Devotionals

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

 

Walking pleasing to God

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1 Thessalonians 4:1–7

1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

We are walking through life. We are on a journey from birth to death. We are, because of Christ in us, to walk through this life in a way that is pleasing to God. This new way of walking is not normal to our journey so we need instructions in it. Paul takes the time here to remind us of our call from God to walk in holiness before Him.

 

We normally walk in impurity. From birth on we are self-centered, self-pleasing people. This is our nature, our natural bent in this life. So when Christ comes into our lives He attacks our natural bent toward self. We are called to holy living apart from the impurity of our bent. We are called away from immorality of all types. We are called to control our bodies in holiness and in honor to God. We are called not to transgress or wrong our brothers or sisters in Christ. We are called against the bent of our lives to holy living before God.

 

So how are you doing in your calling to holiness? We must surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work His holiness in us and through us. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

 

Yesterday I was able to get all of Brent Sinvksty’s sermons for the week on the church website. If you missed some or want to hear one of them again, go to www.graceforlifebc.com/sermons to hear them. Tonight the revival meeting is going out to the First Baptist Church of Big Rock. We are meeting there for dinner at 6:00 and for church at 7:00. Join us as we fellowship with that church family for the evening.

I am starting a new series Sunday on the Five Solas of Justification. In light of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this is a pertinent and valuable study for us.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A godly desire for greater love and holiness in the church

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1 Thessalonians 3:11–13

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

As Paul expressed his desire for God to direct his way to his beloved friends in the faith, in the same sentence he lets them know of his godly desires for them.  We might call this a “run on sentence.” But Paul used grammar to explain himself, just like we do.  Trusting God to bring him to Thessalonica was just as important as trusting God to make them increase and abound in love for one another and for God to establish their hearts blameless before God at His coming.  This was no quantum leap for Paul’s grammar but a parallel thought of equal importance. 

Paul spent a lot of time telling them how badly he wanted to come see them.  He also wanted them to increase in love for another.

When a church family has genuine godly love for one another, what is different?   I think that genuine love will lead us to genuine holy living toward one another.  For the more I love you the better I will take care of you and the more I will want to be with you.  Our hearts will be established together in love an in holiness as we prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus, the original “lover of our souls.” 

Pray with me today for more love for one another in our church.  Then pray that we will practice a greater holiness toward one another.  What a church we could have as we display the Lord Jesus in us and through us so that all will know the difference the Savior makes.

We only have two more nights of our 2017 fall revival.  Each night has had its own unique flavor and application of the Scriptures to our lives and to our church.  Last night dealt with our behavior in Christ toward our employer.  Wow, was that ever challenging!  Because of Christ in us we are to do our jobs as unto Him first.  When we do this at work we adorn the gospel with beauty to all of those around us.  Thanks Brent for this great instruction from Titus 2.

 

Because of all of the great fellowship throughout this week, we will not be having dinner together at church this Sunday.  So do not bring a dish to share as it won’t be enough to go around.  Men, since we are in at First Baptist of Big Rock on Friday night we are not going to meet for our monthly breakfast this Saturday morning. 

 

This Sunday I am starting a series on the Five Solas of justification.  On this the 500th anniversary of the Reformation we need to look at the emphasis of Martin Luther and how his work on justification by faith alone through grace alone, in Christ alone, through the word of God alone, to the glory of God alone has shaped the church for the last 500 years. 

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

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PS