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Bill Stevens

Start The New Year Right

By | Bill Stevens, Blog, Hope For Today

How to Start the New Year Off Right.

Overcoming the past and Spiritual Exercises for this year.

Video of my notes on Facebook Live. This was live, so it was a little less polished!

 

For many 2017 was a hard year, and it is carrying over already into 2018.

(1) You may be suffering from serious regretful decisions this past year. Guilt and Shame are eating away at you.

(2) Sickness or Disease has brought you to a place where you have no hope.

(3) Job/Career situation where you seem to be losing the battle.

(4) Suffering hardship of loss and life is spiraling out of control.

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philppians 3:13-14 

Friends there is hope in Christ!!!

1. For those with Shame and Guilt from regretful decisions, there is forgiveness.  See Romans 8

  • When you turn to Christ, there is forgiveness and restoration!

  • There is nothing you have done, – ever – that Christ cannot forgive!

  • God is not in the condemning business, He is in the forgiving business!

  • There is NO condemnation for those who turn to follow Christ!

2. For those suffering sickness, God is still in the healing business!

  • Jesus went to one town and could not hardly heal anyone, because of their unbelief. He wanted to heal more. He wanted to help more, but they failed to believe

  • Faith is the currency that moves the heart of God!

  • Does everyone get healed? No.

  • But I would rather go out of this world, trusting God, loving God, hoping in God and spreading joy than go out bitter and angry at God and the world!

  • See James 5

3.  For those who are in a Job crisis!

  • Jesus is LORD! He is over all things and can open up doors for you that you could never imagine.

  • Ask Him for His direction, His help, His power in your life!

  • He promises wisdom to all who ask Him, to those who believe He will give you direction!

  • See James 1

4.  For those who are suffering severe hardships, and you don’t think there is anyway out!

  • Don’t believe that lie!

  • God is in the business of restoring the broken!

  • Don’t get stuck in the valley, you are passing through it!

    You are going to come out on the other side, stronger with a greater purpose than you have ever had!

  • God is for you! He is not against you!!!

  • Seek Him and His direction in your hardships!

This year, put yourself in position to receive God’s spiritual help in your life.

Unless you put on your walking shoes or hit the gym, you are not putting yourself in position to receive the physical benefits of exercise.

Spiritual exercises that will help you overcome whatever you are going through:

1. Start reading the Bible.

  • Spend 3-5 minutes each morning, just reading a passage from the Bible. It may be one verse, it may be one chapter.

  • Begin the Gospel of Luke or John.

  • And Read the Psalms as well, especially if you are going through hard times.

2.  Pray daily.

  • It is not selfish to pray for yourself.

  • Pray for your family, friends, and yourself.

  • Make a list of things that are really needed in your life and theirs.

  • Spend some time, thanking God for what He has done, and asking Him to intervene in the needs you share with him.

3.  Get in a Bible Study with some others who are seeking to follow Christ.

  • Learn how to study the Bible for yourself.

  • Don’t isolate yourself.

  • Everyone is going through some kind of hard times.

  • If they are not right now, hang on… it won’t be long.

4.  Find a good Bible believing church that actually uses the Bible.

 

5.  Go serve someone less fortunate that yourself.

  • It will be good for them and good for you!

  • You won’t regret it.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

 

Justice: God is a Father to the fatherless

By | Articles, Bill Stevens, Blog, Hope For Today

We believe in Justice and helping those who are hurting!

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home” Psalms 68:5-6

 

Justice! A Father to the Fatherless

It was twenty years ago and as I was reading this passage, God arrested my attention and I could not get the verses off my mind. I left the hotel that morning heading on the second leg of a trip to north Mississippi to preach at a series of meetings for a friend and there was a broken down mini-van on the way. I don’t stop for everyone, but I knew this was one I had to stop for. It was a very dangerous and isolated area. It took me 15 minutes to turn around and get back to her. Once I stopped, I found out this older lady was a recent widow, but before her husband had passed away, they had adopted five children who were all in the van. After I fixed the radiator hose with a clothes hanger and filled up her radiator with some “cleanish” ditch water, we were all on our way. Then the Holy Spirit brought those verses to my mind and said, He had just used me to protect this widow and the orphans who he had settled in their home. Since then and especially after Stephanie and I were married, we have always personally sought to look after the defenseless.

There are multiple widows that we put on a monthly payment from our bank. Whether it was Maxine, an elderly pastor’s wife who hurt herself physically from taking care of her ailing husband before he died, or the young widow with seven kids whose dad committed suicide.

There have been many moms and kids we have helped because their husbands cowardly abandoned them and their families. One mom whose husband had verbally abused her so bad that her self-image was just shattered. She had no confidence in herself at all and her husband forced her to sign his lawyers divorce papers showing that he owed her and the children nothing. Now, there is a special place in hell for cowards like this, but that is a different story. She came to us for counsel and we prayed with her and pointed her to Christ. She believed Christ could help and she prayed and received Christ as her Savior. Then through a little coaching, she got on a path of self-improvement and pursuing a career path! She graduated top in her nursing class with the highest GPA and could pick her on schedule so she could care for her kids too!  God is good!

Then there is Frank, who is with Jesus now. Frank was homeless who came to our office one day for OFF mosquito repellant – which is a necessity if you are homeless in Louisiana! One of the ladies had been giving Frank lunches, but also putting in the lunch bag some passages of the Bible about God and his plan for us.  Frank read that, prayed, and Christ changed his life!  Frank came to pick up his mosquito spray and wanted to speak with me that day because he wanted to be baptized too. You see Frank was homeless, not because of anything he did –not like you would think. He was a diesel mechanic on a boat, but he was a heavy smoker. His blood pressure got so high, that it caused him to lose work time and his job. Then he lost his apartment, then he had to move from the apartment to a hotel, and it wasn’t long before he was under the bridge. A series of unfortunate events put Frank on the street. One of the hardest working men I had ever met – he ultimately became the church’s maintenance man. He would go on our men’s trips and he found a new family, in God’s family. God set’s the solitary in families.

God defends the defenseless and takes care of the helpless. We should too.

Bill Stevens

 

 

 

Changed Lives 2017 – test 4

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Changed Lives in 2017-test3

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The Meaning: Oceans song by Hillsong United

By | Blog, Hope For Today | No Comments

The meaning of the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United

 Have you been called to do something where you have never been? The unknown. No safety net. No backup plan. And all you have is faith and trust in God! The song Oceans by Hillsong United is about that exact situation we all seem to face at some times in our lives. The inspiration from the song is from the Bible passage where Jesus sent his disciples across the lake one evening while he went and prayed. Late that night, they were still fighting the waves getting to the shore, and Jesus came walking to them on the water. Peter, one of the key leaders, said, “Jesus! If it is you Lord, call me to come to you!” And he did, and Peter got out of the boat and did what was against the laws of nature and against all sound reasoning. He walked on water to Jesus! It wasn’t pretty… he faltered… he let the waves of fear get into his mind… he was almost to Jesus and he began to sink… Jesus reached out and lifted him up bringing Peter to himself. Maybe you are out on the water today and all you have is faith and trust – nothing else.  Listen to this song and read the Bible passage about what happened. Then do what Christ tells you to do!  There will always be gawkers in the boat, but water is made for walking on when Jesus calls you to walk on it to Him! Listen to His voice and follow Him today!

Bill Stevens

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE

“22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.” Matthew 14:22–33 (NLT)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14%3A22-33&version=NIV

Overcoming Grief: Christ will Restore Your Soul

By | Articles, Blog, Overcoming Grief
 by Bill Stevens

When we hurt, Christ cares the most

He restores my soul; Psalm 23:3

Grief is especially painful, but especially so during the holidays. Christ cares about your anxieties, worries, pain and grief, and He wants to personally help you through it and restore your soul. When someone we love dies, we are injured emotionally and spiritually, which can make you sick physically. True healing only begins on the inside, because the wound is so deep. Your emotions are torn and need the healing touch of God’s love. Only God himself can bring true healing to the wound of grief. The world offers nothing that can really help you through this pain.

 

Many times, we look everywhere, but to Christ for our spiritual healing. Some try to find healing in self-control and self-discipline or other relationships. Some just say, “the hell with it!” and go out binge drinking or doing some kind drugs to ease the pain. While others turn to work, busyness, and “being strong” all the while they are hurting beyond belief. Then there are those who stop eating or eat everything they can find. My dear friends if you turn to anyone or anything but God, then you are turning to the wrong one to bring healing. Christ is the only One who can bring inner peace, and bring true healing to the deep wounds of this life.

 

Twenty-two years ago, I had just begun pastoring my very first church. I could not have been more than 6 months there. I was green and totally unprepared to handle 35-40 funerals in the first 18 months of being a pastor there. I was reading everything I could find to be able to encourage the dear people I was entrusted to care for. They were enduring the horrible preaching that I was doing because they knew I cared for them. I really should apologize to them for the very bad preaching. One lady came to me and after two very significant deaths in 6 months of each other, both were her brothers who raised her from a little girl. Their parents had died early in her life. She was more than distraught. She told me the doctor wanted her to take anxiety medicine, but she did not want to and was very strongly against taking it. She knew she was a basket case, a bundle of raw nerves that had the skin ripped off exposing them.

 

She came to me and asked me to recommend something to help her from the Bible. I knew she was a follower of Christ from an early age, but she told me in no uncertain terms, “I believe in Christ’s power to help me, and that His Word is powerful enough to help me through this. I may need medicine, but I really don’t want to if I don’t have to, and I need to know what to do.” I silently prayed, “Lord help me, I am over my head and have no clue what to do!” It was then that I was reminded of a story I had just read in an old out of print book. The pastor told a story about a person in his congregation who was struggling with extreme anxiety like she was, and he recommended a Rx prescription for his anxiety. So, I gave her the same prescription.

 

Rx for Anxiety

  • Take Psalms 23 like medicine.

  • Take it 5 times a day, 5 minutes each time, for the next 7 days.

  • Spend each of those 5 minutes reflecting upon how Christ is your Shepherd and how He cares for you.

  • Spend that time praying these things to Christ and acknowledging His role in your life and how He is doing this for you too.

  • Look at where you are mentioned in the passage. You are mentioned 12 times (I, me, my).

  • You will memorize it, but read it, write it down, and keep your eyes on a copy of it.

She took the Rx to heart! She hunted me down a week later and said, “Pastor! Something happened on the fourth day! When I was reading, ‘He restores my soul’ on the fourth day, something lifted off of me that I can’t explain and I have a peace now that I have never felt before. God used Psalm 23 to heal my soul!”

 

I was taken aback – I did not expect that level of deep experience that she had with God. But she was different from then on. She was stronger and had a greater sense of inner peace about her than I had ever seen in her life. Her family said the same thing. Christ is the Answer. He does not just have an answer or the answer, but He Himself is The Answer to everything we are facing. Christ restored her soul. Now, I am not against medicine at all, but I am like her in this. Too many people try it before they genuinely try Christ.

 

The Word of God is very powerful! It is described as a healing ointment to our soul, a crushing hammer to destroy wrong habits and bad thought patterns, and a purging fire to cleanse our soul of guilt and shame. It is unlike any other book on the planet. It is the bestselling book every year for a reason.

Overcoming Grief: Table of Contents

Overcoming Grief: Introduction – You can make it!

By | Overcoming Grief
by Bill Stevens

Can you Make It Through This?

Can Jesus really help?

 

Yes, you can make it through it with Christ’s help! I have seen Christ help us and many of our friends!

What about?

  • What about my friends who lost a child during pregnancy? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who thought there was absolutely no hope when their dad died? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who lost their child unexpectedly? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who lost their son to recklessness? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friend who lost her husband, the sole breadwinner, and left her with kids at the house? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my young friends who lost their dad way before time? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friend who lost his wife, way before her time? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who lost their new-born baby, to fetal alcohol/drug syndrome? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who lost their child in an accident when they were momentarily distracted? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who lost their dad and mom when they were a child? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

  • What about my friends who lost their child, brother, dad, and friend to suicide? Yes, Jesus helped them and is helping them!

No matter your loss! Christ is the Only One who can really help you through the pain! He is able to touch the deepest part of your soul and begin healing it and helping you through this dark journey called grief. Christ’s death on the cross was not only for our forgiveness, but it was a statement to us. He understands your pain. He really knows this suffering personally, He knows you, He sees exactly what you are going through, and He wants to help you through it.

 

The first step is simply asking Him to help you.

 

Lord Jesus,

Please help me through this pain and help me make sense of what has happened.

Help me to receive your help each day and each moment. Thank you for your promises to help me.

Amen.