Month: December 2017
We have looked at the glory of God in different aspects of His salvation. In this message Pastor Steve looks at God becoming man, fully God and fully man. This fullness was necessary for Christ to obtain our redemption.
Luke 1:80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Luke 2:51–52 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
On Christmas Eve I brought a message on the glory of God in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. According to the Scriptures, Jesus was God in the flesh from the moment of His conception for He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. No other time was a birth foretold 700 years earlier. No other time has a woman conceived without a human father. The incarnation of Christ was to the glory of God alone. The angels in the heavens proclaimed the glory of God to the shepherds crying “Glory to God in the highest!”
The uniqueness of the virgin birth leads us into the uniqueness of the Christ. Jesus claimed equality with God. He claimed that He and the Father are one. Jesus claimed to be the human temple of the Spirit of God when He told the disciples to destroy “this temple” and in three days he would raise it up. Therefore, Jesus Christ was 100% man with the full DNA of Mary and He was 100% God with full essence of God. At twelve years of age Jesus told his parents that he must “be about my Father’s business.”
The importance of the incarnation of God into human flesh cannot be understated. This teaching has been attacked for two thousand years! The liberal mind that is against God cannot wrap itself around God in flesh. Yet in order for the sinless sacrifice to die the only begotten Son of God had to have a body capable of being crucified. Spend some time today glorifying God for the incarnation of the Son, God in human flesh to become our Redeemer, our Savior.
Christmas is past but our tree is still up. We are still rejoicing in the birth of our Savior. The Massey family came in last night for two nights. We are always thankful for their friendship and the time we get together with them.
Our Christmas day was filled with family and friends. It started Christmas Eve with a wonderful service in the morning, a God-exalting singing and worship time in the evening at my house, then rounded into a fabulous Christmas day filled with contacts from all of our children (we love video calls) and grandchildren. If a full house is a happy house then we had lots of happiness, and we did. We ended the day with “A Muppet Christmas Carol” laughing and singing along with the Muppets.
What special things did your family do this Christmas? I would love to hear from you.
Have a great day in the Lord,
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Every dad gets to name his first-born son. He usually has a choice to name the first son after himself or someone else he greatly respects. But Joseph did not have that choice for the angel told him the name he was to use. Furthermore, the name “Jesus” had a specific reason for it to be used, the angel said, “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” And while those who knew the child and the young man Jesus, they did not know him as their Savior; every one of us since the resurrection have equated the name of Jesus with the action of Savior.
How many songs have been written exalting and loving the name of Jesus? How many books have been written about the person of Jesus? How many movies have been watched about Jesus? We call him, the Lord Jesus Christ, and it all flows out in one beautiful name. We study the Lord Jesus to know how we are to live. We surrender to the Lord Jesus as He has promised to live His life through us. We praise the Lord Jesus and worship Him for the gift of salvation that He purchased for us.
Aren’t you glad Joseph obeyed the messenger of God and named his son, Jesus! No other name would have fit and God knew the right name for baby born to Mary. He was to be called Jesus. As we continue our trek toward Christmas day, spend time rejoicing in the Lord Jesus. Look for places and times to talk about the Lord Jesus. People are so hurried and so self-absorbed and in such great need of Jesus. Life is the question and Jesus is the answer. Don’t give out the name of any other potential person who can improve their lives, no, give them the name above all names, tell them about Jesus.
Today is Jared’s 20th birthday! Wow, it has been 20 years of life with Jared and we are thankful to God for Jared’s life.
We were out doing some shopping last night and ran into a friend from the community whom we have not seen for three years. We hugged and chatted as we were checking out. My dad and mom were with us also buying some Christmas gifts. This friend knew them as well. As we left the store my mom told me that this friend came over and paid for their purchase! We rejoiced to see how God still takes time to care for His children.
Sunday morning we will have our regularly scheduled church service at 10:30 but we will not be having any Sunday school classes. If anyone would like to sing a bit more on Christmas Eve, come over to my home around 6:00 and join us for a time of family worship.
Have a great day in the Lord,
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We can put these two passages together today to remind us and to encourage us that Jesus Christ understands our lives. If Christ had not come in the form of a human, through the womb of a human mother, we would hold him at arm’s length when the trials of this life came upon us. We would know that Jesus really did not understand our situations. But we have to take notice here. Mary was found with a child.
We just had a baby born in our family. Amera Grace Schroeder was born last Friday evening. While just a baby, and a beautiful one at that, she was indeed a human baby. We have every reason to expect that when Mary birthed Jesus she had a human baby. In every way the Lord Jesus came in a human body on that first Christmas morning. The importance of this fact is that as Jesus lived a fully human life from birth to death he came to understand us.
The writer of Hebrews says that our High Priest, who ever intercedes for us before the Father, intimately understands every part of our lives for He lived our lives in His own life. We cannot face any trouble in this life that He did not face. We cannot face any pain that Jesus did not face. We cannot face any emotion that Jesus did not face. He was in every way tempted and tried as we are yet He faced them all without sin. What a glorious example our Lord is to us and what a wonderful High Priest He is. Rejoice this season that your Lord Jesus understands everything about you for He lived your life in His own.
I challenged the teens last night to ask God for one unique opportunity to talk to someone about Christ this Christmas. Join us. People’s hearts are far more open at Christmas to talk about Jesus. He is on signs, in movies, and on cards. His name is plastered everywhere the greeting, “Merry Christmas” is displayed. Ask God for at least one unique opportunity to speak to someone of the Savior this season.
Have a great day in the Lord,
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,
28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
How often has someone gone out of their way to confirm their love to you? When it happens is sure does feel nice. It wasn’t something that they needed to do nor something they had to do but when they did it any doubts you had were removed and the confirmation of their love was well received.
As I read about the old man Simeon, and the Christ child, I think about God going out of His way to confirm something to Mary and Joseph. Through the life of Christ, His miracles, His healings, and His resurrection, we were going to accept Him as the Savior. In fact, many Christians do not even remember Simeon’s name when asked who he was. But for Mary and Joseph Simeon was a confirmation that they had done the right thing, a confirmation of the hand of God upon them.
Here is an old man to whom God had uniquely communicated that he would see the promised One spoken of by the prophets 500-700 years earlier. Every day that he went to the Temple, Simeon was anticipating parents bringing in a child for dedication. Finally, when he held the Christ child, Simeon knew from God that this was the One. As Simeon proclaimed God’s message to the world, Mary and Joseph would know in their hearts that Simeon’s message was for them from God to confirm His will in their lives. Yes, both Mary and Joseph trusted the Lord and found themselves someplace they could not have gotten alone. In that place God confirmed that He was guiding their lives and that they had done the right thing.
When we follow the Lord we will know that following Him was the right thing to do. His guidance will be clear and His confirmation will be our assurance.
The Csire baby I mentioned yesterday is now breathing on her own. Continue to pray for her healing and that their will not be permanent damage to her little brain.
We do have our regularly scheduled prayer and Bible study tonight. If you are not working tomorrow consider joining us for prayer at 7:45.
As Christmas approaches, remember those who have lost loved ones this year as the holidays are particularly difficult times for them. Call the families of those you know just to check in and to confirm your love.
Have a great day in the Lord,
2 Thessalonians 2
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
For many Protestant churches, December is recognized as Advent. Advent simply means “coming.” Here Paul reminds the church that the Lord Jesus Christ is still coming. There were false teachers even in Paul’s day who were teaching that Christ’s second coming had already happened. Since the Christians, those who were the followers of Christ, were not aware of this, the false teachers told them that they missed it thus causing great trouble to their thinking. So Paul tells them that no, Christ has not come yet and don’t be shaken by their false teaching.
One of the greatest teachings of hope we have is that Jesus is still coming. We look forward the second Advent of Christ knowing that when He comes we will be taken from this mess and transported into His glorious presence. As we read the Bible we see that the second coming of Christ is imminent, that is, He could come at any time. For when Jesus ascended into heaven the angels told those watching that He was going to come back the same way they saw Him go. As this has not happened yet we are still waiting.
Jesus could return today. Wouldn’t that be awesome if He did! I am ready for His return and so is everyone who is secure in Him. Jesus is coming and we will be gathered to Him. At that moment all of the struggles of this life will come to a glorious end. We will meet Him in the clouds and will forever be with the Lord. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. As you focus on Christmas, make the second coming of Christ a part of that focus.
We had a great time Sunday morning at our church. The illustration box was a fun way to bring our attention to the Christ of Christmas. Thanks to all who worked to make that a fun and important reminder this Christmas.
Our Christmas caroling at Sunrise was a huge success. The people there were so thankful for our time and effort to bring the music of Christmas to them. I think we had twelve singers, including our four grandchildren and Lebo playing her violin, to lift up the name of the Savior. As I go back this morning they will be so very thankful for that gift to them.
Many of you remember Hannah Alexander who married Josh Csire. Josh’s brother and his wife had a second child who at one month old has contracted Hepatitis B which turned into meningitis. This little one has now faced all of the trials of this sickness and we are praying for her body to be healed. Join us in prayer for Brynlee Csire that God would raise her up. Pray for her parents as we know all too well the difficulties of a sick child.
Have a great day in the Lord,
2 Thessalonians 1
11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,
12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
For a long time in my Christian life I really thought that part of its success was up to me. So I would read my Bible more, pray more, and serve more in a futile effort somehow get more of God. As Paul addressed the Thessalonians, and us, we have to notice that he is asking God, who counts us worthy of His calling, to fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power to the praise of glory of Jesus Christ.
Pay close attention here to the prime actor in this equation and why this is important. If I were able at any time in those years of personal effort to achieve the level I thought I could achieve, I would have patted myself on the back and given myself some of the glory for working so hard and so diligently to get where I got. Paul says that it is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that is to be glorified in me. Hmm, this indicates that whatever God accomplishes in me and through me is because He was the one working. I cannot nor must not absorb any of the glory of the work of Christ because I have never been able to improve on what He does. When His work is done through me I know that He was the one at work and that all praise for the success is to Him.
Then Paul lets us know that this work done through us to bring glory to Christ is done on behalf of the grace of God. My friends, we are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, and we do God’s work by grace. There is nothing special in me or in Bobbi that makes us uniquely gifted to do more of God’s work. God works through us with and according to His grace in us. If you are going to serve the Lord Jesus it will be Him at work in you and through you for His glory and according to His grace. No one will ever stand before God and get a pat on the back for their hard work. All of us, kneeling before God, will thank Him for His grace that working through us used our feeble human efforts to accomplish His eternal purposes.
Our youth Christmas party is tonight at my house at 6:00. Teens, bring a small gift to give (emphasis on small), bring some goodies to share, or bring $5 to help with the expenses. We have plenty to do and look forward to a fun evening together. Parents, we will be done around 9:00.
There is a rehearsal at church tomorrow morning at 10:00 for all who are participating in Sunday’s Christmas program. Plan to be here till noon.
If you know of a family in need, we do have some grocery gift cards available.
Sunday afternoon at 3:30 we will be gathering at Sunrise Assisted Living to sing Christmas songs with the residents there. Come and bring children. This is a great time to teach our kids to serve others. Those who live there are so appreciative of the gifts of our time and love.
Have a great day in the Lord,
In this final message on the five solas of Justification, we clearly see that there is no way for us to save ourselves. There is no way for us to share one bit of glory with the God of our salvation. Religion thrives on mankind helping God in achieving their adherents eternal standing. But God alone is capable of saving us from our sin so God alone will receive eternal glory for such wonderful justifying work.
2 Thessalonians 1
6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
There are times in life when we, according to the teachings of Jesus, have compassion on our enemies, at least on those who hate us, make fun of us, and even persecute us for our faith. Christ commands us to pray for them, love them and to do good to them. When we do what Jesus’ said and the God-haters continue to hate on us, we know that one day they too will stand before God and give account to Him. In today’s passage, Paul is giving insight to a persecuted church letting them know that those who are against them only have the upper hand in this life. God is not being defeated nor is His will being thwarted. In His time God will bring judgment upon the enemies of His people.
Struggles against those who hate the truth is nothing new. Satan has hated God and God’s people since the beginning of his rebellion. But God has a day coming, “when He comes in that Day” on which date God will be glorified in His saints and admired among all those who believe. This life is so temporary. When this life gets difficult, the world, the flesh, and the devil (our three enemies) want us to think more about this life than we should. I think that Paul was reminding the church that the day yet to come is coming and will be the answer to all of this life’s troubles.
Fear not, little flock; our Good Shepherd is watching over us and is coming in His time to redeem His people, His church. Be faithful until our Savior’s return, He is coming and He will make all things right in His time.
Two of our ladies, Nancy W and Kristin are having work done today and would appreciate your prayers for their health and well-being.
This Sunday is our Christmas service. The kids have a presentation for us which will bring us to a greater reminder of our Lord Jesus. I will bring a message on the glory of God in the incarnation of Christ.
Teens, we have a Christmas party at my house this Friday night. We will talk about this tonight at youth group.
Have a great day in the Lord,
2 Thessalonians 1:2–3
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
As Paul watched those he had invested in grow in their faith, he rejoiced greatly. They had come to know the grace and peace of God in Christ and grew exceedingly in their faith. When it comes right down to it, every pastor longs for those he cares for to grow exceedingly in their faith. Infant faith is wonderful but mature adult faith is where we can live and do and see God do great things. So much of counseling is encouraging people to grow in their faith helping them to believe that God is in control and that He is trustworthy. So much of preaching and teaching is explaining more about God so that our faith in Him matures and deepens.
We often look to Job in times of trouble, but let’s look at Job before his troubles. He was a man who worshipped God and lived his life trusting God for all things. The troubles that came revealed who he was. So it is in each of our lives. When trouble comes the depth of our faith is revealed. Oh that we grow exceedingly in our faith in the good days so that like a prepared soldier, when the battle comes, we are prepared to stand in faith.
What is growth in faith? Faith in God is a settled confidence that He is God and that as God He loves us, His created ones and that He, as God, is in full control of our lives. God has a plan for our eternal salvation as well as a plan for our temporal lives. God is preparing us throughout our lives for His purposes, which are for His glory. God then wants us to trust Him and His unique, well-devised plans for our lives. But what if those plans include sickness or pain, or misery, or loss, or separation? Trust God; keep your faith in Him. I pray that you will grow exceedingly in your faith.
The tension in America is high today. Allegations are swarming like bumble-bees and it is difficult to know what is politically motivated, what is guilt motivated, what is real and what is not. We need the wisdom of Solomon to be able to discern the right ones from the wrong ones and the righteous from the sinful. Whether you are at work or at school the political tension is intense. Pray for peace in the hearts of men and women who are so filled with anxiety. As a Christ-follower who enjoys His peace in my heart, I am grieved for the people so caught up with the anxiety of it all. Their very lives are in danger as well as their souls. Pray for the peace of Christ to be known in those so filled with sinful their anxiety.
Stef came home from school on Monday telling that everyone was grumpy. Her friends as well as other students were just negative all day. Pray for each of our teens who face this in their schools. They are surrounded by people in pain and are not always equipped to stand up in the joy of the Lord. Pray that they will know that equipping.
God gave strength on Sunday as I came not feeling well but brought the message on being justified to the glory of God alone. I do thank God for the strength He gave to do His work.
Rachel still has not had her baby. The labor comes and goes but this little girl is just not ready yet to face the world. Rachel appreciates all of our prayers and concerns.
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 Thessalonians 5:26–28
26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
As Paul closes this letter he encourages brotherly love. The holy kiss was a genuine greeting, men kissed men on the cheeks and women kissed women on the cheeks. The fact that it was a holy kiss indicated that it was a genuine Christian greeting between brothers and sisters in Christ. We do handshakes or hugs and in the heartbeat of this thought our Christian greetings should ooze with genuine love and care for one another.
Then Paul admonishes them to read this letter to one another. In fact, he wants it to be read to them all. Over the last few months I have been reading this letter to you. Now, who can you read it to? Have you ever noticed the cleansing effect that reading of the Scriptures has to us? Just reading through books of the Bible cleanses us from frustrations, from hurry, from fear, from anxiety, from insecurities and more. The washing of the water of the Word is meant by God to cleanse the filthy and to quench the thirsty.
Finally, Paul’s salutation is simply this: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” In a sane spiritual moment, what more do we need besides the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ? When we know that the source of this grace is our precious Lord Jesus, the Anointed one of God, we then know that it is the grace that we need. For while justice may knock at the door Jesus sends grace to answer the door. When in our hearts we feel condemned the facts of God’s grace must overcome our wrong feelings. Oh how I long for all of you today to know the present grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in every thought, every action, every responsibility, and every reaction of your day. When we are that cognizant of the grace of the Lord we live in the peace that follows grace. Grace and peace be unto you.
I am looking forward to Sunday together. This is the final series in the Five Solas of Justification. This message will address the fact that we are justified to the glory of God alone. No human that ever lived, no matter how great a writer or how desperate a person could have designed and implemented God’s plan for our eternal salvation. This completed plan of redemption causes us to bring glory to God.
Next Sunday, the 17th, we will be going to do Christmas caroling at Sunrise Assisted Living in Naperville at 3:30 in the afternoon. All are invited as we gather with the residents there to lift up the name of Christ. If you have particular Christmas reading that you would like to do please let me know.
Have a great day in the Lord,
As we study the five solas of Justification we look today at the source of our knowledge of how man can be justified before God. While many religious books have been written only the Christian Scriptures point to justification by faith, through grace, as a result of the completed work of Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brethren, pray for us.
Who needs prayer? Paul did. Who was Paul? The man who wrote much of the New Testament, that’s who Paul was. He understood the mysteries of God like no one else, Peter tells us that. Paul heard the voice of God and followed it exactly. Paul started churches all over Eastern Europe and led people to Christ everywhere he went. Who was Paul? We go to his writings for every part of our Christian lives and our church function.
But what did Paul ask for? He didn’t ask for money. He didn’t ask for help. He asked for the one thing that really surprises us, Paul, the great Apostle, asked for prayer. I don’t think he asked for prayer because he has a cold or some physical or financial issue. Paul knew the level of the spiritual battle that he faced and he knew the value of the prayers of God’s people for the outcomes of those battles.
Whose spiritual battles do you pray for? We have an enemy who hates the work of God at every level. Our enemy is against all that we do for God. Therefore, he creates issues for all of us who are striving to live for Christ and do His work. So, whose spiritual battles do you pray for? If Paul asked for prayer, then so do I. Would you pray for me? Pray for our church services. Pray for one another as you go to work, to school, and struggle to live life. Brethren, pray for us.
Our adult Christmas party is this Saturday night. We forgot to mention the “white elephant” gift exchange. This is a lot of fun for the evening. If you failed to sign up, please let Sandy or Bobbi know that you are coming.
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
The benediction of a letter was the wrap up thoughts of the writer. As the Holy Spirit led Paul to conclude this letter He wanted us to remember that God is the faithful One; He is the One who preserves us, sanctifies us and keeps us blameless until the coming of Christ. While our salvation needs to be worked out with fear and trembling, once we understand that God has saved us by His grace we will also understand that God keeps us by His grace.
The problem with moralist preaching is that it teaches us to try harder, to live better, to become more sanctified to prepare for the coming of Christ. Paul says that God is the one who saves us, sanctifies us, and preservers us blameless until Christ’s return. While some may use this as a license to sin without apparent penalty, those who love the Lord for saving them see this as the key to successful Christian living. God is constantly at work in us leading us away from the sins of the world, the flesh and the devil. God is on our side keeping us from the enemies defeating attacks.
God is faithful, that is, God never stops being God and never stops working on our behalf. He is faithfully by our side, alive in us, pushing against sin and leading us toward greater righteousness. God is the faithful one and He will do all that He determines to do in us and through us. Walk with God. Spend time with Him. Listen to His words. Submit to God’s gracious and peaceful ways for your life. He is the faithful One, He has called you, and He will do all that you need done in your life until Jesus comes.
Last night, Bobbi and I had the privilege to hear three of our teens at the Oswego East high school Christmas concert. Hats off to Kameron, Andrew, and Zach for great performances. The school has a wonderful performance hall and the students rose to the occasion delivering a great concert. Great job guys! It was well worth our time to come and see you use your talents.
Tonight is our regular time of Bible study, prayer, youth group and Kids4Truth. Join us as we seek God’s face together.
Rachel still has not had her baby. Do keep her in prayer as she labors toward delivery. She has been at home since Sunday evening.
Pray for the Wentz family. The dad has lost some use in his arm and tests are being done to determine possible causes. They are a Christian family who serve the Lord at Michigan State University in a campus ministry.
Have a great day in the Lord,