Prayer Concerns
• Pat Terrell – at home with COVID 19, has been fairly sick.
• Linda Dickens/Husband Steve – COVID 19, Linda has been quite sick.
• Karen Jacks – Greenville Memorial, surgery on Tuesday, expects to come home today.
• Ray Patterson – Laurens Mem, digestive issues.
• Marianne Hawkins – snake bite last Thursday, leg swollen but okay otherwise.
• Mike & Susan Little – Mike taking chemotherapy, Susan has speech/memory issues.
• Wayland Sherman – home now, was in hospital with ulcers.
• Phyllis Metz – NHC, rehab after broken hip.
• Noel Spencer – recovering from outpatient knee surgery recently
• Cyndy & Bobby O’Rear – Cyndy had gallbladder surgery recently.
• Don Franks – surgery to remove tumor this Friday, July 17.
• Francis Feighner – now home, advanced stages of cancer.
• Jim Davis – now home after stay at NHC with congestive heart failure.
• Debbie Campbell – continues rehab in Greenville after accident.
• Keith Blore – encouraging doctor’s visit this week, will continue to monitor concerns.
• Bryson Davis – recovering remarkable well four wheeler accident, doing well.
• Jim & Elaine Sumeral – homebound, ongoing health issues.
• Allyson Sherer- continues to do well overall, positive recent doctors’ visits.
• Carolyn Madden – cognitive/physical issues.
• Jane Ivey – recent surgery, hopeful to begin to feel better.
• Bill Ramey – continuing to take treatments.
• Joan Owings – NHC, continues to receive care/treatment.

Worship Options: We will continue to post a worship service every Sunday on our website and via the FBC Laurens App. You may also listen to our service on WLBG at 11:00 each Sunday morning.

Children’s Drive By Ice Cream, on the parking lot, 6-8pm, tonight, July 15.

Senior Adult Sunday School on the Radio: Join us at 3pm each Tuesday afternoon on WLBG. The 30 minute lessons will be offered by a FBC Sunday School teacher.

Children’s Ministry July Taste & See Pick Up, Friday, July 10.

FBC July Golf Fellowships, Tuesday July 21 at Lakeside, 5:30pm.

July FBC Book Club Opportunity, Thomas Mullen’s The Last Town on Earth, Tuesday, July 28th, 7pm.

Reflecting Together
Read: Psalm 23:4

As we look at Psalm 23:4 today, it is important for us to note that the phrase “for you are with me” rests beautifully between, yet connects fully with, two separate thoughts. In the darkest valleys, the presence of the shepherd brings comfort, hope, and strength. At the same time, it can be difficult to understand how the rod and staff which are items so often associated with discipline can bring comfort. David, drawing from his experience and knowledge of shepherding, writes of these two tools that a shepherd used to protect and direct the flock.

The rod was actually a club that was made from a sapling that had been dug from the ground. This club was worn at the belt and would be used as an extension of the shepherd’s arm or hand. It could be thrown accurately to redirect sheep who had wandered from the path or to rattle bushes that may offer hiding for snakes or other predators. The rod would be used to count the sheep as they passed underneath it and as the sheep passed, it would also be used to examine them for any diseases that might be hidden underneath their wool coat. The shepherd’s rod was his weapon of power, authority, and defense.

The staff was a long, slender stick with a crook or hook on one end. It was used as a walking stick, but it was also used to guide, direct, and rescue sheep. The staff, used specifically for the care of sheep, is what identifies one as a shepherd. With the staff, a shepherd can gently guide sheep in the way he wants them to go, similar to walking with them hand-in-hand. The sheep became familiar with the staff as they journeyed through the valleys. They knew the shepherd would correct them when needed.

In a similar way, these are also tools in the hands of the Good Shepherd. The rod speaks of the Word of God which carries power, authority, and defense. Like the shepherd’s rod, the Word of God is an extension of the Lord’s hand. It is an extension of His mind, will, and intentions for us. When we go astray, the Word of God comes swiftly through our hearts and corrects our paths. It remains our protection against the temptations of this world.

The staff speaks of all that is kind and comforting and it is symbolic of the Spirit of God. The staff draws us together into an intimate relationship with Him and with each other. Even in the midst of the jams and impasses of our own making, the Spirit draws us back to Him. The Spirit makes the life of Christ real and personal and intimate to us. As His sheep, it reminds us that we belong to God.

The rod and the staff symbolize protection and correction. God holds power in one hand and grace in the other. When we travel through dark valleys, we can see them as an incomparable source of comfort.

In God’s eyes, we are worth guiding, correcting, and disciplining. Along the way, God is always preparing us for something greater. Once we have passed through our valley, we will begin to see things in a new and larger light.

God never wastes an experience. God will use it for good.

Consider this:

• When you hear the word “discipline” what thoughts come to mind? How do these thoughts differ from God’s view of discipline? How are they similar?

• How are the words discipline and disciple connected?

• Read Psalm 139:23-24. In scripture, the term “wool” speaks of self-will, self-assertion, and self-pride. How do the verses from Psalm 139 relate to the shepherd examining the sheep’s wool for diseases? Why is this important for us today?

• Read John 16:13. What does this verse reveal to us about how the Spirit guides us through our dark valleys?

Prayer: Father, thank You that I am safe because You are with me. Thank you for using Your rod and Your staff to protect and comfort me. I am grateful that You fend off any dangers that do not need to reach me and that I can rest securely because I know that I can rest safely in Your care. You hem me in behind and before. Thank You for Your protection. Amen