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.

Encourage those who are following the Father’s will

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Matthew 16:

21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Talk about going from the mountaintop to the pits, Jesus just commended Peter for his spiritual insights that his confession of Jesus as the Son of God and then tells Peter that he is speaking for the devil himself!  Jesus had just received Peter into great glory and now tells him to get behind him as he has become Satan’s tool to discourage the Lord Jesus from going to the Cross. 

Jesus knew the will of the Father, Peter didn’t.  Jesus was trying to communicate the will of the Father and His submission to that will; Peter didn’t want anything to do with it.  

Before we attack Peter too harshly, let us consider if we have ever discouraged anyone from the will of God for their lives.  I have taken some brash steps to follow the Lord’s leading in my life and have been faced with human opposition.  My friends and my family have questioned the wisdom of my direction and quite frankly have sought to sow seeds of doubt into my heart.  I have probably questioned people on the will of God in their lives to try to discern whether they were following God’s will or the will of someone else.  As humans, we don’t know the will of God for someone else and we had better be careful lest we too take on the person of Satan to stop someone from doing God’s will for their lives. 

Well meaning family and friends, not aware of God’s leading, might try to stop someone from going somewhere that doesn’t make any sense to them.  In Revelation 3, the faithful church of Philadelphia was told that God had opened a door for them.  When God opens a door for us we are to go through that door.  We might not fully understand it but God does and by faith in His wisdom we pursue the opportunities that He places before us.  Let be those who encourage one another in the will of God. Let not be like Peter and be among those whom Satan actually uses to dissuade God’s people to do God’s work.  That said, please continue to pray for strength and wisdom for Bobbi and me as we pursue this open door to Indonesia.  We have faced those who stood against us and those who have stood with us.  It appears that God’s will is clear and that we are to go.  Pray for us as we seek only to do the will of the Father. 

Sunday we will hear from Brian and Victoria Rice.  The Rice’s are missionaries who have been in China for many years and are transitioning to Italy.  Their son Caleb is the one who got the job for our Caleb in Bangkok. 

It appears that Florence is settling down a bit.  We keep praying that it will.  So many people and their lives are being affected.  Let’s pray for the people affected to seek the Lord and to find both Him and salvation through Him. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Authority of the Church

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Matthew 16

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

When Peter answered the Lord correctly about who He was, (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”) Jesus used a play on words to make a great point. Peter’s name means “a rock.” As we know, Peter was anything but rock solid.  He was impetuous, he was quick to speak, he was soon angry, and he probably lost his faith when Christ was arrested. Even after the resurrection, Peter had some trouble in Antioch when James and those from Jerusalem came.  Jesus could not have been calling Peter a rock in this statement.

However, Peter had just made a rock-solid statement regarding the person of Jesus Christ that He was indeed God in the flesh.  Jesus then told Peter and all of the others that this statement was indeed the rock of their faith (and would be the rock of the church that was yet to be born).  Since the Day of Pentecost, all who have confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son of the living God, have been loosed from their sins on earth and have found themselves at peace with God for eternity.  Those who have rejected this rock, that Jesus Christ is Lord and the Son of the living God, have been bound to their sins in this life and separated from God for eternity.

In the church, we seek to loose people from their sins through faith in the Word of God.  When faith is exercised grace is found and men and women are eternally loosed from their sin.  Romans 10:9-10 help us to understand the importance of this faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and how it is directly related to our eternal salvation.  Pray for those who need to be loosed from their sin for eternity.

 

While people are leaving the coastal Carolinas, we should be praying for the Lord to show mercy and to weaken the strength of this storm.  God set the laws of nature in place but is not above stepping in when He chooses to do so.  Pray with us for God to show mercy in this storm.

 Do any of you have or know of a decent car that we can have or reasonably purchase?  There is a family in need of a second vehicle that has asked for help. 

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

True Spiritual Revelation

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Matthew 16

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

When Jesus was on the earth the people that saw Him, heard Him, and were healed by Him had no idea that He was the eternal virgin-born Son of God.  Suppose we had someone like Jesus on earth today. Suppose a Billy Graham type person was also able to heal people along the way. Would we think him to be the very Son of God or just a really special person?  I don’t think we would have been much different than the average person in Jesus’ day.  So when the Lord asked His disciples whom did men think that He was – Jesus was setting them up for a lesson.

As the disciples mixed with the crowds they heard many things.  No doubt the people would ask who this Jesus was, where did he come from, and how does he get his power?  Some of the people thought that Jesus was the resurrected John the Baptist or the reincarnation of Elijah, Jeremiah or some other great prophet of the past.  This was high praise indeed.  These Old Testament prophets where held in high esteem. But Jesus knew who He was and He wanted to know if His disciples knew who He really was.

Jesus then asked them the big question.  This was a pass or fail test; there weren’t a few good answers there was only one right answer.  For Jesus asked them who did they think He was?  When Peter answered with the right answer, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus made the key point. (Peter was not especially bright to have just figured this out.)  Jesus told them all that Peter did not come to this on his own but that God the Father revealed this truth to him.

Paul wrote later that the natural man cannot understand the spiritual world.  The things of God belong to those whose heart God has spiritually made alive.  Peter’s heart was attuned to the message from God.  Whenever people get a spiritual understanding it is from God for apart from God there is no real spiritual understanding. Do not be surprised when the crowd misses the spiritual point, the god of this world has blinded their eyes.  Even today, only those made alive by the Spirit of God have spiritual understanding.

 

We gather tonight for prayer and Bible study.  We need a night of prayer for we need to know the mind of God for our church. Join us at 7:00 for Bible study or at 7:45 for prayer.  Our church is in an important time in its history, we need the mind and the path of God. 

 Let’s keep those in the path of this hurricane in our prayers.  Perhaps God will lessen the force of the winds and the rains and show mercy on the people who will be affected. 

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Are you steadfast in God’s steadfast love?

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Psalm 57:1–11 (ESV)

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 3 He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

4 My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 6 They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah

7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Throughout the Psalms the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, it carries the Psalmist from trouble to trouble and from enemy to enemy. In the steadfast love of God fear turns to faith and insecurity turn to rock-solid security as the people of God find God ever faithful and true.

In this passage the Psalmist finds his soul in the midst of lions, fiery beasts – men whose teeth are like spears and arrows and whose tongues are like swords. What a frightful picture of a bad day! They even set a net to catch him, to trap him, to tear him down; they dug a pit for him to fall into and be destroyed. Then in verse 7 we see an amazing reaction: his heart is steadfast in God’s steadfast love. He can sing and make melody. Go back and read verses 7-11 and ask yourself if your heart is this secure in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God?

In this passage there are two words used for steadfast. The word used for God’s steadfast love is the Hebrew word “hesed,” which is impossible to translate with one English word. It includes God’s mercy, God’s infinite love, His gracious love, His love that is extended without any expectation of return, and His love that cannot fail His people. So when the Psalmist knows the “hesed” love of God his soul is steadfast, that is, it is secure, made sure, confident in this life that he is not alone and that God is on his side.

How confident are you in the steadfast love of God? When enemies seek your pain, your entrapment, and even your destruction are you secure in God’s love and faithfulness? Since we have the very same God before us that the Psalmist did, we too can be as secure, as steadfast as he was. Let us join in exalting the Lord whose glory is over all the earth.

 

September 11th will always be a day for us to remember. As we remember the day our country was attacked, let’s remember to pray for the thousands of families who lost loved ones that day. The ones who died were not soldiers; they were normal Americans going to work expecting a normal day to come home from. The families who lost their loved ones still need our prayers. Pray for them to know God’s peace, God’s grace, and God’s steadfast love.

Pray with us about Jared’s well being. He is on a newer diet to help control his seizures. In the process of this diet Jared seems to be having stomach troubles. Since he really cannot communicate with us we are going back and forth with the nutritionist looking for answers.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Doctrine Matters

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Matthew 16

Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”

But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? 11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tellthem to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

There are things that are important every day and one of those things is food. The disciples were hungry and Jesus told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The disciples, listening to their stomachs growling, thought for sure that Jesus was talking about food.

When it came to priorities, Jesus was making it clear that food for the bodies was secondary to the doctrine needed for life.  As Jesus compared the bad doctrine of the Pharisees to leaven he was telling his disciples of the prevailing power of that bad doctrine.  I think what Jesus was teaching here is that doctrine matters.

We have lived in the Aurora/Naperville area for twenty years.  During this time, I have observed and been a part of different efforts to reach the community for Christ, to care for the unborn, to feed the hungry and so on.  In those efforts it has become clear to me that the project is often first and doctrine is second or third or not considered.  In the end, the social agenda might be met but there is no lasting value in the souls of those cared for.  Is God even glorified when He is not a part of the social efforts?

Doctrine matters.  What someone thinks about the Word of God, the work of Christ, prayer, Christian fellowship, the love of God, and the assurance of salvation matters.  When I would bring these doctrines up some would agree some would push it away.  Jesus was telling us for all time that doctrine is important.  It can either be a guide to light our way or it can be a leaven that poisons the whole loaf.

 

Our sister, Edna, has been to a physical therapist and feels hopeful.  Pray for clarity from God regarding her recovery.  This has been a painful journey for her and one that she longs to be finished with.

Victory Academy started this week.  Pray for the boys and the staff to develop working relationships quickly to start off the year on a good direction together. Pray for salvations and changes of heart.  

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Hearts and Lives Filled with Assurance – 1 John 3:18-24

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Christians struggle with assurance of their salvation but the Apostle John wants their hearts filled with assurance from God.  In this message, Pastor Steve looks at this passage and seeks to clarify just how we can know that we have the assurance of eternal life from God.

Do We Need a Miracle to Follow Christ?

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Matthew 16

1 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3 and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

The longer I live the more I realize the importance of faith for true followers of Jesus Christ. We would love for God to do miracles today; we pray for healing miracles, for work miracles, for relational miracles and more all the time. We bargain with God that if He would do this miracle for us we would….   We are always glad to hear that God did a miracle for someone else but secretly wish He would do the miracle that we need. In fact, since God doesn’t give do miracles as often as we would like, especially for us, in difficult times we struggle with trusting Him as we should.

Just how much different from the Pharisees and the Sadducees are we? They wanted a sign from Jesus, a sign from heaven. They wanted a miracle done just for them to help them believe. Hold on to that thought for a moment, Jesus could have done something miraculous. He could have levitated; He could have stopped a nearby funeral and raised the dead person back to life; He could have made one of them leprous and then passed the leprosy around the group and then healed them all; He could have called fire from heaven; there is no end to the miracles of life or of nature that Jesus could have done.   Let’s ask ourselves one question today, why didn’t Jesus show off and give them one good miracle?

True followers of Jesus Christ follow Him by faith. God has given us the written Word and the living Word. We have all that God wants us to have and then He wants us to put our faith in that. Abraham believed God and was counted righteous. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. We are saved by faith in God’s grace. From our salvation onward our lives are to be led by greater faith in the promises of God that are to lead us from life to death to everlasting life.

God is never obligated to give us a miracle to increase our faith. In fact, Christ’s actions to the miracle-seekers of His day are the same today. He is not doing new miracles to get followers; on the contrary, new followers and old followers alike are called to live by faith in what God has already done, what God has already said. So, apart from the miracles that you hope God does for you, how strong, how great is your faith in our Lord?

 

I have a great concern for our church. We have had continuous ministry on Wednesday night to children and to teenagers for at least twenty years. My children and my teenagers and many others have come to Christ, grown in their faith, enjoyed the fellowship of Christian teens, and been mentored in their faith on Wednesday nights. As Bobbi and I prepare to leave there is a serious shortage of men and women to continue the Wednesday night children and teen ministry. Would you pray with us for God to raise up or to send in men and women burdened to make Wednesday nights a priority for the spiritual training of our youth?

 This Sunday is our back to school Sunday when we assign students to church members for prayer for the school year. Be sure to bring your school age children to church as we gather around them for prayer and dedication of the school year. We are also having three baptisms this Sunday. We rejoice with Andrew, Zach, and Kate as they publicly commit their lives to follow Christ.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Why Do We Worry and Get Anxious?

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Matthew 15

32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

33 Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”

34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”

And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.”

35 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 36 And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. 37 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. 38 Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

We looked last week at the feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children, and saw the improbable and the impossible overcome by the Lord Jesus.  A little while later, another situation of a hungry crowd came up and again the Lord told the apostles to feed them.  Again, they asked the Lord where they could get enough bread to feed them all. You would think that they would have turned to Jesus and asked him to feed them in the same manner that He did the last time.

Before we get too critical of these forgetful disciples, how often do we forget a previous provision of God in our lives and worry about a present need?  We have all been guilty of this; for all of us have seen the hand of God take care of us one week only to worry about something else the next week.

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus did miracle after miracle until John gave up counting and just said that there weren’t enough libraries in the world to hold the books it would take to record all of the miracles of Jesus.  But then when it came to the end of His earthly ministry and Jesus was arrested we are told that the remaining eleven forsook Him and fled.  Oh how fickle is the human heart.

Let me leave you with one more reference.  Romans 8:32 asks a question of our faith. Here it is: if God gave us the greatest gift that He could ever give us in the offering of His Son for our sin, then what good thing in the world would God possibly withhold from us?  My friends, we must remember the miracles of God’s care and provision when new situations arise.  We must convince our doubting hearts that the God of the last provision and the God of our very salvation is still in the caring business and in the provision business and will take care of us this time too.

 

I am thankful for a great time Sunday in the house of the Lord.  Our church services together were times of great fellowship, worship and instruction.  Indeed God is still good to us at Grace for Life.  Then yesterday, between the rain storms, we enjoyed an outdoor lunch at my house.  The brave who faced the rain enjoyed about an hour and a half of sunshine before the rains returned.  Then we came inside and played a hilarious game of Mad Gab.  Once again I thank God for the fellowship of friends in the body of Christ.

 Dad and Mom are well.  We spent Sunday afternoon and evening together.  Dad’s first service is this coming Sunday, not this past Sunday.  Thanks for your prayers for them.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS