Month: August 2016

Never doubt God’s love for you

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John 13

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

The prevailing attitude of God to man is love.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”  Jesus always showed compassion on the sick, the poor, the crippled and even the healthy as he fed them, taught them, and spent Himself for them day after day.  In fact, Jesus loved the world all the way to the Cross and through it.  He didn’t ask for help nor did He give in to the difficulty but held by love the Father’s will our Lord finished what He came to do, He purchased our redemption.

Romans 5:8 continues this: But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God, knowing all about our sin from birth to death, loving us sent His Son to pay the price for our sin.  There is not a religion in the world that uses this idea for gods do not send their sons to pay for man’s problems.  But the God of heaven is higher than our thoughts and imaginations and out of love for us, His creation, did just that, and we are eternally thankful.

Then Paul wrote in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God and goes through a list of things that normally separate people from people.  So, if you ever doubt the love of God for you, don’t.  He has not left you alone but has more thoughts of you than the sand of the sea.  His care for you will never end.  His love for you sent His Son to die for your sins so you could be with Him both now and forever.  Rejoice!

Yesterday morning, at 6:00, Pastor Bill’s heart rate went from 70 to 190 where it stayed for an hour and a half.  The cardiologist had to use electrolysis treatment (the defibrillator) to bring his heart back into rhythm.  Because of that episode, this morning they are going to do a procedure to see if he needs an implanted defibrillator or if his heart will respond to a medicine and come out of that high rate.  Pray for guidance and wisdom for the doctors as they increase his heart rate to test the meds.  That is around 10:00. 

I hope to see you tonight for prayer and for Bible study.  There will be kids club tonight as well as youth group.  We will be praying for the people we met on Sunday night.

If anyone can help, we will be cutting trees at the church Saturday morning.  Many hands make light the work.  We will be starting around 7:30.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Jesus was committed to God’s word

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John 12

47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

 

For those of you who come to Grace for Life Bible Church, you cannot help but hear a great big exclamation point in this passage.  Yesterday’s message from Isaiah 66:1-3 was an emphasis on hearing and doing the Word of God.  This has been a continuing theme in our church for a while now.  And here, in John 12 we read that Jesus made the same emphasis.  (We actually get our emphasis from Him.)

What did God give us?  He gave us words. What do those words do?  They lead us to Him and direct us in His will.  Knowing this to be true, why do we struggle so hard against God’s clear instructions for life and for godliness?  Why do we struggle against gathering as a New Testament church?  (It amazes me how easily people don’t go to church. Church member will stay home for the smallest reasons as though obeying God’s directives to gather is an option in their week.)

As our kids were growing up we sought to be wisdom sources in their lives.  We would get our wisdom from the Bible and then seek to implant it in their lives.  Sometimes they listened and sometimes they didn’t.  When they listened their lives were much better than when they didn’t.  As adults, we have the very same options, that is, either we listen to God’s wisdom through His word and life goes better or we don’t listen to God’s wisdom through His word and life goes worse.

I guess the point of today’s passage is that Jesus spoke the words of God His Father.  Do we really believe this?  When we are fully convinced that the Word of God has been given we will change our lives to live in line with that Word.  Jesus points out that in the judgment our treatment of God’s word will be our judge. It will not be an arbitrary judgment for God keeps records of what we do with His Word.  Think about it.

We had an amazing night of ministry last night.  People kept coming in groups to solve the riddle thus giving us endless opportunities to guide them through the riddles on the board to the end riddle which was the Gospel itself.  There was great openness on their parts and great freedom on ours.  Dave and MaryEllen, Rob, Bobbi and myself all talked to many people about Christ.  Kyle engaged a college freshmen for nearly an hour.  I think we left around 9:00 so for an hour and a half if was continuous public proclaiming of Jesus Christ as the Savior from our sins.  Pray with us today for people who heard to come under conviction of sin and be drawn to salvation.  Many other church people came as a part of the “crowd” and I was thankful for them all.  The singing, the participation of the sketches and the engaging of people in conversation was the work of every one of us.  My cup was filled with rejoicing for a great outreach into our community for Christ. 

We are waiting today to get the next blood level results for my dad to see if his internal bleeding has stopped.  It has been a long weekend as he has been in the hospital since Thursday.  Continue to pray with us for his recovery.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Praise of men or the praise of God?

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John 12

42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
You have to find this interesting.  Just after a reminder of the prophecy of Isaiah where the people would hear and not believe, John writes that many believed but because of the fear of being put out of the synagogue wouldn’t confess Christ openly.  He then tells us why this was so, they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.  After the resurrection many of these did publicly profess Christ but not during His life.

Do we struggle with this?  Are there times we keep our faith silent lest we endure the harassment of others?  Do we speak up for Christ as often as we should?  Do we stand against their wickedness and stand up for righteousness as often as we ought?  Or are we afraid of what someone might say?  Wickedness needs barriers and we, filled with the Spirit, are to be those barriers.  We must stand up for Christ who saved us and who set us free.

Then Christ said that when we believe in Him we believe in the Father.  Jesus came to point us to God. He came with the light of the Father so we would not walk in darkness.  Therefore, we must not be afraid nor ashamed to show that Light.  Solomon wrote that the fear of man is a snare, it holds us back. Let the Lord shine through you. Let His light shine whenever it needs to.  Let us not be like those who loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.  We have the Light.

Please pray for Pastor Bill today.  He is in the hospital with some internal bleeding somewhere.  He is in good spirits, better than my mom who is frightened by it.  There are supposed to go see my sister and her family Saturday.  This might put an end to those plans. 

Saturday afternoon some men are cutting trees at church.  If you are available to come help we will need help dragging and stacking. 

Sunday afternoon we are going to the Riverwalk for outreach.  Pray for God to open hearts to His gospel.  We long to see people saved but only God can breathe new life into a dead heart.  Pray that He will.

Today is also Stefani’s birthday.  Send her a greeting if you can. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Walk in the Light lest it leave us in our darkness

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John 12

34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.

36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

How could the people of Jesus’ day have seen and heard so much from Him, watched the character and compassion of His life and still not believed that He was God in the flesh? Their eyes were blinded by tradition and the teachings of men. Their lives were filled with their ancient religion while ignoring the Author of that faith. They were content to practice what God said about Temple worship but were not interested in hearing what God said about their lives.

Jesus claimed to be the Light of the world and told them here that He, the Light, was with them. In the light of Jesus Christ they knew where they were going. He was constantly teaching them His truths and guiding their understanding. This is what spiritual light does, it guides us through the various pitfalls and situations of life. Christ, our Light, leads us around deception, worthless tradition, and empty ritual. He leads us into His presence where we find grace, peace and fullness of joy.

Verse 36 tells a sad truth: when people reject the Lord long enough he eventually cannot be found by them. There came a time when Jesus stopped teaching them. He was preparing for Calvary and they were not interested in Jesus the Savior only Jesus the great provider of bread and fish for their human stomachs.

“Lord Jesus, we are listening to you today. Our hearts and minds are open to Your teaching from Your word. We need your guidance and we want your instruction. May we see your unique leading today.”

Paul often asked his readers to pray for him. Today, I am asking for your prayers.

Pray today also for Sunday’s outreach. Our hearts are heavy for the souls of the people of Naperville who have everything but without Christ have nothing. They are sick with success and aren’t even aware of where this sickness is taking them. We grieve for them knowing what is ahead, just around the corner. But in their sinful darkness they are blind to the upcoming ditches and pits of life. Only the Lord, the Light of the world, can shine truth into their hearts bringing conviction of sin and a crisis of soul that cries out for the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Lift up Christ, people are drawn to Him

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John 12

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

Headed toward the crucifixion and the wrath of the Father for the sin of the world, Jesus was troubled. Yet, His troubled spirit did not lead Christ to change His mind. Instead, the Father sent His voice to comfort the Son and to confirm His purposes to the crowd.

 

I am so often amazed at all that God does to confirm Himself to us. He reveals Himself in the Bible, in nature, in humanity, and more. Here God revealed Himself through His spoken voice. Jesus, from this revelation, went into a short discourse on the coming defeat of satan, the ruler of this world. Jesus, on the other hand, was going to be lifted up and in His lifted up position would draw all people to Himself. Thus, the Lord Jesus pressed forward to complete the Father’s will.

 

So Jesus, knowing that He was going to be crucified and face the Father’s wrath for our sin, taught that in doing so He would draw all people to Himself. Most religious leaders proclaim their own goodness or exalt themselves. Jesus went to a cross. Men start religions; Jesus opened up the possibility for a renewed relationship with God. As gory as the Lord’s death was, we speak of it in terms of endearment and thanksgiving for surely, on the Cross, the Lord has drawn us all to Himself.

 

It has been my life goal to lift up Jesus. In lifting up the Savior people are drawn to Him. Some people have personality ministries but I want people to be drawn the Christ. It is eternity with Him that we desire and it is the Cross that is the bridge enabling us to get to God.

 

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for not backing down but for going all the way to the Cross for me. You have drawn me to Yourself and I have come to You.”

 

 

We will be meeting at 7:00 tonight for prayer. Join us.

 

The teens will be meeting at 7:00 as well. There is no kids club this week.

 

Ben and Anna made it safely to California. Their stuff also arrived intact.

 

Mark Massey has asked for specific prayer for Victory as they are opening soon. They have boys confirmed and others in process. Pray for the right boys. He also needs a single man to work as an RA for the year. Pray for the right person for that job.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A Right Focus vs. A Wrong Focus – Isaiah 65:17-25

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In this message, Pastor Steve challenges us with the wonderful reality that in heaven we won’t remember this life nor will its events come to mind.  In light of this teaching, how can we live today?  Can we cast all of our care on the Lord?  Can we find perfect peace? A better vision of the New Jerusalem will enable us to live with a better focus now.

 

George Mueller vs Howard Hughes

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I have studied both of these men and when I read this quote from a new book I found it worth reading.  Welcome to Monday and a new week.
Generosity and Your Wealth
Howard Hughes was one of the wealthiest men to have lived in the past two hundred years. He was an aviator, an investor, a filmmaker, a business tycoon, an engineer, a hotelier, and an entrepreneur. Yet he was one of the most eccentric, troubled people you could ever come across. Hughes was known as a pleasure-seeking playboy with an aversion to giving. As he grew older, he accumulated more and more wealth, amassing a fortune of over $2.5 billion.
Despite his substantial wealth, Hughes was known as stingy, self-centered, and selfish, allowing his fortune to create an artificial barrier between himself and all those who cared for him. Even as he suffered tremendously with mental and physical health, he pushed away everybody in his life. Hughes became a recluse and was known to lock himself away in one place for months at a time. By the time of his death, he was practically unrecognizable. He died miserable, sad, and alone. His life was one of selfishness and greed. His wealth became a prison, condemning him to a lonely life and death.
In sharp contrast to Hughes, George Müller lived a life marked by radical generosity, although he began life with a purpose similar to Howard Hughes’s and was known for stealing, gambling debts, drunkenness, and lewd stories. However, Müller experienced a spiritual transformation and set out to serve God and bring Him glory.
Müller and his wife were deeply affected by the plight of orphans roaming the streets in their town of Bristol, England. They decided to begin an orphanage and determined that they would never ask for money. Whenever they had a need, they brought it to God and watched Him provide. During his life Müller received over 1.5 million pounds in donations. He directed every pound to serving the orphans in his care. He and his wife cared for more than 10,000 orphans, sharing their lives and Christ with each of them.
When Müller died, he had influenced countless souls and is remembered as one of the greatest men of faith in history. He never held on to what was given to him but invested it in other people, and God always provided for him and the orphans. When any orphan became old enough to leave the orphanage, Müller placed a Bible in the orphan’s right hand and a coin in the orphan’s left hand. He prayed with the child and told him that if he clung tightly to what was in his right hand, God would always make sure he had something in his left hand.

Both of these men had what many of us long for. Howard Hughes had great wealth and power; George Müller, great faith and impact. However, in these two contrasting stories we see the destructive force of greed and the life-giving force of generosity. Only one of these men lived a life worth emulating, a life filled with joy and wonder. I recently heard a quotation by a Canadian man named Carey Nieuwhof that fittingly sums up these two stories: “There are no inspiring stories of accumulation, only inspiring stories of sacrifice.”

 

Excerpted from God Owns It All 
by Ron Blue.
© 2016. LifeWay Press

Preparing one another for Mature ministry – Ephesians 4

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As we sent off Ben and Anna to their new ministry in Lincoln, California, Pastor Steve asked us to consider who we are training next. We spent four-five years training Ben and almost two years training Anna. They leave us well prepared for mature ministry. We have a church with several young people and young adults, as Paul called us to prepare one another for the work of the ministry, who are we going to prepare now?

 

The Ultimate Leader

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John 12

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Jesus did more than tell his followers what to do; He showed them what to do.  First He told them then He showed them.

In the glorification of the Son of God, which took place at the resurrection, there was a process of dying and death.  It is this process that Jesus taught us here.  If you pick up a handful of grain that grain is going to be nice and round and ready to be put in the ground.  When the grain is put into the ground it splits open thus giving its life, it can never be planted again, for the stalk to grow and the new grain to multiply.  As long as that grain seed is on the shelf or out of the dirt it remains by itself, alone.  But when that grain is put in the ground and splits open, thus giving its life away, then it has company and knows its purpose.

Jesus uses this illustration to teach us the reason for His death and then tells us to follow Him.  Jesus did not love His life unto the death but gave of His life for the ransom of many.  If Jesus had chosen not to die His life would not have been multiplied and like the seed on the shelf His life would not have fulfilled its eternal purpose.  So then we too have an eternal purpose which is to plant our lives into the lives of others so that we can bear eternal fruit unto God.  If we keep our lives from dying for Christ, Galatians 2:20, we will never enjoy the fruit, the benefit of why we were created.

Only when we lose our lives will we find them.  Only when we hate our lives here will we keep them for eternal life.  Only when we follow Christ as He both described and demonstrated will we know the honor of God the Father both now and forever.

Yes, Jesus taught us well and yes, He demonstrated the lesson.  Let us lose our lives in His.  Let us die to our own lives so that others may join us for eternity.

It is Friday. It is a busy day for many of us.  Remember to pray for one another to know the joy of the Lord, the victory of the Holy Spirit, and Divine appointments for God’s glory. 

Pray for Sunday and for the wonderful opportunities God has for us to gather around His Word.  I look forward to seeing you. 

Our presidential candidates are imploding.  This is no surprise to students of human character.  Neither candidate has demonstrated a life of godly character so it is no surprise when things about their godless character come out.  Pray for God to show this country His plan and purpose.  Gather with other Christians for greater and more fervent prayer for our country.  I have seen more emphasis on prayer than ever before.  Perhaps this is one of God’s designs for His people in America.  We must seek His face for the future of ourselves and of our children as Americans. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Show them Jesus

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John 12

20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

When I was a teenager my father took me to preach a sermon at Pacific Garden Mission on State Street in Chicago.  It was a place for me to determine if this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life.  It was an exercise in study and proclamation of the Gospel.  While I was excited to go there, I was also quite scared.  We met with Harry Salner who was the director; Mr. Salner prayed before every service with all who were going to be a part of that service.  He prayed fervently for the men to be saved and to follow Jesus.  Then we went out to the platform and before long it was my turn.  I think I was sixteen years old.  As I walked up to the pulpit and realized that hundreds of men had preached from it I read the brass plate on the pulpit which only the speaker could read.  It said this and it set the tone of my heart from that day forward: “Sirs, we would see Jesus.”

The men in the mission did not need to see young Steve Schroeder nor did they need to see a seasoned preacher, they needed to see Jesus.

When the Greeks came to Phillip, who was an Apostle, they were not impressed with Phillip for they wanted to see Jesus.  How easy it is to get a false self-inflated view of our own importance.  Whether people know us or not may or may not be of significance but if through us people see Jesus that has eternal significance.

Whom are you pointing to Jesus?  At work, do people see you or do they see Jesus in you?  At home, does your family see you or do they see Jesus in you?  In the community, do people see you or do they see Jesus in you?  We are selfish, Christ is selfless.  We are self-exalting, Christ is God exalting, and so on.

As these Greek men wanted to see Jesus so do those around us.  Pray today for someone to see Jesus in you.

Well, last night was a huge blessing and answer to prayer.  Many were concerned about Ben’s leaving having a negative impact on our youth group.  Mike Sell and his fiancé Ashley came last night. Kyle put together a great new game, and the teens unified!  It was wonderful to see God continuing His work amongst us.  Mike stepped up in several ways and drew the teens to himself and pointed them to the Lord.  We are rejoicing in what God has done and thanking Him for continuing His work here. 

Pray for our brothers and sisters both in Christ and in the flesh who are suffering with loss of homes both in California and in Louisiana.  The pain they are facing is immense as is the rebuilding they have to face.  Pray for churches to step up with care and concern and help for these in great need. Pray for the gospel to be freely proclaimed and received.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

God’s purposes in our greatest pain

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John 12

12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:

“Hosanna!

‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’

The King of Israel!”

14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:

15     “Fear not, daughter of Zion;

Behold, your King is coming,

Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

 

When Jesus did not come quickly to keep Lazarus from dying, Mary and Martha rebuked him.  The others there also wondered why Jesus did not come to keep Lazarus from death.  But Jesus had a greater purpose. He knew that by raising Lazarus from the dead God would be glorified and more people would believe that Jesus was the Christ.  Notice in verse 17 the reference to Lazarus resurrection.  After the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, it is noted that a part of the people’s reaction to hail Jesus as King was due to the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

Mary and Martha had to go through the sorrow of the death of their beloved brother.  They had to go through the intense questioning of heart wondering why Jesus did not come and do something.  Their faith wavered and collapsed as is evident by their rebuking of the Savior.  But God had a bigger plan.  God let them go through that apparent difficulty because He had a much greater and larger plan that required the death of their brother.  God was looking to the Triumphal Entry as a fulfillment of prophecy which required the people have a greater belief in Jesus as the Christ.  The raising of Lazarus provided that extra measure of belief and worship.

Before we think that God has left us alone, before we think that God has missed something important, we need to ask for the eyes of faith to see what God has in mind.  His purposes are eternal and they always exalt His great name.  The immediate situation may appear bleak and painful but there is going to be a greater purpose from our pain.  Jesus did not forsake Mary and Martha.  He was doing the will of the Father who knew what needed to happen.  Jesus has never forsaken us and never will.  Let us not ever be guilty of blaming the Lord for a situation that He could have fixed if He had just shown up.  Instead, let us ask for an increase of faith to be able to see what God is doing through our human tragedies.

There will not be kids club tonight nor next Wednesday.  There will be youth group tonight as it is Mike’s first night with our teens.  Pray for Mike as he steps into this new position.  Pray for him to have a love and a compassion for our teens that they will sense and trust.   We will also have prayer time and Bible study.

On Sunday, one of our church family commented on the strengths of our church and then asked me why our church is not bigger.  I have pondered this often over the years.  As I read the book, Reverberation, I find the authors answer to be clear.  As a church, how much do we talk about, reverberate, the message of the Word of God into our community?  People don’t come to church unless someone invites them. We do have much to offer but unless we bring people in they won’t know what we have.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Our Tribute to Ben and Anna Schroeder on their last Sunday with us.

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We took some time in this service on August 14th to tell Ben and Anna how much they meant to us.  Thanks Ben and Anna for your godly and selfless service to GFL.

 

Our teens leading the worship on August 14th

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GFL reens leading the worship during the morning service.  Great job guys and girls.  Hope to see much more of you serving in this way.