The Savior at The Spa

He had been there so long, lying beside the legendary pool, along with all the sick and frail that were waiting around Bethesda’s pool for the angel to come. He knew his chance of reaching the water before anyone else was almost impossible. Nevertheless, he had been sick for thirty-eight years and was desperate, even despite knowing the facts about the pool. There was only one pool. There would only be one angel to stir the water and no one knew when it would happen. He was aware of the fact that he had to be the first person into the water. He had to be the first one in because there would only be one healing.

His problem was insurmountable because he knew his affliction would slow any speedy movement toward the pool. He was dreadfully aware that the other people would not help him into the water, less they forfeit their opportunity to be healed. Even as he surveyed Bethesda, the source of recovery for him, he was overwhelmed with thoughts of despair.

From the despair of his deathbed, he heard a voice speaking to him. Looking up, he saw someone standing in front of him looking down at him with compassion in his eyes. What was it that the man had said to him? Did he say, “Wilt thou be made whole?”

He responded, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.” The man spoke again with authority and declared, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” He didn’t know exactly why he reacted so quickly without questioning this man, but he got up anyway. He got up and immediately he was made whole and took up his bed and walked.

As he walked away from the pool with his sickbed under his arm, he was confronted by the Jews and told that it was unlawful to carry his bed on the Sabbath. “He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.” He remembered the question the man had asked him—he remembered what the man had told him to do and he knew he was healed. He knew he no longer needed the pool; he knew he no longer needed the people’s help and he knew his problem was gone. He also knew the first thing he was going to do was go to the temple to worship God because it was the Sabbath and it had been years since he had been there. This is where he found out that the Savior at the Spa was Jesus. He departed, found the Jews and told them that it was Jesus that had made him whole. It was Jesus, not the pool, which healed him of thirty-eight years of infirmities. It was Jesus, not the people that had helped him. He pondered all that had happened as he headed toward his home and family.

He had looked to several different things as his source for healing and help, when all he really needed was this man Jesus, who is the source of all things.

Pastor Hal Steenson

 

 

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Wasting My Worship

Joshua 1:8 …but thou shalt meditate therein day and night…

Recently I felt the need to go to the Lord in special prayer. It was there I heard these words, “Why are you wasting your worship?” I was shocked because I was so meticulous in my worship. I had developed my own procedure and was proud of how it worked. Then I realized that was exactly what it had become, “work.”

I got so tired of my usual “hello Gods” and “thank you Gods” followed by pressing into the “please Gods” that I was glad when it was finally over. My worship had become classical rhetoric. What I once believed to be pleasing to God was nothing but nonsense. I was wrestling in prayer like Jacob did with the angel to receive a blessing from God, but it seemed all that I got was the cold shoulder, the silent treatment from the “Big Guy.”

Okay, I thought, two can play at this game, so I joined in; I’m officially a player. If it’s the old silent game you want to play, then let’s get it on. I’ve raised two children and have three grandchildren; so I’m an expert at playing the silent charade.

I sat very still, zipped my lip and rested with the calm assurance that I held a trump card. He, God, had not spoken to me in so long that I was accustomed to the silence. I even welcomed it because I was tired of crying, begging, and pleading, with God about His not talking to me. It had been a one-sided conversation for some time now. I’ll show Him what it’s like to do all the talking. That’s it Hal, shut up!

Then in the silence I heard, “But thou shalt meditate therein day and night.” Wait a minute, where did that Scripture come from? He didn’t say it, so I must have thought it. But at least I didn’t open my mouth and lose this silent game.

So for about an hour, I sat and mulled that scripture over and over in my mind until it finally dawned on me. This is what the Father wanted all along, silent meditation on His Word. It was in the silence of meditating on His Word that I began once again to hear the Father speaking. I know now, that He had been speaking all along but I couldn’t hear him because of all the noise I was making.

A fresh wind has been blowing since I learned to just shut up and meditate on God’s word. Since then I’ve quit wasting my worship and started listening for the Father voice.

Pastor Hal Steenson

Sin is Progressive

Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, it will keep you longer than you wanted to stay and will cost you a lot more than you wanted to pay.

Most people don’t start out in gross sin, but there is always the potential that’s where they’ll end up. There they are engulfed, emerged and overpowered by sin and wondering how it all happened. The answer to this question can be found in Psalms 1: 1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

When we are in the God’s perfect will for our lives, sin doesn’t impress us and we are able to walk right pass it, without being affected. However, if there is a breakdown in our relationship with the Father, we will find ourselves standing in front of sin, observing it and allowing ourselves to be enticed by its power. The tragic third step in this ungodly progression of sin is that we suddenly find ourselves not walking pass sin, or only standing on the edge in observation, but we are now sitting squarely in the middle of sin.

Sin is like a whizzing, whirling turbine with mesmerizing lights and hypnotic music that whispers “come closer, don’t be afraid, it’s okay.” Nonetheless, when we reach out and touch sin, we are sucked in, chewed up and spit out the other side. This is when we realize the price we may have to pay for this sin. It is God’s desire that you will continue to walk on pass every opportunity to sin and immediately turn to Jesus for help if you ever find yourself standing in awe.

When you walk in Godly counsel, sin is an Abomination to you– however, when you stand in the way of sinners, sin becomes a Fascination to you – and finally, it is when you sit in the seat of the scornful, that sin becomes a Participation by you.

Psalm 24:3-5 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Pastor Hal Steenson

Psalms 23

A little girl stood up in church to read the Scripture for the divine service.  When she read the 23rd Psalm, it came out “the Lord is my Shepherd and that’s all I want.” The congregation laughed because they thought she was wrong—I think she was right.  When the Lord is my Shepherd:

  • I shall not want for rest, because He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
  • I shall not want for refreshment, because He leadeth me beside the still waters.
  • I shall not want for forgiveness, because He restoreth my soul.
  • I shall not want for guidance, because He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.
  • I shall not want for companionship, because when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; He is with me.
  • I shall not want for comfort, because His rod and His staff will comfort me.
  • I shall not want for provision, because He prepares a table before me, even in the presence of my enemies.
  • I shall not want for joy, because He annointest my head with oil and my cup runneth over.
  • I shall not want for anything in this life, because He has assigned goodness and mercy to follow me all the days of my life.
  • I shall not want for anything in the hereafter, because I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

You see, the Lord is my Sheppard and that’s all I want

The Blue Rose

Why do I always have to be the one who starts to do laundry and there’s no detergent? I guess it was time for me to do my “Dollar Store” run, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags and Clorox. So off I go.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies, and headed for the checkout counter only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man that appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.” It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged, and also shocked as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?” “My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded proudly. “Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Hal.” “Hal like Halloween?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. “How old are you Denny? “How old am I now Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle. “You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.”

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement because he was the center of someone’s attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward    the toy section.Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him. I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, pink and yellow roses in God’s garden, however, “Blue Roses” are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a “Blue Rose” and if someone doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart or touch that rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God. She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?” Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a “daffodil or maybe even a dandelion,” but I sure love living in God’s garden.

Hebrews 13:2
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

Humble Beginnings – Part 1

It all started with a dream—a dream about a television station that would reach the world with the undiluted three angels’ messages; a station that would counteract the counterfeit.

Danny Shelton was troubled about some of the programs presented on a Christian television station. As he prayed that night, he asked, “Lord, why are there no stations proclaiming the truth?” Then he asked the Lord to send someone to build a station that would broadcast Bible truths, and his prayer was answered in a dream and a vision of what was to become a worldwide television ministry.

With the assurance that this was from God, Danny realized he was the one God was calling! That same night he actuated his faith by picking up the phone in the early hours of the morning, and casting the vision of 3ABN to his friends and family. Although this dream was the delivery room in which 3ABN was birthed, it was not where it had been conceived. It started in the heart of God.

The Lord bestowed His dream upon a family that was poor but refused to compromise the Word of God—a family who had a little boy named Danny Lee Shelton. Danny was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth; it was more like a wooden spoon. He was one of five children born into a low-income, job-challenged community in southern Illinois. However, the Shelton family survived because their father and mother, Tommy and Goldie, were accomplished country music singers and musicians. Their group, the Melody Kings, was extremely popular in the 1940s, both on the nightclub circuit and on the radio. Their band could make a couple hundred dollars a weekend, which was a lot of money for a few days’ work! But their money source was about to dry up, because soon Tommy and Goldie both accepted Jesus as the Lord of their lives, and embraced the truth of the Sabbath. After that, it was extremely difficult for Danny’s father to find a decent job that didn’t require him to work on the Sabbath.

It was also a real sacrifice for this dedicated man to go from the popularity of a performing artist to being a trash collector. He purchased a septic tank truck (affectionately called the “honey-dipper”) and pumped out raw sewage. But this career ended as well when he decided to complete a job on the Sabbath, and the truck engine blew up!

Tommy Shelton, Sr., was a hard working man that provided for the needs of his family. However, life came hard and fast, and at the young age of 36 he had a disabling heart attack. To make matters worse, after the heart attack he was stricken with kidney cancer. During this tragedy, Tommy’s family started sending up fervent prayers to God, and He sent down abundant care to them. Tommy received a miraculous healing; the cancer was gone. Nonetheless, these debilitating setbacks left the Shelton clan without a fixed income. Although Tommy was disabled, there were no disability benefits available at that time for him or his family. Determined to provide for them, Tommy refused to quit. Somehow, he knew God would make a way where there seemed to be no way.

Eventually the Sheltons began collecting anything they could recycle—junked cars, scrap metal, and even old furniture. During the  summer, they would team up with their uncle Olen’s family and travel to northern Indiana, where they would work as migrant     workers. They lived among the Amish people, picking tomatoes and other crops. Some years, the kids would be six weeks late getting back to school because they were still out in the fields!

One summer, the two families lived in an old barn, putting up cardboard partitions to divide their family space. Another year, they lived in an old two-story farmhouse with a big front porch—but no running water. They would start picking at 6:00 a.m. and sweat through the hot, humid days of summer, arriving back home by 6:30 p.m. They would take turns bathing in an old washtub, and then gather around, singing about Jesus until they were exhausted and fell asleep. Undoubtedly, Danny’s mom understood the expression, “Don’t throw the baby out with the wash water!” because he’s still around.

Although Danny was likeable, funny, and caring, grade school days were not easy for him. Often he would hear someone say, “Hey, Danny Shelton has on one of my old coats that my mother gave away!” There were times when the kids would invite him to go downtown in West Frankfort to eat lunch, but he couldn’t go because he didn’t have any money. Occasionally he would have a few pennies, though, and would slip down to the five-and-dime for a bag of peanuts.

Then there was the time when the basketball team photo was to be taken and all Danny had was an old pair of black high-top Keds. Their family might have been poor, but Goldie was resourceful. Finding some white house paint, she painted his shoes for the picture! It worked.

On his wedding day, Danny’s parents weren’t able to give him a wedding present. “I wish you the best, son,” Tommy said as he hugged his son’s neck and shook his hand. And that was good enough, because despite his lack of finances, Danny esteemed his father highly for his character. He never took advantage of anyone, and never cheated anyone. And that same godly character was instilled in all the Shelton children.

Tommy Shelton never sent his kids to church; he took them with him. He lived by God’s standards, and expected the rest of the family to do the same. His rule was, “If you can get up on Sabbath morning, you go to church.” Even the neighbors knew that sickness was the only reason a Shelton would stay home!

Before having children Goldie often prayed, “Lord, give me children to use in Your work.” Her prayers were certainly answered. She often said that one of her fondest memories of Danny as a child was of him bringing home literature from the church, then saying after lunch, “Mom, I’m going to give out some literature.” Down the street he would go, singing, “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,” as he passed out his Christian pamphlets.

Many who might think that it took some extraordinary man to bring about 3ABN’s worldwide ministry may very well change their mind after reading this article. God didn’t need an extraordinary man; He had found an ordinary little boy who loved Him with all his heart. Later He would give him a vision to reach the world, and against all odds, He would make it happen!

In the upcoming months, you’ll read more about the unfolding of the vision, and why 3ABN continues to reach the world with the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14.

Author Hal Steenson

Instrument Rated Christians

I have a friend who flies jets and is an accomplished pilot.  His accomplishments didn’t happen overnight; it took years of hard work, study, discipline and training to attain to the position he now holds.  My friend, Shawn shared his instrument rating training experience with me and I was amazed at how it related to the normal Christian life.  In his early experience as a pilot, he learned to fly by sight and basic instrumentation, but this was only the beginning.  The “blue sky fliers” are great pilots in good weather and on sunny days, but are ultimately grounded if conditions worsen.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because so many of us are “blue sky Christians” and soar through life unabated until the storm clouds of despair roll in and ground us.  Just as pilots who are not instrument-rated are grounded because of dense fog or the darkness of night when familiar landmarks can’t be seen, so it is with Christians who are not instrument-rated in the Word of God.  We are grounded.

My friend told me of the countless hours he trained and learned bits and pieces as he went.  However, the bits and pieces didn’t         really work correctly until he was able to put them all together to form an exact pattern and purpose for everything involved.  How true this application is in our daily walk with God, we have bits and pieces but seldom seem to be able to get it all to fit.  This fitting will come about when we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide us into all truth.

The map of God’s Word is like a thousand-piece puzzle; one piece is blue, another is green, while still another may be brown.  This can be confusing unless we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.  The map of God’s Word appears to be a complicated puzzle, but the Holy Spirit will reveal Himself as the picture on the front of the puzzle box.  He will say, “Look at the picture on the box so you can see how the pieces fit properly.”  The Word and the Guide must work together for truth to be revealed.

Shawn also said that to acquire an instrument rating status, you must take a test where your vision is blocked.  Does this sound a lot like 2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight.)  A test is taken with blinders on to block out your peripheral vision and a visor is placed above your eyes to limit your vision to only the instrument panel.  Then you must complete flights using only your instruments as your map and compass.  You can’t go by what you feel because it may cost you your life and you can’t go by what you see because you can’t see.  You may feel as though you’re flying upside down, but what do the instruments show?  The flight instructor will tell you to look and listen to your instruments and “Just fly the plane.”  Don’t go by your natural senses; fly it by faith in the map and the compass.

This is what God desires for His children.  He wants them to be “instrument-rated Christians” who will soar with Him by using the “map of His word and the compass of His Holy Spirit.”  You may not feel like you’re saved, healed, delivered or worthy of anything Christ has done for you, but “just fly the plane.”

Pastor Hal Steenson