Pastor's Blog
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September 21, 2016, 12:00 AM

Come Follow Me



Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As you navigate the trials of life, The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail (Isaiah 58:11). Praise be to God! He will lead you through, but you must follow. 

The Lord’s constant invitation throughout Scripture is “follow me.” Whether it’s Abraham leaving Haran for Canaan, or Moses and the Hebrew people leaving Egypt for the Promised Land, or the Nehemiah and those who were once held in captivity leaving again for Jerusalem, or Jonah leaving for Nineveh (via the belly of a great fish), or the disciples leaving their nets and tax collector’s booths, or Paul leaving his old ways, or Timothy leaving the comforts of home to be a missionary in faraway places. “Come, follow me,” the Lord declares. Yet, sadly, as obstinate sheep, we often dig our heels in and refuse to be led. To do so is to deny ourselves the comfort that only the presence of our Good Shepherd can afford.

There is no greater place to be than in the center of God’s divine will. If we will allow Him, He will guide us, despite our uncertainties and our vagueness, even through our failings and mistakes. When surrendered to His will, He leads us step by step, from event to event. And this, my friends, is a tremendous comfort in a world of uncertainty. Hannah Whitall Smith writes: “You must remember that our God has all knowledge and all wisdom, and that therefore it is very possible He may guide you into paths wherein He knows great blessings are awaiting you, but which to the shortsighted human eyes around you seem sure to result in confusion and loss. You must recognize the fact that God’s thoughts are not as man’s thoughts, nor His ways as man’s ways; and that He who knows the end of things from the beginning alone can judge of what the results of any course of action may be. You must therefore realize that His very love for you may perhaps lead you to run counter to the loving wishes of even your dearest friends.”

With this in mind, I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: Father, you alone know what lies before me this day, grant that in every hour of it I may stay close to you. Let me today embark on no undertaking that is not in line with your will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice which your will may demand. Suggest, direct, control every movement of my mind; for my Lord Christ’s sake. Amen. 

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens
 




September 14, 2016, 12:00 AM

Don't Be Anxious



Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. May His peace guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Be not anxious!” Declares the Lord, yet fear cripples the lives of many today – including many within the church. Terrorism. Financial ruin. Crumbling marriages. Wayward children. Health concerns. Pending elections. Natural disasters. On and on the list goes. Like waves of a tsunami, fears crash into our minds leaving desolation in its wake. 

It is into the worst of these scenarios that our minds can concoct that the Lord breaks in and declares: “Fear not! For I am with you.” Do we believe that? Do we honestly and wholeheartedly believe that God – the One who created all things and holds them together – is big enough to handle whatever it is that is pressing in on us today? Thomas á Kempis writes: “To preserve peace in time of trouble our will must remain firm in God and be ever directed towards Him, that is, we should be disposed to receive all things from the hand of God, from His justice, and from His bounty, with humble submission to His blessed will. Good and evil, health and sickness, prosperity and adversity, consolation and dryness, temptation and tranquility, interior sweetness, trials, and chastisements, all should be received by the soul with humility, patience, and resignation, as coming to us by the appointment of God. This is the only means of finding peace in the midst of great troubles and adversities.

Take heart my friends! Take your stand on the power and trustworthiness of Almighty God, and see how quickly all difficulties will vanish before a steadfast determination to believe. Trust in the dark, trust in the light, trust at night and trust in the morning, and you will find that the faith which may begin by mighty effort, will end sooner or later by becoming the easy and natural habit of the soul. In closing, I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: O God! Who is able and willing to assist me, what grounds have I not to place my whole confidence in you, to throw myself into the arms of your providence, and wait the effects of your bounty? You have care of all. I will therefore give myself up entirely to you, live always in your presence, and ever guide myself by you fear and love. It is this grace I now ask of you, the God of my heart, and my portion forever. Grant me to weigh well and to follow your admonition: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Amen. 

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens
 




September 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

He Speaks



Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I think of you. May you ever be strengthened in your inner being by drawing closer to our precious Heavenly Father through the reading, studying and applying of His Holy Word.

You are reading the Word of God, aren’t you? If not, I want to encourage you to get into the habit. Make no further delay. Be rid of all excuses. There is no other exercise that will have such a profound impact on your life today and your destiny tomorrow. It is nourishment for your very soul and without it we surely starve. Indeed, Jesus declared, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Regrettably, many Christians are dying of hunger due to the sheer laziness of the undisciplined life.

Frederick Buechner writes: “We are to hear. All of us are. That is what the whole Bible is calling out. ‘Hear, O Israel!’ But hear what? Hear what? The Bible is hundreds upon hundreds of voices all calling at once out of the past and clamoring for our attention like barkers at a fair, like air-raid sirens, like a whole barnyard of cockcrows as the first longs shafts of dawn fan out across the sky. Some of the voices are shouting, like Moses’ voice, so all Israel, all the world can hear, and some are so soft and halting that you can hardly hear them at all like Job with ashes on his head and his heart broken… Somewhere in the midst of them all one particular voice speaks out that is unlike any other voice because it speaks so directly to the deepest privacy and longing and weariness of each of us that there are times when the centuries are blown away like mist, and it is as if we stand with no shelter of time at all between ourselves and the one who speaks our secret name. Come, the voice says. Unto me. All ye. Every last one.”

Will you accept His gracious invitation? Will you feast at His table today? Just think of it: What would happen to APCN and to our homes if we – the Body of Christ – would more deeply believe the truth – God speaks! God speaks to me! Speaks to us! Come, let us partake of these wonderful words of life. If you need help finding a Bible reading plan, just let me know. There would be no greater joy for me today than to help you get plugged into God’s Holy Word. In closing, I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: Dear Jesus, this day do not let me forget that I cannot live by bread alone, that like you I must have words from the mouth of the Father. May your Divine Word find its proper place in my life today. Amen. 

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens
 




August 31, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Lamp Unto Your Feet



I bring you greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ. I pray you are ever drawing closer our precious Heavenly Father. May His Word be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.

I would like to begin by asking a simple question: Are you faithfully studying God’s Word? One of the key responsibilities of a follower of Jesus is to be a student of the Word. It cannot be that the people of God should grow in grace unless they give themselves to the habit of faithfully reading the Word of God. A reading people will always be a knowing people. 

It is Scripture that is the reality-depth of our prayer life, for we speak to Him when we pray: we hear Him when we read and study the Scriptures. Indeed, the Apostle Paul challenged young Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV). The encouragement to “do your best” indicates that excellence in biblical literacy does not happen automatically, even for those who approach it with a heart for God. “Work hard,” the NLT reads; the NASB says, “Be diligent.” Further, Timothy is urged to “correctly handle” or “rightly divide” the word of truth. The Greek text paints a picture of one who drives a straight road through the truth and refuses to be lured down pleasant but irrelevant rabbit trails. Such distractions, as 2 Tim. 2:16 points out, lead to “godless chatter” and an ungodly life.

Richard Foster writes: Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves of the Discipline of study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties and still they are not changed . . . They may sing with gusto; pray in the Spirit, live as obediently as they know, even receive divine visions and revelations; and yet the tenor of their lives remains unchanged. Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study. Jesus made it unmistakably clear that it is the knowledge of the truth that will set us free.

If you’re not already in the habit of studying the Word, why not start today? Get into a study group, a quiz team, or an accountability group! I invite you to pray the following with me: O you who are the Source and Ground of all truth, guide me today, I beseech you, in my hours of reading. Let the Bible have proper place in my life; and grant that as I read I may be alive to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in my soul. Amen. 

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens
 




August 24, 2016, 12:00 AM

I'll Pray For You



I bring you greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

As we march forward in Christ, may we continually stay focused on the call to make Christlike disciples! May we ever be a people of prayer! May we increasingly give ourselves in love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. For surely, if we do not remain vigilant, the enemy will steer us away from this righteous calling. Indeed, as the Apostle Paul urged young Timothy, “Guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.” Brother and sisters, instead of tearing down one another we must find ways to uplift, encourage, and pray for one another. As priests, we must find ways to be our brother and sister’s greatest support and champion before the throne of grace. 

Yet, often when we say, “I will pray for you,” we are making nothing more than an empty claim. Many times this remains nothing more than a well-meant expression of concern. O that this reality would not be so! There is no greater task we can embark upon today then to lift one another up in prayer – especially for the one that perhaps we cannot even stand to think upon. 

Consider the following: The more the Christian is truly filled with the Spirit of Christ, the more spontaneous will be his/her giving himself/herself up to the life of priestly intercession for their neighbor. Beloved fellow members and friends of APCN! God needs, greatly needs, priests (which you are called to be; 1 Peter 2:1-10) who will draw near to Him, who live in His presence, and by their intercession draw down the blessings of His grace on others. And the world needs, greatly needs, priests who will bear the burden of the perishing ones, and intercede on their behalf. Andrew Murray once rightly declared: Let us each find out what the work is, and who the souls are entrusted to our special prayers; let us make our intercession from them our life of fellowship with God, and we shall not only find the promises of power in prayer made true to us, but we shall then first begin to realize how our abiding in Christ and His abiding in us make us share in His own joy of blessing and saving men (from With Christ in the School of Prayer). APCN, will you embrace this task? In love will you give yourself to intercessory prayer. Will you pray for me, my wife and children that we might be all that God wants us to be?

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens
 


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