Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shepastor: "What Are you Speaking Into Existence?"

Genesis 1:1-3, KJV In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:26-27, KJV And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

God spoke and created the world. By speaking He called things into existence.

When God created man and woman, He created us in His image and gave us dominion over the earth. He endowed us with a power to "speak" some things.

Children ask such simple yet profound questions. The other day, our daughter asked the question, "How did God create the world?" Both my husband and I responded at the same time with the same response, "He spoke it into existence." She then asked, "Can we speak things into existence?"

I found that to be a profound question that I needed to ponder before I answered. Can we speak things into existence? Or rather, what are we calling into existence or what are we creating with our words?

Proverbs 18:21 declares that, "Death and Life are in the power of the tongue..."

Before hopes and dreams become realities, they are first conceived in the mind and then spoken from the heart. Do you believe that by faith you can speak some things into reality? Comedian Jim Carey said that before he became a professional actor, he wrote himself a check for 23 million dollars and said, "One day I am going to deposit this check into my banking account."

I am not suggesting that you can write yourself a check and become a millionaire. The concept, however, that Jim Carey embraced is powerful and instructive. He did not claim his dream necessarily by our faith, but he understood the power of his words over his own life.

Our minds record the words we hear and our brain receives those words and our psyche embraces them. Children develop language by listening and repeating what they hear. We are geared that way. So then, not only do the things other people say to us greatly influence our thinking, but the words we speak to ourselves influence our lives. If you are constantly speaking negative and corrosive words over yourself, that is what your psyche, your mind, your brain, your heart will digest and that is what will be played out in your life.

What are you calling into existence over your life? What are you receiving into your spirit? I'm not just talking about positive talk. I'm talking about faith talk. Jesus said if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you can say unto this mountain be thou removed and it shall be moved yonder hence and nothing shall be impossible unto you. In your self-talk, in your private space, in your quiet time when it is just you and God, what are you saying to yourself?

What you speak in private over your life will eventually be made manifest in your life. Do you ask The Lord to move on your behalf and then undo your miracles, your breakthroughs, your healing, your deliverance with your words of doubt and negativity? When you repeat negativity and impossibility over your life, not only are you undoing your prayers, you are actually speaking into existence the opposite of what you desire.

Every time you say, "I can't," every time you say, “that will never happen,” every time you utter negativity, you are speaking the opposite of what you desire into existence. This is not "name it and claim it." This is speaking those things that be not as though they were by faith. It is the ability to see the bird fly before the egg is hatched. It is the ability to see the flower bloom before the seed is planted. It is faith, it is vision, it is hope. It is speaking into existence by faith that which the natural eye cannot see.

Submit your desires to God and speak them by faith. You will be surprised at what will appear.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shepastor: "Determine to Cross the Finish Line..."

Colossians 4: 14-18 (English Standard Version)
14Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15Give my greetings to the brothersc at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Song: “Finish What you started. Make me open hearted. Finish what you started in me…. More than what I could be, make me what I should be. Finish what you started in me.”
The other day I heard the story of a runner who was convinced that he'd completed his final lap and was about to cross the finish line. Lifting his fist, punching the air, he mistook the cries from the crowd as cheers for his victory. He was unaware of the fact that the crowd was screaming at him, trying to let him know that he had one more lap to go. He quit too soon. He finished in 56th place! What an embarrassment. What a dis-appointment! One might say, however, at least he finished.

In our particular text for today, we have an interesting mix of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a method by which a Biblical writer uses language that hints at something that will be addressed later – either in this text or even in another segment or book.
While our focus for today is upon verses 17-18; the previous verses eerily lift up Demas and the church at Laodicea. In II Timothy 4:10, Paul says this about his one time missionary companion,

“for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…”

We don’t know much about Demas, other than he once traveled along-side Paul and helped to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t know what happened to Demas. The only commentary we have on his life is this sad notation – that he, “loved this present world” and deserted his post.

We know a little bit more about the Church at Laodicea. In the book of Revelations, the message that was given to them from the Lord, through John on the Isle of Patmos was…,

Revelation 3: 15-16
15“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
God said that the church at Laodicea was “luke warm.” In other words, they could not make up their minds about whether they wanted to serve the Lord, or serve the world. In this text, Paul calls their names and we are reminded of their unfaithful behavior, their indecision, their lack of commitment, their willy, nilly attitude, their sometimes off and some-times off, lack luster relationship with the Lord. Demas and the church at Laodicea are not to be admired or emulated.

But then, Paul turns and says something profound to another individual in the text – Archippus. He says…
17And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
In so many words, Paul tells Archippas to "Cross the finish line!"
It’s so easy to start out strong, with high hopes, with energy and resili-ence. But so often people start strong, but pitter out before they finish the job. It’s like those wind up toys. When they are wound up, boy they can go so fast, they can climb up hills, they can pass through blocks, they can really go!

But as they begin wind down, they pitter out and then just stop. Some-times we as Christians behave like wound up cars. We start out with such great zeal, such commitment, such fervor, such love for the Lord. But as time passes, some give up. Some stop sooner than others. Some join church one Sunday and you don’t see them again until next year at Mother’s day or Christmas. Some start out so strong, having a mind to walk upright, to love every-body, to support the ministry of the church, to help other people. But then something happens. They get pulled back in by their former habits. They get tired, or somebody makes them angry or they have some major disappointment and they become frustrated, lose heart and hope and give up.

Some decide that they have gotten old and have served in the church long enough, therefore they don’t need to continue working for the Lord. I heard a sermon many years ago by the Late Bill Jones in which he said, “I don’t want to die in shallow water.” In other words, he said, he did not want to have launched out to sea, endured all the hardships and struggles of sailing in rough and rugged waters, made it through all of the tri-als and difficulties of life and as it time for the ship to come into the shore, give up.

The race is not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But to the one that endureth unto the end. He that endureth until the end, the same shall be saved. Paul told Archippus to finish or to fulfill the ministry that the Lord had given him. And then he said something else profound. He said, “remember my chains.” In other words, I believe Paul was saying, “Man, don’t get discouraged, look at what I am going through. If I can hold on, so can you!"

Somebody may have sickness in their body, may have problems in their home, may have struggles so great that they feel like there is nothing left to do but to throw in the towel. But God is saying, “Finish what I gave you to do. Finish your assignment.” The Hebrew writer declared, “Since we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience and grace the race that is set before us – looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despis-ing the shame – consider Him who endured such affliction from sinners against himself lest you be weary and faint in your mind.

When you get weary, just remember that great cloud of witnesses. Those who have gone before us – those who have fought in the heat of the day – those who prayed for us when we didn’t have sense enough to pray for ourselves – those who stood for something when everybody else was falling for anything – those who forgave and loved when we were ready to get into a cat fight – those who sacrificed time, talent and treasure so that we could have the benefit and comforts that we enjoy today – those who died fighting for equality, fighting for civil rights, fighting for a just and right society – remember the great cloud of witnesses that are standing, looking over the banister of eternity saying – come on – you can do, come on, you can make, don’t give up, don’t give in – Finish the race that is set before you!

But most of all, remember Jesus who could have called upon a million angels to come and fight his battle, who could have spoken and the earth would stopped spinning on its axis, who could have cast all of our souls into hell for our sinful ways – But he didn’t. He came in the form of a man, ministered on this earth for 33 years – was despised and rejected, a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief – remember him who hung on Cal-vary – suffered, buried, but rose again. He finished the job that His Father gave him to do.

God is calling for us to fulfill the ministry that He has assigned to our hands. If God has called you to preach – than accept your calling and get on with it. If God has spoken to you and said work in church – be an usher, be a deacon, be a choir member, be a missionary – get up from your stooper – get up and serve like every day is your last.

If God has charged you with being an intercessor for the saints and the "aints," pray without ceasing. I don’t know what your assignment from the Lord is but everybody has an assignment from the Lord. Don’t be found like Demas, having loved this present world and all of the deceptions thereof, forsaking the work of the Lord – don’t find yourself like Laodicea – luke warm – going back and forth, saint on Sunday and aint on Monday. Stand for something or you will fall for anything.

Serve the Lord with your whole heart. Get busy about the work that God has assigned to your hand. If you don’t know what that is – get busy praying and seeking His face for guidance. Serve the Lord and worship Him in spirit and in truth. Finish the work God has entrusted to your hands. Determine to cross the finish line.

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shepastor: “Don’t Hang Your Head, You May Miss Your Purpose”

Psalm 3:1-6, NIV
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”b 3But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. 5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

The other day I heard an interesting fact about giraffes. As we know, they are tall, majestic and beautiful animals. They graze among tree tops and in general, get their food from high places. Every now and then they bow down to nibble on the grass and brush below. However, if their heads are hung for too long, they grow dizzy and pass out.This reminded me of the importance of allowing the Lord to be the “lifter of our heads.” There is much in life that can cause you to hang your head. Even the most faithful believer, at times encounters issues that pull their head down. Unexpected attacks from family and or “friends,” suffering the affects of menopause or mid-life crisis, feeling that you should be further along in life, disappointment over outcomes etc.

But like the giraffe, if we hang our heads for too long, we will get dizzy and pass out. Our “heads” will begin to spin with doubt, low self-esteem, worry, frustration and anxiety. Our energy levels will be zapped. Our perspective will be dark. Ultimately, if we dwell too long with a hung down head, we will miss our purpose. Dwelling in the place of “why” for too long will thwart us from fulfilling our life’s purpose.

So often we think that we are supposed to be here or there, have this or that, etc. And while there are surely injustices and misfortunes that happen, undeniably, God knew where we would be at this moment, space, place and time. Despite anything that has happened that was not on our agenda, God’s purpose and plans for our lives are still intact. We are on a journey. We cannot see the road ahead of us if we allow ourselves to be perpetually bowed down. “Lift up your heads oh ye gates and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors and the King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!” (Psalm 24: 9-10)

Ask the Lord to show you how to “lift up the gates” of your heart so that our Lord the “King” may come in, fight your battles and show Himself strong on your behalf. You’ve been bowed down for too long. Look up and live. Your purpose awaits you!

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Let us remember to remain in pray for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. God is able and He won’t fail!

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shepastor: "Spiritual Muscle Mass"

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Struggle...if we are honest, no one likes to struggle. In modern day societies, we have done all that we could to avoid struggle. We relish the conveniences of life...cell phones, remote controls, all aspects of the speed of social media, motorized walkways in airports, microwaves, laparoscopic surgery... The list of the advances that have been made to minimize struggle, whether intellectual or physical, is long and varied.

Some of our conveniences have done us more harm than good. Our children are fighting obesity because many are working their fingers on the iPod, rather than playing outside until the street lights come on. Fast food is preferred frequently over prepared home meals (for some this is due to economics. For many, it's just easier). We and our children drive most places instead of walking. Diseases are on the rise amongst many because of a lack of physical exercise. Avoiding the struggle sometimes does us more harm than good.

Life, however, is still filled with struggles that cannot be removed by microwaves or smart phones. As much we despise struggle, it is one of the greatest tools that God allows in our lives to build our spiritual muscle mass. The Apostle Paul had this to say about trials,

but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope...

Consider our forbears, how they endured painful realities, few if any conveniences, hard work, minimal, low or no pay, yet they endured and had a faith that they passed down to future generations. It is an undeniable truth...struggle develops endurance. The struggle of the caterpillar in the cocoon produces the strength of the butterfly's wings so it can fly. The struggle of the mother pushing the baby through the birth canal and the struggle of the baby to endure squeezing through the narrow birth canal helps prepare the baby's lungs to breathe.

The struggle athletes endure during training prepares them to excel during competition. Struggle, though not desirable strengthens us to scale higher heights, push through seeming impossibilities and overcome the vicissitudes of life. Each victory helps you to win the next. Each time we overcome, we are strengthened to meet the next challenge.

Because God helped you through "that," you face with greater hope and faith the mountains yet to be climbed. Struggle increases hope. Struggle increases faith. Struggle increases endurance. Do we like it, NO WAY! Do we need it? Absolutely! The great news is that The Lord has promised to be with us in the struggle.

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