Devotionals

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

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

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