Dependence

What does the Psalmist mean, “delight?”

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Psalm 1:2

2     But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

What do you think it means when the Psalmist wrote that his delight was in the law of the Lord?  Does it mean that he read it every day?  Does it mean that he memorized it?  Does it mean that it was his favorite book?  What does it mean that it was his delight?

I remember delighting in cars.  I got car magazines, went to car shows, and talked with other car delighters.   I knew what kind of car it was by sight and could tell many details about that car.  I knew how fast it could go, what size the engine was, how much it was worth and more.

I knew a boy who delighted in baseball. He knew the players, their stats, who they played for and more.  He loved to talk to other people who delighted in baseball.

But I don’t think the Psalmist had information alone in this use of the word ‘delight.’

When we delight in the law of the Lord we want to know it, read it, study it and talk about it.  But this delight takes one more step that too many seeming delighters miss.  For while God wants us to know Him through His word He want us to love and obey Him through His word.  I never owned the cars I studied.  My delight ended at knowledge.  When someone knows the Word of God but does not live in loving obedience to the Word that they know, they are not delighting in it.

It wearies me when people quote the Bible verses they like while living in disobedience to ones they don’t like or don’t really care to know.  We are to delight in the entire Word of God, to meditate in all of its teachings.  We are not to pick and choose the ones we like while ignoring the others.

Do you love to live under the Word that you delight in?  Do you place yourself under its teachings even when you want to do otherwise?  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all of God’s truth and then submit to it at all times.  Then you will understand the Psalmist use of the word ‘delight.’

Tomorrow night is the sixth anniversary of Reformers at our church.  Starting at 7:00 we will be rejoicing together around the word, song and prayer and then going out to rejoice in fellowship and food.  If you are able to attend you are invited to come.  If you know someone struggling with addictions invite them to our party.  It would be a great way to get to know us.

Remember to pray for one another today.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

 

I will strengthen thee – All strength comes from God

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“I will strengthen thee.”

— Isaiah 41:10

God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth’s huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations.

Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer. [1]

Taken from Spurgeon’s devotional book, “Morning and Evening”

I read this Sunday morning and thought it would be good for you to be able to see it in print. We must never doubt the strength of God to carry us in and through every situation of life. Therefore God says to us, “Fear not for I am with you, do not be filled with terror for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10a

Encouraging one another is using positive words to speak into their hearts. Positive words include compliments, blessings, scriptures, and spoken kindnesses. In your life, who needs to be encouraged today?

I know a woman who is looking for a place to volunteer on a regular basis. She wants to be around people and use her skills in a positive way. If you have any ideas for her please let me know.

Patty has a leather love-seat she needs to get rid of. If you have a need for one, let her know.

Tonight is our mid-week prayer time and Bible study. See you at 7:00. We need more children’s workers for the summer. Let Bobbi know that you can help.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Rejoicing Greatly!

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Psalm 145

1 I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

2 Every day I will bless You,

And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

And His greatness is unsearchable.

We thoroughly enjoyed God’s greatness this week!  We are blessing His name every day.  God is great and is therefore greatly to be praised.  God answered our prayers as we depended upon Him.  99 children registered and many parents came last night.  It was a joy to our hearts and lives to see all that our omnipotent God did for His glory. Children trusted Christ, learned Bible verses and songs to take through life with them.

My Thanks to God first and then to all of you who labored so diligently with me.  As I have said before I believe that this church family when working together can accomplish anything God leads us into.  It is one of the greatest joys of life, to be used by God.  All of us who serve together know this and are rejoicing greatly today.

Remember that we do not have dinner at church this Sunday.  Men, we have a breakfast tomorrow morning at Denny’s at 7:30. 

 

Today, Pastor Bill has his two community services, be sure to pray for God to use him. 

 

Tonight, is RU.  Pray for God to bring men and women out who are in need of His hope and grace.  Next Friday is the RU anniversary.  All are invited to attend. 

 

Tomorrow night we will meet at church for the Naperville fire works display.  They start at 9:30 we will get to church between 7 and 7:30.

 

See you Sunday, by God’s grace.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

You can have a blessed life

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Psalm 1

1     Blessed is the man

Let me take a moment today to remind you of the promise of God’s blessing on those who seek Him, His wisdom, His counsel, His strength, and His grace.

Many people think that God arbitrarily blesses some while leaving others in their misery.  They think that they just got the short end of the rope in life and that others got more.  They think that they are stuck in their pain while others just got lucky.  They think that if they had better opportunities they might have had some blessing from God too.

All who think like this or anything close to this do not understand God’s ways with people nor do they understand the power of their choices to reject God and to continue in their sin.  It grieves me when people look at me and exclaim that I was just blessed, insinuating that they were not.

Psalm 1 begins with the statement, “Blessed is the man…” and then continues to tell us what that blessed man does to be blessed.  It then provides the antithesis, “The ungodly are not so” indicating that some are blessed and some are not so.  What is the variable?  The variable is not God arbitrarily picking me over you.  The variable is that those who seek God’s wisdom and avoid man’s counsel are blessed.  Those who reject God’s wisdom and accept man’s counsel are not.

If you want to be blessed, the next time you need help seek God’s wisdom.  Do not call a friend, do not go to a non-Christian counselor, do not do what you have always done.  Instead, seek God’s wisdom and when you find it, submit to it and do it.  Before long, as this becomes your practice, you will realize that you too are being blessed by God.  In fact, you too can become like the tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in due season.

VBS is the forefront of my thinking at least for today and tomorrow, probably on into Sunday.  It has been in my house for months and now we are in the middle of it.  Every year we rejoice in the children God brings and ask Him to open their hearts to His saving grace.  This year we wondered if we would have forty children and we were over sixty again last night.  We had children trust Jesus last night.  Parents who came were excited to see their children singing and quoting verses.  The workers are a unified team accomplishing God’s purposes in every part of the evening. 

Tonight is our parent night when the parents come to see their children perform all that they have learned.  Pray with us that as the parents come and hear the gospel they will be drawn to salvation and drawn to our church.  We would love for God to unite these families with us in discipleship, worship, and growth of their families in the grace and knowledge of God.  This is our prayer today. 

Thanks to all of you who are fighting exhaustion while exhilarated to serve the Savior and His kingdom.  I give you tomorrow night off.  Tonight you are needed with all of the strength and energy that God will give you for His service and glory.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

 

Be remembered for doing good before God

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Nehemiah 13:14

14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!

30 Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service,

31 and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times. Remember me, O my God, for good!

When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem the broken down walls were only a symbol of a broken down nation.  After the walls were built Nehemiah began to see the spiritual failure of the people.  They did not respect the Sabbath, they did not respect the laws of God to not intermarry with pagans, they did not respect the priesthood, they rented a room in the temple to their pagan leader, and more. 

Nehemiah had come from captivity, from the place of God’s judgment and did not want to go back because of the sin of his people.  So he rebuked the people over and over again, he even got physical in his rebuke.  He locked the gates on the Sabbath so the sellers could not get in and threatened them when they showed up.  Nehemiah took God’s judgments seriously for he had lived in them.  

I think that if we lived under the heavy hand of God’s judgment for awhile we would live differently too.  We would see things that we have come to allow and put them aside for God’s holiness.  We would see alliances we have made that do not honor God and separate from them.  We might see God’s laws as good and right and seek to keep them for His glory and for our good. 

The book of Nehemiah has caused me to look inward and to ask God these same questions.  He has shown me what He wants in me and what He wants me to remove.  I do not want God’s judgments in this life, Jesus paid for my sin so heaven is secure, but sin brings loss in this life and I really don’t want the losses that sin can bring.  Ask God to show you what He would like in you what He would like removed from you.  Do so in the spirit of Nehemiah who desired to be remembered for good. 

Last night was another night of God’s blessing at VBS.  Through the moving of His Spirit, twelve children came asking Jesus into their lives as Savior and Lord!  Pray for us tonight as we follow up with these and seek the hearts of others. 

God has given each of  us here a spirit of working together that is just wonderful to be a part of.  No one, and I mean no one, sticks out with negativity or a critical spirit.  Every worker is here to serve the Lord and brings His Spirit with them.  It is just a glorious time for our church as a whole.   Thank God for what He can do through people who depend upon Him and seek His face in the work they do for Him.  The sun even shone on our registration and game time.  Hallelujah! 

Continue to pray with us for open hearts to children and to parents many of whom have never been in our church before. 

Pray also today for a previous pastor of this church.  Dave Huff’s wife has been ill for some time and went to be with the Lord this week.  The wake is this evening.  Remember the Huff family in this difficult time.

Remember our sister Bev Scott in your prayer.  It was a year ago today that her husband George went to be with the Lord. 

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Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Rejoicing with great joy when God works in us

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Nehemiah 12:27

27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.

31 So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate.

42  The singers sang loudly with Jezrahiah the director.

43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.

I hope you can follow through the thoughts of these verses.  They are not in sequence as there are lists of people who were involved in this great dedication celebration.  However, I want you to see that when people dedicate themselves to God, to His word and to the worship of His name that there is great joy.

Imagine a city with a choir so big that it can be split in half and put on corresponding walls.  Imagine this choir singing praises to God together, rejoicing in unisons and harmonies to Him, and the joy of the singing was so loud that it was heard miles away.  This joy this day was not because their city team won the championship but because their God had worked in them and through them and they were committing themselves and their lives to Him.

There have been times in my life when I have been in the presence of great joy.  These were times when the people of God were unified in purpose and goal and gave of themselves totally to accomplish God’s purposes.  In fact, as I read these verses this morning my first thoughts of great joy were last night.  When we had our VBS wrap up and saw what God had done through our efforts dedicated to Him there was great rejoicing.  When we realized that we had 67 children come last night there was great rejoicing.  When we saw God turn dark skies clear just in time we rejoiced.  When we knew that all of these children heard the gospel of God, salvation through Jesus Christ, we rejoiced.  When we met many parents who came for the first time and were thrilled to see our excitement for the Lord and for their kids for Christ, we were thrilled with great joy.

For all of you who cannot come but are praying for VBS, rejoice with us.

We still have three more nights of VBS.  Tonight Ben will be presenting the Helmet of Salvation.  Pray for children who have heard about their need of salvation to come to faith in Him tonight.  Pray for parents to come to love our church and want to come with their families to our Sunday service.  God, through His Holy Spirit, is doing His work and we are rejoicing with great joy already.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

How attentive are we to the Word of God?

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Nehemiah 8:1–3

8 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

When the people finished building the wall of Jerusalem the next thing they wanted was the Word of God.  We have here a description of Ezra’s first public reading of the scriptures.  The people wanted to hear it and Ezra publicly read it.  They read from morning till noon and the people were attentive to the reading.

For some of the people there that day, this was the first time in their lives they had heard the law read.  They had come from captivity, were born in Babylon, and had no Temple there.  The Jews would gather in Babylon but would not sing the songs of the Lord there.  Some may have heard the law of God read but did not know it well.  And so, with anxious ears and hearts they gathered for Ezra to read God’s law to them.

What a reading that must have been.  The walls completed the people felt safe in their own city for the first time in close to 80 years.  Their parents were taken as teenagers away from it.  Most memories of it were from times of battle and destruction.  Now they were standing in the city, the Temple was rebuilt, the walls were rebuilt, the enemy was on the outside and the people of God were gathered inside listening to His Word.

Can we be this excited to hear God’s word?  Or has His word become so commonplace to us that when it is read we would rather be somewhere else doing something else?  Consider this the next time someone is reading the Bible out-loud.  Consider that you are hearing the very Words of God given for you to know Him and to know how to live.

As we study prayer we learn that Bible reading and prayer go hand-in-hand.  We talk to God through prayer and He talks to us through His word.  May God’s word never become something commonplace and boring but may it ever live in us as God speaks to us through it.

Last night was a blessed time hearing the report and the message from the Bachorik family.  What an amazing ministry God has given them and us through them.  I am very thankful that we support the labor of this family.

We focused our prayer last night on the life-and-death opportunities of VBS.  As children around us face life they need the Lord.  If they find Him they find life.  If they don’t find Him they remain in death.  VBS is not just something we do, no, it is life-or-death ministry to those whom God brings for us to minister His word and grace to.  Join in fervent prayer for God to do what He delights in doing, that is, saving souls from death and lives from sin.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

 

Desperate Prayers

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Yesterday we read Nehemiah chapter 1 realizing that this man prayed out of a desperate heart of concern for the city and people of Jerusalem.  I pointed out that when we pray to God as though life depended on it our prayers are different and God hears us.  Our prayers today are so casual.  We thank God for the day and then we pray for Him to bless everyone on our list then we add the closing “in Jesus name, Amen” and stop praying and go to the next thing.

When life-or-death is on the line prayer is much different. Who in the Bible prayed as though life or death was at stake?

  • Hezekiah prayed for the deliverance of his nation from an army that was going to wipe them out.  If the Assyrian army got its’ way the king would have nothing to be king over so nothing else mattered except praying that God would deliver them.
  • Hezekiah on his death bed prayed because the prophet with a message from God told the king that he was going to die.  “Get your house in order,” he said, “you are going to die.”  Hezekiah’s prayer was more than thanking God for the day and asking His blessing on his current difficulty.
  • When Peter stepped out of the boat and began to sink he prayed a quick but desperate prayer.  Jesus heard him and saved him from the waves.
  • Hannah was desperate for a son.  God had closed her womb and childlessness was a shame to her.  She went to the Temple and prayed so desperately that Eli, the priest, thought she must be drunk and rebuked her for drinking so early in the day.  But Hannah wanted a son more than anything and so begged God that God gave her Samuel, whom she gave back to God. The answer to Hannah’s prayer changed the nation of Israel and led them to God for many years.
  • King David had many desperate prayers.  He had many enemies who wanted him dead.  Psalm 142 records one such time in David’s life.  Take time to read David’s desperate prayer.
  • After Herod killed James he arrested Peter to kill him too.  The church in desperate prayer prayed for Peter’s release.  God answered and sent an angel to deliver Peter thus answering their prayers.
  • Jesus desperately prayed in the Garden knowing what was coming next.  He asked God for a different plan, if possible, knowing that this was the only plan.  Jesus completed the Father’s will so that we could have life.

There are other examples but I want to take a moment to show you that when people pray in desperation they are the ones who change first.  Casual prayer does not bring any real change. Don’t kid yourself; our obligatory prayers don’t change anything.  Our desperate prayers change us and have the potential to change others.  Let God change you first.  Let Him take His flashlight to the hidden resources of your soul first.  Let Him work on you in your moments of desperation.

The trials that bring us to desperate prayer are designed to change us. Make no mistake, God is in control of every situation and has planned them out of His love for us to shape us into His image and likeness.  As we pray for others we should be letting our prayers change us.  Look upward, toward God, then inward toward yourself, then outward toward the person in need.

Tonight we will have our prayer time first then Doug and Ruth Bachorick will be with us presenting their work in the Philippines. Doug is a choice servant of God, a man who surrendered his talents to serve the Lord and His kingdom.  You don’t want to miss this presentation.  BTW we have supported Doug and Ruth for probably fifteen years now. 

Yesterday morning Gloria Bolthouse’s mother died.  She was 94 and truly wanted to go and to be with the Lord Jesus.  The wake is Friday from 3-8 at Hultgren Funeral Home in Wheaton.  The funeral is Saturday, June 27, 10:30am at First Baptist Church, 1310 N. Main St, Wheaton. 

If you can help up us Saturday to pass out flyers we need the help.  Show up at 10:00 at the church. 

Decorations are being put up today, tomorrow and Friday. If you can help call Jodi today and Bobbi tomorrow. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Prayers of Desperation

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Nehemiah 1:1–11

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Please take a minute to read the entire chapter noticing the desperation of Nehemiah.  In his heart, the condition of Jerusalem was a life-or-death situation.  The burden of Jerusalem’s safety and the safety of the people who lived there and had rebuilt the Temple and were worshipping there was heavy on Nehemiah.  He fasted, he prayed, his face showed his great concern (as we read in chapter 2).  The need of Jerusalem was changing his life and he just could not get away from the burden.

When was the last time you were so burdened?  When was the last time that you recognized life-and-death in the balance and prayed as though your life or someone else’s life depended upon it?

As we study and focus on prayer I am seeing this attitude throughout the Bible.  Instead of giving you examples, I would like you to think about this on your own.  How many biblical situations record prayers that came from someone in a desperate situation?  If you would make a list of these and send them to me I would compare and compile it and share it with you tomorrow.

When life or death is on the line our prayers change, our lives change.  When we become that desperate in prayer our very lives change and that is one of the primary purposes in prayer.  For when we change as we pray God hears and God answers.  He did for Nehemiah.  As you compile your list of others who prayed like this, whose lives were changed, you will see that God consistently responds to this type of prayer.

What is life-or death for you?  Think about this today and see if it changes the way you pray today.

I have two specific prayer requests to bring to you today.  Here is the description of Austin’s two-day surgery: they are going to be removing part of his vertebrae from a non-cancerous tumor. His mom says it is very serious they will be cutting into an artery he could also have a stroke they will be replacing vertebrae w/screws & hardware  it will be a  two day surgery.  Austin is a friend of Natalie Ludwig.  He is fifteen years old.

 

Ayrin Molefe’s  mother, Imelda Calachan who lives in the Philippines is in congestive heart failure with water in her lungs. 

 

Both of these people in very serious physical condition need Christ.  Let us bond together in prayer that God would bring them to Himself in their hour of the shadow of death. 

 

As always, I appreciate your prayers in our community service at Sunrise on Tuesday mornings.

 

I was praying this morning for God to show Himself strong and bring children to our VBS next week.  It looks like a good weather week.  Recognize the life-and-death nature of this outreach and pray for God to bring children in. 

 

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

 

 

When God opens the hearts of the heathen to do His work

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Ezra 7:27–28

27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem,

28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.

Ezra was among the captives from Jerusalem in Babylon. He was a man learned in the scriptures and faithful to God. The king of Babylon, Artaxerxes, had issued a proclamation sending Ezra and all Jews who wanted to go with him, permission to return to rebuild the house of God. In his proclamation, the king ruled that great sums of silver and gold be send back with Ezra to make sure the Temple was built right so that sacrifices could be made to the God of heaven.

I want you to recognize that Ezra could do what he did because God touched the heart of a pagan king. Artaxerxes of Babylon did not need a temple in Jerusalem. But God put it in his heart to send men and women and money for this project. James said that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above. Should we not pray for God to touch the hearts of the rulers of our nation for the benefit of His worship and work? We should. Can we pray believing that God can move the hearts of unbelievers to benefit His people’s worship and work? We should.

As a result of the king’s proclamation, Ezra was encouraged and realized that the good hand of God was upon him.   When unsaved people bless us we should recognize that the hand of God is upon us for good. God can use whomever He desires to accomplish His purposes. Let us pray today for God to open unusual doors of provision so that we can completely do His work thus showing us that His good hand is upon us.

Today is the funeral for Destiny, Sandra’s granddaughter. Do pray for this family that they will find peace and comfort in the arms and will of God Almighty.

 

Pastor Bill is leading his services today at Spring Meadow and at Sunrise. Pray for him to clearly minister Christ and for those who hear the message to be encouraged in their walk with Christ.

 

We do have RU tonight and need your prayers for God to bring in those who need to be here. I am certain that hundreds of people who drive by our sign know they should stop in. I am certain that people in our church know addicted people who could greatly benefit from coming. Pray together that God would bring in these dear people who lied to by sin are now caught in its chains.

 

Tomorrow is our reception for Ben and Anna. It is an open house from 11:30-2:00. They will be wearing their wedding attire and a video of the wedding will be playing. Bobbi is providing lunch for all who come. Please come and celebrate their wedding with us.

 

I will be bringing a message Sunday morning from Isaiah 40:1-2. This is a great passage, pray with me that God will use it as He intended for it to be used.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

When God’s people seek Him

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Ezra 6:19–22

19 And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. And they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.

21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.

22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

So far we have seen three times when the Temple was worked on, sacrifices were reinstated, and Passover was celebrated. Hezekiah, Josiah, and now the people who were captives in Babylon had been released to repair the Temple followed the Law of God and did what God commanded.

The returned captives, some remembered the previous Temple and wept because the new one was much less glorious than the previous one, and some who were born in Babylon and wept because for the first time they were seeing a Temple to their God. Seventy years had transpired as God brought judgment upon them for refusing to keep His laws. At the end of God’s judgment a renewed opportunity for worship was given. They took the opportunity and obeyed God.

Each time that the people of God returned to the Word of God and the Worship of God there were similar results. First of all, they prepared the Temple, then they prepared their own hearts by ridding themselves of their idolatry and then consecrated themselves to God. They rid themselves of their sin to re-enter into a covenant with God. Finally, they offered atoning sacrifices knowing that their sin needed to be covered with blood.

We can learn something from this. We cannot worship God until we cleanse our own lives and consecrating them to God wash them in the blood of Jesus Christ. Atonement is necessary for worship.   Christ is our atoning and justifying sacrifice.

The greatest result that each of these found who returned to the Lord and His Passover celebration was joy. When men come back to God and commit to following Him and thanking Him for His atonement of their sin, joy erupts and flows like lava out of a volcano. You can’t stop a lava flow nor can you stop the flow of joy from a heart rejoicing in atonement from its sin.

Pray with me that every time we gather as a church it will be an outflow of joy from all of us who have enjoyed atonement of sins through the blood of Jesus.

The work of VBS is in full swing. The church looks partly like a church and partly like an army camp. There is drawing and painting going on in preparation for children to come and to hear about the Lord Jesus. Each year, people who come to our VBS know that this is an important week to us. They know that the whole church jumps in to make it a great week for their children. The preparation is part of the process to reach children and their parents for Christ. We sent out our second mailing to previous VBS attendees and are now praying that as they receive it they will put it on their calendar and come the first day. Join us in prayer to God for the spiritual success of this week.

Sandra’s granddaughter’s funeral is tomorrow at 11:00 in Chicago. If you want to attend let me know. We are leaving the church at 9:15. Do keep Sandra and her family in your prayers in this dark hour for them.

Let me add that we need to be praying for the congregation in Charleston that was attacked last night. This attack hits home. A group of Christ-followers were having a prayer meeting and a Bible study when a gunman came in, stayed with them in apparent fellowship, and then began shooting until nine people were dead. The pastor, a 41 year old father of two was killed in the shooting. As I said, this hits home pretty hard. Pray for this church, the pastor’s family and the families of those who lost loved ones. Pray for this church to continue as their faith is being challenged like never before.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The sad end of rejecting God

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2 Chronicles 36:5–10

5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord his God.

6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.

7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.

8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. Then Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord.

10 At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar summoned him and took him to Babylon, with the costly articles from the house of the Lord, and made Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem.

The days of Judah after king Josiah are sad days that go from bad to worse. The kings who followed Josiah led the nation farther and farther from God and closer to captivity and slavery. As we read these six verses we learn gruesome details that no one rejoiced over. The final king mentioned is Zedekiah who rejected the words of the prophet Jeremiah until the city was destroyed, the king’s sons were killed before his eyes, and then his eyes were burned out so the last thing he ever remembered seeing was the murder of his own sons, one of whom should have been the next king.

We all know that the danger of not learning history is the fear that it will be repeated. If God is God and people are people then we have to admit that society is not far from repeating the failure of the nation of Israel. The mockery of God, His word and His people is at a fever pitch. A man can have a sex change and the media loves him. A Christian has one failure exposed in his past and Christianity as a whole is mocked and ridiculed.

I fear for our country because it was founded on Christian, biblical principles of law and justice. History revisionists want to change what the God-fearing founding fathers meant. The rule of law and justice has been eroded. Righteousness is no longer something to protect. Religious freedom is being replaced by public opinion which will lead the people away from religious freedom to sexual tolerance.

Here is my question from today’s passage: When will God determine that we have strayed far enough from Him and send us into some sort of bondage where all freedoms will be lost? We need to pray for God’s patience and mercy upon us. His wrath cannot be far away. When the wrath of God falls it is not pretty, it is not nice, no, it is very painful upon all who must endure it. Walk in righteousness and peace with God so that when He judges the godless we will remain at peace in our own hearts. (Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azzariah did.)

Tonight is our midweek prayer and Bible study time. As always, I invite you at least to come for prayer. The first 45 minutes is our prayer time. If you can stay for the study, great. If you cannot stay we will all benefit from our prayer time together.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

How do we view the Law of God?

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2 Chronicles 34:18–21

18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

19 Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes.

20 Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying,

21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.”

Josiah was made king when he was eight years old. When he was sixteen he began to make changes in the nation leading it to seek the Lord. Josiah would have been the great-great grandson of Hezekiah. His father and grandfather and great-grandfather were wicked kings who forsook the Lord. Over 60 years had transpired since the revival of Hezekiah and the Temple was again in disarray. When the servants of the king were cleaning the Temple they found the scrolls of the Law of Moses and read them before king Josiah.

When the Law of God was read, Josiah knew that the nation was in trouble before God. He rid the nation of idolatry, led the nation in humble prayer and restored the sacrifices and the Passover.   God responded by again showing His mercy and holding back His wrath in the face of the kings and the nation’s repentance.

Notice with me king Josiah’s respect for the Law of God. We can learn something from this. We have several copies of God’s law both in paper and electronic form. Do we read it with fear and trembling when we see our nation and those around us living diametrically opposed to it? Are we examining our own lives in the pages of God’s law looking for where we come up short and in humble repentance seeking God’s face asking Him to hold back His judgment?

Let’s look at Josiah’s respect for the recovered Law of God and let’s look at our own attitude toward our Bibles. Let’s compare and contrast our attitude verses Josiah’s attitude. Then let’s look at God’s response to Josiah and God’s response to us. How are we doing?

Thank you for your prayers. Continue with me in dependent prayer seeking God’s face first and foremost. Pray for God to be exalted through changing lives in our VBS. Pray for God to be exalted in our efforts to proclaim Him. Pray for God to purge us so that He can work in the hearts of the children and the parents who come.

It was fun to watch the Blackhawks win last night. Apparently there were people up partying all night in the streets of Chicago. I guess I am too old to enjoy that or maybe it is a priority thing. Nonetheless, it is a good time to be a fan of Chicago hockey. One fan who got to touch the Stanley Cup said it was the greatest moment of his life. It would be pretty awesome but far from one of life’s greatest moments. As a follower of Christ, my name is forever recorded in a far more important place. The Stanley Cup is amazing, but the Book of Life of those washed in the blood is truly a forever recording. The day of my salvation was the most amazing day of my life and has effected every day since then and will continue to effect every day forever.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Living consistently in dependence upon God

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2 Chronicles 29-32, Isaiah 39

Yesterday’s message was taken from the narrative of the life of King Hezekiah who was called the greatest king that Israel ever had.  As we learned, Hezekiah brought back the worship of God in the Temple, he brought back the atonement sacrifices, and he brought back the Passover celebration.  For the first time since Solomon’s days, 250 years, Hezekiah brought unity to at least six of the Tribes of Israel as multitudes came back for this glorious Passover celebration.

Hezekiah was king when Sennacharib came with 125,000 troops against Jerusalem and mocked the God of Israel and the people of Israel.  Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed together and God sent His death angel killing all of these enemy soldiers in their sleep.

Hezekiah developed a deadly condition, probably a stomach tumor, which was destined to take his life.  He prayed to God for more life and God hearing his prayer granted him fifteen more years to live.

He built cities, aqueducts, and brought back the tithe to care for the priests and Levites.  He was indeed a great king.

However, after his deliverance from death an emissary came from Babylon with gifts to rejoice in his healing.  This emissary came to find out what had happened and how it happened.  It was the perfect opportunity for the king to show off the power of God.  Instead, Hezekiah showed off his own riches, all of them, to this emissary from Babylon.  At this moment of his life, the king stopped depending upon God and showed off his seeming own success.  Babylon attacked Jerusalem and all of the kings riches were lost in the next generation.

I ended the message with seven lessons that we can learn from king Hezekiah.

The timeless truths evidenced in the life of King Hezekiah are this:

  1. God wants us to worship Him.
  2. God wants us to worship Him with clean hearts.
  3. Worship of God brings unity, joy, and gladness to those who worship Him.
  4. Worshippers of God today find forgiveness of sin at the altar of the Cross of Christ.
  5. Worshippers open their hearts and their possessions to God.
  6. Worshippers find the provision and the protection of God. God takes care of those who by faith worship Him.
  7. Whenever we take credit for the provision of God, we are in a place of danger of losing God’s provision and His protection.

We did have a great day in church yesterday.  I was thrilled with the friend that Desiree brought and why she came.  Desiree shops in her store and this woman wondered what Desiree had that enabled her to be joyous in her difficult life.  When Desiree told her that it was Jesus Christ, this woman wanted to find out how she could have what Desiree had.  Pray that this friend will receive the faith to believe. 

We began our summer series on Transforming Prayer.  This is going to be a transformational time for our church.  Do what it takes to join us for adult Sunday school this summer.  God is going to change us through this series.  BTW, we need to be transformed in our prayers. 

It is good to be back.  Thanks for your prayers while we were gone.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

Prospering comes from depending

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2 Chronicles 26:3–5

3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.

4 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.

5 He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.

While travelling these past two weeks, I have been reading from Kings and Chronicles about the rise and fall of kings in Judah and in Israel. There is a recurring theme throughout these historical records, which is clearly stated in this passage.

Uzziah was indeed a great king. But his greatness was not from his own power or ability but from God. As long as Uzziah sought the Lord and fully depended upon Him, God made Uzziah great. Uzziah is mentioned in Isaiah 6. The king had to die for Isaiah to see the greatness of the Lord above the greatness of the king.

However, in the latter days of Uzziah he began to take credit for his greatness, took his eyes off of the Lord of heaven and did foolish and sinful things. Pride is a great enemy and Uzziah was taken by it.

I will be spending time this Sunday and this summer focusing on our need to live dependently upon God. We long for independence not realizing that full independence takes us away from faith in God. We may have measures of greatness in us, but if we do they came from God. As long as we seek the Lord in full dependence upon Him, He will make us to prosper. There is no prosperity of life, true prosperity that is, apart from gaining the riches of God from God.

Thank you for your prayers for us in our travels. Our family has traversed the nation, coast-to-coast this week. Justin left Denver and went to the west coast while Caleb and Lindsey, along with my dad and I, left Denver and went to the east coast. Whew, that is a lot of driving!

 Caleb and Lindsey have a nice apartment in Virginia Beach, Virginia where she starts a new job on Monday. Caleb has already begun his new job as an ESL teacher. Pray with them as they transition this chapter of their lives.

 Ben and Anna’s wedding is now available online at www.graceforlifebc.com under the heading for “sermons.” It was a beautiful wedding that exalted the Savior and brought the two of them beautifully together. They get back tomorrow night.

 Pray for RU tonight that God will bring those in who need to come to Him in full dependence upon Him. Pray for the workers to come ready to minister the grace of the gospel to those who come.

 Sunday we begin a new Sunday school lesson series from the book, Transforming Prayer, by Daniel Henderson. This is truly a life-changing series that I hope many will commit to. Our church does not need better programs, it needs more of the presence and power of God Who alone can prosper what we do.

 Tomorrow is a church work day. Come for as long as you can. There is much to do.

 If you are interested in passing out flyers for VBS, some of us will be doing that around 10:00- 1:00.

 I look forward to seeing you Sunday,

 PS