Month: September 2016

To speak up for Christ or not

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John 13

36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”

37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”

38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

 

Has anyone ever told you your faults?  Perhaps they were hidden faults but when they told you it hurt.  Imagine, if you can, the Lord Jesus telling Peter, who had just promised dying faithfulness, that he was going to deny him before the sun rose the next day.  The pain in Peter’s heart must have been great as he confirmed again his dying faithfulness along with all of the disciples.

We know the rest of the story.  We know that they all forsook Jesus that night.  John followed from afar.  Peter hung around to see what was going to happen.  Before daybreak, Peter had denied the Lord to a servant girl and did so with an oath, promising that he never even knew Jesus.

Let’s take a look inside for a moment.  What has it taken for you to either deny the Lord Jesus or to remain silent when His name came up?  Have there been times when you sensed an opportunity to speak up for Christ and the Gospel and in fear didn’t?

I think that if Jesus told us that we would deny him before dawn we would take Peter’s stance and vehemently reject that prophecy.  But maybe there are times when we are just as weak as Peter and need our faith strengthened so that in the moment of opportunity we speak up for the Lord instead of remaining in cowardly silence against Him.

Tonight we are meeting for a special prayer service.  This is not gathering in groups for prolonged prayer.  This is not enduring someone up front going on in prayer.  This prayer service is designed to look at God, to listen to God, to learn from God and to respond to what God teaches us.  It is both directed and interactive with a focus on prayer.  Our focus tonight will be on our opportunity to be a light for Christ right now.  It will begin at 7:00.  If you miss the beginning you miss the needed introspection time. If you need to leave early you will miss the greatest application time.  Yes, you can come late and yes you can leave early but you will want to come for the whole time.

Sunday is our combined service with all three congregations that meet in our church.  It begins at 11:00.  This service will prove to be a blessed time of fellowship across cultural lines. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The glorification of Christ

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John 13

31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As Jesus prepared for the Cross, He prepared His disciples by telling them to love one another as THE sign of Him in them.  They did not get the lesson at this time for their very next words were words of worry that He was leaving them.

Judas had just left to betray Jesus when the Lord said that now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in Him.   What we consider to be the worst thing Judas could do Jesus saw as the beginning of His greatest glorification.  As we look back to the Cross and all of the redemptive work of God the Father and God the Son we understand Jesus’ words.  For though the life of Jesus was glorious in all of His teachings and healings, if it were not for His atoning death and justifying resurrection we would only have had an amazing life without a sin-removing Lamb.

In all of the redemptive plans of God we see His unending love for His people.  Surely they knew Jesus loved the masses for He always showed compassion on them.  But it was because of His death that Paul could write these words, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”  Oh the love of God from which we can never be separated demonstrated and confirmed at the Cross.  Yes, Jesus was glorified from this moment on like He had never been glorified before.  Yes, now we can love one another with a love that before the Cross was not a part of the human understanding.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Tomorrow night there is a special prayer time at the church.  This prayer time will cause us to look inward, upward and outward.  We will seek the scriptures to know the voice of God as we pray.  If we expect our church to continue, we must pray.  If we expect our community to come to the Savior, we must pray.  If we expect our children to follow Christ, we must pray.  Join us from 7-9 as we gather to seek God’s face, not His hand.

Sunday is a combined service of the three churches that meet in our building.  The service begins at 11:00.  I am looking forward to this day and to our time to exalt the Lord together. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

 

Receiving Jesus is receiving the Father

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John 13

18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’

19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.

20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

In order for us to understand this we have to understand the background. Jesus, talking to His disciples, tells them that one of them is going to betray Him. Judas has not yet been identified but Jesus knows whom he is and what he is going to do. It was prophesied hundreds of years earlier. Judas was unwittingly fulfilling prophecy.

 

Jesus wanted the others to know that He was aware of what was going to happen and that He was still God. Judas’s actions were not going to be taking Jesus by surprise.

 

But then Jesus makes a statement about receiving and being received. When we receive the messengers of Christ we are receiving Him. When we receive Jesus we are at the same time receiving God the Father. Jesus thought this teaching important enough to tell his disciples shortly before Judas’s betrayal. For in his betrayal, Judas rejected Christ as God in the flesh and rejected the Father also!

 

My friends, our faith is totally wrapped up in the deity of Jesus Christ whom when we accept we are also accepting God the Father. Conjointly, when we place our faith in the Son we are also placing our faith in the Father. If we reject the Son we reject the Father. If we reject the Father, we also reject the Son! Therefore, we cannot accept any belief system that does not allow Jesus to be equal with God the Father nor allows the Father to be equal with the Son. It is all or nothing, either we accept Christ as God and God in Christ or we don’t.   There is no acceptable-to-God middle ground.

 

Tonight we will be having our second week of Kids4Truth. We had a good turn out last week but would love to see a few more kids from VBS show up. Pray with us about this. Mike has done a great job teaching our teens on Wednesday nights and Kyle has been running the games. We are tweaking it as we go and the teens have made the transition with enthusiasm. Mike is going through the book of Daniel comparing Daniel to our teens. It is a very comparable application.

 

The adult prayer time and Bible studies start at 7:00.

 

I would ask you to pray for Pastor Bill’s recovery of his strength. While in the hospital he was five days on a liquid diet and in bed. Now at home he is eating much better, thanks to Kit, and getting some exercise every day.   Just join me in prayer for a little bit more strength to return to him.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Serve others at the level of their need, Jesus set the example

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John 13

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

 

All of us want to know blessing upon our lives.  When we see someone who seems especially blessed we might even wish to get near them to get some of their blessings.  At the end of the lesson on washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus told His disciples that they would blessed if they did the lesson that He taught them.  If this were just about foot washing, we would foot wash every service and would take turns doing it so that all of us would be blessed.

Christ washed their feet to teach them a lesson about serving one another.  Here was Jesus, the God of Creation, life and salvation, on His knees doing the job of a household slave.  He then tells these proud men, too proud to wash each other’s feet that day that He was teaching them a lesson by His example.  Here is the lesson: If our Master and Lord can humble Himself to serve so must we.

When we don’t want to serve God by serving someone else we make excuses for not doing it.  Quite frankly, serving others is inconvenient, costly, and humbling.  Serving someone else does not usually come at convenient time.  Think of the Good Samaritan and the priests who preceded him on the way.  We are not usually called upon to serve someone when we have nothing else to do.  But remember the lesson, if Jesus, our Lord and Master, can don the towel and wash feet on a hot day, we must do no less.  The next time you are called upon to serve someone, do so for Jesus’ sake.

Thank you, thank you for your prayers for my trip.  What a great time enjoying the fruit of our labors from twenty years ago!  God is using Keith and Janice Boss in St. John, New Brunswick to lead a church into its next chapter of ministry.  I spoke seven times in five days and loved every minute of it!  To get a glimpse of the church in Saint John or to hear the sermons, go to http://fundamentalbaptistchurch.org

Thanks to all who worked to bring the service here at Grace for Life on Sunday.  I heard that God was exalted and that His word was brought forth.  Thanks to Dave and Mary Davis, dear friends of our congregation, for coming.  And thanks to Mike Sell who agreed to lead the music at the last minute when the one who had agreed felt his voice was not able to do so.  Again, God was exalted and the service exalted the Savior. 

Remember that this Friday night from 7-10 we are having a special prayer time.  This is not a three hour prayer meeting but it is a three hour time of confession, meditation, song, and prayer with prayer being the emphasis.  Our church and our country are in desperate need of the intercession of the God of heaven.  We will be invoking God to do His work in very hard hearts. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Have you ever been treated like a servant? 

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John 13

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

 

Bobbi came home with a quote one day.  She said, “We always talk about how we want to be servants of Christ until someone treats us like a servant.”  Boy oh boy did that ever ring true. Ever since she gave me that quote it has hit me over and over again.  Yes, I want to be a servant of Jesus Christ. No, I don’t like being treated like a servant.  A servant might not hear the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’  A servant might not be asked his opinion.  A servant is just expected to do what others don’t want to do.  A servant gets tired but his expectations don’t lessen.  A servant makes less than he deserves.  A servant is always expected to be serving.  A servant is always expected to be pleasant.

When was the last time you were treated like a servant?  Did you like it?  Did you gripe about it?  Or did you turn your face to God and thank Him for the opportunity to serve His kingdom?

Imagine watching Jesus put on a servants towel, fill a bowl with water, and begin to wash your smelly, dirty feet.  Imagine how humbling that would be since Jesus did this because you were too proud to get the basin and wash the feet of your companions.  Yes, the Apostles were a bunch of proud guys who were in a stand-off awaiting someone to pick up the basin.  All of them needed their feet washed.  It was a hot and dusty day.  Yes, this was a common task.  But no, none of them wanted to be the servant but all of them wanted to be served. All twelve of them failed that test.

But when Jesus picked up the basin and the towel, they were ashamed.  He did not just wash their feet with joy but Jesus also taught them an amazing life lesson on being a true servant to all people.  Whom does God have you to serve today?  Keep your eyes open, there will be someone in need of a foot-wash, that is, a task below you but something you can do and must do in your service for Christ.

My dad is supposed to come home today.  The implant of the defibrillator was successful and he is feeling good and ready to come home.  He has a strict diet because of the internal bleeding so if you want to bring food get the list from Bobbi of what he can eat.  (Basically, he can’t eat anything with whole wheat, anything with nuts or fruits with skins.  Vegetables have to be very soft and meat has to be fully cooked.)  He can’t drive for two weeks so he will enjoy visitors.

Early tomorrow I fly out to St John’s, New Brunswick to preach at a men’s retreat and to preach an installment service for Keith Boss.  Keith was one of our Victory Home boys who went on to serve the Lord.  This is an exciting event to be a part of.  Consequently, I won’t be posting devotionals for a week. 

Sunday morning, missionary Dave Davis will be bringing the message at Grace for Life.  Dave is a great missionary who spent years in Pakistan with his wife as minsters of the Gospel.  Dave has been a friend of this church for over 40 years.  You won’t want to miss Dave Davis’s message. 

Remember to pray for one another.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS 

The results of choosing to live according to God’s word

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Psalm 112

1     Praise the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,

Who delights greatly in His commandments.

2     His descendants will be mighty on earth;

The generation of the upright will be blessed.

3     Wealth and riches will be in his house,

And his righteousness endures forever.

4     Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;

He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

5     A good man deals graciously and lends;

He will guide his affairs with discretion.

6     Surely he will never be shaken;

The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.

7     He will not be afraid of evil tidings;

His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

8     His heart is established;

He will not be afraid,

Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

9     He has dispersed abroad,

He has given to the poor;

His righteousness endures forever;

His horn will be exalted with honor.

10   The wicked will see it and be grieved;

He will gnash his teeth and melt away;

The desire of the wicked shall perish.

We read this passage in church Sunday morning.  There are so many good reasons to choose to live for God and to follow His righteousness.  I hope you will take time to re-read this Psalm today and see yourself in its’ descriptions.

My dad was supposed to be going in this afternoon for his procedure to install the defibrillator.  The hospital just called and moved it up to 8:30 this morning.  This changes my schedule so I am rushing this out to you before taking my mom up to the hospital.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

In the rocking chair of God’s will

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John 13

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,
Can you imagine knowing everything that was going on around you at all times?  Can you imagine knowing the intents of the hearts of the people around you?  Can you imagine not only knowing what was going on around you and the intents of those around you and knowing where it was all going to take you and that the very God of heaven was orchestrating it all to accomplish His divine and wonderful purposes?

Jesus did not stress over the devil entering Judas but instead reached out to Judas again in compassion and love.  Jesus did not kick Judas out of the group at this moment but left him in the group until the moment he would leave to betray Christ.  How could Jesus maintain such calmness in the presence of the one who was going to ruin His life and betray Him to the enemies who would then take and crucify Him?  The answer is simple; Jesus knew the Father’s plan and had agreed to submit fully to it.  Jesus knew that God the Father was in control of this evil situation and this deceived man.  Therefore, Jesus could be at peace.

No, we don’t have the Divine view that Jesus had.  We cannot see the omnipotent purposes in all around us.  But, we do know Him who does.  We are assured of His love for us as we read in verse 1, and then we read in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from His love.  Therefore, we too can be at peace in the worst of situations that people bring into our lives.

Are you surrendered to the will of God the Father?  Do you trust that He has your best interest at heart and that He has the best interest of all around you at heart?  Can you believe that the worst human situation is in the middle of God’s divine purposes and at some point, maybe not until heaven, you too will see that God was indeed in control and carefully working His plans?  As I live in this rocking chair of the will of God I am able to find peace in His plans at all times.  Can you?

Yesterday, the plans for Pastor Bill changed a few times.  As they checked his heart for an ablation they realized that he needed a defibrillator.  But then they saw that he had had a fever the day before and knew that there might still be infection in his body and did not want to cut him open for the implant with the possibility of infection.  So we all agreed that it would be better to wait a week and work on treating the infection and then installing the defibrillator.  But because of his hearts propensity to tachycardia he will have to stay in the hospital for the week.  Whew, what a day.  I am taking up clothes and a razor and other toiletry items so that he can at least feel human while incarcerated at the hospital for the week.  Thank you for all of your prayers.

Saturday morning we are taking down some trees at church.  If you can come help, please do. 

Pray for the families who have lost loved ones to earthquakes, fires and floods this month.  Our world in in turmoil and people are suffering.  God is in control and is still the God of all comfort.  Let us band together to pray for the comfort of those who have lost so much.

Have a great day in the Lord
PS