Month: March 2017

We need to be reminded

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2 Peter 3 (NKJV)

1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,

2 Peter 3 (ESV)

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

(The two translations simply serve as a comparison, read them and see what differences you notice.)

I find it interesting that Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, knew the great value of the writings of the Old Testament prophets and the words of Jesus, which he was writing about.  He knew that both were necessary for the stirring up of their minds, which minds were sincerely desiring to live righteously in this present world.  Peter did not address the value of the writings of the philosophers of his day nor of philosophers who were before him.  The Greek world was filled with such men of earthly wisdom and could have found their way into the teachings of the Scriptures.  But Peter was far more concerned with the words of Christ, words he had heard both audibly and through inspiration to write these letters.

Both in chapter 1 and here Peter brings up our need of being reminded of these Scriptural teachings.  He must have observed that we Christians have a tendency to drift away and need to be reminded about the important things of life.  I think it was last summer that I used the illustration of coming to church to keep your life compass pointing to true north.  We drift.  We are pulled by the world, our flesh, and the devil and we need, desperately and daily to be reminded of those things that are important to God.

So Peter, the Apostle recognized by both the Christian and the Catholics, emphasized our need to remember the predictions of the prophets, (the OT writings) and the commandments of Christ recorded by him, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, and Paul.

How often are you in the Word of God for your own reminder?  Can you say with David, “Oh how I love Your law, it is my meditation day and night.”?  Can you say with Jeremiah, “Your words were found and I did eat them, and Your word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart.”?  Ironically, our own flesh resists our involvement in God’s word.  Defeat that flesh and let God’s word remind you every day and throughout the day all that you need for life and for godliness. 

Thank you for letting us switch the Bible study and prayer time last night.  It was really important to Stefani that her parents came to her concert last night.  It was their annual performance at Wentz Hall which really is a big deal. 

The teens had a great time last night as Ben came to youth group and brought their message.  One of the girls bemoaned that Anna did not come so Ben told her to call Anna.  Anna got a call right then.  I love the spontaneity of the teenagers.

Nancy Schmidt is to have jaw surgery today.  This is a serious surgery as Nancy as an abscess that has actually caused a fracture.  She is in really good spirits and is looking forward to having this done so that her pain in the jaw will be gone.  She is at Loyola and enjoys visits.  

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Make sure the ones promising you liberty are free themselves

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2 Peter 2

19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

Religion is a terrible master.  The world pushing its desires upon us is a terrible master.  Our own flesh which tries to convince us that we need something we don’t have is a terrible master.  Satan, and all who follow him, are terrible masters. “What,” you say, “makes them so terrible?”  Peter explains it like this, they promise us greater liberty, greater freedom, greater opportunity for fulfillment but they cannot deliver for they themselves are slaves of their own corrupt ways.

How can a slave promise another slave freedom?  Wouldn’t the slave who is promising greater freedom be a partaker of that freedom himself?  What slave, in his or her right mind, would continue in their slavery if a true opportunity for freedom existed?  If a beggar offers you a get-rich-quick-scheme you would laugh at him.  So when a slave to sin offers you freedom that he or she does not possess, don’t believe that they can deliver.

This is why we are followers of Jesus Christ: not only did Jesus promise His followers freedom, He then went to the cross and through suffering, death, and resurrection obtained freedom first for Himself and then for all who would follow Him. As Ben brought out in last Sunday’s message, the freedom of the ungodly is always a freedom to do more of what the self wants to do.  It is a freedom with self at the center where self is uninhibited in all of its desires.  Self-centered freedom always ends in bondage to the sin that it wants to freely enjoy. 

On the other hand, Christ-centered freedom is true freedom for in Christ we have freedom to please Him, to serve Him, to glorify Him and in that freedom we find the greatest self-satisfaction.  When we are free in Christ we are no longer becoming slaves to sin for we are slaves to Him.  The difference is that the slaves to sin only create stronger chains while the slaves to Christ eventually enjoy the freedom of the relationship of a child to their heavenly Father.  As joint-heirs with Christ we change from slaves to sons and daughters who lovingly serve our all-wise, all-loving, all-caring Father. 

Before you follow anyone or any system of thought, be sure to determine whether those who are calling you to follow their ways are free themselves.  If they are slaves of their ways all they can really offer you is deeper slavery. 

Early Monday I was in court and early Tuesday I was plowing snow.  Early today I took Ben to the train station but came home with plenty of time to send out this devotional.  It is already a full week and we thank God for every opportunity to serve Him and His kingdom.

Tonight we will be switching the Bible study and prayer times.  We will begin our Bible study time then at 7:00 and prayer time will start at 7:45.  I hope this does not confuse you too much.

Nancy Schmidt is in Loyola hospital with an abscess in her jaw.  Edward hospital sent her to Loyola where is she is awaiting jaw surgery. I have a room number if you want to go see her.  I’ll be going up this morning. 

Ken and Beth are travelling to Florida today to prepare his mom’s house for sale.  Pray for their safety and strength in the days ahead.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

God will judge the wicked and He will preserve His righteous ones

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2 Peter 2

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

 

The blasphemy of man against God is nothing new.  We see the world getting worse, it appears, but it has always been bad.

  • Peter refers to the angels who left heaven with Lucifer and some were so bad that God immediately put them in chains to await their day of judgment.
  • He refers to the destruction of the wicked in Noah’s day, a day when every imagination of the thoughts of man’s hearts were only evil continually.
  • He reminds us of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah whose wickedness of homosexuality was so great that God could not wait until their natural day of judgment but brought about swift and violent destruction against them.

Then Peter makes the key point which is this: God knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.  My friends, do not envy the wicked nor must we wonder if God is seeing their wickedness and letting them get away with it.  The truth is that God is seeing the wickedness of the wicked and God is keeping perfect records.  God will, in His perfect timing, bring the wicked of this world under full penalty of His law for their rebellion against Him.

But Peter makes another point here that should encourage us.  God spared Noah and Lot, both men whom God called righteous, from His judgment and God will spare all of His righteous ones from the judgment of the wicked.  As we see the wicked facing God’s wrath (we should first pray for their conversion to Christ) we must not fear that we will be involved in their judgment.  We must maintain our righteousness before God knowing that He will save us both in this life and in the next.  For God always rescues the godly from His judgment of the wicked. “Thank you, oh God, for your mercy toward me.”

In case you forgot, be sure to turn your clocks ahead Saturday night or you will be really late for church Sunday morning.  I know how important it is for you to be on time on Sunday so I just wanted to remind you of the time change.

Ben will be with us this Sunday and will be bringing the morning message.  He has one more block class at Moody and will finish His masters this semester. He and Anna are very glad to be this close to the end.  We are looking forward to having Ben with us for a week.  (He will be in class eight hours a day and on the train for two hours a day but we will see him in the evenings.

Patrick and Peggy have influenza.  Pray with us for their swift and complete recovery.

I have a special request for you today. It is a private request that I cannot give you any details on.  Pray that God’s will might be made clear for a church family and that they would fall on His mercy.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Are we sure that the Bible is God’s word?

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2 Peter 1 (ESV)

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

 

This is the classic New Testament passage for the inspiration of the Bible. As we saw yesterday, Peter knew the voice of God for he heard it with James and John at the mount of Transfiguration.  From that day forward Peter knew when God was speaking to him.  Peter knew that Paul’s writing were from God and compared Paul’s writings to the rest of the Scriptures.  Here we see Peter letting us know that it is good for us to pay attention to God’s prophetic word which will, like a lamp, shine into the darkness of our lives until the day dawns and the morning star of God’s light rises fully in our hearts.

Verse 20 is one that every Bible teacher and preacher needs to heed all of the time.  None of us has the liberty to tell you what we think the Scripture says but we need to determine God’s meaning and present it as it was given.  Our own interpretation may not be God’s intended message and we must be careful not to misrepresent God!

Verse 21 tells us that no writer of Scripture ever decided on his own to write the Bible.  God used men who often were the least likely to succeed to write down His holy words.  The Holy Spirit would move in their hearts and when He did these men knew they were writing down God’s words, not their own. When God’s words are read and understood lives change.  There is no power in Paul, Peter, Jeremiah, Isaiah or Moses but the power comes through the words given to them by God.  Yes, the Bible is filled from cover to cover with the very words of God for us for all time.  It has the power to change minds and lives and it is ever relevant to our cultures and lives.  It is God’s word.

Someone has said that the Bible is the anvil and those who attack it are the hammers.  The anvil is made of much stronger steel than the hammers and many hammers have been worn out attacking this anvil but the anvil remains while the hammers are all broken.  Man will never destroy God’s word, no; it will remain forever while men and their ideas will perish.  Stand on God’s word. Be steadfast and secure in it.

On Sunday we passed out a list of all church members inviting them in groups to come to our house over the next four Sundays and talk about where our church is going, what our mission is, and what else we might be able to do.  If you were not there Sunday let me know and I will let you know which Sunday you have been assigned to.  If you cannot make your assigned Sunday you can come on a different one, we just wanted to give all a chance for input. 

I hope to see you tonight for prayer.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Saturated with the Triune God

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In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul refers to God, Jesus, Christ, the Lord, and the Holy Spirit, several times. He then goes into a discourse about death and resurrection that only makes sense when we are saturated with the Triune God.

 

The Source of Peter’s writings

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2 Peter 1

16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

When the Bible writers talk about something being true and trustworthy we can be absolutely certain that it is. And while they, led by the Holy Spirit to write what they wrote, need not defend the source of their truth, they often do.

Peter has just given us some “things” to add to our lives and is so determined that “these things” be added that he reviews them, reminds us of them, and then promises to make sure that after his death we are still reminded of “these things.” Now he takes “these things” one step further and tells us that he did not make any of this up nor did he follow the cunningly devised fables of others.

Have you ever been asked where you got a certain story or a certain belief? “Where did you get that?” is often asked with a sneer and is not an honest request for core sources. Perhaps Peter had gotten that response at times in his life so he wants us to know that the very source of his teachings is God himself. Peter was one of three eyewitnesses to the majesty of Jesus Christ and these three heard the very voice of God coming out of heaven. Peter knew the voice of God, saw the glory of God in Jesus Christ, and only wrote what he heard from God.

Yes, God inspired the Bible writers. Yes, what they wrote had and still has the authority of God behind it. Yes, when we live submitted to the entirety of God’s word we benefit greatly from living the wisdom and grace of God every day.

Over the past three days I have had three heavy situations regarding people and their marriages or other important relationships. Do pray for one another. Pray that we would all live submitted to the Word and the Spirit and would be careful to honor the Lord together. When happiness becomes the goal people suffer. When bitterness lives between, people suffer. When confusion lives, people suffer. God calls us to obey and promises joy. God calls us to forgive and promises reconciliation. God calls us to peace and confusion leaves. Pray for one another.

 

Our teens were greatly moved by God at the Dare2Share conference. Their testimonies Sunday were a thrill to hear. There is a battle for the lives of our children and the people at Dare2Share are fighting for our teens to live for Christ and to openly testify of Him.  All of us could benefit from this emphasis to share our faith.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Living the dying life so others might live

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In this message from 2 Corinthians 4, Pastor Steve shows how we minister and battle from jars of clay so the life of Christ may be manifest through us. As we die we bring others to life.