Month: July 2018

What is of Greatest Value to You?

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Matthew 13

44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

These have to be some of my favorite parables of the Lord Jesus.  The pictures that he drew to explain the value of his eternal kingdom are vivid and bursting with meaning.  In his series, The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn has enacted the parable of the treasure in the field.  It is worth watching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd29Dmba1k4

My imagination runs wild with these parables.  I imagine walking through a deserted field and stumbling on a treasure of immense value.  Its’ been hidden and forgotten maybe for centuries but I cannot take it out, it belongs to whoever owns the field. My life just changed. Whatever was on my to do list just got erased.  Whomever I was supposed to meet just got cancelled.  I need to find out who owns the field and then find a way to raise the money to buy it.  There is no limit to what it will cost me for the treasure far exceeds what I will spend to get it.

Then Jesus tells the same story of a pearl merchant.  All of his life he is searching for valuable pearls to sell to his rich clients.  One day he sees the pearl of a life-time.  He knows that this pearl is of greater value than all of the pearls he has ever owned.  He has to have this pearl for whoever has this pearl will be wealthy beyond measure.  He goes home and takes every pearl of his valuable collection, the ones he has saved and the ones he has kept; he gathers them all and goes to his customers to sell his life’s collection.  He knows that whatever it costs, owning this one pearl will set him up for life.

Jesus used these great stories to define the gospel. The gospel has no equal in this life. There is nothing in our lives that is of greater value than the gospel. The gospel is worth selling all that we have; it is worth changing our lives to get. When we understand the value of the gospel nothing will get in our way to get it and hold on to it.  The gospel is a treasure and a pearl beyond price.

I am so thankful to God for giving me the gospel.  I am so thankful to possess the gospel as that which has enriched my life beyond any human treasure or any human value. I won’t trade it for anything; it means everything to me.

Of what value is the gospel to you?

 

Between getting ready for my class next week and working on the house my days begin early and end late.  I apologize for not getting to the devotionals as I have in the past.  Hopefully, in August, we will slow down to a more normal life. 

 This Sunday we will be observing the Lord’s Table and I will be bringing a message from 1 Corinthians 10 on the table of the Lord and the table of demons.  This is an amazing passage that has some wonderful truths and some striking challenges. 

 Tomorrow, Illinois Family Institute is using our church building for a conference on Radical Islam.  The conference starts at 10:00.  Go to https://illinoisfamily.org/event/panel-of-experts-on-responding-to-islam-2/ for more information.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Smallest Ingredient has the Greatest Effect

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Matthew 13

33 Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

 

This parable of our Lord was given to encourage us as to the power of the gospel.  I remember as a child watching my mom make bread. While I don’t remember all of the ingredients I specifically remember her small yeast packets that she would add to the other ingredients and then I remember watching the bread rise in the pan before she baked it.  It did not take much yeast to effect the entire loaf.  There have been times that bread made not rise and either the yeast was bad or the yeast was forgotten in the mix.  In a very short parable, Jesus uses this simple example to explain how the gospel works.

 

We live in a big world with billions of people. How much of the gospel does it take for the entire world to be affected?  According to Jesus, just a little bit of gospel seed can affect a great amount of people.  There were 120 in the upper room, only 120.  Sometime later, a mob in Thessalonica accused this small group of turning the world upside down!  (Acts 17:6) When people are filled with the Holy Spirit and the gospel, this good news of salvation spreads throughout the culture like yeast spreads through a loaf of bread. We can testify to one person in a family coming to Christ and before long the entire family is saved by God’s grace.  My mother-in-law heard the gospel as a young teenager, today her entire family of children, grand-children, and great grand-children know the Lord and continue spreading the gospel.

 

Consider this, yeast is the smallest ingredient in the mix and we often feel like the smallest influence in the room.  But the power is not in us – it is in the gospel. The yeast only needs to be released into the dough for it to be effective. We only need to release the gospel for it to bring men and women under conviction of their sin and their need of the Savior.  The yeast does its work all by itself and so does the gospel; it just needs to be released.  Paul asked in Romans 10 how people could be saved if they never heard and concluded that they could not.  It is therefore our responsibility to release the yeast, the gospel message, into the culture; it is God’s job to make it work.

 

When we get to heaven we will understand this parable better.  There will be people who will thank us for our witness but we will have no recollection of ever telling them. Simply because we released the gospel to someone they released it to someone else and the spread of the gospel from our efforts won’t be fully known until eternity. The travelling pastor who preached in several rural churches in West Virginia, has no idea how far the yeast he planted in young Jean Harris went. It is still spreading.

 

In a day of continual bad news, what a joy to hear of the rescue of the twelve boys and their coach from a Thailand cave.  The testimony of this rescue is that at the core of who we are, we are lovers of life. This is a testimony of how we are made in the image of God.  Satan could care less if these boys lived or died in that cave. Satan is the destroyer. In the image of God is the love of life for He is the creator and sustainer of all life.  I thank God for putting into mankind a love for life and a determination to save life.  Part of this story is the farmers whose rice fields were flooded to the destruction of their crops while salt water was pumped out of the cave.  The farmer said that the lives of these boys were of greater value than his crop. Take note today that all of us, made in God’s image, are lovers of the life. Our talents and abilities are to ultimately be used to save lives for God’s glory and for His kingdom.  May these rescued boys one day hear the gospel of God and know that their salvation was from Him.

 

Please pray for Edna and her pained back.  They need great medical wisdom to find God’s plan for her healing.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Apparent Insignificance is Very Temporary

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Matthew 13

31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

When a mustard seed is compared to other seeds, you might think that it just won’t do very much. That was the point of this parable of Jesus.  It just seems like an insignificant little seed. But in that little seed is the potential for a great tree that will provide wonderful shade  and a home for many birds.

Jesus then compares this little, seemingly insignificant seed, to the kingdom of God, to the working of the message of the gospel.  In comparison to the “great world religions,” the gospel of Jesus seems small and insignificant.  In fact, any message that required the death of God on a human cross must be a really weak religion.  A gospel message that calls its hearers to give away wealth, leave family and friends, walk away from good jobs, and to live lives of poverty while spreading the “good news” just doesn’t make good human logic.  It appears to be an insignificant message in the sea of humanity that is crying out for significance.

But the opposite is true here. (Thanks Dave for the riddles)  The seeming insignificant message of the Cross is the seed of every man’s eternal kingdom.  As the rich man and Lazarus discovered, it isn’t our significance in this life that matters.  One moment after death what matters is the significance of the gospel seed.  What is significant to you?  Only when we make the seemingly insignificant gospel message of Christ important do we really understand why we are here and what our future really holds.

 

Yesterday morning I prayed and asked the Lord to give us some help on our house projects.  It is overwhelming us at times.  Joey was coming over to tile the downstairs bathroom but I did not know that he was bringing his uncle Tony along.  Tony plumbed the sink, did the trim in the bathroom and the trim on our landing.  I told him that he was an answer to my prayers.  Last night we emptied my parent’s apartment and got that room ready for carpet.  Whew. 

Tomorrow is our prayer breakfast at Denny’s at 7:30 and then Stefani’s graduation party at 1-5. Please feel free to drop in at any time for her party, it is an open house for her. 

Sunday morning I will be bringing a message from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 on foolishness and power in the church.  Read the passage before you come to help you be ready for the message.  We have a church meeting after the reception for Pastor Bill and Kit.  The church meeting will be discussing the immediate future of our church and is an important meeting for all members and regular attendees. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The Enemy of the Seed of the Gospel

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Matthew 13

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”

The last devotional came from the parable of the sower and emphasized the need to wrestle for the souls of those who hear the gospel.  In this parable, Jesus emphasizes the enemy of our souls with greater clarity.  We who know and love the gospel of Jesus Christ seek to plant the seed of the gospel into the hearts of those we know and those we don’t know. We care for their souls by planting the gospel seed into their lives.  Satan, the great enemy of the souls of men, plants seeds of weeds and tares into the very same souls.  As the seed of the gospel grows in the lives of men and women, they will find that those into whose souls the tares were sown are going to struggle against them their whole Christian lives. Some who hear the gospel will reject it and receive the seeds of Satan instead.

For a while, the wheat and tares grow together and you cannot tell them apart.  But before long, the core of who they are becomes very clear and God’s children can be seen to be different from the seed of Satan.  Let me make a clarifying point here: Satan does not care about anyone; Satan only cares to damn souls away from God. Satan may come across as a good drinking buddy or a good fishing buddy, or a friend at work who just seems to have it together, but Satan’s goal has nothing to do with people having a good time, no, his end game is damnation.  So when Satan sows seeds of weeds and tares into people’s lives, he is sowing seeds of destruction.  At the end of this parable, the tares are gathered and burned.  Do not be deceived by Satan’s smile, his end is your destruction.

As we care for the souls of those around us, remember this, in God’s field of this world, tares can become wheat, lost people can be saved, evil people can become righteous, and Satan’s children can be adopted into God’s family.  We long to see the tares of this world be transformed by the grace and love of God.  Pray today for someone you know who needs to be saved and ask God how you can sow the seed of the gospel into their life.

This Sunday there are two events taking place at church.  We will be having a cake reception for Pastor Bill and Kit, thanking them for their years of service here.  (While we will try to get them back for Sunday services, it is going to get harder to do so now that they live in Rolling Meadows.)  Please bring a card with a written testimony of how they have ministered to you or a memory you have of them.  At this point in their lives a written comment is better than a spoken one. 

After the reception, we, as a church, will gather again in the East Room and have a church meeting looking forward to the future of the church.  These meetings are going to be important for the decisions that need to be made in the very near future.  Your input in these meetings is vital.

Saturday morning is our men’s prayer breakfast at 7:30 at Denny’s. Join us for an hour of food, Word, prayer and fellowship. 

Saturday afternoon we are having Stefani’s graduation party here at the house.  All are invited. If you have time on Friday to help with setup, we could use your help.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Evidences of God in Us – 1 John 3:19-24

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The Apostle John gives us many evidences of Christ in us. In this passage Pastor Steve brings out some more evidences of who lives within. When we live within we cannot bring out the evidences of God. But when God, in his Holy Spirit, lives within, there are definite changes that take place from the inside out of our lives.