The Lord is My Shepherd

Psalm 23 must surely be one of the most familiar passages of the Bible.  It is very often assigned as memory work for children in Sunday School.  In my experience as a minister, it is a frequent request at funeral services because of the comfort it offers.  And, because of its familiarity, it is very often taken for granted with little thought being given to what it’s actually saying.

It really does offer a great deal of comfort and encouragement.  It acknowledges that God is the One Who cares for us and provides everything we need (…I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures…).  He provides for my spiritual well-being (He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake).  And when the darkest times come, He is there to protect me (Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…).

Although this is just some of the comfort found in this great psalm, it’s enough to show that it is a great source of comfort and encouragement.  Let the Good Shepherd be your Shepherd!  He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

In No Way Alarmed

The phrase “fear not” is common in Scripture.  In fact, it’s used often enough to suggest that fear is real, and a real problem.  Fear can keep us from doing what we know is right, and so it’s appropriate to hear, read, or say, “Fear not.”

Early in the letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul makes the same point using the words that form the title of this post.  In urging his beloved Philippians to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27) he says they would be, among other things, in no way alarmed by their opponents (Philippians 1:28).  He goes on to say in that same verse that this is a sign of salvation for the faithful.

We all know it’s hard not to fear, or be alarmed, sometimes.  However, in those times, we must work harder, truly strive to overcome fear and walk in that manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.  In other words, we must not let fear keep us from doing what we know is the right thing to do.

So, do the right thing, no matter what!  Know that God loves you and so do I

Donnie Bates

With a Whole Heart

All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the Lord gave them rest on every side (2 Chronicles 15:15).  What a wonderful sentiment that if we seek the Lord with all our hearts, He will let us find Him and will give us rest on every side!  But wait, sometimes we don’t have rest on every side!  Sometimes, even though we seek the Lord with all our hearts, there is anything but rest.  How do we explain that?

First, we must make sure that we really are seeking the Lord with all our hearts.  Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we are seeking the Lord, when we’re really seeking our own idea of what that means.

Then, understand that there is trouble in the world, but Christians are promised the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

So, seek God with a whole heart.  Do His will; meet His conditions for receiving His grace and find that peace.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Everywhere Evangelizing

I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet (Amos 7:14).  Those words were true of Amos and they are true of me.  I do not know what the future holds.  It is not uncommon these days to hear predictions of doom and all around bad times for our country.  More and more people seem to be making preparations so as to be ready when things “go south.”

From a purely spiritual point of view, what do Christians do if such were to happen?  True, faithful Christians have been preparing for the end of the world or the end of their lives since they became Christians, but our question has more to do with life than with death.  What do we do if we find ourselves living in a world where the church is persecuted like it was in the Bible?

Of course, the answer is found in the question.  We do what the church did in the Bible.  The first persecution drove the church out of Jerusalem, and they left there evangelizing (Acts 8:1-4).  Many of our brethren have suffered and remained faithful and given tremendous testimony (Hebrews 11).

What do we do?  We stay the course; keep the faith; fight the Good Fight of faith.  Know today and everyday that God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

From a Different Point of View

This is the time of year when much is said about giving thanks and rejoicing.  We truly do have much for which to be thankful and rejoice.  However, I’d like us to consider it from another point of view.

When was the last time you rejoiced or gave thanks for some profound trial in your life?  You see, Christians have reason to rejoice and give thanks, even in the most difficult circumstances…even when they are praying to be delivered from some trial (Philippians 4:4; James 1:2-4).

The apostles came very near to death a group in Acts 5.  When they were put out of the council chamber, the discussion inside was whether or not to kill them.  No doubt they were praying while they waited.  Well, they were not killed, just flogged.  However, notice Acts 5:41:  So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

You don’t need me to tell you to be thankful more than just on Thanksgiving.  That sentiment has been expressed much lately, and that’s a good thing!  However, let us learn to be thankful not just every day, but in every circumstance.  God loves you, and that’s reason enough to be thankful.  Oh, and I love you, too.

Donnie Bates

Share Your Joy with Me

In Philippians 2:14-18 the apostle Paul makes an extraordinary point in encouraging his beloved Philippian brethren to remain faithful. Grumbling and disputing are things that do not belong in the life of a Christian.  Christians who are able to eliminate them from their lives make a big step in becoming blameless and innocent.  Key to the whole thing is holding fast the word of life, which Paul says will show that his work among them was not in vain.  Read what comes next.

Philippians 2:17, 18:  But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.  You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

To be poured out as a drink offering is a reference to his death.  Even if he dies he can rejoice and share his joy.  Now, he says, share your joy with me.  Wow!  In the face of death, Christians can rejoice!  That means that in the face of whatever afflicts you, you can rejoice.  Share your joy!  Know that you can because God loves you; oh, and I love you, too!

Donnie Bates

Every Time I Remember

I love the apostle Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:3:  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…  It’s very clear that Paul had a close, loving relationship with the congregation in Philippi.  He was in a Roman prison at the time he wrote this and while a study of all the Prison Epistles will reveal that Paul had a better attitude in prison than most of us might, it still is not unreasonable to understand that Paul would need encouragement.  How great is it to know that there is a group of people who are concerned about you, praying for you, and sending you things to make life better (Philippians 4:16, 17)?

Most of us have family and friends who fit this bill, but not all.  What do those who have no one do?  I want you to know that God has provided you a family, a spiritual family, that will meet that need for you.  Of course, that family is the church.

Don’t convince yourself that you are alone.  God gave you what you need.  He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates