Month: October 2017

Encouraging People

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1 Thessalonians 3

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,

Because of Paul’s love for those he ministered the gospel to, he had to know how they were doing.  Long before Facetime and telephones the only ways to really know how someone was doing was to go visit them.  Paul wanted to get back to Thessalonica but was hindered from doing so.  Unable to determine their spiritual well-being, Paul sent Timothy to see how his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ were doing.  As Timothy was Paul’s “right arm” helper, it was a big deal for Paul to send him away for a period of time but so great was his desire to send encouragement that he sent Timothy anyway.

As we read here, Timothy had a specific job to do; he was to establish and encourage their faith.  This was a good church with faithful people but they still needed someone to come and to encourage them.  Paul knew the importance of this encouragement and so arranged for Timothy to go.  As we read 2 Thessalonians we see that the church was strengthened and that Timothy came back with a good report (though not stated this is definitely implied in 2 Thessalonians 1).

Can we ask ourselves today if 1. We are encouraging anyone’s faith and 2. If we need someone to encourage us in our faith?  We face destructive words every day.  We are compared with others, our jobs are critiqued, our motives are questioned and the very core of who we are is scrutinized.  We come to church in need of encouragement and someone there unloads their problems on us so that we leave heavier than when we came.  Can I suggest that you ask God to lead you to someone that needs some encouragement in their faith and that you prepare yourself to be their encourager? They might be tottering on the brink of major failure and your words could be just what they need to be established and strengthened.

But, you may say, I need someone to encourage me.  When we take time to encourage others, their appreciation can become our encouragement.  When Timothy came back with a good report, Paul was encouraged in his faith.  God was still working in their lives and Paul was strengthened.  Who can you encourage and thus find strength in their encouragement?

 

We heard last night from Titus 2:3-4 about the mature Christian woman who teaches younger women what it means to show forth Christ.  This is a message that is not being proclaimed in too many places today.  Thanks Brent for being honest and careful with the Scriptures.  We begin at 7:00 tonight and I trust you will be able to make it.  If you have to stay home to answer your doorbell, come a few minutes late but don’t miss the whole service. 

Brent is preaching at our Sunrise Assisted Living service this morning.  Pray for God to use Him there.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

There is only on source of eternal glory and joy

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1 Thessalonians 2

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

This has to be one of the greatest verses in Scripture regarding the fullness of joy that comes from serving the Lord.  Paul could look at those who came to Christ and matured in their faith under his labors  and rejoice that God would use him for an eternal purpose.  Notice that not only did they bring Paul present joy but they were going to bring him eternal joy.  When Paul and these precious saved souls all met together in the presence of their Savior, Paul was going to rejoice even more.  They were the glory of his labor and the joy of his life.

One thing we notice about the apostle Paul is that he was ever giving of himself for the eternal spiritual well-being and eternal well-being of others.  As a counselor, I often advise people to take time to serve others for Jesus’ sake.  Depressed people are often self-focused which takes them further down the rabbit hole of pain.  Those who struggle with depression but fight against it by giving their lives to reach other people for Christ find a glory and a joy that they cannot find anywhere else.

Whom are you serving for Jesus’ sake?  Who gets your energy besides yourself?  What do you regularly and intentionally do as part of the weekly rhythm of your life for the spiritual care of someone else?  One man meets monthly with a 95 year old man who needs Jesus.  They meet for lunch.  Only a few conversations have had a spiritual direction to them but God will use those to soften this man’s heart.  Steven and I sing with a community men’s group and have been able to make spiritual observations of music and to have some spiritual conversations.  We pray for these men to see Jesus in us and to come to Him.  I introduced the “Cause Circle” to the church and have asked you to pray regularly for three people who need Christ.

When someone we have been praying for, sowing seeds of the gospel to, and have loved for Christ’s sake comes to Christ, we glory in their salvation and have a measure of personal joy in their coming to Christ.  Furthermore, we will rejoice with them in the presence of Christ forever.  What else in this life brings eternal joy?  May God give us people who come to Christ through our witness to them so that we may say of them that they are our hope, our joy and our crown of rejoicing.

We had a great start to our week of revival.  Our evangelist, Brent Sivnksty, is opening God’s word with the clarity we have come to love.  We have visitors both yesterday morning and evening and are praying for people to come to Christ.  I am thankful for dedicated musicians serving with us this week as well as church families committed to come throughout the week.  It is our marathon week and we love being together for dinner and service each night. Do pray with us that many of us will let the Word and the Spirit work on us. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

We have an enemy who seeks to hinder God’s work

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1 Thessalonians 2

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,

18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.

This may sound a bit gradeschoolish, but are you aware that Satan is a real being? Are you aware that Satan is against God and is therefore against the work of God and against the people of God? Are you aware that Satan does all that he can to hinder, slow down, and bring to a halt the process of the spread of the gospel?   Paul was well aware of all of this and with a full intent and plan to revisit his dear friends at Thessalonica knew what it meant to be hindered by Satan.

No, I am not going on a witch-hunt to look for Satan and his demons behind every bush, for Satan’s greatest defeat comes when souls are saved through the power of the gospel. Satan is defeated when Christians turn from sin and surrender more and more to Christ. I am on a vendetta to defeat this enemy of my soul who desires my destruction every day.   Satan wants me distracted from those things and those people who are of most importance to the kingdom of God. He wants me to ignore or to forget opportunities to do good to all who I can do good to. He wants me to be too busy or too ashamed to speak openly of Christ to a needy soul. Satan is against everything in me that God is for.

Have you ever been hindered by Satan? Were you going to do something for God’s kingdom only to hit a barricade that slowed you down and maybe even stopped you? Well, know this, the enemy of Satan is prayer. It has been said that Satan shudders when the weakest Christian is on her knees. Have you stopped to pray today? Have you beseeched God to lead you in His path to accomplish His purposes and to see Satan defeated?   If Paul was hindered by Satan than none of us are outside of his realm of action.

Remember this, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Satan has already lost the battle. Jesus has won and He is in us. Until Satan’s last moment before God throws Him into hell forever, Satan is opposing God and all who are claimed by Him. But, Satan is a defeated enemy and we can know victory over Him as we walk, moment by moment, with our Lord Jesus.

 

I am praying that God will move greatly and that we will all know victory of Satan next week. Revival meetings begin Sunday morning, continue Sunday night at 6:00 and then the rest of the week at 7:00. The meetings will be one hour long. Set your schedule to be here as often as is humanly possible.

We had a good time with the teens last night. We played volleyball sitting on the ground. It was a lot of laughter and much fun. Then we studied a lesson on how to read your Bible. The teens were very attentive.   Bobbi started a new series last night using the movie “War Room” with our ladies. The workbook that goes with the movie is going to be their study book for this series.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

 PS

It is OK to be rejected for telling others of Christ

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1 Thessalonians 2

14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

The earliest Christians in the earliest churches knew the rejection of their own people when they came to know Jesus Christ.  So many of you, when you got saved and knew the glory of the gospel determined to tell your family and friends about the Savior.  Your motive was pure and your zeal just knew that if they heard the gospel they too would want to be saved.  So you went with a great thrill to tell them about Jesus only to be rejected and told not to tell them of Jesus again.

When the Jews of Jerusalem heard the gospel of the resurrected Jesus from Peter and the others they believed, turned from their sin and followed the Savior as their Messiah.  But when these young believers went to tell their friends, they were rejected and even persecuted.  Acts 8:1 tells us that they dispersed from Jerusalem to escape the persecution.  The Thessalonian Christians faced the same treatment from those around them. We are in good company when people reject us for Christ’s sake.

So, don’t be afraid to tell those you know about Jesus.  Some will believe, some will have questions, and most will completely reject the gospel and you.  They aren’t really rejecting you but you are the one serving the gospel so you get the rejection.  It’s ok, you are in good company on those days. Tell them anyway.

 

We start our fall revival with Brent Sivinksty this Sunday!  Prepare your heart for the preaching of God’s word by already confessing sin, already, spending extra time in God’s word and extra time in prayer.  Prepare for revival as you would prepare for a long trip abroad.  Get yourself ready for God to do His work in your heart and life.  Pray for God to open hearts that need to be saved as well. Pray for health and for strength of all the members of our body that we all could be committed to the week together. 

 Tonight is our regular Bible studies, prayer, K4T, and youth group.  See you then.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Serving the Gospel

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     In 2 Corinthians 13:7-9 Paul lets the Corinthian church know that their reception of the gospel was the more important than their reception of him. It was ok if he was weak and they were strong. He could do nothing against the truth of the gospel but only that which was for it. In this message, Pastor Steve looks at how the gospel is to be served and how the church is to be healed, that is, made whole or complete. As Paul wraps up his letter these important truths are included.

Serving the Gospel from Pastor Steve Schroeder on Vimeo.

 

The living, effective word of God

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1 Thessalonians 2

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

You have heard me say that the Bible is not a static book but it is a dynamic book. Something that is dynamic is living and powerful. As Paul wrote to the believers at the church in Thessalonica he rejoiced that the word of God was received by them as that, as the word of God. When the word of God is proclaimed we should recognize it as that which God has sent for us to hear. This is the difference between giving a speech and proclaiming God’s word. A speech might or might not connect with us but the word of God should always connect.

What do you hear when you hear the Bible preached and taught? Do you hear the insights of the teacher or are you hearing the very words of God in your soul? How do we know the difference? According to this verse, when the Bible is received as the word of God, it works effectively in those who believe it. I have had people under my preaching for ten years and walk away back into their sin. They never believed the Word and it did not have an effect on them. The gospel is the power of God on all who believe.

This is why faith is so important. When we hear the word of God we must then place our faith in it. Faith turns to action and action to a change of life. The power of God becomes known to us and the Word then works effectively in us when we believe. Has the word of God worked effectively in you? Do you believe it as it is in truth, the very word of God? Believe it and watch it work its dynamic power in you.

I thank God for a good day on Sunday. We have finished 2 Corinthians and I am thankful for the journey through this important epistle. I talked about Paul and us being servers of the gospel like a server at a banquet. The server doesn’t prepare the food he only serves it. We don’t prepare the gospel, we only serve it. Our desire is that it is received and made a part of the lives of those to whom we serve it. I hope this made sense to the church and that more of you become servers of the gospel.

The conference on homosexuality was a great success. The speakers were compassionate and grace filled people who love those in need of Christ. We must pray for those lost in our community that they would come to Christ and become new creatures in Him. Thanks to Peter LaBarbera and his wife Christina for all they did to make this conference happen and succeed.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The nurturing of a spiritual father

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1 Thessalonians 2

10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

 

Yesterday we saw how we are to care for others as deeply as a mother cares for her nursing baby.  Today we see how we are to continue that care using the illustration of a nurturing father.  Not every man that fathers a child is a good dad.  Those who fall into the category of “good dad” get there by being there for their children both physically and mentally.  A good dad takes from his time to give time to his growing children.  As a father of six children, I learned early that the babies needed mom more than me. But after a while we would see that they needed me in their lives just as much as mom. Being engaged in every stage of life is what a nurturing father does.

In this passage, Paul compares himself to a nurturing father who takes time exhorting, comforting and charging, or instructing his children. New Christians are often called “babes-in-Christ.” And just as babies of nature are expected to grow so babies in the faith are expected to mature.  A maturing faith comes about because someone takes time for spiritual nurture.

Who spent time nurturing you in your faith? What did they do? How did their nurturing affect your faith and subsequent spiritual maturity?  A spiritual mentor, or one who disciples, is needed by every young Christian.  Has God brought someone into your life for you to spiritually mentor?  If He has then you know the joys and the sorrows of spiritual parenting.  Just as time spent with a child is never in vain so time spent in spiritual nurture is never in vein either.  If you are not currently nurturing someone in their faith, ask God to show you someone young in their faith and begin to do the work of fatherly nurturing in their life.

Tonight at our church, we are hosting the Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality annual dinner and presentation.  It all begins at 6:00.  We will gather for prayer then eat Portillos for dinner.  After dinner we will reconvene to hear Stephen Black, an ex-gay man, who came to Christ and found deliverance from all of his pain and sin.  Tomorrow AFTAH will host sessions in the morning and a panel discussion in the afternoon.  The cost for the whole event is $25.

A week from Sunday we will begin our revival meetings with Brent Sivnksty.  Brent will be taking us back to the book of Titus and walking us through the important lessons from that epistle.  Sunday services are at 10:30am and 6:00pm.  Monday through Friday the services will be at 7:00 with Friday’s service being at the First Baptist Church of Big Rock. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS