Month: February 2018

Jesus on Money

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 Matthew 6:19–24

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;

20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

 

Jesus spoke often about our attitude toward money. We work for it, we use it, we need it for life, we want it, we save it, we spend it, and in some contexts, we worship it. While Jesus did not condemn having money, he warned against us making that as what we live for. What do we treasure up in this life? What do we value most here and now?   What goals direct our daily living? If money comes up in any of these questions, we may be on the wrong side of Jesus’ teaching.

 

If our attitude toward money is misplaced then, Jesus said, the lamp of the body is bad and our whole body is filled with darkness. Money can make us bitter or better. Money can make life more clear or it can make life very dark. How do you view money? Do you always wish you had more? Do you go from day to day looking for ways to make more? Do you have a list of things you will get or activities you will do when you finally get enough money? Has the love of what you don’t have darkened your understanding as to what is really important?

 

Jesus continues with his teaching on money telling us that we cannot serve two masters at the same time. We are always serving one or the other. Then, he says, we cannot serve God and mammon, that is, we cannot serve God and money.   Do you regularly give to the work of the Lord through your church? Or are you a tipper of God? Have you learned the joy of giving away your money and thus investing in things not seen or are all of your investments in a visible portfolio?

 

Jesus also said that it is better to give than it is to receive. When we give we are learning the right purpose of our money. God gives it to us to give it away thus investing in His eternal kingdom. Do you rule your money or does your money rule you?

 

I was in the car this morning between 7:25 and 8:10 and Karl Clausen, on Moody radio, had Pastor Lutzer on with him and they gave the gospel in honor of Billy Graham then called listeners to give their hearts to Christ, to turn from their sin to the Savior. The response was overwhelming. They skipped the news, the traffic, and the commercials as calls and text came in by the dozens from people surrendering to Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful and powerful moment to witness the Holy Spirit at work calling men and women to the Savior. It is as if the Lord used the work of Billy Graham one more time for His kingdom and glory.

 

God is calling us to walk by faith. Abraham left all to follow the call of God on his life. Whenever we respond to the call of God upon our lives it is a response of faith. Our community needs a resurgence of people walking faithfully by faith with their God. I am praying for you that your faith would increase and your kingdom view would come into greater focus.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

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Matthew 6
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

The Bible has much to say about fasting. Fasting has been a part of Christian history for a long time. Daniel fasted in Babylon, David fasted when Bathsheba’s first son was born, Jeremiah had much to say about the fast that God would chose, and we know that Jesus practiced fasting when he fasted for forty days in the wilderness before Satan came and tempted him.

Fasting is not a sure-fire way to get God’s attention nor is it a ploy to change God’s mind. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that sets food aside to get in greater tune with the will of God for one’s life. Food is a distraction of the flesh. When we set food aside our senses become greater attuned to listening to the Word of God. When we fast from food we should increase our time in the word and in prayer. We should skip a meal or a day of meals or a few days of meals when we are seeking the will and mind of God in a particular matter or when we are faced with a task that is going to require greater spiritual power. As I said, fasting brings us in tune with the heart and mind of God when set aside the physical satisfaction for a greater spiritual satisfaction.

If you have never practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting, I suggest you skip a meal and pray when you would have eaten. Whenever you feel hungry, pray again and ask God for his strength as you seek His face and power.

Jesus, who knew the discipline of fasting, gave instructions regarding its practice. There were those who when they fasted wanted everyone else to know they were fasting. The purpose of their fasting was to look better by acting spiritual. They would seek the pity and praise of those around them. Jesus told them that there was no spiritual benefit for that type of fasting.

Instead, Jesus said, when we fast don’t tell anyone, don’t act hungry, act normal so that God will be the one who gives you the reward you are seeking.

I have often spent time in fasting when I needed to know the mind of God or the power of God in a given situation. An increased spiritual sensitivity has been the result of these times. God wants us to know His will and He wants to give us His power. When we seek him through prayer and fasting and we then experience his answer, we know that God has stepped in and we rejoice in him.

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One of the ladies at Sunrise who has been there a long time, died while I was gone. Jean was a WW II nurse who loved the Lord, knew all of the hymns and became a friend. Even when she did not know who I was, she still knew all of the songs.

The world lost another soldier of the Lord today in the death of Billy Graham. Millions of people around the world heard the gospel of salvation from the crusades of Billy Graham. I heard on WBBM this morning that Graham was a man of integrity and humility. What a legacy for the world to give to a man of God. Dr Graham and Jean will meet in the Lord’s presence along with so many who will be thankful of Dr. Graham’s love for the gospel. I hope you realize that the world still needs soldiers to carry the message of God’s grace to them.

I will begin a series with the teens tonight on living with pain. Many of our teens have pained lives. Pray for open hearts to this series.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Normal Christian Maturity – 1 John 2

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In this message from 1 John 2 Pastor Steve looks at John’s teachings to Christian “children, young men, and fathers.”  As Christians, we find the security of children from our heavenly Father, we find the young men and women of the faith finding strength from their heavenly Father and from the Word of God which abides in their hearts.  With that strength these young people Christians will overcome the attacks of the enemy.  Fathers and mothers, those mature in their faith, show the strength of their maturity with their stable strength in their faith in God, their eternal Father.

God wants us to mature in our faith.  When we do not mature there should be concern.  The church body should work for the maturing of all brothers and sisters in the faith.

Jesus’ lesson on Prayer

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Matthew 6

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10   Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

11   Give us this day our daily bread.

12   And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

13   And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

This might be the most familiar passage of Scripture in all of the Bible.  Some churches quote it every Sunday.  To the people who do, church isn’t complete without the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.  Volumes have been written about it and sermon series have been preached from it.  Most of all, the Lord Jesus gave this to his disciples when they asked him how to pray.  Jesus did not say to quote this when you pray but to pray after this manner.

As we study this lesson from Christ on prayer in comparison to our own prayers, we might find some elements missing.  Jesus began this lesson teaching us to exalt God the Father.  It is His name we are lifting up and His will we are seeking.  As we pray with open hearts so often God changes us by showing his how much better His will is than ours.  In prayer, we accept His will and then rejoice as he performs it.

Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father for our daily needs.  God makes the crops and the livestock grow.  God gives the dew and the rain and the sunshine.  God opens the doors for work so we can provide for ourselves and for our families.

He teaches us to forgive everyone who does us wrong.  Anyone who owes us a debt we are to forgive them for that debt.  At the end of this lesson Jesus adds 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.“  Forgiveness is a huge part of this lesson on prayer.

We cannot do spiritual battles on our own so we are to pray for God’s help against our spiritual and physical temptations.  We don’t even know what specific battles we might face in a day so we really want to ask God to prepare our minds, souls, and bodies against Satan’s attacks.  We have an enemy of our souls and God is more powerful so we seek His help in overcoming the wicked one.

As often as possible, take time in prayer to glorify God.  All power is His.  All kingdoms are His.  All glory is His.  When we keep a right view of God we will have a right view of ourselves.  As Paul wrote,  “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

You are familiar with this lesson on prayer.  Just take a few more minutes in your prayer time today reflecting on the lesson Jesus gave to his disciples and to us.

It was good to be back at Grace for Life on Sunday.  I am thankful for our church and for all that the Lord is doing in the lives of those who call this their church family.  Tell others about your church.  They might be looking for answers that only God through His word can give to them.  Plant the seed; God brings the harvest.  We heard Sunday that Yolanda is home.  God did a miracle of healing in her body.  We are thankful.

I hope your sump pump is working.  Mine was cycling all night and I am very glad it was.  I like to wake up to dry floors. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

How do we pray?

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Matthew 6

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

Prayer is the most basic component of all religions of all time. When people believe they have a deity that is greater than themselves they will pray to that deity asking for help, for healing, for guidance, and for eternal benefits. The people of Israel, going back to Abraham, knew what it meant to pray to their God and they believed that their God was the only God, the one true God. So you would think that by the time Jesus came, nearly 2,000 years later, they would have this prayer thing down. Apparently not.

 

Jesus gave these instructions about prayer:

  1. Don’t pray like the hypocrites pray, they pray to be seen of men.
  2. Pray alone, in your private place.
  3. Pray to God who alone sees and when you pray in private God will hear and will reward you openly, before others who seek the praise of men.
  4. Do not pray with vain repetitions. (It amazes me how many religions today have memorized prayers in light of the Lord’s clear teaching against it.)
  5. God does not hear us when we repeat ourselves hoping to get his attention.
  6. When we pray, God already knows our needs before we ask and already knows what is best for us and will answer us accordingly.

 

Too often, in prayer, people try to give God advice, to tell God what is the best action that he should take on their behalf. Become familiar with Isaiah 40 and it will change your prayers. God does not come to us for counsel and if he did he would cease to be God. We really do not want a God that we control but a God who is in control.

 

Can we take time today in private prayer? Can we go to our “closet” to get alone with the God of the universe and open our hearts and wills to Him? Prayer changes us when we get alone with God. In His presence the fog is lifted, the blur is made clear, and the peace comes back. Let us lay aside our own ideas of prayer and go to the Father as He desires we come that He, hearing our prayers, will do with us as He sees fit and right.

 

We are grieving today for the seventeen families who have lost their teen children this week. As I walked into Waubonsie this morning to drop off something that Stefani forgot, I was struck with the reality of potential threats on all children in all schools. My friends, gun control isn’t the best answer. There are too many guns in our country for that. I would like someone to do a research project on all of the shooters over the last twenty years, going back to Columbine, and look for similarities that can be honestly addressed. There have to be contributing factors to this immense issue, factors that can be dealt with. The vast majority of kids would never think of shooting one another. What are the painful issues in the lives of those who would and do?

 

Sunday morning I will be bringing a message on spiritual growth and maturity from 1 John 2. Read through this chapter and prepare your hearts for the message.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Why do we do what we do?

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Matthew 6

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

So why so we do what we do?  Think about it;  why do we show kindness?  Why do we help others?  Why do we put money in the offering?  Why do we respond when the pastor asks for help?  Why do we agree to more work at work?  Why do we let someone into the line of traffic?  Why do we give gifts to people we are not close to?  Have we ever given something to someone for the praise of another man or another woman?  Do we ever do extra hoping to be seen by someone who might in turn do something good for us?  Have we ever reminded someone of a kindness we showed when they were being unkind to us?

The Pharisees were great at doing things for the praise of one another.  Jesus said that they would sound a trumpet to get the attention of all in the room when they did their good deeds or gave their big offering.  They wanted the applause of the crowd.  Then Jesus warns us not to be like them for they have the praise of men.

Jesus then gives an example of the motive of our giving.  When we give, our gift is supposed to be so private among one another that our left hand should be unaware of what our right hand is doing.  Speaking in hyperbole again, Jesus wants us to give so that God alone knows and that when God knows that we have done something in kindness, He notices and He keeps the records.

Think again, whom do you really want to notice when you show a kindness or give your money to help another?  Do you really want the passing praise of one another?  If we give for the praise of one another, when they notice our gift they have given us our reward.  However, when we give privately, when we show kindness to the glory of God, then God sees and He keeps an eternal record on our behalf.  Let God pat you on the back.  Let God make you feel good about what you have done.  Then you will know the greatest rewards.

 

We arrived back at O’Hare yesterday afternoon.  Bob brought us home, Rachel made dinner, and we were off to church last night.  We were a bit tired but made it through the evening then slept well.  Thank you for your prayers in our absence.  God did take care of us.  Neither of us got sick and we were able to minister to several people along the way.  I will tell you more about that on Sunday. 

For fun sake, I had the longest birthday of my life.  We left Jakarta at 6am on the 14th, flew seven hours to Japan, had an hour and half layover there, boarded and flew twelve hours to Chicago and landed at 2:10pm on the 14th.  The math doesn’t work but it was pretty cool to have a birthday that lasted almost two days. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

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The Claims of God 1 John 2 3-11

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From 1 John 2:3-11, Pastor Steve presents the claims of God upon those who know Him.  John makes it very clear who is and who isn’t in Christ.  Many people, from the Gnostics of the first century to people today claim to know God but are not living the commandments of love given clearly by God and lived by those who have Christ within.  In this message, you will come away with a clarity about who is and who isn’t in Christ.  This is not a message of judgment but one that seeks to understand the teaching of the Apostle John.