Pastor Shepard's most recent Sermon

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Joy- Part 3

"The joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh 8)

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psa 16:11)

Oh Beloved, notice the "mighty fortress" which surrounds this place of joy and gladness, the believer's "refuge in the day of affliction"! "In His PRESENCE is fullness of joy!" "At Thy right hand there are PLEASURES FOR EVERMORE!" This is rejoicing's "haven of rest"!

His "presence" assures our fainting hearts of "joy's fullness": and "His right hand secures our pleasures for EVERMORE!" Oh, dearly beloved! Do you know of such a haven? Has not the Captain of your salvation safely guided you often through troubled seas into this blessed and glorious haven of rest? Of course He has, and He will continue to do so.

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that "Haven of Rest."
Shelter me safe in that "Haven of Rest."

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
(Psa 107:23-30)

The storms and the waves, they may "rise and fall", yet never forget, they must still obey the Master's call. And though we might often reel to and fro, staggering like a drunkard and at wit's end, one simple cry and all the winds must die. That place where once the storm winds blew and the waves raged, has now been conquered by a stillness greater than the storm and more powerful than the raging seas. For this great stillness fills the soul with a great calm and quietness, as they lead us to that desired haven of rest!

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
(Psa 5:11)

"It is our duty and our privilege to rejoice in God and to rejoice in Him always; at all times, in all conditions, even when we suffer for Him, or are afflicted by Him. We must not think the worse of Him or of His ways for the hardships we meet with in His service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstances on earth. Joy in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. If good men have not a continual feast, it is their own fault."
(Matthew Henry)

Pastor Audey Shepard

Joy--Part 2

"Rejoice in the Lord always."

These words might appear to some as "very strange" coming from a man who was imprisoned and facing possible martyrdom; but, the truth of the matter is, these words not only best describe the very life of the Apostle Paul, but they also best describe the very essence of true Christianity!

Yet, one might ask, "How is such a thing possible for the believer?" To "rejoice always", when as believers we are confronted so often with heavy trials, fightings from within and from without, and burdened with a sense of our own sins and infirmities, not to mention our own shortcomings and failures? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer to all those questions, and more.

"Rejoice in the Lord always."

You see, our rejoicing is not to be found in anything of ourselves, nor in the circumstances we might be facing, be they pleasant or discomforting. This rejoicing, of which the Apostle speaks, is a rejoicing found "outside of ourselves", not to be dictated by our circumstances, nor governed by our situations. It's not dependent upon any merit of our own, nor can it be quenched by our most fiery trials. It's far above Satan's devices and more powerful than all principalities and powers.

For this "rejoicing" is "in the Lord." There, where no power in heaven or on earth can destroy or weaken its influence. Being "in the Lord," it possesses a sovereign and effectual power on all those who are themselves "in Him." "Ye are complete in Him." (Col. 2:10)

If then the believer is "complete in Him", then surely such "rejoicing in the Lord, and that always" is a portion of his inheritance. A vital and essential part of true Christianity, and an undeniable evidence of our truly being "in Christ."

The first thing which "in the Lord" implies is that the source, or origin, of this rejoicing is not found in any outward circumstances, situations or conditions in which we might find ourselves, but solely "in the Lord." That is, being in the Lord, this "rejoicing" is far beyond those powers and influences of trying and difficult circumstances and situations which might otherwise threaten such rejoicing. For the source of this "rejoicing" is found in Him "who is head of all principalities and powers, and who is gone into heaven and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him". (1 Pet.3:22)

"All things are subject to Him", meaning that nothing nor anybody, be they men, angels or demons can withstand or dictate to Him what He does and how He does it. They all being "subject to Him." And while this "rejoicing is in Him", the originator, author and sustainer of such rejoicing, it is secure against all and every situation and circumstance of life which might appear to threaten or thwart its powerful influence.

Pastor Audey Shepard

Joy--Part 1

"Rejoice in the Lord always."
(Philippians 4:4)

We have recorded in these words of the Apostle Paul a most blessed and glorious truth which should greatly excite and warm the heart of every true believer. Writing from prison and facing possible martyrdom, the apostle Paul encourages the believers at Philippi to not only "rejoice in the Lord", but to "rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS."

That is, in every situation and circumstance of life; be it during very difficult and trying times, or when we are experiencing some of the greatest blessings in our life, regardless of our outward situation or circumstances, the believer is exhorted to maintain a spirit of rejoicing.

This does not mean that there is no place for sadness or sorrow of heart in this present life. For the Preacher declares in Ecc 3:4 that "there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance". Yet, for the true believer even such times of weeping and mourning are tempered by God's grace to increase and strengthen our "rejoicing in the Lord."

"Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."
(Ecc 7:3)

For the true believer, even sorrow is part of "all things working together for the good to them that love God", and in the hands of God's infinite mercy and grace, an important and vital ingredient for enriching our joy in the Lord.

Like the law, though it cannot bring salvation, yet like a schoolmaster, it leads us to Christ; so too, sorrow, though contrary to joy, leads the believer to know and realize wherein true joy and happiness lie!

Pastor Audey Shepard

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Love of Christ

"The Love of Christ constraineth us."
(2Cor 5:14)

Dear friends,
What is it, that would compel the true believer to live a life so contrary to this present world? A life characterized by self-denial and cross bearing; where afflictions and trials play a vital role in their joy and happiness?

A life where "loving your enemies and praying for those who despitefully use you and persecute you", best testify to your truly being a child of God? A life, where "denying this world's pleasures and lusts are demanded, and being hated for Christ's sake is promised? A life where the "loss of all things gained are counted but dung and loss, that we might win Christ"?

The answer to all these great questions can be summed up in these most blessed and precious words of the Apostle Paul. Words which work mightily, and almost mystically, in the hearts and minds of every true believer!

"The Love of Christ constraineth us." (2Cor 5:14)

"Tis happiness below, to encounter many a cross,
But the Savior's power to know, sanctifying every loss;
Trials must and will befall, but with humble faith to see,

"Satan's sifting of Peter" was designed to "try his faith." Yet it was "one glance from Christ" and the remembrance of His words that he would deny Him, which pierced Peter's heart and caused him to "weep bitterly", thus ushering in a greater awareness of Christ's unchanging and eternal love! Satan's sifting would, in the hands of God's grace, prove to sift Peter's heart of all self-confidence, while revealing the greatest of Christ's unchanging love.

"Paul's thorn in the flesh", which he considered to be very grievous and a great hindrance, was made by God's all-sufficient grace, a thorn he now cherished and warmly embraced.

"Moses" would not have all the riches and pleasures of Canaan, if the "presence of God" went not up with them.

And "David" found nothing in heaven or upon earth itself that he desired more than Christ!

What is it then, that would compel a believer to choose such a life? To be willing and ready, to deny the whole world and himself, and face such great persecution and hatred?...."The love of Christ constraineth (arrests, compels, motivates) us." (2 Cor 5:14)

I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,

Hail, sovereign love that first began,
The scheme to rescue fallen man;
Hail matchless free eternal grace,
That gave my soul a hiding place.

Against the God who rules the sky,
I fought with hand uplifted high,
Despised the mention of His grace,
Too proud to seek a hiding place.

Enwrapped in thick Egyptian night,
And fond of darkness more than light,
Madly I ran the sinful race,
Secure without a hiding place.

But thus th' eternal counsel ran,
"Almighty Love, arrest that man!"
I felt the arrows of distress,
And found I had no hiding place.

Indignant justice stood in view,
To Sinai's fiery mount I flew,
But Justice cried with frowning face,
"This mountain is no hiding place!"

Ere long a heavenly voice I heard,
And Mercy's angel form appeared.
Who led me on with gentle pace,
To Jesus Christ, my hiding place.

On Him Almighty vengeance fell,
That must have sunk a world to hell;
He bore it for a chosen race,
And thus became their hiding place.

Should storms of sevenfold vengeance roll,
And shake this earth from pole to pole;
No flaming bolt could daunt my face,
For Jesus is my hiding place.

A few more rolling suns at most,
Shall land me safe on Heaven's coast.
There I shall sing the song of grace,
To Jesus Christ, my hiding place.

Bro. Audey Shepard

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Light Afflictions--A Thought Worthy of Meditation

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us afar more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
(2Co 4:17-18)

In one of the most amazing statements ever made by the Apostle Paul,we find a divine and blessed truth which should greatly comfort and encourage the most afflicted and troubled believer. A blessed truth reserved for those who have truly been born again by the Spirit of God and thereby brought into a special and intimate relationship with Christ: A blessed relationship, whereby even "afflictions" contribute or work to keep our hearts and affections on those things which are eternal.

If "the law" was our "schoolmaster" to bring us to Christ, then it is by such "afflictions" that our hearts and affections are kept from wandering from His side. Such a work Paul would describe as "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory". That it is by such "working of afflictions" that our hearts and minds should be "kept on those things that are eternal" proves not only our proneness to "wander from the God we love", but also the unchangeable love, mercy and faithfulness of our God.

Oh Lord! How is it, that we can be so unthankful and ungrateful, while Your love and mercy abideth so faithful! That after receiving such a great and unmerited salvation, our hearts, without such workings of afflictions, are still prone to consider those things "that are temporal"! And if these "light afflictions worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory", then why do we find ourselves constantly complaining of such "blessed afflictions", as though they are "unjust, undeserved and unfair"! Should not our hearts then, though suffering under manifold temptations", rejoice and give thanks to Your great faithfulness, mercy and love!"

O Lord! Help us to know more personally the blessedness of such "workings of afflictions". And should such afflictions confront us, may we learn to "embrace them" as ambassadors of mercy and grace to guide our wandering hearts and affections back to Him, who is the "lover of our soul". Help us, that we might always consider such afflictions to be but "light", while they "work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory". And Lord, should our hearts begin to wander from the God we love, may these ambassadors of love, seek us, and draw us back to the fold of Your mercy and grace!

It is often by such afflictions, that our hearts are truly set in tune to "sing His grace". Oh blessed afflictions, which are but light, may they "work in us such exceeding and eternal weight of glory", until we meet Him face to face!

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace;

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Our Purpose

We will be keeping this blog updated as often as possible with encouraging, edifying posts, as well as posting relevant church news. Our hope is to be glorifying and honoring to God in our feeble attempts to encourage and bless all who come here. To the Lord be all the glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen

A Humble Exhortation

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."(Pro 28:13)

These words of Solomon, like that of Christ, have "no form or comeliness" that the world should desire them; but for the true believer, who has received a divine work of grace within his heart,these words offer great comfort and hope. For though they speak of "sin" and its terrible consequences, yet, they promise "deliverance" from that which once "enslaved the believer"and kept him in "bondage".

For though it is true that "there is no condemnation, to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit" (Rom 8:1), yet, the work of "mortification of sin" is ever needed if the believer is to be "a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim2:21). Therefore, these words of Solomon offer the true believer great comfort and hope in this great work of mortification.

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper". For the true believer, though he struggles against "sin in his members", knows that in "covering, or concealing" his sins there is no real deliverance or conquering of such sins. For grace imparted has taught him that God, "who desires truth in the inward parts", would have the believer humbly acknowledge and confess such sins, if he is to receive "mercy and deliverance from his sins".

Man, like Adam who sought to hide himself from the presence of God, would seek to "hide his sins from God" by "covering them" with excuses or by casting blame on others. The sinner refuses to "acknowledge and confess" his own guilt", but will always seek to condone or excuse his sinful actions before God. Yet, the true believer is taught by Scripture and the Holy Spirit, that "humble confession and admission of guilt" is the only way by which he shall receive "mercy".

"But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy". This is the divine chariot upon which true mercy rides and by which mercy is freely received. And while the sinner rejects and denies to humbly confess and forsake his sins, they being so desirable and attractive to him; the believer on the other hand, has through grace imparted,come to "loath and abhor" those sins for which Christ Himself suffered and died to deliver him from! He therefore, does not "shun or avoid" such confession, but welcomes and embraces such confession which opens the door for mercy to be received.

"Silence" rather than "confession" torments the believer's heart and mind, making him of all men most miserable.

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (Psalm 32:3-4)

Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.(Psalm 28:1)

Unrepentant sin for the believer works like a "pestilent sore" eating away at his joy, peace and hope, until in great despair he "cries out to God". This too, beloved, is an act of unmerited mercy and grace. For should God leave the believer alone, he too, would be so hardened by sin, that "confession and repentance" would never be desired.

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lam 3: 22-23).

Therefore, when overcome by sin, the true believer embraces such "confession and acknowledgement" of his own guilt and sin, not desiring to "hide, cover or excuse" any guilt or sin, but longing to have such sin and guilt exposed, that true and thorough confession might be exercised.

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah." (Psalm 32:5)

And yet, even in our humble confession and acknowledgement of sin, we sense a great need of divine assistance. For be our confession ever so humble, or ever so sincere, knowing the deceitfulness of our own hearts and the greatness of sins deceptive power, we desire God, "Who knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21), "to search and know our hearts; to try us and to know our thoughts; to see if there be any wicked way in us, and to lead us in the way everlasting" (Psalm139:23-24).

This humble truth has ever been known and confessed by God's people down through the ages…

"Since I repented last time another matter has given me great sorrow,which is, that if I rigorously scrutinize the best of what I now do,I discover sin. New sin is mixed with my best. For this cause, I cannot but conclude, that in spite of own self-conceited and imaginative I am towards myself and my work, even if my past is without blemish, the sins which I commit in one day are enough to put me in hell- IF IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF SUCH A GREAT SAVIOR, WHO CAN SAVE SUCH A SINNER LIKE ME!" (John Bunyan)

"In all the duties which we fulfill there are corruptions mingled in them. Should Jesus Christ accept us according to our works after we have repented, our works would surely condemn us; for never can we offer a prayer as perfect as the moral law of God demands. I do not know how you think, but I can say, I cannot pray, I can only sin; I cannot preach to you or to other people, I can only sin; I am forced to confess, even my repentance needs to be repented of, even my tears need to be washed in the precious blood of my Redeemer. Our best works are but the refinest sins!" (George Whitefield)

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."(Pro 28:13)

"Confess and forsake", herein lies the believer's goal in the confessing of his sins. For he knows that confession alone is not sufficient of itself in the "mortifying of his sins", but longs that such humble confession would lead to a true "forsaking of such sins".

For the hypocrite, a mere formal or superficial confession of sins is sufficient, for he confesses without a desire to forsake! Yet, it is the "forsaking of sins" which proves the "genuineness and sincerity"of our confession of sins! For "true confession of sins, coupled with a great desire to forsake such sins", opens the door for mercy to be received!

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (Hos 14:1-2)

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves,and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:14)

Oh may God grant us all much mercy and grace in humbly confessing our sins, with the desire to "forsake such sins". For then, we shall surely receive mercy and be healed; so will we render the "calves of our lips."

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.(Psa 69:30-32)

Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive,
Let a repenting rebel live:
Are not Thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in Thee?
My crimes are great, but not surpass
The power and glory of Thy grace:
Great God, Thy nature hath no bound,
So let Thy pardoning love be found.
O wash my soul from every sin,
And make my guilty conscience clean;
Here on my heart the burden lies,
And past offenses pain my eyes.
My lips with shame my sins confess
Against Thy law, against Thy grace:
Lord, should Thy judgment grow severe,
I am condemned, but Thou art clear.
Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
I must pronounce Thee just in death;
And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.
Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord,
Whose hope, still hovering round Thy Word,
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.
(Isaac Watts)

Pastor Audey Shepard