Month: July 2017

Trust God to be God

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Isaiah 54

16   “Behold, I have created the blacksmith

Who blows the coals in the fire,

Who brings forth an instrument for his work;

And I have created the spoiler to destroy.

17   No weapon formed against you shall prosper,

And every tongue which rises against you in judgment

You shall condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

And their righteousness is from Me,”

Says the Lord.

How big is your view of God?  Do you believe that God is able to accomplish all that He says He will accomplish?  I am convinced that the average Christian of all time does not really believe that God is all powerful, all knowing, all loving and all caring concerning their lives.  When problems come they blame God instead of bless God; they doubt God instead of desiring God.  God becomes the scapegoat instead of the Savior and people who call themselves Christians when all is well have a small view of God when the boat of their life encounters a storm.  They are more like the disciples in the boat when the Jesus was with them in the storm then like Job who worshipped God when the storms thundered through his life.

In today’s passage, God is making a promise toward His people.  God is telling them that He is God, that He made the blacksmith who makes the swords that go to battle.   As the maker of the blacksmith who makes the swords, God tells His people that no weapons formed against them shall prosper.  He did not say that enemies would not come against them but that when they do their weapons won’t do what they were made to do.

When Christians have been martyred for their faith, did those who were against them really destroy the Christians they killed?  When a Christian is killed for their faith they are immediately found in the presence of their Savior.  Those who think they are killing them are actually doing them a favor.  For who wakes up in the presence of the Lord Jesus and wishes they were any place else?  When we are made to suffer for our faith we thank those who bring the suffering upon us for they are showing a little of what our Savior, in love, did for us.  Their weapons do not do what they intend for them to do but their weapons draw us closer to the God they hate.

Satan does not understand this.  In his hatred and bitterness he thinks he can separate us from God when in reality Satan only draws us closer to the Lover of our souls.

Oh my friends, gain a big view of God.  No enemy coming against you can prosper when you are safely in the arms of God.   Believe this by faith and never look away from face of God as you go through life.  You will find all of His promises to be true to you as you, by faith, walk with Him.

Tonight is our Riverwalk outreach.  Dave has the signs ready, we have the music ready, and we are meeting there before 7:00 to begin by 7:00.  Pray for God to bring people by whose hearts are hungry for God’s gospel.  Pray for those of us there to have boldness to talk to those who come by.  Pray for Dave as he presents the messages to be filled with the Holy Spirit and energized by Him.  Join us and be a part of the crowd.  It takes a crowd to draw a crowd.  We sing and worship God in the public sphere then we openly proclaim His name and His salvation.  It is a great time to fulfill the Great Commission.

Pray for one another.  Ask God whom you should pray for and then take time in prayer for them today.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

How to have Gospel Conversations

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From Lead the Cause, Pastor Steve teaches us how to engage people in gospel conversations with hopes that the Holy Spirit would persuade them to salvation.  The concept of having gospel conversations is different than leading people down the “Romans Road” in that we seek to engage people from the start.  While our ultimate desire is that people be saved from their sin the goal of the gospel conversation is to bring  them to the cross, the tomb and the resurrection of Christ. From there, the Holy Spirit has the tools He needs to draw them to Himself.

 

The everlasting mercy and kindness of God

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Isaiah 54

7 “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you.

8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer.

Take a moment to read and to re-read these verses. What message do you hear from God? Now think about the audience it was written to. The people in Jerusalem had rejected the word of God and the prophets of God for years. They worshipped idols and even offered their infant children in idol sacrifices. They practiced slavery of their own people without letting them free in a prescribed time. God had every reason to forsake them permanently and to let them suffer the consequences of their sins against Him. They deserved the wrath of God for their constant rejection of Him.

But God could not bring Himself to forget His people. God could not hold His anger against them for very long. The mercy of God, one of His defining attributes, comes through like the sun through the clouds during a storm. Yes, God left them to their ways for a moment of time and yes they discovered the wrath of God for a moment of time but God could not withhold His mercy for long.

I have read this verse for many years of my Christian life and have always found comfort in it. Like Israel, I too have forsaken God and not listened to His word. And like Israel I have grieved my Maker, my God. As God showed them His wrath I too have felt the judgment of God’s wrath against my sin. But, and what a wonderful reality this is, but God has never withheld His mercy and His kindness from me for long. No, He cannot withhold these attributes of His from me and God always comes back to draw me to Himself with His kindness and mercy.

My friends, when you are in the shadows of your life, God has not left you for long. Cry out to Him and He will be there. Beg for His kindness and for His mercy and you will know it is there. God cannot be anyone different than who He is; He is a kind and a merciful Savior who loves all who bear His image. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Rejoice with me today in God’s kindness and mercy toward us, His people.

It is Wednesday and tonight we will have our adult Bible studies at 7:00 with prayer time starting at 7:45. Kids Club will begin at 7 as will youth group. I am leading the Wednesday night youth group for now and am looking forward to our time together.

 

Friday night we will have a Riverwalk outreach from 7-9PM. Join us for a great time of meeting people, lifting up God’s name in song, and open opportunities to proclaim the gospel. If you cannot come, do be in prayer for unique opportunities, Divine appointments with those who are coming by.

 

On August 2nd a woman needs a ride to the University of Chicago Hospital and a ride home. If you have the day available and believe God would have you to serve in this way, please let me know.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

When all is hopeless, God has a plan

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Isaiah 54

“Sing, O barren,

You who have not borne!

Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,

You who have not labored with child!

For more are the children of the desolate

Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.

2     “Enlarge the place of your tent,

And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;

Do not spare;

Lengthen your cords,

And strengthen your stakes.

3     For you shall expand to the right and to the left,

And your descendants will inherit the nations,

And make the desolate cities inhabited.

4     “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;

Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;

For you will forget the shame of your youth,

And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.

5     For your Maker is your husband,

The Lord of hosts is His name;

And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;

He is called the God of the whole earth.

Have you ever thought that there was no hope for a given situation?  Have you ever felt like all was lost and there was no way that you would ever rejoice in the desires of your heart again?   So did Israel.  They lost everything.  They lost their cities, they lost their children, and they were going to all be deported to Babylon where they would be the servants, even the slaves of Babylon’s kings.  They were a hopeless bunch with no possible way out of their hopelessness.

Then God speaks to Isaiah with this prophecy telling His people that they would again bear children, even those who were childless would bear children.  God tells them to make their tents bigger.  To us this would be the equivalent of a family with no children who had not been able to get pregnant being told to add rooms on to their house because they were going to have a family.

We need to understand the cultural relevance here.  In many cultures, to not have children has a stigma to it.  Having children means that God has blessed you.  To not have children is the opposite; God has not blessed you.  To those who have endured the hopelessness of not having children God is going to be their husband, God is going to make sure they have the hope and joy of children.  Make your house bigger, your life is going to get better, it is going to be blest.

I don’t know your needs today, but God does.  When you feel that God has left you alone be certain that He has not.  When others around you seem to have God’s blessing and you have not, be certain that God has a plan and a future for you.  Just as Israel had no vision of how this would ever be fulfilled, you may have no idea how God can change your situation.  God calls us, just like He called them, to see God as able and to prepare our lives for His blessing upon us.

When we live in anticipation of the blessing of God we find God leading us in ways we did not see before.  When we take our eyes off of the problems of our lives and on to the promises of God we will see that God in love is directing us where He wants us to go.  In the middle of your despair, God has a plan for your future in which He will bring His unique blessing upon you thus accomplishing His purposes in you.  “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  God inhabits the praise of His people.

We had a great time in Wisconsin at Victory Academy.  The weather was near perfect for us and we truly enjoyed many aspects of God’s creation.  It was a time of fun, recreation, friendship, and spiritual growth and worship.  Thanks to all who came and made it possible.

Dave needs our prayers.  He was supposed to get an injection in his neck yesterday and it got cancelled.  His back pain is like a bad friend who won’t go away.  Pray for this procedure to bring some relief or for God to just bring His healing upon our brother.

I will be ministering at Wayside today and ask prayer for God to do His work in that service.  Tonight I am meeting with a couple for marriage counseling.  Pray for their salvation.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Cause – the Great Commission

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This message is taken from “Lead the Cause” 2017. In it you will see the need for prayer and for the presentation of the gospel. Having gospel conversations is the key to seeing people come to Christ.  So many of us see The Cause as something someone else is supposed to do.  Take a new look at The Cause given by Christ to us, His church.

 

How was the Father pleased at the death of the Son?

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Isaiah 53

10   Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;

He has put Him to grief.

When You make His soul an offering for sin,

He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,

And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

11   He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.

By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,

For He shall bear their iniquities.

There is a concept about the crucifixion and the death of Christ that is hard for us to understand.  We look at this event with great pain of mind and of soul.  We see the images of a beaten “Christ” we groan and writhe with human disgust.  We don’t like these images of a man beaten beyond recognition whose face and body are blood covered and whose face is agonizing in pain.  We have struggled with whether Christ was killed by the Roman soldiers, by Pilate, by the Jews or by our sins.  We would rather give someone else the blame for this horrific crucifixion.

Here, Isaiah, giving us the very mind of God, tells us that it pleased the Father to bruise the Son.  The Father put the Son to grief.  The Father’s pleasure was fulfilled; the Father saw the labor of the soul of the Son and the Father was satisfied.  Does this make sense to you?  Can you imagine an earthly father seeing his earthly son being unjustly crucified and being happy about it?

Note this, we are being shown the mind of God, the Father of the Son and the Father of all humanity.  We are being shown the heart of God for all whom He will save and for whom Christ was dying.  In man’s rebellion against God he has always needed a Savior.  Not the blood of one lamb nor of a million lambs could remove one sin much less the sin of the world.  God the Father loves His created ones and devised an eternal plan of redemption that demanded the sacrifice of God the Son whose perfect blood alone could take away our sin.  So, as God the Father watched the sacrifice of God the Son on the altar of the Cross He was satisfied that the price of our redemption had now been paid.

When Jesus cried out His last words on the cross: “It is finished!”  He was not talking about the end of His life but about the end of the plan of our redemption.  So, yes, at the crucifixion of the Christ the plan of God was complete, the work of God was done, and He was satisfied.  Thank God that He looked past personal feelings and longed for our salvation.  He looked past the emotions of suffering to the joy that was set before Him, the salvation of mankind.  Let us take time today to thank God for His immense love for us, the ones He created in His image with His desire that we live with Him, redeemed forever.

Tonight is our regular time of kids club, youth group and adult Bible study and prayer time.  God is working as we continually cry out to Him. 

Tomorrow we leave for our Victory trip.  If you have any thoughts about going but have not confirmed it please do so today.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

We are healed

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Isaiah 53

5      But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

We have to take a moment today to try to understand the work of our Lord Jesus.   We are the ones who had gone astray.  We are the ones who have turned away.  We, all of us born of women, have a sin nature that causes us to live selfish and self-centered lives.  Our own sins are the sins that separate us from God both now and forever.  God knows this.  So severe is our sin and so complete is our separation from God that God knew there was only one possible way for us to be healed from our sin sickness.

God determined that a perfect sacrifice was necessary, sinless blood to take away sinful blood.  “The blood of Christ Jesus has power to save; the blood of my Savior has washed sins away.  He left heaven’s glory to die on a tree to purchase salvation for sinners like me.”  Every event of the last day of the life of Jesus Christ was designed by the Father to pay the price of our sin debt to Him.  For not only did the Father design the payment, He also accepts the payment of the work of Christ on our behalf, as our payment for our sin.

Jesus Christ was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes from the whip of the Roman soldiers we are healed.  Yes, we are healed from the debt of our sin.  Yes, we are washed clean by the sinless blood of the sacrifice of Christ.  Yes, He took our sin upon Himself so that we could eternally enjoy His righteousness.  We are healed!  The moment we come to Christ and accept His payment for our sin, we are eternally healed.  “He who has the Son has eternal life”.  We are healed.  “…that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.”   We are healed.

Are you today, already, have you been healed from the sickness of your sin?  There is no “I hope so” allowed here.  Jesus went through immense suffering and death so that we could be completely healed from the sickness of our sin.  Are you healed?  If you cannot answer “yes” to this question, would you fall to your knees right now and call upon the Father to take the blood of the Son to fully wash you with that perfect sacrifice so that you can be healed from your sin?  Jesus said these wonderful words, “He that comes to me I will not cast out.”  Come to Him with your sin and be healed today.

Is there someone you can forward this devotional to today?  The person or persons that are praying for to be saved might be the ones you can send this to. 

Tonight we plan to start the movie around 8:00.  I hope to see you there.  This is a fun event for the family and you will enjoy it. 

Be in prayer for Sunday that God will use our time together in church to accomplish His purposes in us.  This will be Ken and Beth’s last Sunday with us as well as Mike’s last Sunday with us. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS