Walking By Faith – God is With Me

I was up early this morning reading from Isaiah chapter 41 and I was meditating on the truth and application of verse 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” In this passage God is promising that His help is ever present for His people; He is always near for those who depend on Him. As I was reflecting on such things, one of our little dachshunds started to go out of the doggie door. About that time he heard a big dog next door let out a couple of deep, loud barks. I heard my dog stop halfway through the doggie door and I knew he was going to inch his way back into the safety of the house. This little dog acts pretty tough when we are out on a walk together, but when he is on his own he can scare pretty easily. I got up from the couch and walked to the door and said, “It’s okay. Let’s go outside.” We went outside together, even though that neighbor dog was still carrying on.

My dog didn’t mind going outside, as long as he didn’t have to go out there alone. I can relate to that. And that is why I appreciate the principle of Isaiah 41:10 so very much. See, when it comes to difficult or intimidating situations or even being a little scared sometimes, I figure I can be a lot like my little dog. When I forget about the One who walks with me, I forget to walk by faith. When I forget that I have somebody who promises to help me, I forget to be brave and push forward in the midst of scary or uncomfortable circumstances. Yes, I am thankful for God’s word. It reminds me not to fear; it reminds me that God is with me.

Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, God is with Me, Isaiah 41:10, Our Redeemer, religion, Thankful for God's Word, the Bible, Walk by Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What to Do Today

I slept in a little bit today and listened to the rain hitting against the window. I just laid there trying to think of what all might need to be done and then I remembered this verse from Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” What a good thought. I really don’t have any agenda for today but if I did, this should still be on my list. And it should be right at the top. I will rejoice in this day and be glad in it for I know that God loves me and has blessed me in so many wonderful ways; a wonderful wife, fantastic kids and grandkids, great friends and good work to do. I will rejoice in this day and be glad in it.

I hope that you are able to rejoice in your day. Even if there are some difficult things going on, I pray that you will know that God is with you. I pray that you know that He will strengthen you and provide for you. I pray that He will help you, even in the midst of difficult times to rejoice in those moments of comfort and relief that He provides. I pray that God will help you to be able to rejoice in some manner in this day.

Until next time stay strong in the faith,
Pastor Phillip Stephens

Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, God Loves Me, God will help you, God's Grace, grandchildren, Psalm 118:24, religion, wonderful wife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dialogue not a Debate

I played basketball at the park today for about an hour with a couple of guys in their early twenties. When we finished playing we talked for about 45 minutes. We started off talking about struggles and victories in basketball and ended up talking about struggles and victory in life. We had a very authentic and open conversation about how each of us sees God at work in our lives, or in one man’s perspective, not at work in our lives. As one of these young men put it, “Wow, some of this is pretty heavy stuff. But I feel like it’s okay the way we’re talking about it.” And it was okay. We had a dialogue not a debate. We shared our stories, we talked about what we believe and we had opportunities to ask each other honest questions. I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to visit with these young men and based on the way our conversation ended and the way they took my contact information, I am pretty sure I will get to talk to them again. I am praying for these young men, thanking God for their openness to talk to me today and I am asking Him to make His perfect will known in their lives. I invite you to pray with me and pray for me. Pray, that just as Paul said in Colossians 4:3, I will have even more opportunities to share the gospel, and that when I share it will be in a manner filled with His grace.

Posted in basketball bruises, Christianity, Church, Colossians 4:3, Filled with Grace, Forgiven, God's Mercy, inspirational, Know what you believe, religion, Sharing the Word, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Show Your Love

My oldest granddaughter Avery who is 7 years old came by the other day and she gave me a letter with a picture in it. It was a picture of her and me holding hands and it said “I love you Papa.” She did not feel well that day but she still took the time to make something for me. She is so sweet. Writing letters and drawing pictures for people is one way that Avery shows people that she loves them. Our refrigerator has been adorned with many letters and pictures from Avery declaring her love for Nana and Papa.

This morning as I am looking at this letter again and thinking about how much I appreciate the way Avery expresses her love for me, I have been reminded that Christ told us the best way to express our love for Him. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Those commandments include all of His teachings and they are found throughout the entirety of God’s word. Loving God, loving our neighbor, loving our enemies, and loving all others even as we love ourselves…what a picture that is.

Posted in ambassadors, Christianity, Church, faith, God, grandchildren, John 14:15, Neighbor, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Your Best

My dad used to always encourage me to do my best. He would say, “Son, if you are playing a basketball game and you don’t leave the game with at least three fouls, you probably didn’t play hard enough. You probably didn’t take enough chances. You can’t always be the best, but you can always do your best.” When I think of the effort he was describing I think of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23 where Paul wrote to the church, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”

Paul was encouraging the church to always do their best. And why wouldn’t we? We have received the best! We have received the love, the mercy and the grace of God. We know of His goodness, His kindness and His provision. We should offer our best in everything we do and in the midst of every circumstance. Certainly we will make some mistakes and we will have our “fouls” in this life but we should definitely offer our best in everything situation. We represent the Lord God and we do not want to provide a poor or misguided representation. Join me in asking the Lord to help us give our best this week when it comes to working and playing, to living and loving, and most certainly when it comes to forgiving others.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Colossians 3:23, Do Your Best, Don't give up, faith, God, God's Standards, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Knows Our Frame

One of my favorite Bible verses and one that I share quite frequently is Psalm 103:14. It is a psalm in which David is reminding himself of all the blessings he receives from God. It can be helpful to make those lists and count our blessings from time to time. An interesting thing that David includes in his list is God’s understanding of our weaknesses. David says in verse 14, “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

Our Creator who made us, knows all of our traits and tendencies, all of our failings and our flaws. He understands when and why we slip, stumble and fall – and He will help us stand back up. He understands even when we become upset at Him. Yes, God knows our frame and being mindful of our frame, He makes available to us a Redeemer and a Comforter. As David says in Psalm 103 “the Lord is gracious and compassionate…” for He is willing to remove our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west.” The Lord is mindful of our frame and He will meet all of our needs. His love is truly from everlasting to everlasting. I pray that you have a great week and I hope that you will have a chance sometime this week to stop and count your blessings.

Posted in Christianity, Church, forgiveness, God, God Knows, God Loves Me, guilt and shame, Promises, Psalm 103:14, redeemed, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tending the Garden

We had some rain this week and I tried to take advantage of the soft ground and get out in the back yard and pull some weeds out of the garden. Even though it is winter, a few have popped up lately due to some of the warm weather we have had. Those things just seem to keep coming and never stop. I guess it is the same way with us and our lives as well; we have to be diligent and continually tend to the gardens of our lives so that the weeds don’t overtake the flowers. That can be a tough job and one that is difficult for us to do on our own. I think that is what David was saying at the end of Psalm 139 when he says:

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”

David wants to live a life that is pleasing to God. He wants to remove the weeds and the clutter and offer a place of peace and beauty to the Lord. And David knows that try as he might, the job is too much for him, so he asks God for help. I am certain that God heard and answered David’s prayer. I am certain of that because I know the Lord is always ready to help us, to minister to us and bring a measure of beauty and peace to our lives that we cannot bring on our own.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, God will help you, God's Love, God's Strength, Pleasing God, pruned by God, Psalm 139:23, religion, Search Me O God, the love of God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment