Pastor Jason's Blog
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September 13, 2017, 6:50 AM

Loved Poured Out

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

“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5).

It is not enough to shun evil and do good at all opportunities. It is not enough to seriously use all the means of grace given unto us with a sincere design and desire to please God. The great question remains for each of us: Is the love of God poured out in my heart? Does my heart cry that He is my all? Is He truly my delight? And, is it written in my heart that those who love God love their neighbor also? Go further: Do I believe that Christ loved me and gave Himself for me? Do I have faith in His blood? Do I believe that the Lamb of God has taken away my sins and cast them as a stone into the depth of the sea, giving me redemption through His blood, even the remission of my sins? Does His Spirit testify with my spirit that I am a child of God?

John Wesley declared, “Let no one persuade you to rest short of this prize of your high calling. Cry day and night unto Him who, ‘while we were without strength, died for the ungodly’; until you know Him in whom you have believed and know that you are indeed altogether a Christian. Then, being justified freely by His grace by the redemption that is in Jesus, you will experience that blessed peace with God through Jesus Christ and know the love of God poured into your heart by the Holy Spirit!”

A mark of those who are born of God is love, which is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. “Because you are sons,” the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Galatians 4:6). By this Spirit, continually looking up to God as their reconciled and loving Father, believers cry to Him for their daily bread, for all the things needful, whether for soul or body. They continually pour out their hearts before Him, knowing they have those petitions they ask of Him. Their delight is in Him; He is the joy of their hearts. The desire of their soul is toward Him; it is their great satisfaction to do His will.  They love God as their Savior. They love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. They are so joined unto the Lord as to be one spirit. Their souls hang upon the Lord Jesus and count Him the chief among ten thousand.

Do you now believe? If so, the love of God is now poured out in your heart. You love Him, because He first loved us. And because you love God, you love your brother and sister, also. And having love, peace, and joy, you also have long-suffering, gentleness, fidelity, goodness, meekness, temperance, and all the other fruit of the Spirit. In a word, you have whatever dispositions are holy, heavenly, or divine. If you truly believe, His love is being poured out into your heart by the Holy Spirit.

Let us join in prayer: Our Father, help us this day to do everything you have commanded us to do wholeheartedly, with goodwill, and with true love for your service, through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

September 6, 2017, 7:54 AM

Freed From Sin

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

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? …For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:1b-2; 6-7).

When we have the true, living faith by which we are born of God from above, a fruit that cannot be separated from this grace is power through the Spirit over willful sin of every kind, over every evil word and action. Wherever the blood of Christ is by faith applied to a heart, it purges the conscience from dead works. The writer of Hebrews declares, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

The blood of Christ gives power over inward sin also, for it purifies the heart from unholy affections and tempers. “How,” said the Apostle Paul, “shall we,” who by faith “died to sin live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:2). For “our old self is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (v. 6). “For sin shall not be your master… You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (vv. 14, 18).

The Apostle John asserts the same privilege of power over outward sin: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). Some say, this means that we are not to commit sins habitually. But, to be clear, that word is not in Scripture; and who are we to modify the Word of God? God plainly says, no true child of His “will continue to sin” and we add the word habitually? This comment swallows up the text, takes away the whole meaning and spirit of the passage, and leaves only a dead letter. By this human trickery the precious promise is utterly lost, and the Word of God is made of no effect.

No! Let Scripture speak for itself. The Word clearly goes on to declare, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10). God has not called us to a sinning religion. He has called us to be free of all that once held us in chains. With the hymn writer we declare: “Finish then Thy new creation; Pure and spotless let us be. Let us see Thy great salvation, Perfectly restored in Thee.”

Let us join in prayer: Enable us, O Lord, to walk before you in holiness and righteousness to your praise and glory. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

August 30, 2017, 10:06 AM

The Armor of God

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

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:10-13a).

God does not propose to send His soldiers into battle without their battle equipment. As we noted last Sunday, Jesus said, “But stay . . . until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Likewise, as a wise spiritual counselor, Paul closes his letter to the Ephesians, “You must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power” (6:13, Phillips).

Evil has its days of power. When Satan cannot defeat us in one way, he attacks from half a dozen other directions. It is in those moments that we need the whole armor. And it is whole because it is God’s kind of armor. When we turn to God and ask for his supernatural covering, he fully supplies for our need. He supplies and clothes us with everything we need for “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Just consider some of the battle gear He invites us to put on as we face our enemy:

There is no spiritual defense more powerful than truth. When the Holy Spirit assures me that I have the facts on my side, I can withstand almost any assault.  And what a tremendous bulwark is righteousness! When under the leadership of the Spirit my attitude is right and my actions have been fair, I can boldly say to any enemy, “Do your worst. Take your best shot.” It may seem a strange contradiction that peace should be one of the Christian’s instruments of war. But it is. Many a victory has been won for God by refusing to fight when the issues were purely personal. This is God’s victory that comes to the mighty meek. Above all God gives me the shield of faith and the sword of Spirit, which is the word of God. When my faith in God is firm and when it is firmly planted in his Holy Word I do not fear what man or devil may do.

Here is the whole armor of God and putting it on is simply giving myself completely over to God. Having done this, my life is entirely filled and surrounded with Him. I am at no point exposed to danger when His all-powerful presence stands between me and my enemy. With Martin Luther my divinely defended spirit sings: A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing.

Let us join together in prayer: O Lord, now that you have renewed us and your mercies to us, restrain us from the sins into which we are most prone to fall and urge us on to the duties we are most averse to perform. Protect us from evil and equip us for faithful battle. Guide and govern us, O Lord, and let us be yours and only yours forever. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

August 23, 2017, 8:10 AM

The Double Cure

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

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded(James 4:7-8).

God has always planned well for the needs of His children. He has given beauty for the eyes, music for the ears, and love for the lonely. Should we not expect Him to provide equally well for the deep needs of our spirits?

Because sin is of two kinds, God has provided two works of grace. A person who has committed sins is guilty and stands condemned. They need to have their sins forgiven in order to become a child of God. When a person repents, and thus voluntarily turns away from their sins, God stands ready with the grace of forgiveness. He grants full pardon for all guilt and complete release from the penalty of sins committed. A person who is a sinner must have their hands thus cleansed from wicked works.

But our text says more because a person needs more. Sins are acts which are contrary to the known will of God. The Bible teaches that sin is also a disposition in the heart which is opposed to God’s will. Even after a person’s sins have been forgiven and they have become a child of God, this sinful nature remains until the heart is cleansed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the second work of grace that God has provided to deal with a person’s sins. Because a person is a sinner, they must have their hands cleansed; because they are double-minded they must have their hearts purified by faith.

The teaching of entire sanctification, or heart holiness, as a second work of grace has caused some to hesitate, and others to reject the truth. But why should we stumble over God’s method of giving himself to us? In Holiness, the Finished Foundation, Bishop J. Paul Taylor writes, “If two or more successive stages of treatment are required to secure physical health, the patient, even though impatient with the process, will submit to the superior knowledge of his physician concerning his needs… The trouble is not primarily an intellectual problem in arithmetic. It is not the addition of a second work of grace that troubles men, but the subtraction of the unholy element in the heart that involves the crucifixion of sinful self. The man who is determined to meet the divine requirements would submit to any number of crisis experiences that he might ‘stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.’ His heart and mind do not stagger at the word ‘second,’ but are gripped by the phrase ‘work of grace.’” The question, therefore, for us is will we wholeheartedly submit ourselves to God?

Let us join together in the prayer: Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure. – A. M. Toplady

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

August 16, 2017, 6:58 AM

Dead to Sin. Alive to God.

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

“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:11-13).

God’s Word tells us that we can be “dead to sin.” Paul uses this phrase a dozen times in the sixth chapter of Romans. What does the Bible mean by such expressions? What does it mean to be dead to sin? This much is clear, dead folks are no longer troubled by the problems of the living. No stronger term of separation can be used. The Apostle asks, “How can we that are dead to sin, live in it any longer?” The question carries its own obvious answer. He that is dead to sin no longer lives in sin.

Can we read the sixth chapter of Romans thoughtfully and conclude that sinning is consistent with a profession of Christian faith? Surely God means to say to us that salvation through Christ somehow takes an individual out of the sin business. God’s full work of grace in our lives is designed to do away with sin – all sin in the soul. This is the clear truth that God’s Word teaches. But we can be truly dead to sin only when the inner source of sin has been removed, when the old carnal self is dead indeed.

Sinfulness and Christlikeness are mutually exclusive. God’s plan is to free us from sin and to make us Christlike. The destruction of the carnal mind is a decisive step in that process. Matthew Henry comments, “Death makes a mighty change; such a change doth sanctification make in the soul, it cuts off all correspondence with sin.” Dr. A. M. Hills adds: “A man that is dead is uninfluenced and unaffected by the affairs of this life. He is insensible to sounds and tastes and pleasures… The voices of condemnation or praise do not reach him. And a Christian can be so delivered from the propensity to be charmed by the world that he is as one dead. The thing that once stirred within him at the approach of temptation has been ‘crucified’ and ‘destroyed,’ and he is dead to all but holiness and usefulness and God.” This is what is means to die out to self, to be dead to sin.

Does it seem like an impossible goal? Nothing is impossible for those who walk with God. The Bible presents it as the true Christian ideal within reach of every child of God. But how? The only way a person can become dead to sin is to become alive to God. It is the power of God alone that can do this in us. What does it mean to be alive to God? Simply this, as A. F. Harper reminds us, “that I continue responsive to every intimation of God’s will for me.”

Let us pray: Enable us, O Lord, to walk before you in holiness and righteousness to your praise and glory. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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