Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Shepastor: “The disease is gone, but are you whole?”

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
(Luke 17: 11-19, KJV)

In this story, Jesus highlights interesting aspects of faith, compassion and gratitude. Prior scriptures highlight, “mustard seed faith,” “worthless servants,” who do just enough to get by and then Jesus’ decision to head towards Samaria and Galilee, on his way to Jerusalem. Many messages in just those few verses!!! Our focus today, however, considers the one leper who turned back to say, “thank you.” Jesus questions the absence of the rest of those who were healed. Only the “stranger” turned back to show appreciation. Jesus responds to him by saying, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Vs. 19).

I would like to suggest that the one who had the faith to come back and say thank you received something that the others did not. He was made whole. Could it be that gratefulness makes one whole? The one leper could have perpetually lamented over the years of pain, disgrace, loneliness, disenfranchisement, marginalization, etc. He could have remained in a slump. He could have been so excited about "getting clean" that he forgot to express appreciation. For some reason, he chose gratefulness. The others were cured of a disease, but it appears that they were not made whole.

There are numerous medical stories of individuals who were cured of a disease, but were not made whole. The absence of the physical condition did not bring about their deliverance. In some instances, they continued to be afflicted with the same struggles that they had when they had the disease. They were never able to embrace their new freedom. There are many reasons why persons may not be able to fully embrace their deliverance. But this passage gives us something to think about…

There is something about being grateful that brings a healing that supersedes the absence of disease. There are individuals who have been delivered from a physical location, removed from a “diseased relationship,” cured from a particular ailment, but still are not whole. Gratefulness brings us one step closer to wholeness. Gratefulness causes us to engage in several things that can usher us into wholeness:

Gratefulness calls us to recollection, re-direction and renewal…

Recollection: Gratefulness causes us to reflect upon what has been done for us. When we remember our pain and suffering, we can be thankful that the Lord has kept us, sustained us and gave us grace to endure. We also remember God’s healing, strengthening and comforting presence through it all.

Re-direction: Gratefulness causes us to re-direct our focus. When we choose to be grateful, we fill up the spaces of our hearts and minds that are tempted to be consumed with thinking about all that is wrong. Gratefulness helps us to overcome and to be thankful rather than bitter, angry and filled with complaints.

Renewal: Gratefulness renews us. When we are grateful, it’s like we inhale fresh air, and release the poisons of negativity, old and maybe even new pain and sorrow. When we choose to be grateful, thankful, appreciative we leap beyond the threshold of just getting rid of a “leprous condition,” to the platform of hope, increased faith and joy – which is our strength!

Do you want to be made whole? Choose to exercise your mustard seed faith to become grateful.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Shepastor: “Standing in the Need of Encouragement…”

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV

We are living in very discouraging times. Some are experiencing feelings of hopelessness. Some feel daunted by overwhelming responsibilities. Some are depressed. Some feel like they are drowning. The list goes on and on. We need encouragement. Below is a beautiful list offered by a Christian writer, Stacy Wiebe on ways that we can encourage one another…

19 Ways to Encourage Others
(Originally shared by Stacy Wiebe, from Christian Women Today)

Encouragement goes straight to the heart. In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix "en" which means "to put into" and the Latin word "cor" which means heart.

Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others "to take heart" when the going gets tough and way feels long?

Become aware of what encourages you, and do those same things for others.

Learn individuals' "love language"-the special way in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Languages of Love , Gary Chapman explains that not everyone's emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it's important to learn to speak others' love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, spending quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don't let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit: "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…" (Hebrews 3:13).

When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise for the person's abilities, accomplishments, about how they've helped you or about the nature of your relationship. It's encouraging to be praised in front of others.*

When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help. If you ask, "How can I help?" the person might be at a loss to answer. It's better to ask, "Would it help if I…(specific action) or say, "I would like to…(specific action)?*

Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God and characteristics of God. We may know something with our mind, but need to be reminded in our heart. The Apostle Peter wrote, "I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have" (2 Peter 1:12).

Write someone a note to tell them that you're praying for them. Tell them what you're praying. You can pray specific Scriptures for individuals such as Romans 15:13, "[I pray that] the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. Celebrate others' victories, large and small-with a note, with coffee together, with a special meal, a congratulatory phone call or just a high-five!

Be specific when you offer words of praise; it makes your encouragement more credible and concrete "You did a great job at…" "I really appreciate that you…" "I was really impressed that you…"

Encourage other believers with a reminder of Christ's coming. It redirects our thinking to an eternal perspective and ultimate deliverance from the sin and death. "We who are still alive and are left will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." (1 Thessalonians 5:17b-18).

Realize the power of presence. Just being there is encouraging! When you're with others, you're telling them that they're important. The Apostle Paul closed his letter to the church at Colosse promising to send his friend Tychius "that he may encourage your hearts" (Colossians 4:8b).

If you're part of a church, Bible study or fellowship, be committed to showing up. Your simple presence encourages others that they are part of a community of faith and that they are not alone. That's why the writer of Hebrews says, "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

If someone you know is working on a large project, send her a single flower to encourage her at the beginning of the project, and a full bouquet when it's done.*

Use encouragement as an outreach. If anyone should be known for being an encourager, it should be the Christian. Write a letter of appreciation to people at work, your apartment manager, your child's teacher or your doctor. Often when we interact with these people, we are asking for their services. Take time just to say thank you!*

If you really want to encourage someone who gives you excellent service, write a letter of commendation to the person's boss.*

We could learn something from the way team athletes freely pat, touch and high-five each other in competition. Touch is a powerful encouragement. Be sure to be sensitive in this area, though. Ask someone if you can hug her first. And be careful to be above reproach with persons of the opposite sex.

When you see someone making positive changes in their lives, affirm them. "You seem to have a really great attitude about…" "It may be that I'm just starting to take notice, but I see that you're…" "Do you think that you are becoming more…?"

Tell people how they've encouraged you!

Walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit, asking for what you need to encourage others. Just as it is impossible to live the Christian life in one's own strength, it's also impossible to freely, unselfishly pour out encouragement without the help of the Holy Spirit who is our Encourager.
For more information on walking in the power of the Spirit, see:

* These tips adapted from the book, 52 Simple Ways to Encourage Others, by C.E. Rollins, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1995.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Shepastor: “Learning from the Prayer of Epaphras…”

Epaphras sends greetings to you. He comes from your city. And he is a servant of Jesus Christ. Epaphras always prays hard for you. He prays that you will be mature Christians. He prays that you will be confident. He prays that you will do all that God wants you to do. Colossians 4:12, The Bible in Basic English

Epaphras was a Christian brother who visited Paul in prison and told Paul about the young church that was at Colossae. The Christians who lived there had begun to listen to false teachers. Paul was worried that the Christians would turn away from the true *gospel. Therefore, Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossae to remind them about Jesus Christ and about his true message emphasising that Christ is superior.

In this passage, Paul is reminding the Christians at Colosse that they have an advocate in the spirit, their brother Epaphras, as Paul puts it is always, “wrestling in prayer” for them.

The Bible in Basic English says verse 12 like this,
“Epaphras sends greetings to you. He comes from your city. And he is a servant of Jesus Christ. Epaphras always prays hard for you. He prays that you will be mature Christians. He prays that you will be confident. He prays that you will do all that God wants you to do.”

Prayer is more than just a ritualistic exercise. Prayer is greater than desperate utterance mumbled at the time of crisis. Prayer ought to be a way of life. Some have specific times and places that they pray. Some make a practice of praying at bedtime or saying, “grace” before meals. But prayer is so much more than “the regular.”

What is prayer? Prayer is a conversation with God. Prayer is a time to share our inner most thoughts and feelings with the Lord. Prayer is a battle ground. I like the translation that says Epaphras was always, “wrestling” in prayer for the Christians at Colosse. That means that Epaphras understood that something critical, something imperative, something of vital nature was at stake. He understood that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Epaphras’ example of wrestling in prayer teaches us that we need to “kick it up a notch” so to speak. He prayed some specific, strategic prayers for his people and his community.

He prayed for them to be mature Christians.Those who are immature in the faith lack self control… can’t control their anger, offended easily, giving up easily, not able to control their tongue, knows very little scripture, falling in and out of sinful behaviours – immature Christians. But after a while, after studying God’s Word, after hanging around other more mature Christians, after prayer and fasting – there ought to be some maturity about you – you ought to be able to digest the “meat” of God’s word.

Epaphras was wrestling against the spirit of immaturity among his people and in the community. He prayed that they would grow up in the Lord. The scripture says, “when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things…” God calls us to be mature Christians – having a praying spirit, a discerning spirit, a peaceful spirit, a loving spirit, a giving spirit a forgiving spirit.

Ephaphras also prayed that they would be confident. He wrestled in prayer that his brothers and sisters at the church of Colosse would be confident, not in themselves but in who God made them to be. He prayed that they would be confident in the complete work of Jesus Christ – “being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” When you don’t know your identity in Christ, when you don’t realize what God has done for you, you will live beneath your privilege and will walk in ways that are not reflective of who you really are.

Sometimes we lack confidence because someone has told us negative and degrading things about ourselves. Sometimes we lack confidence because we always felt that others were better than we are. Sometimes we lack confidence because we never had the support or the accolades or the positive encouragement that every child needs to realize their potential. So we live beneath our potential, beneath our God given talents and gifts, beneath our rightful place. We wrestle to really discover who God made us to be.

But through the wrestling of prayer, we can emerge victorious and reach the heights intended for us to reach. We sometimes have to wrestle to break old habits, wrestle to push past old pain, wrestle, to gain a new perspective, wrestle, to rise above negativity and shame, wrestle to be all that God has intended us to be in this world. We also need brothers and sisters who like Epaphras, will wrestle with us to help us to rise higher.

Finally, Epaphras prayed that the Christians at Colossea would do all that God wants them to do. We have to wrestle in prayer for others that they would realize what God is calling for them to do, created them to do, empowered them to do and then that they would get up and do it!

We must wrestle in prayer that we will do the will of God. We must wrestle against doubt, wrestle against fear, wrestle against gloom and doom, wrestle against nay sayers, wrestle against principalities and powers, not in our own strength but in the strength of the Lord. The wrestling is in a determination to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Continue fervent in prayer – remember how Jacob wrestled all night long and said I will not let go until you bless me – may we wrestle in prayer like Epaphras…praying for other Christians, praying for our communities, praying for one another that we will be mature Christians, that we will be confident through Christ and that we will learn God’s will for our lives and do it!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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