Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 23

My next few posts will try to give further confirmation that abundant life yields rescue and redemption. The abundant life that our Good Shepherd offers us is one filled with redeeming our moments of sin and shame and heartache. You know those moments—the ones that transform our years in ways we would never have wanted or imagined. And yet He transforms those terrible moments into rescued, restored, and redeemed moments.

The best way I can describe this concept of the abundance of rescue and redemption is to give you small snapshots into the ways we have experienced it ourselves. I have been rescued–from sin, from fear, from status quo. This ongoing process is not always fun, but it always produces a great amount of awe in the One who loves me enough to redeem me.

And my family’s response to His act of rescue on our behalf is to ask Him how we could be used in His plan of rescue for others. Sometimes it is small—a kind word, an encouraging text message, a prayer. Sometimes it is bigger. No matter big or small, when we open ourselves to be used in the rescue of others, we are overwhelmingly and abundantly blessed ourselves.

As many of you know, we adopted two kids from China, both perfect in our sight, but both diagnosed with special needs. Both had meningocel, which is an issue with the spinal cord. Sally had her surgery two weeks after we got her, and she has no problems. Charlie had his surgery in China, we think right after he was born. He had problems.

We were told from the beginning that they did not think he would be able to walk. Three different times the adoption agency called us back to see if we “really” wanted him, as they did not believe he would walk. Wouldn’t we rather have a child who had a better chance of being less complicated and more healthy?

Well, as most parents would answer—of course I would rather have that. Remember what my stronghold had been in the past? Fear, especially concerning my children. But God had made it abundantly clear that he was our son.

I don’t know how to explain that which I didn’t really understand myself—why a family would choose to take on child with medical needs, not to mention inevitable unique emotional needs. I still can’t explain the process of accepting and choosing to take on such an unknown except to say that God had made Himself abundantly clear to us. He loves the orphan. He wants the orphans of the world in families. He is the perfect Father and His God-Father heart breaks when he sees children suffering alone. And the closer our hearts moved toward His heart, the more we needed to respond. We believed that God would give us grace and mercy for whatever He called us to do. We walked in that grace each and every day through the work and the waiting, and we would continue to do each day as we loved our adopted children, as well as our birth children, into being all that God had created them to be.

In the end, God showed up in a huge way. He turned our unbelief into belief, our fear into faith; and miraculously, through divine healing, He turned our crippled boy into a happy, joyful son who laughs, and runs, and plays, and hops, and jumps. We have the privilege of a front row seat to see our Charlie walking and leaping and praising God because Jesus Christ of Nazareth said, “Rise up and walk!”

As we were used in God’s rescue of these two amazing children, God rescued us from so much. Self-centeredness, unbelief, and self-reliance were just a few of the ways we have experienced on-going rescue since we started our adoption journeys.   Through these experiences we have found an added measure of abundant life. I am praying that your own life experiences will highlight God’s divine rescue and that you in turn will be willing to be used in the rescue of others.



Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 22

Recently, my son asked me if I had had any childhood pets.

“Oh, yes,” I replied, suddenly wondering how such an important part of my childhood had never been relayed to my son. I can’t say I am a huge animal person, though some of my favorite people are. But though we had several pets growing up, my favorite was a dog we named Gussy.

Gussy was a rescued dog from the shelter. I have never asked my dad why he picked Gussy out of all the others, but I am sure there were other dogs that were seemingly better equipped to be a family pet. You see, Gussy had been badly abused by a previous owner.

I remember clearly the day I first saw Gussy. She was on a leash so she wouldn’t run away, but that wasn’t much of a problem. She was too scared to run away. She could hardly walk due to her constant trembling. We had to spend quite a bit of time slowly approaching her, letting her know we wouldn’t hurt her. In time, she quit trembling around our family. But whenever another person or another dog came onto our property, she started violently shaking all over again.

So we kept loving her, kept feeding her, kept trying to make her feel safe. More time passed and one day we looked up and realized Gussy was no longer afraid. She didn’t shake or tremble or whimper. She was the epitome of the perfect dog companion, loyal and loving.

Even in my young mind, I understood what had happened. Gussy had been rescued. And though she still acted “un-rescued” for a time after she had been rescued, eventually love and care won the battle. Eventually, she began to trust the place she had in our family, and in our hearts. For many years, the first picture in my brother’s wallet was a picture of Gussy. (Not kidding!) We had seen first hand the beautiful process of rescue and redemption, and had understood the power of love.

When we realize abundant life yields rescue and redemption for us, then we have the courage and the authority to yield rescue and redemption for others sake.

First, we must remember that we have been rescued. Jesus left His heavenly throne to come down to earth and rescue us from sin, death, and despair.  Praise Him for HIs great rescue!

Secondly, we must ask the Lord how He wants to use us in His plan to rescue others. And in God’s precious way, if we are willing to be used as an instrument of rescue, He will continue His process of rescuing us. In time, we will find that we are the blessed ones.

Who are you called to rescue? Ask the Lord how He wants to use you, and don’t forget to thank Him for His divine rescue in your life.

Praying for you!



Psalm 18: 1-6, 16-19

I love you, Lord, my strength.


The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold.


I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I have been saved from my enemies.


The cords of death entangled me;

the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.


The cords of the grave coiled around me;

the snares of death confronted me.


In my distress I called to the Lord;

I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice;

my cry came before him, into his ears.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.


He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

from my foes, who were too strong for me.


They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

but the Lord was my support.


He brought me out into a spacious place;

he rescued me because he delighted in me.


Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 21

Our focus for this study from John 10, specifically verse 10.

 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

                                                                                   John 10:10

Read the verse again. Not just the end of the verse but the beginning.

You must know that the thief, Satan, is not a gentleman. He does not play fairly by any rules of war. He is a terrorist of your soul. He wants to kill joy, steal peace, and destroy relationships.

But there is hope. Jesus came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. Jesus came to redeem and reclaim any territory in your life, heart, and soul that Satan has stolen. We need to know the power we have through the Holy Spirit and through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Let’s not focus on the enemy, let’s focus on our Victor. What does He tell us?

He tells us we have authority over the enemy.

Luke 10:19–I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

1 John 4:4–You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

He tells us the weapons Satan uses against us will not prosper if we tap into His power.

Isaiah 54:17–“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;

And every tongue that [a]accuses you in judgment you will condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.

When my kids attended Carver Elementary School, there was an old, feeble crossing guard who seemed barely able to hold up the stop sign. And yet, each time he did, a long line of cars—much stronger than he was—obediently stopped. Why? It wasn’t because he was bigger and stronger than the line of cars, but because he had authority.

That is what God gives us—Authority. Sadly, many Christians don’t realize this. They walk around as the defeated ones, when in reality God has given them every tool necessary to walk out into every troubled situation and hold up that sign of authority. And Satan must obey, for we call on the name of Jesus for our authority.

At the name of Jesus, every knee shall one day bow.

At the name of Jesus, people are healed and become whole.

At the name of Jesus, storms are calmed, winds die down.

Today, be confident in the authority that you have been given as a child of the One, true, living God—the King of Kings and the Lord of lords.

Praying for you today!


Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 20

In recent days we have learned that abundant life yields forgiveness– Forgiveness for us and forgiveness through us. What else does abundant life yield to us? Others that immediately come to mind are rescue and redemption.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. He came to rescue us. So, abundant life yields rescue. Abundant life yields rescue to us, and in turn empowers us to participate in God’s rescue of others.

The way we are rescued is through deliverance. First of all, we are delivered from sin and death through salvation offered to us when we become followers of Jesus. And after our initial deliverance, God often graciously reveals along the way other areas in which we are in bondage. Those in bondage, even saved believers who have opened the door for Satan to trap them in certain areas, will not experience the abundant life Jesus is offering them unless they receive the rescue He is extending to them.

Many Christians have certain areas from which they need deliverance. Mine was fear, especially concerning my children. I used to be bound up in fear, even many years after I had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. But he delivered me from it, when I finally acknowledged it was an area in which I needed His deliverance.

 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

                                                                                   John 10:10

Our focus verse tells us that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy us. So very opposite of why our Good Shepherd comes. What we as believers need to know is…Satan is a defeated foe. His time is short; God’s time (and ours when we believe on Him) is eternal. Our struggles are merely a blip on the screen in comparison to eternity. Even still, God has not merely told us to be patient, “this too will pass”; He has told us to trust Him and He will make us more than conquerors.

Romans 8: 31-39

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.

Today, my friends, know that you are more than conquerors. With this truth, live freely and abundantly. Praying for you today!


Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 19

Abundant life yields forgiveness. It not only offers us forgiveness, but it also allows us to relinquish the right or possession of un-forgiveness.   If we don’t forgive others, we will not experience abundant life, the inheritance of the children of God.

Today’s post is a bit of a review. This concept of forgiveness is such a big deal, I feel we must pause just a moment in our study and ask ourselves a hard question, and walk through an uncomfortable process.

  • Who do I need to forgive? Ask the Lord to reveal to you even the tiniest bit of bitterness. Friends, it is not worth it to deny it nor hang on to it any longer.
  • Stop right now and ask Jesus to be forgiveness in you. Move over and let Him do His good, miraculous work in your heart. Big deal or small deal, resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It will eat you alive. It is not worth it. Let Jesus deliver you of the sin of unforgiveness. Confess this as sin and repent of it today.
  • Stop right now and pray for that person you need to forgive. You can’t hate someone you pray for.
  • Stop right now and ask God to give you eyes to see that person in the way that He sees him or her, and ask God to give you a heart to love them the way He loves them.
  • You may need to rehash all the reasons you have unforgiveness. That is okay. Rehash it with Jesus. He knows it all anyway. If you need to, write down every offense that you can think of, big or small. After you write it all down, go through your list one by one. Pray, “Lord, I forgive _____ for _____.” When you have gone through the whole list, it is time for something a bit dramatic, yet symbolic. Take it to the trash can. Don’t just throw it away, demolish it. Burn it or rip it to shreds. Let this be a moment in time that you can look back on and remember that you chose to forgive. You can’t take back a charred shredded mess, and this is symbolic that you refuse to take back your unforgiveness and bitterness.

This is hard stuff, my friends. Maybe this didn’t apply to you at this season of your life. Rejoice if that is the case. But the truth is, every one of us will have times in our lives that we have to forgive. Keep short accounts with God and short accounts with those around you. Forgive quickly and ever guard your spirit from unforgiveness. It can subtly and quickly grow into a bitter root which can rob you of abundant life.

A final note. Maybe you are who you need to forgive. The process is the same. Choose to forgive yourself. You cannot change the past. But you can change today. If you have confessed your sin, God has forgiven you and taken your sin away as far as the east is from the west. It should not define you, nor haunt you any longer. God is not holding it against you, nor should you hold it against yourself. Be free today, my friends. Praying for you!



            Psalm 103

Praise the Lord, my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.


Praise the Lord, my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—


who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,


who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,


who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.


The Lord works righteousness

and justice for all the oppressed.


He made known his ways to Moses,

his deeds to the people of Israel:


The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.


He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbor his anger forever;


he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.


For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;


as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.


As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;


for he knows how we are formed,

he remembers that we are dust.


The life of mortals is like grass,

they flourish like a flower of the field;


the wind blows over it and it is gone,

and its place remembers it no more.


But from everlasting to everlasting

the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

and his righteousness with their children’s children—


with those who keep his covenant

and remember to obey his precepts.


The Lord has established his throne in heaven,

and his kingdom rules over all.


Praise the Lord, you his angels,

you mighty ones who do his bidding,

who obey his word.


Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,

you his servants who do his will.


Praise the Lord, all his works

everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.