Month: September 2018

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