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