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.

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

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