Living In The Valleys

Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

The other day I was talking with a friend and brother in the Lord. We were discussing the joy and elation that was felt when a person is first saved, and then how it seems to wear off and life seems to set in. I’ve always felt this was the “honeymoon” phase of our becoming reborn in the spirit. Though this idea didn’t formulate until many years later, I always likened it to the fact that we have just accepted our “betrothal” to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ and as becoming part of the living Church we are considered the “Bride!”

Many times though over the years, I, like so many other Christians have had what is best described as Mountain-top experiences; times of refreshing and yes at times exhilaration, an almost vacation sense of feeling from the rigors of life. But as any Christian knows, these times never last and the routines of life take over once again. These times always remind be of what the disciples Peter, James and John must have felt like when Jesus took them up the mountain and they witnessed Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah. Can you even begin to imagine the FEELING that must have coursed through them?! (Matthew 17:1-13).

After talking with my brother in Christ, I started thinking and praying about this concept, for as I stated, it is a common occurrence in the life of a disciple of Christ Jesus who is trying to live the life and follow the example of His Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Those times ARE times of refreshing where we feel sometimes the most closest to our Master and Lord. Those are times that I and many others wish could go on forever and they increase my/our longing for Heaven. I truly believe these are times given, not just to be refreshed, but a tangible “feel” or sense, as it were of what Heaven might be like, albeit a very miniscule sense. I believe these are also times that prepare us for the rigors that are still ahead of us, down in the valleys where life really takes place.

You see, as a general rule, real life DOES take place down between the shadows of the mountains. That for the most part is where we live our everyday lives and that is where the most “dangers” as-it-were lie. When the psalmist, David, spoke of walking these valleys, he was most assuredly remembering his life as a shepherd. It is in the valleys, sometimes close to the villages, but usually always where the best pastures lay. A shepherd’s life was being one with the flock. A shepherd usually had a special call or a special horn or whistle with which the sheep would recognize and then gather around him. This is why the Scripture states that Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27.

So it is with life today and this passage in Psalms is a great analogy for it. In REAL life, our spiritual life, we follow the example of Christ through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We HAVE to live life in this world still, though we are not OF it, we ARE in it, and as sheep, as part of the flock of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, we need to feed on the Water of Life and the Bread of Life which comprises OUR green pastures that He leads us to through the Holy Spirit. The way we grow strong, is by feeding on the right food, and following the shepherd and the exercise that living life affords, with its struggles and trials. We gain strength from those things; applying the “nourishment” to the tasks at hand! It also tends to do one other thing: the sheep who stay closest to the shepherd help the other sheep when they see the shepherd begin to move and such. Those “hardy” sheep actually help the younger, less mature sheep to know what to do!

The sheep learn through time and following the shepherd to trust him implicitly. The sheep don’t concern themselves with the fact that they aren’t at the top of the mountain, or at the lowest part of the valley; all they know is the best grazing and the best water is found where the shepherd leads them!

David wrote that “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” But in this analogy, what does that mean to you and me? First, you have to know what those tools actually do and what they signify. They aren’t just one tool but actually two separate ones. The rod, was usually a heavy, weighted club that could be used to defend in case of danger. The shepherd would always have it handy in case of predatory animals that liked to prey on the sheep. The shepherd’s rod was a sign or symbol of protection and authority. If the sheep were ever in danger, they soon learned they were in safe hands with the shepherd nearby. The staff on the other hand was used to steady the shepherd on his walks, especially along narrow paths, along riverbeds and such, but also his staff usually had a crook, commonly known as a shepherd’s crook at one end of it. The shepherd could use that “hook” to help a lamb or sheep that had strayed into the brambles or maybe even fell into the water while crossing or drinking. It was also used to keep the sheep in line, when traversing narrow passages or bypassing in ancient times a neighbor’s crop field, for the sheep were not allowed to stray into another’s crops. The staff helped keep the sheep in line as it were. It still signifies discipline.

So it is in our lives today. We serve a Lord that is quick to defend and protect us; “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2. Jesus, the Great Shepherd is our Intercessor, or Advocate between the Father and ourselves! Our enemies, whether it be actual sin, the devil or even the world are always ready to make an accusation against us!!! We know that when we feel threatened, when we feel the danger of temptation, all we have to do, like a frightened sheep is to call out to Him and He is there!

His staff, the Living Word of God with the power of the Holy Spirit helps keep us in line. It corrects us, it disciplines us, shows us the right way, the right path to take or the path we need to stay on. It helps us when we DO get into the thorns or too near the edge to keep our feet steady upon the path that has been prepared for us!

It is no wonder that David could with confidence declare that he would “fear no evil.” We have nothing to fear and remember, the shadows are only that, they are NOT the real thing. They are the wisp of what we fear, yet we have no need to fear them because the Great Shepherd, is “near us!” The closer we stay to Him, the more intimate we are with Him personally, the more we rely upon His rod and His staff, the more peace and comfort we have while we continue to live the lives set before us!!

The mountain tops are great and they give you a great view to look around and enjoy creation, but consider this; on the mountain tops you get your eyes on creation and while you look and give our Heavenly Father the Glory, all the while your eyes are NOT on the Creator! In the valleys, we rely on His presence, His protection, His guidance and our eyes and ears stay focused on Him so that when He moves, we move with Him and when He speaks, we follow. It is in the valleys that we are always the closest to our Lord and Master!! That in itself, should give us each individually such great joy as to be indescribable!!

I don’t like the stumbles, the falls, the brambles and thorns that life throws our way, any more than the next person, but because I have been trying to follow the shepherd for all these years, I have become familiar with that terrain that He leads me through and I have been able to avoid them more and more than in my younger years, and now, my example can help the other sheep to keep in sight of the Great Shepherd when He moves or speaks! So the life journey should be for all of us. When I am closest to my Master, “I will fear no evil; For You are with me!”

Are you an example, following the Shepherd closely? Do you want to be? Take comfort in what life with Him holds in store for you and realize you have no need to fear the shadows when you are under His protection AND guidance!

*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Another great post from Brother Murillo. The Church, the TRUE Church needs to stop playing games and start getting spiritually real!

Mario Murillo Ministries

Soul-sucking disaster upon disaster, and yet America does not pray. But, I get why. The word of God says, “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God…”1 Corinthians 2: 14.   What I don’t get is how the American church can still think this is a game.

The world is on fire.   Because of man, and nature—Earth is ready to explode.   Meanwhile the church—like a party on the deck of the Titanic—pats herself on the back for her “big events.”

Nothing has stopped—or even slowed down—America’s depravity.   We have spent more money, time, and talent than ever—yet the church never asks, why we keep doing things that don’t work?

When the church

-Feeds a sick nation, a sick gospel, that does not deliver from evil, and worse, makes the already converted weaker, we must think it is a game.

-When the enemy is no longer the works…

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Two Lions – One Victor

When one male lion encroaches on another’s territory there is usually a fight that can be very severe and the challenger, if he wins, devours any cubs from the defeated lion’s mates. Satan is constantly challenging what rightfully belongs to the Lord and wants to destroy the Lord’s children. But Satan’s defeat has been prophesied from the very beginning. There is only ONE victor; whose side are YOU on?

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Prayer For Wisdom & Discernment

This prayer was posted on Facebook by a Christian Brother and I thought it was fitting for the time we are in right now. Click on his name to see other prayers on his site: Lazarus Bethany

Heavenly Father there are so many false teachings and doctrines of demons that are flooding mainline churches today, and I pray that You would give me discernment and protection from all those, (whether knowingly or unknowingly) who are distorting the word of truth and the gospel of grace.

Give me wisdom and understanding as I read Your Word, so that I may be enabled to discern what is biblical truth and what is a distortion of that truth. Father Your Word tells us that in the last days there will come times of great difficulty, where love will wear thin and people will be become proud and arrogant, abusive and unholy – having an outward appearance of godliness but denying the truth of the gospel. Protect me I pray, and all those I love from being influenced by such evil distortions, and keep us under Your promised protection, by Your grace.

Protect our hearts and mind from all those who distort the truth, and keep us all covered in the love of God, and protected by the blood of Christ – as we wait for His any day return and Who alone is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy – in Jesus name we pray,


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Sin – Continually Reconquered

Jeremiah 34:17, “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.”

1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Continually Fought

In 1976, with border violence in epidemic proportions, the San Diego Police Department organized an undercover detail to counter it. Of Hispanic descent, the dressed as aliens and walked the desolate canyons at night. Acting as decoys, they hoped to attract attention from thugs who preyed on helpless aliens as they crossed into the United States. In eighteen months the squad made many arrests, shot suspects, and were shot in return.

To no one’s surprise, in the next six years border crime increased. So back to the border the police went, this time openly and in uniform, not in disguise or undercover stealth. Rather than walking the canyons as potential targets, they actively patrolled in vehicles as enforcement officials.

The battle against crime is never won. Neither is the spiritual war over our souls. There may be occasions when we fight and win – titanic battles that decide the war – but even those battles must be defended. We have to repeatedly win our victory over Satan. He never reaches a point of collapse, he always has the ability to regroup and strike again. Like the border criminals, he is always alert for opportunities to raid our lives, then fade away into the wilds of life. If we remember that spiritual victories are never final, we will not be surprised by Satan’s sudden attacks.

Courtesy of Speaker’s Sourcebook of New Illustrations by Virgil Hurley copyright © 1995 by Word, Incorporated. Used by permission.
*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Applicable Quotations

Sin and dandelions are a whole lot alike-they’re a lifetime fight that you never quite win. – White

It would be easier to find a man that had not done any one sin that to find a man who had done it only once. Sin multiplies. We must either overcome sin, or it will overcome us. – D.L. Moody

Our outward act is prompted from within, and from the sinner’s mind proceeds the sin. – Prior

My soul is like a mirror in which the glory of God is reflected, but sin, however insignificant, covers the mirror with smoke. – St. Theresa

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I John 2:16-17

1 John 2:16-17, “For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are the very things that Adam and Eve succumbed too at the very beginning of mankind’s history. John expressed it this way; the world, not the Father is the realm of sin and therefore the things of the world are related to darkness. The world order, the things that control mankind exclude God Almighty, Who IS Light!

Paul tells asks us in 2 Corinthians 6:14c, “And what communion has light with darkness?” This should be reason number one for not loving the world system. The second thing is what John is trying to warn us about: the lust of the flesh, or self-indulgence or the cravings that motivate and drive sinful man. Also, the lust of the eyes, or covetousness. So much that the world has to offer, comes to tempt us through our eyesight. In this age of advanced technology we are being bombarded with temptation from almost every aspect of life in this world! Then, the pride of life is the other thing. This is the temptation to glory in self, in aimless and empty ambition in the world itself. These are the very things that first tempted Eve and opened the door to doubting God. She saw the Tree of Knowledge was good for food, the lust of the flesh; it was most apparently pleasant to look at, the lust of the eyes; and third, it was desirable to make one wise, the pride of life! These things, this base nature does NOT come from our Heavenly Father, but through selfishness and self-centeredness (the opposite of Love) come from what the world is tempting to offer.

The third reason for not loving this world is simply that it is temporary! It is going to burn and be cleansed through fire. 2 Corinthians 4:18b, “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” How foolish to put so much emphasis on what is most certainly going to pass away in due time! Even Job, who lived at the time of the Patriarchs, realized “And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” – Job 1:21.

The Apostle James said this in his Epistle in James 4:4b, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

I read this somewhere and right now it slips my mind from where, but as best as I can remember, the statement goes like this: As the devil is opposed to Christ Jesus, and the flesh is hostile to the Spirit, so the world is antagonistic or at enmity with God, our Father! There is no good thing that comes from the world system! There is clearly no room for compromise, for either you love the world and the things in it or you love that which belongs to and is of God Almighty! Remember now, we are talking about what we choose to idolize in our lives when we talk about loving the world or loving God. This doesn’t mean we aren’t having to live in this world and we have to procure things to live, etc., but we are talking about putting those things that we truly love, first in our lives; is it the worldly things, or is it the things of the Spirit and of God?

Philippians 3:18-19, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things.” Paul couldn’t have stated it more bluntly! Christians are of God, from God, for God and in God through Christ Jesus! The rest of the world is under the control of wickedness and the enemy of mankind and God. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” – 1 John 5:19.

The Apostle Paul also stated this in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

Paul is saying that we walked according to what the world gave us, by the authority of the devil. We were as the walking dead and we didn’t even know it! As we previously stated, the world system relates to darkness, and is steeped in darkness, which in turn appertains to sin, which brings forth death! The power and ability to function in death is due to our slavery to the prince of the power of the air, none other than Satan, himself! Men of this world are accustomed to doing his bidding. Now before someone jumps up and shouts that we give the devil too much credit for the ills and woes of the world, I agree! The devil himself can’t be every where at once because he too is a created being. But when he fell due to arrogance and pride, he took a whole host of angels (approximately one-third – Revelation 12:4) with him in a fallen state!

Many of the ills of mankind are due to our own selfish and self-centered nature which is just opposite of a loving nature that our Heavenly Father intended. We are the “weapons” of our own demise as it were! So, we weren’t just slaves to the devil and his minions, but we were slaves to our own selfish, fallen nature! Our Father God, on the other hand, through His love for mankind, broke those chains of slavery that had us bound, and through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ we ARE free from that bondage! We have become bond slaves to Him with a yoke that is light and allows us liberty. He calls us and He equips us that we might remain free and thereby lead others to that same freedom and liberty!

When we do the will of God, as John stated in previous verses we abide in the light, we know God, we know His love and we abide in it and He and His love abides in us. This world WILL pass away and so will all of its temptations, lusts and corruptions. Consider this; if you were an investor and had the money to spend to increase your wealth, would you invest in something that you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt is broken? Of course you wouldn’t. Well, the world is that broken system and it’s failure is imminent. Do you invest in it, or do you invest your eternal life in what you KNOW is a sure thing!

Those that love this world will follow the things of this world, and those that Love God will abide with Him forever! Just as a closing point of historical and Bible trivia, concerning abiding in God, the late, great D. L. Moody, a greatly loved and respected Evangelist, has inscribed on his tombstone, “He that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”**

Next post we will begin with 1 John chapter 2 verse 16-17.

*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Faith Like A Mustard Seed

Luke 17:5-6, “And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

This may not be from a mustard seed, but you can certainly get the picture!

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Wake up sleeping Christians, it is a call to arms long past due! Visit Mario’s site for more encouragement and inspiration! HEED THE CALL!!

Mario Murillo Ministries

Future generations of Christians—if there be any—will be profoundly baffled by us.  They will ask why—why did we let trivial and foolish matters eat up so much time?  They will agonize over our shallowness.  They will cringe at our amusements.

But above all, they will be horrified that we played all these foolish games against the backdrop of madness and perversion.  In a time of raging wickedness—while we still had the chance—why didn’t we rise in the power of the Holy Spirit?  Why didn’t we deliver an effective challenge to the lies, addictions, and brainwashing of our time?

Not everyone can bear what I am about to say.  The fair-weather Christian and the make believer will shrink before the high calling I am about to describe.  But those who heed this call, and awaken to do their duty, deserve the love and thanks of every true child of God in…

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Repentance Removes Obstacles

Psalm 51
For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.

3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.

5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

*Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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When I Say That I’m A Christian

When I say that I’m a Christian
I’m not saying that I’m good
I’m telling you how bad I was
Until He shed His Blood.

When I say that I’m a Christian
I’m not boasting, I’m not proud
I now belong to Jesus
And I’m shouting it out loud.

When I say that I’m a Christian
It doesn’t mean I’m free of sin
But when He died upon the cross
My sins belonged to Him.

When I say that I’m a Christian
I may hold my head up high
But that’s because He gave me life
When I was doomed to die.

When I say that I’m a Christian
I’m not here to take a bow
I’m here to thank Lord Jesus
For the person I am now.

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