Matthew

An intentional offering of praise and worship

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Matthew 26

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Jesus had announced his death to His disciples, but they did not grasp it yet. However, Jesus knew what was coming next and when He was anointed with the “very costly fragrant oil” He knew it was in preparation for His burial. The disciples were indignant for this waste convinced that the sale of this oil would have been better for everyone. Jesus continued His defense of this woman’s actions noting that her sacrifice for Him would be remembered long after the disciples were gone.

Let’s look at the sacrifice of this woman and the reason behind it. In Mark 14:3-9 we find that this woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus had performed a miracle of life for this family and His work was not taken lightly. Mary, in utter abandon, came to Jesus with potentially her most valuable earthly possession to worship Him with the greatest worship she could bring. Jesus, knowing what the next days would bring, accepted Mary’s worship and silenced the critics saying that her gift was for His burial.

As we think about God giving us eternal life through the gift of His Son, are we as overwhelmed with a desire to worship as Mary was? As we are coming into Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are we preparing ourselves to worship our Lord for the miracle of life that He has freely bestowed upon us? I fear that in the busyness of life that we will “bump” into Good Friday, say a prayer of thanks and then “bump” again into Resurrection Sunday with a few words of thanksgiving and then move on to Monday. Suppose we took the attitude of Mary this year and sought to deeply worship the Savior. What might be different from previous years?

 

Jesus said that Mary’s sacrifice for Him would be remembered. What are we doing for the Savior that would be memorable to Him? How great is our worship? How determined are our actions of praise as we come into the time of year when we focus on His death and resurrection so we could have eternal life?

We watched the election coverage last night thanking God for the voice of the people. The people of Indonesia voted to continue their commitment to a pluralistic society that offers freedom of religion in their country. We spent time thanking the Lord for this gift of this freedom at this time in our history. Today is a peaceful day in the city showing the commitment to democracy that most of the people have. We are thankful.

 Tomorrow night at 6:00 there will be a Good Friday service here. Different men in the church will be reading the seven sayings of Christ from the Cross. This will be a serious service focused on the death and suffering of the Savior who gave His life so we could live.

 Tomorrow at 11:45 we will again open the church for Christian prayer. If you are in the area please join with us as we spend time thanking God for His wonderful gift to us.

 Bobbi’s dad went into the hospital with kidney failure. He has had kidney disease for a while now and his blood count came back showing the kidneys were not working enough. We are praying for a treatment that has the potential of bringing his kidneys back to a decent function. Ed is in good spirits, as he usually always is. Thank you for your prayers.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

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

 

 

An interesting discourse on children and those who turn their hearts away

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Matthew 18

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

 

Yes, Jesus did speak on the unpopular subject of hell.  Notice however, that Jesus spoke on hell in conjunction with punishment related to the turning of the hearts of children from God.  The word “offence” is the word we get “scandal” or “scandalize” from.  Jesus knew that children’s hearts could be scandalized, caused to be turned away, from Him and His love.  A child is born to love and to be loved but, as we all know, children can become kind people, or they can become very hard people.  What changes those little hearts?  Jesus said that offences, scandals of life, can cause the heart of a little one to turn away.

Oh, how painful it is to watch a young heart turn from soft and caring to hard and rebellious.  Yes, the sin of our own hearts plays a great part in our shaping, but Jesus said that there are people who also have a part in hardening the hearts of the young.  It is those who cause a young heart to turn away that Jesus places the judgment of hell fire upon in this discourse.  Hell is so bad that Jesus tells us that it is better to live life without a hand or without an eye than to enter into hell having been led astray.

Then in verse 10 Jesus makes another comment on His heart toward the children telling us that their angels always see the face of the Father in heaven.  Children are known in the presence of God!  God sees their little lives, loves them, and wants them brought to Himself.  It was Jesus who told the disciples to let the little children come to Him for of such is the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus next statement here is that He came to save those who were lost.

God loves the children of this world.  We have children’s outreach and children’s Bible clubs and teen groups because God loves children.  When we have God’s Holy Spirit in us, we too love the children looking past their annoyances to their need of the Savior.

 stef jared bobbi 10-18

We had a hurried trip to BJU to see Stefani.  College is a whole new way of life for young people.  Pray for all of our college students who are dealing with academics, music lessons, rehearsals, practices, events, work, and more.  Those who endure and finish the rigors of college are better prepared for life’s pressures and schedules.  Pray that our students will keep it up for their good and for God’s preparation of their hearts for life. 

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

 

PS

On a scale of 1-10, where would you put your humility?

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Matthew 18

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

During the life-time of Jesus Christ, the disciples never really understood His teaching on true greatness. We have the ability to look back and to lift all of these teachings out and study them.  We have Paul’s writings on the humility of Christ his call to put others above ourselves.  But the disciples really wanted to be great. We know that Judas Iscariot sold the Savior when he realized that there was no greatness in his future.  This is the context of the question we read today in Matthew 18:1.

How great was the child that Christ had brought to Him for this illustration?  We don’t know the child’s name, we don’t know if the child was a boy or a girl, we don’t know how old the child was nor who the child belonged to. Furthermore, we don’t know what this child became, if anything.  What was the point that the Lord was trying to make?

So often we see ourselves better than we really are.  We think we are better at most things we do; if we don’t think ourselves better we surely don’t see ourselves much below average. The entrance into heaven is a humble gate.  It is a gate that is going to be missed by all who are looking for status.  How would you rate yourself today on the humble-pride scale?  If 1 is really humble and 10 is really proud, I am going to assume that most of us see ourselves between 4-6 on the scale.  Think about the child that Jesus used to illustrate his point. If the unknown and unnamed and uneducated child was at 1 on the scale and Jesus told us to aspire to be like that child, then we all have some work to do.

Ask the Lord of heaven and earth to show you who you are today. Perhaps in comparison to the Creator we will realize that even the unnamed child was above us.  We have the chance, since we are still breathing, to humble ourselves today.

 

It is Friday. I am looking forward to Sunday.  We will be looking at the “lifting up of Jesus” in the morning message.  Jesus said that if we lift Him up, that all will be gathered unto Him.  My greatest desire has been to lift up Christ so that you would be drawn to Him. Christ himself was lifted up for this very purpose.  Come as we exalt the Savior in all that He did to draw all people to Himself.

 The next Supreme Court justice is a key position for the unborn.  I am against abortion. Abortion is the murder of the most innocent among us while they are in their most helpless state.  Yesterday’s hearing was a debacle on our country’s selecting process.  Pray with me for those who have the opportunity and the responsibility to care for the weakest among us, the unborn. Generations have now past where men and women in authority have scorned this issue, skirted this issue, and renamed their murderous actions. They will be held accountable by the Holy God of heaven who alone conceives the life in each womb.  By playing God for the millions of unborn they are sinning against the true God, the true Giver and Taker of life.  Make no mistake; all of this attack on Judge Kavanagh has to do with the liberals who want to have sex without the “complications” of pregnancy.  The unborn need our prayers today.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Christ Is Lord Over All Kingdoms

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Matthew 17

24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

There is an amazing lesson and a unique miracle in this passage. The amazing lesson is that the kings of the earth don’t pay taxes and Jesus put himself in that category. When we think about world kingdoms, world rulers, and world powers, we think of an elite group of people. The king of a country is over every person in that country…every person is under the person of the king. It is worth noting here that Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, told Peter that He was above all human kings and all human rulers. “To whom should the King of kings pay taxes?” Pause here and think about this. Which king of this world should Jesus Christ pay taxes to live in that king’s country? Does the Creator pay to live in His creation? Does the sustainer of all things pay taxes to the people that He sustains? Does the Savior who gave His life so that we could live pay us any homage of responsibility to live amongst us?

My friends, Jesus knew exactly who He was. Peter wasn’t sure yet who Jesus was. The amazing lesson is that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, was greater than the king in Israel and greater than the Caesar in Rome. Jesus did not owe a tax; on the contrary we owe Him a debt of love and gratitude that goes far beyond the taxes of a human king.

The unique miracle of this passage is no less amazing. Jesus was indeed the sovereign, all-knowing and all-powerful God of this world. Jesus knew what Peter had said and knew what Peter was going to say. Jesus had someone drop into the lake the exact amount of tax money needed for Peter’s and for His tax payment. Then Jesus directed one fish to go and pick up that one specific coin; then Jesus had that one fish with that one specific coin come and get on one particular hook, namely Peter’s hook. How many coins are lost at sea? How many fishermen have hooks in the water? Are you getting the scope of this miracle?

The point for us is that Jesus is indeed King of all kings and He is Lord of all lords. Jesus is Lord over every kingdom and over every transaction and over every fish in every sea. When Jesus commands, nature obeys. Perhaps this entire event is proof of the Lordship of Christ over every kingdom. We then can enjoy living under our trustworthy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

On Monday morning, ten of us went to meet with Senator Linda Holmes and Representative Stephanie Kifowit. We spent an hour talking with them about how we believe that recreational marijuana is dangerous and needs to remain an illegal substance. It was interesting to hear their reasoning as they have listened to reason from the other side of the issue. We then talked briefly about protection of churches from those who would demand we marry or hire homosexuals et. al. At the end of the hour we felt we had accomplished what we went to do which was to let them know that there is within their constituency people of conviction that we hope they listen to. The Scripture commands us to pray for those who are in authority over us. Take time today to pray for Senator Holmes and Representative Kifowit.

Our service Sunday at One Way Church was joyous time of rejoicing and fellowshipping with God’s people. They are a dedicated and loving group of believers that welcomed us into their “home” with grace and peace. Our thanks to One Way Church for their deep care.  

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Our Savior knew His future and He knows ours

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Matthew 17

22 Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

Luke 9

But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, 44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.

It is sometimes difficult to walk in the sandals of the disciples, and this is one of the more difficult moments.  Since we know the whole story of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, we cannot begin to feel what they must have felt when Jesus foretold them.  Perhaps our take away here is two-fold: first, when we cannot begin to understand what the Lord is doing, we must be careful not to jump to all negative conclusions.  For while the thought of their Lord and Master being taken and killed by his enemies was beyond their comprehension, from this side of the story, we all , they included, now see the perfect plan of God at work.  So it is with all of life’s issues; on this side they are hard to understand and even painful to go through, but on the other side we will see the plan of God at work.

Secondly, Jesus knew the future.  Jesus knew both the future events and the timing of those events.  He knew he would be betrayed by Judas, knew He would be beaten and crucified, and Jesus knew that He would be raised from the dead.  I take great comfort in my Savior’s full knowledge of His future and of mine.  Nothing that happens does so out of chance, but all things happen with the full knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  Even the abuse of men, which Christ endured, was known beforehand.  I rest in the fact that my Savior, God Almighty, knows my future.  Nothing that happens in my life catches my God by surprise. Therefore, when things happen that surprise me I can rest in the knowledge that God already knew and is still in control.

 

Last night we met Steven and Rachel and their kids, along with Bobbi’s sister and her daughter at Millennium Park in Chicago.  The CSO was having a free concert to kick-off their fall program.  As we enjoyed the view of the city, the park itself and the beautiful music of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, we talked about how God created man in His image and put the desire to create beauty within him.  God is a God of form and structure and the creations of man are a reflection of God.  Even unregenerate men and women are created in God’s image and create beautiful things.  Surely God is honored when we do what He created us to do.  

Jared  is still struggling with eating.  He isn’t as frustrated as he was but food just does not appeal to him.  Pray that his body will soon level out with his meds and his diet.  He got to school this morning and immediately began to tell the workers about the concert last night and the “pretty music.”  He is fun.

Remember that this Sunday we are meeting at One Way Church in Aurora.  One Way Church is located on Rt 34 (Ogden Ave) west of Rt 59 and east of Commons Drive across the street from Valley Honda.  This is from their website:

Sunday:

  • Sunday Worship Service: 10:00am
  • Discipleship Hour: 8:45am-9:45am
    • – Women’s Fellowship
    • – Men’s Fellowship
    • – Jr. & Sr. high school students
    • – 1st-5th graders
    • – Children ages 0 to the Kindergarten grade level

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

 

PS

Greater spiritual strength

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Matthew 17

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

In this situation, the seizures that the boy was having were the result of demonic influence.  There was a great deal of demon possession in Israel in the lifetime of Jesus Christ.  It seems that Satan himself and his kingdom had a stranglehold on God’s people for Jesus often dealt with demon possessed people.  Furthermore, the power to cast out demons was a unique power, a power that came from God and God alone.  The disciples, who had done some miracles in Jesus’ name, could not cast out this demon; apparently his power was stronger than theirs.  (Beware of people who call themselves “exorcists,” if they are not acting in the name of Jesus and the power of God Almighty then they aren’t really casting out anything.)

As the father of this particular boy came to Christ, all he knew was that his son’s life was in danger.  The demon’s goal was the destruction of the son.  The father tells Jesus that the boy has seizures near water and near fire.  Once again, we see that the goal of Satan and his hosts is the destruction of anyone made in God’s image.  Take note here that any activity that seeks to destroy life is not nor can be of God.

When the disciples could not help this boy they brought him to Jesus who alone had power over this particular demon.  Once the boy was healed the disciples asked why they were unable to help this one. The answer of Jesus is one that we all need; there is unique power from God that God gives to those who spend time with Him.  Prayer and fasting are humble and quiet and personal activities.  From these quiet and personal times with God comes the power that is needed for dealing with life.  I cannot count the people who have come to me in spiritual failure who did not have a heart to spend time with God but they wanted their lives fixed.  Jesus’ answer here is one that all of us NEED!  If you do everything in your day except spend quiet time with God, then you are not prepared for your day.  If you do everything in your life but you have never skipped a meal or two or three in quiet time with God then you might not be prepared for the bigger issues of life.

As we see from the disciples’ future lives, they got this message.  The New Testament writings are filled with calls to prayer and fasting and devotion to Christ.  No, going to church is not sufficient, it is necessary but we need more of Christ than just Sundays.  Let’s take time this week giving greater attention to prayer and fasting as we beg God for the power that we need to live this life for Him.

Spending time with our teens is always a highlight of my week. Their energy, their excitement for life, their heart to sing God’s songs, and their friendship is special.  I thank God for this opportunity to care for them with God’s love and with God’s word.

Thanks to those who came last night to help with our children’s Bible club.  They too had a good night.

Happy Birthday to a dear friend, Bonnie Roberts.  You have been an inspiration to me for twenty years and I will ever thank God for the important place that you have had in my life and in the life of the Schroeder family.  Happy Birthday, Bonnie.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

What do you desire?

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Matthew 16

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

To desire to do something is to have will, an interest in doing it.  Jesus here tells His disciples that if anyone has a will, an interest, and a desire to follow Him to deny himself, to take up his cross and follow Christ.  The same word, “desire,” is used in the negative side as well.  We can desire to save our lives and we can desire to lose our lives.   What is your will in life, your resolve, or your determination?  There are many things that fill in this blank; there are things of great value and things of no value and everything in between.

 

With the advent of Google and voice activated devices, we can research any desire of our hearts in seconds, find reviews about them, and determine in a minute if we want to fulfill that desire or not.  The call of Jesus is far beyond a minute or a quick stop at Amazon.  The call of the Savior is a call for a new desire in this life.  We are born desiring our own ways at getting through life, but Jesus calls us to go after His way for our lives.

 

Jesus finishes with a very great contrast.  We can gain the world and lose our souls or we can gain our souls and lose the world. James called everything of the world, the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”  Jesus is saying that you can be Mr. or Mrs. World; you can have everything that everyone of this world thinks is important, but without Him, you have lost something of far greater value – you have lost your soul.

 

I guess that the choice Jesus is giving his disciples, not the crowd, is this, what are you going to desire? Whatever you chose you will also get the results, the consequences of that choice.  So choose wisely, choose carefully, and determine to set the affections of your life, the focus of your mind on following the Savior.

 

While the U.S. was getting pummeled with Florence, the Philippines was getting pummeled worse, China got hit and Nigeria lost over 100 people to flooding.  “Dear God, save these people, these men and women made in your image, from destruction.  Call them to Yourself and send men and women to them with the help they need and with the Gospel.”  Cry out to God to intervene in these lives that have lost so much. 

 

I thank God for a wonderful day Sunday.  We had church on Sunday morning with missions report from the Rice family who have been in China and are going to Italy.  Brian and Victoria need our prayers as they go forward to serve the Savior.  I brought a message on the humility of Christ and the church.  That message will be on the website soon.  Then at 5:00 we had eleven teenagers over until 8:00.  We played games and laughed and ate and talked about their futures.  We still need a couple to step up to love our teenagers when we leave.

 

This coming Sunday morning, September 23rd, Grace for Life will be joining One Way Church in Aurora for their morning service.  Put this on your calendar.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Encourage those who are following the Father’s will

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Matthew 16:

21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Talk about going from the mountaintop to the pits, Jesus just commended Peter for his spiritual insights that his confession of Jesus as the Son of God and then tells Peter that he is speaking for the devil himself!  Jesus had just received Peter into great glory and now tells him to get behind him as he has become Satan’s tool to discourage the Lord Jesus from going to the Cross. 

Jesus knew the will of the Father, Peter didn’t.  Jesus was trying to communicate the will of the Father and His submission to that will; Peter didn’t want anything to do with it.  

Before we attack Peter too harshly, let us consider if we have ever discouraged anyone from the will of God for their lives.  I have taken some brash steps to follow the Lord’s leading in my life and have been faced with human opposition.  My friends and my family have questioned the wisdom of my direction and quite frankly have sought to sow seeds of doubt into my heart.  I have probably questioned people on the will of God in their lives to try to discern whether they were following God’s will or the will of someone else.  As humans, we don’t know the will of God for someone else and we had better be careful lest we too take on the person of Satan to stop someone from doing God’s will for their lives. 

Well meaning family and friends, not aware of God’s leading, might try to stop someone from going somewhere that doesn’t make any sense to them.  In Revelation 3, the faithful church of Philadelphia was told that God had opened a door for them.  When God opens a door for us we are to go through that door.  We might not fully understand it but God does and by faith in His wisdom we pursue the opportunities that He places before us.  Let be those who encourage one another in the will of God. Let not be like Peter and be among those whom Satan actually uses to dissuade God’s people to do God’s work.  That said, please continue to pray for strength and wisdom for Bobbi and me as we pursue this open door to Indonesia.  We have faced those who stood against us and those who have stood with us.  It appears that God’s will is clear and that we are to go.  Pray for us as we seek only to do the will of the Father. 

Sunday we will hear from Brian and Victoria Rice.  The Rice’s are missionaries who have been in China for many years and are transitioning to Italy.  Their son Caleb is the one who got the job for our Caleb in Bangkok. 

It appears that Florence is settling down a bit.  We keep praying that it will.  So many people and their lives are being affected.  Let’s pray for the people affected to seek the Lord and to find both Him and salvation through Him. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS