Devotionals

Caring for the Pastor

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1 Thessalonians 5

12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

As we go through this chapter in 1 Thessalonians the next paragraph is about the church’s treatment of pastors.  I am thankful for a church that cares for their pastor; so these thoughts are not aimed at anyone in particular just all of us in general.

Paul, the consummate pastor/shepherd of God’s church, knew what it was to be blessed by a church and what it was to be cursed by a church.  His ministry spanned several different congregations so he wrote to all of them with this passage from the Holy Spirit.  Paul knew what it meant to labor for the souls of men and women and to have spiritual authority over them.  He admonished all of the churches with the authority of the Lord in his preaching and teaching.  His instruction to those who are ministered to by faithful shepherds is to esteem them highly in love for their work’s sake.

I grew up in a pastor’s home so I had no illusions of the pastorate.  It was not unusual for my dad to get calls during the night, during dinner, on Saturday’s and more.  He was like a doctor, always on call.  But sometimes he was like a nurse just caring for people whom God might be doing an operation on.  Then he was called to be a leader of the deacons and the church staff and their issues became his issues.  On top of that he was always prepared for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night as well as an adult Sunday school class.  He labored among the people of the church.

One of the pains of the pastor is when those he loves do not return his love.  I think this is what Paul is addressing here.  Pastors don’t typically have personal agendas other than the spiritual growth and maturity of the church members.  Paul calls the church to realize this labor and to esteem the pastors highly in love for this work.  Then he says that the church is to be at peace among themselves.  There is a connection between a church where the pastor labors in love and the people show appreciation for that love and the level of peace in the church.  When the body works together as it is supposed to great peace and unity result.

Apparently I forgot to give the time for tonight’s praise and testimony service. We will start at 7:00.  Afterward we are having a desert fellowship so be sure to bring something to add to the desert table. Above all, bring a testimony of praise to share with us.  The length of this service seems to depend on the richness of the testimonies.  I will be bringing a message of thanks and praise from the book of Zechariah. 

Sunday morning I plan to bring a message on Justification through Christ alone. This could be a series in and of itself and I am thrilled with this study. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

                        

We are children of the Light

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1 Thessalonians 5

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

We have to notice the contrast here between those of the light and those of the darkness.  We were all once of the darkness and nothing we did could lead us into the light.  We were all lost in that darkness groping around not even knowing what we were groping for.  Then Jesus, the Light of the world, came into our darkness and shone the truth of His light into our hearts and we became, by God’s grace, children of the light.  Hallelujah!

As children of the Light, we are going to live differently because we are no longer groping for the right direction; we can clearly see right from wrong, truth from error, and darkness from light.  We are therefore to walk as those who can see.  Those who can see watch for potholes, they watch for pitfalls, they watch for false teaching and live in complete soberness.  We don’t join the drunkards at night because we are never in the darkness again.

In the light we are to put on the breastplate of faith and love, caring for one another believing that we are doing the right thing when we do.  We are to put on the helmet of salvation protecting our very minds from the errors of darkness.  As children of the light we understand that God has put His wrath for our sins on Jesus Christ who died for us.  We know this and believe this and walk in this God-glorifying light every day of our lives.  We know, in our darkest hours, that we are going to eternally live with Christ in the presence of God by faith in His grace.

Brothers and sisters, walk in the light today.  Rejoice with me in this glorious light that has removed us from the darkness we used to live in and guides us around temptations, through trials, and into the joy of the Lord both today and forever.

 

Happy Thanksgiving week!  It is so easy for us to look in the wrong direction and not see our Lord and His wonderful will in our lives.  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Wherever you are, whatever situation you are in, if God has saved you from your sins by His grace through the sacrifice of His Son, you have something to be thankful for.  Look past all of the issues around you, all of those things that the enemy uses to discourage you, and rejoice today and this week giving thanks to God for His eternal salvation.

Wednesday night we are having our Thanksgiving Praise service.  All songs will be chosen by you but you have to give a praise to pick a song.  I will bring a message of Thanksgiving from Zechariah chapter 8.  You don’t want to miss this wonderful time of exaltation of God for all that He has done and will yet do for us.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Are You Prepared?

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1 Thessalonians 5

1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

 

How do you prepare for a thief? Well, you lock your doors and windows and maybe you install an alarm system. You might get a watchdog and you might keep a weapon near you. But the reality is, you never know when a thief may come and a really good thief isn’t deterred by your protection devices. So, when a thief comes in the night no one is really prepared for their coming. Paul uses this illustration to describe the coming of the Lord.

 

Then he talks about the labor pains of a woman about to give birth. The day that Steven was born Bobbi was a full month ahead of her due date when she went into labor. We didn’t think it was labor until she went into transition. We rushed to the hospital and 28 minutes later Steven was born. We were not prepared but it didn’t matter, she had a baby.

 

When Jesus comes it will be much like these two illustrations. Most people won’t be ready for Christ’s return. He will take them by surprise and they will wish they were more prepared.   Then Paul says that we are not of the darkness so this day will not take us by surprise. We are children of the light and of the day. We have seen the truth of God’s word, we have accepted the Son, and we live in the Light of His Holy Spirit within us. We are ready for the return of Christ whether it be today, tonight, or tomorrow. Are you ready for the Lord’s return? He is coming back for His church. Today would be a good day for His return.

 

We had a good night with the youth last night. I finished a study on the Word of God with them. The end of the lesson was a question on a piece of paper; it simply asked if they believed the Bible was the Word of God and if so, what did that do for their lives? This is a good question for us all to consider. Pray for our teens. They face all kinds of pressure every day and they need the Word of God as their guide and their source of truth.

I will be speaking Sunday on the second Sola of the Reformation which is this: We are Justified by Grace Alone. This is an amazing topic! We really don’t understand this as much as we should nor as much as we could. We may never really understand the mind of God offering us grace when we deserve justice. Grace alone brings us to the very foundation of our salvation. Either our faith is in God’s grace or it is in something else. Pray for Sunday’s message to sink into our understanding.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus Is Coming Again – be Comforted

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1 Thessalonians 4

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

 

You have to love the first words of this section, “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord.”  We know that Paul’s writing were inspired by the Holy Spirit, but he just wanted to make sure we knew this in a few places and this was one of them.  How important it is for us to know that this life is not all that there is and that God has not forgotten nor forsaken us but is coming again, as the angels said at Christ’s ascension.  My friends, be assured that Jesus is coming back to receive us unto Himself.

In the difficult hours of this life we have a sure promise of a better life to come. In the worst moments of life we have an anticipation that our Lord could come at that difficult moment and take us out of it.  He is coming again!

Paul wants us to be aware that Jesus will come with a shout and with a trumpet.  I believe that only those who know Him will hear that shout and will rise to that trumpet.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…”  Those who have rejected Christ in life will not hear His upward call.  But those of us who have spent out lives listening to the voice of God through His word and know what submission to the Holy Spirit is, the upward call, the shout of the Lord Jesus, will be as welcome as the dinner call to a hungry teenager.

Then, once we have been taken into our Lord’s presence, with all of the dead who have died in the Lord, we will be with our Lord and with each other forever.  Doesn’t this promise help us put up with drama of this life?  And then, Paul tells us that we are to comfort one another with these words.  Be comforted my friends.  Jesus is coming again and He is going to take us with Him to be with Him forever and ever.  Be comforted.

Susan Brown’s surgery went well.  I saw her and Gary yesterday.  She will be in a neck brace for 10-12 weeks.  She feels good but looks forward to a full night’s sleep.  Thanks for your prayer for her.

Tonight is our Wednesday night opportunities for Bible study and for prayer.  One of the items our church wanted to improve on was our prayer together.  Remember that if you cannot come at 7:00 come at 7:45 for prayer.  We changed this around for those of you who work late but would like to pray with the church.

This Sunday we will have the Korean couple singing with us.  They were with us a two years ago and blessed our hearts with their song. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The sleep of death that brings us hope

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1 Thessalonians 4:13–14

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

What wonderful words God has given us in regards to death and eternal life. As I have taught before, in the New Testament writings, whenever someone died in Christ they are referred to as “falling asleep.” Even when Lazarus died, Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus was just asleep. When we think of death we think of something permanent. But when we think about someone going to sleep we think only of temporary rest.

 

Have you ever looked at someone sleeping and wondered if they were alive or dead? I remember often looking for the rise and fall of my children’s chests while they were napping just confirming that they were only napping. When I saw their little chest rise and fall I was comforted and let them sleep. Though talking about death and resurrection, Paul, under the inspiration of God, wrote that we should not be ignorant, that is, without knowledge, concerning those who have fallen asleep in Christ.

 

The difference between going to sleep and dying is important. Since we possess eternal life from the moment of our salvation, we are never going to die. Our bodies might stop functioning for awhile but even that is temporary. Everyone who goes to sleep in Jesus will be brought back with Him when He returns. So Paul tells us that our sorrow is a sorrow with hope. The one we are sorrowing over is going to wake up when Jesus puts their spirit back into their glorified body. At that point, the bodies that died in weakness, dishonor, and decay will be raised with glory, honor and power. Hallelujah! Death is a temporary sleep in Christ.

 

Pray for Mary Green, her mother did go to be with the Lord last week. We had a sweet funeral for her Friday night and rejoiced that God had taken her to be with Him. Do keep Mary, her sister and brother in prayer as they deal with this (temporary) loss of their mother.

 

On Sunday afternoon, December 3rd the Naperville Men’s Glee Club will be having our annual Christmas concert at Knox Presbyterian. Steven has done all of the directing preparation for this concert. We will begin with an Advent set and then go into traditional Christmas music of different types. It is always a fun concert for both children and adults. If you would like to attend this year, let me know how many tickets you will need. They are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors and $10 for students.

 

Dave had his surgery last week and was with us Sunday night for our first foundations of counseling class. It was great to see him up and about.

 

Susan Brown, of Pray Naperville, had surgery on her spine yesterday. Pray for her recovery.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

How do you choose to live?

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1 Thessalonians 4

11that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

 

Wow, when was the last time you heard this verse quoted or preached? Who today lives a quiet life, who minds their own business and working with their own hands provides for the needs of their own family and for the needs of others and lacks nothing? What an amazing concept!

 

OK, so a little too much sarcasm for so early in the morning. But really, how many of us work to lead a quiet life outside of the hustle and bustle of the news, the politics, the neighborhood drama, the crime rate, the family issues and more? Can you imagine living like this? Close your eyes and imagine what this might feel like. Do it again. Maybe God knows what He is talking about. Maybe living a quiet life, minding our own business and walking properly toward the unsaved of this world makes sense. Maybe this kind of life would really show others that we have the Prince of peace in us.

 

I have often thought that if I lost everything but had my family that we could start over again and make it all work still. How tenaciously do we hold on to the things of this world thinking that we have to have it all and to know it all? How much of all of this really mattered to those who lost their homes to fires and to floods? If all they had was what they possessed then they lost everything. But if they had their peace and their families then they only lost their stuff.

 

Let’s try today to walk quietly and peacefully toward all people. Let’s try to mind our own business and doing that well meet the needs of ourselves, our families and then even be able to give to others in their need.

 

Great news! Dave’s surgery went well, I stopped to see him this morning sitting up, eating breakfast, moving his head back and forth and thinking he has less pain already. Hallelujah to our Lord who gave the docs the wisdom and ability to help our friend. Pray with us for quicker recovery.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Love taught by God

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1 Thessalonians 4

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;

Do you love differently now that you are a Christian, a committed, saved follower of Jesus Christ? Does anyone else notice that you love differently as a Christ-follower? With the Holy Spirit in you, as He is promised to all who are in Christ, how do you treat others whom you know and do not know?

In this section Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians that they were taught by God to love one another and they did it toward all the brothers and sisters in Christ.  What does this mean?  Paul thought that every one who had left their sins for the Savior and who were indwelt with His Spirit were taught by God to love differently.  Would someone who knows you tell you that you had been taught by God to love others?  This is a high compliment indeed!  What would it look like if we all loved one another in a manner taught us by God himself?

For one point, we would have no lack between us.  When we love someone we make sure their needs are met.  Do you know anyone with needs? Has God taught you how to show love to them?  No, we can’t meet everyone’s needs but we should be seeking just whom God would have us to show His love to.  I believe there are people in our church who could benefit from someone showing the love of God to them.  Love is an action of care.  We have young mothers who could use care from an older, more experienced mom.  We have dads who are busy with life who would benefit from the love of another man just by helping out with some stuff in his life.  We have teens who need mentor love from mature adults.  We also have some poor who would benefit from some regular money or grocery love.

How has God taught you to love others since you have given your heart to Him?  Maybe you could take a moment to respond to this email and tell me how God has taught your heart to love others for Him.  I would love to hear from you.

I hope to have all of the revival messages on the website today.  All but one of them are in audio format so should download easier.  If you like and prefer this format to the video format please let me know.  We are thankful to Brent Sivnksty for his commitment to open God’s word to us.  As he walked through Titus 2 we were all challenged as to how we are letting Christ live through us in all areas of our lives.  We need this teaching and hearing it again will only help us get more of the Word into our lives.

Dave Dapkus goes in for back surgery Wednesday morning.  It is a two hour surgery and he will be headed home on Thursday.  It is major surgery so please be in prayer for all who are taking part that they will have God’s wisdom and bring Dave some relief to his constant back pain. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS