Month: June 2018

Wrestling for the Souls of Others

Posted on

Matthew 13

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,
PS

 

We hear and we are able to understand

Posted on Updated on

Matthew 13

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,
PS

Christians Loving with Genuine Love – 1 John 3:10-18

Posted on

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.

Have we heard this parable?  What are we doing with it?

Posted on

Matthew 13

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 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 ,
PS

The True Family of Jesus Christ

Posted on

Matthew 12

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.

img_20180621_192104

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,
PS

Jesus is Greater

Posted on

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.”

Children playing frisbee tic-tac-toeimg_20180619_200159img_20180619_200059

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?

Posted on Updated on

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.