Month: January 2018

Understanding Ourselves and our Atonement 1 John 2:1-2

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The aged Apostle, John, calls us away from sin to our Advocate who is our propitiation.  (There’s a word you don’t use much.)  In this message, Pastor Steve looks at John’s admonition, our Advocate, and our atonement.  We cannot not sin but we can determine to live against it.  But when we sin, Jesus is our advocate before the judgement bar of the Holy God.  How thankful we are that Jesus advocates for us and by His sacrifice removed the offense between us and God.  Then God, in His mercy, accepts the work of Christ on our behalf.

Jesus kept the law and does so now in us

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Matthew 5:17–20

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 8:3–4

3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

There have been many voices in our day that proclaim the law is for the Old Testament and that grace if for the New Testament. In this Matthew passage Jesus had the perfect opportunity to set the argument strait once and for all. Instead, Jesus confirmed the opposite. God’s law, given to Moses, was not a temporary ideal for a people who could never keep it. No, God’s law was given to show us His holiness and His desire for us. In the law we learn what God loves and what God hates. We learn what pleases God and what displeases God.

 

Jesus then reiterates the law of God telling us that it will not ever be done away with and that there are still blessings upon those who keep it and curses on those who don’t. As we read the law of God we are convinced by that law of being transgressors of that law. We can never keep God’s law as God intended. But wait, Jesus kept the law, every part of it. He never disobeyed his parents, he never coveted what anyone else had, he never bore false witness, he always remembered the Sabbath the keep it holy, and so forth.

 

What does the fact of Jesus keeping the law have to do with us as lawbreakers? Well, it has everything to do with us. For when we trust Christ as Savior and follow Him as Lord, he sends his Holy Spirit to live in us, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” What happens when the One who perfectly kept God’s law lives in us? First, we are given his righteousness by God. This is called imputed righteousness. So when God the Father, the Judge of all the ages, looks at us, He sees the righteousness of the Son. Secondly, the law-keeping Lord Jesus now enables us to live His life through us. Paul put it this way, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me…”

 

Day by day then we are able to enjoy “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” The perfect law of God which brings pleasure to Him is fulfilled in us when we walk according to the Holy Spirit living within us.

“Thank you God for giving us the law and then for providing a way through your sinless Son for us to please you even with your law.”

 

I must apologize for these devotionals being so hit-and-miss. As you may know, I took a class a couple of weeks ago. By today, the 31st, I had a research paper to complete for that class. Between preparing for church and writing the paper I have been completely distracted from writing the devotionals. Next Monday, Bobbi and I leave for Indonesia and will be gone until the 14th. I plan to get devotionals out to you but the clock there is 13 hours ahead of ours so the devotionals may come at seemingly odd hours. I also do not know how well the internet will work so if you don’t hear from me then the internet did not work so well.

Tonight is our regular services and prayer time. Tom and I recognize the need of our church for prayer and long to have more of you join with us for prayer.   The early apostles elected deacons so that they could give themselves over for prayer and the ministry of the word. Let us follow their example and give more time to prayer.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Foundation of Our Salvation and Forgiveness 1 John 1

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(Click the link above to hear the message.)

In this message, Pastor Steve takes us through 1 John 1 establishing our salvation in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit.  When we understand that our salvation is complete in God we also understand that we are forgiven in this life and the next.  The result our being forgiven then is our ability and necessity to forgive others.

Salt and Light, flavor and illumination

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Matthew 5

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

Remember the audience that Jesus was teaching.  They did not have refrigeration nor did they have ice. Meat that was cut had to be salt treated for it to last. The salt both preserved the meat and seasoned it.  Salt was an important commodity.  Everyone knew the value and importance of salt.  More than likely, all of them also knew what it was for salt to lose its flavor.  To rub a piece of meat with salt only for the meat to sour meant that the salt had gone bad.  Salt that did not preserve nor flavor had absolutely no value whatsoever, it was thrown into the street.

 

A candle was as valuable then as a light bulb is to us (a light bulb in a lamp, that is).  I recently put what I thought was a good light bulb into a ceiling fixture only to find out that it was no good.  What value is a light bulb that doesn’t work?  What good was a candle in the dark if a bushel was placed over it?  The point is quite clear.

 

We then are called to be salt and light to a world in need of both.  Jesus then told his listeners (and us) to let their light so shine before men so that they would see their good works and glorify the Father in heaven.  When we provide salt and light to those in the perishing darkness those in the darkness  will glorify God and thank Him for sending us.  What if they won’t listen?  Shine the light anyway; do good works in the name of the Lord Jesus. Care at a level where those cared for will know that your care was foreign and tell them that the Lord was caring for them through you.  Let His light so shine through you so that those around you will taste the goodness of God and see His glory.

 

We have been having really good services at Sunrise.  There were eighteen residents in attendance today with a new lady named Agnes.  She said her nickname was “sis” because her sister could not say Agnes.  She is a sweet lady.  Some years ago I asked prayer for a new woman named Sharon.  Sharon comes every week now and has come to a much greater peace in her soul.  Jean does not remember me from week to week but she sings all the songs from memory.  She used to be in the church choir and was a war nurse. 

 

Tonight is our regular schedule of prayer time, Bible study, youth group and K4T.  We are supposed to be having some visitors for youth group.  Pray for this time with them. 

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

The Word of Life for All of Life 1 John 1

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From 1 John 1:1-4, Pastor Steve brings a message on Christ the Lord of all life. From the first century false teachers attacked the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. John was an eyewitness to the reality of the human person, Jesus, and carefully defends what he heard, touched and saw. Do you defend what you see? So did John. Jesus lived in a human body as the Word of Life for All of Life.

Blessed for being persecuted

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Matthew 5

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

I have to admit that I am a little reluctant to compare the harsh responses we get today to the persecution that the prophets faced. I know a man who lost his job because of his faith but I don’t know anyone who has been physically tortured nor burned at the stake because of their faith. We don’t like the rejection of friends, co-workers, family members or even the rejection of strangers, but how many of us have suffered for the name of Jesus?

 

Nonetheless, Jesus said that we are blessed whenever we are persecuted for Christ’s sake. And if we are never really persecuted, Jesus said we will be blessed when they say all kinds of evil against us falsely for His sake. I have known those who because of Christ were spoken evil of. Whenever we stand for the Word of God we are going to be lumped with all of “those crazy right wingers.” When we uphold God’s laws as truth we are going to be called “haters.” When we agree with God that salvation is only through the blood of the Lord Jesus as we place our faith in His work, we will be called “intolerant” and “judgmental.”

 

We are called to stand firmly on God’s truth anyway. We are called to love the lost anyway. We are called to pray for those who hate us anyway. And as all of this is happening, Jesus said that we will be blessed. The blessings of God include life without bitterness, ulcers, sleep issues, frustrations, and ultimately eternal reward in heaven with the persecuted prophets who went before us. My friends, be bold in your faith. Be loving with your salvation. Stand firmly on the truth of God. Let the Holy Spirit lead in your sharing of God’s truth and light and be blessed of the Lord.

 

The last time we tried to use the TV in the teen room here at church we discovered that it had been hit by something and that the screen was broken. No one seems to know what happened but we are out of a TV. We do use that TV for power points and videos in youth group. If anyone has a flat screen that they are upgrading we could use one here. It does not get used often but is very helpful when needed. We do not need a big one as the box we keep it in cannot be enlarged.

 

I will be speaking at Sunrise Assisted living this morning, and always appreciate your prayers for that service. Do keep Lisa in your prayers as she is struggling with her health.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

A Radical Message Of Blessedness Both Then And Now

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Matthew 5

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3     “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4     Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5     Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

7     Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

8     Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9     Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10   Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

As Jesus taught these lessons to the multitudes, they were amazed to hear such things.  Judea was under the spiritual bondage of the Pharisees who interpreted the OT law according to their traditions and for their benefit. Jesus opens his mouth and begins to teach stuff that makes sense to the common men and women.  The teachings of Christ were both radical and transformational and the people listened with great attentiveness.

In a culture where poverty was looked down on and wealth was a sign of wisdom and success, Jesus tells that the poor, the mournful, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted are the blessed ones.  A first-time listener who was put down their whole life because of their status would be fully engaged in this message.  “Jesus just said that I am the blessed one.  I always thought I was not blessed.” Try to imagine the radical nature of these words from the Savior.

Do you wish for more of this world and less of life’s troubles?  Perhaps this message is for you.  Wherever the Lord has put you is His place of blessing for you.  Those who have much of what you want are usually not enjoying the blessing of God.  Their lust for more or their need to maintain what they have can become as much of a chain as your poverty is to you.  I think Jesus wanted both his audience that day and us to understand that the blessing of God comes from within, not from without.  Furthermore, our cultural standing has nothing to do with our blessedness.  Blessedness comes from accepting where God has put us and rejoicing in all that He has for us.  Be blessed today.

I was out of town in class all last week and apologize for not getting out any devotionals.  I am home now and will be keeping up with the devotionals again.   It was a good week of classes for me as we studied historical theology. 

During the week a few of our friends went through physical crises and have come out rejoicing in God’s protection and healing.  Keep Yolanda Bramham in your prayers as she had to have brain surgery to crimp off an aneurism.  I visited with her and the family Friday night and they are rejoicing in God’s protection.

We had a great day in church yesterday as we studied salvation from 1 John chapter 1.  What a glorious salvation we have by God’s design. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Christ did wonderful things and is in us

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Matthew 4

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

 

It is truly wonderful to think of our Savior in the light of this passage.  During His earthly ministry Jesus was busy with people.  He taught them, He preached to them, and He healed them. Imagine the throngs of people who came to Christ for hope with broken and sickened bodies and He healed them all.  There is not one record of Jesus ignoring someone who came to Him, even when the crowd pushed someone aside, Jesus would know and heal them.  No one was in the margin for Jesus, all who were made in God’s image were worthy of His care.

Let me take a quantum leap today.  When we come to God for salvation He saves us through the blood of Christ.  Then we receive, by grace, the Holy Spirit of God to live within us. The Holy Spirit brings the person of God to live in us with all of His power.  I don’t think we understand this. No, we do not become divine healers nor do we suddenly become eloquent preachers and teachers. We do gain the compassion of Christ, the love God, and the power of God.  We learn that we can pray and God will hear and answer according to His will.  We have the Holy Spirit of Christ in us.

How often do we sense someone’s need because the Holy Spirit brings that need to our attention?  How often do we say a kind word or give a gospel witness when the Holy Spirit leads us?  Jesus said that we would do greater things than He did.  Have you ever, in the power of God, led a soul to Jesus Christ?  If so, then you did more than Jesus did for Jesus healed human frailties but you gave someone eternal hope.  We have the Spirit of Christ in us. How does His indwelling Spirit make your life different? This is far more than just putting off sin and putting on righteousness, the indwelling Holy Spirit of God enables us be disciples of Christ putting His truth in us and enabling us to submit to God’s word.  Are you filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ?  What actions and attitudes of the Savior do you now have?

 

We are getting ready for Sunday, I pray that you are too.  I will be speaking from 1 John 1:5-7 looking at the reality that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  This is another important message for us who live in a darkened world and have been influenced by its darkness far more than we realize.  God would have us to walk in His light as we walk away from the darkness we used to live in.  In the adult Sunday school I will be still looking at chapter 1 studying the indwelling Holy Spirit in the healthy disciple. 

Pray for Dasha as she has sinus surgery today.  Pray for Peggy’s foot to continue to heal.

Sunday night at 6:00 at Moody Church there is a praise and prayer service that you would enjoy.  It is short notice but if you can make it you will be blessed.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus Called Disciples

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Matthew 4

18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

 

When Jesus called His disciples, He called them away from what they were doing, from the major emphasis of their lives, to follow Him. These men had careers, families, and futures.  They did not plan to leave what they were doing.  No one would have thought they did the right thing.  Yet, when Jesus called them to follow Him, they did. In retrospect, they did the right thing; they did the exact right thing.

When Jesus left this earth His final words to His disciples were that they should do for others what He did for them.  Jesus called them from their lives to follow Him then told them to call others from their lives to become followers of Chris as they were.

When I say this we all understand and are in full agreement with what happened and with what Jesus wanted.  But whenever I ask someone to work with me in a discipleship relationship there seems to be a deer-in-the-headlights moment.  Responses like this are normal: “Yes, I would like that but let me get back with on it” or “Yeah, I know I should do that but I am really busy right now” or “I don’t think Jesus meant to put everything else on hold while I follow Him so let me rewrite the terms a bit then I’ll get back with you.”

My friends, Jesus called us all to follow Him and to become His disciples.  Please bear with me a moment, but Jesus did not call us to come to church once a week or even twice a week.  He called us to trade everything to follow Him; that is, we are to make following Christ our greatest priority and all other aspects of life, family, work, and future, become secondary or less.  Yes, we have to work and to care for our families, Paul taught that.  And yes, we are to become disciples of Jesus Christ and then to help others become disciples of Jesus Christ.

Let’s call this “food for thought” today.  Think about this with me and if you can, send me your thoughts.

Our first son, Steven, had his 34th birthday today.  Happy Birthday Steve!  It’s been a joy to see God shape you into the man you have become.  Keep seeking Christ first and foremost, everything else will keep making sense. 

Pray for one of our young people who is now in their career as a teacher.  The first week after Christmas break has been especially difficult in the classroom. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Jesus defeats Satan and give us victory as well

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Matthew 4:1–4

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Hebrews 4:15–16

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.

As Jesus took on a body of flesh, He took on all of the characteristics of humanity. He grew tired even to exhaustion; He was grieved over the apostles lack of faith; He got angry in the Temple when He drove out the money changers; He was sorrowful that those who loved Him thought He let them down; He groaned under the weight of the cross; and in His humanity the Lord Jesus was hungry and weakened after forty days of fasting. Besides being the Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief, Jesus faced unusual temptations to sin for Satan himself came after the incarnate Lord.

 

As this is a very familiar passage, we know that Christ resisted Satan with the word of God and that in the end Satan left and angels came and ministered to the Lord Jesus.   I want us to focus today on the fact of the temptation of Christ. Satan had been tempting people for thousands of years and one after another fell to his subtle and devious ways. Satan came to the weakened Jesus knowing that he could make this One fall also. Satan came after Christ with both human and divine temptations offering Jesus a way around the Cross if He would worship the Tempter. Satan thought he could make Jesus sin and thus forever destroy God’s eternal plans.

 

Aren’t you glad today that Jesus in His weakened condition was stronger than Satan at his best? Aren’t you glad that Jesus bested His and our worst enemy? Since Jesus defeated this enemy at this time, we know that when Jesus is in us we too can defeat the enemies of our souls. Since Satan is not omnipresent, I do not think he has ever tempted us. Satan probably sends his lackey demons to bring us down. But when we have Jesus none of the evil one’s crew can defeat us.

 

I am thankful for Hebrews 4 as this passage lets me know that as Christ defeated all of the enemies of this life I can go to Him and in His strength fight all of my battles. He is familiar with all of my infirmities for He lived in a body just like mine. He was tempted in far greater ways than I have ever been tempted and He defeated every temptation. It is this great Victor that calls me to take up my cross and to follow Him. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When God confirms Himself to us

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Matthew 3

16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

 

How often have we wished for a voice from heaven to confirm something to us?  How many times would we have liked for God to audibly speak to us His words of guidance, comfort, or confirmation? Twice in the life of Christ God spoke these words from heaven, “This is My beloved Son…” As far as I know God has never spoken from heaven in such a way that the whole crowd assembled heard Him speak.  So, at this time and to these people God audibly spoke to confirm the deity of Jesus Christ.

If John the Baptist had any questions about the deity of his cousin, they evaporated when God spoke from heaven.  Surely, if we had been there, our faith would also have been confirmed.

What has God done in your life to confirm His will, His love, and His presence?  No, I have never heard an audible voice but I can look back at several times when God Himself intervened and confirmed His guidance and His comfort.  When David, the young shepherd boy, faced Goliath, he looked back at two other events in his life and found strength.  God had been with David when he killed a lion and a bear that were attacking his sheep.  Those events gave him confidence to face Goliath.  What has God done in your life to confirm His presence and His power?

Kameron and I started a study yesterday on the grace of God.  What great joy to spend time realizing all that God has done to give us His grace, His favor, His salvation.  We who deserve death and judgment receive sonship, righteousness, and eternal life.  God has confirmed His grace to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit.  The written Word of God is like a love-letter to His children who read it as a living book from the living and loving God.  My friends, God confirms Himself and His Son to us all the time.  No, not with audible voices but through His word and His Holy Spirit we come to know the comforting and guiding “voice” of God.

Bobbi has been taking a class all week so I have been working from home.  It has been a bit different in that I have Jared to care for and had Stefani to enjoy.  In two weeks I will start a class and Bobbi will be home. Whew. 

Pray for those on the east coast who are facing unusual storms and cold.  Pray that they will look to
God for help and guidance and salvation.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Glory of God in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

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Too much focus has been on when Jesus is returning not that He is returning. In this message, Pastor Steve takes us through the Bible to confirm that Jesus is coming again. Jesus asked if his listeners were ready for his second coming. Be ready to ask yourself this important question: if we can confirm that Jesus is returning, are we ready if he came today?

The Glory of God in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ from Pastor Steve Schroeder on Vimeo.

 

Baptized with the Holy Spirit – evidence of salvation

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Matthew 3

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

 

John the Baptist was powerful preacher.  He proclaimed the need for repentance from sin and the judgment of God upon those who refused to repent.  But by John’s own words, the One coming after him was so much greater that John wasn’t worthy to unbuckle His sandals and when He preached the results would be much more powerful.  When Jesus came, the crowds were amazed at His doctrine and authority.  Jesus did bring the Holy Spirit who when He came people’s lives truly changed.

There are two sides to our salvation.  There is the biblical side, that is, the side that tells us what happens when we are saved, and there is the experiential side, that is, the actions that take place within us when we are saved.  John predicted this baptism of the Holy Spirit upon all who came to Christ.  In the church today I have witnessed many people who both knew Christ according to the Scriptures and knew Christ according to their own experience.  After trusting the Savior to remove their sins and to give them His righteousness, their lives changed for good because the Holy Spirit entered into them.   I have also known people who claimed Christ but did not have any evidence of the Holy Spirit within.

Do you see the problem here?  When Jesus came He brought the Holy Spirit.  All who claimed Him were baptized with the Holy Spirit, according to John’s teaching.  If someone claims Christ but does not possess the Holy Spirit, has Christ truly saved them?  According to the Scriptures, all who have the Holy Spirit have received Christ and all who do not possess the Holy Spirit do not have Christ.  The second part of John’s prophecy concerning Christ is that He will eternally, with fire, judge all who face Him as their judge.

As you look at your own life and at the lives of others, do you see evidence of the Holy Spirit within?  If you do then you identify with them as brothers and sisters in Christ living possessed of the Holy Spirit of God.  As you look at yourself and others and see those who are unable to live for Christ It may be that they have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, they then are not saved.  All people of all ages need the saving grace of God found in the work and the person of Jesus Christ.  When the grace of God is received the Holy Spirit takes up residence.  I am so glad that I know this both from the Bible and from my own experience of coming to Christ 44 years ago.

 

Men, we will have our Saturday morning prayer breakfast at Denny’s this Saturday.  We meet at 7:30.  I hope you can join us. 

After the service Sunday morning we are having a brief church family meeting.  We will be ending the service a little early to accommodate this meeting.  If you are a member or a regular attender please plan to stay for this family meeting.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Fruits of Repentance

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Matthew 3

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,

 

When the Pharisees came to hear what John the Baptist was preaching, he rebuked them for their actions which belied their words.  By their words, the Pharisees said everything right; by their actions, the Pharisees mistreated almost everyone.  John’s words to them were biting indeed as he called them a brood of snakes who did not come out to escape the wrath of God’s coming judgment.  He then called them to actions that come from a repentant heart.

As we have sown the seeds of the gospel into the hearts of men, women, teens, and children we have often seen those who repented of their sin and had a complete change of life.  2 Corinthians 5:17 teaches us the “new creature” mentality.  Those who repent of their sin and give their hearts and lives to follow Jesus will shortly manifest fruits worthy of repentance in their lives.  Their language changes, their music changes, their entertainment changes, their anger goes away, their lying stops, they become loving, joyous, peaceful, longsuffering, gentle, good, faithful, meek, and self-controlled, in other words, they show forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

John rebuked all men and women of all time who claim to know God but have no evidence, no fruits of their repentance coming through their lives.  Do you know someone who claims Christ but has no evidence of Christ within?  Pray about rebuking their lack of fruits worthy of repentance.  We don’t do people any favors when we agree that they must be saved when they don’t have any evidence of “new creature” life within.

What about you?  Do you claim Christ but live like those who don’t?  Does the Holy Spirit show forth His fruit through you?  Are you a new creature in Christ?  This warning to the Pharisees is for us as well to look at our own lives and to confirm that we have more than knowledge, we have the life-changing Savior whose Holy Spirit lives the righteousness of Christ from within.

 

Yes, it is cold outside but the church is warm.  We will have our regular services and meetings tonight.  There is no Kids4Truth until next week.  We do have the adult studies, prayer time and youth group. 

Pray for the persecuted church around the world.  The Christians in Egypt have been under recent attack.  Let’s pray for them to stand firm for Christ and to show His love and truth even to those persecuting them.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The Preparation of God

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Matthew 3

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord;

Make His paths straight.’ ”

Have you ever wondered what God was doing?  In the middle of an event that really didn’t make sense to you, have you ever looked to heaven and said, “God, I know you are at work, but what in the world is all of this about?”  As we look briefly at the life of John the Baptist we find one of those people whose short life was designed by God for a specific purpose.  John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.  When Mary, with Jesus in her womb came to see Elizabeth, with John in her womb, the babe in Elizabeth’s womb moved in a way that is described in the King James as “leaped in the womb.”

God had a specific purpose for John and that was to prepare the nation for the teaching and life of Jesus.  John’s public ministry was not very long and then John was arrested.  After he was arrested John was beheaded after a lustful dance by the daughter of Herodius.  Do you suppose John’s question to Jesus about whether He was the one or not came from a heart questioning the working of God?

Yes, God had a specific purpose for John’s life and yes, John fulfilled that purpose.  Jesus called John the greatest prophet that ever lived.  Though his life and ministry was cut short, John did what God prepared him for.  What has God prepare you for?  What conversation, what relationship, what ministry, has God prepared you for, set you into and used you to accomplish His purpose? There are people who need us day after day.  Are we prepared to be used of God to reach into their hearts and lives?  Do we always recognize that God has prepared the situation?  Like John, I am afraid we do not always recognize those moments but God does.  Be ready today for God to use you in a prepared situation to accomplish His work and to communicate His message as His messenger before His face.

Happy New Year, my friends.  As I related to my sons and daughter and daughters-in-law, commit to walking with God this year; commit to serving His kingdom this year.  Find out all that God has for you and do it.  Live in an expectation that God wants to be with you and you with Him.  Be ever looking for opportunities to serve God through serving others for His sake and with His love.  Make 2018 a continuation of your Christian life.

Pray for a friend named Dave.  He had knee replacement surgery and somehow a nerve to his foot was negatively affected.  The constant pain in his foot is keeping him from good sleep and is not going away.  Pray for someone to be able to bring healing to Dave’s foot pain. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS