Guidance Too Good to Miss

One day Anna heard that small voice insisting that she take a widower friend dinner.

"Today. Do it today," the voice said. She mentally protested because of other commitments. The urging persisted, growing too strong to ignore. She changed her schedule to include her friend. She watched as he set her casserole into his empty refrigerator and freezer. They chatted about his new computer and his emails to children and grandchildren. At the end of their visit, he said, "You must have known what day this is."

"No," she responded, knowing that all firsts in a widower's life are difficult.

He smiled. "It's her birthday," he said. "Today is my wife's birthday."

As she drove away, she thought, What if I had ignored that urging inner voice?

God often guides us by putting His desires in our hearts. We can easily ignore these inward impressions implanted by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit may also guide by giving a sense of restraint. For example in Acts 16, the Holy Spirit told Paul and Silas "not to go into the province of Asia at that time...they headed for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not let them go."

Guidance can be as simple as avoiding that which robs us of God's peace.

Dear Lord, teach me to always wait for You, to always walk in the Spirit.

"And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezekiel 36:27).

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Jehovah-Rohi means the Lord is my shepherd. Rohi is a common word for shepherd and there is no more endearing term to describe the relationship between God and us. Just as a shepherd cares about each individual sheep, God cares about each of us.

When David wrote in Psalm 23, the Lord is my Jehovah-Rohi, he was saying that the Lord provides for our every need. All that a good shepherd is to his sheep, God is to us.

The shepherd is completely responsible for the sheep's good pasture, quiet water (sheep are afraid of noisy streams), and protection from every type of danger. In fact, a good shepherd protects the sheep by sleeping in the opening of the sheepfold, and they understand they need to fear no evil. They are totally safe and free from worry. He is keeping watch continuously.

Jesus said "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11). Psalm 23 beautifully describes our Good Shepherd.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.

2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.

3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

4 Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever" (NLT).

Thank You, Jesus, for being my good shepherd. Because of You I have everything I need.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

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Immoral Attraction

Nancy met Don soon after she and her husband moved to a new town. One day when the phone rang, expecting her husband's voice, she said, "Robert..."

Instead of her husband, however, she heard a deep voice, which she instantly recognized as Don's. "I wish!" he exclaimed.

Nancy murmured, "Don, don't say that."

"Why not?" he replied.

Although Nancy quickly changed the subject and took care of the reason for his call, this exchange began a battle in Nancy's mind.

About two months after that phone call, Nancy and her husband invited several people over. She didn't mingle much with Don that night, but the few times they were together, the sparks of physical attraction flew.

That night as she lay in bed, for the first time, Nancy crossed the moral line in her thought life opening the door to temptation. Within weeks, Don filled her thoughts day and night.

After struggling with indecent thoughts for nearly six months, Nancy attended a prayer retreat. Her reserve broke, and she wept openly as she confessed to a small group that she struggled with temptation.

Unexpectedly when she was alone that afternoon, the Lord began to sweetly minister to her spirit. Instead of condemnation, Nancy experienced His tender words falling like dew on her spirit as Psalm 23 and Matthew 11:28 played over and over in her mind. "The Lord is my shepherd...He leads me beside still waters," and "Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

During the following weeks, when Nancy was plagued by thoughts of Don, she had a new strength and perseverance. She began using Scripture as she prayed: "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things" (Col. 3:2) and "whatever is pure...think about these things" (Phil. 4:8).

Nancy escaped the treacherous pit of immoral thinking because she had a humble spirit--the first requisite for receiving the cleansing the gentle Word provides. "I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts," (Isa. 66:2), God promises.

Thank You, Jesus, that Your Word always provides a way to escape Satan's temptations.

"You have purified yourselves by obeying the truth" (1 Pet. 1:22).

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The Man With the Drawn Sword

In his book Praise Papers, S. A. Keen tells of a time when even though others considered his ministry to be a great success, he often felt discouraged fearing his efforts were inadequate.

When he was closing his pastorate at St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church, Delaware, Ohio, he was again tempted to view his work a failure. He begged God for a fresh anointing that would bring a greater effectiveness to his work.

While upon his knees in his study earnestly calling upon God, he "saw the Man with a drawn sword, saying, 'Lo, I am with you alway.'" From that point, he had a sustained faith, enthusiasm, and effectiveness for his work. He clearly understood that God did not hold him responsible for the results of his ministry. His one responsibility was to live in such an attitude to God that he would be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. If he was filled with the Spirit, he would be at his best for God and for others.

Several things came to him in the years following this new light.

1. An utter absence of anxious concern about results.

2. A sustained consciousness of being used effectively. He could say, "I anticipate nothing other than to be used of God."

3. A delightful rest from the depressing effect of comparing his work with that of others whose success appeared to be more marked. As a result, he was as happy in what he once would have considered to be failure as when it appeared his ministry resulted in great victory and people exclaimed, "This work is of God!"

4. Greater and more continuous fruitfulness in his work.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us access to Your abiding presence.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him" (2 Corinthians 2:14).

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Anointed Praises

One day while I was praying for God to supply the needs of a ministry I was involved with, I asked for the mind of Christ so I would know exactly how to pray. Immediately, I was filled with a spirit of praise. How far behind I was in giving thanks for help He had already given! As I praised Him for His past help, I was filled with confidence that He would also provide for the future.

The Holy Spirit within us is a Spirit of praise. At times, to refuse to praise God is to quench the Spirit which 1 Thessalonians 5:19 warns against. "Do not stifle the Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NLT).

Scripture tells us to be "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). We're also told to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

One lady said, "One day during prayer, the Lord said, 'Today I want you to only praise me for those on your prayer list. Don't ask for anything.' He still requests that occasionally."

Perhaps the Spirit will desire that of us, too, at times. What a pleasure it will be to respond! Praising allows us to pray with confidence and joy.

Dear Lord, help us to be responsive to You so our prayers and praises satisfy You.

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" (Hebrews 13:15).

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