THE GOOD SHEPHERD DAILY DEVOTIONS by Rev. Rick Eisenlord, M.Div SUNDAY OCTOBER 13 - Protection Psalm 121:7-8 (New International Version) The LORD will keep you from all harm he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Do you ever feel lonely? Do you ever feel that the odds are stacked against you and you’re fighting a losing battle? Do you get scared at what life throws your way? I am certain we all have felt these emotions at one time or another. Sometimes we feel a combination of them all at once! It is when we feel outnumbered and out gunned that these words from Psalms mean the most. “The Lord will keep you from all harm - He will watch over your life.” It’s that knowledge that God keeps watch over us like a Good Shepherd, and that whatever we face in life we do not face alone - it’s that knowledge that sustains us and keeps us going when all else fails.
And this is just not temporary help. We are promised this loving care from God throughout our lives: ‘..the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
PRAYER FOR TODAY Strong and faithful God, watch over me today, my coming and my going, and protect me from all harm. Guide my steps according to Your Will. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” -- Robert H. Schuller
DID YOU KNOW It took Leo Tolstoy six years to write “War & Peace”.
MONDAY OCTOBER 14 - Do Not Fear Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Fear and frustration. These seem to be the two main commodities of modern life. When faced with big decisions we begin to feel self doubt. We don’t know where that decision may ultimately lead us. Other times we try our best, and still we turn up empty handed or progress seems so terribly slow. “So do not fear, for I am with you.” It’s that knowledge - or maybe that feeling - that we do not go it alone that can give us that courage to make the big decision. Or maybe just face the day. “I will strengthen you and help you.” That is the source of the inner fortitude that successful men and women rely upon. Not just rely upon our own strength and wisdom, but God’s strength and guidance. God’s strength and help: our success.
PRAYER FOR TODAY Almighty God, grant me strength today to face the world and succeed. Uphold me. Guide me. Protect me. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” -- Edmund Burke
DID YOU KNOW The word Tips is actually an acronym standing for “To Insure Prompt Service”.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 15 - What Is Love About? John 13:34 (New American Standard Bible) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
I thought I would do several devotions on the whole idea of “love”. Maybe it’s the weather. Being loved is one of the strongest emotions that I know. Yet there are many who don’t have that feeling. It can arise out of loneliness. Or low self esteem. Or a life that is too busy or too shut off to let others in. Distance from family members can make the feeling of loneliness and isolation that much worse. On the flip side of the coin, putting yourself out there to love another can be a risky proposition as well. If we get rejected, it affects our self image and self esteem. There are those, who through rejection, feel they are simply not worthy to be loved. Or here in Hollywood where people are judged by looks and status, you can feel you are not attractive enough, or financially well off enough to be loved by another. This whole “love thing” can be complex. And hurtful.
It can be healing as well. This is where the kind of love that Jesus speaks of comes into play. This is not so much romantic love that He speaks of, important as that is in our lives. But rather a sacrificial caring love for another, of making a difference in another person’s life. That is love too.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 16 - Love That Endures Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Have you ever noticed that as you go about your day, “life” has a way of getting in the way of your plans for the day? You set out with a list of things to do, and somehow everything else happens. We tend to get over booked, over worked and under paid! Life is complicated, and in the midst of all that complication, we try to work out our lives.
It is into this mix and noise of our lives, that we hear the voice of God telling us that in spite of all that we are experiencing, nothing in this world separates us from His Love. Think about it: NOTHING can separate us from God’s Love. Not death with all its terrors; not human tyrants or dictators; not the crush of daily tasks that come crashing down upon us; not fear of the future.
Those are words of comfort and happiness - yes! happiness - in the midst of the storm of life that sustains us no matter what comes our way. And this love was made manifest in a small baby in a manger in Bethlehem.
PRAYER FOR TODAY God of all Creation, be by my side today, comforting and sustaining me with your Love. I take Your Hand. Lead me. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY
“Do not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” -- James Thurber
DID YOU KNOW A word or sentence that is the same front and back (racecar, kayak) is called a “palindrome”.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 17 - Love Defined - Part 1 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (New International Version) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
For the next several days, I am going to go into some detail about this whole idea of “love” that gets bandied about so much in popular culture. We talk about love all the time, but what REALLY are the characteristics of true love? I find this especially significant as we read the tabloid stories of celebrities and their failed romances and marriages. Let us open our eyes that we may see and ears that we may hear and our hearts that we may feel. REALLY see. REALLY hear. REALLY feel. This series is based on 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13.
Lesson #1 in life: being smart isn’t everything. I know people who have their doctorates in a specialized field, yet have no ‘street smarts’ whatsoever. They are ‘experts’ in their field of endeavor, but are clueless when it comes to the nitty gritty of life. I am sure you know some of these individuals yourself. They talk a good game, but their actions are shallow and self-serving. And this includes many leaders I observe in organized religion.
“If I have all knowledge and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I AM NOTHING.” Wow! What an indictment! It is what is in the inner recesses of our hearts that matters to God. Having some fancy degree, or the ability to be a smooth talker, do not mean squat if you have a heart without love
And what type of love am I talking about? The love that reflects the grace and mercy and gentle kindness of God Himself. It is manifested in the touch of a hand, a friendly smile, a warm embrace, a kind word of welcome or thanks. It’s a love without hidden agendas. Personally, I could care less how much someone TELLS me they may have love in their heart. It’s what they DO that is the measure of their character, and love.
PRAYER FOR TODAY O God of love and compassion, help me to NOT be just a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. Rather let me be a quiet vehicle for Your Mercy, Your Compassion and Your Grace. Just to one person. Today. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -- Marcel Proust
DID YOU KNOW Flushable toilets were in use in ancient Rome.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 18 - Love Defined Part 2 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New International Version) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Okay folks. Here it is! Here is the vital TRUTH about what love IS, and what love is NOT. If anyone asks you to describe love, just point them to THIS passage from 1 Corinthians. AND THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE EITHER!
If someone is impatient with you - they have not love. If they are unkind or envious or boastful, they have not love. If they are rude, they have not love. If someone is self-seeking, easily angered and keeps track of what they perceive as wrongs, they have not love. Put quite simply, they are NOT a person of God.
Love ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres. Period. End of discussion. If you experience anything LESS than this from an individual, it is not love. They are not from God.
PRAYER FOR TODAY Your Love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds. How priceless is your love, O God. I take refuge under the shadow of your wings. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered.” -- Nelson Mandela DID YOU KNOW Augustus Caesar had achluophobia - the fear of sitting in the dark.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 19 - Love Defined Part 3 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (New International Version) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I have periodically found myself in discussions with those people who think of themselves as very religious, many from the religious establishment. These ‘discussions’ usually revolve around faith and belief. Usually they hammer away with “But do you BELIEVE?” I use the word ‘hammer’ because they use the concept of believing as a sledge hammer to make their point. They draw the distinction between those who BELIEVE and those who DON’T.
Yet the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians turns this whole discussion on its theological head. Paul dismisses prophesies of the “righteous” including “knowledge” and “speaking in tongues” as being temporary. What is even more crucial, more important than even faith itself? It is LOVE. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
There you have it: LOVE. I have to admit I have felt love from those who have no religious connection at all, while at the same time I have felt anger, judgement and criticism from those who claim to be “Christians”. Remember what Paul said just a few verses before this: “If I have all knowledge and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I AM NOTHING.” So the next time you find yourself in one of these “discussions” with an overly righteous individual, ask them what is more important, faith or love. See what they say. Then ask them to look up 1 Corinthians 13: 8-13.
PRAYER FOR TODAY Strong and Faithful God, help me to put away childish ideas and actions. Guide me with Your Love that I may be a vessel of Your Love for others, regardless of whether they believe or not. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “The best mirror is an old friend.” -- George Herbert DID YOU KNOW The citrus soda 7-UP was created in 1929; “7” was selected because the original containers were 7 ounces. “UP” indicated the direction of the bubbles.
LOVE AND MARRIAGE SERIES There have been so many favorable comments on my series on love, that I have decided to expand this series to “Love and Marriage”. Now I am going to tackle head on the whole “gay marriage issue” with my series. This series is NOT just for straight people! My definition of love and marriage is BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE, be it a man and woman, two men or two women. I firmly believe that God is blind to gender when it comes to love and marriage, and those things that affect love and marriage are identical to all, regardless of sexual preferences. My only qualifying statement to this is that there is not the official community support and infrastructure for gay and lesbian marriages as there exists for straight marriages. Having said that, I will deal with that in more detail later. (I have to keep you coming back for more, right?)
This is not just for those who are already in relationships, but also for those just thinking about starting one. I want you to look for love in all the RIGHT places!
I hope you find this series informative and helpful, whether you are gay, straight or bi. Love is love no matter who you are, and joining your life with another is what I am going to be concerned with right now. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX SUNDAY OCTOBER 20 - LOVE AND MARRIAGE - PART 1 Philippians 2:3 (New American Standard Bible) “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
We are dealing with motive here in this passage from Scripture. We all go into relationships with hopes, dreams and expectations. Communicating these wishes and desires to your partner is crucial from the very beginning. More importantly, Scripture urges us to not be selfish with these expectations, but rather to act out of humility and regard for what is best for our partner. This is not easy to do. I urge couples to sit down and share their dreams and desires with each other as soon as they begin dating. Answers and solutions do not need to come up immediately, but it is IN THE DIALOGUE between two people that real growth happens in any relationship. And if you can keep God part of the dialogue as well, it can become that much more meaningful and deep. Act out of humility, consider what is best not just for you but for the other person as well, and ask for God’s guidance.
PRAYER FOR TODAY O God of Love and Compassion, help me to reach out to my partner and understand their needs, desires and frustrations. And grant that they may hear mine as well. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “I have nothing to share with you but my life.” -- Peter McWilliams (Peter Alexander McWilliams (August 5, 1949 – June 14, 2000) was a writer of best-selling self-help books and, in his later years, a cannabis activist. Terminally ill with AIDS and cancer, he became a vocal campaigner for the legalization of medical cannabis.
DID YOU KNOW Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning. (I wonder if Starbucks knows this?)
MONDAY OCTOBER 21 - LOVE AND MARRIAGE - PART 2 James 1:5 (New Living Translation) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
Asking for help. This is always a tough one. As we enter a relationship, we try to figure out the dynamics of what is going on, and we do most of that work on our own. What does my partner really want? How can I make him or her happy? How do we merge two different lives into one? How do I maintain my own individuality in a relationship? Maybe this is not the right person for me? Many times we don’t want to ask our friends for advice because we want to keep our private lives private. Try asking God for guidance. If you need to know what to do, ask Him for answers. We are reassured by Scripture that He will answer. Now, it may or may not be the answer we want to hear. Keep your heart open. God will speak to your heart and you will know. Now what you DO with that answer is up to you. But you will get an answer. And remember, God will not rebuke you for asking. Go ahead. Try it.
PRAYER FOR TODAY It is difficult to ask for help O God. But I need it. I need your guidance and your assistance. I cannot do this alone. Be my side. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “God brought you to me, sweet lover, and I think He raised me to be of use to you.” -- Christine de Pisan (Christine de Pisan (also seen as de Pizan) (1365–c.1434) was a Venetian-born woman of the medieval era who strongly challenged misogyny and stereotypes prevalent in the male-dominated realm of the arts. As a poet, she was well-known and highly regarded in her own day.)
DID YOU KNOW Nobel, actually invented dynamite (Dynamite No. 1 and Ballistite) but when he saw the destruction it caused, he decided to do something benevolent with all the money he made. Hence the Nobel Prize.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 22 - LOVE AND MARRIAGE - PART 3 Matthew 6:8 (New King James Version) Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Okay folks, I am going out on a limb here. I firmly believe that people come into our lives for a reason. We may not know that reason at first, and many times we don’t. But if we trust God’’s action in our lives, then those whom we meet come into our lives for a very good reason. Maybe it is for learning more about ourselves. Maybe it is for being a saving grace in another’s life. Maybe we need a change in our lives and this person is it.
My point is do not shut yourself off from God’s work in your life. He knows what we need before we ask Him. I find this can be an exciting part of my life as I discover new friends and relationships, and I learn what God has in store for me. And this can be exciting for you. God loves you very much, and only wants what is best for you. Open yourself up to new possibilities, new horizons, new relationships. Who knows where that road will lead you!
PRAYER FOR TODAY O Loving Father, help me to not shut myself off from Your action and work in my life. As I encounter new people in my life, guide me to discover why You have brought that person to me. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.” -- Charles Morgan (Sir Thomas Charles Morgan (1783–1843) was an English physician and writer with an interest in philosophical and miscellaneous subject matter. His wife was the famed novelist Lady Morgan.)
DID YOU KNOW Beethoven who was a coffee lover, was so particular about his coffee that he counted 60 beans each cup when he prepared his brew.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 23 - LOVE & MARRIAGE - PART 4 Mark 3:35 (New International Version) “Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
Firstly, let me begin with my single friends who are dating someone special. I will address my married friends in tomorrow’s devotion. A sense of family. That is what this passage of scripture is about, and it is something we start thinking about (whether we want to admit it or not) as we get seriously involved with the person we are dating. We allow ourselves to think about what it would be like to live with that person. The two become one family unit. What will that look like? What do each of us - each of you - “bring to the table” in terms of a relationship? Strengths? Weaknesses? Having or adopting kids? Maybe one or both of you already have children. How do you “blend” the two families together? All of this excellent fodder for discussion as soon as the both of you feel comfortable to bring it up. Do it early and gently, and you will find your relationship deepen and mature along the way. And if you can make God part of that discussion, even better. His desire is to be an active part of your relationship offering support the way a brother or sister of parent would provide. He’s the glue to make everything hang together, especially during the rough times.
PRAYER FOR TODAY Gracious and caring God, be close to me as I deepen my relationship with my partner. Help us to discover each other more fully and deeply. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY Love is not a possession but a growth.The heart is a lamp with just oil enough to burn for an hour, and if there be no oil to put in again, its light will go out. God’s grace is the oil that fills the lamp of love. -- Henry Ward Beecher
DID YOU KNOW Henry Ford produced the model T only in black because the black paint available at he time was the fastest to dry.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 24 - LOVE & MARRIAGE - PART 5 2 Corinthians 6:18 (New Living Translation) “And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Today I want to speak to those who are already married or in a committed partnership. The family unit. So many forces can tug and pull on any partnership or marriage. And it is the daily stresses of making it through the day, paying bills, dealing with problems at work, trying to get ahead in life - all have a serious influence on your relationship. IT IS SO EASY TO GO DAYS WITHOUT REALLY SITTING DOWN WITH YOUR PARTNER AND JUST SHARING AND TALKING. Life gets in the way of living! To avoid that trap, build in time where the two of you can relax in quiet and just BE with each other without the pressures of the day interfering. Again, remember God only wants what is best for the two of you, and He wants to be part of that dynamic of YOUR family, whether it is just the two of you, or with children as well. Remember - a stool cannot stand on just two legs - it needs a third to be stable. And that third leg in your family is God.
PRAYER FOR TODAY Our Father in Heaven, help us to make You a vital and important part of our family life. Open our eyes that we may see how that may happen. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY Love is not a matter of counting years; it is making the years count. -- William Smith
DID YOU KNOW Coffee beans are not really beans - they’re fruit pits.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 25 - LOVE & MARRIAGE - PART 6 Matthew 18:20 (New King James Version) “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
There has been much public discussion as of late regarding gay couples adopting or having children. There are many who assert that a child needs to have both a mother and a father to be raised in a healthy family environment. To counter this argument, recently USA Today carried this news story: “Children raised by same-sex couples appear to do as well as those raised by parents of both sexes, suggests an international research review that challenges the long-ingrained belief that children need male and female parents for healthy adjustment. "It's more about the quality of the parenting than the gender of the parents," says Judith Stacey of New York University, co-author of the comprehensive review.” This report was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
The glaring truth that stands out is that it is the QUALITY of the parenting rather than GENDER of the parents that matter the most in defining a healthy family. I think we can broaden that statement to include that it is the quality of the relationship between two people, RATHER THAN THEIR GENDER, THAT MATTERS MOST IN A RELATIONSHIP. And for me, making God part of that relationship or family unit is what adds quality and substance to it. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” God remains by our side to help, to heal, to forgive and to build up and renew our relationships and families.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED... I have copied the entire USA Today article below Same-sex couples can be effective parents, researchers find By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY Children raised by same-sex couples appear to do as well as those raised by parents of both sexes, suggests an international research review that challenges the long-ingrained belief that children need male and female parents for healthy adjustment. "It's more about the quality of the parenting than the gender of the parents," says Judith Stacey of New York University, co-author of the comprehensive review. It will be published Friday in the Journal of Marriage and Family. Sociologists Stacey and Timothy Biblarz of the University of Southern California, spent five years reviewing 81 studies of one- and two-parent families, including gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples. "No research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being," they conclude. "Children being raised by same-gender parents, on most all of the measures that we care about, self-esteem, school performance, social adjustment and so on, seem to be doing just fine and, in most cases, are statistically indistinguishable from kids raised by married moms and dads on these measures," Biblarz says.
Three researchers critiqued the effort; their comments appear in the same issue of the journal. Lisa Strohschein of the University of Alberta in Canada takes issue with the review's attempts to "tease out the effects of the parent's gender" from an array of variables. She notes that many of the studies cited place differences in family type "in context with other factors that influence child outcomes," including number and gender of parents in the household, sexual identity, marital status and biogenetic relationship to children. The review, she says, "provided no such context." Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center and co-author of the 2009 book Partnership Parenting,has not seen the research review. But he says "you can't take gender out of the world." He says that as adults, "we are struggling to be politically correct about gender" when we should be thinking more about the children. "It's not about the supremacy of one gender over another or about the necessity of one gender over another," he says. In addition to child outcomes, the sociologists reviewed parenting styles and found "two women who choose to parent together are slightly more likely than a heterosexual couple to be actively committed to hands-on parenting. We don't have data yet on two men parenting, but I think it will come out fairly similar," Stacey says. Fatherhood expert Michael Lamb, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, says he has changed his views about gender roles based on more recent research. "Nothing about a person's sex determines the capacity to be a good parent," he says in an e-mail. "It is well-established that children do not need parents of each gender to adjust healthily." And what about single parents? "What counts a lot more than the number of parents is the quality," Stacey says. "It's definitely an advantage if there are two parents who get along over one parent. But if the two don't get along, sometimes one parent is better."
PRAYER FOR TODAY Everlasting Father, strengthen our family and my relationship with my partner that we may grow and flourish under Your tender care and love. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR THE DAY So we grew together, Like a double cherry, seeming parted, But yet an union in partition; Two lovely berries moulded on one stem.” -- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
DID YOU KNOW Walt Disney World generates about 120,000 pounds of garbage every day.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 26 - LOVE & MARRIAGE - PART 7 Colossians 3:13 (New Living Translation) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Forgiveness. Ouch! That is a tough one in most relationships. We tend to “keep score” of little injustices, and when we get into an argument with our loved one, we “unload” all that we have been holding back. We dump. “Remember when you didn’t pick up the dry cleaning when I asked you...then I had to clean up your mess after your friends left, and then you didn’t pay the electric bill like I asked you, then... etc., etc. etc.” Look, we are not perfect. Scripture urges us to make allowance for each other’s faults and shortcomings. When I have talked with couples, each one in the relationship feels they give more than their partner. Each one feels they give more than 75% while they get little in return.
Forgiveness. That is the key to a strong relationship. Put the scorecard away and make a list of those things you love about your partner instead. Don’t try to make over your partner into your own image. Allow them to be who they are. That is NOT saying that you cannot tell your loved one how you FEEL when he or she does something you don’t like. But do it in a loving and supportive way. Don’t let it fester. Don’t attack. Nurture each other. Teach each other. Grow with each other. Forgive each other, just as God forgives you.
PRAYER FOR TODAY Give me the patience and strength to forgive and forget when I am wronged. Don’t allow me to hold grudges or let injustices fester within me. Just as I am forgiven, so shall I forgive. Amen.
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY Having it all doesn’t necessarily mean having it all at once.” -- Stephanie Luetkehans