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Spiritual Growth Orders

Spiritual Growth Orders
James 4:7-8
Submit yourselves to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double-minded.
Your experience with God today, has been provided to make you strong.  This was the general message that the apostle James was delivering to Jewish Christians who had been scattered throughout the region.  The words unappreciated by their society are an understatement of the conditions that they were expected to live under and be witnesses for Christ.  They were oppressed.  You may also feel that the Enemy or (your enemies) are doing whatever they can to make your miserable and inconvienient.  You're in good company.  James--the apostle of the Lord--was given a special message that fits both his time and ours.
First, surrender to God.  Today's Christian wants to control his/her life.  We often want God just to stamp His approval on the way we live and the circumstances that we want to live our lives under.  But James tells us that the way to peace is to surrender to God.  Second, Resist the devil.  If you are in a contest and your opponent always has you running, you will never have consistent peace of mind.  Nor will you ever gain a victory.  But the minute you go on the offense, the minute you attack the strongholds of the devil that are intruding into your life, you will experience the power of God in a life-altering way.  God did not make you an animal to be hunted by the devil.  God made you a soldier who is capable of fighting.  You can fight the good fight of faith and turn the devil's incursion in your life back.
Next James tells us to get close to God.  The tendency of Christians is to win a battle and then basque in the fact that they overcame the devil or a temptation.  Jesus said to his disciples one day "do not rejoice because you have power over the devil; but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven." God is not calling us to brag about our victories, but to get close to Him.  Bragging is a distraction.  It takes your mind off of the continuing battle.  Getting close to God through repentance (awareness and confession of our own arrogance),  praise,  prayer and thanksgiving keeps us acknowledging the work of God in our victories and following that becoming closer to the heart of God.  You never want to assume that God needs to be closer to you in your experiences; but that you need to be closer to God.
James tells these people who are in the middle of adversity to, purify their hearts.  Stress can deceive you in to thinking that you have the right to judge the activity of the Judge of all the earth as He works in and on your life.  Think clearly!  Think biblically about God during your struggles.  God does love you.  However He has saved you in order to use you to save or deliver someone else.  Make sure that you are not feeling like God is picking on you.  If you feel this way, your heart needs to be purified.  Jesus has a way for you to get through these inaccurate feelings; he said, "Now ye are clean through the Word I have spoken unto you."  Keep your hands off of the world's filth and be pure in the way you see God.  Get into the Word of God and don't judge your growth by how you feel.
It really is time for us to grow up.  It's time for us to put aside "childish things."  Refuse to think as an infant.  Grow up into Christ who is the head and grow in the Lord.  Jesus is "with you alway." Submit, resist, cleanse and purify!  That is a prescription for growth.  And these things are not God's suggestions; they are God's orders.

You're In Good Company

You're In Good Company
Luke 10:16 (TNIV)
"Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever
rejects me rejects him who sent me."
Ever feel like you've been beating your head against a wall?  Talking to some people about their relationship with Christ seems to be an exercise in futility.  Here's some help.  Don't force it!  You cannot help those who don't believe they need no help; and you cannot bring "good news" to those who believe that they have all of the answers.  Some people just won't listen; others will not receive. 
You are only required to follow the Lord and his directions.  You are not required to make people listen or receive Him.  Jesus prepared his disciples for the experience of rejection by telling them that they were merely representatives of Himself.  People don't normally reject those whom they have known and loved; or people that they have formerly controlled.  They reject messages that are foreign to their agenda, no matter who the carrier. 
You can be sure that Jesus' message is foreign to many.  His message causes each person to admit to the error of their own way, and for a remedy, to confess their wrong and ask Him for forgiveness.  His message urges people to come to Him and begin living life in a new way; a way directed and maintained by Christ.  So, if you can't understand why so many people in your life don't want to hear you talk about Christ; your testimony of salvation or the goodness of the Lord, remember that they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Him.  Don't sweat it! Leave the tough stuff to Christ.  You are in good company!  You are blessed!

Always Pray

"Always Pray"

In Luke's Gospel, chapter 18 and verse 1, Jesus said that men should always pray and not to faint.  In the parable that follows, Jesus contrasts--not compares--God, the Father with an unjust judge.  The central thought is, if we can expect human judges to eventually make decisions on our behalf because we could weary them, them how much more can we expect a loving Heavenly Father to respond to His child that continually communicates with Him.  This is the center piece of Jesus' discussion here, namely, that God's children ought to be in constant fellowship with Him. 
Always being prayerful is a matter of the heart.  The posture of the body is not a concern of Jesus.  He is concerned with the attitude of the soul.  A natural, loving and fluent relationship should be the desire of every child of God.  And so, we "ought to always pray."  Now prayer is preventative.  Prayer is an antedote.  Prayer keeps a believer from fainting.  If a person is fainting, they are not likely praying.  It is true that this kind of prayer begins with worship and adoration as Jesus taught his disciples (Our Father, who art in Heaven...).  When we take the time to admire the work that God has already done in us or for us or to us or with us, the very nature of the acknowledgment of His act(s), punctuated by "thank you," relieves the depressed spirit.
If you are struggling with feelings of depression today, take the time to pray.  Begin your prayer with an acknowledgment of everything that you can remember God doing for you.  Shout "thank you" after each thing.  After this, begin taking the things that trouble you to your Heavenly Father.  He will either change things for you, or change you to handle the things in a way that will bring glory to Him.

Pray! Don't faint.


Who Cares If A Sinner Goes To Hell?

Who Cares If A Sinner Goes To Hell?
Taken from the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31

Every believer should be concerned with people who have not had their sins forgiven through Jesus Christ.  God considers these people lost.  The definition of what it is to be lost is not complicated, it simply means unforgiven, not brought back into relationship with God, or not possessing Eternal life.  The story of the rich man and Lazarus is not heard very much in Church today.  We would rather preach and teach more pleasant topics like, Knowing your season; or Living life on Top (the abundant life), or He didn't lift you up to let you down, all of which are good, but none of which addresses the basic reason for Christ's coming, to bring lost people back to the Father.
Christians are not called to condemn people with our message, but we are called to proclaim God's message of salvation.  That message is that God loves sinners and has made a way for them to be safe from Hell.  But it seems that not enough people care that God's Word teaches that unrepentant sinners will spend eternity in Hell.  Christians--people who are called to be like Christ--ought to care if sinners go to Hell because 1) God, the Father cares (John 3:16).  The Father shows through sending a baby in Bethlehem that He cares.  The Father shows that He cares because he sent His son to bear our sins on Calvary and then bury them in a grave.  2) God the Son cares.  Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that he had come "to seek and to save that which was lost."  Jesus, God the Son while on earth was accused of being the friend of publicans and sinners.  Jesus, showed His care as he extended a call to all the lost "Come unto me all you who are struggling and are depressed, and I will give you rest.  Jesus cares if the sinner goes to Hell.
Even though it was too late for the rich man to avoid Hell, even from Hell he shows that He cares that no other person would join him there.  You and I should at least be as concerned with the lost as a resident of Hell was.  Will you take on the mind of Christ?  Let's not be so consumed with our own agenda for life and begin to live as though we are truly, workers together with God in the venture of winning the lost to Christ.  Who Cares If A Sinner Goes to Hell?  The Father Cares.  The Son of God Cares and the Church--you and I ought to care. 

Make an effort to invite someone to Eternal Life through Jesus Christ today!

Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys

In my back yard, there is a parade of wild turkeys.  I understand that the place where I live was once full of wild birds and bugs and other animals.  It was a special place, and each species breeded its own special kind of new species every once in a while.  Soon human beings began to use this land that was once protected land because of the various kinds of wild life that lived there.  Now the turkeys, bluebirds, woodpeckers, flesh eating plants, etc. can all be seen, but it's as though they don't recognize their home anymore.  They seem lost in their own home.  How sad! These animals are now strangers in a land that was their home.
The Bible says that Christians are "pilgrims and strangers" in this world (1 Peter 2:11 I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts...) The Apostle Paul says that "Our citizenship is in Heaven" (Phil 3:20 For our conversation​/citizenship​ is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ...).  The world that was once our home is a strange place to those who are in Christ.  The Apostle John felt this estrangement so keenly that he tolds us "love not the world..." (1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.)  Like those wild turkeys, and like the early Christians, you must always remember to keep moving toward a new home.  You may not see it over the horizon yet, but there is a place where your soul can flee for rest.
And during your living on earth, remember that "in Christ" you will never feel completely comfortable with the world as it has come to be.  You are in the world but, not of it.  There will be conflicts and heartaches, but keep moving toward your Lord.  There will be efforts to destroy your environment, but keep moving toward your Lord.  In time, He will comfort you.  In eternity, He will transform you.
I should tell you that the turkeys hang around for a short period of time; then as if by magic, they are gone; all that's left are their footprints.  It will be that way for every child of God one day.  We will be gone and the only evidence of our having been here will be our footprints (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  As you walk make sure to leave a trail that others may follow to Christ.

The Disciples Who Had Sleeping Sickness

Blessings Beloved of the Lord!
We were blessed to be able to share a simple truth that believers need to be awake in order to receive the blessing and to be a blessing from the Lord.  We shared together that three times in the Gospels disciples were guilty of falling asleep while with Jesus at important times.  While theirs was a physical sleep, it is much more important that we not fall asleep spiritually as we walk with Jesus at home and at Church. 
When the disciples fell asleep at the Transfiguration of Jesus, in The Garden of Gethsemane, and as illustrated in the parable of the Ten virgins:
The Slept and Missed His Glory (Luke 9:32)
They Slept and Missed His Passion (Luke 22:39-45), and
They Slept and Missed Eternal Joys (Matthew 25:1-13).
Spiritual sleep is when we are so tired by the events of our lives that we are not aware of, or do not pay attention to the spiritual opportunities that are present as we walk with Jesus.  Imagine the powerful change in them and the possibilities for good as they served community, if they had not slept away most of the night in each of these events with Christ.  Imagine how God can use you, if you choose to make an effort to be awake spiritually.
The Apostle Paul tells us "the nigh is far spent; the day is at hand: Let us cast off the unfruitful works of dakness and put on the armour of light (Rom 13:12).
Be awake/alive!  Don't miss His glory.  Whatever you see at the moment, be aware that His bright presence is with you.
Be awake/alive!  Don't miss His passion.  Be aware of the things that are dear to the heart of Christ and let them become dear to you also.
Be awake/alive!  Don't miss His Eternal joys.  Don't allow the challenges and affairs of this life to make you sleep spiritually.  There are joys that await you in this day.  At this hour, your spiritual alertness will bring blessing to you and salvation to others.
God bless you!
Pastor Shipman

You Can Do Better. You Will Do Better.

On the past Sunday, the Lord led me to encourage you by reminding you that no matter what you have been through, in Christ you can do better and you will do better. 


Believe what God says about what He's done in you, not what your emotions or the emotionalism of others tell you.  God says, "I have called you by my name.  You are mine."

God says about you, "You are a light that should not be covered."
Don't put yourself in a position that causes you to do wrong.
Live in the Spirit.
Also remember that God loves you as you are, but He's too merciful to leave you there.
Love in Christ,
Pastor Shipman
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