Month: July 2016

Giving by Grace – 2 Corinthians 9

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So much of the preaching on giving is related to the personality and their need for cash. In this message, Pastor Steve looks at 2 Corinthians 8-9 to establish the biblical reasons, the who, what, when, where, why, and how of Christian giving. Giving begins with God’s gift of His Son and the riches of God’s grace given to us. When we give of our money we are giving by grace. Our passions are attached to our wallets so when Christ and His work are our passions we easily open up our wallets to His work

 

Human misunderstandings

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John 11

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
To read this passage from a purely human point of view is very confusing.  Lazarus gets sick, messengers are sent to Jesus to come heal him and Jesus tells his disciples that this sickness is not unto death. We then read of the great love that Jesus has for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus but He does something not very loving, He does not leave right away to run to their aid but intentionally waits two more days.

Back in Bethany, every hour Mary and Martha looking for Jesus to come.  Their eyes are constantly looking down the road for His familiar walk.  As they wait, their brother’s sickness gets worse until he breathes his last.  If you have ever been in a hospital room when someone was dying you know that when the person dies the nurses turn off all of the noise making devices and the room takes on an eerie silence.  All of the hustle and bustle accompanying Lazarus illness and efforts to keep him alive stopped as death overtook him.  Since he was dead, the next thing to do was to anoint him, wrap him and bury him, which they did.

But Jesus said that his sickness was not unto death.  Then in verse 14 Jesus says to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”  Since Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and present him alive to the family and friends, He was at peace.  He knew that the sickness was not unto death but unto greater life for when Jesus raised Lazarus the sickness that killed him would also be gone.  Lazarus then becomes a picture of the resurrected believer who is raised ready to sit and eat with Jesus.

But the sisters had to go through the grief of death first.  Later they would understand what happened but at first their faith tanked and they blamed Jesus which we will see tomorrow.  Take this home today; Jesus knew what He was going to do and that in raising Lazarus from the dead He would teach both the sisters, Lazarus, the disciples and us that He is the resurrection and the life.  The lesson was more important than the pain that the sisters went through.  In Jesus’ eyes, Lazarus did not die, he just went to sleep for four days and Jesus woke him up.  In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read that all who sleep in Jesus God will bring with Him.  In this case, none of us who die in Christ really die; we just fall asleep in Christ to be awakened to return with Him.  Hallelujah! What a Savior.

Pray with me today for a man named Al and his son Alfredo.  Al is Jesse’s brother who is going blind.  He needs a place to live.  I spent time with them last night pointing them to Christ.  Pray for them to come to the place of full surrender to the Lord Jesus.  Pray for God to show them how He is going to care for them.

Pray with me also today for God’s abundant provisions.  He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, who gave His Son for our salvation, both knows our need and is able to meet it.  Join with me today in labored prayer for God’s provision.

Pray with Rob today for his family.  He is shouldering several burdens and needs our prayers.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

God’s Great Name – Isaiah 63 12,14

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God did what He did to get Israel out of Egypt so they would know His greatness and magnify His great name. Isaiah 63 makes this very clear. In this message, Pastor Steve looks at the Scriptures to show us God’s purposes in making His name great.

 

Sickness is not always the result of our direct sin

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John 11

11 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Is sickness always bad?  Is sickness in this life always avoidable?  As Christians, we often pray for someone who is sick to get better.  I don’t know if I have ever been in a prayer meeting when we did not pray for someone we knew who was sick.

I suppose you know that all sickness is the result of sin.  Before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden there was no sickness and there was no death.  The first death came after the first sin.  God killed two lambs to atone for sin and to provide sanctified clothing for the now sin-filled couple.

As people have gotten farther and farther from God, their fallen bodies have developed more germs, more viruses, and more diseases.  The Fall of mankind was the introduction of sickness.  Often when Jesus healed people He told them go and sin no more.  This indicates that some sickness is directly related to sin.  We know this in regards to lung cancer, liver disease, brain damage, AIDS, venereal diseases and so on.

Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, got sick.  It was an aggressive sickness for it took his life.  Why did Lazarus get sick?  This time, we have the omnipotent view of the story for Jesus said that Lazarus’ sickness was for the glory of God that the Son might be glorified through his sickness.  Are there times when God makes us sick so that He can receive glory through it?  Look at Job and we have to answer a great big “Yes” to that question.  Blind Bartimaus was blind from birth so Jesus could heal him at forty years of age.

And while we glory with God in the healing and recovering of sight, if we were those who were made sick or blind we would have grieved with the pain and the change of life that the malady caused.  When we get sick, as we pray for healing, let us also pray that God will be glorified in our sickness.  Let us pray that we will see God’s purpose in our illness.  Sure, we confess sin but sickness is not always because we have sinned.  Yes, we have fallen bodies susceptible to sin but our particular illness may not be related to our sin.  Perhaps the Lord has a greater purpose for our illness, which is, to bring glory to Himself.

Yesterday’s message on the greatness of God’s name related to the greatness of His working, was an important message for our church at this time.  We are in need of $12,000 immediately.  God knows this and we are anticipating what He is going to do.  Last week we shared the gospel with dozens of people on the River Walk and long to see God work mightily in those lives to bring them to Himself.  Pray with me that God would indeed work mightily today to bring about great praise to His great name.

Yesterday’s message will be on the church website today.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The wrath of God, Isaiah 63 & Revelation 19

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Between these two passages we see a God who is holy in His judgment. God will judge those who reject Him and that judgment will be harsh yet fair. In this message, not an easy one, Pastor Steve seeks to be honest with the Scriptures and then reminds us that Christ bore the wrath of God so that we would not have to.
At the beginning, Ben gives the illustration of four chairs defining the four stages of life, chair one is each of us in our unbelieving state. Pastor Steve then uses the four chair illustration to remind us of our responsibility to care for others who are facing God’s wrath.

 

Even a prophet proved the deity of Christ

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John 10

40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.”

42 And many believed in Him there.

The proof of a man who claimed to be a prophet of God was that the things he prophesied came true. When Jonah went to Nineveh the people of Nineveh believed that Jonah was a prophet and that in forty days God was going to send cataclysmic judgment upon them. Believing Jonah the prophet’s message they all turned from their sin from the king himself to the poorest family in the city.

 

When Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain to prove the judgment of God on wicked king Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel and when the rain stopped for two and a half years the king and queen knew that Elijah was a prophet.

 

So when everything that John the Baptist said about Jesus came true, the people knew that John was a prophet. Jesus called John a prophet; in fact, Jesus called him the greatest prophet that ever lived. Matthew 11:11

 

When people attack the deity of Christ they really don’t know their history very well. When a bona fide prophet makes a prophecy and that prophecy comes true people have always acknowledged the genuineness of the prophet. So John the Baptist, a proven prophet, make proclamations about Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ fulfilled, in His life, those prophecies.

 

Why make a big deal out of a small point of scripture? Because God did. Every word of God is pure so no sentence is insignificant. This sentence, proving the deity of Christ in the face of claims that He was not who He said He was, is important to the deity of Christ. Not only did Christ proclaim His deity but so did a true prophet. Christ was God living amongst people who refused to accept who He was. When they realized that a prophet proclaimed Him, many believed.

 

Tomorrow is a church workday. There will be cleaning and organizing going on. The front doors need some paint if someone can pick up that project. We are usually here from 8-3 for anyone who can come during those hours. Remember the adage: “Many hands make light the work.”

 

We do have a church business meeting after the service this Sunday. We need to discuss budget issues regarding giving and missions. We also need to make a decision about the money we owe the daycare workers for their paid time off. We ask all members to stay for this meeting as we need your input.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus is God.  This is the sticking point.

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John 10

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

 

There are many reasons for us to believe and place our faith in Jesus Christ.  Here He gives us another strong reason; Jesus did many works that only God could do!  No human doctor could heal the sick as Jesus did. No human grocer could feed the crowds as Jesus did.  No human exorcist could cast out demons as Jesus did. No human teacher could teach as Jesus did.  No human leader could lead men and women as Jesus did.  No human motivator could motivate people as Jesus did.  Every work that Jesus Christ did on this earth proved that He was doing the work of God.

Why was this so hard for the people of His day to accept?  In the next chapter we will see Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and the leaders wanted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.  Perhaps, If Jesus had just done these works and not claimed to be one with God it would have gone differently.  For to accept Jesus as God was to have to accept His authority over their lives.

People today are no different in this category.  Religion is fine.  Jesus is good.  We like Christmas and Easter.  But don’t expect us to really treat Jesus as God.  We like Him in a manger and on a cross but we don’t want Him in our lives telling us how to live.  Thus Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Do you accept the greatness of Christ without accepting His Lordship?  Then you would be no different than the Pharisees.  Yes Jesus did great acts in His incarnation but those acts were not the acts of a really great and powerful man but the acts of God Himself.  It is when we accept Jesus as Lord that He comes in and changes our lives for our good and for His glory.

Join us tonight for prayer time.  We have many prayer needs for which we band together before the throne of God. 

Pray for our youth group and kids club as they meet and gather around games and the Word of God.  We have great opportunities each week to care for the souls of those who come.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus is God; where does Jesus abide?

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John 10

29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

 

If Jesus is God, if Jesus and the Father are one, and if Jesus indwells us at salvation, then we have God in us.  If Jesus is God, if Jesus and the Father are one, and if Jesus indwells us at salvation, then we have God in us.

I am pretty sure that we don’t live our lives with this realization.  Since we don’t realize this we don’t live with any real expectation of God doing mighty works through us.  We don’t expect God to act on our behalf.  We don’t think He cares about us when things don’t go well.  We don’t call upon Him first, we fret and worry and get depressed first.

Do you see the problem in our lives?  We don’t live with the understanding that the God of heaven, the God of creation, and the God of salvation lives in us at all times.  If we really understood this biblical truth we would turn to Him much more often, we would wait upon Him to work before we worried or panicked into error, and we would have greater peace in all of the chapters of our lives.

The Jews who heard Jesus say this were so astounded at his claim that they wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy.  They certainly did not believe that Jesus was equal with God but Jesus knew this to be true.  My friend, Jesus is God!  Jesus lives in those whom He has saved.  God lives in us.  Let God change your life into the man or woman that He created you to be.  Let God direct your path according to His eternal wisdom and power.

And then consider this, God is in us now preparing us to be with Him forever.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

1 John 4:13  By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

 

Remember to pray one for another.  Several families in our church need to see the power of God work His miracles of grace and peace in them. Pray that God will make Himself known and be glorified in our church families today. 

Pray for those who heard the gospel Sunday night.  We long to see people come to the Savior and be saved from their sin by God’s grace. 

Pray for God’s provision for our church.  Yes, we need to see the mighty power of God in every part of our lives. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Hear His voice and be secure

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John 10

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

 

Imagine witnessing the healing of thousands of people, hearing the most amazing teaching of all time, and then being told that a man born blind had been miraculously given his sight.  Were that to happen today the world would know that there was a miracle worker named Jesus.  But in Jesus day there was still doubt in people’s minds.  Was this the Christ, the anointed One of God?  Was he the Messiah-Servant of Isaiah’s prophesies?  Was He the One?  So they asked Jesus again, are you He?

Jesus patiently took the time to answer them and then let all of us for all time know that the only ones who would accept Him were those who belong to Him.  “My sheep hear my voice” Jesus said.  This indicates that there are those who are His sheep and those who are not His sheep.  When we, who know Him, hear Biblical teaching, we hear the voice of God speaking to our hearts.  We agree with God’s truth in that we hear it and know it is from Him.  Others, who are not His, hear the same messages and get nothing out of it.  Those who get nothing from God’s word do not know the Shepherd and so cannot hear His voice.

Then Jesus goes one step further and tells us for all time that those who hear His voice belong to Him and possess eternal life given them from Him.  Those who possess eternal life will never perish and will always be in God’s place of protection.  I am so very thankful for this teaching and for God’s call upon my life.  I am thankful that as one called by Him I hear His voice.  I am thankful that I am kept by Christ and secured by the Father. No one can snatch, or kidnap, any of the sheep of Jesus from the hands of God.  We are eternally secure in Him.

Are you eternally secure today?  Have you heard the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus? I have and will be eternally thankful for His call.

As you know, I took a week off and went to see our son, Justin and his wife Katelyn and their boys, Joel, Hudson, Owen and Carson.  It was a wonderful week of family time.  What a joy to spend time with them all just doing life together.  One of the joys of being grandparents is the influence we can have on the grandsons.  We did lots of fun stuff together but most of all just spent time loving them and being a godly influence in their lives.  It all ends too quickly yet will be remembered for a long time. 

I am thankful to be back at Grace for Life.  We sure to do love our church which is the people who make it up.  It was a joy to be back with everyone sharing God’s word and His love to all.  Then last night going out to the Riverwalk to point people to Christ was a thrilling time.  Many people opened up for spiritual conversations and we are praying today for God to bring the seeds to fruition. 

Pray with us for God’s financial provisions.  We owe the daycare employees another payroll to finish off our accounts there.  God knows this and we are seeking His provision. 

I reminded the church yesterday that God does not see people’s color or culture but sees people made in His image.  It is high time that we as Christians see people from God’s point of view.  This prejudice mess that our country is in can be fixed if all of us would see each other as made in God’s image and in His likeness.  We are people.  We are not different to be treated different but different by God’s design to accomplish His purposes.  Embrace the differences and rejoice in the people around you that are different from you. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS