Matthew

Human greatness vs. Heavenly greatness

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Matthew 20

24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Ambition is a human thing. From the day I started my first job I wanted to do well and I wanted the boss to like my work.  When I presented a proposal to a Christian printing company and they accepted it without reservation, it felt good.  As humans, we like being recognized for our work.  So when the ten disciples heard that the mother of James and John asked for her sons to sit on the right and the left of Jesus in the new kingdom, they were put out, “greatly displeased.”

This was the time for Jesus to give a lesson on true greatness.  Jesus often spoke in contrasts and here He does not disappoint.  Imagine hearing this for the first time.  Let me break it down in very simple terms: greatness comes from servant-hood – slavery; first in line comes from being last in line; greatness comes from serving and giving your life away.  If you had never heard this before and your mother just asked for your greatness, what might you feel?

People have not changed; we still want recognition, position, better than average placement, and so on.  Jesus gave the opposite instruction telling people of all time that true greatness, for He was truly great, comes from being the slave of others all the way to the death, if necessary.  Who can you serve today? Who can you go out of the way to treat with undeserved kindness and honor?  If you even give a cup of cold water in the Lord’s name, there is reward for you are serving the one you are giving the water to. Do you want to transform you home, your work environment, or your dorm room?  You will transform your surroundings when you treat others better than yourself serving them for Christ’s sake because He so fully served you.

 

I am looking forward to Sunday as I will be back at Grace for Life bringing the morning message.  The text will be from 1 John 5:11-21 if you would like to read ahead.  This will be my last message before I leave on November 30th

Elianna continues to improve.  Her body is very weakened from six days of not moving and only getting nutrition through the I.V.  She is talking now and was glad to see her siblings yesterday.  They did determine that she has an allergy toward cat dander.  A few months ago Hadessah got a cat but Shadow is an outdoor only cat, nonetheless, it seems Elianna reacted to that toxin.  Keep praying with us for God’s to give strength to our little girl.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Jesus teaches on Creation and Marriage

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Matthew 19
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
In this teaching of Jesus, we have two distinct subjects of doctrine confirmed. First off, Jesus mentions that the God of heaven created men and women male and female. In this statement Jesus confirms the creation by God. Though He does not spell out the six days of creation, Jesus makes it very clear that He agrees with the OT Scriptures that teach about creation. Those who dismiss creation must dismiss that Jesus agreed with the Scriptures that God created human life.
There are those who agree that Jesus is a prophet. If we can agree that Jesus was a prophet (at the very least) then we must agree that what He taught was the Word of God. So, if a prophet of God taught that God created the earth and the life on the earth then we must agree that God created life, it did not evolve over time and chance but indeed was created by God, as Jesus taught.
The second doctrine taught here is that God instituted marriage, God united the first human couple, and that which God puts together men and women are not to separate. While there are teachings on divorce, Jesus’ point here is that God’s design was the best plan. Marriage is the unique design of God whereby two, a biological man and a biological woman, become one flesh. The one flesh relationship is a combination of sexual union, emotional union, and spiritual union. In God-designed marriage there is a fulfillment that is the result of God’s design.
God’s word is just that, it is God’s word. When God teaches us what He intended through His creation and His completion of that creation, we work best and are most fulfilled when we live life in God’s design. This teaching does not ignore the problems of sin; it does show us what God in His wisdom wanted for His creation.
As Bible-believers, there are teaching in the Bible that we follow because the Bible makes them clear. We follow those teachings by faith in the God who gave us the teachings. Regardless of what culture allows or encourages we come back to the Word of God and seek clarity from our Creator.

We got back Monday night and yesterday was a blur. It is good to be back and there is much to do this month. If you have any time and would like to help with projects, call us and let us know when you can help.
We spent time yesterday with Barb, Tony, and Joey. Do keep them and Violet in your prayers. The loss of Steven was a great loss and will be felt for a long time.
Here are some pictures of our trip. It was a great time together with wonderful family.
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

A Fearful Result and A Warning to Us All

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Matthew 18
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

In this conclusion to Jesus’ parable of the two debtors there is a fearful result and a warning. Often in the Scriptures we focus on passages to encourage us in difficult times, to give us strength in weak times, to help us overcome our enemies and to find comfort when troubled. So, when we come to a passage like this we tend to gloss over it quickly while we give it a quick shudder. Today we need to stop and pay a little attention to a great and fearful warning.

The first debtor who had been forgiven of an immense debt, (perhaps one days work times a hundred times ten thousand) went and shook a fellow slave for a debt equaling about 100 days wages (a sizeable yet payable debt.) When the master found out about this incredible lack of compassion he called the first slave in and asked him if had been forgiven 10,000 talents of debt and then asked why he would not forgive his fellow slave of a 100-talent debt. Unable to answer, the unforgiving slave heard the master restore the 10,000-talent debt to him and remand him to the torturers until the entire debt was literally worked and beaten out of him. Thankfully this is a parable that did not really happen but was told to make a point. Jesus continues then to the point of His story.
In verse 35 Jesus makes this fearful point: “So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” There are different ideas as to what Jesus meant by this; I think Jesus simply meant this: “You don’t want to find out what My Heavenly Father will do if you live an unforgiving life.”

How can we live a forgiving life? According to this parable, we live a forgiving life when we realize that we live as forgiven people. We who were lost are now found. We who were blind can now see. We who were dead are now alive. We who were orphaned are now in a family. Christ’s death on the cross eternally removed our sins from before the Father. Nothing we have done or will do can undo what the forgiveness of Christ has done. Who then can we hold anything against? But furthermore, knowing the judgement of God on those who don’t forgive, we should never want to face God as one who refused to forgive. “Let not the sun go down on your anger…” “As you stand praying, forgive…”

Some of you are waiting for the time of the funeral service for Steven Kirk. I got it yesterday and wanted to pass it on to you. It is Saturday, October 27th from 1:00-4:00 at Grace for Life Bible Church in Naperville. Violet has posted this on her Facebook page too. Remember to continue in prayer for this hurting family as they try to wrap their minds, hearts, and lives around so great of a loss.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Steve, Owen, Carson 1

God-Like Forgiveness

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Matthew 18

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Following this passage is the parable of the two debtors which Jesus used to explain this teaching.

Forgiveness is probably the greatest human act that we can bestow upon each other.  Nothing is more freeing than forgiveness and nothing is more binding and enslaving than a lack of forgiveness.

Peter was being magnanimous to offer forgiveness to someone seven times.  After all, seven was the number of perfection so to forgive someone seven times was quite a feat.  But Jesus upped the ante by multiplying Peter’s magnanimous number times 70!  To say that Peter would have been flabbergasted is an understatement. “Who can possibly forgive 490 times?”  Jesus’ teaching on this was way over the top, in fact, it was so hard to grasp that Jesus told one of the most referenced parables of His teaching.

Imagine being a first-time listener as Jesus told this parable of a man who owed his master ten thousand talents. (For reference sake, a talent was approximately equivalent to 100 days wages.  10,000 talents then was beyond repayment.)  So, when the debtor was required to pay and promised to pay it back, anyone listening would have shaken their heads knowing that repayment by a slave was impossible.  The forgiveness of a debt of this magnitude would have shown both the immense wealth of the master and the amazing heart of forgiveness that he possessed.

Then the slave who was forgiven and should have then spent the rest of his life treating people better, went to a fellow slave demanding the repayment of one talent, 100 days of wages.  The fellow slave asked for mercy promising to pay him back, which, in time, he could have done.  The forgiven slave’s reaction of demanding payment, putting the fellow slave in the poorhouse with his family until all was paid, would have upset the first listeners.  Justice was not served; mercy was not returned.  The man who was forgiven was not an ounce changed by the love of the master.

What do you feel when a fellow Christian withholds forgiveness from you?  I have had men and women professing Christ who withheld forgiveness and restoration from me.  It was painful each time.  As they went their way refusing reconciliation, I wondered if they had been forgiven by God.  In the parable, the unforgiving slave was both rebuked by the master and then severely punished for his lack of compassion.

My friends, when we have been forgiven of every sin of our lives by the Master who alone is able to forgive us, how can we hold anything against any other human being?  What sin against me comes close to the entire mountain of sins of my life?  What can possibly be done to me that comes close to what I have done to God?  Since God has fully and mercifully forgiven me of every debt of every sin, what can I possibly hold against anyone?

As the freed slave had the opportunity to live in freedom and mercy, so do we.  Living in the freedom of forgiveness is the greatest way in this life to live.  Let us join all the men and women of all the ages who having been forgiven by God live in the joy of forgiveness rejoicing in our forgiven state and always forgiving all who act against us.

 Today I am watching Owen and Carson and Jared.  We are having a good time with puzzles, legos, toys, learning to share, be nice to each other, and more.  How much fun can a Papa have in a day?  Later I will take the two older boys, Joel and Hudson, to a lake in their community and try our hand at fishing. 

 We are still praying for the Kirk family as they deal with the loss of Steven.  The pain is often unbearable. When I know the details of a service I will let you know. 

 Have a great day in the Lord,

 PS

Compassionate Correction

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Matthew 18

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

Is there anything more painful than a damaged relationship with someone whom you love or someone who you believe loves you?  Proverbs speaks of the grief a mother has when her child is against her.  In this teaching, Jesus gave instructions for compassionate correction and full restoration.   For some reason we prefer to talk about a problem situation than to go to the person who hurt us and carefully lovingly tell them what they have done to hurt us.  There is no benefit of talking to someone else outside of the situation unless that person is going to point you back to reconciliation.

Yes, we can hurt each other; sometimes our hurts are unintended, that is, we don’t know we have hurt each other.  How wonderful it is to know that the injured relationship wasn’t intentionally damaged.  The only way to know that the hurt wasn’t intended is to talk to the person who hurt you.  The person apologizes and you talk about how what they did hurt you.

When the offence is intended the plan from Christ for reconciliation is the same: go and speak to the person and see if they can humbly work with you through the offense.  The first thing we are instructed to do is to talk to the one who hurt us.  Ok, we should pray first, but then set up a time to humbly meet and lovingly resolve the situation.

What would families and churches be like if all of us in the family were committed to Christ’s teaching on this subject?  How much more peace we would have, how much closer our relationships would be, and how much less gossip there would be. Let us commit to compassionate correction every time we are hurt or hurt someone else.

 

Jared seems to be past the frustration of last month.  When he got home from school yesterday the report was that it was probably the “best day he has ever had.”  The afternoon and evening with him were just as delightful.  Thank you for your prayers for our Jared.  He will have issues with seizures, medications, and frustrations for the rest of his life.  One of the songs he woke up with this morning had the phrase “Jesus Christ is Lord” in it.  We got out of the car and the first thing he said to one of the teachers at Waubonsie was “Jesus Christ is Lord.”  She smiled and repeated it back to him.  We all could learn something from Jared.

 Be sure to gather tonight for prayer and Bible study.  There will be kids club but no youth group at our building.  Our teens met with the teens from One Way Church two weeks ago and are going down to the same house tonight to meet with them. If you need the address and the family’s name, text me and I will send them to you.

Have a great day in the Lord,

 PS

No One Wanders Away Without Being Sought After

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Matthew 18

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

We could probably best understand this teaching in the light of our own children.  If one of our children gets hurt, is in an accident, gets arrested, or otherwise finds themselves in a “lost” situation, we as parents will “move heaven and earth” to help them. We have been there. When Jared was so sick we changed all kinds of plans to get him the care he needed.  When Caleb was struggling in college we spent a great deal of time and energy reaching out to him.  Whenever Stefani had a need in high school, depending on the severity of the need, everything else took the back burner while we helped her. Jesus’ teaching here is not obscure.

Jesus is not saying that the shepherd does not care for the other ninety-nine; he cares for them all of the time.  But when one sheep strays, wanders off, runs away, or otherwise finds itself in trouble, that one gets the shepherds attention.  In reality, we should find comfort in this teaching.  Each of us has gone astray at one time or another and we have known the care of the Good Shepherd. When the Lord has sought after me His lovingkindness has been in the forefront.  His goodness brings me to repentance.  I am that “little one” that the Father does not will to perish.

Maybe you are wandering away today.  If you are, your Good Shepherd is pursuing you.  You can keep wandering or you can let Him pick you up in His arms and return you to His fold, His place of comfort and care. It is God’s will that you return to Him.  Find great comfort in the will of your Good Shepherd that you not perish but that you be brought back in love to Himself and to His people.

steve bobbi and cake

Sunday’s service at Grace for Life was a wonderful time of praising God and giving thanks.  The church family was very gracious in their thanks to Bobbi and me for our years of service.  It seems a bit surreal that we have been here twenty years and that our time here is almost over.  This has been a wonderful place to minister, to live, and to grow with the people of God.  Our children have been raised here and we thank God for Grace for Life and the dear and wonderful friends we have here.  (Just a reminder, we are going to California to see Ben’s ordination this weekend are going to stay there a couple of weeks.  We are back in town the month of November.)   There is another showing of our house tomorrow, pray with us for the timely sale of our house. 

I will be at Sunrise Assisted Living again this morning.  Thank you for your many prayers for that service each week.  In the weeks ahead Rich Powell and Ed Green plan to keep this service going. If you would ever like to serve with them I am sure they would appreciate the company. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Jesus Came to Save the Lost

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Matthew 18

11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

Is there a greater text in all of the Bible that gives hope to sinners?  “Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming to this wretched and sinful earth to save us who were lost, to save me who was lost.”  We are a lost bunch. There is none good amongst us, at least none that does right and does it for the right reason. We might care and show love but it isn’t always to the glory of God whose love we share.  We care because we want to care and we love because we feel good when we do.  All human motivations are ultimately self-focused and only when we are saved from our sin do we show love and care for the right reason.

We are a lost bunch. We cannot choose good for long.  We are quick to judgment and hate.  Bitterness rises up when we are wronged.  There aren’t any really good reasons to keep us from sinful pleasures for very long.  We do not naturally seek after God but after our own desires and satisfaction.  We are a lost bunch.

So why did Jesus come to this wretched and sin-cursed earth?  Thankfully, Jesus came to save those who are lost.  Yes, Jesus fed the hungry and healed the sick but those miracles proved His deity.  Jesus came to save the lost.  Even Lazarus, whom Jesus spectacularly raised from the dead, had the misfortune of having to die twice.  But, those whom Jesus saves from their sins gain eternal life with Him.  Jesus did not come to do humanitarian work; He came to save the lost.

Whom do you know that needs the Savior?  Would you pray for God to give you or someone the opportunity to lead them to the One who came to save them from their lost condition?   When you talk to people, are you aware that they are lost and need Jesus to save them?  If Jesus came to save the lost and He lives in us then we ought to be aware of those around us who also need the Savior to save them from their lost condition.

 

OK men, tomorrow morning, 7:30, Denny’s at New York and Rt 59. Prayer breakfast.

 This Sunday is a praise and thanksgiving day at Grace for Life. Join us as this is my last official Sunday as pastor of Grace for Life.  We leave Wednesday for California as Ben gets ordained the next week.  I will be back in town the month of November and will probably preach a couple of times at Grace for Life during the month.  This is a bitter-sweet time for us as we anticipate God’s leading in our lives in Jakarta but hurt deeply in leaving so many whom we love and care for. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS