John

The theme of God is our eternal life

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John 17

1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Have you noticed the theme of eternal life in the teachings and emphasis of Jesus Christ?  We get caught up with the Babe in the manger at Christmas and the crucifixion and resurrection at Easter but when do we focus on this primary theme of eternal life?  I have seen people line up and walk by a statue of Jesus, touching the statue, kissing their hand and touching it again.  Do they have eternal life or just a religion?

We love John 3:16.  The emphasis of it is eternal life.  We are thrilled that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. But don’t miss the emphasis that whosoever believes in Him has everlasting life!

Jesus came to pay our sin debt so we could live with God both now and forever.  I John 5:12 says that he who has the Son has life.  Eternal life begins the moment one’s sins are removed by the blood of Jesus through the grace of God.  The message of Christ is this, “You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The question we should have for people is not about their church but about eternal life.  For if Jesus came to give eternal life to all who would believe on Him, that He is God in the flesh and that He died to save them from their sins, they can be saved thus obtaining eternal life.  So we can ask those around us if they have eternal life.  Their answer to this question will let us know if they do or not and we can then ask them if we can tell them how they can have eternal life.

Since Jesus came to give us eternal life, do you have eternal life, today, right now?

On Monday the bulldozer cleaning up the parkway in the construction behind my house cut the cable for our internet.  I sat down yesterday to write and send the devotional and did not have internet.  As you can see, they did fix it later in the day.  It was quiet around here Monday night for we did not have phone, internet nor TV.  It was really kind of nice. 

Mr. Trumps greatest challenge is not going to be setting up his office but convincing Americans that he is not the wrong President.  Pray for our country.  This unrest is without precedent here. We have seen huge demonstrations in other countries but we have never had this kind of movement.  We need to see God at work in people’s lives, beginning in the oval office. Pray for the peace of God to come on Americans who are living in bitterness and fear.

Tonight we will gather for prayer as a church at 7:00.  Remember our youth in your prayers as they are facing spiritual battles every day.  Some are falling away while others are standing firm.  Keep them all in your prayers and reach out to them when you can.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

In Him is peace always

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John 16

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

Jesus did not fret the future because He knew the future.  The apostles, not knowing the future were troubled by Jesus’ predictions of their leaving Him, scattering from Him and leaving Him alone.  Jesus did not rebuke them for what they were going to do but instead let them know that when that happened He would not be alone for His Father would be with Him.  Throughout the trial and the beatings and the nails the Father was with the Son and the Son was comforted by the Father.  It wasn’t until Christ took the curse of our sin upon Himself that the Father turned His back and the Son knew He had been forsaken by the Father.  The greatest grief on the Cross was not the physical torture but the rejection of the Father.

Think about this for a moment.  Those who think that going to hell won’t be a big deal are not aware that they will be eternally separated from the Father.  In this life all people cry out to God at some point believing that He is there and hears their cry.  When the Father’s back is turned true aloneness is realized.  Thus for us who have trusted Christ we hold on the promise the God will never leave us nor forsake us.

Jesus went on to teach that the world would be harsh but in Him we would always have peace.  What an example the Lord Jesus was to us!  The peace of God that passes all understanding is what we now have because He who is in us, Jesus Christ, is greater than satan and all of his hosts who are in the world.

People are angry that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.  They do not know the Lord nor do they have His present peace.  Had Hillary won the other side would be angry.  People do not have the peace of God and look to the wrong sources for their peace.  We who have Jesus Christ in us must be thermostats in the world we live.  We should set the temperature of the room.  We should bring peace with us wherever we go because we have the Prince of peace residing within us and He is greater.

Pray for one another.  We need to consider one another to provoke to love and good works.  The best way to begin provoking one another is to pray for one another.  There are real needs amongst us that only God can solve.  Look around yourself at church and pray for one another. 

I went to the Waubonsie Valley High School Veteran’s Day assembly yesterday.  2600 students heard about the value of protecting our country.  It was a well-done, very patriotic event.  Many veterans came and were honored.  The band and the choir sang the song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  In that song Christ is sung about. “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the seas, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.  As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free while God is marching on.  Glory, glory Hallelujah, His truth is marching on.”  As that was sung I prayed that some student might hear the gospel and cry out to the One who died to make men holy. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Jesus showed us the love of God

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John 16

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”

 

Jesus came to be known and to make the Father known.  Until Jesus came God was a God who was feared and love to Him was commanded but seldom personalized.  David, the great Psalmist (hymnwriter) of Israel, understood the love of God and loved God in return.  He was called, “the man after God’s own heart.”  But most of the Old Testament people only feared God because they constantly rejected Him by rebelling against Him thus facing God’s wrath for their sin.  So often was their rebellion and God’s chastening that people call the God of the Old Testament an angry God.

Jesus came to show us that God is not angry but God is longsuffering and patient. He longs to show His love, mercy and grace to all people.  Jesus came to show us the Father through acts of compassion and love throughout His earthly ministry.  By the end of His time, Jesus could say that the Father loved the apostles and they would believe Him.

Jesus also taught the apostles to go the Father on their own.  God the Father is approachable!  No, I do not need to go through Mary or any dead saint to get to God; He is approachable because He loves me.  For God to love me means that God must first know me, and He does.  He sent His Son to bear my sin, what other good thing would the Father possibly withhold from me?  He who sent the Son out of love still loves and hears me when I pray to Him.  As Jesus said, this is plain teaching.  Through this plain teaching we can know with assurance that Jesus did come from God and that all that He said was true.

Someone said yesterday that America has been pulled away from the edge of the cliff.  The conservative people of the country have exercised their rights as American citizens and have spoken against the movement away from conservative values.  We are still on the edge of a moral cliff.  Sin is still tolerated and even promoted. Abortion is still happening every day in most US cities.  The government is still spending more than it is taking in.  As much as we prayed for God to lead our country through this election, we must pray more for God to bring us away from that cliff edge of continued moral decline. However, moving away from moral decline requires confession of sin, repentance and a turning back to godly righteousness.  We will continue to pray for the salvation of the Trumps and the Clintons and of those who are in positions of influence so that they may lead the nation in repentance and revival back to God. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A people of Joy

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John 16

22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 

Jesus was all about joy.  He wanted His disciples to know that when He left them they would have sorrow but that when He rose from the dead they would gain a joy that could never be taken away.  Later Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”  Nehemiah wrote, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  God’s people are to be people of joy.

While listening to Christian radio yesterday I was reminded of the illustration of us as Christians being thermostats, not thermometers.  A thermometer reads the temperature in a room while a thermostat sets the temperature in a room.  When we as people of joy enter a room the level of gloom in the room should decrease and the level of joy should increase.

As Christians, we should be the most hopeful people regarding Tuesday’s election!  The unsaved are not praying for God’s will but we are.  When the ballots are cast and the next president is elected we should rejoice that God’s will has been accomplished and that He has established His authority in our country.  Romans 13 tells us clearly that there is no authority except the authority that is established by God.  When Paul wrote this Nero was the Cesar of Rome!

My dear friends take heart and rejoice in the knowledge that God is sovereign over all of the affairs of men.  Rejoice that as Jesus rose from the dead that one day we too will have resurrected bodies that will no longer be filled with the cares of this world.  Until then, let us say with Paul that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  What strength did Christ show?  He showed resurrection strength.  The power and joy of Christ is the joy that Jesus told His disciples they would know and with which they would be full.  Be a person of the joy of Christ.

Tomorrow morning is our men’s prayer breakfast at 7:30 at Denny’s. Join us for a time of Bible study, prayer, fellowship and food.

Sunday morning I will be bringing a message on the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of comfort.  The ministry of comfort is one that we are specifically called to but is the most difficult because the training for the ministry of comfort is trials and tribulations.  Read 2 Corinthians 1 in preparation for this message.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Jesus wants us to understand His teachings

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John 16

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

I don’t know about you, but when I read about the job of the Holy Spirit and know that He has accomplished this in my mind for a better and more clear understanding of the teachings of Christ, I get really excited! When I, possessed of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, read the teachings of Christ, His Holy Spirit turns the light on to my understanding. My friends, no other belief system in the world has a Holy Spirit helping them rightly discern the teachings of its founder. This is unique to Christianity and absolutely amazing!

 

I don’t read other religion’s sacred books. They don’t make sense to me. I may as well read a medical journal. For while there will be a few words of good ideas for life, those books cannot speak to me the way the Bible speaks to me. None, not one, zip, nada, none of those religious books has a Holy Spirit of God attached to them to make them clear. So when godless theologians read godless religious writings they can make those writing say whatever they want them to say. Thus you have moderate Muslims, radical Muslims, nominal Catholics, dedicated Catholics, nominal Buddhists, and more nominal Buddhists. Their books say whatever the reader wants them to say.

 

But our book, God’s holy Word, read by Holy Spirit endued people, tell us what God wants us to know and leads us into God’s unique and direct path for our lives. Exactly what Jesus predicted happened and has been continuing for nearly 2000 years. Every follower of Christ understands this and rejoices in it. What other religious leaders hope for but can never attain we have given to us by the direct act of God the moment we are saved and then led by His Holy Spirit we understand God’s words throughout our lives.

 

Finally, because of this wonderful gift enabling us to really ascertain what God wants, we are to live in concert with understood teachings of our Lord and Savior. There should not be nominal Christians and dedicated Christians for all who are filled with God’s Holy Spirit should be following the teachings that they are learning from God through His well-taught Word.

 

As many of you know, dad and I are White Sox fans. However, we have really enjoyed watching the Cubs play and win and come back from a deficit position into a great advancing position. For all of you die hard Cub fans: Congratulations! What a game last night! Tonight is it, Go Cubs.

 

We will have regular prayer and Bible study tonight. (I will be hurrying home to catch the second half.) So, yes, Kids4Truth and youth group will also be meeting at 7:00. See you here.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

We need to accept God’s plans at all times

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John 16

“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

Let’s put ourselves in the sandals of the eleven apostles for just a moment.  We have just spent the most amazing three and a half years with the most amazing Man who ever walked on the earth.  We have seen Him do thousands and thousands of miracles.  He has fed tens of thousands of people.  He has cast out demons, walked on water, calmed storms, rebuked the Pharisees and even raised the dead back to life!  We have plans to spend the rest of our lives with this Jesus of Galilee and have heavily invested of our time in being trained by Him to serve with Him.

But now He keeps talking about leaving us.  We don’t like this talk.  This was not in our plans even for a moment.  No, we want Jesus to stay and keep this amazing life going.

But now, put yourself in Jesus’ sandals for a moment.  Jesus knew that His life was an introduction of the plan of God into the universe.  He knew that His life was going to end on a cross as the Lamb making payment for our sin.  Jesus also knew that every follower of His throughout time could not enjoy His physical presence as the Apostles had; so Jesus had a better plan, which was to send His Holy Spirit into every follower of His to teach, to judge, to guide, and to fill.

Jesus, of course, had the better plan.  But humanly speaking that plan did not make sense at the moment.  From this side of the indwelling Holy Spirit at Pentecost, these teachings of Jesus make perfect sense.  What is Jesus teaching you that today is hard to understand?  Can you trust that His plan is good and that after a certain point it will make perfect sense to you?  At the cross, the Apostles went through a crisis of faith, but at the resurrection it all made sense. May our faith remain strong even when we cannot see what God is doing knowing that He has our best and His glory in mind.

Thanks to God for the ascension of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance.

We are rejoicing in all that God for us last week.  Our revival week was great time of teaching, preaching and fellowship.  All who committed to the week were richly blessed.  There were those who came and heard the gospel and we are praying for them to be saved.  Our Friday night at First Baptist in Big Rock was a blast!  We need to share services with them more often.  What a joy to share the Holy Spirit with another congregation of Christ followers. 

Our thanks to Brent and Becky for their dedication to the church of Jesus Christ.  Few people can live the way they do and maintain the schedule they maintain to travel from church to church and camp to camp to preach God’s word and to minister to God’s people.  Keep them in your prayers this week as they minister in northern Indiana. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The intolerant will persecute the exclusive

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John 16

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

Jesus predicted that His followers would be persecuted and would even be killed by those who think they are serving God.  If there is one thing that religious people hate, it is the exclusive statements of Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 has to be the most hated verse in the Bible for it is the most exclusive statement that Jesus made.  We who love the Lord and are followers of Him rejoice in His exclusive claims and rally around them.  He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.  Apart from Christ there isn’t a way, a truth or life.

In a world that teaches tolerance to children from day care all the way through grad school, you would think that they would be tolerant of Jesus Christ, but no, they are not.  As we well know, if we want to bring a conversation to a screeching halt all we have to do is to tell them that we are followers of Jesus Christ and would like to introduce them to Him.  People have a willingness to talk about anything and any religion except the exclusive Way, Truth and Life.

My friends, this anti-tolerance of Jesus is nothing new.  According to church history, most of the Apostles were martyred.  Many first century Christians were persecuted for their faith in the exclusive Christ.  Down through history and even today people lose their jobs, their families, and their lives when they become followers of the Lord Jesus.  What should we do?  We are not to hide our light under a bushel but to put it in front for all to see. There are those around us who in the darkness of this life are looking for a Light but don’t know where to look.  It is to them that we shine the Light.  Thank God someone shown His light to us.  Let us be proclaimers of the exclusive Way.

Tonight is our last night of revival meetings for 2016.  We are thankful to God for the spiritual feeding that we have received each night.  Just to remind you one more time, tonight we will be serving dinner and having service at regular times but at First Baptist Church of Big Rock where Steven is the pastor.  They are looking forward to us coming and we are looking forward to a blessed time together.  It was nearly a year ago when we went out for Steven’s installment service and enjoyed our day together.  If you need directions, look at yesterday’s devotional.  I pasted them in it.

Thanks to those who stayed last night to help clean the church!  It is all clean and ready for Sunday.  It really did not take too long as we were home by 9:30. 

Sunday morning I plan to begin our march through 2 Corinthians.  Paul begins by telling who the letter is to.  From this introduction we will be looking at the teaching on the New Testament church.  Whether you have been in church you whole life or are new in church you will find this message to be helpful as to why we “do” church.  I have enjoyed the study and look forward to bringing it to our church.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Rejection of men but filled with God’s Spirit

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John 15

25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

The Lord Jesus was ever conscious of the prophesies made that He was fulfilling.  Psalm 35:19, 69:4 and 109:3-5 all reference men’s hatred of Christ without a cause. Jesus is reminding us that in Him we too may be hated without cause.  Just for living righteously the Christ follower may be truly hated by the God-hater.

When that happens, Jesus goes on to tell us that He is sending, (has now sent), His Holy Spirit of truth to testify within us the reality of Jesus.  This is important when we are hated without a cause.  We don’t like rejection and when those around us do reject us we may waffle on our position because we want to be accepted.  At those times look inside and find the Holy Spirit agreeing with your righteous actions.  There is nothing quite like God’s pat on the back telling us that we have done the right thing before Him.

The indwelling Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and testifies within us the truths of Christ.  He continually confirms those truths to our soul and mind enabling us to stand for truth even by ourselves.  For forty years now I have enjoyed the indwelling Holy Spirit in my life.  He constantly confirms the Word of God to me.  He is ever there to hear my cry and to guide me. He gives me comfort from God in the darkest hours. And the Holy Spirit confirms to my heart the joy of Christ in providing my salvation thus filling me with His joy at all times.  I am not special; I do possess the Holy Spirit who makes all of the difference.

 

Our revival with Brent Sivnksty is going very well.  We are thankful for Brent’s commitment to communicate the Word of God to us. Last night we had some unsaved in the crowd and are praying today for their salvation.  One man responded to the Lord’s calling and was dealt with about coming back to the Lord.

We are at Grace for Life again tonight then tomorrow night we will be at the First Baptist Church of Big Rock.  201 Lincoln Street, Big Rock. For those who need directions to the church, here they are from our church:

23.2 mi. About 31 mins

1. Head north on S River Rd 1.4 mi
2. Turn right onto Raymond Dr 1.2 mi
3. Turn left onto Diehl Rd 0.9 mi
4. Turn right onto IL-59 N 0.4 mi
5. Turn left to merge onto I-88 W

Toll road

9.4 mi
6. Take the IL-56 W exit toward US-30/IL-47/Sugar Grove 0.7 mi
7. Continue onto IL-56 W 3.5 mi
8. Continue onto US-30 W 5.4 mi
9. Turn left onto Rhodes St 0.2 mi
10. Turn right at the 3rd cross street onto 3rd St 400 ft
11. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Lincoln Ave

Destination will be on the left

 

We will be serving the revival restaurant at First Baptist from 6:00-6:45.  Bobbi is making a chicken dinner that night.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Hated for loving and truth-telling

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John 15

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

None of us wants to be hated by those around us neither do we want an excuse to throw up when someone hates us.  Jesus is not telling us here that it is good to be hated and that we should do things to be hated.  I have known Christians who took pride in being different and threw their differences up into the faces of the lost around them and when they were scorned took the scorn as a fulfillment of Jesus’ teaching.

In this teaching, Jesus is telling us that when we live as He lived, when He lives in us and through us that those who hate Him are going to hate us.  No, we do not do things to aggravate the lost; we just live before them as Jesus lived.  How did Jesus live?  He lived loving all people.  He lived doing good to all that He could do good to. He lived separate from sin.  He lived separate from false religion.  He lived in submission to God the Father and Jesus lived to tell the truth about life, sin, judgment, and eternal life.

The lost world wants our kindness but does not want God’s truth. When we include truth with kindness we will be hated like Jesus was.  When we include submission to God in our good works we will be hated.  For though they call us haters for not supporting their sinful lifestyles we really are the lovers who love all people for Jesus’ sake.  When the world hates us for giving out God’s truth in submission to His leading, we are in good company.  Give them kindness and truth anyway.

We are two days into our revival week.  We have four days left.  As our evangelist walks through the book of Titus we are learning how God wants us to live and to pray.  We are also learning songs of praise to God to carry with us throughout the week.  Do join us tonight at 6:00 for taco dinner and 7:00 for God’s great nourishment for our souls. 

Remember that Friday night we are taking our revival out to the First Baptist Church of Big Rock.  Same time for revival restaurant and for service. 

Pray for a lunch appointment that I have today. 

Brent is bring the message today at Sunrise Assisted Living. Pray for open minds and hearts there.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Show love anyway

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John 15

17 These things I command you, that you love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

Abiding in the Vine, receiving its’ energy for life, enables us to love like no others.  The energy of Jesus Christ flowing through us enables us to love people with His love.  This morning, in France, a refuge center, called the Jungle, which houses over 8,000 people, is being cleared out.  I wish I lived in France and could somehow minister Christ to these frustrated people who for safety reasons have, with their families, fled their home countries.  The love of Christ in us should see hurting people and cry out for them.

Are we loving when we tell people that we hope they do well?  Jesus said that we are loving when we give to meet their needs.  Whom have you loved recently?  Whom have you given to so that their need could be met?  Loving people with Christ’s love is expensive.  We can be called upon to give money or time in the action of love.

Oddly enough, the world will hate us when we show love.  That is OK, they hated Jesus too.  Show love anyway.  Our world is filled with prejudice that says certain people deserve their condition.  When we reach across those lines to show love some think us foolish.  Show love anyway.  Jesus did.

 

We had a great start to our revival week.  You don’t want to miss even one night!  Join us in the revival marathon and let’s finish it together, rejoicing in all that God has done for us and through us.  Be sure to invite a friend to come with you. On Tuesday night our teens will be presenting two songs and leading us in worship of our Savior. 

Remember that the revival restaurant opens at 6:00 each evening.  Tonight’s menu is chicken and dumplings.  See you there.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

What a wonderful relationship God calls us to

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John 15

15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

 

The relationship that God offers us through Christ should constantly amaze us and bring us joy.  We were slaves of sin and son’s of Satan.  Jesus taught this in John 8:44 and Paul taught it in Romans 6.  As children of darkness and death we had no hope in this world.  We lived atheist lives separated from God.  In love, God the Father sent God the Son to purchase our redemption, that is, Jesus bought us out of the slave market of sin and through His blood the Father adopted us into His family.

We who were slaves of sin become slaves to God and in turn He makes us His sons and daughters, eternally adopted from the family of sin into the family of the redeemed.  Jesus then goes one step further and calls us friends letting us know that as His friends He makes the Father’s will known to us!

Finally, all of this wonderful transformation takes place because God the Father has chosen us and appointed us to bear His fruit and to answer our prayers.  There is not a religion in the world, made from the mind of man, which could ever devise this plan.  No, this is the work of a relational God who desires to be close to, with, His created people.  He who created us and then lost us to sin devised a way for us to get back to Him and called us back to Himself.   We the estranged ones are brought back with full family benefits by the love and grace of God the Father.

Then, we are taught to love one another.  How can we who have been loved so deeply do any less than love others with the very level of love that we have been loved?  Let the love of the Father flow through you thus enabling you to love with His love and to show His compassion and acceptance to those in need.

Pray for Ed’s daughter Brittany as she and her fiancé, Steven, get married tomorrow.  It is a small wedding and I will be officiating.

Pray for Sunday!  We start our revival meetings and we should be praying that each of us will be revived!  Then, come with an expectation that God is going to do His great work in our lives.  I will be praying for each of you throughout the week that you will be able to get past the work and school schedules to be out each night that you possibly can.  Satan wants you to miss.  I am praying for Satan’s plans to be thwarted and for you to see the hand of God leading you and working out your schedule every day.  Bobbi will be preparing dinner each night as a ministry to you and your families.  Nancy and Stefani and Daniel and I will be bringing music each night.  Pray for God to use all of this to draw us closer to Himself.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

True Friendship

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John 15

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Friendship and trust and sacrifice go hand in hand.  Jesus loves us and proved it by sacrificing Himself while trusting and obeying the Father’s will.  We might have read this passage and thought that friendship was conditional on obedience but like we learned before, obedience is indicative of true trusting friendship.

When someone truly loves you, has your best interests at heart at all times, and asks you to do something that they believe will be good for you, you do it.  My college roommate, Mike Elder, who was in church with us last night, was single.  At 39 he had assumed he would never marry.  A pastor friend called Mike and told him that he wanted Mike to meet a woman named Janet, a widow with two children.  Mike wasn’t interested but out of respect for his friend’s genuine care for Mike, he agreed to meet Janet.  Well, they met and now have been married for 17 years!

The Lord Jesus, our best friend, demonstrated by the greatest sacrifice, has things He wants us to do.  Obeying Him shows Him that we consider His friendship valuable to the highest level.  Thus obedience is not conditional friendship but is indicative of true friendship.

As those who are new creatures in Christ, no longer in the old self but having put on the new self, this should make total sense to us.  For while it may go against earthly definitions of friends it clearly defines what it means for Christ to show His love and friendship to us and enables us to both show our friendship and love to Christ and to others in a Christ-like way.

Pray for the McClain family as Roberta’s funeral is tonight. May they know the unique peace of God in the darkest hour of their family’s history.

I read this morning in Ephesians 4:17-19 a description of the Clintons and the Trumps and all people who do not know the Savior.  In that unregenerate condition we can expect nothing more than for them to ultimately act in complete sinfulness.  Oh how we are praying for the salvation of those families and of all who would use their talents to seek to be leaders in our country. 

Keep our upcoming revival meetings in your prayers!  Plan to join us each night for a great week of spiritual feeding.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Is God’s love conditional?

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John 15

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

To look at this teaching of Christ and to see conditional love is a misread.  Jesus is teaching on abiding in Him.  To abide in something is to live there, like you abiding in your house or your apartment.  It is where you live.  The teaching here is that loving, obeying and abiding go hand-in-hand.  When we love Christ we abide in Him and we know His love.  When we keep His commands that love is confirmed and abiding is felt.  The flip-side is also true: when we do not keep Christ’s commands, even though His love never fails, we do not feel that we are abiding and do not sense His comforting love.

The variable is not the love of Christ but our sense of abiding.  When a child disobeys his parent(s) his residence does not change but he might wish he could abide somewhere else for a while.  The parent(s) love does not change but the child feels insecure in it because of his disobedience.  He is still loved and he still has a place to abide but nothing feels right about it.  So it is with our obedience/disobedience toward the Lord Jesus.  When we live obedient to His commands we are secure in His love and secure in our position of abiding in Him.  When we disobey Him, Christ’s attitude toward us does not change but our attitude toward Him does.

Abiding and love and obedience all go hand-in-hand.  Jesus kept the Father’s commandments and completed the work that the Father sent Him to do.  Jesus was ever secure in the Father’s love.  He concludes this with a teaching on joy.  When we abide and obey and enjoy the love, we have fullness of joy in this life.  My grandson, Owen, can go from happy to pouty in a New York second.  If he is corrected or does not get his way his joy immediately and facially disappears.  We may not be quite as transparent as a two-year old but our loss of joy when we disobey God is apparent.

Abide in the love of Christ, live to obey His commands, and know the fullness of His joy in you at all times.

I asked prayer for the McClain family.  Roberta’s funeral will be this Thursday.  Do keep them in prayer.  They know the Lord and are resting in Him but this is quite a shock.  Roberta showed no signs of any illness until she dropped to the floor last Tuesday. 

Be in prayer for our revival meetings!  Brent called me and is planning on speaking to us from the book of Titus.  Their family is really excited to come be with us as we have become a favorite church to them.  They have become pretty special to us as well. 

I hope to see more of you tonight for prayer and Bible study. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The Life-giving Vine

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John 15

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

 

There are two points to consider in this teaching.  The first point is that when the life of Christ flows through our lives, from Him to us, there isn’t anything that we cannot do for the Lord.  All things are possible in Him and all requests are heard and answered when prayed through our Lord.  There is spiritual fruit for us to bear and we can bear that fruit when the Lord Jesus lives in us and flows through us.

The key to understanding and living this teaching is the indwelling and life-flowing Jesus.  Just yesterday a young believer told me that it is just too hard to live the Christian life. This young believer is right.  It is too hard for us to live the Christian life.  Sin is too tempting and we just want to do it sometime.  But when Jesus lives in us He lives His life through us so it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives through us.  We do not live the Christian life but Christ, with His flowing energy, lives His life through us.  With Him in us all good things are possible.

The second teaching here is that those who do not have the indwelling and life-giving Lord Jesus are headed to certain eternal punishment.  The reference of Christ is specifically about being cast into fire, which in His teachings were always the fires of hell.  Those who do not bear fruit are not attached to Christ.  Those who are not attached to Christ will be cast away from Him in the time of their judgment and they will be burned.  (You can watch two messages that I recently gave entitled, “Is Hell for Real?” www.gracerforlifebc.com )

According to the rest of Jesus’ teachings on hell, this burning is not a consuming but a continual and eternal judgment.  Oh how we long to see men and women turn from their sin and come to know and to enjoy the life of Christ flowing through them.  The contrast presented by Jesus throughout His teachings is clear, it is eternal, it is avoidable, and it is the contrast between eternal living and eternal dying.  Come to the Vine and become one of His branches by faith in His work to save us from our sins.  Enjoy His life flowing through you and bearing His fruit in you.  There is no greater way to live or to die.

 

Please remember the McClain family in your prayers today. A week ago, the mom, Roberta, fell with an aneurism in her brain.  They disconnected all life-support last night.  The aneurism killed Roberta’s brain.  Her youngest is a seventeen year-old daughter.  Roberta and her husband Randy know the Lord and he is enjoying God’s peace while suffering the loss of his wife. 

Pray for our teens.  The struggles they face are often overwhelming to them.  I was awakened yesterday with one of our teens calling asking what to do for a friend who wanted to commit suicide.  Keep all of our teens in your prayers.

Next Sunday we begin a week of revival meetings with Brent Sivnksty.  Pray for God to revive our hearts.  God knows our needs and we are asking Him to use Brent to bring our needs to our attention so we can let God work on them. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Abide, dwell, bear fruit – not rocket science

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John 15

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

 

The key word in this passage is the word “abide.”  To abide in something means to live there or to dwell there.  If you are travelling and stop at a motel you abide there overnight.  When you get home you are abiding in your own house or your own apartment.  It is not a difficult word to explain or to understand.

In this teaching by Jesus we learn that He wants us to abide in Him while He abides in us.  When this unique relationship takes place and is maintained something happens: the fruit of the life of Jesus comes out of us.  Have you ever had a friend for so long that you knew what each other was thinking before anything was said?  It is like you are abiding in each other’s minds.  The Lord Jesus wants us to abide in Him and He wants to abide in us to that degree and more.

Suppose the Lord Jesus truly abode in you and helped you complete every thought and every sentence.  Suppose the indwelling Lord Jesus was able to guide you in your purchases and in your investments.  Suppose the Lord Jesus while living within you guided your thoughts about God and about people and about life and about sin and about righteousness and… you get the picture.  When Christ abides in us we have a relationship with Him that is quite unique.  We turn to Him for every answer, we turn to Him with every problem, and we turn to Him with every joy.  He is in us, abiding, living, and happily dwelling.

Our lives, filled with His, will naturally produce His attitudes, His reactions, and His concerns.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit will come from the branches of our lives.  So here is the question: Who or what is abiding in you?  Whose fruit you are bearing will tell you who is abiding in you.  When we are bearing uniquely spiritual fruit we can be confident that it is coming from the abiding Lord Jesus.

Last night my dad and I went to a meet and greet with Tonia Khouri.  Tonia is running for the US Congress seeking unseat Bill Foster.  Take a moment to look at her website.  As a Christian woman she brings godly character to the table.  As a successful business owner, she and her husband own Green T, she understands hard work and its benefits. 

Sunday morning I will be embarking on a new book of the Bible.  2 Corinthians was Paul’s fourth letter to the church at Corinth.  Paul started this church and truly loved the people there.  But Paul and the word of God were under constant attack by those who would pull this church away from its moorings.  I am looking forward to this series as I see our church in the chapters of this letter. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS