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Archive for January, 2016

Starting the Fast

Fasting-Splash-MQ

Joel 2:12-13 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Today, we start a 40 day fast at The Shepherd’s Fellowship as we move past “Consecration Sunday”. As we do, here’s some thoughts to help those involved get started.

Again, a fast is giving up anything that matters to you for a period of time as a sacrifice to God. It is not a weight loss program. It’s not a detox program to get rid of a bad habit. While it might have some side benefits depending on what you surrender, it’s primarily sacrificing for the Lord to draw closer to Him and seek Him.

While people will give up anything from Facebook to certain foods, the goal is to give up something you miss. Then when you feel that you are missing that thing, use that as a reminder and spend that time for prayer, digging into the Word, and receiving counsel and fellowship from other mature Christians to draw closer to God.

Be cautious not to make a frivolous commitment before God. This is something you are sacrificing to Him. While we may slip here and there and lean into His grace, this is also not a casual thing to take lightly.

With this fast, we are humbling ourselves before God so that He can lift us up….. both as individuals and for our church. During this time (and any time), I would appreciate your prayer for myself, my family, the staff (worship leader, kid’s coordinator, and youth coordinator), the elders, the deacons, the volunteers, your brothers and sisters in the church, the vision of the church, and much more. Please be praying against any attack of the enemy to stop the flow of the Holy Spirit in our church and that God has His way to restore, heal, and empower.

We love you guys and look forward to what God is doing in our midst and in the fast. If you have any questions, feel free to touch base with me.

Blessings!

Pastor Tom
theshepherdsfellowship.org

PS – I had a side question that was excellent. Traditionally, we invite those who are interested in doing so to join us for fasting during Lent as we prepare for Easter. This is not a Biblically mandated fast but a tradition. This year, Lent begins in early February and runs into part of the church called fast and someone wondered how that would work.

For me, the current fast is a Spirit called fast and it’s where I am focusing my seeking so for the first time in several years, I will not be participating in Lent with a fast. However, as a pastor and a church, we are happy to support what God puts on your heart with Lent and if you let us know you will be fasting then too, we will be happy to be praying over you as the Holy Spirit moves.

 

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Words

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”
Proverbs 15: 1-2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” Proverbs 15:7

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lordbut gracious words are pure.” Proverbs 15: 26

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Provers 15: 28

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15: 33

A small sampling from Proverbs 15 reminds us how powerful words are. We may still remember the chant “stick and stones may break my bones” but we know words have more power than we wish they held. We are losing the art of gentle words in our culture and at times, even in the life of Christians and the church.

If you find you are having a problem with your words, may I suggest a few things…

Understand it’s a heart issue

Sometimes we try to justify ourselves by saying “That’s just who I am” or “I’m just like my mom (or dad)” and continue on. While we can have in our personalty certain tendencies that lead us to be critical or negative, it doesn’t mean it’s ok. Your words still alienate, separate, and crush others at times. If we roll with our earthly tendencies and don’t work them into submission to God’s ways, we continue a cycle that impacts others and ourselves.

Understand you are hurting others

You might think you are direct and others should appreciate it but I can’t tell you how many people come to me for life counseling because the anger, hurt, or weight they are feeling because of someone in their life dumping on them in unloving ways (again, often times Christians).

If you find that you enjoy the emotional release of unloading on others, there’s a good chance you are hurting them.

If you find that you enjoy talking about frustrations and grips with others to people other than the ones you struggle with, there’s a good chance you are hurting the person outside the loop and the one within it.

If you find that you need to tear others down to build yourself up, your just hurting everyone including how others see you.

Understand things can turn around

You have the chance to earn others seeing you different. You may not be aware but you may have some nicknames you would rather not know about. However, by following the proverbs above, you can be know as an “encourager”!

Some of the words above can be foreign to us in our speech … soft, gentle, and pure. However, through discipline, taking a breath and speaking with the Spirit’s lead; you too can be righteous and ponder what words (and heart) to embrace. It just starts with humbling yourself, leaning into the ways of God and letting Him raise you up.

Words lead to broken marriages. Words lead to split churches. Words lead to failed friendships. Words lead to insecurity and loss.

Words lead to freedom. Words brings unity. Words heal old wounds. Words have power.

Use yours in the light of the Christ to honor Him and love others.

If we can help you with this in any way, please let us know.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Tom Hypes
theshepherdsfellowship.org

 

 

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Are you going through a tough time right now? Does it seem while others have been celebrating a new start in a new year, you carry the same weight as you did last week?

Our troubles have all different details to them but in many cases, they have similar underlining themes – loneliness, finances, rejection, and at times … others are choosing to cause us hurt and harm.

David found himself in this kind of situation in I Samuel 23. In a season where the king, Saul was jealous and threatened; David found himself on the run for his life. Even though he was anointed by God to be the replacement of Saul someday, he did not want to do so by his own hand so he hid during this season of oppression and hurt.

While he was hiding, those around him saw an opportunity to put themselves in good graces with the boss by stabbing David in the back (Ever happen in your office?). They went to the King and offered to bring David to him.

During this time, David wrote a Maskil. We call it Psalm 54 in the Bible.

This is how it goes…

“O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers have risen against me;ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.


With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; 
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.”

There our several things I love about David’s worship.

– He has no problem being honest about his hurt, pain, and struggles before God.

– He claims truths about God and states them. When he does, we see his focus moves from the circumstances to God.

– Then he busts into praise through faith knowing that God has the victory (We can have the same in our own prayer/ worship times).

At the same time, this specific psalm has some key points that you might want to reflect on if you are going through some struggles and want to have the same deliverance and peace that David had.

This psalm assumes you are a follower of Christ. While this phrasing is a “church age” one since Jesus had not come yet in David’s time, it is evident that David was a follower of God. So much so that even though he too was a screw up at times, even God called him “one after my own heart”

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? The One who is the way to God? The One who offers grace, love, and purpose? If not, you can become so today by acknowledging Jesus as leader in your life, believing in your heart that he forgives you through his death and resurrection, and then following him. For more on that, please touch base with me at tom@theshepherdsfellowship.org

This psalm assumes the struggle you are going through is the fault of others who have evil intent. Our struggles are not always the fault of others. It can be our own bad choices. It can be a season God is leading us through to grow or discipline us through. Spend some time examining the cause so you know how to pray and act through them.

This psalm assumes you are leaning into the Lord for the solution. You can’t say a quick prayer and then go out swinging trying to get your way. Sometimes we need to give up our desire to get our way and submit before God and go His path.

This psalm assumes you are holding on to God’s promises. David was able to submit by holding onto the facts that God will end this issue, that God will deliver him from trouble, and that God will triumph. Are you holding onto these truths and following His lead to the fulfillment of them?

This psalm reminds us that the final outcome is not about us getting our way but to bring glory to and worship to God. The psalm ends with worship to what God has done and so will your story if you lean into Him today.

It may be a path but it is not a wall. You’re story continues today! What will the story look like tomorrow?

If we can help you in any way, please touch base with me or stop by and visit us at church. Blessings!

Pastor Tom Hypes
theshepherdsfellowship.org

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