Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shepastor: "Lord, Don't Let My Ankles Turn!!!"

In Psalm 18: 35-36, NIV
David declared,

35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand has supported me;
your help[a] has made me great.
36 You gave me a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.


An older version of the NIV Bible says verse 36 like this…

You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn


I love David’s analogy that the Lord “broadened the path beneath his feet so that his ankles did not turn.”
This image reminds me of the days when I wore high heels. I was always trying to be careful where and how I walked because I did not want to turn my ankle, trip and fall! Although some are still wearing those skinny heals, more and more shoe manufacturers are creating “chunky heels” in stylish ways. It’s too easy to trip, fall and turn your ankle on those skinny heals!

In the same way, the Lord “broadened the path” beneath David’s feet…in other words the Lord opened up more room for David to “walk.”

With all of his military might, with all of his greatness as a king, with all of his riches and prosperity, David was clear about one thing…It was GOD that made him great. It was God that knew him even before he was shaped in the womb…it was God that caused the prophet Samuel to look beyond his outer appearance and see that he was the one to be anointed as King of Israel…it was God that gave him the courage to stand up against the giant Goliath and kill him with a sling shot and some stones. It was God that caused him to triumph over Saul and all of his enemies.

David knew God intimately
. David feared God and repented when confronted with his sin. David loved the Lord above all else. David understood that God and only God could have taken a little Shepard boy and make him great. Even when David got off track and sinned, God saw that he had a humble and repentant heart.

When we are clear that all of our help comes from the Lord, when we embrace God’s help and submit to God’s will for our lives, our perspective is “broadened” such that our proverbial “ankles don’t turn.” Many trip and fall because they try to walk the walk of faith in their own strength.

Life is filled with pit falls, hidden crevices, things that can “trip us up.” But with the help of the Lord, we can “run through troops and leap over walls” (Psalm 18: 29, KJV). David experienced many painful and dark days. His perspective, however, caused him to live victoriously and triumph over every situation and circumstance. God “broadened the path beneath his feet” through cultivating his perspective.

When afraid, David turned to the Lord for reassurance. When abandoned by so-called friends, ridiculed and discouraged, David encouraged himself in the Lord. When David walked in darkness, he declared the Lord to be his light and salvation. David’s path was broadened beneath his feet because of his perspective. David trusted God as his helper and as one who is well able to carry him through!

The Lord can lift you out of a fearful, discouraged, cramped, shackled, bound mentality and enlarge your awareness of God’s authority and power in your life. God can open up your mind and broaden your outlook and your perspective so that you don’t “turn your proverbial ankle” and fall! The Lord wants to prepare a place for you to walk freely, unencumbered, tall and strong. God, however, will not override your will. You must surrender to God’s leading and determine to trust.

The Lord Himself will support you, will lead you, will hold your hand and if necessary will carry you. It is God who stoops down to make us great – great in love, great in healing, great in righteous living, great in terms of our walk with Him.

Ask the Lord today to broaden the path beneath your feet so that your ankles don’t turn!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Shepastor: "God is our refuge..."

Psalm 46New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 46
God’s Defense of His City and People
To the leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A Song.


1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present[a] help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city;[b] it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.[c]Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.[d]Selah



May all of those impacted by the devastation from natural disasters find strength, hope and a mind to "run on and see what the end is gonna be," through trusting in God...our refuge and strength.

May we do all that we can by whatever means possible to come to their aid.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
in Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Shepastor: “Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up???”

8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8, KJV

Throughout history, defining moments occur…moments when rhetoric, “loud hosannas,” and “straddling the fence” won’t fly. There are times when individuals are compelled to show forth their “real.” We are facing one of those moments now…

Today our Nation’s President made a decision to end the DACA program. “DACA” stands for, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Congress has been given six months to address the issue of undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. as children – an issue that has evaded a resolution for decades.

In the article, “What is DACA? A look at rescinded immigrant programme,” AlJazeera News provides an overview of how approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants ended up in the predicament of potential deportation if the United States Congress does not legislate comprehensive immigration laws in six months.

For those who do not understand what’s going on, here are some “fast facts…”

- DACA was created by then-president Barack Obama in 2012 after intense pressure from advocates who wanted protections for the young immigrants who were mostly raised in the US but lacked legal status.

- The programme protects them from deportation - granting them a two-year reprieve that can be extended and by issuing them a work permit and social security number.

- DACA recipients must have no criminal record, proof they were brought to the US before age 16, and be under 31 when the programme was launched but at least 15-years old when applying.

- The application cost is nearly $500 and permits must be renewed every two years. The application and renewal process take several weeks.

- DACA does not give beneficiaries legal US residency. Recipients get temporary reprieves from deportation and permission to temporarily work.

- Frustration grew during the Obama administration over repeated failures to pass the "Dream Act", which would have provided a path to legal US citizenship for the young immigrants who ended up becoming DACA beneficiaries and became known as "Dreamers."


- The last major attempt to pass the legislation was in 2011.

- Immigrant activists staged protests and participated in civil disobedience in an effort to push Obama to act after Congress did not pass legislation. DACA is different than the Dream Act because it does not provide a pathway to legal residency or citizenship. (Information obtained from, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/daca-rescinded-immigrant-programme-170905192454024.html )

Some feel that “the Law is the Law” and there is a clear cut answer to the problem – simply deport them and send them back to where they came from. Some believe that these young people are “taking their jobs,” committing crimes, bringing down our country and are receiving benefits that they don’t deserve.

The fact of the matter is that these young people are “American” in every way. They know no other country. They are not on “welfare.” They are not criminals. They willingly came out of the shadows to provide their documentation to the U.S. Government. They are students, they are law abiding citizens, they are employees, they are tax payers, they are service men and women.

According to Micah 6:8, at this defining moment in history, the people of God are being called upon to “Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” Imagine being dragged out of your home, off of your job, out of your school, “round up” with others like you, thrown on an airplane and dropped off in a country that you know little or nothing about, don’t speak their language, and have no means of providing for yourself – no job, no home, no money, no food, no family or friends, no resources, no hope!

That’s what mass deportation looks like for 800,000 human beings. May we have a “Selah” moment… “pause and think about that…
Will the “real” Christians please stand up???

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Shepastor: "Prayers for Those in the Storm..."

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2, KJV

While many face "figurative" storms in life, this week we pause to remember all of those being pounded by Hurricane Harvey. Several feet of water, homes destroyed, hospitals and nursing homes evacuated, families trapped, thousands without electricity, clean water, dry clothes, and food. Hurricane Harvey has pummeled Texas without mercy! But we praise God for the rescue workers, the Red Cross, the National Guard, the police, fire fighters and everyday volunteers who have come from the north, south, east and west to provide whatever help they can.

"Our hearts, Lord, are overwhelmed. You, oh Lord, are above all. Lead us to you. May we your people rise to the occasion to give help in whatever ways that we can. May the love of Christ shine through our hands and feet. May we give liberally to assist with rescue efforts. May the people in the midst of the storm feel your help and know that they are not forsaken. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen."

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Shepastor: "Lessons from a Mad Man..."

A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.

1I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Psalm 34: 1-8

The Hebrew word, “Halal,” serves as the root for our word, “Hallelujah.” It means "to be clear, to shine, to boast, to show, to rave, to celebrate and to be clamorously foolish.”

In this passage of scripture, David was fleeing for his life from King Saul. Out of desperation he runs to the land of the Philistines to hide. David sought refuge in the enemy camp because he thought that Saul would not look for him there. But even David’s enemies recognized who he was. They ran and told King Achish, “isn’t this David, the one about whom the Hebrew women sang, “Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed 10 thousands?”

At that, the king went out to see if in fact the mighty warrior David was in the land. David had to think quickly – there was no where to run or to hide, so he decided to act crazy – like a mad man in order to disguise himself from the king of the Philistines. The scripture says that David began to foam at the mouth, began clawing and scratching at the city gates and writing on the walls. When the king saw this he said, “Surely this mad man is not the mighty warrior David – you all are wasting my time!”

So David, by behaving like a mad man was spared and was able to get out of Gath unharmed. When David escaped both Saul and Achish, he began to praise God. In Psalm 34, David is clear, he is boasting, he is raving, he is celebrating, he is being “clamorously foolish” about praising God - his deliverer, his keeper, his provider, his protector, his mighty battle axe.

This story teaches us some powerful lessons about praise:

Praise consoles us during difficult situations


David had developed a life of praise. David understood that when we elect to praise God, we take the focus off of our situation, our challenge, our fear, and place our focus upon the power of the awesome God we serve. David didn’t make that declaration “I will bless the Lord at all times – His praise shall continually be in my mouth…” when all was going well. David was able to make that bold statement even in the midst of his deepest darkest hour of pain, fear and distress because David developed a deep relationship with God. David knew God intimately. David took time to learn what it meant to walk with God, trust in God, wait on deliverance from God – to see God as a shield and buckler. David’s praise grew out of knowing God.

When we praise God, we remind ourselves that we are not in this battle, this struggle, this difficulty, this situation or circumstance alone. When we praise God – we remind ourselves that God has all power in His hand and no battle is too difficult or hard for Him. When we praise God, we release a super natural power and strength in our lives to help us to focus – to persevere, to pursue, to keep on running, keep on pressing, keep on striving, keep on keeping in Jesus’ name! Praise consoles us, strengthens us and helps us to keep moving ahead.

Powerful praise gives rise to victory

All throughout the Old Testament, we find the prophets telling God’s people to praise Him. Often as Israel was preparing to go out to war, God would send the prophets to have the musicians, the singers and the priests to go out before the army – to lead in the procession to the battlefield. The prophet would declare, “Don’t fear – the battle is not yours, it’s the Lord’s!” The Levites – that priestly clan of musicians and singers would rise up and start singing in loud voices, “Jehovah the God of Israel reigns!” They marched before the army saying, “Glorify Jehovah, because His mercy endures forever!” When confronted with human enemies, the Levites responded by praising the Lord with a “strong and loud voice.” Whenever they did that – God gave them the victory. The result of powerful praise was total victory! Praise gives rise to victory. When we combine an intimate relationship with God – a relationship of prayer, reading, studying and applying God’s Word to our lives with praise, the result is victorious living. There is great power in prayer and praise.

Praise is a mighty weapon against the enemy of our souls.


Although we may appear “mad” or foolish to others, when we praise God through our struggles, our focus turns towards God and away from the valley. When we by faith choose to “look up and live,” we frustrate the enemy’s plans to defeat us. Praise releases something within us. Praise empowers us to trust God in every situation and circumstance. Praise reminds us that we have something and someone greater that what our eyes can see.

Even in the midst of your pain, disappointment and struggle, begin to bless the Lord. Give God your praise. God will honor your “sacrifice of praise,” and give you victory in the days ahead.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Shepastor: "Fake Religion..."

Amos 5: 21-24, NRSV
I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


A phrase we keep hearing is “Fake News.” These words refer to reports that individuals refuse to hear or accept because the information does not “jive” with the messages they want conveyed…be they true or not!

In our text for today, however, the prophet Amos receives a message to share with God’s people…a message that they may not necessarily want to hear but need to hear. The people were practicing a “fake religion.” They were having elaborate festivals of “praise,” singing loud songs, making sacrifices, dancing, shouting, performing various religious rituals, etc., but were ignoring they true ways of God.

The Lord said,

“Take away from me the noise of your songs: I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5: 23-24, NIV
It was offensive to God that “religious people” were ignoring the more important aspects of worship and praise. God wanted the people to have “true religion…” According to Isaiah 58: 6-9, NIV, really worshiping and serving God looks like this…

6“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and God will say, ‘Here I am.’”
Amos’ message still rings true today. God is looking for more…more than loud “hallelujah’s,” more than praise fests, special frocks and garments…more than men’s and women’s retreats and conferences, more than huge, elaborate edifices…more than live streamed gatherings with thousands of people…

God is looking for women and men who will “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). God is looking for the Church to speak up against, hate filled rhetoric, extreme “nationalism” and supremacy of one people over another. God is looking for a Church that speaks up against policies and legislation that oppresses the poor, unjustly prosecutes the alien, discriminates and marginalizes minorities, women and children…that mistreats and casts down anyone.

God is looking for leaders that walk in integrity…that won’t take bribes, that won’t, abuse their power and authority, that won’t crush others in order to climb the proverbial ladder, that can’t be “bought or sold” for a price…

God desires a people that look more like the love, mercy, grace, peace, justice, compassion and healing that God gave us through Jesus Christ. May we do all that we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit to live out true religion…not according to our standards, but according to God’s Holy Word.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Shepastor: "Good Things Have Emerged From an Unfortunate Outcome..."

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to God's Purpose." Romans 8:28, KJV

For many, the current state of affairs in the United Staes of America since the election of our 45th President has been alarming, disturbing and frightening. For a plethora of reasons, many threw caution to the wind and elected an individual they believed would "deliver." Painful realities, however, have begun to set in...racial divisions and hate crimes are at an all time high in recent history. Individuals are fearful of losing health care coverage they recently received under the Affordable Care Act. Those living in "Coal Country" are anxiously awaiting the return of jobs that more than likely will not return. What was once known as the "Middle Class" is rapidly declining. The vast majority of Americans feel that they cannot trust the words or assertions of the President. It appears that world war three is on the horizon...

But in the midst of all of this mayhem, some very beautiful things are emerging. Although violence, hatred, ignorance and greed are swirling all around, a spirit of kindness, compassion, unity, hope and courage is breaking forth. Recently a local school district made the decision to provide breakfast and lunch to ALL children regardless of their ability to pay. Voices around the Nation are rising to challenge the unfair treatment of people of color, immigrants and those struggling through gender issues. People are beginning to pay more attention to the environment and how our behaviors are impacting climate change.

Ironically, what is best in us frequently emerges as we face the worst. In the final analysis, something deep within many reminds us that we are better than the ugly, the evil, the greed and the selfishness. Love always prevails. It may not happen overnight but slowly, steadily, surely, love prevails.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org