A Special Place Just for You!

Rainbow_House  My granddaughter Avery who is 4 gave me a gift the other day. She drew a picture just for me. It is a “rainbow house.” She took the time to make it as special as she could. She made each line as straight and perfect as she could. To Avery rainbows are the most wonderful, beautiful and amazing things in the whole wide world. She figured if this house looked like a rainbow, it would be extra special. So she selected a different color to draw the lines for each wall, window and roof. It truly is a rainbow house prepared with love just for me! As I was thanking the Lord later that night for a granddaughter who is growing up to be so smart, sweet and creative I was reminded that this is not the only special house that has been crafted just for me.

In John chapter 14, Jesus knows that the time of His Crucifixion is drawing near. He knows that He will soon be leaving His disciples. He shares with them:
[John 14:1-3 NKJV] 1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

What a glorious promise this is from our Savior. Jesus did not want His disciples to be worried. He wanted them to know the depths of love that He had for them. He would leave them for a while, yes, but His leaving would allow Him to go and prepare a wondrous place for them. They would be able to receive a mansion, a dwelling place in heaven with Him forever and ever! I know that because I have repented of my sins and placed my faith in Christ that He is also preparing a place for me so that where He is one day I shall be too. I don’t know what it looks like but I know it will be special. My granddaughters are already learning about the things of the Lord. I see them bowing their heads in prayer, I hear them singing songs of praise and one day I look forward to hearing of their personal professions of faith. What a glorious day that shall be! And some day in Glory…I look forward to seeing the “rainbow houses” that the Lord has prepared just for them.

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Giving Good Advice

During the past couple of weeks I have had some unexpected opportunities to share my faith with some strangers who were going through some difficult times in their lives or facing various challenges.  These unexpected opportunities should be viewed as divine appointments set by God so that we can share about His willingness to provide mercy, grace and forgiveness to those who come to Him in humility.  As the Bible says in Psalm 51:17 “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

I am always grateful when I have my wife with me on these occasions as the Lord always uses her to share some insight or perspective that I may overlook.  She is a blessing and a gift not only to me in marriage but also in ministry.  Through the years I have also come to very much appreciate Paul’s petition for prayers from the church in Colossians chapter 4 where he asks them to pray that he may have more divine appointments and to pray that when he does share, he will make the most of each moment, knowing how to respond and having the ability to speak with clarity and purpose.  With the various circumstances that people are facing, sometimes it is difficult to know how to respond.  Though I answer prayerfully and graciously, I sometimes worry if the words and the counsel are appropriate for the myriad of issues that may be attached to what is brought up sometimes in only just a few minutes of someone sharing.  While I know that some advice could be better, I know one thing that no one can argue with.  My own personal experience can be summed up by Psalm 34:6:

Psalm 34:6  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles.

I can assure you that the Lord is still in the saving business.  He sets up divine appointments so that we may have the blessed opportunity to strike up conversations with others and listen to their stories and then tell them of God’s great love for them.  Many problems and issues can only begin to be sorted out by starting with having the proper relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.  God so loves the world that He gave His one and Only Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  The Bible says that whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.  In this world we don’t have to know all of the answers; we just have to know where to begin to look.  If you or someone you know has troubles, have them look to the Lord and cry out to Him.  The answer starts there.  Any other solution is just a temporary and will not stand the test of eternity.

There was a time in my life when I had a chip on my shoulder and had more issues than I have now…if you can believe that.  My life began to turn around when I looked to the Lord and cried out in repentance.  Like everyone else, I had sinned and done things that were outside of God’s will.  My sin separated me from God and kept me from enjoying the blessings of His fellowship.  Once I figured out that doing things on my own wasn’t working too well, I called on Christ and asked Him to forgive me, to strengthen and to help me.  He did.  Over the years He has had to do a lot of work on me.  He is still doing some work…keep praying for me!  Everyone has a need to call on the Lord for forgiveness.  If you do, He will save you from all of your troubles.  A journey of learning, healing, and growing can begin.  If you know Him as your Lord, be prepared to tell somebody how good He is.  Be ready for a divine appointment this week.  Until next time keep the faith.

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Speaking Up

talking to the girls March 2014  My granddaughters came over to visit me the other day. It is always such fun when they drop by. A few months ago I took a video of them with my I-phone while they were playing and now almost every time they come over Avery wants us to “make another movie.” Last week we made a movie at the mall while we took a break from shopping. Avery who is 4 pretty much tells me what questions that I am supposed to ask and then she tries to answer every question for herself and her 2 year old sister Haley. I understand that Avery is just doing what comes natural – she is just being the big sister but still I always encourage her to let Haley speak for herself…if I don’t, poor Haley won’t get a chance! Just as I encourage Avery, I also encourage Haley to speak up and express her thoughts and share what is on her mind. It is important in life that we don’t always let others speak for us.

In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus asked His disciples who others were saying that He was. Others were of the opinion that Jesus might be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet. Then Jesus asked the disciples what they thought, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter stepping out in faith, speaking for himself said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Simon Peter recognized that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Jesus blessed Simon Peter for that confession of faith; the confession upon which the Church is built. How about you? Who do you say that Jesus is? Do you recognize Him as the Messiah? Have you spoken up for yourself? This is an area where it is not enough to let someone else speak for you. You must do the talking. It really is easy. The Bible say in Romans 10:13 “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I hope that you have spoken for yourself and called upon Him as your Savior. If not, I would love to talk to you about it. Send me an we can discuss any questions, cares or concerns you might have.  I can be reached at pastorpstephens@aol.com.  May the Lord bless you and those you love.

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Sharing Good News

The other day my 4 year old granddaughter Avery was over at the house.  She said, “Papaw, I want to tell you something.”  I leaned down so she could tell me yet another of her great big secrets or share a tale of some recent adventure like finding a dead grass snake in the back yard.  This time it wasn’t a secret it was more of an invitation.  “How about you and Nana and my other grandma and grandpa could go with me to the big zoo and see some lions.  I think my family is going to go next week.”  I found out later that Avery and her mom, dad and sister are planning a trip to the San Antonio zoo this summer.  Being 4, next week is the way Avery describes any day in the future that is not tomorrow.  I told Avery that I would love to accept her invitation.  Later as I was thinking about her invite, it reminded me of John’s words to the church in 1 John 1:3-4.

1 John 1:3 “…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

John is sharing with others the truth that He knows about Jesus Christ; that Christ is the incarnate word, God in the flesh who gave His life so that we can have forgiveness of our sins.  John says that he is sharing what he knows so that others may share in the same fellowship and enjoy the same blessings.  John proclaimed the good news of the gospel so that others one day too could enjoy eternal fellowship with God the Father.  My granddaughter Avery does not really know when she is going to the zoo, she does not really know what to expect but she knows that it will be fun and it will be a good time.  Because it will be a good time when that day comes, she wants other people she loves to go with her…me (her Papaw), my wife (her Nana), and her other grandparents too.  She wants all of us to be able to go and enjoy that blessing and the fellowship with her.  Christians should have the same attitude and perspective about heaven.  We may not know exactly what to expect but we know it will be good, we know it will be a blessing and my goodness; we ought to be busy inviting other people to go with us!  Christ loves us and gave His life for us!  He offers us help for today and hope for tomorrow.  Some day we shall see Him face to face!  The news we know is too good to keep to ourselves.  Just last week Avery told someone, “Our God is GREAT BIG God and you need to know that.”  What we have seen and heard and experienced about the goodness of the Lord, we proclaim to you – so that you might go with us and so that our joy might be complete!  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

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Teaching Others and Playing Hopscotch

Hopscotch 2 Hopscotch 1 I am so blessed to have my granddaughters live just a few houses away.  (Avery is 4 and Haley is 2.)  Today when I came home from work I saw my daughter with the girls standing in front of their house.  After I parked the car I walked down the block to see what they were up to.  My daughter Lauren was teaching the girls how to play hopscotch.  Avery explained it to me, “It’s all about squares and numbers and throwing rocks, Papaw.  You throw a rock and you hop, hop, hop.”  She and Haley proceeded to demonstrate several times and to my surprise I did not have to dodge any rocks.  Those girls learn fast.  I am so proud of the good mom that my daughter has turned out to be.  I am not surprised by any means as my wife was such an excellent mom to our kids.  But I just love seeing my daughter take the time to teach the girls about so many things.  She makes sure to teach them about everything she thinks is important… not just numbers and letters but other things too.  She teaches them the importance about loving the Lord, loving others and loving themselves.  She makes sure that they know what it means to be kind, considerate and respectful.  She even makes sure that they know about fun stuff like how to play hopscotch.

As Christians every one of us is called in some way to be involved in the teaching, training and development of others.  In the book of Titus, Paul calls upon mature saints to train up the younger Christians.  The goal Paul says is “so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:5) and “so that our opponents will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:8).  Seeing all of the good and wholesome things that my daughter is passing on to my granddaughters, I can only think about good things to say about her right now.  That is the way it should be for the church.  We should be so invested in encouraging, instructing and inspiring one another in the learning and the love of the Lord that others have nothing bad to say about us.  In fact we should be enjoying ourselves so much in the grace and love of the Lord that it ought to make others want to walk down the street and join us, just like a good game of hopscotch!   Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

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Growing Up in the Lord

the_girls_2014   the_girls2__2014 I had the blessed opportunity to spend some time last week with my favorite philosopher Avery, my 4 year old granddaughter.  She was visiting with her 2 year old sister Haley and she told me, “Papaw, me and Haley is growing up.  Someday we are going to drive a car like our daddy.  And someday we won’t watch kid shows any more either Papaw.  Me and Haley will watch big people shows and do all kinds of big people things.”  I said, “Yes you will honey, yes you will.  That’s God’s plan for all of us….that  we grow up and learn to do new things.”  I love those girls.  All week our conversation served to remind me to take the time to enjoy the important things in life.  Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and those we love grow up before we know it.  We need to make sure we don’t miss out on the experience.

It also reminded me that God desires for each of us to grow and be who He has called us to be.  We need to be sure we don’t miss out on that experience either.  In chapter 5 the author of Hebrews is exhorting the church to grow and mature according to God’s plan.  He says to them in Hebrews 5:12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”   God desires each and every one of us to grow in regard to our faith.  He desires that each of us would mature and no longer be involved only in the elementary things of the faith but that we would develop and mature according to His plans.  I hope that you are having a blessed week and I hope you know just how much the Lord loves you.

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Walking thru the Door of Faith

MikeyToday we have a house guest, a little white dog named Mikey.  Mikey will be with us for a few days while his mommy Amanda is out of town.  Mikey is not a dachshund like our other dogs, I know because he his legs are not short and he does not bark just because he hears the grass grow.  Those are the distinguishing marks of dachshunds.  But Mikey is like a dachshund in that he wants to be in somebody’s lap….all the time.  I do not remember this being a part of the deal.  But that is okay, Mikey is a pretty good dog.  He goes to the door when he needs to be let out and when he comes back in he wants to get right back in someone’s lap.  Our dogs use a doggie door.  Mikey is a little unsure about the safety issues involved with the doggie door I guess as he has not used it yet.  I tried to encourage him to walk through that door but he is not ready yet.

Some people might suggest cramming him through the door but I do not recommend that technique.   It is not as effective as you would think.  The dogs don’t like it and 3 out of 5 times you get bit.  Just trust me on those numbers.  I know that once Mikey sees the other dogs going through that doggie door he will probably see the benefits and eventually go through on his own.  I have seen it before with other dogs that have come to our house.  They had never seen a doggie door but after a while they learned from observing our dogs and pretty soon they used it too.

I think it can be that way with things of faith sometimes.  As Christians we know that the relationship we have with the Lord is good – real good.  We know it works and we know that it would be beneficial for others and we can’t wait to introduce them to Him.  Sometimes we share with them in an excited way and they look at us the same way Mikey looked at that doggie door.  “Sorry, not for me.”  Sometimes in our enthusiasm we try coaxing them through the door with treats and promises.  Some people even try to manipulate and cram them through the door thinking that “If they just take a few steps, if they just try it then they’ll see.”  Manipulation, coercion, and enticements even when given with the best intentions are not the way that the Lord desires for people to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.  Over and over again in the New Testament Paul urged the Church to imitate him as he imitated Christ.  Live for Him, proclaim Him and let people make up their own minds when they are ready.  Jesus said in like this in Matthew 5:16

Matt 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

If we do the things that we are called to do in the way that we are called to do them, our lives will serve as a living testimony!  We will be faithful witnesses!  There will be no manipulation, no coercion and no sly or empty promises.  People will see the difference that the Lord is making in us and through us.  And because of the differences they see some will walk through the door to the Kingdom of God on their own accord at the calling and conviction of the Holy Spirit.  To God be the glory forever and ever amen!  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

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