Month: November 2017

Justified Through Christ Alone

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As we have looked at Justified by Faith alone, by grace alone and now through Christ alone, we see how the solas of the Reformation are totally relevant to our salvation today. In this message, Pastor Steve looks carefully at what it means to have our sins paid through the work of Jesus Christ alone.

 

 

Rejoice

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1 Thessalonians 5

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Can I start with a question this morning?  Why is this instruction one of the hardest to follow?  When our sins are eternally forgiven and God has given us His Son whose Holy Spirit dwells within us, why is it so hard to rejoice always?  When we have heaven to gain, earth to lose, and sin to shed, why do we have so much trouble giving thanks for the things of this life that are shaping us for now and for eternity?  When we are thankful for the will of God regarding our eternal, eternal, eternal salvation, why is it so hard to thank Him for the other aspects of His will?

Somehow, we think that God owes us a better life or at least a life without the troubles that we so often have to endure.  Somehow we blame God for the troubles first without a thought of thanking Him for His will.  Therefore we don’t rejoice but we join those in trouble wondering just where God is during the trouble.

My dear friends, I am old enough in the faith to know that God never changes and that God, who gave me His Son, will not withhold any other good thing from me.  I have seen and known that the troubles of this life are the hand of God shaping me and causing me to look with greater hope to my eternity with Him.  He has shown me to have a loose grip on everything in this life and a tight grip on eternity with Him.  According to God’s will, heaven is a place with no more tears, no more sorrow, no more sighing, no more sickness and no more death.  I have a firm grip on that while realizing that this life is filled with these things.

Today, give thanks in everything for this is the will of God concerning you.  Today, rejoice evermore and pray as much as you need to and then some.  God is with you both now and forever.  Have a loose grip on this life and tight grip on eternity.  Rejoice and give thanks.

 

I posted yesterday that today, giving Tuesday, Victory Academy for Boys is taking donations and every donation is being doubled.  I am excited about this because my donation will be doubled. Ask God what you can do and then follow this link and rejoice as you give.  Last week, they hosted 65 people, counseled every family twice, and continued their work of reconciling families to God and to each other. They do a work for churches that churches cannot do on their own. Victory is worthy of our support.

http://www.victoryacademyforboys.org/givingtuesday.html

 

Have a great day rejoicing in the Lord,

PS

Instructions for caring with Christ-like care

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1 Thessalonians 5

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the faithful men and women in Thessalonica he gives them some various but important instructions.  Notice the different categories of people here and the different responses we are to have toward them.

  1. Warn the unruly.
  2. Comfort the fainthearted.
  3. Uphold the weak.
  4. Be patient with all.
  5. Don’t ever render evil for evil.
  6. Always pursue what is good.

I am sure that in my lifetime I have been guilty of getting these mixed up and thus giving confusing and frustrating advice.  I have warned the fainthearted, been impatient with the weak, and upheld the unruly.  When someone is unruly they need to be warned that their actions are going to take them the wrong way.  When someone is faint of heart they need comfort, not instruction. When someone is in a weak moment of life they need to be upheld not given a sermon.  This requires a bit more attention to people’s conditions than we might be used to giving but what a difference it can make.

In all seriousness, God is working on me with a need to be patient as He is patient.  This is not patience for patience sake nor patience until I am in complete frustration and have “had enough.”  This is longsuffering that leads to the salvation of the one I am showing patience to.

Have you ever sought to get even?  Have you ever returned evil for evil because someone “got you” first?  Boy of boy does this go against our nature.  No one gets us without getting something in return.  But this lesson tells us never to return evil for evil but instead return good to them.  This is “Christ” in us not “us” in us.

Pursuing that which is good is without doubt the very best way to live.  People are remembered for doing good to others.  They are remembered for showing kindness in difficult times.  They are remembered for caring when others didn’t.  With Christ in us, we can always pursue what is good and then given Him the glory when our good works are noticed.

Tomorrow has been designated as “giving Tuesday.”  Victory Academy for Boys, as you may know, was where I worked for fifteen years, is involved in “giving Tuesday.”  Victory Academy is indeed a life-changing place.  Boys come there who are at odds with their parents, their schools, and their God.  At Victory they are pointed to the love of God, the truth of God, and the grace of God.  The parents have homework assignments to teach them how to be godly parents.  Reconciliation with God and with the family is the overarching message of the ministry.  
Through the Bill and Linda Gates foundation every gift given tomorrow will be doubled.  If you are going to give somewhere, do consider giving to Victory Academy for Boys.  Here is the link: http://www.victoryacademyforboys.org/givingtuesday.html
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Thankful in plenty and in little, Thankful for Grace

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hilippians 4

11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.  We had a full house yesterday with 24 in the first shift and 10 more in the second shift.   It was a great day of food, fellowship, and thanksgiving.  After dinner we spent time in thanksgiving and song rejoicing in the provision and care of our God.  He is so good to all of us.

In Philippians 4 Paul wrote that he was content with much and with little.  I was thinking how easy it was to give thanks in times of much.  When our tables and counters were full of food and dessert it was easy to give thanks.  But what if our table was sparse and our counters were empty?  Would we still be content and thankful?  I was thinking about this last night after the house was empty again, relatively, and want to be able to be thankful in abounding and in abasing.

When we know that God is God and that He is faithful all the time then we can rejoice in Him all the time.  And while it is easy to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, remember that we can do all things through Christ who is our strength which even includes being able to thank God in times of little.

We are a blessed people in so many ways.  But our greatest blessings are the riches of the grace of God which He bountifully pours out on us.  Whatever your physical state today, rejoice in the fullness of God’s grace which He has poured abundantly upon you and be thankful.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Justified by Grace Alone

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As we look at the Five Solas of the Reformation we come across Justified by Grace Alone. In this message, Pastor Steve looks at what grace is and that grace cannot have any level of merit or demerit attached to it. Pure grace from God is not dependent on what we do, don’t do, or try to do. It has no price attached to it before or after it is received. This is the only nature of true grace.

 

 

Caring for the Pastor

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1 Thessalonians 5

12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

As we go through this chapter in 1 Thessalonians the next paragraph is about the church’s treatment of pastors.  I am thankful for a church that cares for their pastor; so these thoughts are not aimed at anyone in particular just all of us in general.

Paul, the consummate pastor/shepherd of God’s church, knew what it was to be blessed by a church and what it was to be cursed by a church.  His ministry spanned several different congregations so he wrote to all of them with this passage from the Holy Spirit.  Paul knew what it meant to labor for the souls of men and women and to have spiritual authority over them.  He admonished all of the churches with the authority of the Lord in his preaching and teaching.  His instruction to those who are ministered to by faithful shepherds is to esteem them highly in love for their work’s sake.

I grew up in a pastor’s home so I had no illusions of the pastorate.  It was not unusual for my dad to get calls during the night, during dinner, on Saturday’s and more.  He was like a doctor, always on call.  But sometimes he was like a nurse just caring for people whom God might be doing an operation on.  Then he was called to be a leader of the deacons and the church staff and their issues became his issues.  On top of that he was always prepared for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night as well as an adult Sunday school class.  He labored among the people of the church.

One of the pains of the pastor is when those he loves do not return his love.  I think this is what Paul is addressing here.  Pastors don’t typically have personal agendas other than the spiritual growth and maturity of the church members.  Paul calls the church to realize this labor and to esteem the pastors highly in love for this work.  Then he says that the church is to be at peace among themselves.  There is a connection between a church where the pastor labors in love and the people show appreciation for that love and the level of peace in the church.  When the body works together as it is supposed to great peace and unity result.

Apparently I forgot to give the time for tonight’s praise and testimony service. We will start at 7:00.  Afterward we are having a desert fellowship so be sure to bring something to add to the desert table. Above all, bring a testimony of praise to share with us.  The length of this service seems to depend on the richness of the testimonies.  I will be bringing a message of thanks and praise from the book of Zechariah. 

Sunday morning I plan to bring a message on Justification through Christ alone. This could be a series in and of itself and I am thrilled with this study. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

                        

We are children of the Light

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1 Thessalonians 5

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

We have to notice the contrast here between those of the light and those of the darkness.  We were all once of the darkness and nothing we did could lead us into the light.  We were all lost in that darkness groping around not even knowing what we were groping for.  Then Jesus, the Light of the world, came into our darkness and shone the truth of His light into our hearts and we became, by God’s grace, children of the light.  Hallelujah!

As children of the Light, we are going to live differently because we are no longer groping for the right direction; we can clearly see right from wrong, truth from error, and darkness from light.  We are therefore to walk as those who can see.  Those who can see watch for potholes, they watch for pitfalls, they watch for false teaching and live in complete soberness.  We don’t join the drunkards at night because we are never in the darkness again.

In the light we are to put on the breastplate of faith and love, caring for one another believing that we are doing the right thing when we do.  We are to put on the helmet of salvation protecting our very minds from the errors of darkness.  As children of the light we understand that God has put His wrath for our sins on Jesus Christ who died for us.  We know this and believe this and walk in this God-glorifying light every day of our lives.  We know, in our darkest hours, that we are going to eternally live with Christ in the presence of God by faith in His grace.

Brothers and sisters, walk in the light today.  Rejoice with me in this glorious light that has removed us from the darkness we used to live in and guides us around temptations, through trials, and into the joy of the Lord both today and forever.

 

Happy Thanksgiving week!  It is so easy for us to look in the wrong direction and not see our Lord and His wonderful will in our lives.  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Wherever you are, whatever situation you are in, if God has saved you from your sins by His grace through the sacrifice of His Son, you have something to be thankful for.  Look past all of the issues around you, all of those things that the enemy uses to discourage you, and rejoice today and this week giving thanks to God for His eternal salvation.

Wednesday night we are having our Thanksgiving Praise service.  All songs will be chosen by you but you have to give a praise to pick a song.  I will bring a message of Thanksgiving from Zechariah chapter 8.  You don’t want to miss this wonderful time of exaltation of God for all that He has done and will yet do for us.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS