Soul Restoration

Psalms 23:3 “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

The Psalmist boldly states that the Lord is the restorer of souls.

The word soul refers to the inner life of man, the seat of his emotions, and the center of human personality. The first use of the word soul in the Old Testament expresses this meaning: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul)" (Genesis 2:7). This means more than being given physical life; the biblical writer declares that man became a "living soul," or a person, a human being, one distinct from all other animals.

Life can bring challenges that can damage the soul, can challenge one’s beliefs, can make a person question their existence. When these time arise we have a Shepherd who is in the soul restoration business.

The pathway to restoration includes learning to walk in righteousness, but not our own righteousness. True restoration of the soul is accomplished as we learn to walk in the righteousness that comes from Jesus. There is a time of healing of our brokenness and then a time of learning which includes hearing and obeying.

Philippians 3:9 “and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Anchored by Hope,

Pastor Phil Johnson

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Enjoy a Peaceful Life

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. Psalms 23:2

Today in the midst of all the rain, I reflected on the beauty of where I now live. This verse captures the areas surrounding my community. What a joy to be reminded that our God leads us to a place of rest and peace. Only as we walk in step with Him and obey His words can we truly enjoy the peaceful life. Don’t miss the simple truth, it is the Shepherds duty to lead us to these places. Our duty is to follow where He leads and enjoy the peaceful life.

Pastor Phil

What Do You Lack?

Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The psalmist begins this famous text with an illustration from his life. David was a shepherd and so he understood about the role of the shepherd and the sheep. Our independence causes us to miss the importance of this opening verse. The responsibility of the shepherd is to make sure the sheep can live without a care in the world. Everything about their existence is dependent on the shepherd, food, shelter, protection.

Into this example, David announces that since the Lord is the shepherd, he can live his life without a care in the world. According to David, his relationship with the Lord allows him to not be lacking, to fail, or to live a diminished life. This is the joy of being one of the Lord’s sheep, we can live without feeling less about ourselves. David doesn’t mean he won’t fail in life, struggle with the human condition, or struggle with self-esteem issues. An examination of David’s life shows that his life had difficulties, that he wasn’t perfect, and that he failed his people and family. So how can David make this claim when his life does not appear to align with the statement? Maybe there is a deeper truth, a larger point that David is trying to present.

How can one live in this life with all of the challenges, difficulties and chaos and still have a confidence in the Lord? Simple, it is a choice. One must choose to believe in power of the Shepherd. Either Jesus is our Shepherd and provider of what we need or else we are in charge and do not need a shepherd. I choose to be one of the sheep and confess that I am entirely dependent on the shepherd for all that I need in life and because of that I recognize that even when the storms and trails come, I can rest in God’s unfailing hand.

Psalms 34:9-10 “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The psalmist begins this famous text with an illustration from his life. David was a shepherd and so he understood about the role of the shepherd and the sheep. Our independence causes us to miss the importance of this opening verse. The responsibility of the shepherd is to make sure the sheep can live without a care in the world. Everything about their existence is dependent on the shepherd, food, shelter, protection.

Into this example, David announces that since the Lord is the shepherd, he can live his life without a care in the world. According to David, his relationship with the Lord allows him to not be lacking, to fail, or to live a diminished life. This is the joy of being one of the Lord’s sheep, we can live without feeling less about ourselves. David doesn’t mean he won’t fail in life, struggle with the human condition, or struggle with self-esteem issues. An examination of David’s life shows that his life had difficulties, that he wasn’t perfect, and that he failed his people and family. So how can David make this claim when his life does not appear to align with the statement? Maybe there is a deeper truth, a larger point that David is trying to present.

How can one live in this life with all of the challenges, difficulties and chaos and still have a confidence in the Lord? Simple, it is a choice. One must choose to believe in power of the Shepherd. Either Jesus is our Shepherd and provider of what we need or else we are in charge and do not need a shepherd. I choose to be one of the sheep and confess that I am entirely dependent on the shepherd for all that I need in life and because of that I recognize that even when the storms and trails come, I can rest in God’s unfailing hand.

Psalms 34:9-10 “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

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The Faith Challenge

Mark 8:4 “Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?”

This verse is an interesting revelation into the challenge of faith in God. The verse comes from the story of Jesus feeding 4000 people who were following Him to hear His teaching and see His signs and wonders. The disciples seemed to be expressing the challenge of faith that we all can struggle with on a daily basis. When confronted with the seemingly impossible, our faith wavers despite what God has previously done in our life. We all want to walk in faith, but too often the facts can get in the way of our faith. For the disciples the facts were 4000 hungry people and a lack of enough food to feed them. This was a logistical nightmare, a heavy burden for the disciples to shoulder, an opportunity to fail and cause permanent damage to their testimony.

Do we struggle with the same things when faced with our own faith challenge? When the impossible confronts us, do we waver in our confidence in Jesus ability, care, and plan for our life. The Bible is full of verses about God’s great love, care, and faithfulness to His children, and yet. . .

I’m not sure what crisis of faith you are currently struggling with, but remember, we all struggle with having faith in God due to the circumstances we face.

Here is the irony, in Mark 6 Jesus feeds 5000 people. In other words, they were facing a situation in which Jesus had already performed a miracle and fed a larger number of people. Their wavering faith is based on a new situation and the stress of the moment. We have seen God move in the past, but somehow we convince ourselves that this time is different; the same God couldn’t possible do the same miracle again.

Be encouraged, our God is still in the business of encouraging and growing our faith by involving us in His next miracle. The same God who has been faithful in the past, will be faithful in our life today.

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Anchored in Hope,

Pastor Phil

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Easter Egg Hunt

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“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13

When I was a child, according to my grandparents, I would hide all my eggs in one location and then watch my grandparents look all over the backyard until they finally found all the eggs, in the one location.  I was so good at hiding eggs, shown by the length of time it took them to find the eggs, that I would take them back to the same location when it was my turn to hide eggs again. When I think about this, I can’t help but smile at how foolish I was as a child. As I reflect on that childhood experience, I pause to consider the above verse and what I have learned in my life. I have come to know that Jesus longs to be found by us.  He is not hidden, but there is a pursuit that we must take.  The pursuit is not based on finding a hidden individual, it is based on a divided heart.  Our heart determines what we pursue, the things that are in our heart become our driving force in our life. If we choose to pursue other things over pursuing Jesus we will never find the joy of discovering Jesus.

As Easter approaches and we begin to pause from the distractions of this life for a moment, may we focus our eyes on Jesus.  Like my hidden eggs, He is always in the same place. Call out to him and He will reveal Himself to you.  Seek Him and you will find Him, that is His promise both in the Old Testament and again in the New Testament.

Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Broken By The Unexpected

Easter is just around the corner, and as we reflect on the importance of that day, I am reminded of a picture that was taken a few years ago while Cheryl and I visited Jerusalem. The picture displays a tree that was broken during an unexpected snow storm. The irony is that the tree was located in the Garden Tomb area, near the site where it is believed that Jesus was buried. The weight of the snow had broken the tree. The symbolic image is a reminder that the unexpected can leave us broken, even when we are near to Him. The story of Easter is not about immunity from problems, hurt, or even trials. It is about brokenness.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:24 “And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Consider that Easter is about Jesus being broken to pay for our sins, but He is not the only person to experience brokenness during those days. Peter had denied Jesus and felt like a failure. Mary had seen her first-born son tortured and killed. Jesus’ followers had seen their hopes shattered as their Rabbi was killed.

For us the story does not end with brokenness, it ends with resurrection. It is the promise of old, a promise of Hope.

Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

Come to the garden with your brokenness. Jesus understands what is it to be broken and in turn, has the power to heal our brokenness.

Anchored in Hope,

Pastor Phil

Seasons of Change

This last week we experienced the first day of spring according to the calendar (March 20). This change is meant to signify that winter has passed and brighter days are ahead. During the winter season things go into a dormancy stage awaiting the spring when newness can be revealed. I feel like this is symbolic of our lives, where we are coming out of a season of winter into a season of spring. Dormancy is defined as “A state of inactivity during the development of many plants characterized by their inability to grow, though continuing their morphological and physiological activities.” This dormancy is also experienced in our lives, nothing has changed, but we seem to be in an inactive state. Our routines remain the same, but growth has waned. Be encouraged, you have been in a season of dormancy and spring has arrived.

The prophet Hosea calls out to you in Hosea 10:12 “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” How will you respond, will you take an active roll in breaking up your fallow ground or will you stay in winter’s hibernation? Turning over the ground of our lives is important if we are to receive the newness the Jesus has in store for our lives. The verse says: “break up your fallow ground” indicating that it must have been tilled before. This makes me believe that God is speaking to the Christian here. Someone who has already received Christ as Savior since the Holy Spirit is the one that cultivates our soil and prepares it for planting.

Anchored in Hope,

Pastor Phil

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