Month: December 2014

So, you think that you have troubles?

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1 Peter  1

  1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

When the Christian church began in Jerusalem, it saw amazing multiplying growth.  In the first meeting, 3,000 were saved.  In the second meeting, 4,000 more were saved.  After that, multitudes came to Christ both men and women.  Jerusalem had the first mega-church of history.  It was a glorious time for the church of Jesus Christ.

But, the local Pharisees, the religious leaders of the nation, did not think well of this new movement following the Man whom they hated and crucified.  In spite of the size of the Christian church, persecution of Christians began.  The persecution got so heavy that in Acts 8:1 we find that the church scattered.  This scattering of the church, though good for the kingdom of God, was very hard on those who had to leave their homes and families because of their faith in Christ.

Here in the first verse of 1st Peter we see a phrase that tells us something important.  Peter is writing to the “pilgrims of the Dispersion.”  Jewish Christians who were persecuted for their faith fled for their lives and went to far off places.  Peter, their first pastor, wrote them a letter to encourage them in their faith in spite of their circumstances.

What are your circumstances today?  How bad are they?  Have you been driven from your family, church and country because of your faith?  No, I didn’t think so.  If dispersed Christians can rejoice in the Lord, so can we.  If Christians who lost all earthly stuff and friends and even their church and pastor can rejoice in Christ’s will for their lives, so can we.  Just make sure that any persecution you endure is because of your faith, not your personality.  Then, thank God for enabling you to stand firm in the face of it.  Rejoice, God is with you and has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

How important is spiritual restoration?

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James 5

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

There are people we all know who are basically good people. They work hard, they love their families, they are friendly, and might even be our friends. We think well of them and don’t often think of their spiritual needs.   Can someone fit this description and still be wandering away from the truth of salvation?

What about the church member who comes most of the time, is always friendly to us, talks openly about the Lord, but is slowly wandering from the truth of God in their lives? What do we do about them?

James describes anyone who wanders from the truth of God’s word and then uses a generic word, “someone,” to describe anyone who goes after a wandering one in an effort to bring them to salvation from their error. Let me suggest that ‘we’ are that “someone.” We who know the truth and have turned from the error of our ways and have found our sins forgiven at the Cross are to be the “someones” who go after those who are still trapped in error.

Think of those you know who need the Savior. Who is caring for them at that level?   If they won’t listen to you then commit to praying for their salvation. Ask God for His opportunity to point them to Him and to His truth. We who have been converted have the answer for those who are still wandering. Then, when we have the God-given opportunity to point them to Him we will see them saved from eternal death and we will see their sins taken away from them. Their lives will change before our eyes and they will thank God for His grace in bringing us to care for their souls. What a great opportunity we have to help the lost find their way.

Adults, Saturday evening is our annual adult Christmas party at the Molefe’s home. Their address is 5s 746 Timberlane, Naperville. Come at 6:00, bring fingerfood and a white-elephant gift for our exchange. Bring friends and relatives if you can. This is a highlight event of our Christmas season.

 

Then, Sunday morning is our annual Christmas program here at the church. This is always a blessed time of exalting our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be sure to be on time as you won’t want to miss any of the music or readings that will be presented.

 

Pray for Sandy Saltzman as she is having thyroid surgery today.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Criticism Criticized

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James 5

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

Having grown up in a pastor’s home and having now been the pastor of a church for over sixteen years, I can tell you that one of the greatest enemies of the Christian church is a critical spirit.  I have known people who felt they had the “gift” of criticism.  No, that is not what they called it, but that is what it was.  When someone develops a critical spirit no one is free from their critique.

Solomon said that there were six things the Lord hated and the seventh was an abomination to Him.  The seventh thing was one who sowed discord among the brethren.  Know this: God is not impressed with anyone’s ability to criticize anyone else.  In fact, Jesus said that before you take the splinter out of your brother’s eye be sure to remove the beam out of your own eye.  Since all of us have our own glaring faults, which of us has the right to criticize another?

Look at James’ admonition.  He says that when we grumble against one another we will be condemned by the Judge who is standing at the door hearing all that we say.  Can I really stand before God and tell Him how bad my brother or sister are?  What is God going to do?  Is He going to agree with me?  No, God is not going to agree with me He is going to turn the mirror back on me and remind me that He saved me in spite of and from all of my sin therefore I am to be patient and loving with others as He was patient and loving with me.

A church without a critic is almost a perfect church.  But, you say, what about the need to critique our ministries?  There are times and places for that.  But, you say, what about when someone sins against me or against another?  There is instruction for that, go to them in the spirit of meekness and confront them so that they may repent and move forward in their faith.  No, I am sure that there is no place for the spirit of criticism in the church of Jesus Christ.  James criticized the critic and tells them to stop being critical.

Men, our study from the book, In the Grip of Grace has been a rich study on Wednesday nights.  If you want to be encouraged with us do join us.  The ladies last night started a new book, The Cross Centered Life.  This is another really challenging and encouraging book study. 

The concert season is upon us.  Tonight we have concerts at Aurora West and Matea Valley.  Tomorrow night we have a concert at Waubonsie Valley and Sunday there is a concert at Nequa Valley.  Saturday and Sunday the Glee Club has concerts, which you are invited to attend.  It is a busy time but a fun time.  Many of our teens are involved in concerts so it is a fun time for each of them. 

Keep our students in your prayers.  This is a busy time for all of them. 

Men, don’t forget the men’s prayer breakfast this Saturday.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

Wait, Wait, Wait

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James 5

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Most of us would not make very good farmers.  When I was a child and we planted a seed in a cup, before it could break the soil I was digging it up to see if it was coming.  Not much has changed, I’m afraid.  We just aren’t very good at waiting.

In today’s verses we are taught about the farmer who plants his seed and patiently waits for the early and latter rains to come and bring the seed to full crop.  Impatient people wouldn’t make good farmers.  But that is not the point here.  A farmer has no choice but to wait for the crop to come to full fruit.  So, what is the lesson?  Just as the farmer is patient so we are to be patient.

However, there is one phrase here that we should look at, “Establish your hearts.”  While we are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, which the church has been awaiting for 2000 years, we are to be establishing our hearts.  In other words, when we get saved we are not called to just sit and wait for Jesus.  On the contrary, while waiting we are to be establishing our hearts.  We are to be “growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  We are to be “making our calling and election sure.”

So, while we are learning patience, taking lessons from the farmer, we are to be in the Word of God and studying Him, His person, His will, His grace, His love, His glory, and more.  Yes, we want the Lord to return and today would be great!  But if He tarries until tomorrow what are you doing today to establish your heart in Him?

Tis the season of colds in my house.  It started with Bobbi and has worked its way finally to me.  I hope your house gets a pass on this one. 

This coming Saturday night and Sunday afternoon the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, which, as you know, I sing in, is having its Christmas concerts.  The Saturday night concert is more serious in nature and the Sunday afternoon concert is more light-hearted.  If you want tickets I have some available.  They are $15 with a discount for students and seniors. 

 

Tonight is our prayer and Bible study, Kids4Truth and Youth group.  See you at 7:00. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

How do we accumulate? Are we content?

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James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth- eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

Here James teaches us to be careful with what we accumulate and with how we accumulate it.   This is not a condemnation of riches but it is a condemnation of rich men who acquired their riches unfairly on the backs of others.

When riches are gained by making others suffer, those riches will be a witness before God against the ones who attained them. Woe to the men and women who live in luxury by committing fraud in any way. James speaks particularly to those who acquired riches by not fairly paying those who worked for them. We have known people who would work for a promised wage only to be given less at the end of the job. With no recourse, they took what they were given. Be careful to pay what you agreed upon.

Money is an interesting thing. When we have a lot we are happy, when we lose a lot we are sad. When someone else gains a lot we are envious. God would have us to be content with our wages and to learn to live within them. Let us not be envious of those who have more for we do not know their standing before God. I would prefer to live moderate to poor in this life and to have treasures in heaven than to live rich in this life, rejecting God, and to wake up in hell.

Money does not make people with no character to have character. No, nor does money make people better. We are who we are whether we are rich or poor or in-between. Be the woman, be the man that God created you to be and be content with His position for your life and treat people fairly at all times.

Once again I am thankful for our church. Sunday was such a wonderful day. We rejoiced in all parts of the service exalting the Savior and His desire to be with us. What a thrill that teaching is. God wants to be with me. When God is with me He brings all of His love and power with Him and dwells, temples, within me. This is indeed a life-changing truth.

I am thankful for the people the Lord brings each week. We pray for Him to fill His house and to multiply His word. God is hearing our prayers. 

Thank you for being a part of His work.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS