Devotionals

Criticism Criticized

Posted on Updated on

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

Wait, Wait, Wait

Posted on

James 5

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Most of us would not make very good farmers.  When I was a child and we planted a seed in a cup, before it could break the soil I was digging it up to see if it was coming.  Not much has changed, I’m afraid.  We just aren’t very good at waiting.

In today’s verses we are taught about the farmer who plants his seed and patiently waits for the early and latter rains to come and bring the seed to full crop.  Impatient people wouldn’t make good farmers.  But that is not the point here.  A farmer has no choice but to wait for the crop to come to full fruit.  So, what is the lesson?  Just as the farmer is patient so we are to be patient.

However, there is one phrase here that we should look at, “Establish your hearts.”  While we are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, which the church has been awaiting for 2000 years, we are to be establishing our hearts.  In other words, when we get saved we are not called to just sit and wait for Jesus.  On the contrary, while waiting we are to be establishing our hearts.  We are to be “growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  We are to be “making our calling and election sure.”

So, while we are learning patience, taking lessons from the farmer, we are to be in the Word of God and studying Him, His person, His will, His grace, His love, His glory, and more.  Yes, we want the Lord to return and today would be great!  But if He tarries until tomorrow what are you doing today to establish your heart in Him?

Tis the season of colds in my house.  It started with Bobbi and has worked its way finally to me.  I hope your house gets a pass on this one. 

This coming Saturday night and Sunday afternoon the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, which, as you know, I sing in, is having its Christmas concerts.  The Saturday night concert is more serious in nature and the Sunday afternoon concert is more light-hearted.  If you want tickets I have some available.  They are $15 with a discount for students and seniors. 

 

Tonight is our prayer and Bible study, Kids4Truth and Youth group.  See you at 7:00. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

How do we accumulate? Are we content?

Posted on

James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth- eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

Here James teaches us to be careful with what we accumulate and with how we accumulate it.   This is not a condemnation of riches but it is a condemnation of rich men who acquired their riches unfairly on the backs of others.

When riches are gained by making others suffer, those riches will be a witness before God against the ones who attained them. Woe to the men and women who live in luxury by committing fraud in any way. James speaks particularly to those who acquired riches by not fairly paying those who worked for them. We have known people who would work for a promised wage only to be given less at the end of the job. With no recourse, they took what they were given. Be careful to pay what you agreed upon.

Money is an interesting thing. When we have a lot we are happy, when we lose a lot we are sad. When someone else gains a lot we are envious. God would have us to be content with our wages and to learn to live within them. Let us not be envious of those who have more for we do not know their standing before God. I would prefer to live moderate to poor in this life and to have treasures in heaven than to live rich in this life, rejecting God, and to wake up in hell.

Money does not make people with no character to have character. No, nor does money make people better. We are who we are whether we are rich or poor or in-between. Be the woman, be the man that God created you to be and be content with His position for your life and treat people fairly at all times.

Once again I am thankful for our church. Sunday was such a wonderful day. We rejoiced in all parts of the service exalting the Savior and His desire to be with us. What a thrill that teaching is. God wants to be with me. When God is with me He brings all of His love and power with Him and dwells, temples, within me. This is indeed a life-changing truth.

I am thankful for the people the Lord brings each week. We pray for Him to fill His house and to multiply His word. God is hearing our prayers. 

Thank you for being a part of His work.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The believability of the resurrection

Posted on Updated on

1 Corinthians 15

11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

In a court of law witnesses play a key part in determining what really happened.  One viable witness can turn the tables.  Five viable eye-witnesses establish the truth of what happened, if they all agree on the details of the event.  But what happens when you have 512 eye-witnesses to an event?  If 512 people gathered in a courtroom and one by one gave the same eye witness account of what happened, no one could ever doubt what really happened.  There would be no further need for testimony ever.  That case would be rock solid and settled for all time.

If this is so, then why is there such debate over the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  In the days that it happened a lie was fabricated and soldiers were paid off to go along with the lie.  Throughout history there have been men and women who not wanting to live under the authority of God’s word, made up a different outcome and published it as fact.  Religions who want to believe that death is annihilation deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In fact, you don’t have to look very far to find those who deny it.

According to Paul’s teaching, there is no denying the resurrection of Jesus.  They saw it and Paul saw it and so they preached it and so we believed it.  We are not following a cunningly devised fable.   We are not following the greatest first century lie.  We are following the established facts of the case.  Jesus Christ rose from the dead and was seen by more than 512 people!  When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians most of those eye-witnesses were still alive and were still giving eye-witness testimony to the facts of the resurrection from the dead.

My point is that this is 100% believable.  We can believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead because it happened and not just in the minds of His followers but they all saw Him in His risen body.  Jesus Christ rose in bodily flesh, not just His spirit, but His body rose, the tomb was empty and His body was touchable, He ate, He walked, He talked and reasoned with them all after His resurrection.   Therefore, we can know Him in the power of His resurrection and have the hope of our own resurrection as He taught.

All by His power in us

Posted on

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

As we prepare for this year, the realization that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His power that works in us is giving us an expectation of living richly in His grace. I talked to a man yesterday who told me that he is surviving. I told him that there is a difference between surviving and enjoying God’s riches.   A survivor has a few dollars in his pocket and nowhere to sleep tonight and no plans for dinner. By morning, they have survived another cold night. If you had $100 million in the bank, you would not be surviving, you would be living. So it is in Christ. We are not surviving. Our church is not surviving. No, we are living on the riches of God’s grace!

All of this is possible because of His power that works in us. He is the one who does exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think and it is His power at work in us that accomplishes this. We do not try to dream up a way to make this work, no, it is God who works in us bot to will and to do of His good pleasure. Then what God does God gets the glory for. We, dependent upon Him, learn that He is the able one and trusting Him we see Him enable us to live by His riches. No, I am not wealthy with this world’s money, but I am rich in grace and peace.

Already this year we have seen God doing more than we could have asked or thought. He is saving souls and bringing them to us. He is meeting needs and showing us His power. He is already doing more than we have asked for. What more will He do? This is the awareness I am hoping to spark in you. I want you to live this year asking God for spiritual and physical needs and then I want you to be acute to His provisions above what you asked or thought. I want you to be prepared to give God glory in the church so that all of us can be encouraged by His power at work in us. We need to get way past survival mode and into living with the awareness and enjoyment of His riches available to us.

Earlier this week I received a call about a boy at Victory who was defiant, belligerent, had punched another boy in the face, and was rejecting the Lord Jesus. The message was to pray for this boy that he might repent before he was going to be asked to leave the program. An hour and a half later I received another message that this boy had repented, had given his heart to Jesus Christ, had gotten saved and his whole attitude had changed. This is the power of God at work doing more than we asked. Hallelujah!

God can

Posted on Updated on

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

As we are working through this passage, this verse is the climax of it all. Today we are going to meditate on the first eight words. When Elijah was challenging the prophets of Baal, they found out that their god was not able to do anything. They gave it their best shot. They even offered their own blood in hopes that it would motivate Baal. But since Baal was only a figment of their imaginations he could not do anything. But when Elijah told them all to sit down, then soaked his alter with seven times with water until it was impossible to light, he prayed to the only real and true God who did answer and did show to all of all ages that He is able to answer, even by fire.

There are countless human testimonies of men and women and children crying out to the God who is able and then seeing Him do what no man could do. I personally have seen God meet our families’ needs as we stepped out by faith to start Victory Homes and New Life Baptist Church. When there was no human answer God was able to do exactly what needed to be done for the furtherance of His work and the exaltation of His glory.

You have trusted God for salvation. He has heard your soul’s cry and has redeemed you with the blood of Jesus Christ. The indwelling Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in you and confirmed the power of God for your salvation. This is the greatest miracle that God could ever do for you. Do not doubt that He can meet your other needs of body or soul. Put God to the test. Trust Him to keep His word to you. You will see that He is able to do exactly what He said He would do.

Exceeding Abundantly

Posted on Updated on

Ephesians 3

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

We have spent a month focusing on these verses.  Please take time today to meditate on them rethinking the lessons that you have learned from them.

I would like to focus on the phrase, in verse 21, “…to all generations, forever and ever.”   God’s desire is to do good to all people of all ages.  He wants to dwell in them all for all ages and forever and ever.  He wants people of all ages to know the width, length, depth and height of His love.  He wants people of all generations forever and ever to be filled by His fullness, that is, the fullness of His love.

The book of 1 John is filled with admonitions regarding the love that is supposed to be evident between Christians and in Christians toward the lost.   Only when we are filled by the fullness of God can we live His love through us.  Furthermore, it is God’s desire that His love, His fullness, be lived in us in all generations, forever and ever.

So, how is that fullness of God in you going for you?

Sunday morning will be the continuation of this meditation.  Don’t miss it!