Pastor Jason's Blog
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March 22, 2017, 8:16 AM

Eyes of Compassion

Church Family,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord give us eyes full of grace and compassion. May our hearts burn with a holy desire to make a positive impact upon the lives of our community for Jesus Christ. May we refuse to be hardened to the condition of our world and stand idly by as it falls deeper and deeper into the pit of despair.

Think about it: What do you see when you look at our community? Better yet, how long has it been since you looked upon our community with eyes of compassion? In Matthew 9:36 says, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he was moved to compassion, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

The grammatical structure of this passage makes it quite clear that the compassion of Christ upon the crowd was the result of something else. “When he saw the crowds, he was moved to compassion”; or, to translate the Greek sentence quite literally, “Having seen crowds, he was moved with compassion.” The one thing was the consequence of the other. His pity sprang forth from His perception. Jesus’ compassion on the masses was the result of His vision.

Anybody who has two eyes in their head can see a crowd when there is a crowd to be seen. But can they? That is the very point. If seeing depends simply on the possession of two sound eyes, how is it people see so differently? How is it the very same sights produce such differing impressions? How is it that when the sun rises some people see just a disc of fire, but a poet-painter sees an “innumerable company of the heavenly host crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty’”? Nothing could be shallower or falser than to suggest that what we see depends on these two eyes of ours. Vision is not a faculty of the physical organ of sight solely.

What a person sees depends not simply on their eyes, but on their mind, their imagination, their heart. Without imagination and a heart to look through those eyes, they will not perceive.

Rev. J. D. Jones wrote, “Our Lord was moved with compassion by the vision of pain and sorrow. He suffered with every sufferer. It was from this infinite compassion of His for pain and suffering that nearly all his deeds of power sprang. His miracles were the product of His pity… We are no followers of His unless the vision of those same wrongs stirs us up also to compassion.”

Let us pray together: O Father, give me your eyes. May I see what you see today and then respond in faithful action. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

March 15, 2017, 8:43 AM

Because He First Loved Us

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the love of God be evident in you and in all you to do and say today. May we not only be recipients of God’s grace and charity, but may we also be quick to extend it to others as well.

The surest sign of a genuine follower of Jesus Christ is a heart that is growing increasingly in love. In fact, the Scripture declares in 1 John 3:11, 14 “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another… Anyone who does not love remains in death.” Loving one another, as God loves us, is not merely an option. It is a command. To refuse to be a people marked by holy love is to remain in a state of darkness.

1 John 4:19-21 declares, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has not seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us the command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty straightforward to me. So, think about it: Is God’s holy love being reflected in you today? How are you treating one another? Are your thoughts, desires and preferences beneficial for others?

John Wesley once wrote, “Our Lord said, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If any ask, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ we reply, ‘Everyone in the world; every child of His who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh’ (see Hebrews 12:9). Nor may we exclude our enemies, or the enemies of God and of their own souls. Every Christian loves these also as himself, even as Christ loved us. If you would more fully understand what manner of love this is, consider St Paul’s description of it (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). It is long-suffering and kind. It does not envy; it is not rash or hasty. It is “not puffed up” – not arrogant – but makes the one who loves the servant of all. Love does not behave indecently but gives all men and women their due. Love does not seek its own advantage, only the good of others that they may be saved. Love is not provoked to sharpness or unkindness to anyone. It thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. It covers all evil which it knows of anyone. It believes all good things of others and puts the most favorable construction on everything. Love hopes whatever is for the best of anyone and endures whatever the injustice, malice and cruelty of others can inflict.”

Let us pray together: O Eternal God, my Savior and Lord, I acknowledge that all I am and all I have is yours. I pray that you will surround me with such a sense of your infinite goodness, that I may return to you all possible love and obedience, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

March 8, 2017, 9:34 AM

Perfect Love

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May His perfect love be reflected in us today. May we, as a church, reflect His true holiness in all we do.

The Church of the Nazarene considers herself a “holiness church,” but what exactly does that mean? Holiness is first and always about love. Anything else is a rabbit trail. We often will speak of holiness as living with power, or as living without sin, or as a baptism of the Holly Spirit, but in its purest form holiness is a matter of love. It’s about reflecting God – who is love.

God is love and perfect love is evident in all He does. In fact in Scripture we learn that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).  We also learn that we are called to reflect/imitate this God of perfect, self-sacrificing love. 1 Peter 1:15-16 declares, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” Yet, what exactly does holiness – perfect love – look like in real life for us?

Jesus best sums up holy living when he called us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Whenever one says they love God and neighbor, and means it, they have turned a corner in their religion, and that reality will be apparent in their daily living.

Steve Deniff observes, “There are three instances in the Gospels where someone is said to love Jesus, and in each instance love is expressed differently. So while true love may have many expressions, these three episodes provide a baseline from which our love may be measured. The first episode takes place in the house of a good Pharisee named Simon. There a woman pours out her love on the feet of Christ (Luke 7:36-50). The second episode takes place only hours before Christ’s death when the tells his disciples to show their love by obeying him (John 14:15). The third episode takes place on the shores of Galilee after the Resurrection, when Jesus answers Peter’s affirmation (“Lord, you know that I love you”) with the command to feed Christ’s sheep (John 21:17).” Thus, perfect love is most clearly demonstrated in us when we 1.) spend ourselves completely in pursuit of Christ, 2.) place His will and desires above our own, and 3.) feed/care for His sheep. So, how are we doing in each of these areas today?

Let us pray together: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in us the fire of your perfect love. Bring us rest and renewal, through Christ our Lord, I pray. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

March 1, 2017, 9:09 AM

Lenten Journey

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Today marks the beginning of the Lenten journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This 40-day trek (minus Sundays, which are days of celebration) through the wilderness of self-denial is a reminder of the call to humbly submit our whole lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ. As the Word of God says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Lord is our true sustenance. He alone can satisfy the longings of our soul. Without Him we can be fat on the things of the world, yet suffering from awful malnutrition.

If you have never participated in a Lenten fast, I invite you to open yourself to this powerful time of repentance, reflection and seeking. Through this journey, we can deepen our awareness of God’s forgiveness and purifying presence. The call to a holy Lent is an open invitation to humble ourselves before God and seek Him above all else, as we follow in the steps of Jesus all the way to Calvary – where Jesus laid down his life in the ultimate act of love and self-denial.

Through this season of fasting, prayer, repentance and seeking we are invited to slow down the pace of life and meditate upon the works of the Lord. We are called to stop the insanity of our modern day living and remember the works of our Lord. Psalm 143:1, 5-6 declares, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness . . . I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” The Lord, our God, is faithful. We can trust Him. We can rely fully upon Him. The provision we find in His body and blood is sufficient for us. For these reasons, we fix our eyes on Jesus.

The call to fix our eyes on Jesus is a call to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). St. Clement wrote the following in his Letter to the Corinthians: “Let us fix our thoughts on the blood of Christ, inasmuch as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind.” What a powerful and beautiful reminder of what we are called to celebrate not only on Resurrection Sunday but also on every day throughout the year.

Let us pray together: Father, grant me forgiveness of what is past, that in the days to come I may with a pure spirit, do your will – walking humbly with you, showing love to all, and keeping body and soul in sanctification and honor, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

February 22, 2017, 12:00 AM

A Hunger for God

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As we journey together may we be fully committed to denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus (Matthew 16:24). May we hunger and thirst, not for the things of this world, but for the sustenance that only our Lord can provide (Matthew 5:6). May we be willing to engage purposefully in the discipline of fasting that we might know God in a deeper way (Joel 1:14).

Fasting is an issue with which many Christians wrestle, including as to whether the Scripture makes it obligatory upon all Christians. Although many passages of Scripture deal with this subject, there is one that stands out. It’s found in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus declared, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18). It is as if there is an almost unconscious assumption from the Lord that fasting will be a part of the faithful Christian life. Yet it’s not required.

In other words, Jesus says, “When you fast…” He seemed to assume believers would fast, and what was needed was instruction on how to do it properly. Yet, at the same time, we must also realize that those words, “When you fast,” do not constitute a command. Therefore, although Jesus did not say “If you fast,” neither did he say, “You must fast.” He simply said, “When you fast…” Jesus assumes we would fast and that when we do it should not be a public spectacle. He then concluded by stating that when it’s done properly “your Father… will reward you.” So, what would such a fast look like? Ponder Gilliland states: “On the matter of fasting, all you need to do is to follow the inner promptings of the Lord. There is no set pattern in all this. It may be that for a day, or a longer period, you will want merely to pass up some part of a meal – desert, or something else that you enjoy and you’d like to give it up… It may be that God would only direct you to fast one meal. Or one day. The important thing is… why you are fasting.” May it be for no other reason than to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him.

Let us pray together: You know, O Lord, to how many sinful allurements, interior trials and dangers we are exposed, both from natural and violent inclinations to evil, our unceasing hatred to good and the assaults of temptation. How shall we be able to resist such powerful enemies, if you do not assist us? It is to you we raise up our hearts and our minds. It is to you we look for assistance to keep us from yielding to temptation and to preserve us from perishing. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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