There he was, just a lonely shepherd in the middle of a barren place. He needed to take his sheep through a dangerous mountain pass in order to get to a place with grass for his flock. He was alone. The mountains were filled with bandits and wild beasts. There was no one who could or would help him.
The shepherd looked up at the mountains. He was afraid of the bandits. He was afraid of the wild beasts who would be hungry and want to eat his sheep, or eat the shepherd himself. So, he sat and looked at the mountains and considered his options. Ultimately he admitted that there was no option except to go forward into the hills. He must face the danger or sit and watch his flock die of hunger and thirst. In the end he would also die.
He asked the question, ‘From where will my help come?’ He had no brethren or friend to go with him to help. He had no money to pay a servant. There was none to come to him if danger overwhelmed him. He was alone.
Then the shepherd remembered the Lord. He remembered that the man Jonah was once in the belly of the fish for three days. Then Jonah cried out to God, and was spit out by the fish. He knew that God is a very present help in trouble. So, even though he was still afraid, even though he did not know the outcome, even though he was alone, the shepherd pointed his flock toward the mountain pass, and set out on his journey.
Today, a Christian may look to the four points of the compass and see trouble in every direction. The path ahead is dangerous, no matter which path you must take. Like the shepherd, we sometimes must go in a certain direction. Other times, we may be allowed to sit in one place for a while. Regardless of our direction, there is definitely danger ahead. There are dangers in the physical world. There are dangers in the world of our thoughts. Like the shepherd we find ourselves asking, ‘Where is my help?’ Like the Shepherd, Christians can answer, ‘My help comes from the Lord.’
It is good to know that our help comes from the Lord which made heaven and earth. It is better to know more and more about the Lord who will help us. We have been given a Holy Book, containing the exact words of God Almighty. By reading this Book we can learn about our God and our King. The more we know our God, the stronger our faith, the greater our help.
Through many ages, men have studied the Bible and struggled to understand its teachings and live by the rules given in this precious book. Some have written down their thoughts. Their writings can be very helpful to Christians today seeking a better understanding of what is being said. I have a few free resources to recommend for those seeking help in understanding the book God wrote. There is no commentary or earthly authority that has authority to change anything written in God’s book. However, there have been many men of God who have written sermons and commentaries that are very helpful. I want to mention a few free resources here. Please keep in mind that the Bible itself IS without error. It is the ultimate authority. Commentaries, while written with the sincerest and most dedicated intentions, will have errors. If you see a difference in meaning between a commentary and a Bible passage, the Bible is always the one to believe.
Let’s start with my recommendation for your Bible. It is hands down the King James Version Thompson Chain Reference Bible. Go in a Christian book store and look through one if you are not familiar with this Bible. It is a complete Bible with references and information on scriptures, people, books of the Bible, maps, and history. It is great. Of course, like any other Bible, you do have to actually read it.
My two favorite free online resources are:
http://biblegateway.com – which allows you to look up Bible passages in your preferred version of the Bible. I absolutely recommend the King James Version of the Bible. I also strongly recommend that you stick with one version of the Bible. As you read and study, you become familiar with the wording of scripture. It is much easier to look up specific passages when you have read them in the same way many times.
http://christnotes.org – with Matthey Henry’s commentary being the first resource I use to get a short commentary on a particular passage. I love Matthew Henry’s commentary so much that I would have named my second son Matthew Henry if I had had a second son.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, is available on line free also.
Spurgeon by scripture references:
Old Testament – http://spurgeongems.org/sindex_ot.pdf
New Testament – http://spurgeongems.org/sindex_nt.pdf
I often check to see if Spurgeon did a sermon on a particular passage. He usually preached in a way that is easily understood even today.
You need a good book by book Bible companion. It will give a synopsis of each book and some commentary on the historical and geographical setting. It will also give you an idea of to whom it was written.
http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/COMMENTARIES/tabid/368/Default.aspx is a good place to start.
http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/BYTOPICS/tabid/335/Default.aspx is also good if you are studying a particular subject.
John Philips also is good. You can purchase his books online at Amazon. I get them used at a very reasonable price. They are still available new.
http://preceptaustin.org/1_peter_sermons_by_john_piper.htm is a really good resource. At the top of the page you can choose the book you are studying and it will give you a lot of commentaries by different authors on that book. It is great. The web reference will bring up 1 Peter, but you can choose any Bible book that interests you from the top of the page.
We cannot calculate the value of having all these resources available to us FREE at any time.
You need a hymn book as well. Outside of the Bible itself, there is nothing more comforting than the old hymns of the faith. Learn hymns that have a basis in scripture and are written to glorify God. ‘Feel good’ songs are aimed at giving you an emotional high. They are not aimed at worshipping God or giving you solid footing to face the future.
http://hymntime.com/tch/ttl/ttl-a.htm is a wonderful free resource. It gives the lyrics to songs and plays the music so you can learn the song completely. I am not a singer. But, hymns of the faith will run through my mind in to fit almost any situation. If I think of my dad or my sister, I usually soon find myself humming a hymn like ‘In the Sweet Bye and Bye’ or ‘Never Grow Old’ or ‘Pearly White City’. It could be any song, but it is often a song that reminds of heaven.
Or, if I am having a hard time with something I may find songs like ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’ or ‘He is Able to Deliver Thee’ or ‘On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand.’
You get the idea. However, if you don’t have a knowledge of the hymnal and the wonderful songs it contains, you are missing out on a gift from God. The hymnal is second only to the Bible in its importance to the Christian. Hymns should proclaim the Gospel, teach the Gospel, and comfort and encourage through scriptural songs.
Do you want to listen to good sermons instead of read them?
There are many more free references on line. I listed those that I use and that have been helpful to me. I hope you will find them useful as well.
A Letter From Barbara
Dear PZ Readers,
The Lord is good all the time. He blesses us in unexpected ways. A recent blessing that came to our home is that our Siberian Forest Cat had TEN healthy kittens. Can you imagine that? We were hoping for five healthy kittens, but the Lord sent ten. They are three weeks old, and 3 have been reserved by nice families. Mother and babies are all doing well. I am confident that the Lord had ten families in mind when He gave us ten kittens.
For those of you who don’t know, the Siberian cat has a hypoallergenic quality that allows many people who are allergic to most cats to have a Siberian. Many people would like to have a cat, or allow their children to have a cat, but allergies have prevented cat ownership.
The Lord also led us into this business through a series of unexpected events. In short, our initial investment was made very small compared to what many people must invest to get into breeding Siberians. AND – my mom is going to give us a second breed from her current litter. (I thank the Lord for my mother and for the kitten we are getting.)
A lot of work has been involved, but not a lot of money has been required. Never in our wildest imagination did we see ourselves raising kittens. We are really enjoying it, but it is still a surprise every time we look in the kitten basket.
I wonder what pleasant surprises the Lord has in store for you? Our Heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts to His children. He undoubtedly has a sense of humor as well. If He decides to put one of His children in the business of raising pot-bellied pigs – I sincerely hope it will be you and not me!
God bless you all and I hope you enjoy today.