Devotionals

What is a Christian greeting?

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1 Peter 5:13–14
13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.

Both Peter and Paul loved people. They had genuine care and love for those they ministered to and ministered with. In the church we should have our closest friendships. These are people we have sacrificed with, labored with, and even suffered with. These are people we have prayed with over very difficult issues. We have counseled each other regarding serious life issues and seen God work us through them. These are people we have laughed and cried and sang and worshipped with. These are people who have influenced our children for God’s kingdom and glory. In the church we have friends who pass the friend stage and truly become our brothers and sisters even closer than our blood brothers and sisters.
As a result of this closeness, Peter encourages these dear friends and spiritual family members to greet one another with a kiss of love. The corresponding greeting today would be a handshake and a hug. In the greeting we should be so genuine that the one receiving our greeting knows that all is well between us. The one we are greeting in Christian brotherhood and love should be so warmly greeted that they know they are important to us. The Christian greeting is spoken of throughout the Epistles as we are given a constant reminder to practice it.
A Christian greeting should be different than a greeting in the workplace and the community. And, the one receiving the greeting should know it is different. When I greet someone with friendliness it is just that; it is courtesy and maybe an obligation. But when I greet a fellow believer, a brother or sister in Christ, it is anything but obligatory. I rejoice to see them! I am so glad to be a part of their day and have them a part of my day. This is why I so love Sundays and Wednesday nights, I get to be with those I love in Christ. For not only do I give a Christian greeting but I also receive one. I get to be encouraged by you who greet me with sincerity and love.
The next time you greet a brother or sister in Christ do so with Christian love and sincerity. In your greeting let them know that everything is well between you and that you are genuinely happy to see them. Communicate warmth and acceptance as you would to a dear family member. Make the Christian family that you are a part of the closest family that you have and begin this with a loving greeting.

Standing in the True Grace of God

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1 Peter 5:12

12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.

The Bible is under attack.  Satan has attacked the words of God since the Garden of Eden when he caused Eve to question what God really said about not eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Today, the Bible is still under attack.  So, when Peter ends his letter to his dispersed congregation he confirms to its readers that everything in it is true.  Peter and Paul and John knew that what they were writing came from God. They knew that being inspired by God to write their letters gave these letters the same authority as the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament.

Peter might have known that someone was going to question the necessity of following what he wrote.  He might have known that standing firmly in the grace of God would be difficult and those who were doing so needed an extra boost of truth.

Every religious system in the world is works based.  Judaism, which practiced the Law given to Moses, or tried to, was a works-based, not a grace-based, system.  Those who kept it better were well respected while those who failed to keep it were looked down upon.  Is that not true of every religious system?  If you want to be a good whatever all you have to do is keep their minimum requirements.   Easter Sunday is proof of that for churches all around the world will have more people on Easter Sunday than all other Sundays because going to church on Christmas and Easter is the minimum requirement of their systems.

Peter wants us to know that we stand in the true grace of God.  We do not stand in our baptism, our confirmation, our church membership or our church attendance.  We don’t stand in our parents’ religion.  We don’t stand on our own goodness.  The only place we stand before God is in the true grace of God.  Until we understand this and place all of our faith in the completed work of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t stand before God at all.  God is not a universalist who saves everyone in the end.  No, God only saves those who stand before Him in His true grace.  He gives us grace and faith and we stand in His grace by His faith which He gives us.  Don’t let anyone or any system alter Peter’s words here.  Stand with Peter in the true grace of God which he wrote about.

Are we of one mind leading to one compassion?

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1 Peter 3:8–9

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

When the Bible uses this expression, “one mind” it literally means to be of the same thought.  We seem to think that the greatest benefit of group think is the multitude of opinions and ideas that can come to the table.  I suppose that is alright but at the end of the time we who are followers of Christ should be seeking His leading, His directions, and gathering around His thoughts.  We should not leave meetings divided but united.  This means some ideas will be embraced and some rejected but all people unified.  I have been at meetings of both kinds and far prefer ending together.

We are to be of one mind and of one compassion.  We should have the compassion of Jesus for one another.  I mentioned the needs of Greg and Jenn Sunday and several have stepped up with compassion.  We should.  Compassion should be our trademark.  We should have our eyes open to people in need and rise to care for them at the level of their need.

Compassion is fueled by love as brothers.  This is a family love that works through all difficulties and demonstrates itself with tenderhearted responses, courteous words and actions, never seeking revenge but seeking to be a blessing.  Since God has so blessed us and we are going to inherit His eternal blessing, we are called to be a blessing to others.

Finally all of this is to be done with one mind, one thought, one compassion, one love, one kindness through one blessing.  We are all blessed in Christ and must share that blessing whenever and wherever we can.   They will know we are Christians by our love for one another and by our compassion for those who are not of us.  Whom can you show loving compassion and blessing with one mind to this week?

Some have asked for Jean’s solo from Sunday.  If you go to youtube and search Jean Grace For Life you will find it.  She did a great job with a brand new song from her heart to ours. 

I have the message from Sunday online but not on the church website.  I am working on a new site and hope to have it for you soon. 

We are beginning a new discipleship session in March.  Anyone hearing the call of Christ to follow Him to become His disciple, we do have space available for you. 

Have a great day in the Lord,       PS

Show and Tell what Jesus has done

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2 Peter 2

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Please notice the underlined section here. God chose us and called us for a reason. We are not saved to sit and keep our calling a secret. In God’s army, there is no secret service; we are all called to be proclaimers of Him who called us.

I am reminded of the blind man who the Pharisees wanted to discount that Jesus healed him. They said that he was not born blind. They said that Jesus must have been a sinner. They accused his parents of lying. But the man who was blind for forty years and could now see simply said, “Whether He (Jesus) was a sinner or not I do not know. But this I do know, once I was blind but now I see!”

Those of you who are afraid to speak up for Jesus Christ, take the attitude of the blind man who gained his sight.

  • Once I was blind to the real meaning and purpose of life but now I can see.
  • Once I was lost in my sin and my pride but now I am found.
  • Once I did not know who God was now He has adopted me as His eternal child.

It does not take any special training to tell others what Jesus has done for you. He called us out of darkness and now in His light life makes sense. We were not a part of anything special but now we are the people of God. God is honored and glorified when we speak openly of Him.   When salespeople call, instead of hanging up, tell them that Jesus Christ wants to save them as He saved you. When you greet people greet them with the joy of the Lord and the respect you would give to one Jesus died for.   In your home, live as Jesus would have you live and show forth His praises to all in your house.

We are saved by God to show and tell others what He has done for us. Who can you show and tell today?

So, you think that you have troubles?

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1 Peter  1

  1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

When the Christian church began in Jerusalem, it saw amazing multiplying growth.  In the first meeting, 3,000 were saved.  In the second meeting, 4,000 more were saved.  After that, multitudes came to Christ both men and women.  Jerusalem had the first mega-church of history.  It was a glorious time for the church of Jesus Christ.

But, the local Pharisees, the religious leaders of the nation, did not think well of this new movement following the Man whom they hated and crucified.  In spite of the size of the Christian church, persecution of Christians began.  The persecution got so heavy that in Acts 8:1 we find that the church scattered.  This scattering of the church, though good for the kingdom of God, was very hard on those who had to leave their homes and families because of their faith in Christ.

Here in the first verse of 1st Peter we see a phrase that tells us something important.  Peter is writing to the “pilgrims of the Dispersion.”  Jewish Christians who were persecuted for their faith fled for their lives and went to far off places.  Peter, their first pastor, wrote them a letter to encourage them in their faith in spite of their circumstances.

What are your circumstances today?  How bad are they?  Have you been driven from your family, church and country because of your faith?  No, I didn’t think so.  If dispersed Christians can rejoice in the Lord, so can we.  If Christians who lost all earthly stuff and friends and even their church and pastor can rejoice in Christ’s will for their lives, so can we.  Just make sure that any persecution you endure is because of your faith, not your personality.  Then, thank God for enabling you to stand firm in the face of it.  Rejoice, God is with you and has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

How important is spiritual restoration?

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James 5

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

There are people we all know who are basically good people. They work hard, they love their families, they are friendly, and might even be our friends. We think well of them and don’t often think of their spiritual needs.   Can someone fit this description and still be wandering away from the truth of salvation?

What about the church member who comes most of the time, is always friendly to us, talks openly about the Lord, but is slowly wandering from the truth of God in their lives? What do we do about them?

James describes anyone who wanders from the truth of God’s word and then uses a generic word, “someone,” to describe anyone who goes after a wandering one in an effort to bring them to salvation from their error. Let me suggest that ‘we’ are that “someone.” We who know the truth and have turned from the error of our ways and have found our sins forgiven at the Cross are to be the “someones” who go after those who are still trapped in error.

Think of those you know who need the Savior. Who is caring for them at that level?   If they won’t listen to you then commit to praying for their salvation. Ask God for His opportunity to point them to Him and to His truth. We who have been converted have the answer for those who are still wandering. Then, when we have the God-given opportunity to point them to Him we will see them saved from eternal death and we will see their sins taken away from them. Their lives will change before our eyes and they will thank God for His grace in bringing us to care for their souls. What a great opportunity we have to help the lost find their way.

Adults, Saturday evening is our annual adult Christmas party at the Molefe’s home. Their address is 5s 746 Timberlane, Naperville. Come at 6:00, bring fingerfood and a white-elephant gift for our exchange. Bring friends and relatives if you can. This is a highlight event of our Christmas season.

 

Then, Sunday morning is our annual Christmas program here at the church. This is always a blessed time of exalting our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be sure to be on time as you won’t want to miss any of the music or readings that will be presented.

 

Pray for Sandy Saltzman as she is having thyroid surgery today.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Criticism Criticized

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James 5

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

Having grown up in a pastor’s home and having now been the pastor of a church for over sixteen years, I can tell you that one of the greatest enemies of the Christian church is a critical spirit.  I have known people who felt they had the “gift” of criticism.  No, that is not what they called it, but that is what it was.  When someone develops a critical spirit no one is free from their critique.

Solomon said that there were six things the Lord hated and the seventh was an abomination to Him.  The seventh thing was one who sowed discord among the brethren.  Know this: God is not impressed with anyone’s ability to criticize anyone else.  In fact, Jesus said that before you take the splinter out of your brother’s eye be sure to remove the beam out of your own eye.  Since all of us have our own glaring faults, which of us has the right to criticize another?

Look at James’ admonition.  He says that when we grumble against one another we will be condemned by the Judge who is standing at the door hearing all that we say.  Can I really stand before God and tell Him how bad my brother or sister are?  What is God going to do?  Is He going to agree with me?  No, God is not going to agree with me He is going to turn the mirror back on me and remind me that He saved me in spite of and from all of my sin therefore I am to be patient and loving with others as He was patient and loving with me.

A church without a critic is almost a perfect church.  But, you say, what about the need to critique our ministries?  There are times and places for that.  But, you say, what about when someone sins against me or against another?  There is instruction for that, go to them in the spirit of meekness and confront them so that they may repent and move forward in their faith.  No, I am sure that there is no place for the spirit of criticism in the church of Jesus Christ.  James criticized the critic and tells them to stop being critical.

Men, our study from the book, In the Grip of Grace has been a rich study on Wednesday nights.  If you want to be encouraged with us do join us.  The ladies last night started a new book, The Cross Centered Life.  This is another really challenging and encouraging book study. 

The concert season is upon us.  Tonight we have concerts at Aurora West and Matea Valley.  Tomorrow night we have a concert at Waubonsie Valley and Sunday there is a concert at Nequa Valley.  Saturday and Sunday the Glee Club has concerts, which you are invited to attend.  It is a busy time but a fun time.  Many of our teens are involved in concerts so it is a fun time for each of them. 

Keep our students in your prayers.  This is a busy time for all of them. 

Men, don’t forget the men’s prayer breakfast this Saturday.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS