Friday, March 15, 2019

What Do You Hunger and Thirst For?

Please check out the latest encouragement video about Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Fruit of The Spirit - Self-Control

Read: Ephesians 4:22-24, Proverbs 25:28, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, Romans 14:13-23, Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Corinthians 6:18, and Luke 9:23.

We desperately need more self-control in our world as it seems to be such a tumultuous time where so many are lacking this character quality and Fruit of the Spirit.

If we’re honest we see that we live in what is a largely self-centered, entitled society that wants what they want no matter what anyone else wants. It’s a ”me” or “I” viewpoint. 

They put themselves first.

However, those who know the Lord, should be abiding in Him, and walking in the power, help and direction from the Holy Spirit…we are to put off our old life, put on the new life and shift our focus off ourselves and onto the Lord and others!

The Definition of Tenacity:

When I think of the Fruit of the Spirit and especially the Fruit of Self-Control, the word Tenacity comes to mind and here's how dictionaries define it: 

the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
the quality or fact of being very determined; determination
the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.
Tenacity – synonyms are persistence, determination, perseverance, doggedness, strength of purpose, tirelessness, patience, purposefulness, steadfastness, staying power, endurance.

Like before A Football Game, Wrestling Match, or music competition or one of the many musicals I was a part of…There was this ownership and feeling that accompanied those ongoing things. This tenacity translated onto the sports field or music stage and was a driving force to continue to grow and excel. 

I believe that while it is The Holy Spirit that brings about gifts that are The Fruit of The Spirit, we are to be tenacious in growing in Christ and allowing His Spirit to work in and through us!

The Definition of Self-Control:

The ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, especially in difficult situations such as: 

  • The ability for you and I to say no the things which aren’t good for us or others.
  • The ability and desire to put off the old life and put on the new.
  • The denial of our selfish desires and the striving after God’s purpose, plan and will.
God always has something better in store for us if we do things His way! (See Ephesians 4:22-24)

Self-Control is important because we really cannot grow to be more Christ-like without self-control. 

Furthermore, as we work hard to control our thoughts, words and actions, we provided proof that God is at work in and through our lives and we have to put on the armor of God regularly because there are many things that can hinder self-control.

It seems that with every other Fruit of the Spirit that it takes some measure of self-control to fulfill each of them. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.

Examples of Self-Control and Your Calling to Self Control:

I recall reading about Edmund Hilary who was the first man who conquered Mount Everest,  (29,029 feet tall & is earth’s highest mountain)

He was asked by an interviewer about his passions for climbing mountains. He gave this reply: "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

Self-Control is largely the conquering of ourselves but the most amazing thing is that we don’t conquer on our own…we have God’s help every step of the way.

Proverbs 25:28 says, "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control."

This is especially relevant to the times where they had fortified cities.

I wonder if you and I see people like this verse describes? People whose life’s are like broken old dilapidated houses?  If we do, it’s because they haven’t maintained their physical and spiritual house. The analogy is even more relevant when you’re a home owner, however, if you're in Christ, He’s rebuilt the temple and taken residence up inside of us.

We are no longer that broke down house in Christ and we have to fortify ourselves through abiding in Christ and His Word so we can face the day-to-day battles so we won’t succumb to the pressures the influences that wage war against us.

As we read 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, we see that this passage is a picture of Self-Control and we’re reminded that our prize is eternal life with Christ. We don’t run this race without purpose / aimlessly because He gives us a greater purpose to live and run this race He’s placed ahead of us!

Note: He says here that He disciplines his body and keep it under control. We need to do the same including controlling our minds / thoughts.

We also have to remember once again that our actions can positively or negatively impact others. In this case…our actions, words, attitudes can cause others to stumble in the area of Self-Control. As Romans 14:13-23 reminds us, we should not be a stumbling block for one another.

We are also constantly under attack so self-control is needful in our lives and others.

We’re not to fear battles we face but we need to recognize that there is a real spiritual warfare going on and we need The Spirit of God to strengthen us and again, help fortify our spiritual walls so we can stand strong. I mention this and the next passage because it directly impacts our success and failure with grow Self-Control and the other Fruit of The Spirit! (See Ephesians 6:12)

We also have to be on alert as we recognize through the discernment of Christ who is our enemy and have the wisdom from Him to know those things and people that do not have our best in mind but maybe seek to harm us in one way or another. (See 1 Peter 5:8)

Another rampant thing in our world is immorality and as follower's of Christ, we're called to flee immorality which also (See 1 Corinthians 6:18) takes self-control...and sometimes in life…you will not only have to figuratively flee…but you may have to physically flee what it is that is detrimental to you. 

Following Christ takes sacrifice and denial of self – and if the Fruit of the Self-Control is at work in you, you should have no issue denying yourself to follow Christ and gain all that He is at work in and through you to accomplish! (Luke 9:23)

I want you to remember something: your conduct matters now and in the future. Whatever you do today can set precedence for your future whether positively or negatively.

We can cause our own obstacles for progress when we choose to do the things which we know will adversely impact ourselves and others. We aren’t called to live a perfect life but we are called to strive for holiness, including striving to be more Christ-like.

Self-Control takes a lot of work. It takes a tenaciousness to be committed to your pursuit of Christ and in pursuing Him, allowing His Holy Spirit to work in and through you to help you bear fruit!

Exhortation to grow in Self-Control:

If you want to grow in this or any of the Fruit of The Spirit, you need help! So, ask the Holy Spirit for help!

In order to successfully grow you need to also abide in Christ each day! You need to own your growth and pursuit of Christ.

I also suggest that you assess the things and people that are influencing your life. Consider if there are friends, settings or things you need to avoid going forward as they negatively impact you and cause you to struggle with self-control? Are there things or people that may be tempting you or causing you to stumble? If so, it's time to purge those people or things.
This may sound hard nosed but, sometimes this is exactly what you need to do successfully grow! 

Let me also encourage you to be tenacious and own your words, actions and thoughts.

The Fruit of The spirit results in a change in our mind, behavior, and character that comes about because of the Holy Spirit's Work in us! 

As we close this series of posts out, I realized it's been far too long so I thought it was finally time to finish The Fruit of The Spirit Series after refocusing my time on other projects back to this one briefly. :-) 

Your Brother and Servant In Christ,

Randolph Koch

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day 2019!

Happy Valentine's Day!   

Here's an audio recording of 1 Corinthians 13 https://youtu.be/lhBzrm-4X4w

May you enjoy celebrating the love of God through His Son Jesus each and every day!

In Christ,
Your Brother and Servant,

Randolph Koch

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
-1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬13 ESV
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#ValentinesDay #love #faith #hope #truth #wisdom #life #encourage #encouragement #Jesus #HolySpirit #bible #scripture #GodsWord #heart #mind #soul #strength #christian #Christianity #christfollower #ashepherdsheart

Thursday, January 31, 2019

You Are A Child Of God!

Read: 1 John 3:1, 1 John 2:28-3:10, and Romans 8:14-17

When doubt-filled questions and accusations a hurled at you, speaking truth to yourself from God's Word is vital. It's vital no matter the season. The truth is that the enemy and others seek to tear you down, but, they forget Whose you are and Who you are in Christ! You tend to forget sometimes as well! 

We all are faced with times of doubt and times where the enemy and others seem to be on the attack. During this times we need to remember that through Christ we are His and through Him we are Secure, Accepted, and Significant. WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE MOST HIGH GOD!
I recall a season when one of my kids were not seeing themselves for how God sees them and they were really down on themselves while listening to the wrong voices. In the moment, I had them stand in front of the mirror and speak truth to themselves instead of believing the lies they've been told. I wanted them to see their own reflection and remember Who they reflect as we're made in His Image.

They needed to remember Whose they are and we all need to remember this!

We are nobodies who know SOMEBODY! Jesus Christ!

You have to decide which voice you are you going to listen to. God's Voice - The One Who is for you? Or the world's voice - those who are often against you?

Friend, remember Whose you are and cast out any doubt or negative voices and speak His truth over yourself instead of the doubts and lies in Jesus Name!


In Christ Alone,
Your Brother and Servant in Christ,

Randolph Koch 

Friday, January 25, 2019

God Is Always On Time.

When you're in a season of trial and growth, sometimes it can be easy to slip into doubt mode. You may have even prayed and prayed and God seems "Silent" or you're wondering "Where is He?", or, "When it God going to show up?"

Let me encourage you to not listen to those voices because based on God's Word and even your own past experiences, you know God is always on time - no matter what! 

The negative voices you hear and the dialogue that goes on in your head during these seasons is a product of doubt and not a product of faith. Hold on to faith and reject all the negative voices of doubt...including the whispers of the enemy or other people.

God always shows up in His perfect timing so don't spend anymore time worrying and shift your faith into "high gear" as you know God is your rock always.

Read the following passages and be encouraged: 2 Peter 3:8-9, 1 Peter 5:6-8, James 4:13-17, Psalm 23:4, Matthew 6:25-34, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 5: 1-5, and Isaiah 41:10.


Your Brother and Servant In Christ,

Randolph Koch

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Your Words Matter


Do you find yourself speaking negative or defeating words to yourself or others? Do you speak words that often tear down? 

Let me ask you: 

#1 Whose are you? 
#2 What does the scripture say about our words and what kind of words we should speak? #3 In Christ, Are you a victim or a victor? 
#4 Would you rather speak or receive life giving words or the opposite?
 
I pray God helps us speak words that are acceptable to Him and as much as possible, brings life to the hearers...including ourselves.

Here are some of the many scriptures about our words and how they truly matter.
Psalm 19:14, Colossians 4:6, 1 Peter 3:10, Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 15:4, Matthew 15:11, Proverbs 21:23, Proverbs 26:20, Psalm 34:13, Psalm 141:3, Titus 3:1-2, Proverbs 17:27-28, James 1:19-26

Lets work hard at choosing our words wisely as our words truly matter. May we strive to speak words that build up and don't tear down. Lets speak words of life! 


Your Brother and Servant in Christ,

Randolph Koch

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The "9 Keys To Walking In Christ" YouVersion Bible App Devotional Plan Just Turned 6 Months Old!

Hello!

It's hard to believe that just a little over 6 months ago my first YouVersion Bible App devotional plan, "9 Keys To Walking In Christ", was released. (07/09/2018). This 9-Day plan is available in written and audio format. 

I wanted to share it again especially for those who have recently started following my little ministry. It simply an imperfect attempt to share 9 of the many practical things you and I can do to strengthen our walk in Christ. 

Here's The Plan description: "How do you walk in Christ? Like eating right and regular exercise, you have to be disciplined in exercising your faith to grow in your walk with Him. God's Word outlines many practical principles that will help you successfully walk in Christ. The aim of this devotional is to guide you through nine of the keys to help strengthen your walk."  

Here's the link to the plan: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/12135-9-keys-to-walking-in-christ

More information below...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Do Not Forsake Assembling Together: We're Better Together!

Read: Hebrews 10:23-25, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Acts 2:44-47, Acts 4:33-35, and Proverbs 27:17. 

God's Word teaches us that from the very beginning it is by His design that He never intended mankind to be or do life alone. 

You can check out the first several chapters of Genesis for instance where He didn't want Adam to be alone so He created Eve. Furthermore, Adam and Eve had a direct relationship with God as well because they, like all of us where create for relationship with Him and others.

Woven through out the Old and New Testament we see God placing an emphasis on relationships and specifically in the New Testament He exhorts us that we are a part of the body of Christ and we play a specific part in relationship with others.

While it may not always feel like it, we are truly better doing life together.  And together, we are a part of something greater than ourselves.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy New Year 2019: Entering the New Year With Hope and Prayer!



Read: Jeremiah 29:11-13, Mark 11:17, James 4:2, Matthew 7:7, Hebrews 4:16, Romans 5:1-5, 1 Corinthians 3:16, and Numbers 6:24-26

Happy New Year 2019!

Can you believe it’s a new year already!? As we look forward to any new year, we often look forward with the hope of better things to come and if you’re in Christ, you have much to remain hopeful about!

If we’re honest, sometimes we can lose sight of the hope we have because of the circumstances we face, but, we need to be sure that our hope is grounded completely in The Lord or it’s not true hope at all! Why? Because if our hope is in Christ, this is not a temporal hope as hope in Him is an unshakable hope! This is the true hope that is built on the unshakable foundation of Jesus!

Let me encourage you to remember during every season of life, including all that’s ahead in this New Year, that nothing you face can shake the hope you have in Him!

Hold on to hope in Christ! Don’t allow anything to steal your hope and may you realize that your faith and hope should grow even stronger through the help of The Holy Spirit.
It’s been an especially challenging year for many of us for sure and for some it’s been a year of blessings upon blessing.

Regardless of what you’ve experienced, it’s still a perfect time to reflect on all the Lord has done in your life and to take a perspective, or “pulse” check to see where you are in your walk and life with the Lord.

He calls each of us to seek Him with all of our heart and promises that we will find Him and He will listen. Enter the New Year focusing on building and enhancing your prayer life. Based on His Holy Word we know that He wants our churches, the Body of Christ as whole, and ourselves to be “Houses of Prayer” or in sum, focus ourselves on prayer as He emphasizes that prayer should be a priority.

If the Lord wants us to pray, and it’s a true priority to Him, then why don’t we in turn really pray!? In fact, the Lord is the best role model of this for us as He constantly went to pray to the Father and He called His Disciples to pray many times. Each of us should be a house of prayer as we are His temples. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16) Not only this, but, He just plainly deserves our prayers and everything we are. Not to sound somewhat cliche but we should really become true “Prayer Warriors”, as this life is a real battlefield, spiritually and physically.

In Jim Cymbala’s book "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire", he has this to say about the apostles’ priority of prayer,
“The apostles had this instinct: When in trouble, pray. When intimidated, pray. When challenged, pray. When persecuted, pray.”

What a great observation! What a truly awesome challenge for us- Can we like the apostles, make prayer our priority in every circumstance, even when we’re not facing troubling times? Just making prayer so much a part of us that we pray throughout the day or set a special portion of the day a side to, intercede, cry out, praise, thank, communicate, etc., with Him through prayer! He wants to hear from us. It pleases Him so much when we focus our attention on Him through prayer.

Why not forget the New Year resolutions this year and consider instead, seeking God’s will for your life and telling Him the desires of your heart? Why not pour yourself out to Him through your fervent prayers and serving Him and others?

May you renew your commitment or begin making prayer a vital part of your life- every day! This can begin with you and I then maybe, just maybe, our example of a prayerful and a “prayer full” life will spread to the Body of Christ as a whole, then on into every Christian Church locally where ever we live around the world?! We can then be the houses of prayer, as the Lord would desire us to be.

Why not make this year an even more special New Year, by entering it in prayer! Seek Him today with all of your heart and be encouraged that He desires this and is ready and waiting to hear from you.

Ring in the New Year filled with hope and prayer!

Questions To Get Started With:
-What or Who is the foundation of your hope?
-What are the barriers in your life to holding on to true hope in Christ?
-Do you remain hopeful no matter the circumstances you face?
-Will you help build others up with the hope you have in Christ?
-Will you make prayer a priority in your life this New Year?
-Will you “pray in” the New Year this New Year’s Eve?
-What kind of changes do you need to make in order for prayer to be a priority?
-If prayer is already a priority for you, what can you do to encourage others to pray?
-Do you know someone that can help you be accountable to your commitment to the Lord in your walk with Him?
-Consider keeping a prayer journal chronicling / highlighting your prayer times with Him, answers to prayer, the revealing of His will for you over time, etc. This is a great exercise for us to make a habit to see Him at work in our lives.

Again, Happy New Year! Keep Seeking, Serving, and Loving Him with all that is within you! 

Your Brother and Servant in Christ,
Randolph Koch
-Founder and Servant-Shepherd of A Shepherd’s Heart

Friday, December 21, 2018

Merry Christmas From A Shepherd's Heart 2018!





https://youtu.be/6l9g5cLN_Hg


Merry Christmas from A Shepherd's Heart!
Here's a reading of Luke 2:1-35 (Begins about 28 seconds in) with a little Christmas music.
I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas,
Your Brother and Servant In Christ,
Randolph Koch
-Founder and Servant-Shepherd of A Shepherd's Heart
https://www.ashepherdsheart.org

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Celebrate Christmas With All Your Heart!

Read: Luke 2, Matthew 2:1-16 and Colossians 2:16

Christmas, it's a special time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. 

I love this time of year and whether or not people realize it, it all points to Jesus and the truth of why He came in the first place!

It's sad to me that there are some who choose to not celebrate Christmas. They state various legalistic opinions such as:

  • "We're not told to celebrate Christmas in the Bible."
  • "Christmas is a pagan holiday"
  • "Jesus wasn't really born in December".
  • "Santa is really satan in disguise."
  • "Christ is a made up commercial holiday".

This is just a few of the many supposed reasons.  Granted, it's their choice of course to not celebrate but I have to scratch my head as to why knowing The One we celebrate as well as the behavior of some of these toward those who do celebrate Christmas!

Unfortunately, some of these same people go as far as vilifying those in the body who do celebrate the birth of Christ and I've been harangued by those same sorts. Honestly, some act like certain cult groups do in their choice not to celebrate Christmas. They have their opinion and it's just that, their opinion. They choose to not celebrate the most important birth and birthday ever!?

There was one recent year where every time I posted something about Christmas here on my website or social media, I was met with criticism and name calling as if I was breaking some some teaching in the scripture and I was going to lose my salvation!? It was completely ridiculous! 

I also find it ironic that some of these same naysayers will gladly celebrate the victories of their favorite sports teams and yet they won't celebrate the birth of their Savior?! Go enjoy your large quantities of boneless chicken wings, nachos, and the brew of your choosing (not that I recommend this)...oh, wait, gluttony is something God's Word does actually teach against! Oh, never mind...there I go talking about what's actually in the scriptures instead of just an opinion. Silly me. (Read Proverbs 23:2, Proverbs 23:20-21, Proverbs 28:7 for starters.)

So, whether you choose celebrate the birth of Christ or not, I believe it has everything to do with the perspective of what you focus on. Either you focus on and celebrate His Birth or you don't. 

If you're a follower of Christ who has received his free gift of salvation, let me encourage you in that you have the freedom and permission in Christ to celebrate Christmas as its a celebration of the birth of Christ which is the most important birth and birthday ever! 

You are not breaking scripture by celebrating and rejoicing in His Birth! 
You will not lose your salvation by celebrating and rejoicing in His Birth! 

He is worthy and deserving of our praise, including celebrating His advent, (arrival aka His birth/birthday) upon this earth according to God's plan! If we celebrate His birth, it's grounded in The Word of God as we celebrate the King of Kings who came and humbled Himself entering the world as a baby. His entry ultimately led to His sacrifice on the cruel cross many years later taking on the sins of mankind so that through receiving His free gift of salvation we might have forgiveness and life! 

Now, was Jesus born in December? Most likely not, but, The Church chose a date at some point in church history to celebrate and commemorate that which we can celebrate all year long of course! There's nothing wrong with celebrating on December 25th or another date for countries that observe Christmas earlier or later. 

Just as the scripture teaches us that no one is to judge us for what we eat, drink or festivals we choose to celebrate, (Read Colossians 2:16),  if you keep your celebration focused on Christ's birth and grounded in God's Word, you can and should celebrate Christmas with your whole heart regardless of what others choose to do or say! 

We have much to rejoice in His birth and if He didn't come, we would not experience His gift of salvation or the gift He is!

Let me ask: Did they celebrate His birth in the scriptures? Most definitely they did! 

  • Read Luke 2 for instance where the shepherds, and others came upon notice from the angel and worshiped Jesus and celebrated His birth. (Luke 2:8-20)


  • Furthermore, some time later, the magi came to worship and celebrate Him, worship Him,  and they even brought gifts! (Matthew 2:1-16)


  • You can also read where Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, and He was celebrated there too! (Luke 2:22-35)

So, join me in celebrating THE most important birth and birthday ever with all your your heart and don't let anyone steal your joy or judge you for doing so! 

We will celebrate Jesus now and we'll celebrate Him for all eternity! 

Merry Christmas! 

Because He Is the Reason For The Season,
Your brother and servant in Christ,

Randolph Koch

P.S. For your enjoyment: Here are soundcloud.com versions of my two Christmas devotionals that were published last month. 




If you click on the daily devotional title the scripture references will be there for reading.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Free Resource From A Shepherd's Heart For Celebrating Advent!

Hello and Merry Christmas! 

I absolutely love Christmas time and incorporating an Advent into the time of celebration can be a fantastic way to help focus our hearts, worship, and celebration on the birth of Christ - The reason we celebrate CHRISTmas in the first place!

I created a Celebrating Advent guide, that is written from a non-denominational Christian perspective, as a simple tool/guide/starting point to help guide you in your observance. 

This resource is perfect to use as an individual, with family and friends or for your local church body as well to celebrate together!

As you'll see, there is practical information about Advent, instructions to guide you each week of Advent including suggested Scriptures and Prayers you can use or you can obviously do your own prayers and dive further into the scriptures as well. 

Download your free copy today via this link:  Celebrating Advent

No matter what, have fun, make it personal as you approach Him with a humble and thankful heart!

Have a great Christmas and Advent celebration as you celebrate the birth of Christ!

Please check out this resource and tell your friends about it as well as we seek to follow Christ and keep Him in the center of our Christmas celebration!

Because He is The reason for the season,

Randolph Koch
     -Founder and Servant-Shepherd of A Shepherd's Heart

P.S. If you haven't heard, excited to share that 2 of my Christmas Devotionals just went live in in the YouVersion Bible App and Website! 

Here are the links to both plans! 
Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled.
https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/13399-christmas-the-promise-fulfilled 

The Wonder of Christmas. 
https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/13380-the-wonder-of-christmas