Month: June 2018
18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
The interpretation of this parable of the sower matters so much to our understanding of the spread of the gospel. The first three examples given show that the seed of the gospel can be unfruitful, which means it never germinates to the giving of life. We would say that the first three examples of the seed sown are examples of people who remain in their unsaved condition. This should deeply concern us.
As we have opportunity to spread the seed of the gospel we must pray that God will bless the sowing of the seed. In the first example, Satan himself takes away the seed. We must notice the spiritual battle taking place here. The gospel seed is good. It is given, and then Satan takes it away. Not all of those who reject the gospel are doing so of their own volition; Satan does not want them to hear, receive, be saved and bear spiritual fruit. In the second example there is reception of the gospel but not deeply into the soul to bring about life-changed fruit. They like the sound but not the surrender. The flesh of men and women is the enemy in this example. They don’t really want to change. In the third example, the enemy of the gospel seed is the world around us. Because someone loves the world, its pleasures, its draws, and its glory, they cannot pull themselves away from the entangling and chocking cares around them to be saved.
When we give the gospel seeds we must give them out in the power of God with prayerful preparation and prayerful continuation. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation yet Jesus said that the enemies of the gospel effect 75% of those who hear it. I used to be a wrestler giving all that my mind and body could give to pin my opponent or to not get pinned by my opponent. Wrestling is an all-out sport for three two-minute periods. I have never been as exhausted as I was after a grueling match. Have you ever wrestled for someone’s soul? If you have then you know it is laborious prayer, laborious discussions, and a wrestling for the spiritual well-being of another person. When we understand the spiritual battle behind sowing the gospel seed, we will take this with the seriousness of the eternal battle that it is. Who needs you to wrestle for the germination of the gospel seed in their soul?
Last night we took the teens to a park, played, ordered pizza, sang and talked about preparing our hearts to listen to God. I took them to Matthew 13 where Jesus said that there were those who would hear but not understand what he said. Pray for our teenagers that when they hear the Word of God that they would understand, ask questions, and want to know what God has for them to hear and then to live. We have several teens who seem to be falling by the wayside or be being choked by the world around them. Pray for these today that they would hear and follow the Word of God which they know.
Sunday is our dinner day. Please plan to bring some food and to stay and fellowship around lunch.
My parents are moving into Plum Creek Assisted Living on Monday. It will harder to get together with them up there. If you have been making plans to stop by be sure to do so between now and Sunday night.
Have a great day in the Lord,
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Jesus spoke in parables so that only those hungry enough to come to him and to ask for explanation understood in full. In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry he was headed to the Cross so it wasn’t time yet for the multitudes to hear, believe, and be saved. While the multitudes heard Jesus teach and preach, they seldom understood the full meanings of his messages. Their spiritual blindness needed to remain until after Christ was crucified as the Lamb that was slain.
It should not be surprising to us then that the twelve often came to Jesus after his teachings asking for explanations of what he said. Notice with me that Jesus did not rebuke them but told them that it was important for them to see and to hear with understanding. The disciples of Christ were the ones who were going to forsake him temporarily in the Garden of Gethsemane but would return to him with fullness of faith after his resurrection. They were the ones who were going to speak the truths of God with clarity and power in other languages on the Day of Pentecost. Peter was going to preach messages about Christ that brought thousands to faith in him.
How does this affect us today? Our Lord has given us his teachings and he has given us his Holy Spirit to bring his teachings to light and understanding. He has given us the faith to believe in Him and in his teachings. With the indwelling Spirit of God we now read the parables and their explanations and our faith increases, our understanding of the kingdom of God broadens, and we are better equipped to live in this life to the glory of God. Our Lord still says to us today: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.” Let us make the Word of God our daily bread, our sustaining drink, and that which continually builds up our faith and power in Him.
We were not able to go to Victory this year for our annual camp-out. In lieu of this we are going out to a farm in Leland this Friday afternoon and evening to shoot, ride horses, and grill out. All are invited. If you can make it, just let me know so we can have enough food to go around. We will be leaving the church at 11:00.
Have a great day in the Lord,
In this passage, John makes it very clear that people who are loving are of God and people who are not loving are of Satan. He uses Cain as an example of someone filled with hatred that led to murder and then states that no murderer has eternal life. In this message, Pastor Steve looks carefully at the two sides of this passage and reminds us that the Lord Jesus delights in saving murderous people who will be saved. But, those who reject God’s grace and live in hatred are not nor can they be children of God.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Matthew 13 is a familiar passage to any maturing Christian. This parable of the sower explains much to us about sowing the seed of the gospel to the world; a simple overview is our goal this morning. The key players are the sower, the seed, and the soil. We are the sowers of the seeds of the gospel. It is God’s gospel, his message not ours. We are to scatter the gospel seed throughout our lives regardless of who receives it and who doesn’t. The seed, once put out there, might be plucked away by Satan who doesn’t want the gospel to be heard. The seed might be scorched by the pressures of this life again never taking root in the person’s life. The seed might become tangled with the cares of this life and choked out before it comes to fruition. Or, the seed of the gospel might take root in a life, mature and bring forth gospel fruit.
We see in this parable a battle between the power of the gospel, Satan, and the cares of this life. There are many enemies to the gospel of God’s grace and we who plant this powerful seed do so with prayer, with love, and with compassion for the ones in whom we desire to plant the precious seed. We grieve when the seed is plucked away, scorched, or choked. We rejoice with the angels in heaven when the seed germinates and bears the fruit of faith, repentance, and more gospel seeds.
The last words of Jesus get our attention today. Jesus concluded this parable as he did many of the parables stating that those who had ears to hear would understand. Besides being familiar with this parable, do we have ears to hear and to understand it? Do we who know the seed and the soils pray for greater opportunities to successfully plant the gospel seeds into good soil? When was the last time you planted the gospel seed into anyone’s heart and life? If they rejected it remember that Jesus said some would. So we keep on planting looking for that receptive soil. Do you have ears to hear and to understand this parable of the Lord Jesus? Ask him today to give you an opportunity today to plant the seed of the gospel into the soil of someone’s heart.
We ended VBS with a wonderful night of fellowship with the parents and the children together. The children quoted the verses from every night (I think there were 8 verses in all), they sang the songs for the week, and then we invited the parents to come out and to sing with their children. It was a thrilling moment to see the parents and the children doing the motions of the songs while they all together lifted up the name of Jesus. We are thanking God today for doing such a great work through us for His kingdom. Again, a great big THANK YOU to those who came and volunteered every night of the week. This was an investment into eternity as the seeds of the gospel were sown every night into hearts that were so receptive to the messages of Christ and the true treasure.
Have a great day in the Lord ,
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
In this event of Jesus’ life we find a strange response and a wonderful lesson.
The family of Jesus, Mary and his human brothers and sisters also born from Mary but with Joseph as the father, came to see Jesus. No doubt they came expecting him to give them an audience, at least to stop what he was doing and to come speak to them. We don’t know, but maybe they had decided to come with a special message or a special greeting for their now famous sibling. As we do know that the siblings did not believe that Jesus was the Christ until later, maybe they came to invite him back home. Whatever the reason they came, they expected Jesus to spend a moment with them.
But when the family of Jesus sent a message through a disciple that they were there, Jesus gave a very strange response: Jesus denied that they were his family! As Jesus looked across the multitude he waved his hand asked who were his brothers and sisters and mother but those who know the will of God and do it. If you were the family of Jesus that day you would have been deeply hurt at best and totally insulted at worse. However, 2000 years later, we should be thankful for the response of Jesus to his family for Jesus, that day, included every one of us who knows the will of God and does it as members of his eternal family!
Remember John 1:12? “But as many as receive him to them he gives the power (the authority) to become children of God, even to those who believe on his name.” When we come to God through Jesus Christ, God adopts us (Romans 8) into his eternal family and we become joint heirs with Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters of his forever. You see, Jesus knew exactly what he was saying that day when his family came to see him. Jesus wants all of us of all time to know who his true and eternal family was and that we would have the opportunity to be adopted into his family by the authority of God himself.
Take heart my friends; we who are in Christ before God are the eternal family of God.
Tonight is our final night of VBS. On the last night we invite the parents to hear the new songs and the new Bible verses that the children have learned. We recap the theme of the greatest treasure giving the gospel one more time to the children and especially to the parents. Then we have an ice cream party giving us an opportunity to mingle with the parents and talk with them about the Lord and their lives. Pray with us for unique opportunities tonight. Please pray also with us that the rain lets up this afternoon as the event works really well outside.
We are thankful for the many this week who have heard the gospel. We are still praying for children to come to Christ. Join us in this prayer today also.
Have a great day in the Lord,
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.”
Children playing frisbee tic-tac-toe
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,
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.
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.
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,
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,
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.
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.”
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,
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,