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Nicholas Hood III Ministries

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I See Greatness in You!

 

I See Greatness in You!

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Denise and Her Mother at Glacier National Park

 

This morning as I turned off East Jefferson to the I-75 Freeway in Detroit I saw an odd sight. Standing in the median was a young, well dressed African American male, standing and pointing to a homemade sign that simply read, “I see greatness in you! Almost oblivious to all around him, the young man turned in circles, pointing to his sign from every possible direction. There are a lot of people begging at the entrance to the freeway, but I cannot recall seeing a person standing in the median on Jefferson at an awkward junction.

As I started to focus on the young man’s sign, it dawned upon me almost instantly that he had a better way of saying what I want to preach about on Sunday. My sermon Sunday is about personal exaltation and what it takes in the eyes of the Lord to be a success, both in this world and in the world to come. In Matthew 23, Jesus taught that if we are to be great we must also become like a servant. Attempts at personal exaltation will force us to run ourselves into the ground and ultimately disappoint God.

Evidently the Scribes and Pharisees must have really ticked Jesus off. Most of chapter 23 has Jesus telling them that their spiritual focus is all wrong. Take a look at what Jesus says about the misplaced spiritual values of these two groups of people:

-Matthew 23: 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19 How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21 and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22 and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. [1]

 

Jesus point is that unless you and I become like servants, and not simple hustlers to make a quick dollar in the short run, we will never reach the expectation of God and to receive personal exaltation. I think about the man I saw on the street corner this morning with his simple, powerful sign- “I see greatness in you!”

 

God sees greatness in each of us. However, our greatness will not be determined by how fast we run or high we jump. Our greatness will be defined by the degree to which we love and serve others in the spirit of Jesus Christ. So, the question I challenge you with this evening is this- are you prepared to serve others, or is your desire that others might serve you?

 

Matthew 23: 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. [2]

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Why do you think Jesus taught that “All who exalt themselves will be humbled?”
  2. How can those who “Humble themselves be exalted”?

 

Prayer: Lord, teach me to serve others as you have served the world. Teach me to give without thought of receiving. Teach me to listen to the needs of others and to feel their joy and pain. Lord, I exalt you and lift you up as I seek to feed the hungry, minister to the poor and visit those who are in distress.   I thank you for your grace, your mercy and your love, but this day I thank you for seeing potential in every human being. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 23:16–26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 23:11–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The Heavens Are Telling the Glory of God

The Heavens Are Telling the Glory of God –

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The photo in this post was taken at Glacier National Park. Driving through the national park I kept pulling over to take photos of the majesty of God’s good earth. Sliding down dirt pathways to the floor of the lake, looking to the beauty of the creation all around me, it took my breath away. I did not care if snakes and other animals were nearby. To be honest, I kept looking for animals that might hurt me, but the glory Glacier National Park was overwhelming. The mountains were breathtaking. The rivers, streams and lakes magnify the glory of God. The flowers, trees and shrubs sing praise to the most high God. We drove up to just below the 6000-foot level and my adrenalin was pumping.

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Denise, her mother and I just returned from Missoula, Montana. Denise was in Montana for a meeting. I was there to accompany her and I preached at the University Congregational Church United Church of Christ. Listen to how David describes the glory of God in the first part of Psalm 19:

Psalm 19

God’s Glory in Creation and the Law

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

  • The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. [1]

 

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Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. How does the beauty of nature reflect upon the power of God?
  2. What are your thoughts about the sustainability of the creation of God?

 

Prayer: Lord, I see the mountains and I see your glory! I see rivers and streams and I see your depth. Lord, the trees, shrubs and flowers blossom with shouts of praise to your creation. The drama of the sky is high and lifted up and sings your praise. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 19). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

A Holy Kiss

A Holy Kiss –

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This woman presented me with a “Hersheys Kiss” Sunday after church in Misoula, Montana

 

I experienced an extraordinarily extravagant greeting Sunday from the members of the University Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Missoula, Montana. There are not a lot of African Americans in Missoula. From the fellow sweeping the entrance of the church before worship to the last person I greeted after preaching, I would have to say that this is one of the friendliest, most gracious churches I have preached at.

One of the warmest greetings I received after worship concluded was an older woman who presented me with a Hershey’s Kiss, still wrapped in foil. She pulled the Hershey’s Kiss from her purse and presented it to me as a farewell gift. When she asked me if I knew what it was, I told her “yes, it is a Hershey’s Kiss.” She said something I do not exactly remember about the significance of her giving me the “Kiss.” I responded by giving her a kiss on the cheek. It was a little thing on both of our parts, but we both understood the significance. Sometimes in life the little things matter most. I interpreted the woman’s action as her way of saying that she was glad I preached at the church and that she got something from my message.

My first thought when I received her, Hershey’s Kiss was the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:

Romans 16: 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. [1]

How do you greet other believers in Christ? How do you greet the faithful when you arrive and when you leave? What is the difference between greeting others with a “Holy Kiss” and just a plain old kiss?
Questions for Reflection:

  1. What does “Greet one another with a Holy Kiss” mean to you?
  2. How do you greet people you love?

 

Prayer:

Lord, make me uninhibited in my expressions of friendship and love. Teach me to warm and genuine in how I greet others. Make me an instrument of your love. Make my life an example of what you expect from those who believe in you. Bless me this day in your name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 16:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

“Playing Through Your Injuries”

Playing Through Your Injuries-

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The NFL, the National Football League schedule is in full gear. Yesterday as I flipped between several of the games, the point was made by several commentators that many of the teams are not at one hundred percent strength and capability because of injuries to one or more key players. Bear in mind that the last thing these athlete’s desire is to be injured to the point where they cannot play. Part of the reason that the players are so intense on ever play of the game is that they realize that there are other players who are just waiting for them to falter so they can take their place.

So, often a player will play through their injuries unless the pain is so bad they cannot function. In like manner, you and I, the mere mortals of the universe also have to learn to “Play through our injuries.” I use the word injury in a figurative sense. Married people need to learn how to “Play through their injury” and continue to love even in the difficult times. Those in business need to push through and “Play through their injuries” in a tough economy. I read in the paper yesterday that some farmers have not made a profit in twelve years, but they continue to go into debt for the next year and work even harder to make a living.

I do not know what your challenge is, but I encourage you to listen to what the Apostle Paul says in his second Letter to the Church at Corinth about how the grace of God is sufficient for every challenge.

2 Corinthians 12: but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. [1]

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are the greatest challenges when a person has to perform in spite of their weaknesses?
  2. How does the Lord help us to work and perform when we do not have all the tools to do what we are trying to do?

 

Prayer: Heal me, Lord and heal me now! Help me to return to one-hundred percent. Lord, I need you to do what medical science may not be able to do – heal me fast so I might be able to return to what I like to do and what I need to do. Lord, your grace is sufficient. I give myself totally to you. With your blessing, I will fight with my last breath; run, even on bad legs, push myself to a limit that only you Lord know is possible. Bless me now to run this race to the glory of your name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Co 12:9–10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Yet, I Will Rejoice in the Lord!

Yet I Will Rejoice in the Lord!

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Life has a way of sometimes punching you in the gut and slapping you upside the head in ways that can challenge your faith, but the prophet, Habakkuk says he will continue to rejoice in the Lord.  How do you maintain your faith when a child dies?  How do you rejoice in the Lord when your efforts in business fail?  Why rejoice in the Lord when you do your best, but it is not enough?

Habakkuk 3: 18       yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. [1]

The prophet paints a tough view of a life where things are tough:

Habakkuk 3: 17    Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, [2]

Even though the land does not produce and the herds are gone, the prophet proclaims that he will rejoice in the Lord.  There have been times in my life when I prayed for something in a very specific way and I did not receive what I asked for.  To be fair, there have been many more times when the things I have prayed for have become reality.  When my two sons were in the womb, separated by four years, I prayed the same prayer: that they be smarter than me, taller than me and with a deeper voice.  Why the deeper voice?  I prayed this prayer in case one of both might accept a call into the ministry and would not have to work as I do with the oratory.  Smile.  Neither has accepted the call, but both are smarter, taller and a deeper voice than me.

I put my trust in the Lord, even though there are things I do not understand.  I hope in what I cannot see.  I trust, even when the bottom falls beneath my feet.  I rejoice in the Lord because He has done things for me I could not imagine.  I love the Lord because like David, he heard my cry and pitied my every groan.  I rejoice in the Lord because I am witnessing the goodness of the Lord in my life right now.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Why praise the Lord when things are going badly in your life?
  2. Can you make a list of all the things you think the Lord has helped you?

 

 

Prayer:  Lord, I lift you up and praise your name.  Even though there are things I do not understand, I give my heart to you.  I trust your leadership.  I trust your guidance.  I trust your providence and your love.  Flowers may not blossom, fruit may sour, the sun may not shine and the rain may storm, but with you as the head of my life I believe that everything will work out.  Lord, I lift you up.  Remember me when this world is on fire.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Hab 3:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Hab 3:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The Lord is Near to the Brokenhearted

The Lord is Near to the Brokenhearted –

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This past Thursday I offered two sessions entitled, “Walking through the stages of grief.”  At both the morning and evening session I shared the core of my personal theology that helps me to process death.  I shared with those in attendance that every death is different and the way each person gives is different.  Some will cry.  Others will become despondent.  Those with a deep faith in the salvation that Jesus Christ offers will often see death as a great opportunity to live forever in heaven.20160915_193836

Still, when it is your mother, father, son, daughter, brother or sister who has left you in death, it is not unusual to be left with a sense of emptiness and a sense that there is nothing left to live for.  David tells us in Psalm 34 that the Lord will walk with us through the worst of times- death, depression and a basic broken heart.

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Psalm 34: 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. [1]

Let me share with you how I handle death and some of the Bible verses that give me relevance and hope:

  1. My Theology of Death
  2. I believe in heaven as a reward for faith in God

John 14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.[2]

 

  1. I believe that God is much more accepting and redemptive than we are toward one another – Those who do the will of God:

 

Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ [3]

 

  1. I expect to see my loved ones again in heaven

1 Corinthians 15: 51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55  “Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

[4]

 

  1. I do not believe in predestination – because God created us to be good, not evil:

Genesis 1: 26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27  So God created humankind in his image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. [5]

 

 

  1. I believe the Holy Spirit will comfort and strengthen us

 

John 14: 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.[6]

 

Conclusion:

2 Corinthians 4: But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. [7]

 

 

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. In what ways do you feel the Lord “Is near to the brokenhearted”?
  2. How does Jesus save “the crushed in spirit”?

 

Prayer:

Walk with me Lord.  Walk with me in my brokenness.  When my spirit is crushed with sadness and despair, put me back together again.  When the sting of death has rocked me like a punch to the stomach, renew my faith, restore my joy, regenerate my hope and ability to understand what I cannot understand, to move forward through my emptiness and to look forward to seeing my loved ones again in glory.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 34:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 14:1–3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 7:21–23). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Co 15:51–58). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ge 1:26–31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 14:25–27). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Co 4:7–15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[NHI1]

Let What You Heard in the Beginning Abide in You!

Let What You Heard in the Beginning Abide in You-

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Sometimes a person can see so much, live so much, and know so much that you cannot tell them a cotton picking thing!  Some folk have been so beaten down by life that they have a tough time thinking and smiling.  Some people actually were better off before they experienced success and achievement.   In the first letter of John, the author expresses concern and encouragement that his readers and listeners continue to internalize and believe with the passion they had at the beginning of their faith.

The promise of Jesus Christ is that if we abide in Christ, Christ will abide in each of us, and the promise of this faith is eternal life.

1 John 2: 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. [1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What does this passage say to you?
  2. What are some of the reasons why a believer might backslide in faith?

 

Prayer:

Bring me back, Lord to a pure faith, a pure hope and a pure love in thee.  Your word is refreshment to my soul.  Your grace and mercy are everlasting and your love is without end.  I must confess that in my sophistication I have sometimes ignored your principles and values.  Sometimes in my prosperity I have chosen to rely on myself rather than I have relied on you.  In my arrogance I have forgotten you.  In my pride sometimes I have fought when I should have stood down, I have spoken when I should have remained silent and I have withheld when I should have shared. Bring me back, Lord to a pure faith, a pure hope and a pure love in thee.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Jn 2:24–25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

But as for Me I Will Look to the Lord

But as for Me, I Will Look to the Lord

 

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Pacific Ocean near the Island, Siquior in the Phillipines

 

 

Who do you look to when people talk about you, undercut you, and gloat over your mistakes and missteps?  The human instinct is to fight back on the same level as those who are attacking you.  Micah, the prophet outlines a rough situation where people are out intent on doing evil – they “All lie in wait for blood, and hunt each other with nets…”.  The picture Micah paints is an image where people are at each other’s throats with deceit, bribes and a perversion of justice.  Yet, the prophet says that in spite of the disappearance of the faithful from the land, he will continue to look to the Lord for strength.

Micah 7: 2    The faithful have disappeared from the land,

and there is no one left who is upright;

they all lie in wait for blood,

and they hunt each other with nets.

3    Their hands are skilled to do evil;

the official and the judge ask for a bribe,

and the powerful dictate what they desire;

thus they pervert justice.

4    The best of them is like a brier,

the most upright of them a thorn hedge.

The day of their sentinels, of their punishment, has come;

now their confusion is at hand.

5    Put no trust in a friend,

have no confidence in a loved one;

guard the doors of your mouth

from her who lies in your embrace;

6    for the son treats the father with contempt,

the daughter rises up against her mother,

the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

your enemies are members of your own household. [1]

 

The prophet Micah outlines a situation where there are people who rejoice when he stumbles and falls, but continues to bounce back because of the support of the Lord.

Micah 7: 7    But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. [2]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What does it mean to “Wait for the Lord?”
  2. What are your thoughts “God will hear me?”

 

Prayer:  Lord, I wait for you.  Lord, I look to you.  God, I know you will hear me.  In my worst moments, you have always been with me.  In my best moments I rejoice in you.  Bless me with your spirit.  Bless me with your inspiration.  Bless me with your protection and power.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mic 7:2–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mic 7:7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death –

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Ed Willingham, the former director of the Christian Communication Council told me once that when his mother would become angry with something he said or did, she would develop a terrifying look on her face, look him in the eye and say something like this: “I walked through the valley of the shadow of death for you…” He smiled and told me he was not quite sure what his mother meant, but her expression sounded absolutely terrifying.

His mother’s words were drawn from the 23rd Psalm:

Psalm 23: 4  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. [1]

The 23rd Psalm is one of the most repeated of the Psalms. I learned this Psalm as a little boy, both at home during prayers at night and in Sunday School. What does it mean to “Go through the valley of the shadow of death? I find it instructive that David, the author, does not say, “I am stuck in the valley of the shadow of death.” Rather, “I go through the valley of the Shadow of death.” He does not see his “Valley” or low point as a permanent condition. David expects to get through his trouble. I think this is the most important element of problem solving – to actually believe you can figure things out.

Sometimes in the middle of our challenges we may become overwhelmed. If you do not have enough money, life might seem overwhelming. If you are pregnant and do not know what to do next, life might seem like you are chocking. When you find yourself pumping gas and someone threatens to take the keys to your car and possibly even physically hurt you, you may feel like you are in the “Valley.” An overwhelmed person runs the risk of making poor decisions that might set them back into an even worse position than where they started.

My encouragement to you today is this: recognize when you are in a “Valley” or low spot. Pray to the Lord for guidance, protection and encouragement. Finally, put your hand in the hand of the Lord and start walking. What you will find is that Jesus Christ will lead you to the still water, will cause you to lie down in green pastures and will restore your soul. He will walk with you through the “Valley of the shadow of death” in such a way that you will fear no evil. His rod and staff will protect you and the oil from his cup will overflow and crown your head with righteousness, goodness and mercy all the days of your life.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Why do you think David says, “I walk through the darkest valley” as opposed to “I dwell in the darkest valley”?
  2. What, “Valleys” have been in your life?
  3. How has the Lord helped you to “Walk through” your valleys?

 

Prayer: Lord, walk with me as I walk through the low places. When in danger, be thou my protection. When the way is dark, I need your light. Lead me to still water. Show me green pastures. Protect me with your rod and staff. When I am depressed and overwhelmed with the issues of the day, restore my soul. Anoint me with the oil of your blessing and may my cup continue to run over all the days of my life.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 23:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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