Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shepastor: "The Perfecting Process"

Psalm 138:7-8

7 Though I walk in the middle of trouble, you will revive me: you shall stretch forth your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand shall save me.
8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me: your mercy, O LORD, endures for ever: forsake not the works of your own hands. (ASV)

(8) The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Our message for today is taken from the Old Testament Book of Psalms, Psalm 138: 7-8. In Psalm 138, the Psalmist is praising God for His greatness, faithfulness and loving kindness. He also expresses confidence in his belief that God will “perfect” or bring to completion that which concerns him. It is reminiscent of the Apostle Paul’s encouraging words to his the saints at the church of Philippi when he declared, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” (1:6).

Today we place our focus upon the 8th verse of this Psalm, “God will perfect that which concerneth me..”

Shepastor Reflects upon, “The Perfecting Process.”

When a potter sits down to form a jar or a pot or some other artistic object, he or she often will squeeze the clay, pound the clay, wet the clay, shape the clay and if it is not as he or she wants it to be, they will then start all of over again. Sometimes they will take a sharp instrument and scrape it over the bumps and bulges of the clay until it is smooth. Then they will put a glaze over it and place it in a special oven designed to burn away all of the impurities. After the object has been perfected, then it's ready for the kiln.

In order for the clay to become what the potter intends it to be, it has to go through a perfecting process. Athletes will train for months, maybe even years running, jumping rope, lifting weights etc., until they reach that perfect point at which they feel ready to compete for the prize. Musicians and vocalists will practice for hours, days and weeks in preparation for the perfect concert performance.

And while we will all agree that nothing in this life on this side on the Jordan is ever “perfect,” we can agree that we strive in most arenas to reach perfection or at least to come close.But the Psalmist isn’t talking about a clay jar or an athlete or a musical performance, the Psalmist is talking about his destiny, his life’s purpose, his reason for living. The Psalmist is talking about the essence of who he is in the midst of this life – that God will “perfect” or bring to completion that which God intends for him.

The Psalmist was reminding himself that although things may not have always been right, although times could get tough, although there may have been and continue to be times in his life when it seemed like life was without purpose – a time when all of his dreams seemed shattered, nothing that he hoped for seemed to be materializing, the Psalmist reminded himself that God would perfect, bring to completion that which concerned him.

Like the Psalmist, we have to remind ourselves that God will bring to completion His will in our lives. It’s not always easy to believe that things will be completed or worked out in our lives. Some days are just down right dark and discouraging. Some days it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep believing, to keep hoping, to keep praying.

Sometimes it’s even difficult to pray. Hebrews 12: 1-2, reminds us to, “throw it off…” To throw off those things that hinder us, that beset us, that prevent us from running the race of life with patience and grace. That passage also reminds us to consider Jesus who endured such great affliction and adversity from sinners lest we become weary and faint in our minds. That’s where we faint first – in our minds. We get weary in our minds. We lose hope in our minds. We lose faith in our minds. We begin to doubt in our minds. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. In the Greek way of thinking, the heart and mind were one in the same.

Your heart and mind work together to produce action. If your mind is consumed with discouragement, so will be your heart. When your heart and mind are discouraged, it’s hard to move ahead. When you are discouraged, it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other. When you are discouraged, it’s hard, it’s difficult, it’s almost impossible to have hope.

Discouragement causes you to have tunnel vision. Discouragement causes you to think that the whole world is against you when it’s really just a few loud mouths! Discouragement creates the allusion that there is no way out, no how, no way. Discouragement can cause you to give up and give out when you are closer to victory than you can imagine. Discouragement can cloud your vision and make you forget that God – not man, God, not your employer, God, not your family, God will perfect or bring to completion that which concerns you!

There are many things in this life that can take you down, discourage and strip you of faith, hope and joy. That is, if you allow yourself to forget that God will perfect that which concerns you.
When you are at your lowest point, you are in the perfecting process. When you are at your highest point, you are in the perfecting process. God hold’s your destiny and He has your purpose, your life in His hands. Satan wants to make you give up, give out, lay down, throw in the towel, take your eyes off of Jesus and die.

A powerful weapon is discouragement. The devil knows that due to our humanity we tend to walk by sight and not by faith. He is counting on your lack of faith. He is counting on you doubting that God will perfect that which concerns you. When the devil has hit you with his best, you’ve still got to believe that God holds your destiny and you will bounce back.

I heard a powerful message the other day that recommended four things to help you bounce back from discouragement, depression and defeat.

(1) You must be resilient. The definition of resiliency is the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. In other words, it is the ability of something to regain it’s rightful shape after it has been pressed and stressed. Like a therapy ball – No matter how many times you squeeze it, it comes back to its original form. No matter what stresses you or presses you, you’ve got to allow the perfecting process of God to sustain you, maintain you, remind you of who you are, of who has your back, of who holds your destiny of who made you, of who delivers you, of who completes you. You must be resilient.

(2) You must be committed. You’ve got to be determined to let nothing turn you around from walking with God. You’ve got to make up in your mind that nothing, no way, no how, is going to make you stop loving God, trusting God, serving God, living for God. You’ve got to be sold out for the Lord.

(3) You must have tenacity. In other words you must have persistent determination. Don’t let another human being tell you that you can’t make it. Don’t let what somebody else says about you define who you are, what you can do and where you are going to go. If God has placed a vision in your mind and in your soul, go after it with all you’ve got. Ask the Lord to order your steps. Don’t give up just because you tried and didn’t succeed the first time. Sometimes it takes many times before what you are attempting to do succeeds.

The Bible says, If thou faintest in the day of adversity your strength is small (Prov. 24:10). The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah when he became so discouraged that he was ready to give up, "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5) You’ve got to be determined that with the help of Almighty God, you can make it. It may not be easy, you may fall down and have to get back up, you may get laughed at, talked about, turned down, told to give it up, but if God be for you, He’s more than the world against you and God will perfect that which concerns you!

(4) Finally, you’ve got to have a strategy.
You’ve got to be prayerful and put some feet to your faith. The Bible says that as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. God will perfect that which concerns you, but you’ve got to walk by faith. God will be with you. God will order your steps. God will direct your path. But you’ve got to trust God enough to move out in faith.

Discouragement and fear can paralyze you. There is a difference in being still because God said wait, and being still because you are paralyzed by fear. If God is saying, “be still,” He will show you what to do while you wait. Paralyzing fear just discourages you, beats you down, makes you feel like nothing and nobody. That’s not of God.

In order to defeat discouragement and stand in the truth that God will perfect that which concerns you, you’ve got to have resiliency, commitment, tenacity and a strategy. The most important thing you’ve got to do is to walk each day in the blessed assurance that God is with you, God will not abandon you, He has you in the perfecting process. He knows all about you, He sees you and He will carry you through. Trust Him and walk on by faith.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shepastor: “Are You a Climber?”

In recent times, to be labeled a “climber” is not a compliment. The term “climber” has taken on a negative connotation – the inference being that the one so named is willing to do whatever it takes – step on people, push people out of the way, kiss… to get wherever they want to go! Climbing, however, can be a positive and desirable thing depending upon the heights that one is desiring to reach.

Today, Shepastor reflects upon climbing higher in Christ. In our text for today, Colossians 3:1-4; 12-17, the writer admonishes those who are “risen” in Christ to seek those things that are higher.

Colossians 3: 1-4; 12-17

1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:12-17…

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Shepastor: “Are You a Climber?”

The Negro spiritual, “I Ain’t Got Time To Die” declares,

Lord I keep so busy praisin' my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin' my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin' my Jesus
Ain't got time to die

'Cause when I'm helpin' the sick (I'm praisin' my Jesus)
When I'm helpin' the sick (I'm praisin' my Jesus)
When I'm helpin' the sick (I'm praisin' my Jesus)
Ain't got time to die

'Cause it takes all of my time (It takes all of my time, it takes it all)
All of my time (to praise Him)
If I don't praise Him the rocks are gonna cry out
Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die

Lord I keep so busy servin' my master (keep so busy)
Keep so busy servin' my master (I'm servin')
Keep so busy servin' my master
Ain't got time to die

'Cause when I'm givin' my all (I'm servin' my master) (I'm gonna give my all to Jesus)
When I'm givin' my all (I'm servin' my master) (I'm gonna give my all in all)
When I'm givin' my all (I'm servin' my master) (I'm givin' all of my life to Him)
Ain't got time to die

Now won't you get out of my way (oh get out of my way)
Get out of my way (you better get out of my way)
Let me tell you if I don't praise Him the rocks are gonna cry out
Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die

It’s so easy to be drawn into downward spiraling behaviors, thoughts and feelings. The words of the above Negro spiritual reflects a mindset that in so many words says – “I’m keeping so busy praising, serving and working for Jesus – I ain’t got time to die!” No time to fight foolish battles, no time to entertain gossip, no time to spend defending false accusations, no time to try to please “unpleasable” and “disagreeable” people – I ain’t got time to die!

Harboring anger, fretting, worry, anxiety, fear and all other toxic feelings will kill you. Trying to repay others for the wrongs they’ve done to you will kill you. Trying to figure out why somebody does or does not like you will kill you. Trying to figure out how to appease emotionally manipulative people will kill you. Instead, be a climber! Climb high above reacting and become a responder. Through prayer, faith, love and good sense, choose how to respond to dysfunctional and damaging behaviors. Stop allowing others to pull your proverbial strings.

Climb high above attitudes, behaviors, actions etc., that are beneath the place where Christ has placed you. Climb higher in love, higher in forgiveness, higher in compassion, higher in the determination to keep so busy praising, serving and working for Jesus that you don’t have time to die! Praise, work and serve the Lord with such fervor, joy and focus that you climb daily towards higher heights in Jesus Christ. Everything else will then follow.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until Next Wednesday
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shepastor: “Ten Reasons to Thank and Praise the Lord”

Text: Psalm 138

1 By David. I will give thanks to you with all my heart. I will make music to praise you in front of the false gods.
2 I will bow toward your holy temple. I will give thanks to your name because of your mercy and truth. You have made your name and your promise greater than everything.
3 When I called, you answered me. You made me bold by strengthening my soul.
4 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to you, O LORD, because they have heard the promises you spoke.
5 They will sing this about the ways of the LORD: "The LORD's honor is great!"
6 Even though the LORD is high above, he sees humble people close up, and he recognizes arrogant people from a distance.
7 Even though I walk into the middle of trouble, you guard my life against the anger of my enemies. You stretch out your hand, and your right hand saves me.
8 The LORD will do everything for me. O LORD, your mercy endures forever. Do not let go of what your hands have made.

In Psalm 138 the Psalmist is expressing all of the reasons for which he thanks and praises the Lord. His heart is overflowing with thanks and praise. One might think that life for this writer must have been fairly smooth for praise appears to flow effortlessly from his lips. But the Psalmist is David.

David did not have life on easy street. He was the son of a sheep herder. He was the youngest among his brothers, meaning he was the "last man on the totem pole" so to speak. He held one of the lowliest positions. He was responsible for herding the sheep, protecting them, caring for them, watering them, keeping them in the fold. The sheep were dirty, smelly, animals. Yet God chose him to be the anointed one to rule over Israel.

The problem, however, was that Israel already had a king. That king was Saul. Once Saul heard about David being anointed king, he set out to have David killed. David did not have an easy life. When he was delivered from the jealousy and wrath of Saul, he had troubles in his family. He created some trouble by yielding to temptation – the famous story of David and Bathsheba. He was hated by one of his sons Absalom who sought to kill him.

David had to fight enemy nations and struggle through dissension among the ranks of his army. But David, no matter what he faced, never lost his heart of thanks and praise.

Today, Shepastor considers ten reasons why David thanked and praised the Lord. Maybe we too can identify with these reasons…

Shepastor: “Ten Reasons to Thank and Praise the Lord”

(1) David thanked and praised the Lord for His mercy. David understood that God does not reward us according to our transgressions. In other words, God looks beyond our faults and sees our needs. God is a merciful God.

(2) David thanked and praised God because of His truth. There were many false gods that people praised and offered sacrifice for, but David worshipped the God of truth. God’s Word is truth. David understood even before Jesus declared it that “truth” will make you free…

(3) David thanked and praised God because His name and promises are greater than everything. David understood that at the name of the Lord, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. David understood that the name of the Lord is a strong tower that the righteous can run to. David understood that the promises of God are sure and true…

(4) David thanked and praised God for giving him boldness and strength. David knew that it was God and God alone that gave him victory over his enemies. God gave him the strength to defeat Goliath. God gave him the strength to overcome Saul. God gave him the strength to continue to press his way in the midst of the life’s most difficult circumstances…

(5) David thanked and praised God for making world leaders know that He is God. David praised God for humbling the hearts of world leaders and making them understand that they do not have the final say…

(6) David thanked and praised God for “seeing” the humble. David was thankful that God knows and sees and understands those whom the world views as nothing…

(7) David thanked and praised God for walking with him through trouble… “Yea thou I walk through the valley and the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”

(8) David thanked and praised God for the protection of His right hand.
“Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thine footstool…”

(9) David thanked and praised God for doing “everything for him.” Without God we are nothing.

(10) David praised and thanked God for mercy that endures forever.

No matter what we face in life, we ought to always have a word of thanks and praise upon our lips. One of the greatest sins is the sin of ingratitude. When we are thankful, it forces us to count our blessings. When we are thankful, it forces us to praise God for what He has already done. When we are thankful, it causes us to consider all that we are blessed to have that some may only be able to dream about.
When we are thankful, it causes us to stop complaining and to trust God. When we are thankful, we honor the Lord.

How thankful are you? Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shepastor: “How Hungry Are You?”

Matthew 4: 1-11

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Matt 4:1-11 (KJV)

Supporting text:

Proverbs 27:7
The full soul loatheth the honey comb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet, KJV

We all have experienced hunger of one kind or another. Extreme hunger, however, can drive you to behave in ways that under normal circumstances would never have been an option.

In our focus passages for today, taken from both Proverbs and Matthew, we find two passages of scripture that talk about hunger. In Proverbs we see a thought provoking saying, one short verse that declares,

The full soul loatheth the honey comb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet, KJV

The New International Version states it like this,
He who is full loathes (or hates) honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet, NIV

In Matthew we find Jesus, having fasted 40 days and now understandably hungry, one might even say famished and most probably somewhat vulnerable. The devil moves in to temp him. Jesus’ response, however, gives us food for thought.

Consider for a moment the question, “How Hungry Are You?”

When I was a teenager, I enjoyed baking. But sometimes, my cakes, and cookies did not turn out quite as I had hoped. My dad, however, always ate whatever I baked. One day, my father picked up one of my cookies and said, “My God Chrissy, you could lick a dog down with this!” I retorted, “Well, you’re eating it aren’t you?” He responded, “Yea, when you are hungry, you’ll eat anything!”

There was some profundity wrapped up in my father’s sarcasm, for truly, when someone is very hungry, they will eat anything. In this life, we encounter many hungry souls. And for some, maybe even reading this blog, the thought of hunger, not for physical food, but for a life that is fulfilled and complete, that thought hits home.

Some go through life wandering from pillar to post, grasping for but never quite reaching what they are aspiring to attain, you’ve seen them, the hungry.

The hungry, that young woman or young man who keeps getting involved in unhealthy relationships, looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces, the hungry, that boy or that girl who allows themselves to be ill treated or does things that they were not raised to do because they want the approval of the crowd, you’ve seen them, the hungry,

The hungry, that person who goes to the store and buys everything that the fashion designers say is “hot” for the season because they feel that if they can at least dress stylish, somebody will respect, love and admire them, not because of who they are, but because of how they appear…

The hungry, that person who remains in a mentally and physically abusive relationship because they feel that some relationship is better than none at all.

We know them, the hungry, or maybe the hungry is not them, maybe the hungry looks back at us when we look in the mirror.

But God has a good word for the hungry today. We can tell the hungry, whether he or she is another person, or the hungry spirit within our own soul, we can stop feeding our hunger with the bitter, and begin to feast on the sweet.

When Jesus faced the devil after fasting forty days, the devil first tempted him by trying to get him to satisfy his hunger. But Jesus gave us a marvelous example of how to gain true satisfaction when He declared, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

God’s Word, God’s ways, God’s love will satisfy and complete us in ways that our own efforts could never satisfy.

God word says, “You who are hungry, LISTEN, you who are searching, LISTEN…, Don’t be afraid, I made you, I know all about you, I have chosen you… LISTEN…. I will pour out my spirit upon you and not only you, but upon your children, upon your household and you will be blessed. LISTEN, I want to pour the cool refreshing water of my spirit upon the dry, parched and thirsty ground of your life…LISTEN… THERE IS NO ROCK BESIDES ME!

Are you listening? God says to you and I, HEAR ME. There is no God besides me. The Psalmist declared, “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture, It is He that has made us and not we ourselves”. The ancient Israelites had a custom of writing God’s word upon their foreheads and in the palms of their hands so that they would constantly be reminded of what God has said and how they were to live.

God says to us today, stop looking to idols, stop relying upon self, stop looking for another human being to fix your troubles, Call unto me and I will show you great and wonderful things which thou knowest not. We need to write God’s Word upon the table of our hearts and in our minds so that we will say like Paul, nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.

God wants to satisfy the hunger of our hearts. Only God can satisfy the hunger and the longing of our hearts. God’s food is love, God’s food is salvation, God’s food is forgiveness, God’s food is peace, God’s food is joy, God’s food is assurance, God’s food is eternal life.

There is a satisfaction that comes from knowing, living for and loving God. It’s not that we don’t ever experience low points, but God develops “hind’s feet” for the believer and He teaches us how to walk through the valleys and then how to climb high mountains and leap upon the high places of life.

God gives us peace that passes all understanding, peace in the midst of the storm because we know that the God we serve is an able God, an all powerful God, an all knowing God and the God who heals us and loves us. God made it possible for all who desire rest from the cares and burdens of this life, all who desire assurance and peace, all who desire salvation and ultimate fulfillment to obtain these things through His Son Jesus Christ.

You don’t have to stay in the mess that you are in. Exchange the bitter for the sweet. Look to Him who is the great I AM. Let God fill your cup until it over flows. Don’t accept the devil’s words of discouragement, defeat and low standards.

Remind yourself and others that Jesus is the living water, that Jesus is the bread of life, that Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Remind yourself and others that they don’t have to walk alone, that they don’t have to accept less that what God has for them. Remind yourself and others that God is waiting to heal, hear and answer the longings of the broken hearted. God can feed and fill the hunger of your heart.

How hungry are you? Are you willing to put pride aside, go before the Lord and acknowledge your brokenness, your woundedness, your bitterness? Exchange your bitter for the Lord’s sweet and experience the satisfaction that only the Lord can give you today.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris