Another School Year Has Wrapped Up (And Help Wanted)!

We wrapped up another school year! It was definitely a different kind of year but we heard lots of laughter and saw so much growth in all of our kiddos. We saw new friendships formed, sang lots of songs, read stories and learned how to follow Jesus. We are already looking forward to next year!  If you would like to join us, please contact Karen Hettenbach.

Check out our end of the year video here: https://www.livelifetogether.com/preschool

HELP WANTED : Preschool is looking to add a lead and assistant teacher for the 2021-22 school year.  If you enjoy spending time with preschoolers and helping them learn and grow and want to join our fun staff please email Karen Hettenbach at preschool@livelifetogether.com.  We will provide all necessary training.

 

 

The God Who Sees and Helps

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” - Luke 4:18-19

 

There are so many people right now who are going through tough times -- people who are oppressed, tormented, helpless, grieving, crying, struggling, and weak. People are suffering and are being pressed down, and for some, it seems like the torment never ends. During these dark times, some people tend to question God’s presence and God’s help. 

 

Where is God in the middle of all our trials? Does He really see our needs? Does He know our pains? Does God really care for us? 

 

Short answer: Yes. And while we may not always see and feel God’s presence working in our situation, we have to remember that God is ever present. He is always there with us, in every situation. He is working on our behalf. He never stops working. He never stops seeing. He never stops helping. He came to help and to deliver us out of captivity, oppression, and torment. Jesus came to set us free.

 

 

God Sees and Knows Everything

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrificed my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” - John 10:14-16

 

God does not turn a blind eye to our situations. He does not ignore our cries for help. He listens. God sees our situation and His heart aches for us. He knows exactly what’s going on in our lives. He knows His sheep inside and out. He cares about every little detail of our lives and wants to be involved in our daily lives -- even in our struggles. 

 

God aches for us when He sees us hurting. He is not just a bystander. He sees us. He hurts for us. He has compassion for us. Our Good Shepherd knows His sheep. He knows when we are hurting. It pains Him every time we are afflicted. Each time we cry out to Him for help, He sends help.

 

Keep crying out to the God of the harvest. He is the God who heals, who provides, who delivers. Don’t stop asking God for help for He is the One who can do something about it. He’s our only hope. And through His power, anything is possible. Nothing is too difficult for Him. (Jeremiah 32:17)

 

 

God Sends Help by Using People

Did you know that you are an answer to someone else’s prayer? God wants to use you to be a blessing to someone. Praying to God is not enough. We have to do something. Remember that faith without deeds is dead. We have to supplement our prayers with work. (James 2:14-26) God is actively working in our lives to make things right and we have to partner with Him because He wants to use us.

 

Prayer and acting -- these two go together. Jesus did not just pray for the people. He did something to help them. When Jesus commissioned the 12 disciples, He sent them out by name. He gave them the authority to bring the Kingdom to earth-- to cast our demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, give as freely as they have received, and proclaim that the Kingdom of heaven is near. (Matthew 28:16-20). The authority is not ours. It’s God’s and it has been freely given to us so we need not hold it back. We have to give it as freely as we have received. And that’s why we are here. That’s what He sends us to do.

 

He is constantly working for us. He comforts, He invigorates, He boosts, and not only that --  He also multiplies His work and the workers. He sends His followers out with His authority to continue His mission to seek and save the lost and that includes us. Jesus is sending us out to be the help to humanity. We are not here to provide for ourselves and save ourselves. We are here to help and provide for others in Jesus’ name and it’s all about giving back what God has given us. It’s not a burden or a weight on us. We have His authority on His behalf. We point people to Him, not to us.

 

Today, remember that you are an answer to someone’s prayer. You are meant to give hope and light to this world. So go out, see the needs of others, and be the help that others need. 

 

The Good Shepherd Is Looking For You

“I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them justice!” - Ezekiel 34:16

Today, God wants us to remember: He pays attention to His sheep. He is the Good Shepherd who always looks after us and searches for us each time we go astray. God comes looking after us no matter how many times we leave His presence and wander far from home. 

The Good Shepherd’s love for His sheep is relentless and unconditional. His heart is to see that His sheep are in good condition, never lack anything, and out of danger’s way. His grace and compassion are further displayed in His untiring love and unrelenting patience in the pursuit of the lost sheep. And He doesn’t stop until they are restored safely in His care.

 

Finding The Lost, Broken, Sick, and Driven Away

“For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live.” - Ezekiel 34:11-13

Getting lost doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for the sheep to wander into the world and conform to it. But because we are living in a sinful world, Christians are struggling with not yielding to the offers of pleasures, temptations, and worldliness. This is why many Christians have become numb to God’s voice, insensitive to the Holy Spirit, and uninterested in the Divine Things. Nowadays, some would find it very difficult to distinguish Jesus’ followers from those who are following the world.

Many sheep are also broken, sick (in the body and in the heart), and driven away. Some are "broken" by bitter disappointment; others by bereavement. And these aching hearts have wounds that are so sacred to be revealed that they chose to be left bleeding and desolate, refusing to be comforted. But God wants us to know: He is the Good Shepherd who knows the pains of His sheep. He is close to the broken-hearted.

He will not only search for them, but He will search until He discovers them. And then He will bring them home. For the Good Shepherd, no situation is too hopeless. No sheep is too far gone. The Good Shepherd's love for us is undeterred by distance. For him, no distance is too great! His love is not lessened by difficulties or extreme challenges.  He won't be turned away even by our numbness to His voice. His desire for the Sheep is never put off by obstacles. Rather, He pursues us continuously. This is the Good Shepherd’s heart.

 

Bringing Justice and Restoring the Sheep

So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another.  And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the LORD, have spoken!” - Ezekiel 34:22-24

During Israel’s time, God put an end to the tyranny and neglect of His people by His own supposed shepherds. But, because of man’s willful disobedience, sinful nature, greed, and pride, those God had put in place to attend to His people, to care for, lead, and feed them, had not only failed, but they also fed themselves at the expense of others. But the story is not finished since God stepped in to fix the problem Himself. He has now blessed His people with a Good Shepherd -- focused on them, and this Good Shepherd, unlike the men who failed before Him, will not and does not and cannot fail. 

Jesus restored our relationship so He is and will always be our God. We see Jesus sending more workers through the Great Commission into the harvest and many shepherds to seek the lost sheep. The Good Shepherd lived with, taught, and then laid down His life in our place so we could be with Him forever. We have so much attention given to us by God. We have the Good Shepherd who gave His all for us and He even had the whole Bible written for us. We have so much attention from Him that we have so many pastors, so many higher-ground leaders, so many life-groupers, so many church members, and so many family members and friends who God uses to bless us and shepherd us. 

And now, we have direct access to the Good Shepherd. We can have our own journey with God. and He calls us by name. We can recognize and hear His voice. We cannot afford to miss the voice of the Good Shepherd. Don’t let anything get in the way. Jesus is the One who will care for you, love you, teach you, guide you, and draw you back. This is why we always point people to Jesus. Keep your ears attuned to His voice. The Good Shepherd is always pursuing you and He wants to speak with you. Even right now. So talk to Him.

 
 

What If God Abandon's Me?

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” - John 10:11 

One problem people have with being a sheep needing a shepherd is trust issues. People find it hard to trust God. Truth is, we don’t want to find ourselves in a position of vulnerability. We don’t want to trust just any shepherd who will gather a bunch of sheep together and then leave us unprotected when it is too dangerous for them. We don’t want to find out that the person leading us is making decisions are bad for us, right?

BUT... if we are going to treat and count ourselves all in as God’s sheep, we need to fully trust the Good Shepherd to lead us all throughout and not leave us when the going gets tough. 

Today, God wants to remind us of these truths that will help us trust Him as the Good Shepherd who will never lead us to harm and will never forsake us.

 

God Will Always Protect You

Alongside the question of whether God will abandon us or not is our fear that if our Shepherd really knew us, there is no way He would still find or protect us from the dangers lurking around us. We have these negative thoughts that if God sees all our flaws, shortcomings, and misgivings, then He would no longer see us worthy of His protection and attention. 

Deep down, many of us have this fear of abandonment. We fear that if people really knew the real “us” or what we’ve done, then they would abandon us and will no longer want to be associated with us.  And so we find ourselves in the exact place we go to when we are afraid -- isolated and alone.  Because of this fear, we no longer follow our Shepherd, we don’t open up and become accountable with what’s really going on with us, and we hold back the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of so they won’t be brought into the light. Instead, we end up keeping it all to ourselves. We cover up our struggles, sins, and weaknesses, just like what Adam and Eve did after The Fall. (Genesis 3:7)

But Jesus, as our Good Shepherd, proves to us over and over that He is not the shepherd who would flee from danger, rather He is the kind of Shepherd who would lay down His life for the sheep. He is the Shepherd who’s willing to fight off any danger that may cause harm to the sheep and defend the sheep against enemies and predators. He is not just a hired hand who will abandon the sheep when the going gets tough, leaving the sheep alone, unprotected, and vulnerable to danger. The sheep matter to Him and He will not abandon them even when there’s a threat of danger that seems too great. He longs to have a relationship with us, His sheep. The Good Shepherd will never run away from us, rather He chooses to rescue us, protect us, and fight for us in order to keep us safe. 

 

 God Will Never Abandon You

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,“I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” - Hebrews 13:5-6

Redemption is seen in the Good Shepherd who will not abandon the sheep. Jesus did not abandon us, but rather died in our place.  Our Good Shepherd is the One who knows His sheep, and loves and protects us from all harm, including ensuring that we would never have to experience what He did on the cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus did not want us to feel alone. This is why He promised that He will never leave nor forsake us and He sealed that promise when He died on the cross and made a way for us to be reconciled back to God again. 

He bore our sins, had the Father turn His face away from Him, and received the judgment that we and our sins deserved. He, being man and perfect God, took it all for us, yet He was raised on the third day. He didn’t stay dead forever. His death and resurrection did not separate us from Him, but rather brought us closer to Him. With Jesus’ resurrection, we now have this guarantee that when God said He will never leave us, that’s a promise that He keeps. His presence is now always with us. Through Jesus, we will never experience God forsaking us. He will not leave us as orphans. With the reassuring promise, there should be no more “what ifs” from us. Why? Because this thing forever holds true: God will never abandon us. 

 

7 Important Things The Good Shepherd Gives Us

The relationship between God and Man is described all throughout the Bible as a “Shepherd-Sheep” relationship. In Psalm 23, we find David describing God as the Good Shepherd and what He does for us as His sheep. Too often, we, like sheep, wander away and go astray. But Jesus, our Good Shepherd, always leads us back to Him. And not only does He lead us, He also gives us so many good things as David enumerated in Psalm 23. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who acts and leads His sheep and provides us with all that we need. He makes sure that we never lack.  (Psalm 23:1)

 

Here are 7 things that God as our Good Shepherd gives us:

 

1. He gives us REST. (He lets me rest in green meadows...” - Psalm 23:2)

In such a restless age as this, there is perhaps no greater need for rest than now.  In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells His disciples, ”Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. And Jesus knew the importance of rest. He is not a slavedriver. Rather, He is a loving God who knows rest is a priority for His people.  Inasmuch as physically we must find time for sleep no matter how severe the pressure of work is, so too we must find time for rest spiritually. The Good Shepherd says, “I will give you rest.” The Master never expects us to always be on the go. He tells us to “rest awhile” and if we do not pay attention to this invitation, He Himself will call us out of the rush and into the hush of life. In what specific area of your life are you being called today to rest?

 

2. He gives us REFRESHMENT. (He leads me beside peaceful streams...” - Psalm 23:2)

There is no thirst in the human spirit and there is no craving that is not satisfied in the refreshment of Jesus. In John 4, Jesus told the woman at the well that the one who drinks from Him shall never thirst again (John 4:14). Jesus is the refreshing stream, He is the living water. Think about that time in your life when you were so in need, you were so dry and you sat down and spent some time with Jesus and He refreshed your soul and spoke those Words that you needed to hear and melted away the grief, the anxiety, and the loss. And in just that one moment, you were refreshed. Jesus is always inviting us to this stream. Why don’t we go to that stream more often?

 

3. He gives us RESTORATION . (He renews my strength.” - Psalm 23:3)

Did you know that this line from Psalm 23 literally means ”My Soul, He brings back”, or “my soul He returns”? This is what God does for us: He restores us by renewing our strength when we are worn down and by bringing us back after our wandering. No matter how many times we try to go astray and leave His presence, the Good Shepherd always finds us and brings us home, back to Him.

 

4.  He gives us GUIDANCE.  (“He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” - Psalm 23:3)

This follows on the restoration that God provides for us. He not only brings us back, He also leads us and guides so that we won’t go astray again. Having recalled us from the wrong paths we’ve disobediently been through, the Good Shepherd always leads us back to the right way so that we can bring honor to His name. We can wander wide easily enough, but if we are to be kept in the right way, it can only be done through the Shepherd’s care. God guides us through His Word, through our circumstances, through His Spirit, and through the community of believers. 

 

5.  He gives us a LIVING PRESENCE. “( “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” - Psalm 23:4) 

God is not just merely with us in the darkness. He is with us ALWAYS. He gives us the sunshine of the living presence of a Guide, a help, a friend, and a Savior. He is always on the believer’s path. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we would be able to always remember this? That in every circumstance, God is always with us. There is not a day that He isn’t. There isn’t a struggle that He can’t see. There isn’t a cry that He doesn’t hear. But our own constant forgetfulness or even unbelief hinders us from seeing this. If we would only realize that His presence goes with us whenever and wherever,  then we would “rejoice always.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

 

6.  He gives us DISCIPLINE. (“Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” - Psalm 23:4)

The rod and staff are special emblems of the Shepherd’s care in tending and ruling the flock. In the same way, Jesus as our Good Shepherd chides us when we wander, and sometimes uses sharp measures as He brings us back. And this should comfort us! We must view God’s disciplinary dealings as one of His greatest mercies upon us. For after all, the Lord disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6).

 

7.  He gives us AMPLE PROVISIONS.  (You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.” - Psalm 23:5)

The riches of God’s love and life are the provisions on which we feed on daily. Our souls can grow and thrive because God supplies us with all that we need. We never lack. By God’s grace, we are being ministered to, even while our enemies prowl around. God treats us as His guests at the Father’s house and prepares for us an abundant banquet where we can feast on as long as we like. His provisions for us are so rich and so abundant that our cup always overflows. So today, why don’t we come to Jesus? He is inviting us to take His hand, to rest, to feast, and to allow Him to lead us. Can you hear His voice calling out to you?