Month: November 2016

Recognizing and Defeating the Schemes of Satan within the Church – 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

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As the church corrected a sinning brother they stopped short of forgiving and restoring him to their membership. In this message we see how unforgiveness is one of Satan’s schemes to destroy the Church of God.

Christ prays for us in this world

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John 17

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

 

When Jesus spoke on this earth, He spoke the words of God.  He gave His disciples teachings of another world, the heavenly world where God dwells and reigns.  As the disciples heard and believed the words of the Father through the Son the world grew to hate them just as they hated Jesus.

In this part of his prayer, Jesus prays for us that as the world hates us we would be kept from Satan’s hands and plans.  The evil one is the prince of darkness, the ruler of this world, and the enemy of all that is God’s, especially His people, His church.  Yet, we are in this world and the world needs us in it.  We are the force that is holding back the powers of sin and darkness from complete rampage and corruption.  We who have the words of the Father in us know the truth, have been set free by it and long to see those we know and love also set free by God’s truth and grace.

We are sanctified by God’s truth.  We are cleansed from sin’s deceptive ways by the absolute truth of God.  Jesus taught us this truth as He is the way, the truth, and the life.  He was not of this world and once we accept Him as Savior and Lord, neither are we.  Jesus Christ, in the garden, prayed for us as we live in this world which hated Him and hates us.  In fact, Jesus has sent all of us, His followers, into the world to show the world His love and truth and grace.  Whom has Christ sent you to today?  Show them Christ in you that they may come by faith to His grace.

I am taking Kyle on a college trip tomorrow and will be gone until Friday.  I will be available by phone and will try to keep up with the devotionals but I am not sure of our schedule.  Pray that this trip will be a guide for Kyle to spend his life following Christ.

The group I sing with, the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, has our annual Christmas concert this coming Sunday at Knox Presbyterian church at 3:00.  I do have tickets for this concert and can place them at the counter for you.  If you want to come just let me know and we will make sure tickets are available for you.  If you like Christmas music, this concert will tickle all of your fancies as we will be performing some very serious Christmas music as well as some more lighthearted songs.  Join us for a fun afternoon. 

My sister, Dawn, has come to visit.  Mom and dad are thrilled to have her here for the week. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Our Thanksgiving is in you

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1 Thessalonians 3

For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,

As Paul was writing his dear friends in the church at Thessalonica he let them know in no uncertain terms of his love for them and how dear they were to him.  He already called them his joy and crown of rejoicing at the coming of Christ and now he tells them that as they stand fast in the Lord he lives.  Reading the epistles has shown me the great love Paul had for all whom he ministered Christ to.  I understand this.  In business relationships the goal is to make more money.  In the mean time you will make a friend or two but when the money stops flowing you need to go to the next client.  In ministry the minister of the Gospel connects heart to heart people who when they come to Christ form both a friendship and an eternal bond.

Paul’s very life was encouraged or discouraged by the spiritual temperature of those he had pointed to Christ.  The Thessalonian Christians brought great joy to him as they continued in the word of the Lord.  You see, we who proclaim Christ do not do so for personal gain but we are seeking the eternal salvation of people whom Jesus died to save.  The stakes are so much higher than anything else we can do.  So when those whom we have pointed to Christ are living for Christ, our lives are greatly enriched.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to echo the words of Paul: “what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God.”  Bobbi and I are so very thankful for each of you who have received the grace of God and have allowed us to have a part in the development of your faith.  We give thanksgiving to God today for all of the joy that we feel for your sake before our God.  We live when you stand fast in the Lord.

Thank you for your steadfast faith.  For what is our hope or joy or our crown of rejoicing?  Of course, it is you at the coming of our Lord Jesus, for you are our glory and joy.  Happy Thanksgiving.

PS

God says yes and no, don’t attack the Messenger – 2 Corinthians 1:15-24

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In 2 Corinthians 1:15-24 Paul defends his actions as the will of God while they accused him of acting on a whim and being careless with his word. In this message we see that in the church a faithful pastor seeks to know and to do the will of God. He is determined to give of himself for the growth of the people in the church and to teach them by his life and messages to live submitted to the Word of God. Unsubmitted church members who do not want to submit to God often attack the messenger, the pastor, instead of submitting their lives. Learn how to work with unsubmitted church members or how to work with your pastor more effectively.

Christ’s joy fulfilled in us

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John 17

13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

 

Having grown up in church and around Christians my whole life I must confess that all of the true Christ-followers that I have known have been people of godly joy.  The other side is also true; those who just came to church but their lives did not exemplified the indwelling Christ did not have joy but were just as miserable as anyone else.

Committed to the Father’s will and knowing that He came to redeem us all, Christ lived a joy-filled life.  One of the difficulties I had with Jim Caviziel’s portrayal of Christ was that he always spoke as though he were in pain. Knowing and doing the exact will of God gives us joy in the midst of pain, which we are told in Hebrews 11:2 that Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame.

One of the stated goals of the Lord Jesus was that we, His followers, would have His joy fulfilled in ourselves.  This is a passive verb which means that He is the one who supplies us this joy.  We do not have to fabricate it or work it up but the joy of the Lord is in us.  Look, we have heaven to gain, sin to defeat, church to enjoy, the Bible to read and the Holy Spirit to light our way.  We have fellowship with others who are in Christ and we have the riches of God over-abounding in our lives.  What is there to be gloomy about?  Sure, we can focus on depressing stuff but we don’t have to.  We have the joy of the Lord Jesus filling us so that we can have His joy in every chapter of our lives.

2 Corinthians 10:For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

I am so looking forward to our Thanksgiving Praise time tonight.  Every year we gather to praise the time flies by and we leave so filled with rejoicing and prepared in a greater way for Thanksgiving.  Come tonight with something to praise God for, something to exalt His work and purpose in your life.  We will all leave blessed and rejoicing as we edify one another. 

Do continue in prayer for my two friends who are battling cancer.  Pastor Phil and Tom are going to have a different Thanksgiving than ever before.  Pray for them to know God’s peace in a difficult hour of life.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Saved and Kept by the Lord Jesus

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John 17

11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

 

The security of our salvation has its roots in the Lord Jesus’ keeping of His disciples.  We see here that God gave Jesus the twelve. Jesus kept the twelve, trained them, led them, and held them.  Their salvation was completely rooted in Christ.  (Mention is made here of Judas as the son of perdition that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.  Judas’ heart was never changed; he always lived with a love of money thus was never redeemed.)  As we dwell upon this truth our hearts should sigh a great big sigh of relief for neither do we save ourselves nor do we keep ourselves saved.  Our glorious Lord Jesus keeps all of us who are given to Him by the Father.

You see, my friends, salvation is all of God.  The human element, as evidenced by the twelve, is simply an acceptance of the call.  We are called by God, drawn by His love and the truth of His word.  He gives us the faith to believe and we accepting all that He has done to save us are saved by Him.  The technical term for this is a monergistic salvation.  God does all of the saving. The beauty of this faith is that the One who saves also keeps.  For if I had any part in being saved then I could also have a part in losing my salvation.  But, since God is the author and the finisher of my salvation my eternal security is in Him and never in my ability to maintain it.

The entire New Testament bears out that the sole worker in saving souls from sin and death is God.  Do not buy into a synergistic view of salvation that somehow you had to do something to merit God’s grace.  For if you had do to anything to gain God’s grace it would no longer be grace.  Just add one human work to grace and it no longer is grace.  In that confusing scenario the next logical thought is that since you did something to gain your salvation then you must also be able to do something to lose your salvation.  No, no, no, our eternal salvation from our sin into the glorious presence of the Holy God is the work of God and God alone.

“Hallelujah, what a Savior who can take a poor lost sinner lift him from the miry clay and set Him free.  I will ever tell the story shouting glory, glory, glory!  Hallelujah Jesus ransomed me.”

On Sunday we, as a church, delivered ten complete Thanksgiving dinners.  Each dinner included a turkey, vegetable, potatoes, yams, pumpkin, dinner rolls, and a pumpkin pie with whip cream.  (Thanks to Sharon and Bobbi for organizing all of this.)  The recipients were identified through the Naperville Township office as people in the area who would be struggling this Thanksgiving.  Our church families delivered these with great joy and a testimony of the love of the Lord Jesus.  My thanks to all who participated in this wonderful outreach.  Pray that God will receive the glory throughout this week as families rejoice in God’s love through us for them.

Tomorrow night will be our annual night of praise and thanksgiving.  This praise service will be a time when you bring the messages.  As you reflect on praise to God and chose the songs we sing the service goes in the direction the Holy Spirit leads it.  All teens and children will be with us in the service. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

How can we be a part of the answer of Jesus’ prayer?

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John 17

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.

 

I am not sure if we think much about what it means to glorify something.  When we sing in church we sing songs to the glory of God and many songs use those words in their texts.  We really do glorify things in this life and we do so all the time.  When we eat something we like we talk about it favorably we give glory to it.  When our sports teams wins and we wear their symbols we give glory to them.  When we are loyal to a brand of food or clothes or car we are giving that brand glory.  So then, whenever we tell others or intentionally show others Jesus Christ we are giving Him glory.

In our text today we read that Jesus is glorified in us who have been given to Him by the Father.  God the Father calls us out of our sinful life into His glorious and forgiving grace.  He saves us and gives us to the Son.  This transaction we call getting saved.  When we are saved from our sin we become children of God, joint-heirs of heaven.  We are taken from the family of sin and Satan and adopted into the family of God.  No longer do we belong to this world and its sin but we now belong to God through the great work of Christ on the Cross.

Once God has wonderfully saved us and changed us into His image as new creatures in Him, Jesus is then glorified through us. As Christ prayed for us in the Garden, He prayed that He would be glorified through us.  So, get this, every time you and I lift up the Savior by what we say, where we go, what we wear, what offence we resolve, and how we live we are seeing His prayer answered through us.  My friends, this is amazing!  We are seeing the prayers of Jesus answered in us when we do something that glorifies Him.  How are you glorifying Christ today and answering His prayers for you?

Be in prayer for Sunday.  Not only will we be starting a series on Longsuffering but we will also continue in 2 Corinthians 1 and will be delivering turkey dinners to people in need.  We have identified ten families in our community through Naperville Township office that are in need.  We will be visiting them with tangible care and be introducing ourselves and our church to them as a light of Christ in our community.  Pray for open hearts.  We could still use a few more dollars for the turkeys. If you were going to give but did not please let me know how much you plan to give so we can know how much to spend.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS