Month: September 2018

On a scale of 1-10, where would you put your humility?

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Matthew 18

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

During the life-time of Jesus Christ, the disciples never really understood His teaching on true greatness. We have the ability to look back and to lift all of these teachings out and study them.  We have Paul’s writings on the humility of Christ his call to put others above ourselves.  But the disciples really wanted to be great. We know that Judas Iscariot sold the Savior when he realized that there was no greatness in his future.  This is the context of the question we read today in Matthew 18:1.

How great was the child that Christ had brought to Him for this illustration?  We don’t know the child’s name, we don’t know if the child was a boy or a girl, we don’t know how old the child was nor who the child belonged to. Furthermore, we don’t know what this child became, if anything.  What was the point that the Lord was trying to make?

So often we see ourselves better than we really are.  We think we are better at most things we do; if we don’t think ourselves better we surely don’t see ourselves much below average. The entrance into heaven is a humble gate.  It is a gate that is going to be missed by all who are looking for status.  How would you rate yourself today on the humble-pride scale?  If 1 is really humble and 10 is really proud, I am going to assume that most of us see ourselves between 4-6 on the scale.  Think about the child that Jesus used to illustrate his point. If the unknown and unnamed and uneducated child was at 1 on the scale and Jesus told us to aspire to be like that child, then we all have some work to do.

Ask the Lord of heaven and earth to show you who you are today. Perhaps in comparison to the Creator we will realize that even the unnamed child was above us.  We have the chance, since we are still breathing, to humble ourselves today.

 

It is Friday. I am looking forward to Sunday.  We will be looking at the “lifting up of Jesus” in the morning message.  Jesus said that if we lift Him up, that all will be gathered unto Him.  My greatest desire has been to lift up Christ so that you would be drawn to Him. Christ himself was lifted up for this very purpose.  Come as we exalt the Savior in all that He did to draw all people to Himself.

 The next Supreme Court justice is a key position for the unborn.  I am against abortion. Abortion is the murder of the most innocent among us while they are in their most helpless state.  Yesterday’s hearing was a debacle on our country’s selecting process.  Pray with me for those who have the opportunity and the responsibility to care for the weakest among us, the unborn. Generations have now past where men and women in authority have scorned this issue, skirted this issue, and renamed their murderous actions. They will be held accountable by the Holy God of heaven who alone conceives the life in each womb.  By playing God for the millions of unborn they are sinning against the true God, the true Giver and Taker of life.  Make no mistake; all of this attack on Judge Kavanagh has to do with the liberals who want to have sex without the “complications” of pregnancy.  The unborn need our prayers today.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Christ Is Lord Over All Kingdoms

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Matthew 17

24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

There is an amazing lesson and a unique miracle in this passage. The amazing lesson is that the kings of the earth don’t pay taxes and Jesus put himself in that category. When we think about world kingdoms, world rulers, and world powers, we think of an elite group of people. The king of a country is over every person in that country…every person is under the person of the king. It is worth noting here that Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, told Peter that He was above all human kings and all human rulers. “To whom should the King of kings pay taxes?” Pause here and think about this. Which king of this world should Jesus Christ pay taxes to live in that king’s country? Does the Creator pay to live in His creation? Does the sustainer of all things pay taxes to the people that He sustains? Does the Savior who gave His life so that we could live pay us any homage of responsibility to live amongst us?

My friends, Jesus knew exactly who He was. Peter wasn’t sure yet who Jesus was. The amazing lesson is that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, was greater than the king in Israel and greater than the Caesar in Rome. Jesus did not owe a tax; on the contrary we owe Him a debt of love and gratitude that goes far beyond the taxes of a human king.

The unique miracle of this passage is no less amazing. Jesus was indeed the sovereign, all-knowing and all-powerful God of this world. Jesus knew what Peter had said and knew what Peter was going to say. Jesus had someone drop into the lake the exact amount of tax money needed for Peter’s and for His tax payment. Then Jesus directed one fish to go and pick up that one specific coin; then Jesus had that one fish with that one specific coin come and get on one particular hook, namely Peter’s hook. How many coins are lost at sea? How many fishermen have hooks in the water? Are you getting the scope of this miracle?

The point for us is that Jesus is indeed King of all kings and He is Lord of all lords. Jesus is Lord over every kingdom and over every transaction and over every fish in every sea. When Jesus commands, nature obeys. Perhaps this entire event is proof of the Lordship of Christ over every kingdom. We then can enjoy living under our trustworthy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

On Monday morning, ten of us went to meet with Senator Linda Holmes and Representative Stephanie Kifowit. We spent an hour talking with them about how we believe that recreational marijuana is dangerous and needs to remain an illegal substance. It was interesting to hear their reasoning as they have listened to reason from the other side of the issue. We then talked briefly about protection of churches from those who would demand we marry or hire homosexuals et. al. At the end of the hour we felt we had accomplished what we went to do which was to let them know that there is within their constituency people of conviction that we hope they listen to. The Scripture commands us to pray for those who are in authority over us. Take time today to pray for Senator Holmes and Representative Kifowit.

Our service Sunday at One Way Church was joyous time of rejoicing and fellowshipping with God’s people. They are a dedicated and loving group of believers that welcomed us into their “home” with grace and peace. Our thanks to One Way Church for their deep care.  

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Our Savior knew His future and He knows ours

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Matthew 17

22 Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Luke 9

But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, 44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.

It is sometimes difficult to walk in the sandals of the disciples, and this is one of the more difficult moments.  Since we know the whole story of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, we cannot begin to feel what they must have felt when Jesus foretold them.  Perhaps our take away here is two-fold: first, when we cannot begin to understand what the Lord is doing, we must be careful not to jump to all negative conclusions.  For while the thought of their Lord and Master being taken and killed by his enemies was beyond their comprehension, from this side of the story, we all , they included, now see the perfect plan of God at work.  So it is with all of life’s issues; on this side they are hard to understand and even painful to go through, but on the other side we will see the plan of God at work.

Secondly, Jesus knew the future.  Jesus knew both the future events and the timing of those events.  He knew he would be betrayed by Judas, knew He would be beaten and crucified, and Jesus knew that He would be raised from the dead.  I take great comfort in my Savior’s full knowledge of His future and of mine.  Nothing that happens does so out of chance, but all things happen with the full knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  Even the abuse of men, which Christ endured, was known beforehand.  I rest in the fact that my Savior, God Almighty, knows my future.  Nothing that happens in my life catches my God by surprise. Therefore, when things happen that surprise me I can rest in the knowledge that God already knew and is still in control.

 

Last night we met Steven and Rachel and their kids, along with Bobbi’s sister and her daughter at Millennium Park in Chicago.  The CSO was having a free concert to kick-off their fall program.  As we enjoyed the view of the city, the park itself and the beautiful music of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, we talked about how God created man in His image and put the desire to create beauty within him.  God is a God of form and structure and the creations of man are a reflection of God.  Even unregenerate men and women are created in God’s image and create beautiful things.  Surely God is honored when we do what He created us to do.  

Jared  is still struggling with eating.  He isn’t as frustrated as he was but food just does not appeal to him.  Pray that his body will soon level out with his meds and his diet.  He got to school this morning and immediately began to tell the workers about the concert last night and the “pretty music.”  He is fun.

Remember that this Sunday we are meeting at One Way Church in Aurora.  One Way Church is located on Rt 34 (Ogden Ave) west of Rt 59 and east of Commons Drive across the street from Valley Honda.  This is from their website:

Sunday:

  • Sunday Worship Service: 10:00am
  • Discipleship Hour: 8:45am-9:45am
    • – Women’s Fellowship
    • – Men’s Fellowship
    • – Jr. & Sr. high school students
    • – 1st-5th graders
    • – Children ages 0 to the Kindergarten grade level

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

 

PS

Greater spiritual strength

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Matthew 17

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

In this situation, the seizures that the boy was having were the result of demonic influence.  There was a great deal of demon possession in Israel in the lifetime of Jesus Christ.  It seems that Satan himself and his kingdom had a stranglehold on God’s people for Jesus often dealt with demon possessed people.  Furthermore, the power to cast out demons was a unique power, a power that came from God and God alone.  The disciples, who had done some miracles in Jesus’ name, could not cast out this demon; apparently his power was stronger than theirs.  (Beware of people who call themselves “exorcists,” if they are not acting in the name of Jesus and the power of God Almighty then they aren’t really casting out anything.)

As the father of this particular boy came to Christ, all he knew was that his son’s life was in danger.  The demon’s goal was the destruction of the son.  The father tells Jesus that the boy has seizures near water and near fire.  Once again, we see that the goal of Satan and his hosts is the destruction of anyone made in God’s image.  Take note here that any activity that seeks to destroy life is not nor can be of God.

When the disciples could not help this boy they brought him to Jesus who alone had power over this particular demon.  Once the boy was healed the disciples asked why they were unable to help this one. The answer of Jesus is one that we all need; there is unique power from God that God gives to those who spend time with Him.  Prayer and fasting are humble and quiet and personal activities.  From these quiet and personal times with God comes the power that is needed for dealing with life.  I cannot count the people who have come to me in spiritual failure who did not have a heart to spend time with God but they wanted their lives fixed.  Jesus’ answer here is one that all of us NEED!  If you do everything in your day except spend quiet time with God, then you are not prepared for your day.  If you do everything in your life but you have never skipped a meal or two or three in quiet time with God then you might not be prepared for the bigger issues of life.

As we see from the disciples’ future lives, they got this message.  The New Testament writings are filled with calls to prayer and fasting and devotion to Christ.  No, going to church is not sufficient, it is necessary but we need more of Christ than just Sundays.  Let’s take time this week giving greater attention to prayer and fasting as we beg God for the power that we need to live this life for Him.

Spending time with our teens is always a highlight of my week. Their energy, their excitement for life, their heart to sing God’s songs, and their friendship is special.  I thank God for this opportunity to care for them with God’s love and with God’s word.

Thanks to those who came last night to help with our children’s Bible club.  They too had a good night.

Happy Birthday to a dear friend, Bonnie Roberts.  You have been an inspiration to me for twenty years and I will ever thank God for the important place that you have had in my life and in the life of the Schroeder family.  Happy Birthday, Bonnie.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Effect of the Humility of Christ on the Church – Philippians 2:5

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What does it really mean to have “the mind of Christ?”  Paul has called us to “Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus.”  The mind of Christ was the mind of humility, the mind of a slave.  Jesus Christ was humble throughout eternity and took on human flesh to show us just what true humility is.  “Let this mind be in you” is the call of this message to the church of Jesus Christ.

What do you desire?

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Matthew 16

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

To desire to do something is to have will, an interest in doing it.  Jesus here tells His disciples that if anyone has a will, an interest, and a desire to follow Him to deny himself, to take up his cross and follow Christ.  The same word, “desire,” is used in the negative side as well.  We can desire to save our lives and we can desire to lose our lives.   What is your will in life, your resolve, or your determination?  There are many things that fill in this blank; there are things of great value and things of no value and everything in between.

 

With the advent of Google and voice activated devices, we can research any desire of our hearts in seconds, find reviews about them, and determine in a minute if we want to fulfill that desire or not.  The call of Jesus is far beyond a minute or a quick stop at Amazon.  The call of the Savior is a call for a new desire in this life.  We are born desiring our own ways at getting through life, but Jesus calls us to go after His way for our lives.

 

Jesus finishes with a very great contrast.  We can gain the world and lose our souls or we can gain our souls and lose the world. James called everything of the world, the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”  Jesus is saying that you can be Mr. or Mrs. World; you can have everything that everyone of this world thinks is important, but without Him, you have lost something of far greater value – you have lost your soul.

 

I guess that the choice Jesus is giving his disciples, not the crowd, is this, what are you going to desire? Whatever you chose you will also get the results, the consequences of that choice.  So choose wisely, choose carefully, and determine to set the affections of your life, the focus of your mind on following the Savior.

 

While the U.S. was getting pummeled with Florence, the Philippines was getting pummeled worse, China got hit and Nigeria lost over 100 people to flooding.  “Dear God, save these people, these men and women made in your image, from destruction.  Call them to Yourself and send men and women to them with the help they need and with the Gospel.”  Cry out to God to intervene in these lives that have lost so much. 

 

I thank God for a wonderful day Sunday.  We had church on Sunday morning with missions report from the Rice family who have been in China and are going to Italy.  Brian and Victoria need our prayers as they go forward to serve the Savior.  I brought a message on the humility of Christ and the church.  That message will be on the website soon.  Then at 5:00 we had eleven teenagers over until 8:00.  We played games and laughed and ate and talked about their futures.  We still need a couple to step up to love our teenagers when we leave.

 

This coming Sunday morning, September 23rd, Grace for Life will be joining One Way Church in Aurora for their morning service.  Put this on your calendar.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Unity of Christ in the Church – Philippians 2:1-4

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The unity of Christ in the church of Christ should be a given, but alas, the enemy has infiltrated the ranks.  In Philippians 2:1-4 Paul calls the Philippian church to a oneness of heart and mind that is unique to the church of Jesus Christ.  In the face of trials we need this call to unity even greater.  Listen as Pastor Steve opens the Scriptures to call the church of Christ to greater unity in Him.