Month: June 2018

Jesus is Greater

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Matthew 12

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

 

One important point that the Pharisees, and most of the people in Israel, missed in Jesus’ day was the greatness of who Jesus was.  Some of them only saw Jesus as the son of an immoral relationship for they denied the virgin birth.  Some saw him as a prophet and some as a rabbi.  Phillip came to Jesus believing in him and Jesus praised Phillip for his faith.  But Thomas refused to believe that Jesus could have risen from the dead.  Jesus knew who he was and as we see in today’s passage he makes a statement of his greatness.

 

The people loved to see Jesus do miracles. Many followed him just to see the supernatural before their eyes.  The Apostles asked what manner of man was this who could calm the storm?  They were amazed when Jesus fed the multitudes with a few loaves and a few fish. The man healed from blindness knew that Jesus had to be someone special but the Pharisees kicked that man out of the synagogue.  While the people of Jesus day loved to see the miraculous, they refused to see Jesus as God.

 

On this day, when the people asked for another sign or another miracle to prove who he was, Jesus denied their request and gave them a prophecy and lesson.  Jesus used the well-known example of Jonah being in the belly of the great fish for three days as a lesson of his upcoming time in the grave for three days. (By the way, while many today deny the Jonah story as impossible, Jesus taught that Jonah was literally swallowed by a great fish, regurgitated upon the shore and went on to preach in Nineveh.) Jonah was respected as a prophet of Israel and Jesus let it be known that he was greater than a well-known prophet.

 

My friends, whatever you do, keep Jesus where he belongs. Do not let those around you relegate the Savior of the world to simply a prophet or a great teacher.  Jesus is God; he was God in the flesh; and he now reigns over all.  It is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow one day. Do all that you do in the name of and for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Put on the Lord Jesus Christ in all that you do and in all that you say. Only in the Lord Jesus will anyone find hope.  Stand up for the Savior for He is the great I AM, the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace and the only hope for every situation of mankind.  Remember these words of Christ, “… and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto myself.”

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Thank you for your prayers for VBS last night.  We had over 60 children in attendance, a great spirit in them all and a wonderful opportunity to point them to the true riches in Christ.  Each night the lessons become more and more pointed to the children’s need of the Savior.  Join us in continued prayer for God to reach into these young hearts with his gospel that we may see many salvations for God’s glory.

A great big thanks to all of you who are laboring with us each night.  We can’t get weary in well doing, we still have three great nights to go.

I read in Romans 13 this morning that the governments of man are ordained by God and that we are not to speak evil of them. Our country is so divided over the government today.  I fear that this division will lead to a great anarchy.  For while the President and his governmental body is trying to uphold written law the other side is upholding human emotion and feelings.  The chasm between the two has to be of the devil who is against all of God’s workings. Study Romans 13 before you join those who are critical of everything the government does. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Can Christians Sin?

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In this passage John makes some very strong statements about who is and who is not following Jesus Christ. The basis of John’s qualifying statements lies in someone’s heart attitude toward their own sin. In this message, Pastor Steve takes a look at John’s instructions regarding those who practice or continue in sin while claiming to be a Christian.

Words Of Good Or Of Evil Treasure

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Matthew 12:34–37

34 … For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

In this passage Jesus taught us that our words matter. For the person whose heart has been made righteous by the grace of God, their words are going to reflect the transformation of the goodness of God in their heart. I have met people in this country and in other countries who immediately connected with me through the kindness of their words. A person with good treasure in their hearts sets us at ease, relieves our burdens, and leaves us thankful for intersecting with them. We all know people like this and we look forward to seeing them. The good treasure of their hearts spills out and we are enriched by our time with them.

On the other hand are those whose hearts are filled with evil treasure. The selfishness and evil rebellion of their hearts spews out and verbally vomits all over those they come in contact with. And while we may feel sorry for these negative people at some level, we have no desire to be around them. They may begin with something kind but before every conversation ends we have the filth of their evil heart all over us.

In his teaching, Jesus makes a really strong statement when he says that “every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” This tells us that God takes our words seriously and so should we. For if even the idle words are remembered then serious words will have greater weight. “For by our words we are justified and by our words we are condemned.” Caleb used to tell me that he did not mean what he said the way I took it. I would then tell him that the only way we have to communicate is through words so if that is not how he meant it then maybe he should have used different words.

This is a great lesson for us to consider today. As we spend time with the Lord we are enriching the good treasure in our hearts. The greater the good treasure within the better are the words that come out.

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We began VBS last night with 47 children. It was a great night and we are thankful to the Lord for the children who heard the gospel. Our thanks to the great workers of our church who have stepped up to serve the Lord this week. It is going to be a busy week and we are all going to need the prayers of one another to do our regular work plus VBS each evening. Join us in prayer for a great opportunity to point children to the Savior.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

The “Unpardonable Sin”

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Matthew 12

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

The teaching of an “unpardonable sin” has been hijacked away from the teaching of Jesus to all sorts of controlling ideas.  You see, if you can scare someone into thinking that there is an unpardonable sin then you can also control what they do and don’t do. For instance, if suicide is the unpardonable sin then people contemplating it might think twice before sending themselves to hell.  If blasphemy of Allah is the unpardonable sin then men and women can never leave Islam with any hope of ever getting to their heaven. Every religion will have some controlling unpardonable sin to keep its followers from committing it.

 

As a pastor, I have met people who were convinced that they had committed the unpardonable sin.  Though they often could not put their finger on it, they just knew they were beyond the forgiveness of God.

 

What did Jesus say?  Jesus taught that the only unpardonable sin was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Let’s look at an example that makes this clear. When Jesus was crucified he hung on the middle cross. On one side was a man, a criminal of society, who heard the call of the Holy Spirit, realized his sin and realized that Jesus could save him from the damnable sin of his life.  All of his life this man had lived in his sin growing in its severity until ultimately society said, “Enough is enough,” and so condemned him to death by crucifixion. He knew he was a condemned sinner facing eternal punishment. In a moment of submission to the Holy Spirit’s call, this man cried out to the Lord Jesus for mercy and found mercy, forgiveness and the most wonderful words he had ever heard, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

The other criminal, just as bad as the first, was hanging next to the same Savior. Let’s assume that he had the same opportunity as the other fellow.  Let’s assume that the Holy Spirit also spoke to his heart that day.  But this man rejected the truth he heard, rejected the Lord Jesus, and blasphemed him instead.  As far as we can tell, this man committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, died in his sins, and was eternally condemned.

 

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rejection of His call, rejection of His application of the Word of God, and rejection of the extended mercy of God.  When rejects the call of the Holy Spirit, that person has committed the unpardonable sin and without repentance before death will be eternally condemned along with the unrepentant criminal on the cross.

 

Let us, as followers of Jesus Christ, be ever submissive to the Holy Spirit who brings the Word of God to our minds.  Let us pray for those who are living rejecting lives that they, before they die, will also come to submit to the call of the Holy Spirit to their salvation.  I ever remember the call of Jesus to all, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Those who hear and come are the ones who are saved.

 

We had a great time at youth group last night.  Three teens who haven’t been able to come much this school year and we really enjoyed having them back.  Young Zach had his first night in youth group, having finished the 6th grade this year.  He brings his youthful zeal to the group. Andrew and Stefani prepared a lesson and brought it to the teens.  It was very personal and very pointed to their friends in the room.  Pray for our teens to have a revival of heart for the things of God.

 

We will be going out Saturday afternoon to pass out flyers for VBS.  If you can grab some and go to parks and places near your home, please do.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Who Can Live a Pure Life?

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The Apostle John calls all children of God to live pure lives.  In this message, Pastor Steve looks at this passage as a call to purity to all who have received eternal life by grace.  John says that Jesus is coming back and that we will be like Him when we see Him. He then calls us to live in purity as we await the Savior’s return.  In a time when churches are drifting away from greater purity of life, this passage calls us to an increase in pure living each day until we meet Jesus.

Binding the Strong Man to Enter the “House.”

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Matthew 12

27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

 

There has been much discussion and debate about the power of Satan in the child of God.  Can Satan possess a child of God? Can Satan overcome a child of God? These are some of the questions that come up.  Jesus makes a point here that we need to understand. In John 8 Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father, the devil. But in Romans 8 we are called children of God. In John 1:12 we are called children of God when we believe in His name.

 

The Bible teaches us that all of us are born in sin under the spiritual parentage of Satan.  We are separated from God because of our sinfulness. Through faith in Christ and the application of his blood upon our sin, God spiritually adopts us into His family by His grace.  Now then, the only way that God can bring us out of Satan’s darkness into His marvelous light is for God to be stronger than Satan.  In today’s passage Jesus talks about entering the house of a strong man and binding him to plunder his house. Satan is the strong man and Jesus is the one who binds him.  Jesus casts out demons because He is stronger than the demons and stronger than their boss.

 

So then, when we become children of God, Satan must be bound and cast out so that the stronger, the Holy Spirit of God, can come in and abide in us. The Holy Spirit of God and the perverse spirit of Satan cannot inhabit the same “house” that is, the same body. Once Satan is bound and cast out the Holy Spirit abides in the true children of God and they then are “for” God, that is, the new children of God are on God’s side thankful to be released from Satan’s parentage and adopted in God’s eternal and holy family.

 

Who possesses you today? Has Satan been bound and cast out by the stronger one, by the Holy Spirit of God?  Do you hate the sin you used to love?  Do you reject the selfishness you used to enjoy? Do you see the works of Satan as repulsive and love the works of the Holy Spirit so much the more?  On Sunday I plan to bring a message from 1 John 3:4-10 which addresses the Christians attitude toward sin.  This new attitude is the result of the binding of the enemy by the stronger Spirit of God.  “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

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When we were in Park City, we did several hikes in the mountains.  One day we hiked from this lodge out and back.  It was fun to pick flowers and play in some snow on the same hike.  The kids were so much fun, so full of energy, and got along like they saw each other often.  We are still thanking God for our time together. 

 

My house is a construction zone. We have crews outside and inside working on it.  Pray with us as there just seems too much to do and to keep up with the other responsibilities. 

 

Pray especially for VBS as we begin next Monday and desire to see children come to the Savior during the week together.  Pray for children to come. If you have children near your house, invite them to come.  If you have time to help, call Bobbi and ask her what you can do.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus’ works verified who He was

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Matthew 12

22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

 

How amazing it must have been to see the miracles that Jesus did every day and throughout every day!  Jesus was the talk of the town, yes, even the talk of the nation.  The Romans talked about Jesus and Herod looked forward to meeting him in hopes of seeing one of his miracles.  In my lifetime there have been “faith-healers” who received national attention.  But in the end, most of their “healings” were not healings at all, at least not quantifiable healings.  The names of these charlatans have been forgotten and their messages did not save souls.  But Jesus was something different; he did verifiable miracles every day and the world took notice.

 

As a result of the miracles that Jesus did, the people began to question who he really was. In the Old Testament days the prophets spoke of one who would come as the Son of David who would eventually restore the kingdom to Israel.  He would come with power and authority as the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Prince of Peace.  As the people read the Scriptures and watched the works of Jesus, they began to put the pieces of God’s puzzle together and came to a very natural conclusion: “Could this be the Son of David?”

 

As we know today, they were exactly right in their supposition.  Jesus was the very Son of David, the Messiah, the One promised by the prophets who would come and set His people free.  No, Jesus did not do what the people of his day thought he should do, but he did exactly what the Father had planned, Jesus became our Savior.  When we today see lives changed by the power of the Gospel, we too should sit up and take notice that Jesus has come and that he has made the spiritually blind to see and the spiritually lame to walk.  Jesus has done exactly what He came to do and is still doing so in lives today.  Hallelujah!  Jesus, the Son of David, came and proved who he was by miracles then and continues to prove who he is by miracles of grace today.

 

It is good to be home and to be back with you.  Our trip was fantastic and we are so thankful to God for our family and the time we could spend together.  While our sons were growing up we often took time to worship and pray together.  As we were together in Park City, Utah, we were able to take time for family worship together.  We now pray for the grandkids to know the joy of the Savior and to surrender their hearts and lives to him. 

We spent Sunday in a thriving church in Salt Lake City.  How thrilling to see the Lord at work in the world’s strongest Mormon city.  God is saving souls and changing lives there for His glory.

I am thankful for a great day Sunday at Grace for Life!  What a joy to honor six high school seniors with Bibles and pens for their journey.  Keep Kameron, Lydia, John, Stefani, Ana, and Natalie in your prayers for their immediate future decisions. 

VBS starts Monday! There is much to do.  Call Bobbi and ask where you can help.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS