Working in You and Through You

I am excited that we are having another baptism tomorrow at church.  This will be the second baptism we have had this summer.  And we will have another one soon as another young man came forward last week to give his life to Christ.  I am so excited to see the way God is working in his life and in our church!

We have really been blessed as a congregation and I have been blessed as a pastor by having the Lord send us people who want to serve others, lead music, teach Sunday school and help in various other ways.  It is really a blessing seeing everyone pitch in and minister together to others in our church and in our community.  It reminds me of what Peter said about spiritual gifts in 1 Peter 4:10

1 Peter 4:10  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has supplied each of us with special gifts and abilities.  As His followers, we should be good stewards of His gifts, His blessings and His grace.  Our Lord wants to work in us and through us, all of us, for His purpose and His glory.  And it is such a sweet blessing when we allow Him to do so.

I hope that you know that the Lord loves you and that He wants to work in you and through you!  I hope that you know that the Lord can help you make a positive impact on the lives of others – now and for eternity!

Until next time, stay strong in the faith,

Pastor Phillip Stephens

Posted in 1 Peter 4:10, ambassadors, Being Blessed, Being Thankful, Christianity, Church, discovering spiritual gifts, Good Works | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Different Path

I took a different path,
As I went on my walk today.
And I noticed a bench in the garden,
It was hidden and tucked out of the way.

The bench was old, dusty and stained
Time and weather had left their mark.
It may have been years since someone had rested on it,
Or even noticed it in the park.

I dusted it off and took a seat
And I gave my feet a break
And as I sat there in the shade
I reflected on our choices and the paths we always take.

How many people escape our notice,
How many do we pass on our way?
And like a bench that’s worn and weathered
We don’t give them the time of day.

I vowed to be more aware,
And to open my eyes and see,
For even those who seem worn and weathered
Have a blessing they can offer me.

So I’ll take a different path
As I go on my walk today.
And I’ll try to notice those benches
The ones hidden and tucked out of the way.

Posted in doing the right thing, God's Love, Poem, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who You Working For

I was working at the hospital the other day and I visited with one of the cleaning ladies.  I stopped to tell her thank you for the job she was doing.  She said she was glad to do it because she knows what an important job it is.  She said her job is about more than just cleaning.  She said she knows that some patients might not have any family with them and they may be nervous, scared or in pain.  She said when she walks into the room to clean, she smiles and says hello and knows that God can use her work to help the patients feel better.   Her words reminded me of what the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:23 – 24.

Col 3:23  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Whatever jobs or tasks we may find ourselves doing, we should do them to the best of our ability.  It provides us an opportunity to thank God and show Him our gratitude for the gifts, abilities and yes, even the very work He has blessed us with.  And it also provides us with an opportunity to bless others.  I was grateful for this reminder provided by this lady.  And as I left, I thanked her again, not just for the work she does, but also for the ministry she provides.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Do Your Best, faith, God has blessed me, Loving Others, Work Hard | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Good Day

I had a good conversation with a stranger recently at a convenience store.  I commented on the lovely weather we were experiencing and they agreed saying, “This is a good day.”  They continued by saying, “Even if the weather turns bad and the storms come like the weatherman says, it’s still a good day.”  This led to a conversation with this person in which they shared about some of the storms and struggles they have encountered in life.  They testified about the way God watched over them and helped them even in the midst of dark and difficult days.  They said their favorite verse, the one that helped them keep going on during those times was Psalm 118:24.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This person praised the Lord for the help and strength He  provides to them every day –  good days and bad days.  It was a blessing to hear this person’s testimony.  And it was good to be reminded that this is the day the Lord has given us and though storms may come, we can still rejoice and be glad that He is with us.

Posted in a good day, bad weather, Build Upon the Rock, Christianity, Church, faith, God's Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s a Life Map?

I have been making a life map for a class that I am taking.  A life map is meant to be a visual time line of key moments in your life.  I have been writing down the dates and seasons of significant and key moments in my life.  I have been trying to include both good times and those that I considered difficult times.  As I was looking at this life map the other day, I was struck by the way I can see God’s hand involved in my life at each point along the way.  As I reflected on this I was reminded of Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28   And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

As I look at my life map, I can see the good that God has ultimately brought about in every situation.  I can tell that God has used each and every moment to mold me and make me, to teach me and train me and to correct me and coach me.  I am grateful for God’s interest and involvement in my life; my life map reminds me of His great love and care for me.  I hope you know that He loves and cares for you too.

Posted in Being Thankful, Christianity, Church, faith, God Cares for You, God Loves Me, God loves you, God's Love, Life Map | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessings from Above

This week I was reading about the time when Jesus got into Simon Peter’s boat and asked Simon to push out from the shore so He could preach to the large crowd gathering there.  Simon had fished all night and no doubt was tired and could have said no.  But instead, Simon did what the Lord invited him to do.  The crowd was blessed and so was Simon.  This passage has caused me to reflect on the way God wants to bless us.  Sometimes when we think of blessings we tend to think only of material things.  We think of wealth, possessions, and shiny, sparkly things.  Those types of things are things that most of us want and most of us consider blessings in our lives.  And those types of things can be blessings.  James reminded us that all good things come from above.  But my experience has been that God does not always bless us with what we want, but He blesses us with what we need.

Trouble is, we don’t always pray for what we need.  Sometimes we send up Christmas lists rather than humble supplications.  It reminds me of that old Janis Joplin song, “Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.”  Remember that one?  I am pretty sure that all of us have lifted up a prayer very similar to that song at some point in our lives.  I remember one time in the past where I told God that I would love to have a fast, sleek, shiny sports car.  Now, there is nothing wrong with driving a sports car that the Lord has blessed you with.  I’m just saying that God didn’t answer my prayer for one.  Actually, I think He did answer my prayer.  He said, “No.”  And I think He said “no” because of the difference between what I want and what I need.  After all, God has seen me drive.  He knows what I don’t need.

Better yet, He knows what I do need.  He knows I need His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness and His self-control.  He knows that I need people who love me, who support me, who encourage me, and who care about me enough to tell me the truth.  He knows that I need His forgiveness, His mercy and His grace.  God knows that I need all those things…and He has provided all of them to me in abundance.  He has blessed me.  He has blessed me richly.  Best of all, He has blessed me with His Son, Christ Jesus.

Posted in Being Blessed, Christianity, Church, faith, forgiveness, Galatians 5:22, God Answers Prayer, James 1:17, Luke 5:1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What about Judging?

One of my favorite passages contains one of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the whole Bible, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  This passage from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 has been used by some to say that no one ever has the right to speak truth, care or concern into another’s life.  But is Jesus saying that?  Is He saying that we should never share honest cares and concerns with others about their actions and behaviors?  I don’t believe that is the case at all.  In this verse and the passage that follows, Christ is instructing His followers about the way we are to think about, interact with and treat others.

A full reading of the passage reveals that Christ was addressing a self-righteousness and holier than thou type of attitude prevalent among the religious leaders of that day.  Sadly, it is a type of attitude that has been prevalent in many days, including ours.  Such an attitude leads to mocking and putting others down rather than ministering to them and picking them up.  And ministering to others and picking them up in a spirit of love and truth is what the Lord would have His followers to do.  This requires discernment and the sharing of honest, valid cares and concerns.   This requires making distinctions between that which is healthy and that which is unhealthy, between that which is helpful and that which is not helpful.  With that in mind, Christ tells His followers that we are to be humble and examine our own lives first.  We are to remove the logs from our own eyes so that we can see clearly to help our brother with the speck which may be in his.  When we judge, we are to judge rightly.  That includes the right time, the right place, the right motivation and the right spirit.  To “judge” in any other manner makes one a hypocrite.

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Posted in Christianity, Church, doing the right thing, Judge Not, Judge rightly, Matthew 7:1, Minding your own business, Trust in God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment