Pastor Jason's Blog
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December 6, 2017, 10:51 AM

Wait On The Lord

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

The Scripture challenges us to be a people who wait upon the Lord. But, if we’re honest, not many of us like to wait. We’re not ones to slow down in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, especially at this time of the year. However, did you notice the progression of the text: wait, receive courage, and go forward with strength. Without resting in the Lord our impatience causes impetuousness. Our greatest errors and strained relationships come when we have lost touch with the Lord’s inner guidance and wisdom.

In the Psalms we are encouraged to “Be still, and know that I am God” (46:10). It is only trough patient waiting that we can know God and thus know our true place in the universe. He is the one who can tell us the reason for our existence, our place in the scheme of things, our real identity. It is an identity we can’t discover for ourselves, that others can’t discover in us – the mystery of who we really are. How we have chased around the world for answers to that riddle, looked in the eyes of others for some hint, some clue, hunted in the multiple worlds of pleasure and experience and self-fulfillment for some glimpse, some revelation, some wisdom, some authority to tell us our right name and our true destination. But there was, and is, only One who can tell us this: the Lord himself. And He wants to tell us, He has made us to know our reason for being and to be led by it. But it is a secret He will entrust to us only when we ask, and then in His own way and His own time. He will whisper it to us not in the mad rush and fever of our striving and our fierce determination to be someone, but rather when we are content to rest in Him, to put ourselves into His keeping, into His hands.

Frederick W. Faber expressed how we must wait for God. We must wait long, meekly, in wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the old and dark. We must wait, and He will come. But God never comes to those who do not wait. It is in the waiting times that our most creative thoughts and plans are formulated. Instead of rushing headlong in our own impatience, the Lord is able to tell us what are the next steps and how we are to move forward in His strategy for us and the people around us. Christ’s strength gives us patience. We could never produce it on our own strength, in the quantities that are needed in our families, our church, and our world. But we do have access to an unlimited stockpile of patience, when the fruit of the Spirit of patience gives us courage to live on His timing and act with His power.

Let us join in prayer: Eternal God, you have been the hope and joy of many generations, and who in all ages has given men the power to seek you and in seeking to find you, grant me, I pray you, a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power, and a more confident assurance of your love. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

November 29, 2017, 6:52 AM

Take Up His Yoke

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden in light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus invites us to come to him and experience rest. He also tells us how He proposes to impart this precious gift. He offers an exchange of yokes. Investigation into Eastern methods of plowing helps us to understand what Jesus meant by the yoke. Mosaic law forbade an old and a young ox to be hitched together in an ordinary yoke. This was because the young animal could not pull his part of the burden.

The phrase “unequally yoked” comes from this. A training yoke was required by law. The heavy end of the yoke was the burden of the stronger, older beast. The experienced ox kept the furrow straight and, under the reins of the plowman, moved forward. All the younger beast had to do was to keep parallel with the stronger animal; if it pulled away, ahead or behind, its neck would be rubbed raw in the yoke. The trainee had to give up the right to lead in order to keep pace with the trainer. The lead ox must take the lead and the responsibility for the burden. Now it begins to dawn on us what Christ meant when He offered us his yoke as a source of freedom… and patience.

Christ carries the heavy end of the yoke. He pulls the burden for us. We must give up our wills to Him. Patience is developed in the school of Christ. We are yoked with Him to discover how to live with His guidance, strategy, and timing. Impatience involves running ahead, pulling off in our own direction, or stomping our feet in petulant pouting. Patience is developed through keeping a parallel pace with the Master. The cadence of His perfect will in our lives sets the rhythm for a life of peace.

We all know what it is like to be rubbed raw by our own impatience. We have all tried to accomplish our goals with only our own strength; and equally defeating, we have tried to do His work in our strength. It will not work. We become impatient when we want to do what we want, when we want it, and with whom we want it. Who has not bashed down a closed door while an open door stood nearby, with the Master inviting us to follow him inside?

To be in a training yoke with Christ means several magnificent gifts are offered to us. (1.) He carries the burden! (2.) We can give up responsibility of running the universe. (3.) We can learn to be “gentle and lowly in heart.” And, (4.) we can experience rest for our souls. Won’t you take up His yoke today?

Let us join in prayer: Lord, I am yours; I do yield myself up entirely to you, and I believe that you do take me. I leave myself with you. Work in me all the good pleasure of your will, and I will only lie still in your hands and trust you. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

November 15, 2017, 8:33 AM

Fully Committed

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel… I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day.” (2 Tim. 1:8-12)

Starting in verse 9 of the first chapter of his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds the young leader of who he is, to Whom he belongs, and for what he was destined. Astounding assurances are communicated. Timothy, like Paul, was singled out to receive grace and a holy calling before time began, he had experienced new life in Christ, and he had been entrusted with the gospel, the good news of Christ’s life, cross, resurrection, and reigning power. The Lord had a purpose and plan for Timothy’s life and in response, Timothy needed to make a commitment like Paul’s. Note carefully that Paul says, “That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (1:14). Timothy was to learn from the apostle’s example the true meaning of an unreserved commitment, and in turn his commitment was to keep what was committed to him.

There are two aspects to a dual commitment: what is committed to us, and what we commit to the Lord. The Greek word translated as “committed,” paratheken, literally means a deposit committed to another person’s trust for safekeeping. In Paul’s time there were no banks, so there was no more trusted duty than to keep the responsibility of another person’s valuables. An equally high trust was to allow a person to invest your money for you and then return to you the interest earned. The Greek word for “keep,” phulaxai, means to guard against robbery or loss. It also implies investment at high return. The words “committed” and “keep” are linked closely together. Paul has committed his total life unreservedly to Christ. It is as if he were saying, “There’s no doubt in my mind about Christ’s reliability. I know him personally and have learned that He is able, has all power, to multiply my effectiveness in whatever I completely turn over to His control.” Then to Timothy he says, in essence, “Multiply what the Lord has entrusted to you with unreserved willingness.”

This is how the dual commitment works. When we commit our lives and needs and concerns on a daily basis to the Lord, He entrusts them back to us to do what He wills with His constant guidance and power. Specific things that are committed for us to do and be become clear. Then we commit ourselves to obedient follow-through. In response, the Lord commits to us His faithfulness, guidance, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We are never left to struggle on our own. Dual commitment begins when we make our initial commitment, but it must be repeated daily in the challenges and opportunities committed to us by the Lord. What will you do with what has been entrusted to you?

Let us join in prayer: Father, thank you for the precious gifts that you have committed unto my care, including Your Son and Your Spirit. May I faithfully commit my whole life to you in response. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

November 8, 2017, 8:22 AM

Fan the Flame

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“… fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

The apostle Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote his second letter to Timothy. While awaiting execution, Paul had on his mind the future of the church. He particularly was concerned about Timothy, his son in the faith and the leader he had left in charge of the church in Ephesus. Timothy had been converted to Christ on Paul’s first missionary journey. It was on his second missionary journey that Paul enlisted Timothy to be a part of his missionary posse as he moved around Galatia, Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor. Eventually Timothy was left in charge of the church at Ephesus.

Ephesus was an important city and it was dominated by pagan worship in the Temple of Diana. It was not an easy place to be a Christian or a leader of the church. Timothy experienced this first hand. This reality wore heavily upon him as the days passed. In time, Paul discerned the diminished fires of passion in him. “Therefore, I remind you,” Paul wrote Timothy, “to stir up the gift of God which is in you.” In his admonition Paul used a double-compound Greek word, anazopurein. This Greek word means “to billow into flame,” “to rekindle.” The gift (charisma) of God that Timothy was to stir up to flames again was the Holy Spirit. When Paul initially laid hands on Timothy and prayed for him, the young leader was set aflame with passion for Christ, love for people, and courage for leadership. Fellowship with Paul, Silas, and Luke kept the flames ablaze as they traveled together.

A few years later Timothy was a lonely leader in Ephesus and he needed a rekindling of the red ember within him. We are given a hint of the cause of the dampening of the flame in his heart by what Paul went on to write to him: “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7). The Greek word for fear here is deilias, meaning “caution,” “reserve,” “timidity,” or “cowardice.” A spirit of delias limits what we are willing to attempt to only those things we are sure we can pull off on our own strength, rather than by the Holy Spirit’s power. The fires within our souls get smothered by negative thinking and quenched by feelings of inadequacy. The fires burn down because of life’s demands.

Life has a way of dampening the fires of excitement and enthusiasm. We burn down as our energies are sapped, our reserves are depleted, and our hopes smolder. People pressures get us down; problems pile up; worries and anxiety pour cold water on the previously blazing coals. “Stir up the fires!” Paul urges. “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Our spirits were created to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, not a spirit of delias. The Spirit of God gives us the power to do what Christ calls us to do: to love, forgive, share our faith, endure the pressures of daily life, and battle for justice in every realm of life. So, what fills your heart today? A spirit of fear? Or the fire of the Holy Spirit?

Let us join in prayer: Lord, quench all fear in me and set my heart ablaze for You and Your kingdom!

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

November 1, 2017, 7:54 AM

Discipline Yourselves

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“…though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14, ESV).

Benjamin Franklin once said that if you take all your good habits and subtract all your bad habits, the result is your contribution to society. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? What we have been trained to do, whether good or bad, defines to some degree our benefit to the people around us – and to the kingdom of God. We need to grasp the fact that the sum of our good and bad habits will dictate who we will become. The kind of man or woman you will be in five, ten, or twenty years from now will be determined by the habits you have today. You can habitually learn to be kind, to think great thoughts, to be generous, to make great sacrifices, and so on. Those characteristics don’t come accidentally. You have to cultivate a lifestyle in which those things can occur and become second nature.

This may sound more like a psychological technique than a scriptural imperative, but the Bible is clear that discipline is a godly means of grace. Scriptural growth and spiritual greatness come to us through our recurring practices. Habits create a framework that God fills with his grace. They become the highway on which grace is delivered.

In 1 Timothy, the apostle Paul writes to the young pastor Timothy, instructing him in his pastoral role. He encourages him not to be afraid but to exercise his gifts of leadership. Then he tells Timothy to “have nothing to do with worldly fables.” “On the other hand,” he writes, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7). The world “discipline” can also be translated “practice” or “exercise.” It’s the same word we get gymnasium from, and it conveys the idea of going into training. And this is why it’s important, Paul says: “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (v. 8).

Godliness is profitable for eternity and it comes in large part through discipline. In other words, when we approach our spiritual life like an athlete in training and develop the habits of godliness in the same manner that a weight lifter increases his strength, the consequences last forever.

Let us join in prayer: Lord, let my body be a servant of my spirit and both my body and spirit be servants of Jesus, doing all things for your glory here. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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