Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Shepastor: "Cycles..."

Acts 3: 1-6, NIV
Peter Heals a Lame Beggar


One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”


John 5: 14-15, KJV
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Have you ever seen someone sitting just outside of that which is beautiful, begging, not to get in, but for just to get enough to get by? Has that ever been you? Have you ever sat out begging, if not literally, in your spirit, just outside of that which seems so beautiful…thinking that you can’t have what you really want, so you may as well get what you can get and just remain in a “crippled state?”

This was the case of both men in these two passages of scripture. Both passages feature men who were crippled. We don’t know what happened to them. We don’t know how they lost the use of their legs or even if they ever had the use of their legs. What we do know, based upon the text is that people carried one man to the gate of the Temple every day so that he could beg. The other man laid by a pool for 38 years waiting for someone to put him in.

Let’s look first at the man at the gate called “Beautiful.” Why didn’t someone take him home and help him? Why did the people just pass him by and maybe throw him a coin or two as they went into the temple to pray? We don’t know, but we can only imagine…I imagine the people, much like the priest and the Levite in the story of the “Good Samaritan,” did not want to miss their daily prayer time. Maybe they were concerned that if they stopped to take time with him they might miss their special prayer spot near the front of the Temple!

Maybe they thought he was lazy. Maybe they thought he was a fake. Maybe they just didn’t really care. But what about the man? What happened to his spirit that he just resigned himself to sitting at the “Beautiful Gate” to beg? Culturally, because he was diseased and infirmed, he may have been forbidden to enter the Temple gates. So, he just sat outside of that which was called, “beautiful” and begged.

Some remain in the debilitating state of dysfunction – family dysfunction…cycles of drama…cycles of poverty…cycles of panic…cycles of debt…cycles of low self-esteem…begging for just enough to make it from day to day…sitting just outside of what appears to be beautiful. Some sit watching as other people seem happy…watching as other people seem fulfilled…watching as other people get their praise on…watching as others appear to connect with their God, passing them by as others throw crumbs and coins their way. So, they resign themselves to begging for crumbs and coins, caught up in a cycle. There is a way, however, to break the cycle. It may not be what you want, but it will be what you need!

At times we need a Peter and a John. At times we need someone who will say, “I don’t have crumbs or coins…I don’t have a space for a pity party…I don’t have what you are looking for…something to enable you in your dysfunctional state. But here’s what I do have…in the name of Jesus GET UP AND WALK! I’m not only going to tell you to get up, I’m going to take you by the hand, help you to get up and then help you to walk! I know it’s been a long time since you’ve gotten up. But in the name of Jesus you can get up and I will help you!” Indeed, God is calling for more “Peters and Johns!”

When you’ve been down for so long, out for so long, on the outskirts for so long, it can be a challenge to believe you can walk into the beautiful. When all you’ve done is watch others walk through the “beautiful gate,” brokenness can become an acceptable existence. The Lord, however, has a new script for you. It will be different than what you’ve come to expect. The Lord is sending what you need to get up. Your legs might be wobbly. You may be afraid that people are waiting for you to fall…laughing as you struggle. It will be tough, but it will be alright. You will not be by yourself. The man was begging for money so that he could get some scraps to eat. But the Lord wanted to give him healing so that he could do more than survive. He wanted him thrive.

Cycles of dysfunction vary. Not everyone is like the man encountered by Peter and John. Some are like the man by the pool. Some have been caught up in cycles of dysfunction for so long that they have not taken advantage of what is available to them. They have settled it in their mind that they can’t get up unless somebody drags them over to the pool. They have lost the mind to make it over to the place of healing, the place of deliverance, the place of blessing. For those like the man by the pool of Bethesda, Jesus has another message – GET UP!!!

Jesus takes a hard line with this man. People have been trying to help for a long time, but others can’t want healing for you more than you want it for yourself! You have to want to made whole. When your desire and your efforts meet the mercy and power of God, miracles happen. When Jesus told the man to get up, something stirred within him and he regained strength in his legs and rose.

Jesus told the man something else – He said,
“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Once you have been healed, once you have been delivered, once you have been made free, it is a dangerous thing to go backwards and dabble in the cycles of the past. Cycles are like a whirlpool. If you stick even you toe down into the swirling waters, you could rapidly be pulled back in. When the Lord makes you whole, you must continue the process of healing. It is important to surround yourself with persons who are also moving in the healing direction. Feed your spirit with God’s healing Word. Speak to yourself wholistic and healing words. Keep moving forward! With the help of the Lord, don’t turn back or else something worse will come upon you. The enemy will work over time to drag you back down. Don’t aide his efforts by opening the door back up to dysfunction.

Are you begging for scraps when the Lord wants to empower you to walk and live? Have you resigned yourself to sit just outside of that which is beautiful when the Lord wants you to come running, leaping, jumping and praising into the beauty God has for you? It may not be what you want…but it is what you need. With the help of the Lord YOU CAN BREAK the cycles of dysfunction in your life. Through Christ, you can take the first step TODAY towards the beautiful. What cycles do you need to break? What is blocking you from your beautiful?

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Shepastor: “As We begin Lent...The Power of Our Heavenly Father’s Words”

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God
. Luke 4:1-4, KJV

Today begins the Lenten season – the 40 days leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This passage of scripture found in the Gospel of Matthew introduces us to Jesus’ period of preparation before earthly ministry. He is challenged by a variety of temptations coming from the devil. Throughout this experience, Jesus teaches us how to be victorious over Satan’s “if’s…”

The story of Jesus’ temptation vividly depicts the treachery of the devil, seeking to derail Jesus from his mission and life’s purpose by trying to persuade him to get off track, give in to his weaknesses and to satisfy his cravings for a season. But Jesus was equipped with something far more superior than tempting tactics and words of the devil. Jesus had the words of his Father hidden deep down in his heart.

Jesus’ responses tell us something about our Heavenly Father’s words.

Jesus’1st response to the devil.
Verses 3 and 4 of our text declares,

3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.


Jesus knew that His Father’s words were trustworthy. Jesus let the devil know that physical food, while necessary will not satisfy you. Only God’s Word gives life. In other words, his Father’s words were life giving. His father’s words enabled him to “live” life. Even though he was hungry, he trusted His father’s words over the temptations of Satan.

In order to defeat the devil's "if" about who you are, about what you need, about what will satisfy, you've got to know God's Word. God's Word is the light and life and breath of our souls. When you know God's Holy Word, when you stand upon His promises, when you quote His wisdom to yourself, you beat back the lies and temptation that the devil sends your way. God’s Word teaches us how to “live” verses “exist.” So many are not living life, but rather are moving throughout the corridors of long dark seasons, pondering their purpose, their worth, their reason… Those thoughts open the gateway for the devil’s if’s…

Jesus knew the power of His Father’s words. When we embrace that power, we will unlock the doors that carry us from existing to living abundantly. When you speak God's Word over and into your spirit, God breathes life into you. When you trust God's word, you are less vulnerable to the lies that Satan tells you about yourself. You trust when God's word says, "You are fearfully and wonderfully made." You trust God's word when it says, "I know the plans that I have for you…plans never to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future…" You trust God's word when it declares that you are the righteousness of God. You trust God's word when it declares that if you confess your sins God is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Trusting God's Word will help you defeat the devil's "if’s" and transition you from existing to living.

The consistent love of Jesus’ Father made him secure in himself. In each of the devil’s attempts, he began by questioning who Jesus was, “If you be the son of God….” “If…..” Inherent in the “if” is the question, are you really who you say you are?

Every day, the devil is bombarding God’s children with the question – “If you be so and so then do thus and so….” We must learn that we don’t have to prove anything to the world. We must open our hearts to hear God’s voice, calling and purpose for our lives. We must seek, by God’s grace to live out our purpose.
God is our heavenly Father. He is the supreme example of a Father. God is saying, “I’m here for you – I believe in you, I know all about you, I have a plan for your life. You are beautiful and you are mine.”

During this Lenten season, ask the Lord to increase your thirst for God’s Word. Embrace the promises found therein. Find the answers God has for your life. Move beyond the If’s and run into the arms of a loving God that reveals your true identity!

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Shepastor: "Healing Comes in Phases..."

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into a the village.”
Mark 8: 22-26

The body is a wonderful metaphor for so many issues of life. Whether it is issues of cleansing, growth, physical illness and the need to regurgitate, rest etc., the body also reflects important and spiritual realities. Consider the healing aspects of the body and how the body can teach us some things about emotional and spiritual healing.

Healing does not happen immediately. Whether it’s a cut, a bruise, surgical procedure or whatever, the body takes time to heal. Although science has tried to speed up the healing process with laser surgery, the body still demands a time for healing. Although they have “outpatient” surgery, the body demands that you get rest after even the smallest procedures. Even if you get cut and require stitches, the body demands that you take time to “dress” and care for your wounds. Why is it that we think that emotional and spiritual pain can be healed over night?

Many of the physical pains that we experience pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual pain that many people face. Consider employee grief policies from work. It is a blessing if you can get 2-3 days off of work when a loved one dies. The Jewish Community has this process right. They sit, “Shiva” for at least 7 days and in some instances 12 days. They allow themselves to deeply mourn and reflect upon the life and the legacy of their loved ones. They bury them almost immediately, but they reflect upon them deeply and slowly.

Our society, however, frowns upon individuals taking time to heal. Even in the church, we expect people to quickly rebound from loss, hurt and pain. We accuse people of “brooding” or not having enough faith. Where does this “hurry up and get through it” mentality come from. Jesus himself exemplified the need to spend time away from even those closes to him. Frequently he would go off by himself, the scripture says to pray. Quite possibly, Jesus was not only praying, but reflecting, communing, consoling and preparing himself to continue to serve amidst a people who did not understand, believe in or appreciate him. Jesus too was hurting.

Our text for today presents an interesting dilemma. Jesus who is God made manifest in the flesh seemed to have needed a “second shot” at healing the blind man. It appears that his first attempt “did not take.” But was it that he needed to try again or was Jesus teaching us something all together different?

Consider the following…

- A blind man is brought to Jesus

- Jesus uses “spit” to heal him

- His healing came in two phases

- Sometimes we need a “second touch” before our healing is complete

- We don’t understand the methods God uses to heal us

- We need to be honest about the fact that we still are not healed – still cannot see (had the blind man pretended like he was healed completely, he never would have
been given clear sight)

- “Don’t even go into the village…”
Everyone will not be happy about your healing! Everyone will not understand your healing. You may even jeopardize your healing by
sharing it with some people. Sometimes God has to "take us outside of the village" to bless us with healing.

- Healing takes time

Healing comes in phases. God may sometimes use “spit and dirt” to heal us…sometimes the very things that we, under other circumstances would view as lowly and undesirable are used by God to make us see more clearly and yes, heal us.

Everyone will not understand what God has done and continues to do for you so be prayerful and discerning with whom to share your healing process. Avoid pretending that you are well, that you are whole, that you are healed when in fact you are still, “seeing men walking as trees.” Be honest with the Lord, yourself and select individuals about needing prayer, support and encouragement to press toward your healing.

Healing comes in phases. Healing takes time. Healing may happen in unexpected ways. Be “for real” about where you are in the healing process. Then and only then will you be able to see clearly and be made whole. Healing takes time.

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Shepastor: “Living the Life the Lord Has for You…”

Psalm 19: 7-14, NIV

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

God’s intention for our lives are so much greater than what we are able to conceive for ourselves. So often our lives are limited by the expectations of others or the limited exposure we’ve had to possibilities. Sometimes we are limited by our own fears or lack of understanding about who we really are.

The first step in living the life that the Lord intends for us is to recognize God’s power in our lives.
The words of Psalm 19 are written by a king who the Lord had blessed to have victory in EVERY battle. David reigned victorious over every enemy – the Philistines, the Arameans, the Edomites and the Ammorites. God even caused kings to send David costly materials to assist with building his palace. But David did not attribute his great victories, his successes, his triumphs to his own wit and power. David understood that ALL of his help came from the Lord.

When we worship and honor God 1st for who God is… our Creator, the giver and the sustainer of our lives, we understand that it is God working in us and through us to accomplish great things. It’s not about our weaknesses. It’s not about our short comings. It’s not about what people think or don’t think about us. It is God working in us to accomplish His good pleasure. Every life has meaning, purpose, a design, a plan. Our birth did not catch God by surprise. Just as every aspect of nature is intricately woven into a system that connects and supports each aspect of its existence, God has created each us with to be used to bring Him glory and to accomplish His plan and purpose on the earth. Periodically we should stop and ask, “Lord, what is your will and purpose for my life?” Which leads us to our next thought to consider,

God’s Word shows us the way…
Verses 7 & 8 of Psalm 19 declare, NIV

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
Consider the same verses from the Message Bible:
The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes.

When we submit ourselves to the Lord, God reveals things that can pull our scattered lives together. He provides sign posts that point out the right road. He provides road maps that lead us towards joy. God’s Word refreshes us, it is trustworthy and can make even the simple, wise. Following God’s Word is right and gives us joy. When we walk in God’s word, God’s way, God’s will, He gives light to our eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.


When we walk in reverential fear of the Lord, we will begin to understand that God’s ways are sweet – sweeter than the honey in the honey comb…more precious than gold…
Through God’s word, we are warned and by keeping God’s way we find great reward. So many blessings are along the paths of obedience. When we walk with the Lord and are intentional about keeping His way, the Lord speaks words of warning to us…

The Lord tucks blessings into simple things along the way. David asks the Lord to keep him from “willful sins.” In other words, David understood that God had so many blessings for him along the path of obedience that he did not want to “mess up” his opportunities, his open doors, his spiritual blessings along the way.
In this Psalm we learn that God’s Word revives us, makes us wise, gives joy to the heart, gives light to the eyes, warns us and rewards us. God’s laws are guidelines and lights for our path, rather than chains on our hands and feet. God’s Word points out danger and warn us. But not only that – God’s word points us to paths of success.
When is the last time you prayed, “Lord, keep me from willful sins?” The world would have you believe that serving the Lord is a burden like chains on our feet. But serving the Lord is just the opposite!

Finally, David asks that his own words and thoughts in his heart would be pleasing in God’s sight. David wanted his words and his heart to please God. When you get hurt, or when things don’t go your way or if you stub your toe, what is the first thing that flies out of your mouth? That’s a good check on what’s in your heart. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Everybody can pretend to have a clean heart, but what’s in our heart will come out when we are pressed.
We all make mistakes. We all have felt ways and thought thoughts that are not right before God. We are human. But that’s why this closing prayer is so power. David asks the Lord to cause his words and his heart to please God.

David prayed…
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


When you find yourself speaking words and thinking thoughts that are not like Jesus, don’t wallow in guilt and shame. Follow David’s example and ask the Lord to help your words and your thoughts to please God. The more we do that, the more our words and our thoughts will line up with godly ways.

Are you living the life that the Lord has for you? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you, lead you and guide you or are you hardening your heart against God’s voice? Are you seeking God’s guidance daily in His word or are you just casually leafing through the bible every now and then and sometimes on Sunday? If so, you are missing the life that God has for you.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We have eternal life available to us through accepting Jesus Christ. We also have a joyous, rewarding, fulfilling and prosperous life God has for us in the here and now. Are you taking the necessary steps to live the life that the Lord has for you?

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Shepastor: “Don’t Leave Before the Benediction, Part IV”

This week, Shepastor completes our reflection upon aspects of the words that the Lord spoke to Moses to give to the Priest Aaron and his sons as a blessing over Israel. These verses are known as the “Priestly Benediction.”

Our focus for today highlights the last and 5th aspect of this blessing, “And give you peace…”

God told Aaron and his sons to bless his people with peace. There is nothing like having peace…peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of spirit. It does not matter how many material things you have, how much money you have, how many people say that you are the best thing since sliced bread, if you don’t have peace of mind, peace with God and peace with yourself, you will perpetually remain in the desert! When you leave before the good word, the word of blessing, the word of hope, the word of instruction, the word of deliverance, you miss out on God’s blessing of peace. All of the above aspects of the blessing lead ultimately to God’s peace.

When we understand that even in the desert, the Lord is blessing and keeping us, we will walk in peace. When we understand that the Lord’s favor, grace, mercy and compassion is upon us, we will live in peace. When we humble ourselves, yield ourselves, submit ourselves to the way, the Word and the will of our heavenly Father, we embrace God’s likeness – His countenance upon us and we will walk in God’s peace.

The Lord will keep us in perfect peace when our mind remains on Him. The Lord will give us peace that surpasses understanding when we corral our thoughts and bring them under subjection to the obedience of Christ. Peace comes as we resist the temptation to lean on our own understanding and instead trust God. When we acknowledge God in all of our ways God will direct our paths. When we wait for the Lord’s Word – His word of blessing, His word of guidance, His word of hope, His word of correction, His word of love, we will be blessed – even during desert seasons.

In every season, yes, even in seasons of pain, disappointment, struggle and dearth, God can and will bless us with peace. But we must yield ourselves to Him. Don’t leave before you get your blessing! Stay right there in God’s presence. Stay right there in God’s appointed place. Stay right there and don’t move until the Holy Spirit gives the green light! Don’t check out. Don’t go AWOL (Absent without leave), wait on the Lord. Be of good courage. God will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Shepastor “Can You Live With a Limp?”

24So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32: 24-26, NIV

Recently, I fell and broke my ankle – UGGHHH!!! Unfortunately, that means that I have to wear a bulky cast and use crutches for several weeks. Needless to say, I am living with a limp, at least for now.

Limping is very uncomfortable. It makes you tired, sore and a little frustrated. I thought to myself, “I will be so glad when this heals so that I won’t have to limp any more.” But what if I had to live with that limp? Our main character in our text for today, Jacob had to live with a limp. He not only had a physical limp, but Jacob carried a spiritual limp – a reminder that God blessed him, would be with him, would protect and keep him, but there were some consequences for his choices. But not only consequences, the whole concept of “the limp” lets us know that it’s not easy to wrestle for your blessing.

Some blessings have to be pursued. Sometimes you have to hold on with everything in you and then some in order to receive your blessing. And sometimes, in the course of your “holding on,” in the course of you straining to reach your mark, in the course of you wrestling with God, you develop a limp. Sometimes that limp is a result of the bumps and the bruises you receive on your way to the blessing.

Sometimes the limp develops because of the years you spend hoping for a change. Sometimes the limp develops because of the pain of the “hoping process.” You can’t live without hope but sometimes it hurts to hope. It would almost be easier to give up and throw in the towel. Sometimes it hurts to hope because hope is a long term commitment. In other words, as Paul says in Romans, “if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Along the hoping path we meet with the enemies of doubt, discouragement, scoffers who tell us its no use, and our own inner voices that raise the question, “What in the world are you doing?”

But hope is a long term investment. It is our wrestling with God until He blesses us. It is a decision not to let go, not to give up, not to throw in the towel, not to say, “it’s no use.” It is a long term commitment to ignore the naysayers, to ignore what is readily apparent and to choose to trust God, realizing that we walk by faith and not by sight. It is a decision, an understanding that sometimes, it hurts but as the athletes say, “no pain, no gain.” It is the understanding that some of the things we experience will leave us some scars, but the scars are not there to defeat us, the scars are not there to kill us, the scars are there to remind us of the fierce love of God that would not let us go even when we wanted to let go.

I’m reminded of a story of a little boy, down in the south, out playing near a creek. His mother was near by when the boy decided to go out to wade in the water, not realizing that an alligator was lurking near by. Just as the boy stepped down further in the water, an alligator grabbed the boy by the leg. The boy started screaming and the mother ran down and grabbed the boy by his arms. The alligator was fierce and strong, but the mother’s love was stronger. As they tussled and screamed, some on lookers near by came to help and with sticks and rocks began pelting and beating the alligator until it finally let the boy go.

Thankfully, the alligator did not take off the boy’s legs, they were, however badly mangled and knarred by the alligators teeth. The boy’s arms were bruised and bleeding from the deep wounds made by his mother’s nails as she dug into his flesh in desperation, struggling not to let the little boy go. When the news reporters came to interview the boy, expecting a story of woe and pain – they were surprised. Instead of him showing his broken, bruised and knarred legs, he proudly pulled up his sleeves and showed him his scarred arms.

He said, “These scars show how much my mommy loved me because she wouldn’t let go.” Sometimes hope and determination will produce scars and limps, but the scars and the limps are not to defeat us, they are to remind us that God will hold us and never let us go! Our hope in Him is never misdirected and our destiny in Christ is secure.

Sometimes in order to receive your blessing, you’ve got to wrestle, you’ve got to dig, you’ve got to pursue, you’ve got to strain. You may have to limp along the way, but if you hold on and don’t let go, God will deliver on His promises. Jesus was deeply bruised and wounded for us. His love for us is so fierce, that He would not let go. Walk in that love, strength and blessed assurance today. Even if you are limping, there is a blessing wrapped up in our limp!

Post a comment or send me an email at Revcsmith1@gmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shepastor: “Don’t Leave Before the Benediction, Part III”

Numbers 6:22-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Priestly Benediction


22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
24 The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
27 So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

This week, Shepastor continues to reflect upon aspects of the words that the Lord spoke to Moses to give to the Priest Aaron and his sons as a blessing over Israel. These verses are known as the “Priestly Benediction.”

Our focus for today highlights the fourth phrase, “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you…” (the Lord’s approval”). This phrase gives us even greater insight into this blessing. The term “countenance” means the look on a person’s face that shows one’s nature or feelings. We know that God is not a person but a spirit - and none of us living have seen the face of God, but by the reading of His word and the experiences of our lives, we know and understand the nature of God.

The personality of God – the way of God. God is a healer – God is a deliverer – God is a way maker – God is the source of our joy and our strength – God is all powerful – God is all knowing – God is everywhere and can do anything – God’s countenance – God’s nature. Just think about that. God instructed Aaron and his sons – the priests to bless his people by letting them know that God Himself is lifting up His nature upon them. In other words, God wants to bless us to look like Him! That’s the only way for us to get His approval.

The only way for that to happen is for us to be covered by Jesus! God knew that in order for us to look like Him, in order for us to gain His approval, God would need to pour out upon broken, depraved, sinful humanity the likeness of Himself through His son Jesus Christ. While that would not happen in the flesh for centuries later, there on Mt. Sinai, God provided a glimpse or a shadow of things to come. The sacrifices of lambs, and rams and bulls were only a shadow of that which was to come, but it served as a reminder that we serve a holy God and God wants holiness. That holiness is only made possible when we submit ourselves to be washed and made clean through the forgiveness of our sins. God desires that for us. But we’ve got to desire that for ourselves.

Through Christ, we are covered by God’s grace and mercy. He lifts up His countenance or “likeness” upon us. When God sees His reflection in us, it pleases Him. May we walk in the beauty that the Lord desires to place upon us today!

Next week is our final installment of this series, “Don’t Leave Before the Benediction.” We’ll discuss the phrase, “And give you peace…”

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