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This is the Day

Psalm 118:24

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This Is the Day

Many Christian parents teach their kids the song to greet each morning, ‘this is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice, we will rejoice and be glad in it….’. I have taught it to my kids and ai am sure that there are parents teaching it to their kids right now. This song comes from our verse today, Psalm 118:24. This Psalm is part of the Halal Psalms, from 113-118, these in particular were sung during the feast of Passover. If you recall in Matthew 26:30 that when Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper that when they had finished, they sung a hymn and went out.  They were most likely singing Psalm 118 or one of these Halal Psalms. Imagine the beauty of Jesus singing ‘this is the day that the Lord has made’ as He walked out to the Garden of Gethsemane and prepared himself to die.

This day, this particular day that the Lord had made was orchestrated by the power of the Almighty God, though never violating the will of man from Genesis 3:15,

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The promised Seed of the woman, signifying Jesus’ virgin birth and that He would kill Satan but in the process of doing so receive a temporary wound, that of a bruised heel. Psalm 118:24, is a further fulfillment of another prophecy made by Abraham in Genesis 22:8,

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Abraham and his only son of the promise Isaac, are travelling to mount Moriah to offer a sacrifice. Abraham knows that God ahs asked for his only son, but Isaac is unaware and asks his dad where the sacrifice was. Abraham offers to us an answer that is a double prophecy, God does provide a ram as a substitute for Isaac, but looking hundreds of years ahead the prophecy tells us that God will provide Himself as the sacrifice. The day that Jesus died on Mount Moriah, called Calvary, for our sins, was the fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus went out singing, knowing full well, that this day, this particular day was a day that God had planned even before the earth was formed. See Revelation 5:9, 12. 

We are told in Hebrews 10:1-4, that the blood of animals and the sacrifices at the Temple were just a picture of the real sacrifice that was to come in Jesus. Some 250,000-300,000 lambs were sacrificed over the Passover celebration, this went on for about 1500 years before Jesus came and was our full and final payment.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The millions and millions of gallons of animal blood that was shed for the sins of men could not ever take away sins. It only provided a temporary covering until Jesus came, to save His people from their sins. His blood washes away our sins forever and they are remembered no more, see Psalm 103:12,

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19, He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Hebrews 8:12, For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Do you get the picture? On this day, that day in April 32AD, on that day, the day that the Lord had made. The day that the Lord had planned from before creation, Jesus paid the price to completely cancel our sin debt if we could trust in His death, burial and resurrection for the full payment of our sins. Have you done that? Don’t wait any longer, death is certain to all men and then the judgement. Is this day a day that you can rejoice in? Psalm 118:24

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Sean Gooding - Pastor - Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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He Will Fight Our Battles, Will You Let Him Fight Yours?

Excerpt taken from 
https://www.gotquestions.org/God-fights-our-battles.html

In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells the children of Israel, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” At that moment, they were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, hemmed in by the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind. The Israelites are in a seemingly impossible situation. They were incapable of escaping the situation on their own they needed only to wait for God to move on their behalf (Psalm 27:14). The battle that appeared to be between the Egyptians and the Israelites was in reality between the Egyptians and the Lord (Exodus 14:4).

The lessons believers can learn from the Exodus account can be powerful and life-changing. When Christians trust God to fight their battles, it enables them to circumvent what often accompanies conflict, like panic, fear, and hopelessness (Exodus 14:11–12). There are times when we can see absolutely no way around a problem, just like Israel when they were cornered. It’s quite probable not one of the Israelites ever imagined that the massive sea was going to split down the middle, providing their way of escape. When Christians believe God’s Word (2 Chronicles 20:17), they learn that no battle is too formidable or monumental for God to handle (Joshua 1:5).

Moses gives a review of some of Israel’s history in Deuteronomy 1. In his recap he reminds them of the importance of having courage and trusting God at the edge of the promised land. Forty years earlier, the Israelites had spied out the land and concluded that they were unable to go up against the Canaanites, who were too big and too strong (Numbers 13:31—33). Due to that generation’s lack of faith, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells the new generation to avoid their fathers’ lack of trust: “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes” (Deuteronomy 1:29–30). As God’s people obeyed in faith, they would find triumph at every turn. “Victory rests with the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31).

Israel, like many Christians today, had forgotten the previous battles God had fought for them all along the way (Deuteronomy 2:7). The Israelite spies had seen “giants” in the land (Numbers 13:33), just like Christians today see “giant” obstacles, complications, and problems that seem too large to conquer. To let the “giants” steal our faith only leaves defeat and a lack of assurance in the God who is in control of every problem, in spite of its size (Romans 8:28).

God is in control, but that does not mean Christians get to avoid the battles in-fact, the Bible states the opposite (2 Timothy 3:12). “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). In order for a believer to live a life of endurance, character, and hope, we must put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10–17) and trust the Deliverer. We “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Our confidence is in God, who will fight our battles and bring us safely home (Jude 1:24–25). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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The Author and Perfecter (Finisher) of our Faith (Part 2)

Will He finish what He started? Of course He will.  Isaiah 55:10–11 says, “As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void”. The word void means “empty.” The remainder of verse 11 explains what it means to “not return void,” saying that God’s Word “will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

The Christian life is fraught with temptation to sin and with much struggle and suffering. Why does God allow this? We should run our race with endurance, looking unto Jesus (who himself suffered). The Hebrew writer says, "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). He then says, "Consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls"(Hebrews 12:3).

The example of Jesus "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2) helps us to continue on the true path through every difficulty. "Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has great reward" (Hebrews 10:35).

Through the intercession of Jesus we are able to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful"(Hebrews 10:23). Christ’s example of faithfulness through every trial and temptation, helps us to confidently trust him and continue to follow him to the end.

In this world, we will experience trouble. We will experience heartache. And we will experience failure. But your failure does not mean you are faithless. Your ability to cry out to God and get back on your feet is an example of the faith he has authored IN you. Continue the race. Your faith in HIM will get you through.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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The Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Part 1)

So I have had many discussions through the years, and recently about when I came to know Jesus. Faith has been a huge topic of discussion. Through these discussions I realized when I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life, I didn’t have faith. No, quite the opposite. Let me try to paint you a picture through something you have either seen in a movie, the news, or heard about. Fight or Flight. All of us have either experienced or heard of someone fighting for their life in a desperate situation.

Picture this. You are being held at gun point. The person holding the gun to your head tells you he is going to kill you. You fight to gain control of the gun. You fight to gain control of the situation and not die. Because you know if you don’t fight, you don’t stand a chance. You may still die, but what if you don’t. You don’t have faith necessarily that you can defeat the individual who is trying to kill you. BUT you are desperate enough to fight.  When someone told me about Jesus, and how He died for me. How he paid the ransom for my life. How He WANTS me. I was desperate for that. I didn’t have faith but I had desperation. I didn’t just want it, but I needed it and I was willing to do whatever it took to know and experience God’s love through Jesus. I fought desperately for it. Now, once I came out on the other side and had experienced Gods love and salvation. My faith began to grow. Through discipleship and the reading of His word my faith in Jesus began to flourish and sustain me in my journey. But my confidence only grew because of what I had experienced.  

In Paul’s writings, faith is trust in the salvation that has already occurred (John 1:121 Corinthians 1:30Philippians 3:19). Christ has already secured salvation for us through his life, death, and resurrection. He has already defeated death, taking upon himself the penalty for sin that we deserve, and has given us access to salvation, reconciliation, and adoption.  The confidence that grows in us after salvation, in what Christ has done on the cross leads to trust and obedience (Romans 16:26).  It leads to the perfection of our faith.  C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity “To have Faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him….wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you. The primary act of saving faith though is accepting the promises of justification, sanctification, and ultimately glorification that God has given to us freely through Christ (Romans 3:22-261 Corinthians 15:14). Faith gives us the freedom to let go of our attempts at self-righteousness, allowing us to rest peacefully in the arms of our Savior, being confidently assured of our salvation; not because of anything within us but because of the One in whom we place our faith (Romans 1:16Galatians 2:16-20). 

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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In This Storm

Romans 8:18 
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

At one point or another, we face trials. It seems that, in a Christian's life, problems will forever be a constant. As much as trials can be an undesirable thing for us all, God reminds us that in times of deepest trouble we can still put our faith in Jesus, knowing He has already won the battle. I know this is easier said then done. I fail so often.

We are currently in a sermons series here at StoneBridge called “Stay Positive”. Pastor Jason reminded us of Paul in the book of Acts, chapter sixteen. Paul and Silas were in jail, and in the midst of their “trouble” (verse 25) “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” As a result of their resolve to praise Him in a truly hard time, miracles happened. They were a witness to the other prisoners. They were instrumental in the salvation of the Jailer, who as a result, surrendered his life to Jesus. I needed to be reminded that in the midst of my trials and troubles, I need to praise Him. He deserves my praise but also through this, I not only allow God to comfort me and lead me through the storms of life, but I ensure to not destroy my witness to those who have yet to surrender their lives to Christ. People are watching you and listening to you. They are paying attention to how you respond to “trouble”. 

Whatever challenge you're going through now, always remember that you're on the same boat as Jesus. And though it may sometimes feel like He doesn't care because He seems to be fast "asleep" (Mark 4:38), know that He has the power to calm the storm and, if we put our trust in Him, we will never be overtaken by the storms of life.

Often the most natural way we respond to problems is to worry, doubt, fight, get angry or fear. Who in their right mind would thank God in the middle of turmoil? But in times of great testing, remember that there is always something to be thankful for and that in the right time we will come out by God's grace and we will come out stronger. I need to be reminded of this daily.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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ROOTS - Annell Smith - StoneBridge Worship Team Member

Romans 7:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 

Worship is a lifestyle, a choice, an ongoing reach toward the greatness of our God. He is worthy of our adoration and praise. He deserves the best we can offer, yet, sometimes we fail to give Him all that He is worthy of. We become distracted and sidetracked. We look around us instead of upwards toward our Father. We fall back into old traps, old patterns of living, that we previously have fought against. And, when we least expect it, we find ourselves invaded by the very things that we once worked so hard to rid ourselves of. These “weeds” can choke the worship out of us, leaving us absorbed with our own self. It can be discouraging when you recognize sin has crept in and overtaken your worship but don’t give up. Christ has set us free and stands ready to assist us in decimating the weeds and looking up to the Father.

Read More of Annell Smith's Blog at https://devotedjoy.com/2019/01/30/removing-the-roots/

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HIDE & SEEK

Psalm 94:22
“But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” 

I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of boys, and some of my favorite childhood memories were made playing hide and seek until it was too dark to seek. I had THE perfect hiding spot in the woods behind my Pap’s house – a grove of pine trees lined his property, and the canopies created by the interwoven branches created little “rooms”. I’d retreat to one of these rooms every single time we played hide and seek- it was my hiding place, and all of the boys knew it. I’d crouch down, waiting in anticipation for one of the boys to come near, rustle the bushes, and walk away, pretending like he didn’t know I was there. After he passed, I would run down the hill on the other side of the trees, take a shortcut through the woods, and beat the seeker back to base. It was an unspoken rule that I got to win, because I was the youngest. And the only girl. And maybe because of that one time that I cried and ran home when I lost.

Spiritual hide and seek is a lot like the game we played as kids, except what’s at stake isn’t your pride or the title of Hide and Seek Champion; it’s your joy. Like the boys in my story, Satan knows your hiding place and pursues you there. But he’s not going to pass you by and give you an easy win- he’s playing to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Satan knows that my hiding place is comfort. When I’m anxious, stressed, or facing hard things, I default to what is easy and safe to preserve my joy. But guess what? When my well of comfort runs out, so does my joy.  I battle daily to escape my hiding place, because it’s where I can be a “safe Christian”. It’s where I can breathe, think, process and then decide whether my circumstances are worth feeling joy. But joy is not found in the circumstance (Jesus proved that when he willingly gave up his life on the cross – Hebrews 12:2); joy is found in the guaranteed outcome (“…you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 116:11)

So what is your hiding place? Is it self-pity? Negative thinking? Emotional eating? More importantly, what’s your plan to get from your hiding place to base and win the game? You can’t ask God to rescue you from the hiding place that you keep running to. I can’t ask God to use my life to glorify him, and then keep running back to what is safe and known when He starts to do a new work in me. I have to choose God to be my base, running from my hiding place of comfort in faith. (“Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.” -Psalm 143:9)

  It’s not about who you’re hiding from, but who you’re hiding in.”

Natalie Bright - StoneBridge Baptist Church - Worship Team Member

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Is it Really Possible?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Is it really possible?

I shared a scripture last week, Psalms 30:5 “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I know it is far fetched to think in the midst of grief and tragedy that JOY, or what we think that word means will immediately come the very next day. If anything, it is nothing like that. However, Joy comes in the morning. But when does morning come?

Nothing I have encountered in life or the past couple weeks has shown me that if I go to bed sad or hurt it will be all better the next day when I wake up. Sometimes the morning brings with it a fresh perspective. Rest gives us patience or reserves we lacked the day before.

But it is not JOY, they are means of coping and processing. JOY is something deeper, something more profound. And it comes with more than a good night’s sleep.

 As a follower of Christ, and having his teachings and example readily available to me, I have discovered if anything the very next day seems harder then the first. But I am more experienced in the field of battle then I was the day prior. And because I choose to rely on God, I am more suited to continue the battle for the hope of JOY that He has promised WILL come.

Circumstances usually do not change overnight. Neither do our lives and hearts. We change over time. We see more over time. We strain our eyes to see in the dark until they burn. We want to give up, but we know that if we keep looking we might see something, anything. And then dawn comes, faintly at first, then with growing light. The chill in the air breaks, our eyes begin to make out what lies ahead. Scripture is filled with examples of people waiting for God to fulfill His promises and to bring His promised JOY.

God promised a son to Abraham. Abraham waited, and waited, and waited. During his waiting, he experienced much grief. Sarah deeply struggled to believe that God would indeed be true to His word. When would the joy pierce the darkness? David was promised the kingship. And then he found himself on the run from Saul. Would God ever break through the bleakness of his life and fulfill His promises?

Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Jesus Endured the Cross

This journey of waiting and enduring for the promise of “Joy in the morning” is made possible only through Jesus, who was well acquainted with grief. As it is written in Isaiah 53:3” He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” It was Jesus who paved the way for us as He followed His own journey. On that fateful night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He voiced His sorrow, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” He cried out to God for help saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Trusting in His Father’s will, the Book of Hebrews tells us that “for the JOY that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus personified the heart cries of His people at the cross. He calls us to cast all our burdens on Him. Because of Jesus and the gospel, we can come to the “throne of grace in confidence and find the help and grace in our time of need.”  We can come to Jesus with all our emotions and cares and know that he hears us, that he cares for us, that he is at work in us.

Finally the example. Luke 22:42-44 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jesus was in agony on this night, to the point of sweating what was like drops of blood falling to the ground. His grief was palatable, His agony was deep. Then in verse 66 it says “When day came.” So the promised JOY was not when the next morning broke. In fact the very next day was worse than the first. This is the day He would be mocked, tortured, and killed. But JOY did come. Not the first morning or even the morning after. But it did come!

Child of God, stay the course. Work through your grief. Wrestle and feel your sorrow all the while trusting in His promises. Because He will come through for you. Remember, God’s delay is NOT His denial. JOY will come in the morning!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church


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Weeping may tarry for the night...

Psalm 54:6

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;

I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.

The book of Psalms is full of emotion (cries, expressions of grief). King David writes in the middle of pain and fear for his life “I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good”. What I love about David, is that he doesn’t ignore his feelings or bury them in the ground; he acknowledges them, but he doesn’t become a slave to them either. David’s problems were terrifying and real but he chooses to express his pain, sorrow and struggles to God rather than letting them dictate his life. Many of the Psalms he wrote ended by focusing on the truth of who God is instead of how he is feeling. Our feelings change but God’s character remains the same.

There’s something incredibly powerful in declaring and singing that God is good and worthy of praise even when our circumstances and feelings are challenging the nature of God’s goodness and love. Worshipping through trials is powerful.

Psalms 30:5

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

It was about 5 weeks ago. I remember telling someone, “I am so tired of being so callused. I just want to feel again.” It was after something very tragic happened. Something most people would absolutely cringe and probably have nightmares over. I have worked in the State and Federal Prison systems for over 18 years and on a Monday, which was no different than any other Monday, A man was killed on my watch. I knew he was as good as dead, and I felt nothing. I did my job, tried to do my part in ensuring he had the chance of “making it” but the blade had hit it’s mark, and the man wielding that weapon had accomplished his mission. Nothing I could have done would have saved him. The assailant was cold and calculated. He waited for the exact time when he knew he could do the most damage, invoking his revenge quickly and efficiently.

Now, I have seen this time and again. Over the years I have seen men do horrible things to other men. Rape, torture, and homicide. I can not remember the number of times I have done chest compressions on someone, plugged a hole in someone's chest with my fingers, cut someone down from a rope, or even looked at a man's wounds as he tried to act like he wasn’t hurt or scared. Up until this point, I never batted an eye. I never gave it a second thought. I have been assaulted many different ways as well, and my bravado would have me chalk it up to “It comes with the territory.” But on this any given Monday, something hit me. I am not sure what it was. Maybe it was the Lord? Maybe. But something made me stop and think, why doesn’t this bother me? I want this to bother me.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think I entirely lack empathy. I hurt for my loved ones (Friends & Family) when they hurt but not like I think I should. Not like a normal human-being. Not like a real and true christian. Am I a real and true christian? I love deeply, but I don’t think I love like “normal” people. Maybe everyone feels like that?

Be careful what you wish for is a common saying.

On November 6, 2018 our beloved Dog, Henry was tragically hit by a vehicle. It was tragic to say the least. He was alive when we got him to the vet. He was licking my face. Because of his alertness I was hopeful and encouraged that he may be okay. Maybe some broken bones but okay. This was not the case. He was badly broken and would have no quality of life. Our big boy was not gonna make it. My wife and I had to make the hard decision. I watched my wife as she literally convulsed in grief. I tried desperately to hold it together and to be strong for her.

To spare you the details, Henry died as peaceful as possible as we loved on him. We took him home and gave our children an opportunity to pet him, love on him, and say their goodbyes. In that moment as I held his head so our daughter could kiss his face one last time, I broke. My heart broke. I felt something deep. And I wept. I felt.

The next day was harder than I anticipated. I woke up thinking I heard him sniffing at the foot of my bed as he often did in the mornings. But he was not. I wept again. As I drove into town to run errands, I passed a restaurant and a man was walking with a dog that looked so much like Henry. Matter of fact, same breed (Great Pyrenees), and I wept. I was desperate to hold it together. But I couldn't, and I wept. I turned around and pulled into that parking lot. I parked clear on the other side and got out. I just wanted to watch. I prayed for God to take the pain away. I told Him (God) how stupid I felt for being so emotional about a dog. At that moment some 200 feet away, that dog turned around, and saw me. She immediately started running towards me. I froze. She stopped right at my feet, sat down and pressed her head against my thigh and looked up at me. Yep you guessed it….. I wept.  

I got on the ground and just hugged this dog and she just let me. It’s like she knew. My body heaved as I wept over this animal. The owner was gracious and let me and just asked “are you okay brother?” I apologized and briefly explained how me and my family had just lost Henry. He was very gracious and said “take all the time you need.”

Two weeks ago, my nephew and his fiancée lost their baby boy Roman James. And then, this very evening, November 7, 2018 my wife received a phone call her beloved uncle had passed away. How much more can we take Lord?

The answer? ALOT. If we trust in Him.

Look at Joseph. His brothers tried to kill him and then they sold him into slavery. After being bought and “exported” to Egypt he found a nice job. But being a hardworking, wise and handsome young man caused him more trouble than he ever thought. An ambitious lady put her eyes on him. After declining her “friend requests”, he was “sued” for sexual harassment, and because the lady’s husband was not only the offended partner but also Joseph’s boss, judge, and ruler, poor Joseph ended up getting undeserved punishment in jail.

Look at Job. Tragedy struck and Job lost his wealth. Next, a storm took the lives of all his children. Then, a debilitating disease that left his whole body covered with painful boils came in to finally kill him.

Look at David. Even after David had been anointed king and chosen by God, he still had to run for his life.  Some scholars believe he had to run for his life from King Saul between 7 and 10 years. David grew frustrated from his constant running and hiding, having to live in caves and always in hiding, In the last two verses of Psalm 27 David wrote: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Look at Paul. We know the Apostle Paul suffered many trials by the hand of man (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But beyond that he suffered some type of trial by the permission of God. Paul called it a messenger of Satan and begged God to remove this “thorn in the flesh.” Yet, God chose to allow Paul to suffer with this affliction (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). There are many speculations for what this problem was, but we are not told clearly in the text of the Bible. Whether we know the exact nature of the problem there is a lesson to be learned that can apply to each of us. Paul endured this trial which caused him to depend more upon the Lord. He was told by God that the affliction was to show the power of God through a weakened life. When we are weak, sick, in need, persecuted, or distressed for Christ’s sake, then God can show himself strong for our benefit and for His glory.

Now, I have to say it, I am in no way comparing my plight with these great men. But I want to make sure I recognize the examples. The lessons to be learned so to speak. You see in my grief I realize I have a responsibility to use these situations to teach my children, my wife, and my friends what grieving looks like. How to grieve with grace. How to be vulnerable and transparent. How to allow others to hold you up and support you. How to allow God to work and comfort the broken hearted. How to lean on God, and worship Him regardless of our situations.

Writing helps me process all of this. And if you have taken the time to actually read all of this, Thank you. But even if nobody has made it to this sentence, God has used this to help me put things in perspective. This doesn't mean I am not going to still grieve and hurt. Of course I am. Honestly, as bad as it hurts, I am grateful to God I am beginning to feel again. A deeper feeling then I can remember ever feeling before. Hopefully this is the beginning of breaking my heart so I can do more when it comes to caring for others. Adding value to other people's lives.

It's almost poetic and ironic that God would use the tragedy of losing such a big handsome furry dog named Henry, to break my heart open. Now, I do not believe God orchestrated the accident that took Henry from us. But He can and will use it. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I believe the loss of Henry helped me to start feeling again. It is helping me become a better vessel at sharing the love and compassion of Christ to a world who so desperately needs it.

Thank you Jesus for giving us Henry. We love you and miss you Henry, and we are blessed to have had you in our lives. Thank you for loving us so well!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church


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From the Valley to the Heights!

We closed out the book of Habakkuk this past Sunday. This  book is great for humanity because it relates so well. 

We learned that everyone wrestles with God from time to time. Habakkuk’s name means, “to embrace or wrestle.” 

Throughout this series “it seemed” like God was not active or present in Habakkuk’s life so he had to patiently wait on the Lord. Because he waited, listened, and “wrestled” with the Lord, the Lord showed up in a powerful way! He told Habakkuk that the Babylonians would be judged as well. 

Although Habakkuk’s life seemed to ride the emotional roller coaster he ends chapter 3 with a psalm of praise to God. Some have stated that chapter 3 would often be sung in the Temple. 

God takes this man from the valley to the heights! When we wrestle with God, and we continue to walk or live by faith, the Lord is able to help us endure. Our circumstances may not change, but God will change us so that we can honor Him and add value to others! 

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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From Wondering and Watching to Worship!

The message this past Sunday has so far been one of my favorites. "Moving from wondering and watching, to worship." Worship is the believer’s response to God. Worship means “to express by attitude and possibly by position one’s allegiance to and regard for deity --"to prostrate oneself in worship, to bow down and worship, to worship.” 

Habakkuk 3:1-19. We should remember all that God has done (v.1-16). We should accept what God is doing (v.17-18). We should trust what God is going to do (v. 19). These are hard lessons, but when you get it, it is life changing. When you stop focusing on your circumstances and start trusting in Him, you will begin to see his promises fulfilled in your life. Yes, even when the bad things happen.

I encourage you to read the book of Habakkuk. What an example of moving from wondering and watching to worship. Will Rhee reminded me of a wonderful song that pretty much sums it up for me. 

https://youtu.be/kseRKxkq5iY

"I can count a million times People asking me how I Can praise You with all that I've gone through. The question just amazes me. Can circumstances possibly Change who I forever am in You? Maybe since my life was changed Long before these rainy days, It's never really ever crossed my mind. To turn my back on you, oh Lord, My only shelter from the storm. But instead I draw closer through these times. So I pray, Bring me joy, bring me peace, Bring the chance to be free, Bring me anything that brings You glory. And I know there'll be days When this life brings me pain. But if that's what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain. I am Yours regardless of The clouds that may loom above Because You are much greater than my pain. You who made a way for me By suffering Your destiny. So tell me, what's a little rain? "

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Has God Ever Seemed Unfair?

Has God ever seemed unfair to you? Has there been times when it has felt as if God was not present? Habakkuk felt this way! He had a dialogue with God about his silence and his unfairness. So far, we have learned that the southern kingdom of Judah was in a bad way! They were rebellious, ungodly and disobedient to the Lord. Therefore, God was raising up a group of people called the Chaldeans (the Babylonians). They were a wicked, ungodly, and impetuous people. They did not care who you were or even where you came from. To them, they were doing their best conquer the known world. 

Today, there is a lot of wickedness that abounds, but yet, God is still on His throne. When it seems that God is not present or that He acting unfair, TRUST THE PROCESS! God is working a work in our lives that if He told us every detail about it, it would blow our minds. 

I pray for you to have a great week! Remember, the Lord loves you and He walks with you every step of the way!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Continue to Add Value to Others!

John 1:4
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Yes, if you have paid attention, the verse above is the same as last week. Why? Well because these few words continue to shout aloud in my soul. This has been a resounding anthem if you will; in my life the past several weeks. Adding value to other people. As I sat on a beach in Jamaica this past week on a much needed vacation between naps and great food, I was also reading a book. In this book one of the excerpts said this, "His favor (Jesus) is upon you so you can be apart of His plan of distributing favor to others".  

You see, when you add value to others, you leave a legacy. Like the disciples, the apostle Paul, and so many of the early church of Jesus Christ. They left us a road map and inspiration. Albert Pike wrote, "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal". 

Continue to ask yourself this week, "how can I add value to those around me"? Jesus is calling all of us to do this very thing. Mark 12:30-31 "Love your neighbor as yourself". Step out of your comfort zone this week. Reach out and help someone in need. This is one of the truest forms of worship to our king. 


Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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The Just Shall Live By Faith!!

Dear Friend,
 

This past Sunday, we began a new series in the book of Habakkuk. 

Habakkuk is a prophet from the old testament. He had a dialogue with God about the injustices and the violence of people. 

He wondered why God seemed unfair and unjust in his dealings with the southern kingdom of Judah. His basic question was, “God, why won’t you do something?”

God responds by saying, “If I told you what I’m about to do you wouldn’t even believe it.”

What was God about to do? Well, I’m glad you asked. He was about to raise up the Babylonians (A nation that was way more wicked than Judah) to judge Israel. 

The thing that we are reminded of in this book is that when it doesn’t seem right or fair we can remember that God is at work no matter how we feel or what we think about the situation.

In Habakkuk 2:4, he reminds us that the just shall live by faith.  My prayer, is to do the same.

May God bless you!
Pastor Jason Sheffstall

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Be the Light!

John 1:4
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

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I am discovering more and more just how God can use YOUR story to add value to others lives. He can and will use your story to encourage, strengthen, and inspire others when you live a life fully devoted to him. My wife and I are currently on a much needed vacation. Our prayer even before we left was that God would use us to add value to other peoples lives while he added rest to ours. Man, has he given us opportunity after opportunity. 

We have been blessed, so therefore we worship Him for it. And as a result, it draws people. People want to know why we are the way we are and there is the doorway. The opportunity to share the Gospel and His goodness. To share how we do not just praise Him for when things are good. But how because we stand firm and praise Him when things are not so good, He rewards His children. He gives us hope. He gives us rest. 

I look forward to sharing these stories with all of you soon, but they are still being written with those people we have been given the opportunity to encourage, strengthen, and inspire with the gospel. So stay tuned in and ask God to use your story to add value to those people you come in contact with every single day!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - Stonebridge Baptist Church

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What a great weekend! I am so thankful to our Praise and Worship Team for leading us in worship on Saturday night! We had a great turn out and people really seemed to enjoy themselves. 

Then, on Sunday, we celebrated together by roasting a Pig. We had approximately 160 people that attended the Pig Roast at Dorsey's Knob Pavilion. Special thanks to Dan Ousley for smokin' the Pig and for the amazing background music of Steve Mathess and Joe Hehnly. A good time was had by all! Oh, and by the way, Double J won the Cornhole Tournament. Who is Double J? Well, that would be none other than "Yours Truly" and Jason Turak. =)

This month (October) opened up (for me) with a little fender bender. I pulled out onto Earl Core Road on Monday night and rammed a '98 Chevy S10 pickup truck. Thankfully, everyone was okay, but my pride was hurt. Honestly, I was a little bummed, but it gave me an opportunity to share Jesus and invite three young men to our church (two from the vehicle and the young police officer). This may be one of the most expensive witnessing opportunities that I have ever had in my life. =) I'd like to thank several of our StoneBridgers for stopping by the wreck to make sure that I was okay. In a matter of seconds, I had four people stop to make sure that I was alright. It reminded me of the support and love that I have from our community. It also reminded me that Jesus never lets us go at it alone, even in the midst of our trials. 


I love you all!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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He is our Father!

We had a night totally focused on worshiping our God this past Saturday. I was totally blown away by how God moved in individuals. Standing on stage as I looked into the crowd of people, I was overwhelmed watching people worship. Even more so, as I scanned the room, I witnessed my youngest son, all of 10 years old completely focused on worship. His eyes closed, his arms stretched out, singing his face off. I have never seen him do that before. And in an instant, I was overcome with emotion. Thankfulness, gratitude, humility, & joy. My boy, worshipping the true and living God with reckless abandon. 

My thoughts quickly went to how God must feel when he sees his children worship Him in truth. I think I caught a glimpse of it. I think I felt just a little bit of what He must experience when the people He gave His life for, give Him the praise and adoration He so deserves. If you're a parent, you must know what it is like when your child looks at you with admiring eyes and gives you tender and loving embraces. Well I really think that is exactly what God feels when we give Him our all in worship and by how we live our lives devoted to Him.   

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Cross the Street

Something Pastor Russell Knight said a couple weeks ago when he was with us, has stuck with me. A very simple phrase, command, or mandate. It was not deeply profound or said eloquently with big words. It was not particularly moving or something that necessarily hit you in the gut when he said it. It was just very simple.

He shared a very simple story about this one phrase. Reaching out to another person when you see a need. Moving out of your comfort zone in order to add value to another person’s life. Often, too often in this life, we tend to look inwardly and not outwardly. We get busy, run down, burned out, & grow tired. We tend to focus on what others are not giving us instead of focusing on what we can give to other people.

“Cross the Street”. That was the phrase. So this week I want you to ask yourself, “How can I cross the street this week”? Crossing the street to add value to other people, your family, and your church draws all of us to a place of thanksgiving and humility. It’s not just about doing good, but it’s about who you are doing good for. Crossing the street, draws me to a place of worship to a God who has counted me worthy enough to do good things despite all the wrong I have done in my past. To be a worker in His ministry. Adding value to others with the Gospel adds value to mine.

I end with this. It’s the last line of one of our favorite songs here at StoneBridge. “Bear your cross (cross the street) as you wait for the crown. Tell the world of the treasure you found”.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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What do you do, when you don't know what to do?

Dear Friend,

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

 So, what DO you do when you don't know what to do? This is a question that so many people have asked since the beginning of Adam and Eve's fall. When Adam chose to disobey God, he realized that he was naked and his eyes were open to his spiritual state. 

So, what did he do next? 

HE MADE IT UP AS HE WENT ALONG.

He immediately found leaves to cover his nakedness and decided that he and Eve would hide from the Lord as He made His way through The Garden of Eden. 

One of the problems with making it up as you go along, is that it often lends to trouble. When we "fake it until we make it"; we usually realize (before too long) that this mentality usually doesn't work out too well for us. 

So, what should we do? 

WE SHOULD SPEND TIME IN PRAYER TO THE LORD

Prayer is vital to knowing what we should or shouldn't do. Not only should we spend time talking to the Lord, but we should spend time in talking to wise counselors. Don't talk to people who will tell you what you want to hear, talk with people who will give you the genuine "skinny" on whatever it is you are trying to find the answer to. Then, you should patiently wait on the Lord to reveal Himself to you through the circumstances around you. When you start to see a pattern of things happening (most of the time you'll never be 100% about the decisions) you start to move toward your answer. 
 

THERE COMES A TIME WHEN YOU HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION

Once you make the decision you may find out that you made the wrong decision. If this happens, don't cry over spilled milk, simply move forward to make the situation as positive as you possibly can. If you are walking in faith, the Lord will see you through and HE WILL FINISH HIS perfect work in you!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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FELLOWSHIP

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1 John 1:3-4

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy..

Definition of Fellowship: The quality or state of being comradely meaningful communication for building trust and fellowship. The whole point of fellowship with others is to build each-other up. To support one another, and to give of your self for the betterment of your fellow man/ woman.

I would be able to talk to you for hours about this, because fellowship is what helped bring me out of the darkness. God used the fellowship of others to affirm and demonstrate the power of His word in my life. Fellowship is what talked me off the ledge in times when I felt there was no hope. And fellowship is what persuaded me, through the example of those I fellowshipped with; how to worship and praise the true and living God with not just song, but through everyday living. 

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend."  No man or woman is an island. If they try to be, well then they are lonely and probably failing at most everything. I was given a shirt as a gift last Christmas. I know it was just a joke or a funny "ha ha" kind of gift. But I have been unable to wear it. Because it says, "I use to be a people person, but people ruined it" The reason I have not been able to wear it, is because its not true and on the contrary my fellowship with other PEOPLE, the right people, have not only added value to my life, but propelled me to live a life unlike I have ever lived before. A life where Christ is the center.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptisit Church

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