Comfort in Difficult Times

I was visiting with someone in the last couple of weeks who is facing one of life’s most difficult times; the loss of a loved one.  As I sat with them they openly talked about their cares and concerns and their fears and their faith.  As they talked about how much they will miss their loved one, they also talked about how they are confident that God will be with them and help them through this difficult time.   One of the verses that was brought to my mind as we talked and prayed was Psalm 34:18:

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

David wrote this psalm during a time when he was on the run from King Saul and fearing for his life in the city of Gath.  David recognized that even in the depths of his fear, the Lord was still watching over him.  I love having that reminder from God’s word.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  There will be times in our lives when we mourn, when we hurt, when we have many troubles.  In the midst of those times, we can place our trust in the Lord.  We can expect and trust our Lord to deliver us from our troubles.  Those are comforting thoughts.

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Posted in Christianity, Church, Dealing with grief, faith, God Answers Prayer, God is with Me, God's comfort, Psalm 34:18 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Accountability Partners – Tell Me What I Need to Hear

We have been talking about the life of King David in our Sunday school class the last few weeks.  In a recent lesson we discussed times that David received rebukes from others in his life and how he responded.  We talked about the time when Nathan confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1 – 25) and when Joab rebuked David for his actions following the death of his son Absalom (2 Samuel 19:1 – 8).    In both of those instances, David received the counsel and advice from those who spoke to him.  A couple of verses that have come up during our discussions.  One of them is Proverbs 11:14 and the other is Proverbs 27:6.

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Proverbs 27:6   Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

We all face times in our lives when it would be beneficial to confer, plan and strategize with others.  There are times in our lives when all of us could use some guidance and advice.  And there are times when we have gotten off track and we need someone to help set us straight.  My experience has been that we don’t always recognize those times when we need counsel and we don’t always appreciate it when someone seeks to speak to us.  It is during those times that we need someone who loves us enough to tell us the truth.  Faithful indeed are the wounds of a friend.  It is good to have someone in our circle who is willing to speak truth into our lives, even if it might not be something we want to hear.

I pray that we would all have those kinds of friends.   And I pray that we would all be those kinds of friends.

Posted in Christianity, Church, doing the right thing, faith, Faithful Words from a friend, good friends, Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 27:6 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plans for Hope

Recently I was reflecting again on this verse from Jeremiah 29:11 where the Lord reminds His people

Jer 29:11  ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’

This promise from the Lord was given to His people while they were in exile, held captivity in the land of Babylon.  They were in Babylon by the will of God.  They were there as God’s judgment for their generations of rebellion against Him.  And though they were experiencing the discipline and the judgment of the Lord, the Lord wanted His people to know that they had not been forgotten and abandoned.  God had plans to restore them to the land and to provide for their welfare and their future.  The Lord desired to give His people hope.

That is a good reminder for us as well.  There are many things that can hold us captive.  We may be in the grip of fear, doubt, grief or any other number of emotions.  We may be confined or constrained as a result of our actions or because of the actions of others.  We may be having to walk a path that we would not have chosen for ourselves.  In the midst of these difficult seasons, we can be assured that God has not forgotten us.  He still has plans for us – plans for our good and for our future that we might have hope!

I pray that you may know that God has not forgotten you.  I pray that you will be strengthened in the midst of whatever season you may be going through.  I pray that you will know that God has plans for you – plans for your well-being, plans for your future that you may have hope.

Posted in Don't stop, God has a plan for you, God will help you, God's Strength, inspirational, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Right There When You Need Him

My suit and tie in the 100 degree weather prompted a conversation with a fellow the other day in a parking lot.  He saw my attire and figured I must be a preacher.  As we visited, he told me about his wife of many years who is having some medical issues and how he is very concerned about her.  He teared up as he spoke of his love for her and about some of the things she is going through as she deals with her health problems.  He asked me if I would put her on our prayer list at church.  I assured him I would do that and I asked him if he would like to pray “right now.”  He said, “Could we?”  So we prayed together right then and there in the parking lot.  We asked for God for help, strength, mercy and comfort for all involved in the situation.  Later as I reflected on our meeting, I was reminded of what the Bible says in Psalm 46:1

Psa 46:1   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

While it is a good thing to put our concerns on prayer lists, we don’t have to wait for a prayer meeting to share our cares and concerns with the Lord.  We can call upon Him anytime we need Him.  Our God promises to empower us and help us in our times of trouble.  He promises to be our refuge and our strength!  He promises to be right there with us when we need Him the most – even in the parking lot.

Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, God Answers Prayer, prayer, Psalm 46:1 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help in Times of Anxiety

A while back I checked on a friend of mine who was going through a difficult time and had been dealing with some anxiety.  I wanted to check in and see how they were doing.   They said they were feeling better, they said they had visited with their doctor about what they were going through and they said they found a Bible verse that ministered to them, Psalm 94:17 – 18.

Psalm 94:17   Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. 18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. 19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

We talked about the ways the verse had ministered to them and how they embraced the promise of the Lord’s help for those who trust in Him.  My friend came to the same conclusion as the psalmist in verse 22 “the LORD is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.”  I pray that you know that you can also turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in times of stress and anxiety.  I pray that you also know that He will be your fortress, He will support you when you feel like you are slipping.  He will give you help in your time of need.

Posted in Being Blessed, can't go on, Christianity, Church, Don't give up, faith, God, God Answers Prayer, God will help you, Psalm 94:17 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Along the Way

  

We have been doing vacation bible school this week and it has been a lot of fun.  It has been great seeing our people minister to the kids, teach lessons and share God’s word.  It has truly been a blessing.  I have been reminded of the passage in Deuteronomy 6:6 which says

Deu 6:6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Every step of the way this week, at every station, whether it has involved songs, crafts, snacks or recreation games like the “Living Water relays,” members of our church have shared applications of God’s word with the kids.  And the kids have been receiving it so well!  They have been asking and answering questions and leading prayers.  This week has been a blessing!  Thank you for your prayers for our VBS ministry this year!  I ask that you would continue to pray for these kids and pray they would continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Until next time, stay strong in the faith,

Pastor Phillip Stephens

Posted in Christianity, Church, Deuteronomy 6:6 - 7, God has blessed me, Intercessory Prayer, Know Christ, Learning in the Lord, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help in the Here and Now

I talked and prayed with someone in a parking lot recently who is going through a very busy season in their life and in their ministry.  We discussed some options they may have which will help them do all that they need to do.  We also talked about the encouragement we find in God’s word where God promises to help us do all that He has ordained for us to do.  One of the verses we discussed was 1 Thessalonians 15:58.  Paul reminds the church that Christ, who died for our sins and rose again will someday return and those who have trusted Him will be with Him forever.  There will be no more death and we will share in the ultimate victory.

Paul then encourages the church to not give up now by saying in verse 58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  I love the  encouragement we find in God’s word.  And I love the fact that in Christ, we have hope for the hereafter and help in the here and now.

Posted in 1 Corinthians 15:58, busy schedule, can't go on, faith, God will help you, Help from God, Hope in Christ, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment