Pastor Jason's Blog
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August 9, 2017, 12:00 AM

Sanctify Them

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

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

On the eve of the Crucifixion, as Jesus entered into His sufferings, the deepest desire of the Savior was for the sanctification of His disciples.

In those last precious hours in the Upper Room before Gethsemane, He talked to them about many things: of humility, of the betrayer, of His going away, of their fruit bearing, and of the opposition to be faced. But throughout that hallowed evening the Lord kept returning to one topic over and over again. “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (John 14:16). “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). “But I tell you the truth: It is for you good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

Late in the evening the conversation was finished. There were no more words of instruction to be given. Our Lord ceased talking to men about God and began to talk to God about men.

Under the shadows of Gethsemane and of Calvary, in the hushed stillness of the night, while His drowsy inner circle slept nearby, Jesus poured out His heart’s desire to the Father. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:15-17). In the shadow of the cross, our Lord’s chief concern was that His disciples might be empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit. But His concern was not for them alone. It was also for you and me.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). In that sacred hour the Son of God prayed for you and I that that we might be sanctified holy; He prayed, and prays still, for all who need this blessing of the Holy Spirit. Can we carelessly pass by the deepest concern of Him who died to save us from all sin? We who have had our sins forgiven need this blessing. We who love God must press on until our love is made perfect. Every man and woman who has turned their face toward God is called to remain in prayer until the very image of the holy Creator is renewed in them. As A. F. Harper declared, “We who have come to Christ at Calvary must continue with Him to Pentecost.” We need the powerful infilling of the Spirit of God.

Let us pray: O my Savior, I desire Your full will for my life more than anything else in this world. May Your prayer for the disciples be answered in me. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

August 2, 2017, 8:37 AM

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

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

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Dr. J. B. Chapman used to say that he got saved so that he could get sanctified wholly (A. F. Harper, Holiness and the High Country). His testimony was somewhat as follows, “As a young man I listened to holiness preaching. It sounded so good to me that I wanted to live that kind of life. I understood that I needed to be converted before I could become a candidate for sanctification. I therefore went to the altar to be saved, so that I could become a seeker for holiness.” Are not this preparation and this sequence the clear teaching of Peter’s message in Acts chapter 2? He had just come from the Upper Room, where he with others had been filled with the Holy Spirit. At the close of his first sermon, following this experience, Peter’s convicted listeners cried, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter knew the answer to that question. He knew that these men needed to find what he had found. He had followed Jesus for three years, but even these years of discipleship had not solved his own spiritual problems. To be clear, neither had seeing the risen Christ with his own eyes and speaking with Him on the shoreline. However, he had obeyed Jesus’ command to wait until the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:4-5). Now things were different! The infilling of the Spirit made all the difference.

How could Peter’s hearers experience this same radiant, lifechanging relationship with God? Peter could only point them to the same route he had taken. “You must repent – and as an expression of it, be baptized in the name of Jesus – that you may have your sins forgiven; and then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” He goes on to declare that this experience is not limited to a few select individuals. Indeed, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). The promise, therefore, includes us – some 2,000 years later.

The question that remains for us is the same one Paul later asked a group of believers in the city of Ephesus: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Their response was, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Paul then placed his hands on them, prayed for them, and they were filled with the power of God’s Holy Spirit. What is our response today? Consider it: Are you completely filled to all the fulness of God’s Holy Spirit? (Eph. 3:14-21). Does God have complete sway over every area of your life? If not, like the Ephesian church, are you willing to invite His coming in His fullness and pray until you pray through?

Let us pray: O God, we desire to have a lively sense of your love always possessing every ounce of our hearts, continually urging us to love you, obey you, and trust you fully. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

July 26, 2017, 8:54 AM

Answered Prayer

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

God answers prayer. The Scriptures are clear. Nothing could be more definite. All peoples are commanded to pray, at all times, in all places, and for all needs. Assurances abound that prayer is heard. The promises are explicit, and the Scriptures are full of examples and encouragement. Christ’s own word is, “Everyone that asks receives” (Matt. 7:8). The scope of the promise is without limit of place (1 Tim. 2:8), time (Luke 18:1), or subject (John 16:23). Yet, there are conditions and limitation. We are commanded to pray for all persons, but there were some for whom the prophet was forbidden to pray (Jer. 7:16). It is possible to ask and not receive (Psalm 66:18). Prayers that lack sincerity and faith cannot be heard. So, are all the sincere, earnest, believing prayers of good people granted? The answer of experience is, No. Consider three great men in Scripture.

Moses prayed that he might be allowed to complete his work (Deut. 2:23-35). He had undertaken it at God’s command. For 40 years he had nursed and led a murmuring and ungrateful people through the wilderness. The Promised Land was within sight. No wonder he prayed that he might go over. Despite a nation’s entreaty, regardless of his record, and notwithstanding his earnest pleading, he died: died with his final work unfinished. Elijah was mighty in prayer. God seemingly answered all his prayers but one, and that was the prayer that he might die. He was under a broom tree, suffering from mental and physical exhaustion. Yesterday had been a great day. The next day was the day after! At the threat of a violent woman he fled. Fear, despondency, and despair took hold of him and he prayed that he might die. The apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a physical affliction and he prayed for its removal. It was not removed, though he pleaded three times of the Lord.

None of these prayers went unanswered. They were not granted, but they were answered, and “No” was the answer. “No” is as truly an answer as “Yes.” In fact, refusal may be the only answer possible of love, wisdom, and truth. God never refuses without reason. He knows the past, in which there may be reasons for present disqualification. The Lord knows the future as well as the past. The immediate may imperil the future. The eagerness for a bowl of stew may involve the loss of an inheritance, just ask Esau. God spared Hezekiah 15 years, but it would’ve been better if God simply said, “No,” and he went on to glory when first called.

Delays are not denials, and it pays to wait for God’s time. Moses got into Canaan, and Elijah went to heaven by a more glorious way than that of a broom tree. “No” is never God’s last word. If the prayer seems unanswered, it is because it is lost in the glory of the answer when it comes. God may refuse the route requested because he knows a better way, and He took Moses into Canaan by a better way and in better company. Likewise, He took Elijah to heaven by a much more wonderful way than that of the grave. Paul learned to glory in the affliction and adversity and thus received the joy of being content in any and every circumstance.

Let us pray: Almighty God, thank you for answered prayer. Help us to trust your answer. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

July 19, 2017, 2:22 PM

Prayer for Healing

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

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven” (James 5:15). The subject of divine healing is always with me. The infirmities of the flesh keep it continually among the complications of my faith. In the work of a pastor there is no escape from it. The sick look at this statement in Scripture concerning the prayer that heals the sick, and seek guidance. Some are healed by the prayer of faith, and if one, why not another? I have searched the Scriptures backwards and forwards and not found any easy answers.

There is healing through the prayer of faith. The truth of this is confirmed by many witnesses. There are those to whom is given the gift of healing, and they lay hands upon the sick and they recover. I personally have been healed through the prayer of faith. Likewise, I have been used of God to the heal the sick and have been blessed to be a witness to several miracles of God’s healing grace. In other cases, I have been quite helpless. There are those for whom I would’ve given my right hand if I could’ve prayed them to health, but instead I have seen them suffer and die. Indeed, many godly people have suffered untold anguish because they sought healing in vain. That has been my problem. Indeed, my own spouse has battled type 1 diabetes daily for fifteen years despite of our faith. I could multiply such instances on both sides, and it may be that others have been similarly perplexed.

The teaching of the Scriptures is the final authority on this subject, as on every other question of faith and life. I accept it whether I understand it or not. There is no doubt that the Scriptures teach that the Lord is our Healer. That is one of the names by which He is revealed. It is also beyond dispute that our Lord and Savior regarded healing as an integral part of His ministry. He healed all kinds of diseases. He commissioned His apostles to heal the sick. The gift of healing was, and is, among the gifts of the Spirit. Through all the ages there have been witnesses to its power. Yet, there is also a sickness that is of grace. Sometimes it is used of God for good. Scripture must interpret Scripture. The affliction of Job was of grace. It was to the glory of God. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not of sin. God permitted it for the glory of His grace. Epaphroditus was healed of the Lord (Phil. 2:27), but Trophimus had to be left at Miletum sick (2 Tim. 4:20). Instead of divine healing, Paul recommended a moderate use of wine (1 Tim. 5:23) for Timothy’s stomach. And on his travels, Paul took Luke, the beloved physician. In short, divine healing is not an automatic guarantee for those who love the Lord and are of great faith.

Sickness may be chastisement for disobedience, and by faith the cause may be removed, the sin forgiven, and health restored. Yet, it is also true that sickness may (whether we understand it or not) be in the will of God, for the purpose of discipline, the glory of His grace, and the ministry of Christ. Either way, Christ can be glorified in us if we keep our eyes and our faith upon Him.

Let us pray together: Gracious Father, into Your hand, we commend our souls and our bodies. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

June 28, 2017, 9:00 AM

Pray for One Another

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

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 59:15b-16a). It is utterly appalling to God for a people not to intercede for one another. The praying people of the Bible are intercessors. Abraham pleaded for Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses made intercession for lost Israel. Samuel prayed all night for Saul and continually for the nation. David pleaded on behalf of his people before God. Daniel prayed for the deliverance of the Lord’s people from Babylon. Christ prayed for His disciples, and made special intercession for Peter. Paul was an example of his own exhortation “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all men.”

The one thing that is said to have bewildered and disgusted God is that the voice of intercession had ceased. “…he was appalled that there was no intercessor.” His delivering mercy depends upon intercessors, who will put their shoulders under the burdens of others. The Lord tells us, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30). The normal function of prayer is to make intercession with God for others. I wonder what the Lord might find among us regarding intercessory prayer today? Would He find a people who faithfully pray on behalf of one another?

That we may pray for others is the deepest mystery and crowning glory of prayer. If we do not know how to pray for ourselves as we ought, how can we know how to pray for others? If we know so imperfectly our own needs, how can we know the needs of others? Who are we that we should presume to interpret the needs of another to God? He alone knows, and may not His knowledge and love be trusted? The answer is that prayer cannot be solitary. It must be personal, but it cannot be isolated. Life is relative and interdependent, “For none of us lives to himself alone” (Romans 14:7). Prayer cannot stop at personal need. Even in the inner chamber there is no escape from the impact of those who cross our paths in the home, the church, and the world. The law of prayer is that each one stands alone in the Presence of God, just as surely as “each one of us shall give an account of them self to God,” each bearing their own burden, and yet everyone bearing the burden of others.

Jesus, as always, is our example in this regard. The Savior made intercession for us because He bore the sin of the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12). So it is in all prayer that we implore God on behalf of others. Who can tell the influences that have come into their life through the intercession of those who have prayed on their behalf? The great need of God and His Kingdom is of intercessors!

Let us pray together: Gracious Father, thank you for those who have interceded on my behalf. Help me to likewise be a faithful intercessor before You on behalf of others, that Your will may be done!

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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