Month: August 2018

They Glorified God through Christ

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Matthew 15

29 Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. 31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

What has the Lord done for you to bring glory to Himself?  Then, what do you do to glorify the God of Israel?

First of all, God has saved us through the gift of the Lord Jesus. The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  The Son, obedient to the Father, became a man, showed compassion to the people who came to Him, and then endured the worst punishment of all time to bear our curse and to pay the debt of our sin. With continued love and grace the Holy Spirit of God draws us to salvation so that we, doomed for eternity, can become children of God, adopted into His family by grace through faith, not of ourselves but to the praise of the glory of His grace.

Day after day the love of God is in our hearts as the Holy Spirit confirms to us that we are new creatures in Christ.  With this new love, this alien love, we care for the souls of others who also need to hear the gospel and be saved by grace through faith. We then have the thrill of being instruments in the hand of God to communicate His word and His truth to others thus giving us even greater joy.

God then continues to abide in us giving us hope in sorrow, comfort in pain, joy in trials, and peace that passes understanding.  He never forsakes us and gives us all that we need for He already gave us His Son. We have the promise of God that He will be with us in life and in death and will carry us into His presence where we will abide eternally in the place that He has prepared for us.  He has given us His word to be the light to our path and the lamp to our feet.

How do we glorify God for all of this?  We sing His praises throughout our days.  We give money as a sacrifice of our life to support the work of God on this earth. We offer our lives, our time and energy to the church of God so that it can go forward as a single body to serve and worship Him. We resist the desires of the world, the flesh and the devil so that all that we do might glorify God.  We speak openly of our faith and let the Lord Jesus live His life through ours.  In these ways we worship God throughout our days and lives.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

 

Be in prayer for Sunday.  I look forward to spending the day with many of you.  The message will come from 1 John 3:18-24 on the assurance of God in our hearts.  Prepare yourself to learn from the Word of God with me.

 Keep Victory Academy in your prayers as they get ready to start their new year.  Pray for God to bring the boys who need to be there, the ones who will respond to the love of the staff and the presentation of the Word.  Pray for Mark and Lynn,  Aaron and Johanna, Ben and Bekka, Dan and Brenda, and Andy and Gina as they prepare themselves, the property and the program for the opening of the school year.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

 PS

How great is your faith?  Do obstacles get in your way?

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Matthew 15

22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

23 But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

On the surface, it would appear that Jesus did not want to help this Canaanite, Gentile woman.  It appears that Jesus actually insulted her to get rid of her.  She came with a great need, her daughter was possessed and it was a severe condition.  No doubt this mother heard of Jesus that he was casting out demons every day and came to him in utter desperation.  Being a Gentile woman, she would have had to enter a foreign place to even find Jesus but her desperation for her daughter pushed her past her discomfort and maybe even her prejudice to find the Savior.

So imagine this hurting woman’s shock when Jesus seemed to ignore her.  Matthew records that Jesus did not answer her.  It appears that the possessed girl’s mother kept crying after Jesus and kept ignoring her until the disciples asked permissions to send her away.  Then, when Jesus finally speaks to her, he tells the woman that he wasn’t sent to the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to which, of course, she did not belong.  At this point, what would you have done?  Would you have hung your head and gone home?  What we learn here is that this woman’s faith in Christ was greater than her obstacles, for when Jesus told her this, she pushed through the crowd and worshipped him.

At this point Jesus throws one more obstacle at her and tells this grieving mother that He did not come to throw bread to the little dogs under the table but to feed His children, Israel, at the table. Once again, we might have left in frustration and despair but, once again, we see the depth of this woman’s faith in Jesus.  Instead of giving in, the mother who came for help for her daughter pushed through the comparison of herself to the puppies under the table and said that even the little dogs eat what the children drop; would Jesus at least drop her a crumb and heal her daughter?

The response of Jesus is wonderful and in His response we see the Savior’s purpose for this exchange: Jesus was testing the depth of the woman’s faith. Did she come for the wrong motive?  Did she come with a misplaced hope?  Or did she come sincerely believing that Jesus alone could heal her daughter? But this time Jesus is finished testing her, He tells the whole crowd that this woman’s faith is greater than all of theirs and then he casts the demon out of her daughter and sends the woman home in peace.

I have a question for you today: how great is your faith? Do you believe that God can and will do for you that which you need done? When you cry out to the Lord and He seems not to answer, do you keep crying out? The message here is that there are times when the Lord tries our faith to see if apparent obstacles keep us from trusting Him.  We have to admit that there have been obstacles to our faith that have left us feeling the Lord didn’t care.  We could not be farther from the truth.  Just as Christ cared for this woman so he cares for us.  And just as she came through the test and found Christ able to heal her daughter so we must come through the tests of faith to find God able to meet our great needs.

 

Well, my dad did not twist his ankle but he broke his ankle.  He is in a cast up to his thigh.  Poor guy, pray for complete healing and for the determination to go through the process to get up and out again.  He still plans to have his service this Sunday, just from a wheelchair. 

 We had a good time in youth group last night.  Do keep all of our kids in your prayers as they face one trial after another.  It seems like the world, the flesh, and the devil are ever at work battling against them.

 Men, join us for our monthly prayer breakfast this Saturday at Denny’s at 7:30. 

 Have a  great day in the Lord,

PS

Walking Worthy of Christ in Unity and Peace

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In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul writes about the importance of walking worthy of Christ and ow to do so.  In this message Pastor Steve walks through this passage defining this worthy walk and encouraging us to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Our church culture today needs to consider the teachings of the Apostle Paul in this passage to promote the testimony of Christ to our children and to our neighbors.

Which is more important, what we eat or what we say?

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Matthew 15

16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

To the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, what they ate and how they ate it mattered.  To keep the law they had lists of things not to eat and very specific ways to wash before they ate.  When the disciples of Jesus ate without the ceremonial washing of their hands the Pharisees were incensed and they accused Jesus of not making his disciples wash their hands.  Jesus asked them what was more important, what they took in or what came out of them?  The disciples were confused and asked Jesus what he meant.  This passage is his answer.

I grew up in a church culture that was bent toward the external actions of the Christian.  Not that they were Pharisaical in their motives, which I believer were good, but their teaching often created Pharisaical people. We were taught all of the things that were bad for us.  The things of this world were bad for us and I am thankful to have been kept from many of those influences.  However, we all would have benefited from a greater emphasis on what came out of our hearts.  This was the message of Jesus in this passage.  For by keeping themselves ceremonially pure, the Pharisees allowed themselves to act and to speak in corrupt ways.

So which is more important, what we eat and do or what we say and how we treat one another?  Put that way we all would agree to the latter.  So how do we judge one another? Do we judge people by what they do, what they allow, or by what comes out of their hearts?  Again, it is easier to judge actions than reactions but according to Jesus, that which comes out of a person is that which defiles them.  Let us consider all that comes out of us today and then let us determine how the Lord Jesus might see us.

 

We had another good service at Sunrise Assisted Living yesterday.  I am so thankful for the opportunity week after week to point men and women to Christ and to God’s purposes for their lives. We have seen many men and women turn from a life of religious efforts to faith in Christ alone.  Thank you for your prayers for us each week.

On Sunday, my dad fell while trying to step across Jared’s stuff.  When he fell he twisted his ankle and now can barely walk on it.  Pray for a quick recovery for him.  This coming Sunday, the place where dad and mom live has agreed to let dad lead a church service.  So at 10:00 Sunday morning he will be leading a service at Plum Creek.  They are inviting people there to come and hoping to see people come to Christ. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Which part of the Scriptures are unimportant?

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Matthew 15

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

The Pharisees were masters at manipulating the Scriptures to get people to do what they wanted. Jesus could see through their inconsistencies and drill straight down to the bottom of their hypocrisy.   Because the Pharisees practiced such manipulation, Jesus applied an OT passage to them telling them that their hearts were far from the truth. We read this passage and fully agree with Jesus’ assessment of the Pharisees.

Last Sunday, I brought a message on unity from Ephesians 4:1-6 and in that passage Paul spoke on walking with all lowliness, humility and gentleness. I must admit that in my lifetime I have held firmly on God’s truth but haven’t always been gently and lowly in my attitude toward others. Did I honor God with my words while my heart was far from Him?

How many people in church have been dealt with harshly and arrogantly while being given the truth? We have had church members who drove other church members away with their harsh arrogance. Maybe they were right but they sure went about it wrong. In the end, the work of God was not accomplished, only the will of men. James wrote that the wisdom from above is first pure then peaceable, gentle and easy to be communicated. Too many men and women, teens and children, have been turned off from God by the way they were treated at church. What a shame that church people, like the Pharisees of old, honored God with their words but their hearts were far from Him.

Let us be people of peace of truth and of gentleness at the same time.

 

This summer will rank as one of the busiest of my life. At this time, September looks to be back to normal and I am glad for the return. Part of that normal is getting back to putting out these devotionals. For those of you who read them, thanks for not getting on to me about the long breaks between them. I plan to get back to a regular schedule starting today.

Thank you for your prayers for our family. Stefani went to college this past weekend. Bobbi took her down to BJU. Check out Bobbi’s Facebook page for pictures. I just returned from a conference in Manila and met two men who are planning to move to Jakarta with the intent of church planting and training men for the ministry. God has brought us together to serve Him more effectively. Our house is having showings, pray with us for a bona fide offer soon. The church is moving in a good direction for its future. More to come on that soon.

 Continue to pray for our sister in the Lord, Edna, whose back surgery has not brought about the relief hoped for.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

 PS

 

 

 

We prepare the way for the Lord’s message

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Matthew 14

34 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

 

Luke 8

38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

 

 

In sequence, the Luke passage was before the Matthew passage.  In Luke 8 we read about the first trip Jesus took to the land of the Gadarenes during which time he met a man possessed of a legion of demons.  Jesus cast the demons into the herd of feeding pigs who ran and drowned them in the sea.  The townspeople asked Jesus to leave but the man now cleansed of the demons wanted to go with Jesus.  Jesus told the man to stay and to be a witness to His power.  Apparently the man did just that for on Jesus’ return trip the people recognized Jesus and came to him for healing.  The second visit of Jesus was very different from the first and the man whom Jesus sent back was the human reason for the different response.

 

My friends, I am more convinced than ever that the power of the gospel flows through people who faithfully follow Jesus Christ.  The once demon possessed man could not help but tell the townspeople what happened to him how that Jesus did a miracle of freedom in his life.  We don’t know what this man did to bring in the demons only that Jesus did a miracle setting him free.  The man was so changed that his life clearly reflected the power of God.  We who claim to know the Savior, we who claim to have been set free from all of the sin of our lives, set free to live for Christ, should be similar walking billboards of God’s power and grace.

 

What would happen if all of those around us knew we are not the person that we were?  What if all of those who know us knew that we were set free from the sin that enslaves them?  What if the change in our lives was as dramatic as this man’s change was?  Let me tell you something, the change in us should be as dramatic as the change in him. We were lost, separated from God, bound by sin and lust, anger and bitterness.  We were filled with Satan’s ideas, the world’s ways and our fleshly desires.  Only the God of heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior could come in and make us new, and He did!  We are not the men and women that we neither were nor would be; we are new, totally new!  The change in our lives from the lives of those around us should be so different that when Jesus comes to the door of their hearts they should want what they have seen in us.  Are you living the “set free” life?  Are you set free or does your life show more of you than of Jesus?  Maybe, just maybe you still need to be set free to live for Christ and to openly prepare others to meet Him.   If you have lived the changed life, begin asking the Lord for unique opportunities to bring Him into the hearts and lives of those who know you.

 

This Sunday, Dave Smith, the director of Illinois Family Institute will be bringing the morning message.  He will probably be speaking from Romans 14 looking at our responsibility as Christians to human government.  This will be a timely message and one that will bring clarity to a cloudy subject. 

 

I am leaving today for a pastor’s conference in Manila.  This is a very interesting opportunity to meet men who are serving the Lord throughout Asia in an effort to network with them as they train men and women to serve the Lord. Pray with me for God to prepare the way for us to work toward establishing a training center/seminary in Jakarta. 

 

We are also praying for God to provide some more musicians for our church.  Sunday will be Stefani’s last Sunday as she leaves for college next week.

 

Pray for our many children who start school this week and next week as they are getting ready for the new year.  They face many challenges and some fears as they make this next step in their lives.

 

Last Sunday’ sermon will be on the App and on the website today.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Peter got out of the boat, can we?

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Matthew 14

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

 

The final recorded thoughts of this event were the exclamation of those in the boat, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  I have to admit that I have often envied Peter, he walked on water.  I have run off of many piers and diving boards, legs running, in hopes of staying just a moment on the top of the water. I always sank. But Peter stepped out of the boat that night and stayed on the top of the water.  What a moment to remember!  He knew what happened when you went from land to water, you sank.  But here came Jesus on the top of the water and Peter asked if he could come out with him.  Jesus bid Peter to come out and join him and Peter, at the call of Jesus, stepped out on the water.

 

What an amazing moment of Peter’s life!  How the others must have wished that they had asked too.  But Peter alone took the moment to step out and be with Christ.  The boat was the place of safety.  The water was the place of danger and death.  I think we can draw some close parallels here.  In life we spend most of our days and nights in the boat, in the place of safety with others who think as we do.  Outside of our normal life we hear of people or read of those who did amazing things for God and stand in awe of what God did for them and through them.

 

Maybe the local church is the boat and everyone in it are those with us in the place we know and like.  Every so often someone hears the call of the Lord Jesus and steps out of the normal church activities to do something that requires more faith.  Those in the church, in the boat, encourage the one stepping out, pray for them, and might even give them money to help them, but like the others in the boat that night, they are not thinking of stepping out themselves.

 

If you had enough faith to do it, what would you do?  Whom have you admired because they stepped out of the boat into the unknown to follow Christ’s call?  As you admire their faith what is Christ calling  you to do?  How much faith do you have to do what he has called you to do?  Many Christians are afraid to take the step of faith to talk to someone else about eternal life in Christ.  They  see those who do share their faith as people with greater faith than themselves.  According to Matthew 28:19-20 we are all called to make disciples of all nations.  We had better get out of the boat and into the sea with Jesus.  We are all called to give of our money to the work of the Lord.  We had better get out of the boat and into the sea with Jesus. We are all called to live under the authority of the Word of God; you get the picture.

 

Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Christ.  Again, the same is true today.  When we step out of our comfort zone to follow Christ we must keep our eyes on him and as long as we do we will walk on the “water” with him.  Do you believe this concluding statement: “Truly You are the Son of God.”?  If you do, then step out of the boat at the call of the Savior and enjoy the greatest day of your Christian life.

 

Please pray today for a friend who needs to decide to follow the Word and the hope of God. The cares of this life have left this friend feeling hopeless and believing this lie has led this friend into sin and greater darkness.  Pray for the light to fully penetrated this darkness.

 

On August 14, 1981, Bobbi and were married at the Oak Forest Baptist Temple.  My dad performed the wedding and Bobbi’s dad brought tears to every eye as he gave a speech to “give his daughter away.” It was a wonderful day amongst our family and friends.  Well, that was 37 years ago.  “Happy Anniversary Bobbi, my love. Thanks for putting up with me and loving me still.  I thank God for  you and for our marriage, our children and grandchildren and the many ways we have served God’s kingdom together.”

 

On a sad note, remember the family of my pastor friend Phil White who went to be with the Lord this time last year.  His wife, Diedre and their children Mia and Maleek are dealing with the anniversary of Phil’s homegoing.  The same God who keeps us together, in his timing takes us apart.  I am thankful for the memory of a friend who so loved the Lord and his family.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS