2 Thessalonians

Christ’s Second Advent

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2 Thessalonians 2

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

For many Protestant churches, December is recognized as Advent.  Advent simply means “coming.”  Here Paul reminds the church that the Lord Jesus Christ is still coming.  There were false teachers even in Paul’s day who were teaching that Christ’s second coming had already happened.  Since the Christians, those who were the followers of Christ, were not aware of this, the false teachers told them that they missed it thus causing great trouble to their thinking.  So Paul tells them that no, Christ has not come yet and don’t be shaken by their false teaching.

One of the greatest teachings of hope we have is that Jesus is still coming.  We look forward the second Advent of Christ knowing that when He comes we will be taken from this mess and transported into His glorious presence.  As we read the Bible we see that the second coming of Christ is imminent, that is, He could come at any time.  For when Jesus ascended into heaven the angels told those watching that He was going to come back the same way they saw Him go.  As this has not happened yet we are still waiting.

Jesus could return today.  Wouldn’t that be awesome if He did!  I am ready for His return and so is everyone who is secure in Him.   Jesus is coming and we will be gathered to Him.  At that moment all of the struggles of this life will come to a glorious end.  We will meet Him in the clouds and will forever be with the Lord.  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.  As you focus on Christmas, make the second coming of Christ a part of that focus.

We had a great time Sunday morning at our church.  The illustration box was a fun way to bring our attention to the Christ of Christmas.  Thanks to all who worked to make that a fun and important reminder this Christmas. 

Our Christmas caroling at Sunrise was a huge success.  The people there were so thankful for our time and effort to bring the music of Christmas to them.  I think we had twelve singers, including our four grandchildren and Lebo playing her violin, to lift up the name of the Savior.  As I go back this morning they will be so very thankful for that gift to them.

Many of you remember Hannah Alexander who married Josh Csire.  Josh’s brother and his wife had a second child who at one month old has contracted Hepatitis B which turned into meningitis.  This little one has now faced all of the trials of this sickness and we are praying for her body to be healed.  Join us in prayer for Brynlee Csire that God would raise her up.  Pray for her parents as we know all too well the difficulties of a sick child. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Even our work is God at work through us

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2 Thessalonians 1

11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,

12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

For a long time in my Christian life I really thought that part of its success was up to me. So I would read my Bible more, pray more, and serve more in a futile effort somehow get more of God. As Paul addressed the Thessalonians, and us, we have to notice that he is asking God, who counts us worthy of His calling, to fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power to the praise of glory of Jesus Christ.

 

Pay close attention here to the prime actor in this equation and why this is important. If I were able at any time in those years of personal effort to achieve the level I thought I could achieve, I would have patted myself on the back and given myself some of the glory for working so hard and so diligently to get where I got. Paul says that it is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that is to be glorified in me. Hmm, this indicates that whatever God accomplishes in me and through me is because He was the one working. I cannot nor must not absorb any of the glory of the work of Christ because I have never been able to improve on what He does. When His work is done through me I know that He was the one at work and that all praise for the success is to Him.

 

Then Paul lets us know that this work done through us to bring glory to Christ is done on behalf of the grace of God. My friends, we are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, and we do God’s work by grace.   There is nothing special in me or in Bobbi that makes us uniquely gifted to do more of God’s work. God works through us with and according to His grace in us. If you are going to serve the Lord Jesus it will be Him at work in you and through you for His glory and according to His grace. No one will ever stand before God and get a pat on the back for their hard work. All of us, kneeling before God, will thank Him for His grace that working through us used our feeble human efforts to accomplish His eternal purposes.

 

Our youth Christmas party is tonight at my house at 6:00. Teens, bring a small gift to give (emphasis on small), bring some goodies to share, or bring $5 to help with the expenses. We have plenty to do and look forward to a fun evening together. Parents, we will be done around 9:00.

 

There is a rehearsal at church tomorrow morning at 10:00 for all who are participating in Sunday’s Christmas program. Plan to be here till noon.

 

If you know of a family in need, we do have some grocery gift cards available.

 

Sunday afternoon at 3:30 we will be gathering at Sunrise Assisted Living to sing Christmas songs with the residents there. Come and bring children. This is a great time to teach our kids to serve others. Those who live there are so appreciative of the gifts of our time and love.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

In God’s Time

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2 Thessalonians 1

since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

There are times in life when we, according to the teachings of Jesus, have compassion on our enemies, at least on those who hate us, make fun of us, and even persecute us for our faith.  Christ commands us to pray for them, love them and to do good to them.  When we do what Jesus’ said and the God-haters continue to hate on us, we know that one day they too will stand before God and give account to Him.  In today’s passage, Paul is giving insight to a persecuted church letting them know that those who are against them only have the upper hand in this life.  God is not being defeated nor is His will being thwarted.  In His time God will bring judgment upon the enemies of His people.

Struggles against those who hate the truth is nothing new.  Satan has hated God and God’s people since the beginning of his rebellion.  But God has a day coming, “when He comes in that Day” on which date God will be glorified in His saints and admired among all those who believe.  This life is so temporary. When this life gets difficult, the world, the flesh, and the devil (our three enemies) want us to think more about this life than we should.  I think that Paul was reminding the church that the day yet to come is coming and will be the answer to all of this life’s troubles.

Fear not, little flock; our Good Shepherd is watching over us and is coming in His time to redeem His people, His church.  Be faithful until our Savior’s return, He is coming and He will make all things right in His time.

Two of our ladies, Nancy W and Kristin are having work done today and would appreciate your prayers for their health and well-being.

This Sunday is our Christmas service.  The kids have a presentation for us which will bring us to a greater reminder of our Lord Jesus.  I will bring a message on the glory of God in the incarnation of Christ. 

Teens, we have a Christmas party at my house this Friday night.  We will talk about this tonight at youth group.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Growing exceedingly in faith

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2 Thessalonians 1:2–3

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,

As Paul watched those he had invested in grow in their faith, he rejoiced greatly. They had come to know the grace and peace of God in Christ and grew exceedingly in their faith. When it comes right down to it, every pastor longs for those he cares for to grow exceedingly in their faith. Infant faith is wonderful but mature adult faith is where we can live and do and see God do great things. So much of counseling is encouraging people to grow in their faith helping them to believe that God is in control and that He is trustworthy. So much of preaching and teaching is explaining more about God so that our faith in Him matures and deepens.

 

We often look to Job in times of trouble, but let’s look at Job before his troubles. He was a man who worshipped God and lived his life trusting God for all things. The troubles that came revealed who he was. So it is in each of our lives. When trouble comes the depth of our faith is revealed. Oh that we grow exceedingly in our faith in the good days so that like a prepared soldier, when the battle comes, we are prepared to stand in faith.

 

What is growth in faith? Faith in God is a settled confidence that He is God and that as God He loves us, His created ones and that He, as God, is in full control of our lives. God has a plan for our eternal salvation as well as a plan for our temporal lives. God is preparing us throughout our lives for His purposes, which are for His glory. God then wants us to trust Him and His unique, well-devised plans for our lives. But what if those plans include sickness or pain, or misery, or loss, or separation? Trust God; keep your faith in Him. I pray that you will grow exceedingly in your faith.

 

The tension in America is high today. Allegations are swarming like bumble-bees and it is difficult to know what is politically motivated, what is guilt motivated, what is real and what is not. We need the wisdom of Solomon to be able to discern the right ones from the wrong ones and the righteous from the sinful. Whether you are at work or at school the political tension is intense. Pray for peace in the hearts of men and women who are so filled with anxiety. As a Christ-follower who enjoys His peace in my heart, I am grieved for the people so caught up with the anxiety of it all. Their very lives are in danger as well as their souls. Pray for the peace of Christ to be known in those so filled with sinful their anxiety.

 

Stef came home from school on Monday telling that everyone was grumpy. Her friends as well as other students were just negative all day. Pray for each of our teens who face this in their schools. They are surrounded by people in pain and are not always equipped to stand up in the joy of the Lord.   Pray that they will know that equipping.

 

God gave strength on Sunday as I came not feeling well but brought the message on being justified to the glory of God alone. I do thank God for the strength He gave to do His work.

 

Rachel still has not had her baby. The labor comes and goes but this little girl is just not ready yet to face the world. Rachel appreciates all of our prayers and concerns.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Praying for the swift spread of the gospel

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2 Thessalonians 3

1Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

 

Have you noticed how often Paul ask for and prays for the spread of the gospel? Here he prays that the word of the Lord may swiftly run to the glory of God.  I have read about times when the Word of God seemed to run through families and towns bringing conviction of sin and revival of salvations.  In my childhood, the church my dad pastored had a season of time when the good news of the gospel seemed to be running through it with people being saved every week and baptisms happening often.  What a great time that was and through it God grew a great church with fruit being brought forth even to this day.

 

Will you pray with me that in 2017 we would see the word of the Lord run swiftly in Naperville and Aurora and Warrenville and Lisle and Bolingbrook, and Downers Grove and Sugar Grove and more?  We must present ourselves as clean vessels that God can sanctify and use as channels of His gospel.  As we live lives to His glory God will use us to spread His gospel.

 

According to verse 3, we need God to establish us and to guard our hearts from the evil one.  Satan is our enemy.  Our own fleshly lusts and desires are our enemy.  The world around us is our enemy. But the Lord is faithful and will guard us from the enemies of this life.  In the meantime, I pray for those enemies of the gospel to be brought under conviction by the swiftly running gospel of Jesus Christ so that they may repent, be saved, and become my brothers and sisters forever.

 

I will be at Sunrise Assisted Living today at 10:30 for our weekly service there.  If any of you would like to come and bring your children they will be well received by the residents there.  The service last a half hour.  It is located on Chicago Ave east of Washington Street, just before the fire department on the south side of the road. 

 

I am going to Iowa tonight for a friend’s dad’s memorial service tomorrow.   Tomorrow night will be our regular Wednesday night of prayer, Bible study, youth group and kids club. 

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

God in His goodness is greater

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2 Thessalonians 2

And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

 

I don’t believe in Ying-Yang.  Ying-Yang is the idea that good and evil are equal, thus the equal fields of black and white in the symbol.  I don’t believe that good and evil in an equal state balance the universe because our good God is greater than our evil enemy, Satan.  So much greater is God than Satan that God has told us how in His time Satan will be both fully exposed for who he deceptively is and he will be fully consumed by God’s breath and fully destroyed by God’s brightness.

In this life, at this time, Satan is the prince and the power of the air.  He is the spirit of wickedness who dwells in the hearts of those in his evil family.  Don’t be surprised at this, all of us were born into the evil family of Satan where he guided  us as our father of sin. Jesus told the religious Pharisees that they were of their father the devil and the lusts of their father is what they did.  All who are born in sin take their parental queues from their evil father of sin.  As the “great deceiver,” Satan makes all believe that the sin of their life is good for them at some level, thus we have the “mystery of lawlessness.”

But when King Jesus comes that mystery will be exposed in all of its deceptive evil when all of Satan’s lying darkness will be exposed by the pure light of Jesus Christ. Nothing will be hidden and all mankind will understand the full truth from the full lie.  Then, once Satan has been fully exposed he will be fully consumed and utterly destroyed.  John tells us in Revelation 19 and 20 that Satan will be bound by God for a thousand years, released for a short time, and then cast into the eternal lake of fire where God has already condemned the anti-christ and his false prophet.

I love that we can read the last chapter and know that God is not held in check by Satan’s evil but that Satan’s evil is held in check by God’s glorious power and light.  I love knowing that the evil one who regularly attacks me is a defeated enemy whose deceptions I can see now and soon all will see.  Jesus came to set the captives, us, free.  Enjoy being free from the enemy of our soul by our adoption into the Fatherhood of God.  John 1:12

Don’t you love telling people, “Merry Christmas!”  When they hold the corporate line and tell me “Happy Holidays” I shoot back with a joyous and happy “Merry Christmas to you!” Pray with me that this Christmas the lines of Christmas songs and the truths of the incarnation will be used by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin and repentance to salvation.  Those around us are so lost and Christ is so able to save. 

All of you are welcome to join us at our home Christmas Eve for a time of singing and rejoicing in our Savior.  If you can’t sing, come and hum enjoying the voices and the instruments proclaiming the glory of God at Christmas.  We will begin around 6:00,

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus came and is coming again

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2 Thessalonians 2

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

Before the Lord Jesus came the first time there was much written about it and so there was much anticipation at the wrong times.  When He did come the people wanted a King instead of a Savior and so rejected Christ for not being what they wanted.

When Jesus ascended into heaven the angels told the followers that Jesus would come again in like manner as they saw Him go.  He went in the clouds; He will come in the clouds.  Those who saw Jesus ascend truly thought that He would return in their lifetimes.  They anticipated His coming and they taught that He was coming.  When Jesus did not come and some of them began to die off the teaching of the second coming became distorted.  Some thought that Jesus had come and that they missed it.  As you can imagine, this was a troubling teaching.

2000 years have now passed and the Lord still has not returned.  In His longsuffering, God desires that more people receive His grace and be saved from their sin.  So God waits.  We are the ones who are to still anticipate Christ’s return for indeed, He could come back even today.  What a joy it would be that on the day we celebrate the Savior’s first coming if He were return for His second coming.  The true worshippers would be thrilled to see Him.  Those living for themselves would not even know that the Savior, as King, had come.  Let us be among those who are anticipating the return of the Lord Jesus.  Let us be among those who are inviting others to anticipate His return with us.  Let us be ready in every way so that when God’s time has fully come and Christ comes again we will be more ready than the world was at the first coming.

 

We will enjoy our regular Wednesday evening prayer and Bible study tonight.  We will have youth group and kids club.  See you then.

Saturday night, Christmas Eve, we are doing something a little bit different.  Instead of having a formal service at the church, Bobbi and I are inviting those who are free to come join us at our home for a time of singing and rejoicing in the Savior’s birth and life.  We will begin around 6:00. 

Sunday morning we will have one service at 10:30 celebrating Christmas together in Christmas Day.

I am so grieved over the people who are suffering in Syria today. To watch an entire city reduced to rubble while its innocent inhabitants are trapped and suffering drives me to prayer.  As an American, I wonder why our country has sat and watched this suffering happen without helping.  Pray with me for people there to be saved both physically and spiritually.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS