Category Archives: Life Inspiration

He’s Still the Lion

Proverbs 19:12

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

This is the third day of journaling in the Holiday Inn Hotel dining room. Just as I’ve done in many, many places across my travels. Used to be my open bible was always an introduction to conversation with passer by’s. If for no other reason curiosity. But no more. Perhaps it’s our sense of privacy, but I don’t think so.

I don’t think the people around me fear the wrath of God or desire His blessing. But rather are believing in their own power, humblerise.com. Enjoying their own world. But whether or not they believe…

He’s still the Lion

Revelation 5:5

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

I’m not saying they’re not saved or that they’re not good people. I’m not judging. Just observing. No one bowed their heads to bless their food or took note that I studied the Word of God. They just went merrily on their way, enjoying their breakfast. But whether or not they took notice…

He’s still the Lion

I won’t judge. But Jesus will. He’s coming again. And this time He will not be meek as a Lamb; no, this time they’ll know and understand that He is the Messiah. They will know

He’s still the Lion

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the dew that falling on me this morning.

We Need to Take Care of Our Land

The Land of Less

It’s so easy to forget that we need to glorify God when things are going well. But let the well run dry for a while; and then be refilled, and suddenly praising God comes easy! When heartaches come it feels like we’re walking through a desert land. Creating a thirst for what once was and what we hope will be again. The land of less is relative to the life you live; for some it’s the land of nothing. A fact I often forget. What I deem as less would be a life of luxury for some in other parts of the world. True story…

We live in the land of the Blessed

When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh because my soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lustest after. ~ Deuteronomy 12:20

Our great and Almighty God enlarges our territory, he expands not only our physical places but our reach. He makes promises that we can hang onto believing it to already be true. But we have to be in a position and a mindset to receive them.

For me I struggle between frustration and guilt so often that I miss the places I’m already blessed. I fully believe that I’m not further along in my life’s work because I’ve failed to appreciate the place I’m in. God expects more from His people than I give Him. I know I’m chosen. I know I should be living like it, but I don’t always do it.

The Land of the Stressed, Depressed and sometimes Oppressed

Sound like America? It does to me. Are we not a Nation that appears to be one step from needing hospitalization? And I’m not speaking of physically. The behavior of our people is crazy. Even the blessed are stressed and depressed, and the oppressed are likely in better condition than the blessed; because they at least know on Whom they can depend.

Even those of us who are spiritually grounded can relate.

Times of separation from what we desire in our life leaves a thirst that only God can fill.

Satan however uses stress to separate us from peace. God is peace.

Satan uses depression to separate us from joy. God is joy.

Satan uses oppression to separate us from the feeling of belonging. God is ours and we are His. Glorrrraaaay!!!!

Psalm 63 1 ~ O God, thou art my God; early will I see thee: my soul thristeth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.

That is why

I know the Land of Refreshed

There is a built in desire of the people of God to be in fellowship with likeminded souls.

Psalm 84:2 ~ My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the Living God.

It refreshes my soul to be in the right congregation with the right people. That place is for you to decide, but this is a criteria you should consider.

  • First and foremost the Word of God must be your primary focus. A church that fails to stand on the word of God is nothing more than an organization of members. It is not the body of Christ. He has to be center.
  • The people should be encouragers, not discouragers. You should feel loved!
  • The people (especially leadership) should exhort, not distort. The truth of the Word refresh your soul and you should feel filled!
  • There should be affirmation not condemnation from the people.  You should feel as though you are a part of that body in Christ and that they too desire to be with you. You should feel accepted, not judged.

I’ve been in enough congregations to know that this is not always the case. It doesn’t mean they don’t have good people or they’re not doctrinally sound. It means that perhaps they need to examine their church the way we have to examine our lives. If we are not what God desires us to be, we know it and it causes us to thirst for what we need. We need to take care of our land. Personally, Physically. Spiritually.

Christ didn’t Focus on the Pretty People

When I finished this drawing (an idea that I totally stole from a Pinterest post) I didn’t like the way the words “gentle and quiet” ended up turning out. They were bold, and jagged and totally not gentle and quiet. And then I thought about me… and how I struggle with the concept of being gentle and quiet. I’m more apt to be loud and obnoxious. And so I left them as they are. For the struggle is very real.

I want to be that gentle and quiet spirit that sits posed in her pretty pink dress and matching jewelry but I’m much more comfortable in a pair of jeans or leggins and a sloppy tee. That’s me. I love the pretty stuff but I much prefer to be in comfort. In apparel and in life. As for the spirit of me, I wish she would sit quietly too, but she rises up like my Chihuahua Izadora and my Jackjuajau (half Jack Russel and half Chihuahua) Versace. Which is why I love them so. They get excited! And they need to be heard. So do I! and I don’t care if people don’t want to listen or particularly agree with what I say.

If you want to be something else or believe something else that’s fine. I don’t mind. But please don’t ask me to be something I’m not.

So spiritually speaking, what do I do with the verses in 1 Peter 3:3-4

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

As I understand it, Peter speaks to pride and vanity, a character trait that can also be found in the religious of this world. Now, before some religious naysayers write to me and tells me that I’m in the flesh (which probably won’t happen because they don’t read my stuff) , I need to speak to how I got here.

Matthew 23:27 ~ Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

There is no difference between the “whited sepulchres” and a shallow grave; they both house the dead. One is no more or less loved because of the investment someone made in it and what it looked like outwardly. It’s what you can afford. The substance of the matter comes from whether or not that soul was placed in the hands of Jesus before it was placed in the ground. It’s a matter of the heart.

I have no doubt that I have hypocrite tendencies. I get in the flesh on a pretty regular basis. Just today actually. But not when it comes to who I am in Christ. He knows me and accepts me for who I am. Do you realize you can’t be a hypocrite with Christ? He knows you inside and out. He desires and encourages me to be better, just as a good friend would. Knowing that living better means living with less guilt.

There’s a reason that the sinners felt at home with Christ and the religious didn’t. Because Christ wasn’t focusing on the pretty people. He was friends with the imperfect, the loud and obnoxious, as well as the gentle and quiet.

Give Everything to God – Early, Fully, Only

Just in case you haven’t figured out where I’m at in Bible reading, I’ve been in the book of Proverbs the last few days. And it’s good timing. I’m in need of wisdom. I’m trying very hard to stay spiritually focused on a matter of the heart, but there’s been an issue with my heart far longer than the issue that caused the heart attack.

Proverbs Proverbs 4:23 says Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

As I’ve told you before. I have issues. Lots of them! But that’s not the verse that caused me to ponder this morning and examine my issues. It was Proverbs 8:17 ~

SEEK ME EARLY

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

I do love the Lord, and I realize that in seeking His will through His word, it’s always best to try and discover His plan before you jump off the cliff, or open  your mouth, or volunteer, again. Or possibly choke the life out of someone. That’s why I don’t necessarily think that the word “early” always refers to the time of day. Perhaps it means “before disaster.”

The old adage “The early bird gets the worm,” is only good if you’re the bird. The worm really gets the short end of the stick. Perhaps if he’d prayed about direction before he came up out of the earth, he’d be having a picnic with friends today. But what I got more than anything out of this verse today is that God loves devoted children. He knows we don’t have all the answers. And where Siri falls short on answers, God never does!

SEEK ME FULLY

Jeremiah 29:13 ~ And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Far, far too often I not only fall short but I stop short of where God needs me to be. I search for His wisdom until I grow weary, or something shiny takes me away and then I lose the train of thought that brought me to His station. The process of finding the answer isn’t always as easy as just opening up the book. That’s where we start, but there’s prayer and conversations with God. In order to fully understand what it is that God wants us to understand He wants His children to be serious about it.

I have issues there too. I want answers but more often than not I want the Readers Digest condensed version with the answer key in the back.

True story.

SEEK ME ONLY

Deuteronomy 4:28-30 

28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;

Seeking the wisdom of men and using the ways of the world for guidance always fails in comparison to what can be obtained by speaking to the Savior. We forget that. It’s so easy to desire a conversation with people we can touch, or look at the examples of people who have succeeded in our area of need. And although there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, God is an exclusive God. He won’t be added to a list of possible solutions. He is the solution.

I had to remind myself of that today. I can’t fix stupid. Some things and some people are beyond my control. But what is within my control is my reaction to the world around me.

  • If someone is in need… seek God’s provision, perhaps you have it.
  • If someone’s in pain… seek God’s comfort, perhaps your words can bring it.
  • If someone’s in harms way… seek God’s protection, perhaps your request will summon the powers of Heaven.
  • If someone’s in need of answers… seek God’s wisdom, perhaps you’re the vessel.

The reality of it is, you may or may not be the means God uses to fix a situation. But He wants to hear from you. The problem may be your own,  He wants to hear from you. He is the Lord thy God.  100% yours. And 100% mine. He hears every word we speak (or think). Give everything to Him, early, fully, only. Thy God.

Mind Your own Business

You can color me guilty. I most always have an opinion. But I thank God for the Holy Spirit that indwells within me and jerks a knot in my knickers when I begin to focus on the life or lifestyle of another person. When I begin to think that I need to do a running commentary. It’s usually just inside my head. It’s sometimes to those close to me. It’s seldom ever, if ever to the person for which I’m forming an opinion. I’m not that brazen, or stupid.

But it’s become quite obvious to me lately that not everyone has the ability to know when to keep their mouth shut. And no, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. Just many, many, many people in general. It’s an epidemic! And because of social media, the world has a stage.

If you go to “The Jesus Chick” page or my own personal page for “Shari Hardway Johnson”, as well as my twitter feed and Instagram, you’ll note that it’s positive commentary and images. That’s not a holier than thou statement, it’s just truth. I don’t want to be in anyone’s drama, or a discouragement. So my posts are positive. I made that choice, and I’m pretty sure God agrees with me.

Proverbs 5:15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

I read that this morning and thought, “there it is. What I’d like to tell every nosy, ne’er do well in the world. Mind your own business!”

Who makes these people judge and jury of the lives of someone else and what skeletons would come crawling out of their closet if the door was open?

Although it is far worse in the political arena, or at least it far more outspoken, it’s just as bad in the church. And I speak collectively, not of any in particular.

I think of an incident many, many years ago in my own church where a young woman with several children had the audacity to come to church without a slip under her dress. Oh my stars! And as she exited the ladies room a ne’er do well woman said to me, “can you believe she forgot her slip.” To which I responded, “With all those kids, I just praise God she gets here on Sunday morning.”

Where on earth was this woman’s mind? And why did she think she had the right to tear down a young mother trying to do the right thing?

Now, that may seem trivial. But a comment like that is what will discourage someone, who’s struggling anyway, to decide to leave the church. And that could be devastating to a family and Hell bound someone because of it.

The longer I travel this road with Jesus, the more I realize the focus of the church is so off kilter.

I personally love pretty clothes. And God has gifted me with several. But I don’t love them because I think they’re holy, I just love girly stuff. God made me that way. I also have a personal conviction that when I go into a church I dress in their common attire. If they’re casual, so am I. If they’re fancy, I try to be a fancy Nancy too and I enjoy it. But I don’t look at anyone who’s not in the common attire and think about their heart toward Christ. Clothes do not make the man. The Spirit of God does. And I’ve known people who looked like ragamuffins that I was in awe with the depth of their relationship with God.

I’ll not tell you that I am above judging. It’s human nature. Or that I don’t have other issues in life. But it’s something that makes me so nauseous because I’ve seen the damage it’s done, especially in the circles I travel of the Independent Baptist realm. Trust me, they’re not all the same. That’s why we’re “independent.” I’d probably be kicked out of some.

My faith is not in the denomination. It’s in God. But I agree with the doctrine of my church and so I’m there and I love my people. Mainly because the vast majority are not judgers. They love all people. Even if their knees are showing. Insert smile here. Even if they’re a girl who wears britches. Or a fella that’s a t-shirt, blue jean, work boot kind of guy. We love them.

So does Jesus. And this morning I think I’m delivering His message when I say. Mind your own business.

Insert smile here.

The Struggle with Social Media

I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Psalm 119:113-114

The Struggle with Vanity

By human nature we are a selfish lot, are we not? I tuned into social media this morning and the heartaches of other people overwhelmed my soul. I felt helpless.

I can’t rebuild a life that was lost in a fire.

I can’t undo the bad decision of a young man that didn’t feel there was any other way than death.

I can’t control the fierceness of nature or the devastation it can leave in its path.

I can’t un-break a heart or protect people from destruction.

It’s life. And in this day and age it’s being lived out in a very, very public way that affects so many people with the stroke of a keyboard. Social media can be a blessing or a scourge. I have a love/hate relationship with it, as I’m sure most people do. But like it or not, despise it or not, it’s here to stay. But you and I need to be careful about the vanity of it all. If we are in the mindset of Christ… as we should be. We should shield ourselves from ourselves.

One of my many, many faults is counting. Now I know it got David in serious trouble in 2nd Samuel 24. So I try not to; but remember the struggle I spoke of. It really is a struggle on social media. How many people likes my post… how many people viewed my video… how many people liked a post, or loved a post. And who were they? Oh. I’m vain. For me it’s validation as to whether or not I was a success.

That a load of lies from Satan. But I buy it like a good flea market find.

Our lives will never be defined in eternity by how many people seen our posts. But it will be defined by what that post did for the cause of the Kingdom.

The Shield of Victory

For all my vain thoughts, and they are many; God put a heart of compassion within me. It’s what drives me to share the hope of Jesus Christ that I find in His word. It’s what creates images like the umbrella in my mind when I think of how many times the Lord has shielded me from the sun and rain. The good times and the bad times that would have had a negative result in my life.

It’s not only the bad times in our lives that cause damage. The good in life can bring more vanity, more self-reliance that can destroy the good things that God wants for us.

How many people do we know with great wealth and health that have no relationship with God? Or how many do we know that have “seemingly” never struggled as we have and are so ungrateful.

Some of the worst things in my life, I am certain, have protected me from forgetting where my hope lies.

I’m so thankful that we have God’s word! It is as if I’m sitting here in my office this morning with God, and I hear Him say… “That’s my girl. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Keep serving. And by the way, stop counting.”

Enjoy That You Are Wiser

Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?

Job 39:13 was one of the many questions the Lord had for Job when it came to helping him to understand that regardless of what the world thought, God’s creation, design and planning was His and His alone. He didn’t need Job’s help in the beginning and He didn’t need it now.

As I read and thought about the magnificence of the peacock this morning and I surveyed my marker and colored pencil collection I was in awe once again at how very much thought God put into the earth and all that’s around us.  And as I considered Job’s “friends” and the arrogance of the fourth and final man, Elihu; who in his youth thought he could “teach Job a thing or two,” it brought to mind the arrogance of today’s modern and liberal thinking lot who think they too can tell God’s people a thing or two.

I want to ask them. Where were you when God gave the feathers to a peacock?

How can a person of any intelligence whatsoever look at creation and not see God? How can you look at the fabric of men inside and out and not see how God’s hand created them. An explosion? Give me a break. How does an explosion create love and how does it speak to the soul the way the Holy Spirit does.

The problem is, they don’t know God and they have no desire to. Because it would take them out of control. Which is so funny, because they’re not in control!

So this brief yet very deep and pondering thought is what I’ll leave you and I both with today. We will no more understand what God’s doing behind the scenes in our lives than we’ll understand how He put those “goodly wings” on the peacock.

But we can be rest assured of one thing. It will be beautiful. And the world will still be filled with idiots who think they know more than God.

Pray for them. And enjoy the fact that you are wiser.

I’ve Been Taken to the Woodshed

It’s true. As I wrote the outline for this blog, I arrogantly thought, “Oooo that’s good, I didn’t deserve that.”

And then I heard in my soul… “No. You didn’t.”

And I knew in my heart that this was going to be a teachable moment between me and the Lord. As a “Father and child. Go to your room and I’ll be in later.” Kind of moment.

And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is  wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. ~ Job 28:28

A Healthy Respect

I’d lost it. The (fear). I’d grown selfish in my walk with Christ as I grew weary from responsibilities. And not overwhelming responsibilities, just your ordinary, everyday life kind of duties. I’d finish doing what had to be done and I’d think, “I deserve a break.” And that break would consist of mindless television (Netflix) or a game on my phone rather than going to the word of God or simply having a conversation with Him.

This morning I came to my desk knowing what was on my heart and before me was a bluegrass song I’d been working on the chords for, and lo and behold I got out the guitar and figured them out. Knowing that the Bible was laying there beside me and the Lord wanted to talk.

So… when I finally decided that I could spare a few moments for Him, the conversation turned very serious. I had been disrespecting the Savior.

I don’t believe that God wants me to set with the Bible every second of the day, He knows that life happens and that I need to be with people, else, how will they see Jesus. But there comes a time that He and I should be conversing along the way.

When He speaks, regardless of what’s going on around me, I should pause to listen. Unfortunately the world was too loud in my ear because I had opened that door.

A Hallowed Reverence

Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Note that Hallowed is capitalized. It’s a part of God’s name, meaning Holy. Separate (depart) from the world.

There comes a time when God expects us to shut the door to the world and be separate from those things that draw our minds away from Him. Things that when we see them we know in our heart of hearts, this isn’t good for me. This takes my mind to places it should not be.

For example. Netflix.

I’m not talking R rated movies but just the average sitcom is filled with content not fit for the mind of a child of God.

I love to laugh. It allows me to forget about the cares of the world and escape reality for just a bit. But that bit can turn into hours on Netflix because it literally doesn’t stop. And I get wrapped up in it and ignore the calling of God. I forget that God said, Be ye holy; for I am Holy. ~ 1 Peter 1:16

To be holy is to separate ourselves from everything worldly. Including the mindset that “I deserve this.”

I don’t deserve anything more than God. That’s a hallowed reverence.

A Heavy Reliance

A reliance is a belief and dependence (understanding) on the Lord Jesus Christ for every breath of life. After all, He holds it all in His hand, does He not?

THAT IS WISDOM

Job was so much wiser than his friends who looked at life from a very human perspective. As if they could see inside the mind of Job and know who he was in the secret hours of the days and nights before that dreadful day when he lost it all.

To them, it was surely because of sin. But it was not. It was because God knew the inward strength and character of Job.

We’re not God to know the hearts of other men and women. It’s our own hearts that we have to be concerned about. I’m not Job. I doubt my character would stand the testing and trials he experienced. I don’t want to know if it would. I can’t even resist Netflix. How on earth would I submit to the level of testing that Job did?

This morning God needed me to understand that I was not submitting to Him as I should be. Not even close. I want Him to fix all of my life’s woes: take care of my family, fix my finances and make me healthy, wealthy and wise. And yet when He call on me, I turned a deaf ear.

Without fear.

Without reverence.

Without understanding.

Forgetting that He gave His all, so that I could have life and have it abundantly.

Father forgive me.

Draw me close Lord, This I pray,

Forgive this wicked soul that strays.

Remind me with each breath I take

That I am yours, I’m no mistake.

There is purpose in my soul

But I must give you full control.

Shari

Get Me a Water Gun! Satan’s out of control

A note I scribbled on a scrap piece of paper in my office said “More of an attack on my heart than the actual heart attack, has been the spiritual attack on me.” In recent months it’s been very, very real. The final icing on that well decorated cake was a hacker tearing down my web site on Tuesday. Years of labor disappeared into the oblivion of cyber space and I was a mess. I don’t understand the mentality of people who live to do something like that, but I understand their source of evil. Satan and his minions I’m sure had a huge laugh at my expense.

I don’t have a web designer or personal tech support. Everything I do is on my own through programs designed to make it easy, mainly by paying for godaddy.com hosting. I know just enough to be dangerous to my health when something like this happens. Three days, and a $120 poorer my site is back up but I am drained emotionally and physically.

It’s not been just the website issues. My overall health has been on the decline since the knee injury, another of those fiery darts meant to bring me down. Okay, I’m done whining, now onto lifting you and I up together!

Get me a Water Gun!

For the record, Satan only has the control that God allows him to have. An idiot tearing my website down did not catch God off guard. Satan never has one over on God. It’s why God has me in the book of Job right now. If He can bring Job through the heartache he went through, He as me covered too. I have no doubt.

There is Wisdom in the Water

I love Job’s response to his friends in Job 12:15

Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth. With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.

Water is one of those biblical words that has great spiritual meaning and depth. Just in saying that God is the Water of the Word is like drinking a cool glass of water on a hot day. It soothes the soul, just like it does the body. How wonderful to understand that it is God who control such an amazing substance. The substance that will put out the fire of Hell that try to heat up the life of a child of God.

Satan will never see us in Hell, but he can try to make our lives Hell here on earth. He and his minions can tear down websites, families and even bodies, but they cannot have the Spirit of man. God control them all. Glory to God, I just wrote myself happy again! I love when that happens. I hope you read yourself happy too!

The Water Gun is loaded. And the fire is about to go out!

There is Life in the Water

Job 26:5-7

Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Verse number 7 is one of my all-time favorite verses. But the words of Job leading into it cause me to ponder greatly. And then from the depths of my soul I heard this response.

“Water creates life, and fire causes death. God is water, Satan is fire. Nothing is concealed from God, even those who believe their destruction is hidden in the world wide web. God knows them. Personally. And they should fear. If he can hang this ball of dirt in the midst of space and keep it there, one web hacker is nothing.”

My knee pain is not too hard for God to fix or to work through it. My heart is fixable. Both the physical and the spiritual. God is in charge.

There is No Water without God

Job 38:34

Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

God’s response to Job was a reminder to us all that we better understand Who it is that’s in charge of every aspect of our life. The good, the bad and the ugly is under God’s thumb.

I found a warped humor in verse 3 of Chapter 38, because I think I too have had this conversation with God.

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

It almost felt like I heard God say, “Put on your big girl pants and answer me Shari, who did you think was in control?

In my ignorance I gave credence to the destructor of my website and forgot who had destroyed this body by not taking care of the temple. We have the power of destruction, but through God we can have the power of life. But only through Him.

We can pray for rain, but the final decision is His.

God asks Job in chapter 41, verse 1:

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

Leviathan was a sea creature, whale and even Satan is referred to it in the scriptures.  Something larger than life. We cannot control it on our own. It would literally be like fishing for a whale with a Walmart rod. How long would that last before we too were destroyed by the beast?

Satan and his minions are not to be taken lightly. They certainly have destruction powers. But not when God intervenes. The question is have we given God full control to hand the situation before us. Or are we still trying to catch a whale with a $2.00 hook? or shoot Satan with a water gun.

The BRANCH


“The BRANCH” is a Bible Lesson that I composed for the teens at Victory Baptist Church. There are questions within the lesson that, although it was written for teens, I consider them young adults and treat them as such. Feel free to read and enjoy or use it for your ministry if you so desire.

Spring branches are a visible reminder of the new life we celebrated on Easter Sunday. The same God that the Jews longed to meet in the Old Testament, but refused to submit to in the New Testament was the BRANCH. Listed in scripture in all capital letters, which for me is like God shouting His name! It makes me want to know more about why it was listed that way, and what information God wants me to know.

Zechariah 6:12

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

The BRANCH is what caught my attention, but the context of the scripture begins in verse 9:

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

Joshua. A name we’re very familiar with, and a named that is translated from Hebrew Joshua to the English, Jesus. Joshua is also the common alternative form of Yeshua.

So Zechariah is being told by God to tell Joshua the Priest that he is a figure of the one to come. Jesus, the Messiah, now being referred to as “The BRANCH.” And just like the branches of this season come to life, The BRANCH was going to be born (come to life) in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth. And just like the spring branches that we have in view now, Jesus was going to spring forth, full of life and glory for God.

There are two roles of Christ that we’re going to talk about by unpacking the scripture references in Zechariah and those two roles are Priest and King.

We too are referred to as priests and kings in Revelation 1:5-6

Revelation 1:5-6

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So how does it make you feel to know you are considered a priest or king?

Is that a position you’re comfortable with now, or is it something that you think you’re going to grow into? At what age, or state of mind do you suppose you’ll arrive there?

Jesus grew up just like kids of today. He may not have had an iPhone, but He had family, friends, siblings, and all the common things of that day, and things that we’re used to having as a family unit.

When you think of growing up in biblical times, what do you think the cultural differences and likenesses of that day were in comparison to ours?

What would teens have done for fun?

What would church services have been like for teens?

The scripture says that Jesus was going to grow up out of that place, the place called Nazareth. That was His place. Nazareth or Netzer, means “The branch from a multitude of plants that grew there.” Another branch in our story

Our place is where we live now. Far from a kingdom view. But so was Nazareth during that day. It was said to be an “insignificant village.” Even the religious of the day said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Have you ever had that feeling about our small town?

While Nazareth wasn’t a big city of that day, it’s now the largest Arab city in the country of Israel. And clearly something Amazing did come from the Nazareth. So why can’t God do something amazing here?

Pastor John Powell of Wadsworth, Ohio was born and raised in Calhoun County, West Virginia. But like many of his era who were born in the 30’s, he left our area to find work. But before that he had a back story. He had a Nazareth village.

When he was just a few months old he got pneumonia and his mother had no money to buy medicine, so she went to her father to borrow it. But instead she had to give John to him at the age of 5 in exchange for the medicine. He was used for child labor and treated very poorly. But even in that state he rose above others as an athlete and in popularity. God called him into the ministry while in Akron, Ohio and it was there that he graduated Bible College and became a man of great means through investments. But the most important thing to know about John Powell was that he reached thousands for Christ and was known for his generosity and kindness all over the world.

The man from Calhoun County.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth and didn’t travel very far in the lifetime of His ministry. One study said about 90-120 miles. In this day and age, that’s not many. But we have to consider His travels were by foot. But look at the impact He made in those 100 miles.

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled, and where do you desire to go?

Jesus’ time on earth was spent preaching the Kingdom, and building a temple not made of hands. What temple has Jesus built?

When Jesus prophesied of His resurrection He said in three days I’ll rebuild the temple, which made the religious of the day angry because they thought He spoke of a building. Which was not so.

We too are considered a temple, how?

There are three ways to build the temple we’re in charge of building

  1. We listen (preaching and teaching)
  2. We learn – (Study to show ourselves approved)
  3. We live (Sharing the word of God)

That is how we build the temple, ours and the body of Christ.

It’s the same thing that Christ did as a young person. When Christ disappeared from His parents and was found three days later it says in Luke 2:46

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions.

That’s how we grow in the Lord, we ask questions. If we want to grow and feel worthy of our royal positions of priests and kings, we need to do what Jesus did.

If a child never ate physically they would die. They’d also die of boredom if they ate the same thing over and over again. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

Eat. Work! Because as we grow we also need to build.

The new temple that Christ said He was going to build in three days wasn’t what they expected or wanted. They wanted it on this earth. That was not the plan. They wanted the royalty to be here. That was not the plan either. And that’s why it’s hard for us to comprehend that we are priests and kings. Because we live in red neck country. Not Jerusalem.

Just as Joshua was active in the building of the temple, Jesus was going to be the Master Builder of the Spiritual Temple that we call the church today.

Zechariah 6

13 Even he (The BRANCH) shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

All for the Glory of God.

So what are the responsibilities of priests and kings?

I view it as one governs and the other guides.

So, what do we govern, and what do we guide on this earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Not everyone is a prophet, teacher, etc. but everyone has a purpose. And every one of us are a part of the body of Christ if we’re saved. So we are overseeing the business of the Lord until His return. We are in charge of guiding others. We truly are a part of the Royal Family. And not the one in England, but the one in Heaven.

Zechariah 6

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

There were earthly examples like Adam and Joshua that God put on earth as examples of Christ. We are to be the examples of the Lord set before the generation we’re now a part of.  We are the priests and kings of this generation, even if they don’t know it, or want it.

When someone is born into a royal family, only the head of that royal family can kick them out. God’s the head of this family, and He says that none shall be lost. (John 18:19)

That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

So whether the world likes it or not, we are the royal family. The BRANCH’S government. Not a branch of the government. We will have our day of sitting with the royal family in person, but today we’re ambassadors in this foreign land.

So the question is, to who, where and how are you an ambassador? Pray and seek the Lord’s will for the land the Lord wants you to cover. And don’t ever think that He can’t take a kid from Calhoun County, and do something amazing for the Kingdom. Because you are children of the King.

Don’t forget …

Isaiah 62:3

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.