Just One

Pastors Blog with Bro Ed Stephenson

4-25-2021

Violence (fierceness, forcefulness, cruelty, bloodshed, savagery, hostility) by definition is an action which we hope to avoid. We should never be the source of violence nor do we wish to ever be the object of violence. Unfortunately, as a nation, we are witnessing an onslaught of violence every day and it is heartbreaking! Within mankind we find the source of violence and yet many are trying to shift the blame to other sources. No one becomes violent until the heart of man makes a decision to be violent and cruel. When the decision is made to be cruel then the weapon of brutality is chosen.

In the Book of Genesis we find the first two brothers, Cain and Able, and Cain was not pleased with God’s acceptance of Abel’s worship and not his own. Then the Bible tells us that the two talked, but the Bible tells us that before they talked Cain was not in a good mood. The next thing we are told is that Cain “rose up against Abel” and slew (killed, eliminated, murdered) him. No weapon is mentioned but whatever Cain used, even if it was his own hands, this violent acted found its roots in the heart of Cain.

A lawyer asked Jesus a question one day, “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered him with these words, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:36-40. Is there any credibility to what Jesus said, “I THINK SO!”

Some have said we need a government that will provide for all its citizens a certain standard of living and that will solve all the violence. I would say to them that there was no greater standard of living than what Cain, Abel, and their parents, had to enjoy in God’s creation. Years ago someone said, “We need to put a new coat on every man and God said, I want to be a new man in every coat.”

Could we find a source for so much unrest in our society in the latest survey that pointed out that for the first time less than 50% of Americans attend church. You remember Jesus said the first thing in loving your neighbor was to love God with your total being. To many Americans have no time for the Lord and are sowing seeds to the flesh and the harvest is corruption (dishonesty, depravity, immorality, vice, harm).

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



4-4-2021

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame. But wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid Rock, I stand – all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

With all the shifting going on in society I am thankful for Jesus, my solid rock! I can only speak of our nation, and I am burdened for our country, but knowing Jesus allows me to live with hope! There are so many seeking to influence our great nation in a negative way and to seek to redesign the republic. I am becoming more, and more, aware that we are living in the final days of this dispensation and the return of Christ is imminent. With this environment what are believers to do? In the present tense we must do what all our believing forefathers did and that was to live by ‘faith’ and not by ‘sight’.

The celebration of the resurrection this weekend reminds me that our faith is not in someone who is in the grave but ONE WHO IS ALIVE! While so much of the world seems to be in panic mode I am rejoicing in my victorious JESUS! I am celebrating the words of Jesus on the cross when He said, “It is finished”. Those words tell me that our sin debt is “paid in full” with His substitutionary, and atoning, death on the cross. His resurrection affirms that the Father accepted His sacrifice and His blood as atonement for our sins.

The words spoken in Matthew 28:5-6 to Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, as they visited the tomb on Sunday morning, following the earthquake that rolled the stone away from the tomb, are words of VICTORY! “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. HE IS NOT HERE; for he is risen, as he said, COME, SEE THE PLACE WHERE THE LORD LAY (pass tense).” The Bible then tells us that the angel told them to go quickly and share the news.

With all the bad news that is being shared, twenty-four hours a day, it is the responsibility of believers to share the ‘good news’ of Jesus Christ. I am telling believers it is time to share the ‘good news’ and live like we are a victorious, and happy, people. If you’re glad that Jesus is your Lord, and Savior, live like it. If the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is truly your hope, your solid rock, live like it!



3-21-2021

Well it is certainly encouraging to see the numbers, concerning the virus, coming down and the number of those who have been vaccinated going up! I know all of us are wanting to see the guidelines, and the fear of infection, easing. I hear the message so often that everyone is wanting to get back to a normal lifestyle. Then I am made to wonder just what is a ‘normal lifestyle’?

The word ‘normal’ means ‘usual’, ‘standard’, ‘ordinary’, ‘habitual’, ‘common’. The idea is that we just want to live our lives in a way that we have become accustomed to, we don’t want our routine interrupted! The idea also presented is that we have become ‘addicted’ to a certain routine and for it to change will cause a great deal of personal concern and anxieties. When ‘anxieties’ arrive our lives are confronted with ‘worry’, ‘fear’, ‘fretfulness’ and ‘apprehension’.

What should be the ‘normal’ for a child of God is to deal with life through faith and not by sight. To say that this past year, and the days before us, have not truly been a trying time would certainly be an understatement! So many things that we have never confronted have become a part of our daily lives. We have found that there are hundreds of experts who all seem to have different opinions. What do we do? On top of that there are many opinions presented from those who are not experts.

Here is where we must dwell, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him. And he shall direct thy paths.” Prov. 3:5-6. May we all remember that faith is the victory that overcomes the world and greater is He that is in us than he that is the world!

 

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



2-28-2021

It appears that the numbers are improving concerning the virus and that is good news. It seems that the vaccines are having a favorable impact and this should only improve as more, and more, get their shots. I think we are all ready for some positive news concerning this pandemic that has had such a negative impact on our nation, and world, for over a year. It was just about one year ago that we had to start making adjustments to our ministry and schedule of services. We have tried to adhere to the guidelines and keep our membership safe and not be a source of the spreading of the virus.

This pandemic has been such that none of us can recall having to deal with such an outbreak of a virus that has caused so much sickness and death. All of us have been amazed at the numbers that have been reported, and questioned have certainly been asked about the numbers, but we cannot deny the pandemic is serious. We all probably know of someone that is no longer with us because of the virus and I have certainly lost some special friends.

We are hoping that, in the near future, some of the guidelines will be relaxed and we can get back to some normalcy in our worship and schedule. I am looking forward to the start of our Sunday school ministry which would mean the relaxation of social distancing and the wearing of mask. I know that I have truly grown ‘weary’ of having to wear a mask! To be weary is quit an extensive feeling which means; ‘beat’, ‘all-in’, ‘tired’, ‘wiped out’, ‘drained’. I remember times throughout my ministry, when visiting in the hospital, having to wear a mask in visitation. I was glad to see that doctors, and nurses, were wearing their mask as I entered the surgery room and when I was in the coronary care unit.

Wearing a mask has become an issue that everyone probably has an opinion about and we even grow weary of the debate. Some will let you know that they just cannot come to church if they are asked to wear a mask. Still others will let you know that they will not come to church if the people are not asked to wear their mask. The wearing of a mask has even become a theological question of scriptural soundness of a local church. If a local church asked their membership to wear a masked they are giving into the government and have lost their doctrinal soundness. Never mind that they are simply trying to protect their membership from a virus that has certainly shown itself to be deadly. When we are going to eat out, or going into a business, wearing a mask is not an option, at this time, but we continue to go.

May I encourage all of us, in our weariness, not to allow the Devil a tool to damage our fellowship and service to the Lord. I truly miss my sheep and look forward to the guidelines be lifted and the return of the saints to the house of worship!

SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



2-14-2021

Yogi Berra was a Hall of Fame professional baseball player, and manager, who became famous for his quotes. Yogi had an ability to turn phrases into phrases to be remembered even if they made no sense. He was given credit for saying things that he never really said for which he said, “I never said most of the things I said.” He also said, “You can observe a lot of things by just watching.” Concerning baseball Yogi said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” When asked about fan mail he said, “Never answer an anonymous letter.”

One of Yogi’s most famous sayings is “When you come to the fork in the road take it.”

Which makes me think about my decisions and just what direction I am going! Everyone’s life is filled with decisions which will dictate the future, and harvest, of one’s life. Decisions are many times made on the spur of the moment circumstances without much thought given to the long term results. Probably many can look back on some decisions, that in reflection, you put a lot of thought, and prayer, into and you are glad you did.

A warning is given us in scripture about making decisions which are given to the desires of the flesh or our depraved nature. In Proverbs 14:12 this warning is given, “There is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” It appears that more, and more, thought, and prayer, should go into our decisions about which way we are going. At the end of the verse comes a thought that should really capture our attention, “…end thereof…” what will be the conclusion of my actions. Again God tells us that we are accountable for the harvest that will come based on the decisions we make. God warns us that if we sow seeds (make decisions) to the flesh we will reap a harvest of corruption and we see this truth throughout our society today!

The wisest decision anyone can make today would be to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! This is a personal decision that will have a profound, and positive, influence on your life today and in the future. It is not a decision of the flesh but of the heart! It is a decision that will change your life to the point where the life you now live, is the life of the Christ that now liveth in you! In Christ you now have “the Way, The Truth, and The Life” which means you know the way to go, the truth to govern your decisions and the model life to live. When we come to the fork in the road let’s ask Jesus which way we are to go!

HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



2-7-2021

“We Must”

In dealing with the affairs of life there seems to be periods when the storms are most threatening and ominous (gloomy, unpromising, worrying). These are periods when it seems the fiber of life is about to be lost and there is no real future. Not only do we sense the end for ourselves but for many others also. Everything that we assumed to be firmly rooted are being torn from us. The night is dark and the future seems to be literally in question.

These periods may arrive when we know that we are doing the Lord’s will. An example is given to us during the ministry of the Apostle Paul. From the very beginning Paul was told that his ministry would be to the Gentile world in presenting the “glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. With such an amazing purpose for his life it would seem that the way to carry out his ministry would be clear of any major obstacles. One of Paul’s great God given burdens was to take the Gospel to Rome and from their throughout the Roman Empire.

The circumstances that would allow Paul to get to Rome certainly did not follow a plan that most of us would have envisioned. To bring it to pass would involve years, not months, and eventually Paul would arrive, not as a hero of the Lord’s work, welcomed by great crowds, free to be about his call, but a prisoner. Paul would find that carrying out the Lord’s assignment is not without challenge and an assignment that can only be carried out by faith in the One who called him.

I want us all to notice one such moment when after days of storm, and darkness, Paul and Luke, are on a ship that appears to be headed for destruction and all lives lost. All around them is an atmosphere of fear, and hopelessness, as everyone tries to find the solution to the total chaos they are facing. Then the Bible tells us that after a great period of time when all efforts have failed Paul stands forth and tells them “Sirs, you should have listened to me before we headed out in this direction”.

Paul then tells them that there is a message of hope for everyone on board and it is a message delivered to Paul, by the Lord, during the night. The Lord’s message is one of salvation, for everyone on board, not one life shall be lost. We are going to lose the cargo, and the ship, but our lives will be saved. As we try to move through the storms on the sea we call life it may appear that there is no answer and all will be lost. I think we all agree we can stand getting rid of all the cargo, that we thought was most important, and even the ship, but we would like to know that are lives will be saved.

Paul would make this most important statement in the midst of the storm that threatened everyone’s life, “the Lord stood with me in the night and said we would live and I BELIEVE GOD” (ACTS 27:25). WHAT OUR NATION NEEDS IS THE WORD OF SALVATION, WHICH WE BELIEVE, WHICH COMES FROM THE LORD HIMSELF!

As believers we need to stand up in the midst of the ominous, and threatening, storms and let everyone know that there is salvation in Jesus.

….HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



1-31-2021

The words recorded in Jeremiah 1:4-5 come from the Lord, “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thou in the belly I KNEW THEE; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I SANCTIFIED (dedicate, approved, devoted, to set apart) THEE, and I ORDAINED (predestined, designed, appointed) THEE a prophet unto the nations.” In the Ten Commandments (which are still God’s Commandments) God said, “Thou shalt NOT kill.” Ex. 20:13

These Words of God are still looked upon as inspired and inerrant. The inspired Word of the Living God are not words for debate or personal interpretation according to what we discern as acceptable. The Word of God is not for our adjusting, or disregard, depending on how the social, or political, winds may be blowing.

I must pay attention to the knowledge of God for God knows everything and comprehends everything. God is Omnipotent (all powerful), He is Omniscient (all knowing, all seeing), He is Omnipresent (ever present, universal, everywhere). Whenever the commands of God are broken He knows. He knows are thoughts and the intents of our hearts. He identifies the heart of man in his depravity (immorality, corruption, evil) which every human being inherited through the sin of Adam, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sin.” Rom. 5:12. God speaks to the heart of man in Jer. 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

No president has ever made me happy about all his decisions and I know none of them has ever, or will ever, be moved by my personal opinion. I want everyone to know that my personal opposition to abortion, for convenience sake, doesn’t carry much weight at all. I think what IS IMPORTANT is God’s Word and His personal knowledge, and design, for the unborn. A society that approves of taking the ‘LIFE’ of an unborn human being is doing so in opposition to the Word of a Sovereign God. Abortion is not a political issue it is an immoral act of rebellion against the Word and will of God.

It doesn’t matter to me which political party supports the funding of abortion or if it’s an act of congress, or if it is the command of an earthly king, or reigning monarch, dictator, or the United Nations, according to God’s Word it is a SIN. I am thankful that I pastor a local church that stands against ABORTION.

HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON – BRO. ED



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