Month: August 2016

Are we of those who believe?

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John 11

45 Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

As I said Sunday, (BTW, the message is up on the church website.) we want many things from God.  The Jews in Babylon wanted God to give them a better life.  They were tired of their years of captivity, their destroyed city of Jerusalem, and they thought that if God showed up in power the Babylonians would believe in Him and send them home.  What we learned Sunday is that God wants to show us His mercy and does to all who come seeking Him.

Jesus let Lazarus die so that in raising Lazarus from the dead people would believe.  And there were many who seeing the dead brought back to life believed.  I hope I would have been amongst those who believed.

But then there were the Pharisees who seeing the dead raised to life committed to putting both Jesus and Lazarus to death!  What in the world?  How could they see such an amazing miracle and not believe?  Here is the rub; they did not want to believe.  Their contempt for Jesus was so great that even this amazing show of the power of God did not turn their hearts but embittered them even more.

So in light of Sunday’s message from Isaiah 64-65 the desired show of God’s power won’t do what we want it to do.  For the Pharisees of today, the haters of Jesus and of all there is to know about God won’t be turned by a great display of God’s power.  Think about this: what is the greatest display of the power of God?  If you answered “Salvation,” then you answered correctly. There is no greater power than the power of God unto salvation.  So when God shows His mercy to a sinner’s heart and that sinner becomes and child of God possessing the righteousness of God and eternal life in the Son, the greatest miracle of all time has taken place.  When someone is saved, some believe and some mock.  Just like the audience at the tomb of Lazarus.  Are we of those who believe?

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Why did Jesus weep?

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John 11

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
One of the worst sermons I ever heard was taken from John 11:35.  The pastor taught that Jesus wept, He showed emotion, and so can we.  Jesus showing emotion has nothing to do with this situation.  Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He was not sad that Lazarus had died.  Jesus knew before he got there that Lazarus was dead and that the Father was going to be glorified by the raising of this man from the tomb.  So, no, Jesus did not weep because Lazarus died.

Paul teaches us not to grieve the Spirit of God.  When Jesus arrived on the scene, He told them that He was the resurrection and the life.  He told them that their brother was going to live.  But not one person there looked to Jesus with hope.  They scolded Him; they questioned His ability, and continually belittled Jesus for letting Lazarus die.  The grief that Jesus showed was because of their unbelief.  Later, Jesus wept over the unbelief of Jerusalem.  In the Garden Jesus scolded His disciples for their lack of prayer and faith.

Why did Jesus weep at Lazarus’ tomb?  Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem?  How do we grieve the Holy Spirit of God today?  Whenever we don’t believe that God is able to care for us, that God’s plans and purposes are good for us, and we in a fleshly reaction doubt Him, we grieve our Lord.  Jesus taught that our faith only need be the size of a mustard seed and we can move mountains.  Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that when we have faith we please God.  Romans 14:23 teaches us that whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Yes, we can please God and yes we can grieve God.  When we truly trust Him in our difficult situations we please Him.  Conversely, when we do not trust God but blame Him for our difficulties without looking to Him for His purposes, we grieve God.  “Lord, increase our faith.”

Tomorrow morning is our monthly men’s prayer breakfast at Denny’s at 7:30. If this breakfast is not your habit, please join us tomorrow. 

Sunday morning I will be bringing a message from Isaiah 64-65.  If you want to prepare you mind and heart for this message read these chapters a few times before you come. 

Pray Naperville will be meeting for public prayer on Saturday September 24th.  They need church volunteers for the day of the event.  If you can volunteer let me know on Sunday.  If you are not sure what Pray Naperville is, look at their website. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Good ol’ fun

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Where do our opinions lead us?

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John 11

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
How difficult it is for us to get past our own opinions.  Our opinions are based on our thoughts, our observances, and our emotions.  We know what we saw and we know how it made us feel.  We call this, our reality.  Mary and Martha had their reality. They lived through the grief and the pain of their brother’s death.  They wrapped up his dead body and laid it in the tomb. Before Lazarus died they sent a message to Jesus and they just knew that Jesus would show up before their brother died, but He did not. It was their opinion that Jesus had failed them and whenever He came they were going to tell Him the full weight of their opinion, and they did.

Have you ever given God your opinion based on what you saw and how you felt? Have you ever blamed God for letting something happen that He could have changed if He had just shown up?  Before we get too self-righteous in condemning Mary and Martha let’s ask if we would have done it differently than they did.

Jesus knew exactly what He was doing.  He wanted Lazarus to die so that He could teach a lesson to all people of all generations to come that He, Jesus Christ, was and is the resurrection and the life.  In order for Jesus to give us this wonderful lesson, Lazarus, the brother of Jesus’ good friends, Mary and Martha, had to physically die.  Was Jesus more concerned about the happiness of the sisters or the timeless lesson they and we were going to learn?  For later, Paul would write that in the face of death we sorrow but not as those who have no hope.  He wrote that if we believe Jesus died and rose again than we can also believe that God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Christ.

Having the resurrection of Lazarus in our memories we know that what Paul wrote was true.  Jesus is the resurrection and the life and all who believe in Him, though they die, yet they shall life and all who live and believe in Him will never die.  No, we never die!  Our bodies go to sleep in the grave but our souls live forever in the presence of God who will, like He did with Lazarus, one day reunite our souls with our bodies to be resurrected forever.

So be careful about your gloomy and bitter opinions.  God may have a plan to use your experience to teach a timeless lesson that is far beyond your current understanding.  Mary and Martha were going to understand this but they had to go through their brother’s death to get there.

Join with us in prayer tonight.  We do not pray as an exercise nor as an experience but we pray expecting God to do what we cannot do. We pray in faith believing that God is hearing our prayers and is working on our behalf through our prayers to accomplish His eternal purposes.  Join us at 7:00 tonight to pray the God who alone can make a difference. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

“Let us go and die with Lazarus.”

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John 11

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.”

16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
Thomas, who later doubted that Jesus rose from the dead and demanded to put his fingers into the holes of Christ’s hand and side, may have been on to something when Lazarus died.  I doubt that Thomas had a death wish, that is, I don’t think he wanted to literally die with Lazarus, but he realized something significant happened to Lazarus and wanted to participate.  At that level, Thomas’ comment here is notable.

Thomas would have known of Christ’s love for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  He would have known that Jesus did all things well.  He would have known that Jesus had a plan for Lazarus though he could not have known what the plan was.  Thomas did know that something great was happening and that Lazarus’ death was at the center of it.  Jesus was not grieving for His friend nor did Jesus hurry to heal His friend.  So when Jesus plainly told His disciples that Lazarus was dead Thomas knew something was going to happen.

Thomas was right.  Something great was going to happen and something great did happen.  Maybe that day was a notable day in Thomas’ life as well.  Maybe he did die to his flesh and to his own future plans.  Maybe Thomas was the first one to understand the future words penned by Paul in Galatians 2:20.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Would that all of us were to die like Lazarus only to be raised to walk in newness of life with Christ.  Lazarus’ resurrection is a clear picture of our salvation.  We who are dead in trespasses and sin meet the Lord Jesus who calls us by name out of our death into His presence and His life.  We who were in darkness are called into light so that we can see and understand the truth of God.  Yes, Thomas, let us all go to see Lazarus that we too might die with Him to be resurrected by Jesus to walk in newness of life.

Having been gone for the last week and a half I have missed penning these devotionals. I trust you have gone to other sources or have re-read previous devotions or written your own in my absence. 

We had a wonderful time with our family last week while we anticipated Hannah and Josh’s wedding on Saturday.  What a joy and a thrill to see God so lead in the lives of His servants who patiently waited on Him.  It was also a great time to see God’s blessing in the lives of all of our family who have sought Him and His will for their lives.  As I said on Sunday, our family is enjoying the fruit of the seeds planted by our parents and ourselves.  God has indeed brought up a crop of His righteousness. 

Last Sunday’s sermon is on the church website, www.graceforlifebc.com

Thank you for your prayers for the daycare.  God has provided much of the needed funds.  We still need around $3,500 to finish off the bills and salaries.  I am thankful for God’s abundant provision and for His protection.  Thank you for your dedicated prayers.

Remember our sister Pam E in your prayers.  She is suffering from internal shingles and we have missed her dearly.  Pray for her recovery and quick return to her church family.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Grace Giving, part 2, 2 Corinthians 9

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In this passage Paul tells us that as we plant physical seeds of ourselves and of our money that God will reward us with fruits of righteousness. Pastor Steve takes time to look at the rewards of grace giving as the righteousness from God. This message will affect how you give and will change God’s rewards to you in this life