Month: June 2016

Jesus words of eternal life are simple to understand

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John 8:51

51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

 

As we meditate on this statement of Christ we see the crux of His message.  It was to Nicodemus Jesus said, “Except a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  It was to the woman at the well that He said, “If anyone drinks of the water that I give him he will never thirst again.”  And to the multitude who wanted food, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Even to the shepherds Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheepfold, if anyone enter by me he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.”   We cannot forget when Jesus cried out and said, “I am the Light of world.  If any man follow me he shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life!”

 

Eternal life resides in Jesus Christ.  He lived with God before he came to this world and he lives with God after leaving this world.  Jesus is eternal and all who keep His words will have eternal life with Him.

 

As simple as this message is we see Satan convincing people throughout time that there is another way besides life through Jesus Christ.  By teaching people of works-based eternal life and a balance of good and evil that has to be maintained, to changing the name of heaven with God to “Nirvana” a place of hope and peace, to telling people that if they die in jihad they go straight to heaven, Satan has perverted the simple message of salvation to billions of people.  Even the Pharisees in Jesus day rejected the simplicity of this message because they rejected the Lord Jesus as God in the flesh.

 

Look around you today and try to discern who among you has eternal life because they are following the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then look around you and realize how many of those people are believing a well-fabricated lie that is keeping them from the Light of the world and eternal life in Him.  We must not stray from the simple teachings of Christ regarding eternal life in Him and in Him alone.  He alone said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.”  Later John wrote, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

 

The rains came last night and we moved VBS inside.  I am thankful for a building that can be transformed into whatever we need it to be.  We had a great time inside and it is always fun to have a building full of children.  One little girl said that she wanted to think about being saved and would talk to her leader tomorrow.  One little boy said that he wanted to trust Jesus by his bed when he got home.  Thank God for the power of the gospel to reach into little hearts and draw them to Himself.

 

Thanks to a great staff who changed their formats from outside to inside without even one complaint.  You guys are great! 

 

Tonight is the fourth night of VBS and we are looking forward to another great time of games, songs, story, crafts, food, and message.  Pray with us throughout the day for young hearts to be open to Christ.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Spiritual Parentage – to whom were we born?

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John 8

41 You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

 

Spiritual parentage is a confusing topic to religious people. Everyone born into a religion considers themselves a son or a daughter of that religion.  They call each other brothers and sisters and some even call their leader “father.”  In our religious ways of thinking we have families, spiritual cliques made up of others who are like us.  Some of us are more tolerant of those not like us and some of us think our way to be the exclusive right way.  The Pharisees saw themselves under the parentage of God.  Jesus insulted them and they responded with indignation.

In perfect love and logic Jesus took these deceived men and walked them down a road they did not want to go.  He let them, and us, know that all who know the true God love His Son.  All who know the true God listen to the words of the Son and understand what He says.  Those who do not understand the Son do not understand because they are not able to listen to Him.  They are not of the true God.  This is an exclusive statement made by the very Son of God to men who claimed to know the true God but in reality did not know Him.

Jesus then takes them one more step that they hated Him for; but Jesus, again in love, had to tell them the truth to rock their false foundation.  Their real spiritual heritage was this, Satan was their father! His deceptions had blinded them and it was his evil will that they were always doing.  They lived in Satan’s lustful and lying ways and were in utter deception by him.  Ouch!

The truth is that all of us, born since Adam, are born in sin under the spiritual parentage of Satan the father of lies.  Satan is a liar and tells us all that we are OK in our religion, OK in our sin, and OK in our lives.  Satan’s lies keep us from seeing any need to follow the true God as long as we are OK with life.  Satan’s lies keep us all away from God’s grace as long as we live to believe those lies.  He has blinded our eyes lest we should see with our eyes and the light of the glorious gospel should shine unto us.  I pray all the time for God to open the spiritual eyes of men and women around me who are blinded by Satan.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gives the authority to become sons of God, even to those who believe on His name.” John 1:12 God wants to change our spiritual parentage and He wants to become our spiritual, eternal, and good Father.

We are thankful to God for bringing us 57 children last night. More than that, we are thankful for five of those children trusting Christ as Savior and Lord.  Thank you for your prayers to God to change hearts for His kingdom and glory.  Please continue with us in prayer as we have three more opportunities to point the children and their parents to Christ.

Our country is reeling in this latest attack on men and women in Orlando.  The media and the politicians seem to want to make this a divisive issue regarding guns, homosexuality, and hate.  I see it as an attack on human lives, fellow Americans, people that I might know and love and grieve for.  Don’t let this separate us from one another but care for one another as we would if it were our loved ones, our friends, and our brothers and sisters who were so violently taken.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

VBS first day!

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Thank you for your prayers for our VBS campaign.  We had a great opening night with a lot of enthusiasm, a staff ready and excited to serve, and great music from Steven and Rachel.  37 children were in attendance with many parents staying for the whole time.  We challenged the kids to bring friends back and they were all excited to do so.
The weather was fantastic for outdoor games and the kids loved the activities.  The crafts were a hit and kept their attention.  Our skit team did a fantastic job as they worked together for the first time.
All in all we are thankful to the Lord for a great first day.
My request to you is that you would continue to labor in prayer to God for the salvation of children and moms and dads this week.  Much labor goes into making the best VBS that we can possibly pull off.  Stop by and see the church, the workers have done an amazing job of creating an under the sea environment for our Ocean Commotion theme.
Jesus said, “Allow the little children to come unto me and do not forbid them from coming, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  We reach out to children under the direct call of Christ to invite them to Himself.
Our hearts are grieved with the parents and friends who lost loved ones in the Orlando shooting.  Let us remember that Jesus showed compassion on the woman taken in adultery.  For while she was wrong she needed the Savior’s compassion.  There are many grieving people today who are seeking solace in many different places.  It s not a government issue here but a people issue.  We as people need to let other people, made in God’s image for whom Christ died to redeem, that there is and always has been hope in the Savior.
Good news, the day care did sell; the papers were signed Saturday morning.  I am going through the finances today to determine how much our financial liability is going to be.  Our first assessment is that we are going to need between $8,000 – $10,000 to finish paying people and bills.  Pray with us for God to show Himself mighty on our behalf.  Again, thank you for all of your prayers for this endeavor.
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Religion is not enough, a Savior is needed by all

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John 8

37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

 

The powerful confusion of religion is seen here in the Jews’ response to Christ.  As a nation, Israel claimed to be the people of God.  Going back to their forefather Abraham, they saw themselves as special, a people uniquely called by God.  God gave them their name and God gave them His law.  God protected them in battle and God gave them their land.  They were God’s chosen people.  The problem was that they saw themselves as a people who did not need a Savior.

I have met people like this throughout my life.  They were born into a church family and baptized into a church membership.  Their parents were a part of the church as were their grandparents.  Claiming this heritage of a people of God they saw themselves as without a need of a Savior.  As Israel felt they were good with God so are many people today.  We invite them to church and they are insulted at the invitation because they have a church.  We tell them of their need of salvation through Jesus Christ and they look down at us as though we are a plague and brush us away as flies.  We are a nuisance to their well-organized religious life.

Jesus sought to give these sin and religion blinded people His message from God and they fell back on their religious heritage, “Abraham is our father” as though that was supposed stop Jesus from telling them more.  People today are no different.  They have learned pat answers to “shut up” the Christians who try to “convert” them.  But what they are shutting up is the truth that came from God: they need a Savior and Jesus is the only candidate.

Ultimately, the crowd of Jesus day threw a dig at him letting him know that they were not born from a fornicating relationship as they believed he was.  People haven’t changed.  If they can’t get us to shut up and leave them alone the insults will soon fly.  All Jesus wanted to do was to save them from their sin.  His motives were pure and his speech was grace-filled.  We must follow Christ’s example and keep talking to people who need Him regardless of how insulting they become for they need the Savior.

 

Are you joining us in prayer for God to give us souls next week?  Children will come to VBS.  We have a following who bring their children every year.  It may or may not be a large crowd but children and their parents will come.  We need God to open their hearts.  So pray with me both for children to come and for them to come with their hearts ready to receive the message of God’s grace for their young lives.  I heard the Naperville fire department chief speak this week and he told of coming to Christ as a nine year old by at AWANA.  Forty years from now may there be adults in their communities who tell of coming to Christ as a child at VBS.  Pray for this with me.

Tomorrow at 9:00 we will again be meeting at the church for set-up.  If anyone wants to go pass out flyers we have a couple of spots identified that we want to hit.  Come after 9 and I will send you in a direction. 

Sunday morning the church should be set up for VBS and we will be receiving instructions for the afternoon and the evening.  Get enough rest this weekend as there won’t be much time for rest until Friday.  God will give us all of the strength that we need to do His work.  We still have a few yard signs left so if you want one or two call me.

The State is supposed to mail the permit for the new daycare owners today.  Pray for this to be done.  This DCFS licensing department is answerable to now one and will not be rushed.  We are behind in salary payments again due to the slow moving machine of the DCFS.  Pray for this chapter to come to an end soon.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

God’s Glorious Intercessor – Isaiah 59-60

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Isaiah 59:16 tells us that God looked for an intercessor to bring the sinful people to himself but found none. In this message Pastor Steve looks at the impossibility of human intercessors to bring other humans to God. No one in their sin can bring another person in their sin to a holy God. God makes this clear in this text. However, God raised up an Intercessor Himself. Jesus came as the Light of the world. Isaiah 60 speaks to the Light that shines. Jesus is the only possible intercessor between man and God. No religion that lifts up men and women as intercessors can bring their followers to God. God said it. Then He sent Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to intercede on our eternal behalf.

 

Jesus came to set us free

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John 8

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

For all of us who have been slaves to sin, this teaching of Jesus is one of our favorite teachings.  Truly Jesus came to set us free.  Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden we have been in slavery to sin. As in Adam all die for as Adam sinned all have sinned.  Sin is a terrible master but a master all the same.  Every one who commits sin becomes sin’s slave.  No one is free from this slavery.  When it comes to sin we don’t even have free will, we are bound to sin and  we will sin.  We may not take sin as far as someone else, but then on a given day we can and we may.  “There is none righteous, no not one.”

The people hearing Jesus that day did not understand and thought him to be speaking of human slavery.  Since they were not slaves they discounted what Jesus said.  So Jesus clarified His teaching to them that all who commit sin are slaves to that sin.

But Jesus came to set us free from the slavery of sin and does so by adopting us into His holy family where sin no longer has dominion. (Read Romans 6)  He adopts us (Read Romans 8) and takes us from our birth father, Satan, to our heavenly Father who receives us by His grace.  (John 1:12) Once, through salvation, we belong to God, we are set free from the slavery of sin and no longer have to listen to its call.  Therefore, when the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.

Are you free from sin or does sin still control you?  Are you able to turn away or do you find yourself always being sucked into sin’s vortex?  We still sin as we battle the world around us, the devil and his hosts, and our own flesh. But we are no longer sin’s slaves for in the power of our new Father and filled with His Holy Spirit we can see sin for what it is and turn from its grasp. When the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.  This is what Jesus came to do.

 

 

VBS is our constant thought this week.  All who can help with set up there will be people working at church today from 9:00-1:00.  We focused our prayer last night on praying for VBS.  Here are 21 points of prayer for VBS.  Join with us in labored prayer for this great outreach event.

Have a great day in the Lord ,
PS

  1. Pray for the children who will attend. Pray that God will prepare their hearts to learn about Jesus.
  2. Pray for a week of good weather (no rain, not too hot, etc.)
  3. Pray that compassion would fill the hearts of every adult and student leader.
  4. Pray that the Gospel will be proclaimed boldly, compassionately, and clearly.
  5. Pray for the enemy to be defeated in the lives of leaders, parents, and children.
  6. Pray for the parents and/or caregivers of the children who will attend. Pray that they will be engaged in conversation with their children about what their children are learning.
  7. Pray that the Lord would work through the lives of the children to reach their families with the Good News.
  8. Pray that this week will be the catalyst for all believers involved to begin a passionate pursuit of sharing the Gospel each opportunity they have.
  9. Pray for safety during recreation and drop-off/pick-up times.
  10. Pray that those who attend who are hungry for love and affirmation would find it not just from the leaders but in Jesus.
  11. Pray that the Ocean Commotion presentation will draw unchurched family members to our church.
  12. Pray that those who do not have a church home will be compelled to get connected at our church.
  13. Pray that “hands-on” activities will lead to “open-hearts.”
  14. Pray for strength and endurance both physically and spiritually for all leaders and children.
  15. Pray that our church can begin to help meet needs that are discovered during the week.
  16. Pray for unity among the leaders as they serve together.
  17. Pray that what is learned will make a difference in the lives of all who participate.
  18. Pray that all leaders will offer their service to the Lord and work for Him and Him alone.
  19. Pray that all involved will realize the vastness of God’s love for them.
  20. Pray for stamina for leaders as they work, share, serve, and minister to the kids and families that come through our doors.
  21. Pray for those who accept Christ. Pray that they will get involved in discipleship and grow as Christ-followers.

 

When life and lips agree

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John 8

28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

 

Everyone has the ability to believe something new that comes across their path.  The ability to believe something new usually lies in both the new information presented and in the person presenting it.  For nearly 1500 years the Jews had followed and rebelled and followed and rebelled against the Law given by God to Moses.  They knew this Law to be true and they knew it to be from God.  A good Jew and all Pharisees memorized the first five books of the Law so that knowing the Law they could strive to keep it at some level.

When Jesus came He brought new information.  Jesus never contradicted the Law but brought a new message from God regarding the Law. Jesus brought a message of love and compassion to a people bound by judgment and corruption.  Jesus spoke with a new authority, His own.  He spoke the words of God Himself and the words made sense.  He stood for the purification of the Temple and the just keeping of the Law with a heart of love.  (He had just forgiven the woman taken in adultery while shaming her accusers.)

Nonetheless, Jesus was bringing truth to the people.  They had trouble believing Jesus but Jesus kept teaching them.  Day after day He taught them and day after day they watched Him.  Jesus cared for people with a care different from anyone they had ever seen.  He showed compassion all the time and as they watched and listened many believed in Him.

People are watching you and me all the time.  We are speaking truth into their lives by our words and by our lives.  This is new truth to them.  It goes against all other “truths” that they have been taught.  As the people in Jesus day, they are watching our lives.  How do we work, how do we care, how do we show compassion, are we consistently living this truth in our own lives?  We could ask, do those around us see Jesus in us?  If they are to believe the message of the gospel that we long for them to believe, they must see Christ in us.

Tonight is our Wednesday night prayer and Bible study.  We will be praying specifically for VBS during our prayer time.  I would ask that all of you who are serving in VBS join us for prayer time at 7:00. Even if you cannot stay for the Bible study, come and pray with us. If God is going to open hearts next week it will be by His grace and we are pleading with Him to do just that.

Please keep my neighbor in your prayers.  He is 80 and his health is just not coming back.  Most of all he needs Christ. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS