lord delivers them.” (Ps. 34:7).

We have a Savior, His name is Jesus.  In two weeks, we will celebrate Easter and the empty tomb. In order to get to Easter’s empty tomb, we must go through a crucifixion. Out of the agony and pain of the crucifixion, we trust we have the resurrection. Palm Sunday is here and the agony of Holy Week follows. Remember this, we have a Savior who knows what it feels like to be surrounded. Surrounded in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.” When the storms, rains and winds of His arrest, trial and crucifixion came, Jesus trusted. Batach.

So What?
St. Patrick. Patrick was a young man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Patrick had been captured in England by Irish pirates when he was sixteen, he was put to work as a slave for an Irish chieftain. After six years in slavery, Patrick escaped and returned to his family. Patrick went to seminary and was called by God to return to Ireland–not as a slave but as a missionary. What a task Patrick faced! Patrick had no outward security. Where did Patrick find strength in such times?

St. Patrick’s breastplate inscription:

I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me from snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill.…Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to be abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.… I arise today through a mighty strength… (if you want a copy of this prayer send me an email)

This is true security.  This is true safety! This prayer teaches us how to be surrounded in times like these … Christ before us, Christ beside us, Christ, above us, Christ, below us, Christ in us!  This prayer points us to the true Savior — Jesus Christ.

In 2013 I was really sick with patches of open, oozing sores. I saw 15 doctors, but no one knew what was wrong with me. After four years, I found out the cause of my declining health: lead poisoning. I want to point you to what kept me, it’s right here, found in today’s psalm: BATACH…Hebrew word for TRUST. Trust: put your confidence in, rely on, be secure, put your hope in and believe. Did I trust God? YES.  Do I trust God now? Yes. Earlier I gave you some homework, and that’s what I’m closing with:  HOMEWORK.

Who do you put your confidence in?
Who do you rely on?
Who brings you the kind of security you need right now?
Who do you hope in and believe in?

If you’ve never given your heart to Jesus, today is a great day for that! (If you have given your heart to Jesus, today is a great day to re-up, to recommit, to rededicate your life and heart to Him.) Pray with me, “Jesus, I believe you are God’s only Son. I believe you came to earth. You died on the cross and rose from the dead. Help any unbelief I have. Because of your shed blood on the cross, I am forgiven. My sins are as far from the east as is form the west. I give you my heart and am choosing this day to trust in You. Amen”

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people. Greater are those who are with us than those who are against us. BATCH. TRUST.

Proverbs 3:5-6…read it…memorize it this week…whenever you waiver…say it out loud…put your name in there…and let me know what happens!

See you Sunday!
Our online worship service is at 10am pacific time at

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Don’t use www or .com just put the above line into your web browser and we will see you on Palm Sunday!

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

Lots of cool stuff online…check it out.
I’m praying for you.

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 3/28/20

Seed of Faith – Lift Up Your Eyes   By Pastor Dave  

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
We are in unprecedented and uncharted times; times of lock-downs, lockouts, shutdowns, shut ins, quarantines, isolation, closings and crisis. I spend time in prayer for you each day (and night). Jac and I are quarantined in The Villages, Florida, after her mom’s funeral on March 13th. We, along with Jac’s little sister, Patti, are doing our best to care for dad. At times, it takes all three of us to do what needs to be done. We are currently awaiting test results and another “drive through” lawyer appointment.

What are we to do in times such as these?

In times like these, turn to the Psalms.  The Psalms are heart wisdom.  John Calvin says, “Psalms are the anatomy of all parts of the soul.” When anxiety, fear, uncertainty, panic and crisis of this pandemic comes, we all need to lift our eyes up–to the Lord.

One of my favorite Psalms is 121.  Today we will look at the first two verses.

Psalm 121 is a Psalm of Ascent. There are 150 Psalms in the Bible but only Psalms 120-134 are what we call “The Songs of Ascent.” The Jewish people call these 14 songs,  shir hama’aloth The first word, shir, means a hymn or song, but the second word, ma’alah (the singular of ma’aloth) means both a step or a stair and a “going up.”

The question that has been debated by theologians throughout the centuries is, “Going up where, how, and when?” Some scholars think that the Israelites sang these songs as the captives returned home from captivity in Babylon.  Other scholars suggest that these songs were sung as the people climbed the 15 steps that led from the courtyard of the women to the courtyard of the men. Most scholars believe that these fifteen songs were sung by the people as they journeyed from their homes to Jerusalem for the three major festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Day of Atonement. The faithful Jewish people would leave homes and journey back to Jerusalem. The scholars believe that Mary, Joseph and Jesus sang these Psalms as they returned from Nazareth to Jerusalem to the high and holy festival days. Think about this, Jesus and His disciples would also have sung these songs as they climbed the hills from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. Normally the trip took 3 days to walk from the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus had his home base, to Jerusalem. And that is only if they traveled through Samaria.  If they avoided Samaria, it took five days. The Dead Sea is 1,412 feet below sea level and Jerusalem is 2,474 above sea level.  The climb up from the Dead Sea, or the ascent, is 3,886 feet straight up winding, mountain trails.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I decided to print the whole Psalm and not just the first two verses that we are studying.  I encourage you in this time of lock downs, closeouts, shut down and times of slow downs, to read this Psalm. Read a verse, think about it, stop and pray.  Read the whole Psalm and write and few thoughts on what the Holy Spirit is impressing upon your heart.  These are some much needed words today.  It feels like our foot is slipping with all the news of lock downs, shutdowns, quarantines, slow-downs and social distancing. Where can we find solid footing?

When the Israelites went up to Jerusalem, as they traveled the mountain pathways, they saw in the cleft of the rocks all of the pagan gods.  As they passed them by, they would say, “I lift my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from?”  Does our help come from all of these pagan gods?  No, they lifted their eyes higher and shouted and sang, “OUR help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Here’s a good thought for this SEED OF FAITH:
Where does your help come from?
Where does your help come from during the quarantine?

This is a powerful question. Where does our help come from in times like these? When a pandemic like Covid-19 comes and knocks on the door of our lives, where does our help come from?

We are facing shutdowns all over the USA. Closures of stores, restaurants, schools, universities, businesses and churches are closed. We are told to lock-down and stay in.  Don’t have social contact. Stay home!

It’s a good question to stop right now and ask yourself:
Where does my help come from? 

With our knowledge of Christ’s resurrection, we have a viewpoint that the early Jewish pilgrims did not have. We know Christ rose from the dead, over 500 people witnessed and recorded that fact. As we journey up the mountain path to our own Jerusalem, can we join and sing Psalm 121 together? I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. 

I believe that at a time like this we simply cannot allow fear and panic to overwhelm us. Just today Jac and I brought Dad to the podiatrist. Jac’s Dad is 6′ tall and weighs 125 pounds–fully dressed.  He has no fat on his bones and he is freezing all of the time. It is not uncommon to wake up in the Florida heat with the heater turned on to 88 degrees. When we drive, he says he’s too cold and could we not turn on the AC? (This was all PRE-quarrantine.) After mom’s funeral, we had made many doctor appointments for Dad.  Not one of them has canceled. Today we went to the podiatrist. As we walked in, the receptionist took Dad’s temperature. To be fair, he had just had a hot shower, drove 30 minutes in a hot car and trekked across the parking lot in the 90 degree heat. His temp was 100.8. You know when you go to the carnival and you play the game where you hit the stump with a hammer? And when you are superman, it hits the bell at the top and the dinger dings and the sirens go off and the lights flash?  That’s a pretty accurate description of the receptionist’s reaction to Dad’s temp.  She stood up and was yelling through her mask, and motioning for us to “get him outside!”  Jac had her mask and gloves on, and tried to talk with the lady. She was having none of it.  “GET HIM OUT! GET HIM OUT! WE ARE REFUSING YOU!” Jac said, “Mam?” and the lady said, “I’m calling the CEO, the manager, security and anyone I can right now. GET HIM OUT.” I took dad out and Jac tried her best to explain. The woman said, “Our CEO and building manager are on their way.” Jac said, “I’ll be right outside. Could they please step out and speak with me?” The woman agreed.  Dad’s doctor came outside and talked with Jac. It ended up well but it was a circus for a brief while. I suppose what I’m to say is, be safe, go by the rules, but we can still find ways to say what needs to be said without screaming at one another. Lift those eyes to God. Lift your heart to God.

Once Jac got back in the car, I was able to share that EVERYTHING GOES THROUGH JESUS’ NAIL SCARRED HANDS. We may not understand the why but we can trust the maker of heaven and earth.

A few questions to think about:
Why do we take our eyes off of the cross and look at the crisis? 
Why do we tend panic instead of resting in the peace that only God can bring?
Why do we tend allow fear to rule instead of allowing faith to reign?
Why do we tend worry instead of worship? (Alexa, play Christian music. It works.)

Maybe a good “so what” question for today is:
Who and what are you looking at during this crisis?

Where is your help?  We need to be wise and listen to our leaders and take all of the necessary precautions but we are not to allow fear, anxiety and panic to rule and reign in our lives. (I get panic and fear and anxiety, we were down to napkins in the rest room!)

Philippians 4 has always been a wonderful verse for me throughout my life. Recently, (before the quarantine) I went with two faithful brothers to visit a dear friend and her husband.  This young lady is only 48 years young and has been battling cancer for a long time.  The cancer has taken a hard turn and weakened her body.  She is at home on hospice.  In our time together, we shared communion and talked about heaven.  Our friend is getting ready to meet Jesus.  When I asked her what Scripture she would like to have read she said — Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Hear these powerful words of comfort from a young woman battling for her very life:  Don’t be anxious about anything!

Don’t be anxious about having no toilet paper, about having to stay in your home, about not being able to go out to eat, about not being able to go to school or work. Let’s not be anxious about corona virus, not even about death.  Where does our help come from?  Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

So What?
In times when we are locked up and locked out,  look up!
In times of crisis, look to CROSS.
In times of fear, let faith be your strength and hope. 
The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
In times of terror, turn and trust in the one who created the heavens and created you.  His promise is that he will never leave you or forsake you.
In times of panic, turn to Prince of Peace don’t turn to the prince of panic. We are told in Philippians 4 that the PEACE of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

If you need prayer during this time, go to our website www.theseedchristianfellowship.com and post a prayer concern. Our prayer team will be in prayer for you.  You can also contact me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com — you are not alone!

Lift Your Eyes up to the Lord, the prince of peace who promises to be with 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 3/14/20

Seed of Faith – Call On The Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3  (I call this “God’s PHONE NUMBER.)”

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Daily prayer for our world and our nation keeps me occupied during this world-wide pandemic. It is my prayer that as you read this SEED OF FAITH that your hope is watered and your faith is encouraged to grow.

We are in the Season of Lent, the 40 Days of prior to Easter where the joy of the empty tomb and the power of the resurrection replaces our fear of death.  The problem is that so many of us have been overwhelmed with this fear.  The imminent danger of the corona virus is real and it is here at hand. I’ve been to Wal-Mart. I’ve seen the empty displays where toilet paper and paper towels used to be.  The fear of a deadly disease has paralyzed the world. As Christians, we are reminded of many verses that give us strength in times like this.  2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (Say that out loud and say it often!)

I am sitting in Florida with my wife, her dad, and sister and brother-in-law.  We just celebrated the life of my mother-in-law with a wonderful service where we remembered the HOPE and POWER of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death has been swallowed up in victory.  We are reminded that life is a temporary and gracious gift from God.  We are reminded to hold tight the precious times and powerful moments we have had with each.

With the corona virus shutting down all major sporting events, schools, public events, and even Disneyland, Disney World, Universal studios, the question that comes to my mind is, “What is the call of the church at a time like this?”  My brother-in-law, Matt, is a pastor in Nebraska.  As we were sitting and talking about the call of the church during this season, he received an email:

It was during the plagues in 2nd Century in Rome that the Christians stayed and administered health and healing to the sick and dying. This led to the spread of Christianity. In the 3rd Century another plague came and the Christians stayed and saved many.  It was said of the Christians, “good was done for all, not just the household of faith.”  In 1527 the bubonic plague came to Europe and Martin Luther refused to flee the city of Wittenberg. Luther wrote a letter that later became a tract of faith.  In his letter he said. “We die at our posts. Christian doctors cannot abandon their hospitals, Christian governors cannot flee their districts, Christian pastors cannot abandon their congregations. The plague does not dissolve our duties: It turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die.” (Martin Luther) Those are strong words from Luther. Easy for me to say as I sit 2,000 miles away from my church in Southern California but I will return home, hopefully, this Friday and I will be back to serving The Seed Christian Fellowship. I don’t know how many pastors are prepared to die in service, I am one who is.

I know that God has called us to be wise and to not live in a spirit of fear.  For those of us who are ill and who have weakened immune systems, my word is to stay safe, be wise, and  to take good care of yourself. If you need anything, call me. I will do my best to help. What drives a statement like that?  God has not given me a spirit of panic or fear, instead God has given me a spirit of love, power and sound mind to overcome my fear.

We began our Lenten three weeks ago.  Every year after the glacier of Advent and Christmas has passed, I sit down and pray and seek God’s heart on what to preach in the upcoming year. This year, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach on the Psalms of Ascent during Lent.  The Psalms of Ascent are Psalms 120-134 and they are the Psalms (songs) that the Israelites sang as they journeyed back to Jerusalem for their major festivals of  Passover, Pentecost and Atonement. I encourage you to take some time this Lenten season and read the Psalms of Ascent. They will inspire you.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Any man can sing in the daytime, but only the man of faith can sing in the night.”[i]

I have to agree. Being in the ministry, night time is a very special and holy time, especially for those of faith. It is no wonder that I am often found reading during the wee hours of the night. I am encouraged that the light is never overcome by the darkness (John 1:1-5) This fact remains steady in the darkness of the night every single night. Just the strike of one match lights up the darkness. One small candle brings enough light to a room to navigate by.

I believe that Psalm 120 is one of those songs we need to learn in order to sing in the night.  There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this Psalm.  First, we are to call upon the Lord.  Second, we are strangers in this world.  We are pilgrims on a journey. Third, we need to remember that God hears our call.

The Hebrew word for “call” means to call, to shout, to proclaim, to name, to announce, to summon and to read.”  The word for “distress” means; “distress, anxiety, to be in need.” Pretty much hits the nail on the head for such a time as this.

So What?
I don’t know about you but this Psalm has hit my heart. When I am distressed and in need, I am to call upon the Lord.  I am to summon the Lord.  I am to shout out the name of the Lord.  I am to announce the name of the Lord. I am to proclaim the Lord. I am to read the Word.  It is my prayer that we will not live in a spirit of fear but that we will walk by faith into this world and share God’s grace, mercy and love with those we meet.  I encourage you to grab your Bible and look up some of the verses on “do not fear.” There are 365 of them (hmmm.)   I have a list of them if you would like. Email me and I will send them to you. Look up all the times that people of the Bible called upon the Lord and God answered. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3.  This verse has brought me hope and healing through the many trials and tribulations in my life.  Do you know God’s phone number?  It is Jeremiah 33:3 and it says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Call on the Lord! God promises to answer. God is faithful even when I am not. Faithfulness is who God is. During these scary days, let us water our hope and grow our faith.

The last few days of “Where does it say, ‘O, death, where is your sting?'”my mother-in-love’s life, she asked my wife (her second daughter of 3), Jac told her it was found in 1 Corinthians 15:55- 57. Here it is, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But THANKS BE TO GOD! He gives us the VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!” Jo Ann asked for that verse ten times a day until she had it memorized. She had Jesus in her heart as Lord and Savior and she was heaven bound.

No darkness can blot out the light of Christ. No sin is victorious over the LIGHT of the WORLD. God so loved this WORLD (even the world with corona virus) that God sent His ONLY SON…John 3:16…so that ALL WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS…SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. 

OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN WON BY ONE MAN, Jesus Christ. No darkness will ever overcome that.  Be smart.  Be safe. and BE IN CHRIST.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do
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 5/8/20

Seed of Faith – My Shepherd   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Dear Faithful Friends and Servant Seed-Sowers,

In last week’s Seed of Faith we began a study in Psalm 23.  For the 7 Sundays from Easter to Pentecost, we are taking one verse of this beloved Psalm a week and slowing meditating on it.  (Please know, you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the service or just tune in to hear the Sunday Message.)

GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY!
Does it make sense then that TRUST IS A REQUIREMENT OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SHEPHERD!?

An amazing idea in verse 1 in Psalm 23 is found in two words: “my Shepherd.”  Sheep are the most dependent animals of all livestock. Sheep depend on the shepherd to lead them to clean water and to fields green with fresh grass. Sheep depend on the shepherd to heal their wounds, protect them from wild animals and lead them safely on dangerous mountain slopes.

Here is a fun thought: Let’s pretend you wake up this morning, YOU ARE THE SHEPHERD and you have a flock of sheep that you are leading up to Mount Baldy (that is a mountain outside our windows)! Now, THAT’S A JOB! When I was a  pastor in Round Rock, Texas, our associate pastor came from a farming family. She raised sheep. She always said, “Sheep are the dumbest!” Just imagine that you have just woken up from a nice, peaceful sleep in some dirt field with lots of rocks. Morning is here. I have no idea if there’s coffee but I do know that it is your job to get those 100 sheep up the dirt mountain road! Good luck!

This reminds me of the story found in Luke 15. Jesus is telling the story. The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep. Did you hear that? Listen! The shepherd goes looking for lost sheep.

We’ve been in this COVID-19 pandemic now for almost two months. Do you feel lost? Hear the GOOD NEWS: The Good Shepherd comes to look for you! The GOOD shepherd takes care of the sheep because if anything would ever happen to the sheep, it would be a personal reflection on the shepherd.  In other words, the sheep and the shepherd have a relationship of trust. Read that out loud! The sheep and the shepherd have a relationship of trust.

When we say the first five words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” we are expressing our trust in God.

The Lord is not just any shepherd, The is my personal Shepherd. The personal pronoun used is a first-person singular. Psalm 23 could have read this way, “The Lord is A Shepherd.” That would suggest that there are many shepherds and the Lord is one among many of them. Or it could have read this way,  “The Lord is THE Shepherd” suggests that the Lord is the shepherd but the Lord is not MY personal shepherd. David could have written, “The Lord is OUR Shepherd” which implies a universal shepherd for a vast number of sheep. Instead David starts the Psalm with, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” I wonder what prompted the writing of the song? Did David’s two universes collide–you know the one with the real sheep he’s in charge of and the universe where he can relate to GOD being the trustworthy shepherd of which David belongs to that fold?

David suggests that we are given a personal relationship with a personal YAHWEH.

When we read and recite the words, “The Lord is MY Shepherd” we are expressing our trust in our personal relationship with our unchanging Shepherd. We are saying, “The unchanging God of yesterday, today and tomorrow in my personal Shepherd. If the Lord is MY shepherd, I’m going to trust my shepherd.”

Dwight L. Moody’s favorite verse was Isaiah 12:2: “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Listen to Moody, “You can travel first-class or second-class to heaven. Second class is, ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust.’ First class is, ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’ That is the better way. Why not buy a first-class ticket?” (Ps 56:3)[i]

I don’t know about you, but I am buying the first-class ticket! “The Lord is my shepherd. I will trust and not be afraid.”

I like the small boy’s interpretation of the hymn, “Trust and Obey.”  The real words are, “Trust and obey, there is no better way to be happy in Jesus, trust and obey.” The young boy’s version that he came home with from Sunday School was, “Trust and ok.  There is no better way to be happy in Jesus. Just trust and OK!”   Isn’t that great?

Friends, everything must be O. K. if our life has been committed to our Shepherd’s precious keeping and we are trusting Him as our personal shepherd.

TRUST AND OK…there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus. TRUST AND OK.[ii]
(Although please don’t miss the real TRUST AND OBEY part of the song because it’s straight-up important!)

I want us to make a note: As we begin to study Psalm 23, we are called to trust in God! Like sheep who trust their shepherd, having the Lord as my shepherd means I will trust God to provide for me, protect me, and care for me.

CONTENTMENT COMES FROM TRUSTING THE SHEPHERD
There is a story told of a Sunday school teacher who asked her class if anyone could recite the entire twenty-third Psalm. One little girl waved her arm and told the teacher she had memorized the whole Psalm. The teacher invited the girl up to the front of the class. The little girl stood, faced the class and said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.”  Oh, that we would come to know the good shepherd in this way! “The Lord is my shepherd—that’s all I want!”  Are you content in knowing “the Lord is MY shepherd”? Is that all you want?

One of my favorite authors is Brennan Manning. In his book “Ruthless Trust,” Manning shares a story about going to visit his spiritual director. “Brennan, you do not need any more insights into the faith. You have enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust that which you have received.”[iii]

I don’t know about you but this hits home for me. I need to trust what I’ve already received. My shepherd has cared for me my whole life long. I am building a trust relationship with my good shepherd. How about you?

Jesus says in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”

I would like to share how God taught me to trust Him. As many of you know, I wear a cross on the outside of my shirt. The cross was given to me in 1986 when I attended a Cursillo Weekend in Indiana.  The back of the cross says, “Christ is counting on you.”  I have worn this cross for 34 years. Each morning when I put on my cross, I repeat the words “Christ is counting on me” and then say “And I am counting on Christ.” Every day for the past 34 years, over 13,000 days, this cross has been a reminder for me to count on Christ!

Just recently, I lost my cross. I’ve been helping my wife care for her 88 year-old dad after her mom died. Covid happened, and I’ve been here since mid-March. Anyway, I looked all over the house for my lost cross. I could not find it. Then I remembered that my wife and I had gone for a walk late the night before. It was dark out and Jac kept telling me that we needed to go back and trace our steps. Jac said, “Remember when you thought you stepped on a snake? We need to go look there.”  (I suppose Jac was counting on Christ while I must have been counting sheep!)  I knew, or I thought I knew, that there was no way the cross could have come loose and fallen off —I would have felt it—it is a heavy cross!  I would have heard it clink on the cement sidewalk. At her insistence, we went for a walk and retraced our steps. I remembered the tree branch that I stepped on. It had rolled and I had stumbled. Jac was sure that was where I lost the cross. I looked. “Nope. Not there.” Then Jac walked over to the same spot, rustled around the branches and said, “Hey, lookyloo—your cross.”

I must confess. Jac calls me a KIA: KNOW IT ALL. I am a pretty confident person who often thinks I know it all—I do not need anyone else to help me, I got it covered—ha-ha. The truth was that I did not want to go on a RETRACE YOUR STEPS walk because I knew I had not lost my cross on that walk and I did not want to waste my time. Jac insisted. Even when we stopped at the spot where I had tripped on the tree branch the night before, I was still certain that I had not lost my cross there. Jac was doing TRUST AND OBEY. I was doing my own version of TRUST AND OK. I’M A KIA, I KNOW I’M RIGHT, WE ARE WASTING TIME HERE! Well, I was wrong. Sometimes the shepherd likes to teach me contentment through my wife who was perfectly willing to waste her time looking for my cross. TRUST AND OBEY, THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO BE HAPPY (CONTENT) IN JESUS? TRUST AND OBEY!

From that simple experience, even after 34 years of wearing my cross, I am still always learning to trust my good shepherd even more! I am learning to be CONTENT as my shepherd leads me, guides me, and protects me.

“The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.”

1. My shepherd is YAHWEH…I AM WHO I AM..I AM UNCHANGING…I AM THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW….

2. MY shepherd is TRUSTWORTHY…and this trust is the FOUNDATION of my faith and the foundation of Psalm 23: THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD…I SHALL NOT WANT.

3. From these two points—that my shepherd is unchanging, and my shepherd is trustworthy–from here will come my contentment. If I am called to STAY HOME during the pandemic, I will TRUST MY UNCHANGING SHEPHERD AND STAY HOME.  If I am called out to work because I am an essential worker, I WILL TRUST MY UNCHANGING SHEPHERD AND GO TO WORK.

So What?!
The Allied soldiers gathered many hungry, homeless children after World War II and placed them in large camps. The children were abundantly fed and cared for. However, at night they did not sleep well; they seemed restless and afraid. Finally, a psychologist offered a solution. After the children were put to bed, they each received a slice of bread. If they wanted more to eat, they could have it, but this particular slice was not to be eaten—it was just to be held. The slice of bread produced marvelous results. The children went to sleep, subconsciously knowing there was definitely something there for them to eat tomorrow. This was all it took to calm the children.

In Psalm 23 David says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Instinctively, the sheep knows the shepherd has made plans for its grazing. He knows the shepherd has made ample provision, so the sheep will lie down in peace, as if with a piece of bread in their hand.[iv]

What is the one thing that is separating you from finding this kind of contentment? What is it that you trust? What do you need to hold on to so you can sleep at night? Are we all a little bit like Brennan Manning having enough information to last us a lifetime but learning to trust what we already know? Are you like me, doubting when you should be trusting? Do you need the ability to trust that what you have read in the Scriptures, prayed in your prayers and heard in church is true? Is the LORD your shepherd? Are you content?

We have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting, and unchanging. We have a God who hears us, we have the love of Christ that died for us and rose again, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. This is our SO WHAT for today!  If only we could learn to fully trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd,” we would have more than enough grace for every sin, more than enough direction for every decision and more than enough healing for our hurt.

“The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want!”

Trust and okay, there’s no better way to be happy in Jesus…TRUST AND OKAY.
Let us pray:

Dear Shepherd of the sheep. We come to You today not because we are good, but because YOU are good. We belong to You. We praise You because You are unchanging, You are the “Great I Am” –YOU are the shepherd who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Let us say with boldness and trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.”   Amen

See you Sunday!

Join us on Sunday mornings at 10am Pacific for our online interactive service with chats prayers and fellowship … here is the link theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Or you can go to our YouTube Channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship https://youtu.be/aP1YDktBLwg

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 4-30-20

Seed of Faith – Shepherd Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers,

Grace and peace to you during this time of the Covid-19 shutdown and slow down. For the next six weeks, we are going to walk slowly through Psalm 23. Psalm 23 is only six verses and 117 words.  During your stay-at-home time, or go and work and go home time, why not open your bible and slowly read and pray this Psalm? When I was in seminary, a group of us got together and taught ourselves how to pray the psalms. We picked a psalm and went line by line, reading it out loud and then pausing to see if we were inspired to pray. You know what? It was an amazing experience. I encourage you to pick up this Psalm and pray a word or a sentence. Ask God to fill your heart and mind on how to pray for those you love. The Holy Spirit will move you and lead you. I’m praying for you! Let me know how it goes!

Martin Luther called this psalm “a little Bible,” and he just might be right. There are six verses, 117 words but we will certainly come to know the Lord as we study this psalm.  Once we know him as our shepherd, we can find it easier to trust him. The twenty-third Psalm is the most beloved Psalm in the Psalter and possibly is the best- loved chapter in the entire Bible. The great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, called it “the pearl of Psalms.”[i]

Millions of people have memorized this Psalm. Ministers have used this Psalm to comfort those going through personal trials, suffering illnesses, and facing death.  Max Lucado has a way with words, he described Psalm 23 this way, “Do more beloved words exist? Framed and hung on hospital walls, quoted by the young and whispered by the dying. In these lines, sailors have found a harbor, the frightened have found a father and the strugglers have found a friend. And because the passage is so deeply loved and widely known can you find ears on which these words have never fallen? Set to music in a hundred songs, translated into a thousand tongues, domiciled (God makes his home) in a million hearts. One of those hearts might be yours.”[ii]   

King David, the shepherd boy, gives us 115 words to explain the first two words of his psalm, “The Lord.”  In the opening of his book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, Phillip Keller presents us with probing questions, “The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character? Does He have adequate credentials to be my Shepherd — my manager — my owner?”

The word “Lord” is the English translation of the great Old Testament personal name for God. This name for God was first revealed to another shepherd of long ago–Moses. To read about Moses, go back to Exodus 1! Moses—the baby born and set in a basket floating on the Nile. Moses—found by pharaoh’s daughter. Yes, THAT MOSES! By now Moses is an adult, he has run away from the palace and is on the backside of the wilderness when he encounters a burning bush. In this encounter with the burning bush, God reveals His name to Moses as “Yahweh.”  The word “Yahweh” is a verb and it literally means “I AM who I AM — I will be who I will be.”  The word “Yahweh” appears over 6,800 times in the Bible. “Yahweh” was so holy of a name that the Hebrew people didn’t use it, instead they used the names “Jehovah” and “Adonai” in place of “Yahweh.”

This is the name “Yahweh” that David gives us in Psalm 23.  What the shepherd King is telling us is that the Shepherd Lord is inexhaustible, self-sufficient, all powerful and timeless.  “I am who I am” needs no power, He is all powerful.  “Yahweh — I AM who I AM” is UNCHANGING!  Unchanging means that God was, is, and will always the same. Yahweh was the same yesterday, Yahweh will be the same today, and Yahweh will be unchanged and unchangeable tomorrow and forever and ever.  Yahweh is our great “I AM.”

I have a poster in my office that reminds me that no matter what I am going though, Yahweh is with me: “I was regretting the past and fearing the future.  Suddenly my Lord was speaking: ‘My name is I AM’ He paused.  I waited.  He continued, ‘When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I WAS.  When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I WILL BE.  When you live in this moment it is not hard.  I am here.  My name is I AM.’”[ii]

This is exactly the promise that David is giving us when he begins Psalm 23 by saying, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  The Lord is our Shepherd NOW — not just in the past or in the future. The Lord is with us now and He is Yahweh– UNCHANGING! The Lord wasn’t your shepherd yesterday and turned the job over to a new shepherd. NO. The LORD is your shepherd from all your yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows!

Friends, this is Good News! This is grand news! This is glorious news as we find ourselves in the middle of a stay-at-home order with only essential people working. As we wonder what will happen to our future, we are to remember that no matter what changes are happening around us, one thing is certain: our God will never change.  His love for us is unchanging–even in the middle of a pandemic. YAHWEH remains the same despite everything else around us. YAHWEH, I AM, our GOD is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We can rest secure in who God is.  We can exclaim with David — “The Lord is my shepherd” — no matter what else is going on in the world. Say it with me, “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD!”

POINT 1: GOD IS UNCHANGING. GOD IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW.

So What?
We have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting, and unchanging. We have a God who hears us, we have the love of Christ who died for us and rose again, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. That is our SO WHAT for today!  If only we could learn to fully trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd”, we would have more than enough grace for every sin, more than enough direction for every decision and more than enough healing for our hurts.

I’ll write more in a few days and tell you a story about the little child who exclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want!” For now, I want you to pray, “THE LORD IS…” We are just about to find out that the holiest name on the planet is MY SHEPHERD, my personal shepherd.

Baa?

See you Sunday on our online church ….
theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 A.M. Pacific Time

Or you can tune in to our YouTube Channel — The Seed Christian Fellowship
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsvcuFYZUngDyH1Y-D_F3gw

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

[i] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), 335

[ii] Max Lucado, Safe In The Shepherd’s Arms, (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2002) 10

[i] Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 1

[ii] Helen Mallicoat

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 4/24/20

Seed of Faith – Stop, Look, Listen   By Pastor Dave  

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  John 20:21-23

Dear Faithful Friends and Fellow Seed-Sowers,
The above Scripture verses are powerful to ponder. We recently celebrated Easter and we celebrated that death has been conquered! The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive! The empty tomb declares, once and for all, that no matter what our deepest fears are we have victory. The empty tomb tells us that darkness is defeated and the light of Christ will forever shine.  Because Jesus lives, we live! He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

So what? do you believe about the resurrection?  What do you see during this pandemic and crisis?

These are great questions for us to pray about as we sit in our homes and look outside. Unless you are an essential worker at work during this time, you have been ordered to stay home, stay inside, stay away from others, and keep your social distance. Many of us are growing weary. Worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, and concern about our health, finances, families, and friends are beginning to mount. Many of us know friends and family members who have forever been traumatized by COVID-19. Life has changed. Many of us wonder if we will recover and get back to “normal.”  We see crisis and chaos. We see a worldwide pandemic that has claimed the lives of so many and is changing our world forever. We are helpless to control any of it.

A pandemic is “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the populationa pandemic outbreak of a disease?”  Yes, there has been a pandemic that has spread over this world, not just the coronavirus but I am talking about the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. This ancient, global pandemic is called “death.” This is the bad news but the good news is that Jesus came to earth to conquer death once and for all. And this is what Easter is all about: Jesus Christ died on the cross for our SINS, He was buried and the tomb is empty! Over 500 people encountered the risen Christ after He rose. Hallelujah! Death, hell and the grave have been defeated forever!

My “so what?” question comes early in today’s SEED OF FAITH:

So what?  Do we say to this ancient pandemic? So what? Do I believe about God’s resurrection power?  If God can resurrect our lives from the grave, hell and death, can God get us through this current epidemic?

Ever since my mother-in-law passed away, I have been spending a lot of time sitting quietly on my father-in-law’s covered porch. They call it a LANAI down here in The Villages. I was with Mom when she passed, and then I flew to see my Dad in Rochelle, IL. Then I returned for Mom’s funeral in mid-March and I have been here ever since due to the global epidemic. I’ve been helping my wife as she is caring for her dad. During my quiet times on the lanai, the Lord has impressed upon my heart to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN. 

Do you remember when you learned to cross the street? Stop. Look.  Listen.

These simple words are true today as we face the pandemic called  the Corona-virus.

STOP:  Stop worrying, stop fearing, stop doubting God’s goodness.
LOOK: Look up! Instead of looking down, look into God’s word. Instead of looking into the world’s ways, look around and count all of the blessings you’ve been given.
LISTEN: Listen for the still, small voice of God. Listen to Christian music, radio or television. Listen to the sounds of silence. As I sit on the lanai and I STOP, LOOK and LISTEN, I am hearing so many things! I am hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit as I read God’s word. I am hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit whisper names of those who need prayer, a letter, text, email or phone call. I hear the sounds of nature: songs of many different birds–blue jays, wrens, finches, cardinals, mockingbirds, mourning doves and even an egret, who stops by daily. This morning I listened to the sounds of lightning, thunder, wind and rain.

STOP — LOOK — LISTEN! I am praying for you, too, to join me. I want to know what God is doing in your lives as you stop, look and listen. I think of those essential workers and the bravery it must take to rise up and go be essential! How is their STOP, LOOK and LISTEN different from mine?

Maybe with this pandemic and crisis, your vision has been diminished, decreased, devastated, depleted and/or darkened.

I am sure this is how Jesus’ disciples felt. They watched as they saw their leader and teacher, Jesus, betrayed, beaten, crucified, and buried. They were part of the darkness that covered the earth for three hours on Good Friday. I am sure darkness covered the disciples’ dreams, hopes, and vision. Much like the darkness of this pandemic has covered our lives. The disciples were hiding away in the Upper Room. Afraid. Unsure. I think we can relate!

Today I encourage you to STOP and take some time to read the Gospel of John, chapter 20. Look what Jesus does!  Listen to what Jesus says!  See how the early disciples responded! Put yourself into this story.  How would you respond if Jesus walked into your house today, doors closed from fear, and said to you, “PEACE BE WITH YOU”?

I want to close out today’s SEED OF FAITH with the main theme of last Sunday’s message:
Never put a final period on your life. Instead, put a comma…and let God finish the story. God is the best storyteller I know!  Do you feel finished? Down and out with only a few seconds left? Go out for the pass, get in the end zone–and LET GOD THROW THE HAIL MARY! WHY? Because it’s not over until it is over.

This is precisely what God showed the women at the tomb on Easter morning. They were not expecting the stone to be rolled way. They were not expecting to see an empty tomb. They were not expecting to see angels, let alone HEAR them speaking. They were not expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead. They were carrying 100 pounds of spices to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. They thought the game was over. They thought darkness had won. They expected death had spoken the final word. The disciples were not expecting Jesus to enter through the locked doors. Everyone had put a period on their lives and Jesus’ life! “Jesus died. He is buried.”

FRIENDS, there’s no period here in this story, there’s a comma.  There’s a pause. We call it Holy Saturday!

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

GOD IS AT WORK. IT AIN’T OVER TIL IT’S OVER. Let the greatest storyteller of all finish your story. Let the greatest storyteller of all, finish THIS story.

Is that a period I see in the story of your life?

STOP —- worrying and doubting.
LOOK — to God and to the Words of Life. 
LISTEN —  Jesus says it all, 
 “PEACE BE WITH YOU!”

Here we sit. We each have our very own kind of STAYCATION 2020. Do you remember that we started 2020 with a challenge to see our life more clearly? We did. We asked for 20/20 vision regarding our lives. Wow. Are you beginning to see your life in a new way now? Are you realizing what is most important?

I have a 2020 vision passage for you: John 20:20 (get it, John 20:20?)
“After he said this, Jesus showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.  Drop the period at the end of this global pandemic and put a comma there instead. Let God finish the story.  I can guarantee you from reading the Bible what God is saying. Here it is:
“(Put your name here), I’m the greatest quarterback of all time. Somehow you cut free from all the confusion of your life, and get into the end zone! It ain’t over until it’s over. It ain’t over until I say so and even then, it ain’t over! I bring LIFE from DEATH. There’s no grave that can hold you. Hell cannot claim you. JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. THE TOMB IS EMPTY! I have plans for you that no one can STOP…so LOOK…and LISTEN. I’m resurrecting YOU in 2020!”

Let’s pray: “Jesus, I believe you are God’s one and only SON. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe I am forgiven. Jesus, I want YOUR LIFE TO LIVE IN MY HEART and I want your plans for my good, with a hope for today and hope for all the tomorrows of my life. I believe in eternal life and that one day I will live with YOU in heaven. My heart is yours, your life has cleansed me whiter than snow. I’m ready for the end zone pass! Amen.”

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 4/16/20

Seed of Faith – Weeping and Singing   By Pastor Dave  

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:3-6

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that we experience the PEACE of God during this time of uncertainty, confusion, crisis, shutdowns, slowdowns, fear, doubt, anxiety and panic. Before Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would be betrayed, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

One look at the news and it is clear: we have trouble in our world today. What are we to do? We are to take heart! Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world. With all the worlds’ wars, famines, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and pandemics, Jesus has overcome the world. In the midst of this pandemic, Jesus is our hope and anchor.  Listen to John in chapter 16:33, “Jesus has told you these things, so that in Jesus you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus have overcome the world.” (Pastor Dave’s paraphrase.)

Do you believe that God knows your future and will fulfill all of the plans He has for you? Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Israelite people had been taken captive from their home town of Jerusalem and were being held in Babylon–for 70 years.  I love Jeremiah 29:11. Listen to verses 12-14,  “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Six months ago, the Lord put it on my heart to do a sermon series based on the Psalms of Ascent, psalms 120-134. These are the Psalms the Israelites sang as they journeyed to Jerusalem for their three major, holiday festivals: Passover, Pentecost, and the Day of Atonement — Yum Kippor.

So far in the SEED OF FAITH we’ve looked at Psalms 120, 121 and 125.  In Psalm 120 we learned to call out to God in our distress and that we are pilgrims on a journey; this home is not our eternal home. In Psalm 121 we learned to sing, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” We are reminded daily that our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God watches over us and will not let our foot slip.  Hear me when I say, God watches your daily going out and coming in.

We’ve also looked at Psalm 125.  The Psalmist sings, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”   We may be surrounded by a global outbreak of a pandemic but Psalm 125 is telling us to trust in the Lord because we will not be shaken.

Today’s Psalm of Ascent was written after the Israelites returned home from their captivity in Babylon.  This Psalm is the fulfillment of the promise of Jeremiah 29. Listen to their Psalm of joy:

Psalm 126
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  2Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

We are going to find ourselves in this Psalm as we study today. The world has been taken captive by a pandemic. The Israelites had been in captivity for seventy years; they longed to be home. (We can identify with longing for the way things used to be.)  They Israelites had heard over and over the prophecies and promises of Jeremiah.  They believed God had plans for them. They knew being held captive was not the forever plan.

Psalm 126 is a song of joy and remembrance. The people sang this song and declared joy and laughter because God had brought them out of captivity.  “The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

They sang despite their circumstances: they were under the oppressive hand of the Romans. They cried and sang and  asked God to restore their fortunes.  They felt like a dried-up wasteland yet in this Psalm they are heard begging God to bring streams of living water to restore their souls“We are like those who sow in tears but we wait upon the promises of God: we will reap with songs of joy.”  There is a great principle for us here: we may be in captivity; we may be weeping. We may be carrying seed to sow but one day, if we remain faithful, we are promised to return with songs of joy. We must learn to trust that the maker of heaven and earth will see us through to a better day and to the plans He has for us.

I don’t know where you are at.  I don’t know the captivity that has a hold of each one of us. We all have a Covid-19 story to share. Here is what I do know. Here is our lesson for today:

1. Jesus brings us hope in the midst of our helplessness. We serve a God who knows us.  God knows our past, our present, and our future. The Lord has need of us. TRUST Him. (TRUST acronym: to rest under salvation’s tree. Try grabbing your psalms and sit tight and rest in God’s promises here.)

2. God will fulfill His promises to us. God has plans for us. Jeremiah 29 is true.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

3. In the midst of turmoil…. God promises to bring triumph. We may be sowing in tears right now…but we are promised to sing songs of JOY.  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping…will return with songs of joy.”

We stare ahead at the peak of the bell curve. There are some dire predictions out there. A few nights ago, Mom and Dad’s neighbor, Carol, died of Covid -19. Around 9 pm, we heard her only daughter weeping and wailing. We knew the hospital had called and that she had received the news that her mom had passed. Listening to her cry, my wife and I prayed for her. I asked my wife for permission to just knock on her door (with gloves on). I knocked on her door and gave her words of hope. I gave her 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  I told her of the hope we find in Psalm 23. I told her that after her mom’s last breath on earth she was present with Christ in heaven. (II Corinthians 5:8) I prayed for her and for her family. I kept my social distance, but I couldn’t just stand outside in the backyard and listen to her cry. We had just gone through this. Carol was a great neighbor who had come over to visit Mom as Mom’s health failed. She sent cards. She brought banana bread. She knew Jesus and she made sure that Mom knew Jesus, too.  Carol had no idea that her going out and her coming in were only weeks away.

I’m a pastor. Helping people live well and die well is my job.  I want you to know the peace and forgiveness of Jesus.  I want you to know the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  I want you to know the love and mercy of God our Father. If you need a friend, email me. I’m already praying for you. We may be going out sowing in tears but we are promised to reap songs of  joy.

Promise me one thing as we travel the path of pandemic 2020, let us lift our eyes to God the maker of the mountains and hill. We don’t have the answers to this pandemic…but we know THE ONE WHO DOES. I want you to know that as Carol’s daughter closed the house up, she hollered across the yard, “What you did for me the other night will never be forgotten. My heart is strangely warmed from hearing the promises of God’s word. Thank you.” That, my friends, is a song of joy. A song of joy born of deep, deep sorrow. And that is my promise for you today. No matter how deep your sorrow, I am praying for God to give you a song of joy in some way or fashion that will hold you and carry you forward. “Grief may last for a night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5.

See you Sunday as we worship at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10AM Pacific Time

Or you can go to our church’s YouTube channel and watch the messages any time day or night:
https://youtu.be/2d4yh8dm-m4
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.

Seed of Faith 4/7/2020

Seed of Faith – Holy Week By Pastor Dave  

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers,
We have begun HOLY WEEK—the week we celebrate and remember the final week of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth.  This is one of the most important weeks of the Christian year.  Jesus lived thirty-three years, His ministry lasted three years.

Here’s a great question: Why do the four Gospel writers write extensively about the last week of Jesus’ life? 

Listen to these facts:

  • Matthew devotes one-fourth of his 28-chapters to Jesus’ last week (chapters, 21-28).
  • Mark devotes one-third of his Gospel to the last week of Jesus’ life (chapters, 11-16).
  • Luke devotes one fifth of his writings to the last week of Christ’s life (chapters, 19:28-24).
  • What I find most remarkable is that John devotes half of His Gospel to recounting the story of Jesus’ last week of His life (Chapters 11-21).
  • Let’s think about this for a moment. There are 89 chapters in these four Gospels. Over one third of them (29), are given to tell the story of Jesus’ last week of His life!  A third of the Gospels are dedicated to telling the story of Jesus’ last week on planet Earth: His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, washing the apostles’ feet, His high priestly prayer, His promise of the Holy Spirit, His arrest, persecution, crucifixion, death and resurrection! All of these events occurred in one week.

Put this in the context of your own life: 1/3 of the story of your life is going to boil down to the final week of your life.

WOW! That’s just about too much to think about. Lord, give us YOUR 2020 vision.

As we all face the covid 19 pandemic, it is my prayer that you will experience the PEACE of God.

I want you to remember what Jesus said when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He was minutes away from being betrayed by Judas and arrested. What was it Jesus said? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Did you hear that? “In this world you are going to have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world.”

Friends, we have some serious trouble in our world today. What are we to do? We are to take heart! Why are we to take heart? Because Jesus has overcome the world. With all of the worlds’ wars, famines, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and pandemics, Jesus has overcome the world.

So What?
It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty you will turn to the One who promises you peace. Jesus was in the final week of His life, He wasn’t sitting in a classroom, or a church, or on his patio. He wasn’t sitting in His favorite restaurant, or preaching from a pulpit. Jesus was just about to be betrayed by one of His friends. Jesus knew what was just ahead. He knew there was going to be an arrest, a trial, and a crucifixion. How in the world could he tell us that in Him we could have peace? How could he say, “…you will have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART…”? How could Jesus tell us that? Because Jesus knew that not only did an arrest, a trial, and a crucifixion lie just ahead but so did a resurrection.

Listen, Jesus is telling us today to take heart. Jesus is telling us to have peace. Why can we listen to Jesus? Because the tomb is going to be empty. Jesus has already overcome the world. No matter where we are during this pandemic, we can take heart (courage) and we can find the peace that we need.

How? That is the “So what?” for this week.

Grab your Bible. I just listed the 89 chapters that are going to fill you with the peace you are looking for. Study the last week of Christ’s life.  The WORDS you will read are words of life, hope, peace and light. In this world, we are going to have trouble….  but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

I just received a text from a friend. He said one of his coworkers asked him how he could come to work each day. Wasn’t he worried?  My friend said, “You know, Dave, I’m a man of few words. I really didn’t know what to say.” And then his friend said, “It’s your faith. It’s your faith that helps you.”

Take heart, friends, Jesus has overcome the world. Good Friday is days away with Easter Sunday just three days later. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THREE DAYS CAN MAKE.  Take heart!

God loves you with an unfailing, inexorable, inconceivable love. God’s mercy to you is unending. God’s grace for you far outreaches your pile of sins and failures.

Holy Week is here. No wonder there’s 89 chapters for us to read. Find your bible. Open it up. See yourself in the story. It’s quite a story.

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.

Seed of Faith 4/2/2020

Seed of Faith – Not Shaken By Pastor Dave  
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:1-2

Dear Friends, Family and Faithful Seed-Sowers,

It is hard for me to believe that Easter is only days away.  Sunday is Palm Sunday, the following week is Easter.  Easy to forget that Easter is so close because we are all inside the windows of the Coronavirus shutdowns, slow-downs, lock-downs, lockouts, and quarantines. It is my prayer that during this crisis, and during these times of fear, worry, anxiety, and uncertainty, we will not lose our focus on this 2020 Lenten season. I pray we keep our eyes upon Christ, the cross and the empty tomb.

Easter tells us of the power of the resurrection! 
Easter shouts out that death has been swallowed up in victory. 
Easter proclaims the forgiveness of sin.
Easter declares the victory won by Christ on the cross!
Easter shouts the tomb is empty!
Easter is hope! Christ is our hope.

Isn’t that what we need today? Don’t we all need a giant dose of HOPE? (Heaven’s One Promise:  ETERNITY!)

Today I want you to have a dose of hope.

Despite these times of worry, fear, anxiety and uncertainty, hope lives. Despite coronavirus, we have HOPE.

Our Psalm for today is Psalm 125.  How appropriate. When I set my preaching and teaching schedule six months ago, who would have thought that we would be in such a time of uncertainty? The title of today’s message is “Not Shaken.” I’m praying that after today’s message, you will be able to say, “I’m not going to be shaken. I’m choosing to believe God’s word is alive and redemptive. I’m choosing to believe Jesus REDEEMED (bought me back) me!  I’m choosing to believe that Christ’s death on the cross has secured my victory, once and forever.

I have a few early “so what” questions:

What does it mean to trust God?
How do I trust God?
Can I trust God when a pandemic comes?
Can I trust God when everything is so uncertain?
Can I trust God during a crisis?

The Hebrew word used for “trust” is “batach”. Batach is the verb in this first sentence of Psalm 125.  To the Hebrew people, “batach” meant “put your confidence in, rely on, be secure, put your hope in and believe.” Homework time: “SO WHAT is it that you put your confidence in, rely on, and are secure in? What do you hope in and believe?”

For the Israelites, as they climbed the 3800 feet from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, they lifted their eyes up to the Lord and trusted that God would not let their feet slip. They trusted that God was watching over them—in their coming and their going.  They felt secure despite the uncertain times they lived in. Enemies were all around them but they were choosing to put their “batach” trust in God. The Israelites have faced all kinds of enemies throughout their existence, from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelation. TRUST: to rest under Salvation’s tree.

When I was in seminary, I worked for my best friend, PJ.  He and his two brothers have a construction company.  They built new homes, hotels and barns. When we laid out the foundation to every new home, we measured it two or three times before we started to dig it out. When the basement had been dug out, we measured again in order to lay the forms that would set the walls.  It was only then that we got the okay to pour the foundation.  The foundation had to be 100% square and level before the house could be built.  I think back to those days and I know that life is all about building on the right foundation.

Jesus had a lot to say about the wise and foolish builders in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7). The foolish builder built his house on sand. When the winds, rain and storms came, the house fell. Splat. Contrast that with the wise builder who built his house on the rock. When the storms, winds and rain came, his house stood firm. The foundation had been DUG and those walls stood the tests of time.

With our times being uncertain, there’s a lot we can learn from these two builders! Are we building on the sand or on the rock? Jesus is the chief cornerstone, the rock of our salvation.  When we build our lives upon Jesus, there is no pandemic, no panic, no fear, no worry, no uncertainty, and no insecurity that will shake your house so badly that your foundation (Christ) will fall.  This is what the Psalmist is saying, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in 2 Kings, chapter 6; the story of Elisha and his servant. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. Ben Hadad was the king of Syria who had been fighting the king of Israel. Every time Ben Hadad made plans to attack Israel, God revealed the plans of Hadad to Elisha. Elisha then told the king of Israel of the plans, and the Jewish armies escaped. Ben Hadad thought there was a traitor among his officers.  He was going to figure out who the dirty rat was until one of his officers told him that Elisha, the prophet of God, was the one telling the King of Israel all Ben Hadad’s plans. Ben-Hadad decided to go and capture the dirty rat, Elisha. Elisha was at Dothan with his servant when Ben Hadad marched his armies all around Dothan. At daybreak, Elisha’s servant went out to draw water, he saw Hadad’s soldiers and was terrified. The servant ran back into the house, woke up Elisha, and said, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

Isn’t that the question and the cry of so many of us in these times of uncertainty?  We look around. We see that we are surrounded on all sides by an out-of-control virus. Listen again to the servant’s cry, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

Listen (and hear) what the prophet of God says, “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha told him.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16.  Elisha then prayed, asking God to open the eyes of the servant. The young man saw that the surrounding hills were “full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).

I’m wondering if David was prophesying about this when he wrote Psalm 34, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” Psalm 34:7. 

What happened next is nothing short of miraculous: God afflicted the enemy soldiers with blindness! Elisha was able to capture them and lead them into Israel’s capital city, Samaria. The enemy soldiers were treated kindly and then sent home. And after this event, the Syrian bands stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

“Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” 2 Kings 6:16. 

It’s not that we don’t have enemies. We do. Look up…look past your enemy and know that God is surrounding you with a vast heavenly host. Those who are with you are more than those who are with them.

Today we have an out of control coronavirus. Tomorrow it will be another enemy. What are the fears we face? Fear in our finances, pain from broken relationships, panic during health concerns, worry over our children and family members. Anxiety weighs heavy over all that is going on around us.  The facts are in: we live in a broken, fallen world. There are many things that make us feel insecure. But…today…I want us to do what Psalm 121 taught us last week: LIFT OUR EYES UP. Take your eyes off the crisis and look to the cross.

Today we have another wonderful truth in Psalm 125: Those who BATACH…those who TRUST…in the Lord are like Mount Zion. We are like a mountain.  As we trust, we are building  our lives on the SOLID ROCK of Jesus Christ and not on the shaky sands of the world. As the mountains surround Jerusalem…God promises to surround us!

When I first moved to California, I couldn’t believe that I was surrounded by mountains to the north, south, east and west. Psalm 125 came alive to me; like the servant who came running in from the storm of soldiers shouting, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” we already know the answer. Are you ready? Repeat after me:

“Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and the Lord delivers them.” (Ps. 34:7).

We have a Savior, His name is Jesus.  In two weeks, we will celebrate Easter and the empty tomb. In order to get to Easter’s empty tomb, we must go through a crucifixion. Out of the agony and pain of the crucifixion, we trust we have the resurrection. Palm Sunday is here and the agony of Holy Week follows. Remember this, we have a Savior who knows what it feels like to be surrounded. Surrounded in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.” When the storms, rains and winds of His arrest, trial and crucifixion came, Jesus trusted. Batach.

So What?
St. Patrick. Patrick was a young man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Patrick had been captured in England by Irish pirates when he was sixteen, he was put to work as a slave for an Irish chieftain. After six years in slavery, Patrick escaped and returned to his family. Patrick went to seminary and was called by God to return to Ireland–not as a slave but as a missionary. What a task Patrick faced! Patrick had no outward security. Where did Patrick find strength in such times?

St. Patrick’s breastplate inscription:

I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me from snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill.…Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to be abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.… I arise today through a mighty strength… (if you want a copy of this prayer send me an email)

This is true security.  This is true safety! This prayer teaches us how to be surrounded in times like these … Christ before us, Christ beside us, Christ, above us, Christ, below us, Christ in us!  This prayer points us to the true Savior — Jesus Christ.

In 2013 I was really sick with patches of open, oozing sores. I saw 15 doctors, but no one knew what was wrong with me. After four years, I found out the cause of my declining health: lead poisoning. I want to point you to what kept me, it’s right here, found in today’s psalm: BATACH…Hebrew word for TRUST. Trust: put your confidence in, rely on, be secure, put your hope in and believe. Did I trust God? YES.  Do I trust God now? Yes. Earlier I gave you some homework, and that’s what I’m closing with:  HOMEWORK.

Who do you put your confidence in?
Who do you rely on?
Who brings you the kind of security you need right now?
Who do you hope in and believe in?

If you’ve never given your heart to Jesus, today is a great day for that! (If you have given your heart to Jesus, today is a great day to re-up, to recommit, to rededicate your life and heart to Him.) Pray with me, “Jesus, I believe you are God’s only Son. I believe you came to earth. You died on the cross and rose from the dead. Help any unbelief I have. Because of your shed blood on the cross, I am forgiven. My sins are as far from the east as is form the west. I give you my heart and am choosing this day to trust in You. Amen”

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people. Greater are those who are with us than those who are against us. BATCH. TRUST.

Proverbs 3:5-6…read it…memorize it this week…whenever you waiver…say it out loud…put your name in there…and let me know what happens!

See you Sunday!
Our online worship service is at 10am pacific time at

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Don’t use www or .com just put the above line into your web browser and we will see you on Palm Sunday!

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

Lots of cool stuff online…check it out.
I’m praying for you.

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 3/28/20

Seed of Faith – Lift Up Your Eyes   By Pastor Dave  

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
We are in unprecedented and uncharted times; times of lock-downs, lockouts, shutdowns, shut ins, quarantines, isolation, closings and crisis. I spend time in prayer for you each day (and night). Jac and I are quarantined in The Villages, Florida, after her mom’s funeral on March 13th. We, along with Jac’s little sister, Patti, are doing our best to care for dad. At times, it takes all three of us to do what needs to be done. We are currently awaiting test results and another “drive through” lawyer appointment.

What are we to do in times such as these?

In times like these, turn to the Psalms.  The Psalms are heart wisdom.  John Calvin says, “Psalms are the anatomy of all parts of the soul.” When anxiety, fear, uncertainty, panic and crisis of this pandemic comes, we all need to lift our eyes up–to the Lord.

One of my favorite Psalms is 121.  Today we will look at the first two verses.

Psalm 121 is a Psalm of Ascent. There are 150 Psalms in the Bible but only Psalms 120-134 are what we call “The Songs of Ascent.” The Jewish people call these 14 songs,  shir hama’aloth The first word, shir, means a hymn or song, but the second word, ma’alah (the singular of ma’aloth) means both a step or a stair and a “going up.”

The question that has been debated by theologians throughout the centuries is, “Going up where, how, and when?” Some scholars think that the Israelites sang these songs as the captives returned home from captivity in Babylon.  Other scholars suggest that these songs were sung as the people climbed the 15 steps that led from the courtyard of the women to the courtyard of the men. Most scholars believe that these fifteen songs were sung by the people as they journeyed from their homes to Jerusalem for the three major festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Day of Atonement. The faithful Jewish people would leave homes and journey back to Jerusalem. The scholars believe that Mary, Joseph and Jesus sang these Psalms as they returned from Nazareth to Jerusalem to the high and holy festival days. Think about this, Jesus and His disciples would also have sung these songs as they climbed the hills from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. Normally the trip took 3 days to walk from the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus had his home base, to Jerusalem. And that is only if they traveled through Samaria.  If they avoided Samaria, it took five days. The Dead Sea is 1,412 feet below sea level and Jerusalem is 2,474 above sea level.  The climb up from the Dead Sea, or the ascent, is 3,886 feet straight up winding, mountain trails.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I decided to print the whole Psalm and not just the first two verses that we are studying.  I encourage you in this time of lock downs, closeouts, shut down and times of slow downs, to read this Psalm. Read a verse, think about it, stop and pray.  Read the whole Psalm and write and few thoughts on what the Holy Spirit is impressing upon your heart.  These are some much needed words today.  It feels like our foot is slipping with all the news of lock downs, shutdowns, quarantines, slow-downs and social distancing. Where can we find solid footing?

When the Israelites went up to Jerusalem, as they traveled the mountain pathways, they saw in the cleft of the rocks all of the pagan gods.  As they passed them by, they would say, “I lift my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from?”  Does our help come from all of these pagan gods?  No, they lifted their eyes higher and shouted and sang, “OUR help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Here’s a good thought for this SEED OF FAITH:
Where does your help come from?
Where does your help come from during the quarantine?

This is a powerful question. Where does our help come from in times like these? When a pandemic like Covid-19 comes and knocks on the door of our lives, where does our help come from?

We are facing shutdowns all over the USA. Closures of stores, restaurants, schools, universities, businesses and churches are closed. We are told to lock-down and stay in.  Don’t have social contact. Stay home!

It’s a good question to stop right now and ask yourself:
Where does my help come from? 

With our knowledge of Christ’s resurrection, we have a viewpoint that the early Jewish pilgrims did not have. We know Christ rose from the dead, over 500 people witnessed and recorded that fact. As we journey up the mountain path to our own Jerusalem, can we join and sing Psalm 121 together? I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. 

I believe that at a time like this we simply cannot allow fear and panic to overwhelm us. Just today Jac and I brought Dad to the podiatrist. Jac’s Dad is 6′ tall and weighs 125 pounds–fully dressed.  He has no fat on his bones and he is freezing all of the time. It is not uncommon to wake up in the Florida heat with the heater turned on to 88 degrees. When we drive, he says he’s too cold and could we not turn on the AC? (This was all PRE-quarrantine.) After mom’s funeral, we had made many doctor appointments for Dad.  Not one of them has canceled. Today we went to the podiatrist. As we walked in, the receptionist took Dad’s temperature. To be fair, he had just had a hot shower, drove 30 minutes in a hot car and trekked across the parking lot in the 90 degree heat. His temp was 100.8. You know when you go to the carnival and you play the game where you hit the stump with a hammer? And when you are superman, it hits the bell at the top and the dinger dings and the sirens go off and the lights flash?  That’s a pretty accurate description of the receptionist’s reaction to Dad’s temp.  She stood up and was yelling through her mask, and motioning for us to “get him outside!”  Jac had her mask and gloves on, and tried to talk with the lady. She was having none of it.  “GET HIM OUT! GET HIM OUT! WE ARE REFUSING YOU!” Jac said, “Mam?” and the lady said, “I’m calling the CEO, the manager, security and anyone I can right now. GET HIM OUT.” I took dad out and Jac tried her best to explain. The woman said, “Our CEO and building manager are on their way.” Jac said, “I’ll be right outside. Could they please step out and speak with me?” The woman agreed.  Dad’s doctor came outside and talked with Jac. It ended up well but it was a circus for a brief while. I suppose what I’m to say is, be safe, go by the rules, but we can still find ways to say what needs to be said without screaming at one another. Lift those eyes to God. Lift your heart to God.

Once Jac got back in the car, I was able to share that EVERYTHING GOES THROUGH JESUS’ NAIL SCARRED HANDS. We may not understand the why but we can trust the maker of heaven and earth.

A few questions to think about:
Why do we take our eyes off of the cross and look at the crisis? 
Why do we tend panic instead of resting in the peace that only God can bring?
Why do we tend allow fear to rule instead of allowing faith to reign?
Why do we tend worry instead of worship? (Alexa, play Christian music. It works.)

Maybe a good “so what” question for today is:
Who and what are you looking at during this crisis?

Where is your help?  We need to be wise and listen to our leaders and take all of the necessary precautions but we are not to allow fear, anxiety and panic to rule and reign in our lives. (I get panic and fear and anxiety, we were down to napkins in the rest room!)

Philippians 4 has always been a wonderful verse for me throughout my life. Recently, (before the quarantine) I went with two faithful brothers to visit a dear friend and her husband.  This young lady is only 48 years young and has been battling cancer for a long time.  The cancer has taken a hard turn and weakened her body.  She is at home on hospice.  In our time together, we shared communion and talked about heaven.  Our friend is getting ready to meet Jesus.  When I asked her what Scripture she would like to have read she said — Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Hear these powerful words of comfort from a young woman battling for her very life:  Don’t be anxious about anything!

Don’t be anxious about having no toilet paper, about having to stay in your home, about not being able to go out to eat, about not being able to go to school or work. Let’s not be anxious about corona virus, not even about death.  Where does our help come from?  Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

So What?
In times when we are locked up and locked out,  look up!
In times of crisis, look to CROSS.
In times of fear, let faith be your strength and hope. 
The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
In times of terror, turn and trust in the one who created the heavens and created you.  His promise is that he will never leave you or forsake you.
In times of panic, turn to Prince of Peace don’t turn to the prince of panic. We are told in Philippians 4 that the PEACE of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

If you need prayer during this time, go to our website www.theseedchristianfellowship.com and post a prayer concern. Our prayer team will be in prayer for you.  You can also contact me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com — you are not alone!

Lift Your Eyes up to the Lord, the prince of peace who promises to be with 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 3/14/20

Seed of Faith – Call On The Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3  (I call this “God’s PHONE NUMBER.)”

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Daily prayer for our world and our nation keeps me occupied during this world-wide pandemic. It is my prayer that as you read this SEED OF FAITH that your hope is watered and your faith is encouraged to grow.

We are in the Season of Lent, the 40 Days of prior to Easter where the joy of the empty tomb and the power of the resurrection replaces our fear of death.  The problem is that so many of us have been overwhelmed with this fear.  The imminent danger of the corona virus is real and it is here at hand. I’ve been to Wal-Mart. I’ve seen the empty displays where toilet paper and paper towels used to be.  The fear of a deadly disease has paralyzed the world. As Christians, we are reminded of many verses that give us strength in times like this.  2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (Say that out loud and say it often!)

I am sitting in Florida with my wife, her dad, and sister and brother-in-law.  We just celebrated the life of my mother-in-law with a wonderful service where we remembered the HOPE and POWER of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death has been swallowed up in victory.  We are reminded that life is a temporary and gracious gift from God.  We are reminded to hold tight the precious times and powerful moments we have had with each.

With the corona virus shutting down all major sporting events, schools, public events, and even Disneyland, Disney World, Universal studios, the question that comes to my mind is, “What is the call of the church at a time like this?”  My brother-in-law, Matt, is a pastor in Nebraska.  As we were sitting and talking about the call of the church during this season, he received an email:

It was during the plagues in 2nd Century in Rome that the Christians stayed and administered health and healing to the sick and dying. This led to the spread of Christianity. In the 3rd Century another plague came and the Christians stayed and saved many.  It was said of the Christians, “good was done for all, not just the household of faith.”  In 1527 the bubonic plague came to Europe and Martin Luther refused to flee the city of Wittenberg. Luther wrote a letter that later became a tract of faith.  In his letter he said. “We die at our posts. Christian doctors cannot abandon their hospitals, Christian governors cannot flee their districts, Christian pastors cannot abandon their congregations. The plague does not dissolve our duties: It turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die.” (Martin Luther) Those are strong words from Luther. Easy for me to say as I sit 2,000 miles away from my church in Southern California but I will return home, hopefully, this Friday and I will be back to serving The Seed Christian Fellowship. I don’t know how many pastors are prepared to die in service, I am one who is.

I know that God has called us to be wise and to not live in a spirit of fear.  For those of us who are ill and who have weakened immune systems, my word is to stay safe, be wise, and  to take good care of yourself. If you need anything, call me. I will do my best to help. What drives a statement like that?  God has not given me a spirit of panic or fear, instead God has given me a spirit of love, power and sound mind to overcome my fear.

We began our Lenten three weeks ago.  Every year after the glacier of Advent and Christmas has passed, I sit down and pray and seek God’s heart on what to preach in the upcoming year. This year, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach on the Psalms of Ascent during Lent.  The Psalms of Ascent are Psalms 120-134 and they are the Psalms (songs) that the Israelites sang as they journeyed back to Jerusalem for their major festivals of  Passover, Pentecost and Atonement. I encourage you to take some time this Lenten season and read the Psalms of Ascent. They will inspire you.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Any man can sing in the daytime, but only the man of faith can sing in the night.”[i]

I have to agree. Being in the ministry, night time is a very special and holy time, especially for those of faith. It is no wonder that I am often found reading during the wee hours of the night. I am encouraged that the light is never overcome by the darkness (John 1:1-5) This fact remains steady in the darkness of the night every single night. Just the strike of one match lights up the darkness. One small candle brings enough light to a room to navigate by.

I believe that Psalm 120 is one of those songs we need to learn in order to sing in the night.  There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this Psalm.  First, we are to call upon the Lord.  Second, we are strangers in this world.  We are pilgrims on a journey. Third, we need to remember that God hears our call.

The Hebrew word for “call” means to call, to shout, to proclaim, to name, to announce, to summon and to read.”  The word for “distress” means; “distress, anxiety, to be in need.” Pretty much hits the nail on the head for such a time as this.

So What?
I don’t know about you but this Psalm has hit my heart. When I am distressed and in need, I am to call upon the Lord.  I am to summon the Lord.  I am to shout out the name of the Lord.  I am to announce the name of the Lord. I am to proclaim the Lord. I am to read the Word.  It is my prayer that we will not live in a spirit of fear but that we will walk by faith into this world and share God’s grace, mercy and love with those we meet.  I encourage you to grab your Bible and look up some of the verses on “do not fear.” There are 365 of them (hmmm.)   I have a list of them if you would like. Email me and I will send them to you. Look up all the times that people of the Bible called upon the Lord and God answered. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3.  This verse has brought me hope and healing through the many trials and tribulations in my life.  Do you know God’s phone number?  It is Jeremiah 33:3 and it says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Call on the Lord! God promises to answer. God is faithful even when I am not. Faithfulness is who God is. During these scary days, let us water our hope and grow our faith.

The last few days of “Where does it say, ‘O, death, where is your sting?'”my mother-in-love’s life, she asked my wife (her second daughter of 3), Jac told her it was found in 1 Corinthians 15:55- 57. Here it is, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But THANKS BE TO GOD! He gives us the VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!” Jo Ann asked for that verse ten times a day until she had it memorized. She had Jesus in her heart as Lord and Savior and she was heaven bound.

No darkness can blot out the light of Christ. No sin is victorious over the LIGHT of the WORLD. God so loved this WORLD (even the world with corona virus) that God sent His ONLY SON…John 3:16…so that ALL WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS…SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. 

OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN WON BY ONE MAN, Jesus Christ. No darkness will ever overcome that.  Be smart.  Be safe. and BE IN CHRIST.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do
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 5/8/20

Seed of Faith – My Shepherd   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Dear Faithful Friends and Servant Seed-Sowers,

In last week’s Seed of Faith we began a study in Psalm 23.  For the 7 Sundays from Easter to Pentecost, we are taking one verse of this beloved Psalm a week and slowing meditating on it.  (Please know, you can always go to our YouTube channel and watch the service or just tune in to hear the Sunday Message.)

GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY!
Does it make sense then that TRUST IS A REQUIREMENT OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SHEPHERD!?

An amazing idea in verse 1 in Psalm 23 is found in two words: “my Shepherd.”  Sheep are the most dependent animals of all livestock. Sheep depend on the shepherd to lead them to clean water and to fields green with fresh grass. Sheep depend on the shepherd to heal their wounds, protect them from wild animals and lead them safely on dangerous mountain slopes.

Here is a fun thought: Let’s pretend you wake up this morning, YOU ARE THE SHEPHERD and you have a flock of sheep that you are leading up to Mount Baldy (that is a mountain outside our windows)! Now, THAT’S A JOB! When I was a  pastor in Round Rock, Texas, our associate pastor came from a farming family. She raised sheep. She always said, “Sheep are the dumbest!” Just imagine that you have just woken up from a nice, peaceful sleep in some dirt field with lots of rocks. Morning is here. I have no idea if there’s coffee but I do know that it is your job to get those 100 sheep up the dirt mountain road! Good luck!

This reminds me of the story found in Luke 15. Jesus is telling the story. The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep. Did you hear that? Listen! The shepherd goes looking for lost sheep.

We’ve been in this COVID-19 pandemic now for almost two months. Do you feel lost? Hear the GOOD NEWS: The Good Shepherd comes to look for you! The GOOD shepherd takes care of the sheep because if anything would ever happen to the sheep, it would be a personal reflection on the shepherd.  In other words, the sheep and the shepherd have a relationship of trust. Read that out loud! The sheep and the shepherd have a relationship of trust.

When we say the first five words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” we are expressing our trust in God.

The Lord is not just any shepherd, The is my personal Shepherd. The personal pronoun used is a first-person singular. Psalm 23 could have read this way, “The Lord is A Shepherd.” That would suggest that there are many shepherds and the Lord is one among many of them. Or it could have read this way,  “The Lord is THE Shepherd” suggests that the Lord is the shepherd but the Lord is not MY personal shepherd. David could have written, “The Lord is OUR Shepherd” which implies a universal shepherd for a vast number of sheep. Instead David starts the Psalm with, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” I wonder what prompted the writing of the song? Did David’s two universes collide–you know the one with the real sheep he’s in charge of and the universe where he can relate to GOD being the trustworthy shepherd of which David belongs to that fold?

David suggests that we are given a personal relationship with a personal YAHWEH.

When we read and recite the words, “The Lord is MY Shepherd” we are expressing our trust in our personal relationship with our unchanging Shepherd. We are saying, “The unchanging God of yesterday, today and tomorrow in my personal Shepherd. If the Lord is MY shepherd, I’m going to trust my shepherd.”

Dwight L. Moody’s favorite verse was Isaiah 12:2: “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Listen to Moody, “You can travel first-class or second-class to heaven. Second class is, ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust.’ First class is, ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’ That is the better way. Why not buy a first-class ticket?” (Ps 56:3)[i]

I don’t know about you, but I am buying the first-class ticket! “The Lord is my shepherd. I will trust and not be afraid.”

I like the small boy’s interpretation of the hymn, “Trust and Obey.”  The real words are, “Trust and obey, there is no better way to be happy in Jesus, trust and obey.” The young boy’s version that he came home with from Sunday School was, “Trust and ok.  There is no better way to be happy in Jesus. Just trust and OK!”   Isn’t that great?

Friends, everything must be O. K. if our life has been committed to our Shepherd’s precious keeping and we are trusting Him as our personal shepherd.

TRUST AND OK…there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus. TRUST AND OK.[ii]
(Although please don’t miss the real TRUST AND OBEY part of the song because it’s straight-up important!)

I want us to make a note: As we begin to study Psalm 23, we are called to trust in God! Like sheep who trust their shepherd, having the Lord as my shepherd means I will trust God to provide for me, protect me, and care for me.

CONTENTMENT COMES FROM TRUSTING THE SHEPHERD
There is a story told of a Sunday school teacher who asked her class if anyone could recite the entire twenty-third Psalm. One little girl waved her arm and told the teacher she had memorized the whole Psalm. The teacher invited the girl up to the front of the class. The little girl stood, faced the class and said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.”  Oh, that we would come to know the good shepherd in this way! “The Lord is my shepherd—that’s all I want!”  Are you content in knowing “the Lord is MY shepherd”? Is that all you want?

One of my favorite authors is Brennan Manning. In his book “Ruthless Trust,” Manning shares a story about going to visit his spiritual director. “Brennan, you do not need any more insights into the faith. You have enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust that which you have received.”[iii]

I don’t know about you but this hits home for me. I need to trust what I’ve already received. My shepherd has cared for me my whole life long. I am building a trust relationship with my good shepherd. How about you?

Jesus says in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”

I would like to share how God taught me to trust Him. As many of you know, I wear a cross on the outside of my shirt. The cross was given to me in 1986 when I attended a Cursillo Weekend in Indiana.  The back of the cross says, “Christ is counting on you.”  I have worn this cross for 34 years. Each morning when I put on my cross, I repeat the words “Christ is counting on me” and then say “And I am counting on Christ.” Every day for the past 34 years, over 13,000 days, this cross has been a reminder for me to count on Christ!

Just recently, I lost my cross. I’ve been helping my wife care for her 88 year-old dad after her mom died. Covid happened, and I’ve been here since mid-March. Anyway, I looked all over the house for my lost cross. I could not find it. Then I remembered that my wife and I had gone for a walk late the night before. It was dark out and Jac kept telling me that we needed to go back and trace our steps. Jac said, “Remember when you thought you stepped on a snake? We need to go look there.”  (I suppose Jac was counting on Christ while I must have been counting sheep!)  I knew, or I thought I knew, that there was no way the cross could have come loose and fallen off —I would have felt it—it is a heavy cross!  I would have heard it clink on the cement sidewalk. At her insistence, we went for a walk and retraced our steps. I remembered the tree branch that I stepped on. It had rolled and I had stumbled. Jac was sure that was where I lost the cross. I looked. “Nope. Not there.” Then Jac walked over to the same spot, rustled around the branches and said, “Hey, lookyloo—your cross.”

I must confess. Jac calls me a KIA: KNOW IT ALL. I am a pretty confident person who often thinks I know it all—I do not need anyone else to help me, I got it covered—ha-ha. The truth was that I did not want to go on a RETRACE YOUR STEPS walk because I knew I had not lost my cross on that walk and I did not want to waste my time. Jac insisted. Even when we stopped at the spot where I had tripped on the tree branch the night before, I was still certain that I had not lost my cross there. Jac was doing TRUST AND OBEY. I was doing my own version of TRUST AND OK. I’M A KIA, I KNOW I’M RIGHT, WE ARE WASTING TIME HERE! Well, I was wrong. Sometimes the shepherd likes to teach me contentment through my wife who was perfectly willing to waste her time looking for my cross. TRUST AND OBEY, THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO BE HAPPY (CONTENT) IN JESUS? TRUST AND OBEY!

From that simple experience, even after 34 years of wearing my cross, I am still always learning to trust my good shepherd even more! I am learning to be CONTENT as my shepherd leads me, guides me, and protects me.

“The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.”

1. My shepherd is YAHWEH…I AM WHO I AM..I AM UNCHANGING…I AM THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW….

2. MY shepherd is TRUSTWORTHY…and this trust is the FOUNDATION of my faith and the foundation of Psalm 23: THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD…I SHALL NOT WANT.

3. From these two points—that my shepherd is unchanging, and my shepherd is trustworthy–from here will come my contentment. If I am called to STAY HOME during the pandemic, I will TRUST MY UNCHANGING SHEPHERD AND STAY HOME.  If I am called out to work because I am an essential worker, I WILL TRUST MY UNCHANGING SHEPHERD AND GO TO WORK.

So What?!
The Allied soldiers gathered many hungry, homeless children after World War II and placed them in large camps. The children were abundantly fed and cared for. However, at night they did not sleep well; they seemed restless and afraid. Finally, a psychologist offered a solution. After the children were put to bed, they each received a slice of bread. If they wanted more to eat, they could have it, but this particular slice was not to be eaten—it was just to be held. The slice of bread produced marvelous results. The children went to sleep, subconsciously knowing there was definitely something there for them to eat tomorrow. This was all it took to calm the children.

In Psalm 23 David says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Instinctively, the sheep knows the shepherd has made plans for its grazing. He knows the shepherd has made ample provision, so the sheep will lie down in peace, as if with a piece of bread in their hand.[iv]

What is the one thing that is separating you from finding this kind of contentment? What is it that you trust? What do you need to hold on to so you can sleep at night? Are we all a little bit like Brennan Manning having enough information to last us a lifetime but learning to trust what we already know? Are you like me, doubting when you should be trusting? Do you need the ability to trust that what you have read in the Scriptures, prayed in your prayers and heard in church is true? Is the LORD your shepherd? Are you content?

We have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting, and unchanging. We have a God who hears us, we have the love of Christ that died for us and rose again, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. This is our SO WHAT for today!  If only we could learn to fully trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd,” we would have more than enough grace for every sin, more than enough direction for every decision and more than enough healing for our hurt.

“The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want!”

Trust and okay, there’s no better way to be happy in Jesus…TRUST AND OKAY.
Let us pray:

Dear Shepherd of the sheep. We come to You today not because we are good, but because YOU are good. We belong to You. We praise You because You are unchanging, You are the “Great I Am” –YOU are the shepherd who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Let us say with boldness and trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.”   Amen

See you Sunday!

Join us on Sunday mornings at 10am Pacific for our online interactive service with chats prayers and fellowship … here is the link theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Or you can go to our YouTube Channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship https://youtu.be/aP1YDktBLwg

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 4-30-20

Seed of Faith – Shepherd Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Dear Faithful Friends and Saintly Seed-Sowers,

Grace and peace to you during this time of the Covid-19 shutdown and slow down. For the next six weeks, we are going to walk slowly through Psalm 23. Psalm 23 is only six verses and 117 words.  During your stay-at-home time, or go and work and go home time, why not open your bible and slowly read and pray this Psalm? When I was in seminary, a group of us got together and taught ourselves how to pray the psalms. We picked a psalm and went line by line, reading it out loud and then pausing to see if we were inspired to pray. You know what? It was an amazing experience. I encourage you to pick up this Psalm and pray a word or a sentence. Ask God to fill your heart and mind on how to pray for those you love. The Holy Spirit will move you and lead you. I’m praying for you! Let me know how it goes!

Martin Luther called this psalm “a little Bible,” and he just might be right. There are six verses, 117 words but we will certainly come to know the Lord as we study this psalm.  Once we know him as our shepherd, we can find it easier to trust him. The twenty-third Psalm is the most beloved Psalm in the Psalter and possibly is the best- loved chapter in the entire Bible. The great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, called it “the pearl of Psalms.”[i]

Millions of people have memorized this Psalm. Ministers have used this Psalm to comfort those going through personal trials, suffering illnesses, and facing death.  Max Lucado has a way with words, he described Psalm 23 this way, “Do more beloved words exist? Framed and hung on hospital walls, quoted by the young and whispered by the dying. In these lines, sailors have found a harbor, the frightened have found a father and the strugglers have found a friend. And because the passage is so deeply loved and widely known can you find ears on which these words have never fallen? Set to music in a hundred songs, translated into a thousand tongues, domiciled (God makes his home) in a million hearts. One of those hearts might be yours.”[ii]   

King David, the shepherd boy, gives us 115 words to explain the first two words of his psalm, “The Lord.”  In the opening of his book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, Phillip Keller presents us with probing questions, “The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character? Does He have adequate credentials to be my Shepherd — my manager — my owner?”

The word “Lord” is the English translation of the great Old Testament personal name for God. This name for God was first revealed to another shepherd of long ago–Moses. To read about Moses, go back to Exodus 1! Moses—the baby born and set in a basket floating on the Nile. Moses—found by pharaoh’s daughter. Yes, THAT MOSES! By now Moses is an adult, he has run away from the palace and is on the backside of the wilderness when he encounters a burning bush. In this encounter with the burning bush, God reveals His name to Moses as “Yahweh.”  The word “Yahweh” is a verb and it literally means “I AM who I AM — I will be who I will be.”  The word “Yahweh” appears over 6,800 times in the Bible. “Yahweh” was so holy of a name that the Hebrew people didn’t use it, instead they used the names “Jehovah” and “Adonai” in place of “Yahweh.”

This is the name “Yahweh” that David gives us in Psalm 23.  What the shepherd King is telling us is that the Shepherd Lord is inexhaustible, self-sufficient, all powerful and timeless.  “I am who I am” needs no power, He is all powerful.  “Yahweh — I AM who I AM” is UNCHANGING!  Unchanging means that God was, is, and will always the same. Yahweh was the same yesterday, Yahweh will be the same today, and Yahweh will be unchanged and unchangeable tomorrow and forever and ever.  Yahweh is our great “I AM.”

I have a poster in my office that reminds me that no matter what I am going though, Yahweh is with me: “I was regretting the past and fearing the future.  Suddenly my Lord was speaking: ‘My name is I AM’ He paused.  I waited.  He continued, ‘When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I WAS.  When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I WILL BE.  When you live in this moment it is not hard.  I am here.  My name is I AM.’”[ii]

This is exactly the promise that David is giving us when he begins Psalm 23 by saying, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  The Lord is our Shepherd NOW — not just in the past or in the future. The Lord is with us now and He is Yahweh– UNCHANGING! The Lord wasn’t your shepherd yesterday and turned the job over to a new shepherd. NO. The LORD is your shepherd from all your yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows!

Friends, this is Good News! This is grand news! This is glorious news as we find ourselves in the middle of a stay-at-home order with only essential people working. As we wonder what will happen to our future, we are to remember that no matter what changes are happening around us, one thing is certain: our God will never change.  His love for us is unchanging–even in the middle of a pandemic. YAHWEH remains the same despite everything else around us. YAHWEH, I AM, our GOD is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We can rest secure in who God is.  We can exclaim with David — “The Lord is my shepherd” — no matter what else is going on in the world. Say it with me, “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD!”

POINT 1: GOD IS UNCHANGING. GOD IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW.

So What?
We have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, everlasting, and unchanging. We have a God who hears us, we have the love of Christ who died for us and rose again, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. That is our SO WHAT for today!  If only we could learn to fully trust “The Lord is MY Shepherd”, we would have more than enough grace for every sin, more than enough direction for every decision and more than enough healing for our hurts.

I’ll write more in a few days and tell you a story about the little child who exclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want!” For now, I want you to pray, “THE LORD IS…” We are just about to find out that the holiest name on the planet is MY SHEPHERD, my personal shepherd.

Baa?

See you Sunday on our online church ….
theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 A.M. Pacific Time

Or you can tune in to our YouTube Channel — The Seed Christian Fellowship
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsvcuFYZUngDyH1Y-D_F3gw

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

[i] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), 335

[ii] Max Lucado, Safe In The Shepherd’s Arms, (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2002) 10

[i] Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 1

[ii] Helen Mallicoat

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 4/24/20

Seed of Faith – Stop, Look, Listen   By Pastor Dave  

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  John 20:21-23

Dear Faithful Friends and Fellow Seed-Sowers,
The above Scripture verses are powerful to ponder. We recently celebrated Easter and we celebrated that death has been conquered! The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive! The empty tomb declares, once and for all, that no matter what our deepest fears are we have victory. The empty tomb tells us that darkness is defeated and the light of Christ will forever shine.  Because Jesus lives, we live! He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

So what? do you believe about the resurrection?  What do you see during this pandemic and crisis?

These are great questions for us to pray about as we sit in our homes and look outside. Unless you are an essential worker at work during this time, you have been ordered to stay home, stay inside, stay away from others, and keep your social distance. Many of us are growing weary. Worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, and concern about our health, finances, families, and friends are beginning to mount. Many of us know friends and family members who have forever been traumatized by COVID-19. Life has changed. Many of us wonder if we will recover and get back to “normal.”  We see crisis and chaos. We see a worldwide pandemic that has claimed the lives of so many and is changing our world forever. We are helpless to control any of it.

A pandemic is “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the populationa pandemic outbreak of a disease?”  Yes, there has been a pandemic that has spread over this world, not just the coronavirus but I am talking about the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. This ancient, global pandemic is called “death.” This is the bad news but the good news is that Jesus came to earth to conquer death once and for all. And this is what Easter is all about: Jesus Christ died on the cross for our SINS, He was buried and the tomb is empty! Over 500 people encountered the risen Christ after He rose. Hallelujah! Death, hell and the grave have been defeated forever!

My “so what?” question comes early in today’s SEED OF FAITH:

So what?  Do we say to this ancient pandemic? So what? Do I believe about God’s resurrection power?  If God can resurrect our lives from the grave, hell and death, can God get us through this current epidemic?

Ever since my mother-in-law passed away, I have been spending a lot of time sitting quietly on my father-in-law’s covered porch. They call it a LANAI down here in The Villages. I was with Mom when she passed, and then I flew to see my Dad in Rochelle, IL. Then I returned for Mom’s funeral in mid-March and I have been here ever since due to the global epidemic. I’ve been helping my wife as she is caring for her dad. During my quiet times on the lanai, the Lord has impressed upon my heart to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN. 

Do you remember when you learned to cross the street? Stop. Look.  Listen.

These simple words are true today as we face the pandemic called  the Corona-virus.

STOP:  Stop worrying, stop fearing, stop doubting God’s goodness.
LOOK: Look up! Instead of looking down, look into God’s word. Instead of looking into the world’s ways, look around and count all of the blessings you’ve been given.
LISTEN: Listen for the still, small voice of God. Listen to Christian music, radio or television. Listen to the sounds of silence. As I sit on the lanai and I STOP, LOOK and LISTEN, I am hearing so many things! I am hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit as I read God’s word. I am hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit whisper names of those who need prayer, a letter, text, email or phone call. I hear the sounds of nature: songs of many different birds–blue jays, wrens, finches, cardinals, mockingbirds, mourning doves and even an egret, who stops by daily. This morning I listened to the sounds of lightning, thunder, wind and rain.

STOP — LOOK — LISTEN! I am praying for you, too, to join me. I want to know what God is doing in your lives as you stop, look and listen. I think of those essential workers and the bravery it must take to rise up and go be essential! How is their STOP, LOOK and LISTEN different from mine?

Maybe with this pandemic and crisis, your vision has been diminished, decreased, devastated, depleted and/or darkened.

I am sure this is how Jesus’ disciples felt. They watched as they saw their leader and teacher, Jesus, betrayed, beaten, crucified, and buried. They were part of the darkness that covered the earth for three hours on Good Friday. I am sure darkness covered the disciples’ dreams, hopes, and vision. Much like the darkness of this pandemic has covered our lives. The disciples were hiding away in the Upper Room. Afraid. Unsure. I think we can relate!

Today I encourage you to STOP and take some time to read the Gospel of John, chapter 20. Look what Jesus does!  Listen to what Jesus says!  See how the early disciples responded! Put yourself into this story.  How would you respond if Jesus walked into your house today, doors closed from fear, and said to you, “PEACE BE WITH YOU”?

I want to close out today’s SEED OF FAITH with the main theme of last Sunday’s message:
Never put a final period on your life. Instead, put a comma…and let God finish the story. God is the best storyteller I know!  Do you feel finished? Down and out with only a few seconds left? Go out for the pass, get in the end zone–and LET GOD THROW THE HAIL MARY! WHY? Because it’s not over until it is over.

This is precisely what God showed the women at the tomb on Easter morning. They were not expecting the stone to be rolled way. They were not expecting to see an empty tomb. They were not expecting to see angels, let alone HEAR them speaking. They were not expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead. They were carrying 100 pounds of spices to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. They thought the game was over. They thought darkness had won. They expected death had spoken the final word. The disciples were not expecting Jesus to enter through the locked doors. Everyone had put a period on their lives and Jesus’ life! “Jesus died. He is buried.”

FRIENDS, there’s no period here in this story, there’s a comma.  There’s a pause. We call it Holy Saturday!

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

GOD IS AT WORK. IT AIN’T OVER TIL IT’S OVER. Let the greatest storyteller of all finish your story. Let the greatest storyteller of all, finish THIS story.

Is that a period I see in the story of your life?

STOP —- worrying and doubting.
LOOK — to God and to the Words of Life. 
LISTEN —  Jesus says it all, 
 “PEACE BE WITH YOU!”

Here we sit. We each have our very own kind of STAYCATION 2020. Do you remember that we started 2020 with a challenge to see our life more clearly? We did. We asked for 20/20 vision regarding our lives. Wow. Are you beginning to see your life in a new way now? Are you realizing what is most important?

I have a 2020 vision passage for you: John 20:20 (get it, John 20:20?)
“After he said this, Jesus showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.  Drop the period at the end of this global pandemic and put a comma there instead. Let God finish the story.  I can guarantee you from reading the Bible what God is saying. Here it is:
“(Put your name here), I’m the greatest quarterback of all time. Somehow you cut free from all the confusion of your life, and get into the end zone! It ain’t over until it’s over. It ain’t over until I say so and even then, it ain’t over! I bring LIFE from DEATH. There’s no grave that can hold you. Hell cannot claim you. JESUS IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. THE TOMB IS EMPTY! I have plans for you that no one can STOP…so LOOK…and LISTEN. I’m resurrecting YOU in 2020!”

Let’s pray: “Jesus, I believe you are God’s one and only SON. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe I am forgiven. Jesus, I want YOUR LIFE TO LIVE IN MY HEART and I want your plans for my good, with a hope for today and hope for all the tomorrows of my life. I believe in eternal life and that one day I will live with YOU in heaven. My heart is yours, your life has cleansed me whiter than snow. I’m ready for the end zone pass! Amen.”

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 4/16/20

Seed of Faith – Weeping and Singing   By Pastor Dave  

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:3-6

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that we experience the PEACE of God during this time of uncertainty, confusion, crisis, shutdowns, slowdowns, fear, doubt, anxiety and panic. Before Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would be betrayed, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

One look at the news and it is clear: we have trouble in our world today. What are we to do? We are to take heart! Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world. With all the worlds’ wars, famines, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and pandemics, Jesus has overcome the world. In the midst of this pandemic, Jesus is our hope and anchor.  Listen to John in chapter 16:33, “Jesus has told you these things, so that in Jesus you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus have overcome the world.” (Pastor Dave’s paraphrase.)

Do you believe that God knows your future and will fulfill all of the plans He has for you? Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Israelite people had been taken captive from their home town of Jerusalem and were being held in Babylon–for 70 years.  I love Jeremiah 29:11. Listen to verses 12-14,  “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Six months ago, the Lord put it on my heart to do a sermon series based on the Psalms of Ascent, psalms 120-134. These are the Psalms the Israelites sang as they journeyed to Jerusalem for their three major, holiday festivals: Passover, Pentecost, and the Day of Atonement — Yum Kippor.

So far in the SEED OF FAITH we’ve looked at Psalms 120, 121 and 125.  In Psalm 120 we learned to call out to God in our distress and that we are pilgrims on a journey; this home is not our eternal home. In Psalm 121 we learned to sing, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” We are reminded daily that our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God watches over us and will not let our foot slip.  Hear me when I say, God watches your daily going out and coming in.

We’ve also looked at Psalm 125.  The Psalmist sings, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”   We may be surrounded by a global outbreak of a pandemic but Psalm 125 is telling us to trust in the Lord because we will not be shaken.

Today’s Psalm of Ascent was written after the Israelites returned home from their captivity in Babylon.  This Psalm is the fulfillment of the promise of Jeremiah 29. Listen to their Psalm of joy:

Psalm 126
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  2Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

We are going to find ourselves in this Psalm as we study today. The world has been taken captive by a pandemic. The Israelites had been in captivity for seventy years; they longed to be home. (We can identify with longing for the way things used to be.)  They Israelites had heard over and over the prophecies and promises of Jeremiah.  They believed God had plans for them. They knew being held captive was not the forever plan.

Psalm 126 is a song of joy and remembrance. The people sang this song and declared joy and laughter because God had brought them out of captivity.  “The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

They sang despite their circumstances: they were under the oppressive hand of the Romans. They cried and sang and  asked God to restore their fortunes.  They felt like a dried-up wasteland yet in this Psalm they are heard begging God to bring streams of living water to restore their souls“We are like those who sow in tears but we wait upon the promises of God: we will reap with songs of joy.”  There is a great principle for us here: we may be in captivity; we may be weeping. We may be carrying seed to sow but one day, if we remain faithful, we are promised to return with songs of joy. We must learn to trust that the maker of heaven and earth will see us through to a better day and to the plans He has for us.

I don’t know where you are at.  I don’t know the captivity that has a hold of each one of us. We all have a Covid-19 story to share. Here is what I do know. Here is our lesson for today:

1. Jesus brings us hope in the midst of our helplessness. We serve a God who knows us.  God knows our past, our present, and our future. The Lord has need of us. TRUST Him. (TRUST acronym: to rest under salvation’s tree. Try grabbing your psalms and sit tight and rest in God’s promises here.)

2. God will fulfill His promises to us. God has plans for us. Jeremiah 29 is true.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

3. In the midst of turmoil…. God promises to bring triumph. We may be sowing in tears right now…but we are promised to sing songs of JOY.  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping…will return with songs of joy.”

We stare ahead at the peak of the bell curve. There are some dire predictions out there. A few nights ago, Mom and Dad’s neighbor, Carol, died of Covid -19. Around 9 pm, we heard her only daughter weeping and wailing. We knew the hospital had called and that she had received the news that her mom had passed. Listening to her cry, my wife and I prayed for her. I asked my wife for permission to just knock on her door (with gloves on). I knocked on her door and gave her words of hope. I gave her 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  I told her of the hope we find in Psalm 23. I told her that after her mom’s last breath on earth she was present with Christ in heaven. (II Corinthians 5:8) I prayed for her and for her family. I kept my social distance, but I couldn’t just stand outside in the backyard and listen to her cry. We had just gone through this. Carol was a great neighbor who had come over to visit Mom as Mom’s health failed. She sent cards. She brought banana bread. She knew Jesus and she made sure that Mom knew Jesus, too.  Carol had no idea that her going out and her coming in were only weeks away.

I’m a pastor. Helping people live well and die well is my job.  I want you to know the peace and forgiveness of Jesus.  I want you to know the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  I want you to know the love and mercy of God our Father. If you need a friend, email me. I’m already praying for you. We may be going out sowing in tears but we are promised to reap songs of  joy.

Promise me one thing as we travel the path of pandemic 2020, let us lift our eyes to God the maker of the mountains and hill. We don’t have the answers to this pandemic…but we know THE ONE WHO DOES. I want you to know that as Carol’s daughter closed the house up, she hollered across the yard, “What you did for me the other night will never be forgotten. My heart is strangely warmed from hearing the promises of God’s word. Thank you.” That, my friends, is a song of joy. A song of joy born of deep, deep sorrow. And that is my promise for you today. No matter how deep your sorrow, I am praying for God to give you a song of joy in some way or fashion that will hold you and carry you forward. “Grief may last for a night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5.

See you Sunday as we worship at theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10AM Pacific Time

Or you can go to our church’s YouTube channel and watch the messages any time day or night:
https://youtu.be/2d4yh8dm-m4
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.

Seed of Faith 4/7/2020

Seed of Faith – Holy Week By Pastor Dave  

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed-Sowers,
We have begun HOLY WEEK—the week we celebrate and remember the final week of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth.  This is one of the most important weeks of the Christian year.  Jesus lived thirty-three years, His ministry lasted three years.

Here’s a great question: Why do the four Gospel writers write extensively about the last week of Jesus’ life? 

Listen to these facts:

  • Matthew devotes one-fourth of his 28-chapters to Jesus’ last week (chapters, 21-28).
  • Mark devotes one-third of his Gospel to the last week of Jesus’ life (chapters, 11-16).
  • Luke devotes one fifth of his writings to the last week of Christ’s life (chapters, 19:28-24).
  • What I find most remarkable is that John devotes half of His Gospel to recounting the story of Jesus’ last week of His life (Chapters 11-21).
  • Let’s think about this for a moment. There are 89 chapters in these four Gospels. Over one third of them (29), are given to tell the story of Jesus’ last week of His life!  A third of the Gospels are dedicated to telling the story of Jesus’ last week on planet Earth: His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, washing the apostles’ feet, His high priestly prayer, His promise of the Holy Spirit, His arrest, persecution, crucifixion, death and resurrection! All of these events occurred in one week.

Put this in the context of your own life: 1/3 of the story of your life is going to boil down to the final week of your life.

WOW! That’s just about too much to think about. Lord, give us YOUR 2020 vision.

As we all face the covid 19 pandemic, it is my prayer that you will experience the PEACE of God.

I want you to remember what Jesus said when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He was minutes away from being betrayed by Judas and arrested. What was it Jesus said? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Did you hear that? “In this world you are going to have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world.”

Friends, we have some serious trouble in our world today. What are we to do? We are to take heart! Why are we to take heart? Because Jesus has overcome the world. With all of the worlds’ wars, famines, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and pandemics, Jesus has overcome the world.

So What?
It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty you will turn to the One who promises you peace. Jesus was in the final week of His life, He wasn’t sitting in a classroom, or a church, or on his patio. He wasn’t sitting in His favorite restaurant, or preaching from a pulpit. Jesus was just about to be betrayed by one of His friends. Jesus knew what was just ahead. He knew there was going to be an arrest, a trial, and a crucifixion. How in the world could he tell us that in Him we could have peace? How could he say, “…you will have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART…”? How could Jesus tell us that? Because Jesus knew that not only did an arrest, a trial, and a crucifixion lie just ahead but so did a resurrection.

Listen, Jesus is telling us today to take heart. Jesus is telling us to have peace. Why can we listen to Jesus? Because the tomb is going to be empty. Jesus has already overcome the world. No matter where we are during this pandemic, we can take heart (courage) and we can find the peace that we need.

How? That is the “So what?” for this week.

Grab your Bible. I just listed the 89 chapters that are going to fill you with the peace you are looking for. Study the last week of Christ’s life.  The WORDS you will read are words of life, hope, peace and light. In this world, we are going to have trouble….  but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

I just received a text from a friend. He said one of his coworkers asked him how he could come to work each day. Wasn’t he worried?  My friend said, “You know, Dave, I’m a man of few words. I really didn’t know what to say.” And then his friend said, “It’s your faith. It’s your faith that helps you.”

Take heart, friends, Jesus has overcome the world. Good Friday is days away with Easter Sunday just three days later. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THREE DAYS CAN MAKE.  Take heart!

God loves you with an unfailing, inexorable, inconceivable love. God’s mercy to you is unending. God’s grace for you far outreaches your pile of sins and failures.

Holy Week is here. No wonder there’s 89 chapters for us to read. Find your bible. Open it up. See yourself in the story. It’s quite a story.

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.

Seed of Faith 4/2/2020

Seed of Faith – Not Shaken By Pastor Dave  
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:1-2

Dear Friends, Family and Faithful Seed-Sowers,

It is hard for me to believe that Easter is only days away.  Sunday is Palm Sunday, the following week is Easter.  Easy to forget that Easter is so close because we are all inside the windows of the Coronavirus shutdowns, slow-downs, lock-downs, lockouts, and quarantines. It is my prayer that during this crisis, and during these times of fear, worry, anxiety, and uncertainty, we will not lose our focus on this 2020 Lenten season. I pray we keep our eyes upon Christ, the cross and the empty tomb.

Easter tells us of the power of the resurrection! 
Easter shouts out that death has been swallowed up in victory. 
Easter proclaims the forgiveness of sin.
Easter declares the victory won by Christ on the cross!
Easter shouts the tomb is empty!
Easter is hope! Christ is our hope.

Isn’t that what we need today? Don’t we all need a giant dose of HOPE? (Heaven’s One Promise:  ETERNITY!)

Today I want you to have a dose of hope.

Despite these times of worry, fear, anxiety and uncertainty, hope lives. Despite coronavirus, we have HOPE.

Our Psalm for today is Psalm 125.  How appropriate. When I set my preaching and teaching schedule six months ago, who would have thought that we would be in such a time of uncertainty? The title of today’s message is “Not Shaken.” I’m praying that after today’s message, you will be able to say, “I’m not going to be shaken. I’m choosing to believe God’s word is alive and redemptive. I’m choosing to believe Jesus REDEEMED (bought me back) me!  I’m choosing to believe that Christ’s death on the cross has secured my victory, once and forever.

I have a few early “so what” questions:

What does it mean to trust God?
How do I trust God?
Can I trust God when a pandemic comes?
Can I trust God when everything is so uncertain?
Can I trust God during a crisis?

The Hebrew word used for “trust” is “batach”. Batach is the verb in this first sentence of Psalm 125.  To the Hebrew people, “batach” meant “put your confidence in, rely on, be secure, put your hope in and believe.” Homework time: “SO WHAT is it that you put your confidence in, rely on, and are secure in? What do you hope in and believe?”

For the Israelites, as they climbed the 3800 feet from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, they lifted their eyes up to the Lord and trusted that God would not let their feet slip. They trusted that God was watching over them—in their coming and their going.  They felt secure despite the uncertain times they lived in. Enemies were all around them but they were choosing to put their “batach” trust in God. The Israelites have faced all kinds of enemies throughout their existence, from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelation. TRUST: to rest under Salvation’s tree.

When I was in seminary, I worked for my best friend, PJ.  He and his two brothers have a construction company.  They built new homes, hotels and barns. When we laid out the foundation to every new home, we measured it two or three times before we started to dig it out. When the basement had been dug out, we measured again in order to lay the forms that would set the walls.  It was only then that we got the okay to pour the foundation.  The foundation had to be 100% square and level before the house could be built.  I think back to those days and I know that life is all about building on the right foundation.

Jesus had a lot to say about the wise and foolish builders in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7). The foolish builder built his house on sand. When the winds, rain and storms came, the house fell. Splat. Contrast that with the wise builder who built his house on the rock. When the storms, winds and rain came, his house stood firm. The foundation had been DUG and those walls stood the tests of time.

With our times being uncertain, there’s a lot we can learn from these two builders! Are we building on the sand or on the rock? Jesus is the chief cornerstone, the rock of our salvation.  When we build our lives upon Jesus, there is no pandemic, no panic, no fear, no worry, no uncertainty, and no insecurity that will shake your house so badly that your foundation (Christ) will fall.  This is what the Psalmist is saying, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in 2 Kings, chapter 6; the story of Elisha and his servant. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. Ben Hadad was the king of Syria who had been fighting the king of Israel. Every time Ben Hadad made plans to attack Israel, God revealed the plans of Hadad to Elisha. Elisha then told the king of Israel of the plans, and the Jewish armies escaped. Ben Hadad thought there was a traitor among his officers.  He was going to figure out who the dirty rat was until one of his officers told him that Elisha, the prophet of God, was the one telling the King of Israel all Ben Hadad’s plans. Ben-Hadad decided to go and capture the dirty rat, Elisha. Elisha was at Dothan with his servant when Ben Hadad marched his armies all around Dothan. At daybreak, Elisha’s servant went out to draw water, he saw Hadad’s soldiers and was terrified. The servant ran back into the house, woke up Elisha, and said, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

Isn’t that the question and the cry of so many of us in these times of uncertainty?  We look around. We see that we are surrounded on all sides by an out-of-control virus. Listen again to the servant’s cry, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

Listen (and hear) what the prophet of God says, “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha told him.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16.  Elisha then prayed, asking God to open the eyes of the servant. The young man saw that the surrounding hills were “full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).

I’m wondering if David was prophesying about this when he wrote Psalm 34, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” Psalm 34:7. 

What happened next is nothing short of miraculous: God afflicted the enemy soldiers with blindness! Elisha was able to capture them and lead them into Israel’s capital city, Samaria. The enemy soldiers were treated kindly and then sent home. And after this event, the Syrian bands stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

“Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” 2 Kings 6:16. 

It’s not that we don’t have enemies. We do. Look up…look past your enemy and know that God is surrounding you with a vast heavenly host. Those who are with you are more than those who are with them.

Today we have an out of control coronavirus. Tomorrow it will be another enemy. What are the fears we face? Fear in our finances, pain from broken relationships, panic during health concerns, worry over our children and family members. Anxiety weighs heavy over all that is going on around us.  The facts are in: we live in a broken, fallen world. There are many things that make us feel insecure. But…today…I want us to do what Psalm 121 taught us last week: LIFT OUR EYES UP. Take your eyes off the crisis and look to the cross.

Today we have another wonderful truth in Psalm 125: Those who BATACH…those who TRUST…in the Lord are like Mount Zion. We are like a mountain.  As we trust, we are building  our lives on the SOLID ROCK of Jesus Christ and not on the shaky sands of the world. As the mountains surround Jerusalem…God promises to surround us!

When I first moved to California, I couldn’t believe that I was surrounded by mountains to the north, south, east and west. Psalm 125 came alive to me; like the servant who came running in from the storm of soldiers shouting, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” we already know the answer. Are you ready? Repeat after me:

“Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and the Lord delivers them.” (Ps. 34:7).

We have a Savior, His name is Jesus.  In two weeks, we will celebrate Easter and the empty tomb. In order to get to Easter’s empty tomb, we must go through a crucifixion. Out of the agony and pain of the crucifixion, we trust we have the resurrection. Palm Sunday is here and the agony of Holy Week follows. Remember this, we have a Savior who knows what it feels like to be surrounded. Surrounded in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.” When the storms, rains and winds of His arrest, trial and crucifixion came, Jesus trusted. Batach.

So What?
St. Patrick. Patrick was a young man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Patrick had been captured in England by Irish pirates when he was sixteen, he was put to work as a slave for an Irish chieftain. After six years in slavery, Patrick escaped and returned to his family. Patrick went to seminary and was called by God to return to Ireland–not as a slave but as a missionary. What a task Patrick faced! Patrick had no outward security. Where did Patrick find strength in such times?

St. Patrick’s breastplate inscription:

I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me from snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill.…Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to be abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.… I arise today through a mighty strength… (if you want a copy of this prayer send me an email)

This is true security.  This is true safety! This prayer teaches us how to be surrounded in times like these … Christ before us, Christ beside us, Christ, above us, Christ, below us, Christ in us!  This prayer points us to the true Savior — Jesus Christ.

In 2013 I was really sick with patches of open, oozing sores. I saw 15 doctors, but no one knew what was wrong with me. After four years, I found out the cause of my declining health: lead poisoning. I want to point you to what kept me, it’s right here, found in today’s psalm: BATACH…Hebrew word for TRUST. Trust: put your confidence in, rely on, be secure, put your hope in and believe. Did I trust God? YES.  Do I trust God now? Yes. Earlier I gave you some homework, and that’s what I’m closing with:  HOMEWORK.

Who do you put your confidence in?
Who do you rely on?
Who brings you the kind of security you need right now?
Who do you hope in and believe in?

If you’ve never given your heart to Jesus, today is a great day for that! (If you have given your heart to Jesus, today is a great day to re-up, to recommit, to rededicate your life and heart to Him.) Pray with me, “Jesus, I believe you are God’s only Son. I believe you came to earth. You died on the cross and rose from the dead. Help any unbelief I have. Because of your shed blood on the cross, I am forgiven. My sins are as far from the east as is form the west. I give you my heart and am choosing this day to trust in You. Amen”

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people. Greater are those who are with us than those who are against us. BATCH. TRUST.

Proverbs 3:5-6…read it…memorize it this week…whenever you waiver…say it out loud…put your name in there…and let me know what happens!

See you Sunday!
Our online worship service is at 10am pacific time at

theseedchristianfellowship.online.church

Don’t use www or .com just put the above line into your web browser and we will see you on Palm Sunday!

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

Lots of cool stuff online…check it out.
I’m praying for you.

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 3/28/20

Seed of Faith – Lift Up Your Eyes   By Pastor Dave  

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:
We are in unprecedented and uncharted times; times of lock-downs, lockouts, shutdowns, shut ins, quarantines, isolation, closings and crisis. I spend time in prayer for you each day (and night). Jac and I are quarantined in The Villages, Florida, after her mom’s funeral on March 13th. We, along with Jac’s little sister, Patti, are doing our best to care for dad. At times, it takes all three of us to do what needs to be done. We are currently awaiting test results and another “drive through” lawyer appointment.

What are we to do in times such as these?

In times like these, turn to the Psalms.  The Psalms are heart wisdom.  John Calvin says, “Psalms are the anatomy of all parts of the soul.” When anxiety, fear, uncertainty, panic and crisis of this pandemic comes, we all need to lift our eyes up–to the Lord.

One of my favorite Psalms is 121.  Today we will look at the first two verses.

Psalm 121 is a Psalm of Ascent. There are 150 Psalms in the Bible but only Psalms 120-134 are what we call “The Songs of Ascent.” The Jewish people call these 14 songs,  shir hama’aloth The first word, shir, means a hymn or song, but the second word, ma’alah (the singular of ma’aloth) means both a step or a stair and a “going up.”

The question that has been debated by theologians throughout the centuries is, “Going up where, how, and when?” Some scholars think that the Israelites sang these songs as the captives returned home from captivity in Babylon.  Other scholars suggest that these songs were sung as the people climbed the 15 steps that led from the courtyard of the women to the courtyard of the men. Most scholars believe that these fifteen songs were sung by the people as they journeyed from their homes to Jerusalem for the three major festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Day of Atonement. The faithful Jewish people would leave homes and journey back to Jerusalem. The scholars believe that Mary, Joseph and Jesus sang these Psalms as they returned from Nazareth to Jerusalem to the high and holy festival days. Think about this, Jesus and His disciples would also have sung these songs as they climbed the hills from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. Normally the trip took 3 days to walk from the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus had his home base, to Jerusalem. And that is only if they traveled through Samaria.  If they avoided Samaria, it took five days. The Dead Sea is 1,412 feet below sea level and Jerusalem is 2,474 above sea level.  The climb up from the Dead Sea, or the ascent, is 3,886 feet straight up winding, mountain trails.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I decided to print the whole Psalm and not just the first two verses that we are studying.  I encourage you in this time of lock downs, closeouts, shut down and times of slow downs, to read this Psalm. Read a verse, think about it, stop and pray.  Read the whole Psalm and write and few thoughts on what the Holy Spirit is impressing upon your heart.  These are some much needed words today.  It feels like our foot is slipping with all the news of lock downs, shutdowns, quarantines, slow-downs and social distancing. Where can we find solid footing?

When the Israelites went up to Jerusalem, as they traveled the mountain pathways, they saw in the cleft of the rocks all of the pagan gods.  As they passed them by, they would say, “I lift my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from?”  Does our help come from all of these pagan gods?  No, they lifted their eyes higher and shouted and sang, “OUR help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Here’s a good thought for this SEED OF FAITH:
Where does your help come from?
Where does your help come from during the quarantine?

This is a powerful question. Where does our help come from in times like these? When a pandemic like Covid-19 comes and knocks on the door of our lives, where does our help come from?

We are facing shutdowns all over the USA. Closures of stores, restaurants, schools, universities, businesses and churches are closed. We are told to lock-down and stay in.  Don’t have social contact. Stay home!

It’s a good question to stop right now and ask yourself:
Where does my help come from? 

With our knowledge of Christ’s resurrection, we have a viewpoint that the early Jewish pilgrims did not have. We know Christ rose from the dead, over 500 people witnessed and recorded that fact. As we journey up the mountain path to our own Jerusalem, can we join and sing Psalm 121 together? I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. 

I believe that at a time like this we simply cannot allow fear and panic to overwhelm us. Just today Jac and I brought Dad to the podiatrist. Jac’s Dad is 6′ tall and weighs 125 pounds–fully dressed.  He has no fat on his bones and he is freezing all of the time. It is not uncommon to wake up in the Florida heat with the heater turned on to 88 degrees. When we drive, he says he’s too cold and could we not turn on the AC? (This was all PRE-quarrantine.) After mom’s funeral, we had made many doctor appointments for Dad.  Not one of them has canceled. Today we went to the podiatrist. As we walked in, the receptionist took Dad’s temperature. To be fair, he had just had a hot shower, drove 30 minutes in a hot car and trekked across the parking lot in the 90 degree heat. His temp was 100.8. You know when you go to the carnival and you play the game where you hit the stump with a hammer? And when you are superman, it hits the bell at the top and the dinger dings and the sirens go off and the lights flash?  That’s a pretty accurate description of the receptionist’s reaction to Dad’s temp.  She stood up and was yelling through her mask, and motioning for us to “get him outside!”  Jac had her mask and gloves on, and tried to talk with the lady. She was having none of it.  “GET HIM OUT! GET HIM OUT! WE ARE REFUSING YOU!” Jac said, “Mam?” and the lady said, “I’m calling the CEO, the manager, security and anyone I can right now. GET HIM OUT.” I took dad out and Jac tried her best to explain. The woman said, “Our CEO and building manager are on their way.” Jac said, “I’ll be right outside. Could they please step out and speak with me?” The woman agreed.  Dad’s doctor came outside and talked with Jac. It ended up well but it was a circus for a brief while. I suppose what I’m to say is, be safe, go by the rules, but we can still find ways to say what needs to be said without screaming at one another. Lift those eyes to God. Lift your heart to God.

Once Jac got back in the car, I was able to share that EVERYTHING GOES THROUGH JESUS’ NAIL SCARRED HANDS. We may not understand the why but we can trust the maker of heaven and earth.

A few questions to think about:
Why do we take our eyes off of the cross and look at the crisis? 
Why do we tend panic instead of resting in the peace that only God can bring?
Why do we tend allow fear to rule instead of allowing faith to reign?
Why do we tend worry instead of worship? (Alexa, play Christian music. It works.)

Maybe a good “so what” question for today is:
Who and what are you looking at during this crisis?

Where is your help?  We need to be wise and listen to our leaders and take all of the necessary precautions but we are not to allow fear, anxiety and panic to rule and reign in our lives. (I get panic and fear and anxiety, we were down to napkins in the rest room!)

Philippians 4 has always been a wonderful verse for me throughout my life. Recently, (before the quarantine) I went with two faithful brothers to visit a dear friend and her husband.  This young lady is only 48 years young and has been battling cancer for a long time.  The cancer has taken a hard turn and weakened her body.  She is at home on hospice.  In our time together, we shared communion and talked about heaven.  Our friend is getting ready to meet Jesus.  When I asked her what Scripture she would like to have read she said — Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Hear these powerful words of comfort from a young woman battling for her very life:  Don’t be anxious about anything!

Don’t be anxious about having no toilet paper, about having to stay in your home, about not being able to go out to eat, about not being able to go to school or work. Let’s not be anxious about corona virus, not even about death.  Where does our help come from?  Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

So What?
In times when we are locked up and locked out,  look up!
In times of crisis, look to CROSS.
In times of fear, let faith be your strength and hope. 
The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
In times of terror, turn and trust in the one who created the heavens and created you.  His promise is that he will never leave you or forsake you.
In times of panic, turn to Prince of Peace don’t turn to the prince of panic. We are told in Philippians 4 that the PEACE of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

If you need prayer during this time, go to our website www.theseedchristianfellowship.com and post a prayer concern. Our prayer team will be in prayer for you.  You can also contact me at pastordave@theseedchristianfellowship.com — you are not alone!

Lift Your Eyes up to the Lord, the prince of peace who promises to be with 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 3/14/20

Seed of Faith – Call On The Lord   By Pastor Dave  

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3  (I call this “God’s PHONE NUMBER.)”

Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers:

Daily prayer for our world and our nation keeps me occupied during this world-wide pandemic. It is my prayer that as you read this SEED OF FAITH that your hope is watered and your faith is encouraged to grow.

We are in the Season of Lent, the 40 Days of prior to Easter where the joy of the empty tomb and the power of the resurrection replaces our fear of death.  The problem is that so many of us have been overwhelmed with this fear.  The imminent danger of the corona virus is real and it is here at hand. I’ve been to Wal-Mart. I’ve seen the empty displays where toilet paper and paper towels used to be.  The fear of a deadly disease has paralyzed the world. As Christians, we are reminded of many verses that give us strength in times like this.  2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (Say that out loud and say it often!)

I am sitting in Florida with my wife, her dad, and sister and brother-in-law.  We just celebrated the life of my mother-in-law with a wonderful service where we remembered the HOPE and POWER of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death has been swallowed up in victory.  We are reminded that life is a temporary and gracious gift from God.  We are reminded to hold tight the precious times and powerful moments we have had with each.

With the corona virus shutting down all major sporting events, schools, public events, and even Disneyland, Disney World, Universal studios, the question that comes to my mind is, “What is the call of the church at a time like this?”  My brother-in-law, Matt, is a pastor in Nebraska.  As we were sitting and talking about the call of the church during this season, he received an email:

It was during the plagues in 2nd Century in Rome that the Christians stayed and administered health and healing to the sick and dying. This led to the spread of Christianity. In the 3rd Century another plague came and the Christians stayed and saved many.  It was said of the Christians, “good was done for all, not just the household of faith.”  In 1527 the bubonic plague came to Europe and Martin Luther refused to flee the city of Wittenberg. Luther wrote a letter that later became a tract of faith.  In his letter he said. “We die at our posts. Christian doctors cannot abandon their hospitals, Christian governors cannot flee their districts, Christian pastors cannot abandon their congregations. The plague does not dissolve our duties: It turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die.” (Martin Luther) Those are strong words from Luther. Easy for me to say as I sit 2,000 miles away from my church in Southern California but I will return home, hopefully, this Friday and I will be back to serving The Seed Christian Fellowship. I don’t know how many pastors are prepared to die in service, I am one who is.

I know that God has called us to be wise and to not live in a spirit of fear.  For those of us who are ill and who have weakened immune systems, my word is to stay safe, be wise, and  to take good care of yourself. If you need anything, call me. I will do my best to help. What drives a statement like that?  God has not given me a spirit of panic or fear, instead God has given me a spirit of love, power and sound mind to overcome my fear.

We began our Lenten three weeks ago.  Every year after the glacier of Advent and Christmas has passed, I sit down and pray and seek God’s heart on what to preach in the upcoming year. This year, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach on the Psalms of Ascent during Lent.  The Psalms of Ascent are Psalms 120-134 and they are the Psalms (songs) that the Israelites sang as they journeyed back to Jerusalem for their major festivals of  Passover, Pentecost and Atonement. I encourage you to take some time this Lenten season and read the Psalms of Ascent. They will inspire you.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Any man can sing in the daytime, but only the man of faith can sing in the night.”[i]

I have to agree. Being in the ministry, night time is a very special and holy time, especially for those of faith. It is no wonder that I am often found reading during the wee hours of the night. I am encouraged that the light is never overcome by the darkness (John 1:1-5) This fact remains steady in the darkness of the night every single night. Just the strike of one match lights up the darkness. One small candle brings enough light to a room to navigate by.

I believe that Psalm 120 is one of those songs we need to learn in order to sing in the night.  There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this Psalm.  First, we are to call upon the Lord.  Second, we are strangers in this world.  We are pilgrims on a journey. Third, we need to remember that God hears our call.

The Hebrew word for “call” means to call, to shout, to proclaim, to name, to announce, to summon and to read.”  The word for “distress” means; “distress, anxiety, to be in need.” Pretty much hits the nail on the head for such a time as this.

So What?
I don’t know about you but this Psalm has hit my heart. When I am distressed and in need, I am to call upon the Lord.  I am to summon the Lord.  I am to shout out the name of the Lord.  I am to announce the name of the Lord. I am to proclaim the Lord. I am to read the Word.  It is my prayer that we will not live in a spirit of fear but that we will walk by faith into this world and share God’s grace, mercy and love with those we meet.  I encourage you to grab your Bible and look up some of the verses on “do not fear.” There are 365 of them (hmmm.)   I have a list of them if you would like. Email me and I will send them to you. Look up all the times that people of the Bible called upon the Lord and God answered. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3.  This verse has brought me hope and healing through the many trials and tribulations in my life.  Do you know God’s phone number?  It is Jeremiah 33:3 and it says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Call on the Lord! God promises to answer. God is faithful even when I am not. Faithfulness is who God is. During these scary days, let us water our hope and grow our faith.

The last few days of “Where does it say, ‘O, death, where is your sting?'”my mother-in-love’s life, she asked my wife (her second daughter of 3), Jac told her it was found in 1 Corinthians 15:55- 57. Here it is, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But THANKS BE TO GOD! He gives us the VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!” Jo Ann asked for that verse ten times a day until she had it memorized. She had Jesus in her heart as Lord and Savior and she was heaven bound.

No darkness can blot out the light of Christ. No sin is victorious over the LIGHT of the WORLD. God so loved this WORLD (even the world with corona virus) that God sent His ONLY SON…John 3:16…so that ALL WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS…SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. 

OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN WON BY ONE MAN, Jesus Christ. No darkness will ever overcome that.  Be smart.  Be safe. and BE IN CHRIST.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do
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.