Just One

Pastors Blog with Bro Ed Stephenson

1-23-2021

What is on your to do list today? Do you even have a list? Have you arranged a schedule which will allow you to complete your list in an orderly way? Some people live their lives with no real schedule of things that need to be done. One thing that many are guilty of is missing an opportunity to do something that will have a lasting influence on our lives. One subject that many do not think about in the now is the subject of eternity. We seem to be convinced that one day we will take care of the subject of eternity. Many just assume that their ‘today’ will be followed by another day.

What happened to the ‘Rich Man’ in Luke 16 who had everything materially in life and planned to ‘live-it-up’ the rest of his life. He was so busy building his kingdom for personal pleasure that he never made room for God in his life. What happened is that Jesus said, “the rich man died and was buried” but the next thing Jesus says is most alarming, “and in hell he lifted up his eyes”. I think we all agree that he should have taken time to consider God.

In this life only are we presented with the opportunity to make a decision about where we will spend eternity, matter of fact the Bible says, “today is the day of salvation”. It also says, “if today you hear His voice harden not your heart”. What is so special about today is that it is the ONLY day we have to claim the promise of God that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED”.

If you don’t know Jesus today you need to seize (grab, snatch, grasp, clutch, take hold of) the opportunity (occasion, opening, juncture, moment, point in time) to call upon Him for your personal salvation. When you take time to think about the uncertainties of time, and how quickly days pass away, it should make you want to ‘seize the opportunity’.

When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was in town, and passing his way, he rushed ahead of the crowd, and climbed a tree, because he realized this opportunity may never be his again.

To his surprise Jesus stopped, looked up in the tree and call him down out of the tree, and went home with Zaachaeus that ‘day’. Zaachaeus seized the opportunity and it changed is life then and for eternity!

I’m telling all of us “Make time for Jesus” the opportunity we have ‘today’ may never pass our way again. I especially plead with those who have never asked Jesus into their hearts because death will usher us into either heaven or hell and death may come today.

HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



1-17-2021

“We Must”

This week we will have the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States of America, President elect Joe Biden. Whether you voted for him, or for another candidate, as a believers we are all required to pray for him. I Timothy 2:1 Paul tells us that we are to pray for all men and then in verse two he presents to us examples by saying, “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable li8fe in all godliness and honesty.”

May I say it is hard to hate someone that we are praying for! Paul also reminds us that prayer will bring a peacefulness to our lives and will have an influence on our character. Under the Holy Spirits leadership Paul tells us that God would have His children to live “quiet and peaceable lives” which will be clothed in ‘godliness’ and ‘honesty’. Paul also reminds us in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”

When Peter took a sword, and cut off the ear of one of those members of the mob, that had come to take Jesus, that night in the garden, Jesus removed the sword, healed the wounded ear. Then Jesus reminded Peter that if He needed defending there were legions of Angels waiting for His word to do so! In other words there is a heavenly force ready to intervene if necessary.

All the violence that we have witnessed in the last year is just deplorable and it needs to stop! I am sure that the Father is absolutely aware of what is going on and He is a discerner of the thought, and intent, of man’s heart. Riots, and destruction, is not the ultimate answer because if that determines our future then the future will, of necessity, always be governed by lawlessness.

As a believer I know that I will not always agree with the coming administration but I will not resort to violence to make my point. My defense will always be, I pray, the truthfulness of the Word of God. I know that our Heavenly Father has a plan for the future, to deal with the sinfulness of man, and I MUST bow to His sovereign purpose and plan. As we wait for HEAVEN’S ANSWER we MUST be people of peace and Christ like character.

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



1-8-2021

2020 is now behind us and we are moving into a new year and a new decade. We need to ask ourselves, “What is one of the most important responsibilities for us, as believers, concerning our nation?”

The answer is found, I believe, in I Timothy 2:1-4, where Paul gives instructions to the young pastor Timothy to teach concerning citizen believers. At this time the cruel, Christian hating, Nero was ruling over the Roman Empire. Paul said, “I exhort therefore that, FIRST OF ALL, supplications (petition, appeals), prayers (pleas, request, hopes, desires) intercessions (negotiation, mediation), and giving of thanks be made FOR ALL MEN; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth.”

What a sacred privilege is prayer! For ‘sinners’ who have been ‘born again’ by the grace of God to be invited to the Throne of God and, in Jesus name, present their burdens, and request, along with praise and worship is such an amazing opportunity. To also notice God’s invitation to come ‘boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain (get hold of, acquire) mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.” Jesus reminded us to pray so that we would not faint (fade, weak, feeble, diminish). The light of Jesus is most needed in our world and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and the faithful practice of prayer will enable us to shine for the glory of the Father.

Prayer should never be ‘trivialized’ (to belittle, play down, make light of) as did the Pharisees who only prayed to impress other men. Jesus said of these who sought to make themselves ‘look good’ they have their reward and that was the praise of man. We trivialize prayer when we use it just to make points with those who are listening. I was most shocked this week with the opening prayer of the 117th Congress. As the congressman closed his prayer he said, “Amen and Awomen”. Now first of all he is trying to make points by removing any gender preference in closing a prayer. When one studies the word ‘amen’ one comes to understand the word has nothing to do with gender. It is an ancient word which speaks to confirmation, agreement and literally “so be it”. When he sought to please his listeners with some political ‘play-on-words’ he trivialize the great privilege, and honor, of prayer.

In Revelation 3:1, Jesus is presented as the ‘Amen’ which means that Jesus is the eternal confirmation of all that God is and all that God has promised in His Word. Paul told the saints in the church at Colosse that in Jesus dwells all the ‘fullness’, Amen!

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



12-27-2020

There is so much with the Christmas story that is meaningful to man at any time of the year.  So much that should cause us to be in awe (wonder, reverence, admiration, worship) of God’s love for mankind. Once again I am in awe of God’s desire to come into His creation to pay a debt that man could never pay. I am in awe of ‘Immanuel’, God with Us, in the person of Christ our Lord. I am in awe of God’s message the night Christ was born, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a ‘SAVIOR’, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) What man needed that night, is still the need of mankind today, a ‘SAVIOR’! Jesus reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount that, “…your Father knoweth what things ye have NEED of, before ye ask Him.” (Matt. 6:8) Man’s greatest need does not rest with the material but the spiritual and for this need to be met we needed a Savior! So God ‘graced’ a young virgin name Mary and that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Ghost! “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He SHALL SAVE His people from their sins.”

(Matthew 1:21)

From the Christmas story we learn how the shepherds received the heavenly message, about the birth of the child in Bethlehem, with great joy (happiness, thrill, ecstasy). The Bible tells us that the shepherds made ‘haste’ (speed, rush, swiftness) to get to Bethlehem to see this gift of God the ‘Savior’. At any point in our lives there should be an energy involved in the worship of Christ the Lord. Isn’t it amazing how going to the place of worship, to worship our Savior, turns out to be a drudgery (labor, chore, grind). As believers there should be an every present joy about the worship of Christ the Lord, “a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.”

 Something else the shepherds did that must be done, by those who know this Savior, the Bible said they made known this story of the birth of the Savior. The Bible also tells us that people who heard the story from the Shepherds were in a state of wonder (miracle, marvel, amazement, sensation) concerning this Savior. Jesus, who is the light of the world, told His followers to let their light shine in this world of darkness, and to go into all the world and share the story of His birth, life, death, burial and resurrection, which is the ‘Good News’!

One other truth, from the Christmas story, that has amazed me since I was a young boy and that was when they arrived in Bethlehem “there was no room for them in the inn.” It seemed to me that a man with his wife, who was about to give birth, should have been given a room even if it meant someone had to give up their room. It just seemed to me that someone should have been kind enough to give their room for this couple. Yet, I have come to realize that there are still a lot of people who make “no room” for the Savior.  If you are so busy in “your room, or, life” that you don’t have room for the Savior, “you’re too wrapped up in your room, or, life”.

So many truths come from the Christmas story that must be applicable all year long, not just during the Christmas season.

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



12-13-2020

I believe that Jesus is coming again! I believe He is coming back personally in bodily form to snatch (rapture) the redeemed unto Himself in the air (I Thess. 4:13-17). I believe His return is imminent (looming, impending, about to happen, at hand). I firmly believe what Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)

You may ask yourself when is this event going to happen and you may have heard someone declare a date for this event to happen but the time of this event rest with the Father. Jesus did give some signs of the times when this event is about to happen and those signs are everywhere. Jesus said, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28

One key phrase in Luke 21:28 is the phrase, “when these things BEGIN to come to pass” not when these things are complete, or finished, but “when these things begin”. I am immediately reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:6-12, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers (various, assorted, different) places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets (proclaimers) shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity (immorality, evil, crime, injustice, wickedness) shall abound (thrive, prosper, overflow) the love of many shall wax cold.”

May we all be reminded that Jesus said, “When these things begin to come to pass in different places look up”! Are we not living in a world where there tensions of war between nations all around the world. Are we not aware that millions of people go to bed each day with nothing to eat all around the world and in some places that would shocking. We should finally be aware of the word ‘pestilence’ which means ‘plaque’, ‘epidemic’, ‘virus’, ‘disease’, ‘pandemic’. DOES JESUS HAVE OUR ATTENTION YET?

Then Jesus told us that believers will be more, and more, disliked and even ‘hated’ for being His disciples. Isn’t it amazing that in America, where our roots run deep in Christanity, Bible believing people are looked upon as part of our society’s biggest problem. The numbers grow more every year who want to take any reference to God, or Jesus, out of our class rooms and culture. Hate will become more, and more, prevalent in the world and love will become more, and more, a governing factor of the past. In this atmosphere ‘false proclaimers’ shall arise and there will be more, and more, and more ‘immorality’, ‘evil’, ‘crime’ and ‘injustice’.

HE IS COMING, ANY MOMENT, ARE YOU READY?

…………BRO. Ed



12-6-2020

The virus continues to plague (afflict, trouble) our nation and the world. So many families have had to deal with the loss of loved ones cause by the virus and hearts are so heavy for them. It so important that we stand with them in prayer and the ministry of support during these very trying days. While we are all thankful for what appears to be a vaccine that will give us hope for victory we know for some it will come to late.

Yet in the midst of the pandemic we all being reminded that it is the holiday season and that now is the time to buy and get ready to celebrate the Christmas season. There seems to be a real paradox (irony, inconsistency, contradiction) about all this push to buy, and celebrate, when we are in the midst of such a pandemic and so many are dealing with broken hearts. Perhaps we need to all remember what this season is really about. It’s an old saying, yet, it is a vital truth to remember, “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON”.

In the midst of so much uncertainty may we all remember the words of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call is name Immanuel.” We must celebrate this truth that is not influence by a pandemic, economic declines, political uncertainties or world conflicts. The joy of Isaiah’s statement is found in the name of the child, ‘Immanuel’. In Matthew 1:23 we are given the meaning of the name ‘Immanuel, or Emmanuel’ , “which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US.”

The fact that God sent His Son, Jesus, is a testimony that God desires to be with us. Sin separated us from God but God loved man so much that He sent His Son to pay sins debt so that the separation would be removed and all hostilities would reconciled in the person of Jesus Christ. So Jesus is the person in whom “God with us” becomes a reality! How can we possibly celebrate Christmas if we do not know, personally, the joy of “God with us” in the person of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus reminded us that the only way to know the Father was by Him, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

How can we deal with all that is going on? Do we look for political answers, in either party, do we look to experts, in fields of science, medicine, economics, psychology, and research. I say to all of us that the most important truth to know in times like these is this, “Immanuel, God with us”.

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



11-22-2020

The year was 1621 and the harvest was in so the Pilgrims, and Native Americans, celebrated a ‘Harvest Feast’ in Plymouth, Massachusetts and it has cone to be known as the first Thanksgiving. In the year 1630 settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8th.

In 1777, while in route to Valley Forge, George Washington and his army stopped in freezing weather to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America. In 1789 President George Washington declared November 26th as a national day of prayer and Thanksgiving. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official federal holiday.

In 1924 Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1941 President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1947 President Harry Truman ‘pardoned’ a turkey the day before it was scheduled to be served up as the main course at the White House Thanksgiving Day dinner. Modern presidents have carried on the tradition.

I think we all agree that we should express our thankfulness as a nation and individually. I think we all agree we should express our thankfulness more than just one day a year. I think we all agree that it is a sign of politeness to say, “Thank you”, when we are the recipients of kindness and graciousness. Most children are encouraged to say, “Thank You, and we all think it is so precious. Isn’t it sad that many forget how to say, “Thank you”.

I become concerned with the absence of Thankfulness and the failure to express our Thankfulness. Life would be most unbearable if it were not for the many acts of kindness, and graciousness, which have come our way. The question we need to ask ourselves is this, “Did I remember to say, “Thank You”? Another question to ask ourselves is this, “Is it too late to say, “Thank You”? If it is not to late I would say, “Get it done!”.

No one has been more kind, and gracious, to more undeserving people than our Heavenly Father. The fact that He loved us while we were lost in sin and sent “His only begotten Son” to pay our sin debt I think deserves a BIG, “THANK YOU!”. With all the perplexities of life I can always know that I am victorious in my ‘Living Savior’ and that ‘Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.’

The list for which I should be saying, “Thank You”, to my Heavenly Father, is too great for me know. I think eternity will be spent in praise of Him who made it possible and real praise always includes “THANK YOU!”.



11-15-2020

The book of I Timothy is one of the ‘Pastoral Epistles’ written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison in Rome. It is a letter that would inspire pastoral care of the local church. It is also a letter that would define the qualifications for one in the position as a pastor. Most importantly the words in I Timothy are the inspired words of God and the Holy Spirit led Paul to write these words of instruction. Remembering these truths are a must for those who make up the local church and for those who serve in the pastoral position.

 As your pastor I want all of us to be reminded of Paul’s instructions in I Timothy 2:1-4  concerning the importance of our prayer life individually and as a church family. As you begin, in verse one of this chapter, it is well to notice that the instructions in the first three verses are for the fulfilment of God’s design presented in verse 4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

 So Paul begins by saying “I exhort (urge, encourage, insist), first of all that supplications (appeals, request, petitions), prayers (desires, hope, wish), intercessions (intervention, mediation), and giving if thanks, be made of all men.” So Paul is telling us that evangelistic prayers need to be presented for all men by the believers in the local church. It is important for us to pray for those in our families but we need to expand our prayers for salvation to come to all men.

 Then Paul presents some of those who are not a part of our inner circle but we must pray for especially in light of God’s expressed desire in verse four. At the time of this writing Nero was the ruler of the Roman Empire and he was most cruel and was very antichristian.

So as evil as Nero was the believers, in the local church at Ephesus, were to pray for his salvation. Then Paul expanded those to pray for by saying we are to pray for all those in positions of authority and that we pray for their salvation also.

We might say, “that’s easy for Paul to say, but it wasn’t easy for Paul to say, he is in prison at this time, held there by the very ones he is to pray for!” We should all agree that all those in positions of authority would be so changed if they were to be ‘born again’! Nothing would change the world like ‘born again leaders and people in positions of authority being born again!’ If we believe that then pray for their salvation.

If we can truly pray for someone’s salvation we will not be their enemies. It will also calm our souls and allow us to lead a more peaceful life in godliness and honesty. Paul goes on to say that this life of peace, and Godliness, is what is most acceptable to God our Savior. We should be excited about God’s desire “for all men to be saved” because we know that desire included us!

 

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED

 



11-1-2020

Has anyone asked for your opinion lately? Have you voiced your opinion only to be told that your opinion wasn’t asked for? Have you ever given your opinion only to find out that your opinion was wrong? There are those who have an opinion on any topic that is being discussed and there are those people who are very reluctant to voice their opinion. Giving one’s opinion should be done so with much thought realizing the possibility of being wrong and bringing about more harm than good.

 Opinions carry more weight considering who it is that is giving their opinion and what the subject matter is. If you are having some health issues you go to a doctor to get their opinion and even then you may want to get a second opinion. When dealing with legal matters you seek the opinion of a lawyer.  When dealing with tax questions you want the opinion of a CPA. Opinions are based, most of the time, on personal experience or the advice you received dealing with like circumstances.

The word opinion carries the meaning of one’s ‘view’, ‘estimation’, ‘belief’, ‘judgment’, ‘attitude’, ‘outlook’. So we should see that there are many things that go into one’s opinion. There are many variables that go into one’s opinion that will have a strong influence on the opinion. Opinions should carry conviction, certainty, principle and faith when dealing with the essentials of life. Our opinions should never be given dealing with the serious affairs of life in a trivial way.

As a believer I should make sure that my opinions are governed by my faith, and trust, in the Word of God. Now for me that means I have to give myself to the study of the Word and that I must have full confidence in the Word. In a world that is so full of unrest, crime, lies and a multitude trying to find the way I must be prepared to give good sound advice when giving my opinion if asked. When I am preaching I am not doing so to give my personal opinion but rather to present the truth of the Word. I never look at the Word of God as just another book with someone’s opinion. The Bible is not just God’s opinion it is His Word and His Word will touch every area of our lives and will give us truth to deal with the affairs of life. But of course the question is, “What is your opinion about the Bible?”

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”  What are the opinions you are hearing? Well some say your John the Baptist, some say you’re the reincarnation of Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. Jesus said to them, “But whom say ye that I am? Peter spoke up and said with confidence, faith, certainty and principle, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s answer was not just an opinion but a declaration of truth! The world doesn’t need just another opinion they need to hear the truth of the Word. Jesus is the Son of the Living God!

 SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



10-25-2020

When we study the Word we need to take time and study the life of those who were pointed out as great examples of faith. If faith, in God, is the foundation for victory that overcomes the world we need to pay attention.

In the book of Joshua one such person draws our attention and his name is Caleb. In Joshua 14 you’ll find a great conversation between Caleb and Joshua. In thinking of Caleb he comes to our attention when he is 40 years old and was selected by Moses to ‘spy’ out the land of Canaan while the nation is camped at Kadesh-barnea. Caleb’s name means ‘Wholehearted’ and his character, and life, lived up to his name. Only he, and Joshua, wold live, following the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, of a generation crippled by ‘unbelief’. Joshua, and Caleb, would not alloiw difficulties to ‘change’ their commitment to God’s promise, or, question God’s ability to perform what He had promised!

When we speak of ‘Faith’ that breeds ‘commitment’ to God, even in the face of the opposition from the ‘majority’ we can’t help but bring up the names of Joshua and Caleb. To many of ‘end’ our lives thinking about “what could have been” but not Caleb. His life ended on a ‘HIGH’ note of ‘faith’ that was led by obedience and victory! The cause of Christ, and His church, calls for more men like Caleb and Joshua.

What an exciting, and challenging, life Joshua would lead as he followed Moses, but don’t overlook the ‘testimony’ of the life3 of Caleb. I find not record of Caleb ‘falling out’ with Joshua because God chose Joshua to follow Moses. There was ‘no jealousy or envy’ with Caleb he remained a loyal servant first of all to God.

In Joshua 14:7 we notice the character of Caleb. Listen folks character is important it means ‘uprightness, honor, integrity (reliability, truth and moral fiber). The Bible says that Caleb spoke the ‘truth’ to Moses from his heart. A man who is right with his God , who in his heart trust in his God, is a man whose word can be trusted. Truth will always prevail even in the face of the strength of the enemy. We see Caleb’s character, and love, when he addresses those who disagreed with him as ‘brethren’ in Joshua 14:7. Remember that the ‘love of God’ suffereth long and is kind and is not easily provoked.

The devotedness of Caleb is seen in Joshua 14:8 where we are told that even in the face of the negative report from the ten spies Caleb said, “but I wholly followed the Lord my God.” Caleb was ‘devoted’ (fervent, loyal, dedicated) to his God’s Will, God’s Word, God’s Provisions and God’s Purpose. Caleb was ‘sold out’ and fearlessly committed to standing with his God. It was God that Caleb would praise for keeping him ‘alive’ these 45  years and allowing him to continue to serve. (Joshua 14:10)

In verse 11, of Joshua 14, Caleb’s testimony is that by the grace of God I am still strong enough to continue to battle to possess what God has given us. Because of his faith, and character, Caleb didn’t look for a ‘laid back’ assignment for the future. Joshua 14:12 tells us that Caleb said ‘give me this mountain’ for my assignment. A mountain inhabited by giants but one that I want to claim for God.

The church needs some more people like Caleb who aren’t looking for the ‘laid back’ assignment but for the glory of God, and by His grace, we’ll take the mountain.

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. E