Just One

Pastors Blog with Bro Ed Stephenson

9-27-2020

In Malachi 3:6 we find these words, “For I am the Lord, I change not;…” and for these words I am thankful. There is one great truth about life and that is that ‘change’ is inevitable. The word change means; adjustment, modification, transformation, conversion, adaptation which means a reworking or an altered edition. I think I have found myself for I seem to be an ‘altered edition’!

 Perhaps the word ‘change’ is the most dreaded word in the English language. I also think the older we get the more we dis-like the word ‘change’. The truth is we have seen about all the ‘change’ we want to, amen!

The seasons change; the weather changes; financial circumstances change; the market changes; fashions change; people seem to change; policies change; laws change; judicial rulings change; relationships change; work schedules change; our place of employment may change; we change addresses. With all of these comes our own personal change which we begin to notice each day in the mirror. There are things there that use to NOT be there! There are things missing that use to be there! Our physical bodies are crying out to us that things are changing! About the only thing, we can say, that isn’t changing is our DNA.

Yet, we all seem to want some things to change. We want political change, economical change for the better, we want medical science to always improve, we want our social life to improve and there is a desire for religious change. Churches need to change their music, their dress standards, their moral tolerance, their dogma must change, and preaching styles need to change. There is even a call for God to change! God needs to be gender neutral and more relaxed in His ‘thou shalt not’ dogma. Jesus must present Himself less like God and more like us! The words of Jesus about Himself being the ‘only’ way, the ‘only’ truth and the ‘only’ life and no man cometh to the Father but by Him have got to be adjusted to be more inclusive!

Let me tell everyone that God is for change. The imperative change of the ‘new birth’ is by God’s design and it is the most important change in a person’s life. When a person calls on Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin and by faith they accept the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His blood as their atonement for sin, the grace of God will make them a new creature in Christ. In Christ things change for the believer; death to life, hell to heaven, sinner to saint, mortality to immortality, corruption to incorruption, to being glorified like unto Christ. WHAT A GREAT ETERNAL CHANGE!

I am thrilled, I am excited, I am motivated, and I feel a great sense of ‘security’, and ‘contentment’, along with ‘blessed assurance’ to be able to remind all of us that GOD will NEVER CHANGE! Remember what He said. “ For I am the Lord, I change not…” and the Word also tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever…”

 

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



9-20-2020

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness came by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:20-21)

            Paul is reminding the saints, in the churches of Galatia< that by the Grace of God, experienced in one’s faith in Jesus Christ, that the old Paul died and that he now lives by the living Christ within him.

            The old Paul was a religious man, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee of Pharisees¸ and as touching the Law without equal. Given to the Law, and the oral tradition, Paul was compelled to be an enemy of the Gospel of Grace. The old Paul sought to destroy the movement of the Gospel and the Christ of the Gospel. Paul saw this Christian movement as a threat to the spiritual life of the nation of Israel and a movement that must be stopped!

            Paul knew the letter of the Law, he knew the prophecies concerning the coming Mwssiah, he was without peer in ‘Head Knowledge’, but in hiws heart6 he had no relationship with God. Paul was the very picture of the words of Christ, :Outwardly clean but inside was extortion, and excess…”. “The whited sepulchers, which outwardly appeared beautiful but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

            Things totally changed when Paul met Christ on the Damascus Road. Paul experienced Grace through the crucified, and resurrecte4d, Lord Jesus Christ. Grace changed Paul and he would never be the man he used to be! Paul’s former life died and yet he was alive! The life he now lived was Christ living in him. All of us who have experienced the ‘New Birth’ by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ should have the same testimony, “The life I now live is Christ living in me.”

            Like Paul we can all look back on a former life without Jesus. It was a life with its own agenda, priorities and habits. Now those things are the past and we should have new agendas, priorities and habits. Our life is now not what we want, or our personal glory, but what can I do to bring honor, and glory, to Christ. We must all join with Paul when he said, “I am what I am by the Grace of God.”

            All of Paul’s passion was now Jesus Christ and Him crucified! He knew he was saved by Grace, living by Grace, sustained by Grace and that one day he would die with Grace! GRACE IS DEFINED AS “GOD’S UNMERITED FAVOR”.

            Paul was so carried away with ‘Grace’ that he made a promise in Gal. 2:21. “I will not frustrate the grace of God:”……..Paul was promising to never live in such a way as to, ‘disappoint, exasperate, or cancel the desired results of grace’. Because of God’s grace we should also pledge to live our lives for Christ, submit ourselves to the ministry of exalting Christ at all times, and by the Grace of God we will never be an embarrassment to ‘GRACE’.



9-6-2020

God said, “Moses my servant is dead…” and when we think of Moses we think of leadership. The word servant means one who is devoted (fervent, zealous, committed) to a person, or cause, and gives themselves faithfully (loyally, staunchly, dependably) to the person, or cause. It has always been interesting to me that the Bible makes us see that real leadership begins with a servant’s heart. So we see that when Moses died, after 40 years of leadership, God declared Moses to be His servant. I can’t think of a more successful life to live than to live our lives as servants to the Lord.

With the death of such a great leader, servant, as Moses what were the children of God to do for leadership? God had already chosen one to follow Moses and his name was Joshua which means ‘God is salvation’. We find out something really important about Joshua in the book of Exodus chapter 24:15 when Joshua is described as Moses minister. Now the word translated ‘minister’ is a word that tells us that Joshua was a servant to Moses. It meant that Joshua was attending to the needs of Moses by giving Moses aid, support and comfort. Little did Joshua realize that he was in training to be the leader when the Hebrew nation would enter the promise land.

There was something else that qualified Joshua to be a leader and that was that he was a man who believed God’s Word. We know that from Genesis chapter 12 that God called Abram to leave the land of Ur and follow Him and that God would bless him and he would become the father of a great nation. God promised the descendants of Abram the land that He would show to Abram as he followed God by faith. After hundreds of years God was about to fulfill that promise to the delivered children of the Hebrew nation. It was by the power of God that the children had been delivered from Egyptian bondage and they were delivered to enter, and claim, what God had promised!

When the 12 spies enter the land to look upon what God had promised 10 came back with a report that basically said, “We can’t do it the enemy is to strong!” There were two spies that believed God and said “Let’s Go In and Take What God Has Already Given Us!” Those two men were Joshua, and Caleb, and they were the only survivors of that generation to enter the land 40 years later. If the majority report doesn’t believe God, and the minority report does, we should go with the minority report!

Joshua, what a servant, and what a leader! Joshua stands out in the Word because he was a man who ‘believed God’ and his life proved it. I would challenge you to read about the life of Joshua and when you come to the end of his life listen to some of his final words. Joshua told the nation to reverence God, and serve



8-28-2020

In the book of II Chronicles, chapter five, we are told that all the work of Solomon to build the house of the Lord was finished. This beautiful Temple was the vision of Solomon’s father King David who felt that God deserved a beautiful house of worship. King David’s hands were hands of war and were stained with much blood so he was not permitted to build this house of worship. King David’s part was the preparation of the material for this construction which would take place under the leadership of his son Solomon. The priest had brought in all the furnishings of the Temple and the Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies and it was now time for the dedication of the Temple.

On Dedication Day the singers were present dressed in white linen and there were harps, cymbals and 120 trumpets. As one they lifted their voices, the instruments were played and the trumpets sounded in praise, and thanksgiving, to the Lord God Jehovah. The Glory of the Lord filled the place and the priests were pressed down by the weight of God’s glory!

Solomon stands on the stage to offer his remarks of praise to God for the fulfillment of His word and to lead the ‘Dedication Prayer’. Solomon prays for God to protect the descendants of David, to be open to the prayers of His people,  to forgive His repenting people, that God would forgive His people and remove any famine that might come upon them, that if there is a drought brought about because of sin that God would remove the drought when the people repent, the same request is made concerning pestilence, disease and locust. He prays that if strangers come into their land, that if they seek God, that God will welcome them. He also prays that if we are ever taken captive that God’s people will be faithful to pray for deliverance toward Jerusalem and that God will allow them to return.

After the ‘Dedication Prayer’ and the time of worship, and sacrifice, God answers the request of King Solomon’s prayer. The answer to the request of Solomon’s prayer is one of accountability, and responsibility, on the part of God’s people. What God requires of His people is found in II Chronicles 7:14.

God says, “If” conditional, “my people” responsibility falls directly on God’s people, “shall humble (meek, modest, respectful, unassuming) themselves” and “pray” only the humble will call on God, “seek my face” devoted to God’s desires, “turn from their wicked (appalling, terrible, mischievous) ways” to repent with a heart of regret, and sorrow, and return to Godliness. God closes His response with a promise, if these conditions are met, “I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

With all the issues facing our country what can we do as believers? The answer is presented to us by our Heavenly Father in II Chron. 7:14! Now it is conditional and we can refuse to take any of the responsibilities, and blame everyone else, or we may humble ourselves and become part of the answer. Only truly humble people will openly confess, “We need to repent, and seek the Lord, if our nation is to survive.”

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED  



8-21-2020

In the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John we have a lesson on trust, or faith. In the little village of Bethany lives some special friends of Jesus Lazarus, and his two sisters Mary and Martha. It seems that the little village is located near Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mt. of Olives. Most seem to agree that it was a home that welcomed Jesus during His personal ministry. It was a home of believers and as believers they were thrilled, and blessed, whenever Jesus would visit.

We should notice that even as believers Lazarus, Mary and Martha, were not immune (resistant, safe, protected) from the realities of life. While Jesus is away, in His ministry, He receives word that Lazarus is sick. Lazarus was a true believer, supporter, encourager and one who looked forward to giving Jesus a warm welcome whenever Jesus was in Bethany, yet Lazarus is sick (ill, ailing, unwell). In spite of what some would have us believe even those who are born again believers have to deal with the realities of life. Sickness that may even lead to our death is a reality that no one can avoid.

Jesus is a day’s journey away from Bethany when Mary, and Martha, send Him word that Lazarus is very sick. Our response upon receiving such word is to rush to our friends and see if we can help during this difficult time. Jesus doesn’t panic (fear, alarm, terror) but is calm because He knows that even though Lazarus will die, he will come back from the grave. He tells His disciples that this illness, that has overcome Lazarus, has two important benefits. What is happening in Bethany will ultimately bring glory to God and glorify (adore, praise, deify, extol) the Son.

When Jesus arrives at Bethany Lazarus has been dead four days! Is Jesus to late? Why didn’t He rush back? What good can He do now? If he had just been here Lazarus would not have died! Mary, and Martha, both relate to Jesus their faith in that they firmly believed that had Jesus been there their brother would not have died! Jesus reminds them that He is ‘LIFE’ present tense. Death never defeats a child of God and, even though the world sees death, those in Christ will never die!  

    I just wanted to remind all of us that Jesus is totally aware of what we are dealing with and He is ALL WE NEED PRESENT TENSE! Jesus will never be late He will always be on time and what He does will be for the glory of the Father and the exalting of the Son!………..SEE YOU SOON—-BRO. ED



8-14-2020

“This second epistle (letter), beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers (ridiculer, scorner, disdainer, mocker), walking after their own lust, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. ” II Peter 3:1-4

These words were written over two thousand years ago and are presented as one sentence, unit, or thought. The emphasis seems to be to believers to arouse them to remember what they had been thought, by the sacred writings of the prophets, and the teaching of the apostles, concerning the last days. The last days are looked upon as those days that follow the ascension of Jesus back to the Father so we have already passed through 2,000 years. If you would read verse eight of the same chapter you will see that two thousand years is no more than two days to the Lord. Let me ask you a pointed question, “If you knew Jesus was coming back in 48 hours what would be your priority (main concern, importance, rank)?”

In the creation God set ‘time’ into motion with the dividing of the day and night which established the first day. What we know is that we have seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries and millenniums. We know that time marches on and it does not stop for any of us. We should also know that for all of us it is later than it has ever been. According to God’s Word His eternal plan is moving forward and nothing will halt, or delay, the Rapture, the Tribulation Period, the Millennial Reign, the Judgments, the New Jerusalem coming down, the New heaven and earth, God dwelling with man and making all things new! (Rev. 21:1-5)

Let’s go back for just a moment to II Peter 3:3 and those who are identified as ‘scoffers’ who would ‘ridicule, scorn, disdain and mock’ the message of the last days. Please notice how the Lord describes the ‘scoffers’ as those who ‘walk after their own lust’. You can identify those who ‘mock’ the message of the coming of the Lord, and all the judgment involved, as those who are just living their lives according to the ‘lust’ (desire, yearn, covet, hunger, thirst) of the flesh. Think for a moment how would we respond to someone who asked us, “Do you believe the signs are pointing to the imminent (about to happen, impending, coming up) return of Jesus?”

How easy it is to say, “YES I DO!”. The truth is that are priorities, and lifestyle, say we are ‘SCOFFERS’. May we all think about the message our lives are presenting to an unbelieving world. 

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED 



7-30-2020

Has God been good to us? Is there more He could be doing? Does it seem that God is holding back from contributing to my life? To be honest we have become a people who assume that the Christian life is all about what we should be getting from God. I ask all of us to please consider what more could He give us when the Bible says, “Ye are complete (whole, full, thorough, perfect) in Him…” Col. 2:10. The “Him” is Jesus and Paul is reminding the saints that in Christ all believers have everything! 

Earlier in chapter 1:12-14, of Colossians, Paul had also reminded the saints of their favored position in Christ with these words, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers (participant, member, accessory) of the inheritance (birthright, legacy) of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated (rendered, transformed, converted) us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have redemption (salvation, rescue, reclamation) through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” I  would suggest that we should ‘rejoice’ over what God has already given us in Christ Jesus. Also, present tense, we are ‘heirs’ (inheritors, recipients, beneficiaries) to the kingdom of God in Christ! (Rom. 8:16-17)

I was thinking of the words found in a song of the past that said, “Who could ask for anything more?” and I suppose the answer is that ‘we’ dare ask for more! But perhaps our problem rest in the fact that we are prone to miss a hallmark characteristic of Christianity and that is the characteristic of the giving of self. Jesus tells us that if we would follow Him we would have to begin by be willing to ‘deny ourselves’, even to the point of ‘personal sacrifice’, to ‘follow Him’. Discipleship is not about ‘getting’ it is about giving. The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was to ‘give Himself’ for the sins of man. I think we can agree that all Jesus received by coming was a ‘hard time’ that eventually led to agonizing death on the cross.

In Romans 12:1 Paul offers an exhortation (appeal, call, urging) to the saints in Rome for ‘personal’ (private, individual, intimate0 sacrifice (surrender, cost, expense). Paul would tell them that this sacrifice would be made possible by the mercy (generosity, kindness, grace) of God. It would involve the giving of their physical abilities, in a Godly manner, which would make the personal sacrifice ‘acceptable’ ( appropriate, adequate, pleasing, gratifying) unto God. Paul’s closing words, in Romans 12:1, we may find somewhat uncomfortable, “which is your ‘reasonable’ (sensible, realistic, wise, levelheaded) ‘service’ (provision, assistance, goodness).

HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



7-24-2020

In the book of II Kings we find in chapter 5 the story of a man named Naaman. The Bible tells us that Naaman was a great man, especially in the eyes of his king, a man of honor and a man the Lord had used to give deliverance to Syria. It also tells us that Naaman was a man of great valor (bravery, heroism, boldness, lionhearted). This outstanding man, that any king would want in a position of leadership, had one really challenging problem “he was a leper”. This problem would eventually take Naaman out of the picture and bring him to a life of separation and he would be considered ‘unclean’.

With all Naaman had going for him this seemed totally unfair and absolutely an inconvenience ( troublesomeness, untimeliness, hassle, aggravation) for his role as a leader. A Jewish girl, who was a maid for Naaman’s wife, said that she wished that Naaman could visit with a prophet by the mane of Elisha. The story goes on that the King of Syria sent a letter, and a handsome financial gift, to the King of Israel for the healing of Naaman. The King of Israel was so overwhelmed by this request that he rent his clothing knowing he couldn’t heal Naaman of his leprosy. 

When Elisha heard of the dismay of the King he sent word to have Naaman come to see him. Naaman arrived at the house of Elisha, with much pomp, but Elisha sent a messenger out to tell this great man that he was to go to the river Jordan and immerse himself seven times and he would be healed. Naaman was very upset by the word of the preacher because he thought the preacher would come out personally and stand before him calling on his God to heal him and it would all be over.

To Naaman this was all so unnecessary and a source of great inconvenience for him personally. After all there are two beautiful rivers back home that I could have gone to without having to visit the muddy, unattractive, Jordan River. Naaman left in a rage but one of his servants called on his valour and told him if the preacher had asked you to do something great you would have immediately obeyed. So Naaman humbled himself, and obeyed the message from God, through the prophet Elisha, went down to the Jordan River dipped himself seven times and his skin became as clean as a child. Naaman’s testimony became there is no God like the God of Israel!

Obeying God is not always ‘convenient’ (handy, well-situated, expedient) but it is always the right choice. I understand those who have health issue practicing safety during this time and being careful about getting out around crowds. For those who find social distancing, no hand shaking, and the wearing of a mask, an inconvenience they will not tolerate may I ask you to read Hebrews 10:24-25.

SEE YOU SOON I HOPE – BRO. ED



7-16-2020

Do we need some rejoicing? Is there anything to rejoice about? Is there anyone we can rejoice over? You may think that I have lost my mind by even suggesting the thought of rejoicing. We are in the midst of a pandemic, there is great civil unrest, the economy has taken a hit, and recovery may be slow, and every time I get out of my car I have to put on a mask. Yet, from a prison cell, the Apostle Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to tell the saints, in the local church at Philippi, to ‘rejoice’.

To rejoice we all need something to bring us ‘JOY’ which means there is ‘bliss’, ‘happiness’, ‘gladness’, ‘wonder’, ‘thrill’, and ‘pleasure’. Right now we are hard pressed to find these attributes of ‘Joy’ in our present circumstances. We may find ourselves like King David praying that God will restore the “joy of His salvation” to our very souls. King David does remind us that His Lord is in the ministry of restoration when he said in Psa. 23:3, “He restoreth my soul…”. Restoration means to refurbish, repair, renew, rebuild and right know I just want to say, “THANK YOU LORD” for your ministry of restoration.

So what will restore my ability to rejoice? Paul tells the saints in Philippi their foundation for ‘rejoicing’ is in the Lord! In chapter 3:1, “Finally, my brethren; rejoice in the Lord…” and then in chapter 4:4 Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” I want to remind all of us that Paul practiced what he preached! In Acts 16 Paul, and Silas, had been beaten, and cast down into the darkness of the inner prison, their feet were locked stocks. It is midnight and Paul and Silas are having a worship service of praise!

We might asked ourselves,” What was there about their circumstance that cause them to rejoice in worship?” Was it their bleeding backs? Was it the darkness of the inner prison? Was it their fellowship with the other prisoners? Was it the stocks that held their feet? Paul, and Silas, teach all of us that in spite of the circumstances believers can pray, and sing, in worship of our God! May I ask you to notice the first thing they did that night was to pray! Believers who don’t pray will not be found singing and worshipping during the dark times.

To the point Paul tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always:…”. The word ‘rejoice’ means to ‘celebrate’,’cheer’, ‘delight’ and to be ‘pleased’. So Paul is tell us to celebrate Jesus, to be cheerful about Jesus, to delight in Jesus, and to be pleased with Jesus! A ‘rejoicing’ believer is not one who is focused on the events of an unbelieving world but rather finds themselves focused on Jesus. Perhaps right now we need to join with King David and pray, “restore unto me the Joy of thy Salvation.”

HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



7-9-2020

With so much going on, in our nation, we may find ourselves trying to discern our role as believers. I know one thing everyone has their opinion on the course of action we should take individually and as a nation. Living by faith is not so much verbal as it is visual. Faith is never proven merely by words but most importantly it is proven by works. That’s why Jesus said to His disciples in Matt. 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may SEE your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

The most influential thing in a dark room is a light! It is interesting that while a light is shining it never says anything it just shines. With all the darkness of the virus, and the civil unrest, America needs some light to shine. The light of the world is Jesus, according to John chapter one, and John reminded us that John the Baptist wasn’t the light but was sent to bear witness of the true Light, Jesus. In the seventh verse of chapter one John said, “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” It is so important to shine for Jesus if we are going to see people come to believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I make no apology for my personal faith in Jesus and my personal faith in the power of the new birth to change man.

We must also pray as believers! I believe there is power in prayer! As born again children of God we must go to our Heavenly Father with praise and request. Jesus said, “And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Luke 18:1. Those who do not pray will faint and America doesn’t need a bunch of ‘fainting’ believers! This word faint means ‘feeble’, ‘soft’, ‘dim’, ‘muffled’, ‘unclear’ what the world needs are believers with a strong light shining! Knowing that Christ is at the right hand of God making intercession for us we should remember Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”   

In the 27th chapter of Acts the Apostle Paul is a prisoner on a ship that is in the midst of a serious storm. Now early, before they departed on this leg of the trip to Rome, Paul had told them that this wasn’t a good idea to sail at this time. They didn’t listen to the preacher and decided to do it anyway and soon things were dangerous for everyone on board. They tried to do everything they knew to do to save their lives but it looked hopeless. Listen to the  ‘good news’ that Paul  shared, “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before
Caesar; and  lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”   Acts 27:22-25

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED