Friday, 8/11/2017

 

A Blessed Morning to YOU,

 

Have you had a bummer of a day recently? Last Friday was such a day for me. I do not mind telling you that it was one of those days that I did do things and accomplished some things that I had on my agenda…but, the day did “not go well for me”. Why? Well, I believe that I was challenged with spiritual warfare. I seemed to be plagued from early morning. I had a difficult time praying to my heavenly Father. My mind was running all over the place and my focus on HIM was missing. No matter what I tried to do to keep my mind on my Savior, I seemed to miss the focus. My attitude was not as positive as it usually was…maybe I need one of those days once in a while to identify with those of you that suffer with “downer-days” from time to time as well. I played a match of rball in the morning and came home to help Linda by making some French Fries for lunch. After cutting up the potatoes and putting them into the large pan of grease, it boiled over unto the new stove and I made a mess of things. I did more harm than good as Linda and I cleaned up the grease. I tried to go to sleep after I ate my lunch but only semi-rested. I begin to feel achy and my joints were not feeling good. I thought it was the cooler weather which my body dislikes...but, I believe it was the spiritual warfare that was going on. It was an unusual day and I was thankful to go to bed for the night. Early in the morning on Saturday I had a good time with the Lord and things went quite well. I had a positive attitude and as the day progressed found myself riding “high” on the mountain top again. I so appreciate to have many days walking and talking with my God constantly!!! I hope you also have many days like that as well.

 

1 Corinthians 7:25-2626 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

 

Subject:  Wisdom to Virgins

 

Paul now focuses upon “virgins” (betrothed) persons. He gives his judgment (opinion) by the support of the Lord and His mercy because He is faithful (trustworthy). He says to those who are unmarried and are virgins because of the current distress (pressure), it is good for a person to remain as he/she is. Some scholars translate the word for “virgins” as being widows as well as all those who are unmarried.

 

What is the present distress or pressure of single or those married? The wisdom for the virgin (or unmarried) is to remain single. For a single person the biggest stress is if the person cannot exercise self-control concerning his/her sexual arousal (7:8-9). The unmarried person would only be concerned about how to please the Lord (7:32) and oneself.

 

The stress for a married person is multiplied because of the spouse. It is not that marriage is a bad thing, but that it has natural “present distress” (pressure). This is not stress that comes from persecution or from as some commentators say, “the potential of the Great Tribulation”, but from the day-to-day routines of living with your spouse with a deep concern of your mind and heart.

 

There is the stress of caring for one another in marriage. Should God bless a couple with children, there is the stress of raising each child carefully so that they might be godly. There is the pressure of finances and as we know, it takes more money to run a household with more mouths to feed, the needs that have to be met with a family, and a need for a larger house, bigger vehicle, etc. Then there is the stress of making decisions about the kids…homeschooling, public school, or private schooling. Where do we go on vacation as a family without blowing the family financial budget?

 

But, the couple need to be concerned about one another plus how to please the Lord. We have divided interests…striving to have a “happy wife…happy life” and honoring our Lord Jesus Christ at all time. This dichotomy is an honest concern and causes distress or pressure in our lives. That is why Paul says it is best to stay single rather than to marry. But, to marry is not a sin!!!

 

Married & happy,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, 8/10/2017

 

Good Morning, Believer in Christ Jesus,

 

Since August 3 the Wisconsin State Fair has been a 10-day event in our fair city of West Allis. The fairgrounds have been in use all 28 years of living in West Allis. I have gone to the fair about five times over the years. Linda has gone more times because she took the kids when they were younger and was a “good mom”. We are not “fair-lovers” and are not excited about those kinds of places like Great America. But, for many people, looking forward to the Wisconsin State Fair is a yearly event that they will not miss. A couple that came to our church about 25 years ago moved to Tennessee would come to Wisconsin in August to visit loved ones but also go to the fair nearly every year. I am not sure they continue to go to the Fair on a yearly basis at this time, but they enjoyed the fair. This year it has been cooler and the numbers, I am sure, are down over past years. Even today, Sunday, it is only 66 degrees outside. I am ready to find my parka and stay warm. (smile) Recently at the Ohio State Fair one of the rides broke loose and killed one and injured seven others that needed to go to the hospital. One still remains in a coma as I write this devotional. There are some that say, “I’m not going on any rides this year.” The cause of the accident is because of excessive corrosion on the equipment of the ride that broke loose. Yes, people are making choices about whether to ride or not ride…would it not be worthy that people make wise choices where they spend their eternal days…heaven or the lake of fire. Does it not concern many? Are the decisions about earthly things more important than this eternal decision? May this make people stop and think about eternal matters!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:23-2423 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

 

Subject:  The Proper Slavery Position

 

Paul is addressing believers in Christ (brothers) in these two verses. I want to stop a moment and speak about being slaves of Jesus Christ. In whatever condition (married, single, circumcised, uncircumcised, slave, free, etc.) each of us is called at the time of our salvation, let us remain (to keep on) with that condition with God. The important point for a believer in Jesus Christ is not to become a bondservant (slave) of men.

 

Our God, Savior, and Creator is to be the center of our life. Each and every day should be dedicated to Him and to His glory. Why? It is because we were bought with a price. It was God the Son who became a man to purchase our redemption with a price (value, honor) of the cross and His shed blood. What a price, right?

 

How important is that fact for you? How often do you reflect upon the price that was paid for your sins? You are valuable to God! He gave Himself for your sins when you were an enemy of God (Romans 5:8). God did not wait for you to reform yourself and make yourself righteous before He revealed Himself to you. He did it while you were heaped with sin, alienated from God, and an enemy of the Righteous One.

 

You were running away from God and seeking to find your own righteousness when God caught you. He caused you to understand the truth about yourself. He helped you understand that you could not save yourself by any good works, by any amount of money that you gave to the church, or by doing good deeds to those around you. You were a wretched, evil, and wicked person filled with sin in the sight of God. If you continued down that path, it would lead you straight to hell.

 

But, God in His grace reached down to this planet and the Holy Spirit illuminated your mind with the true reason for Jesus’ coming to this earth. It was to die in YOUR place, to shed His blood for YOUR sins, so that by placing YOUR faith in Jesus Christ as YOUR personal Savior, YOU could have the free gift of eternal life (Romans 10:9-10, 13; 6:23). That is why we must willingly become a slave (bondservant) of Jesus Christ forever! It is because YOU were of infinite value to God!!!

 

Christ’s slave,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 8/9/2017

 

Good Morning,

 

Last Wednesday I arose to run another 4-miles in our neighborhood. I enjoyed running and seeing what is happening is some of the areas near our home. One family is in the midst of putting on a new roof. The new shingles were ready to be installed as I ran by at 8:00 a.m. The weather pattern showed rain for the next day or so and I trust the roof was all done by the end of that day. I had a most delightful time in a discussion with a special man in my life after the run and shower. It is good to sit down and discuss important matters in our lives and share experiences and future plans. Many people like to chit-chat about things that are not important, but I enjoy talking about deeper things in my life and in the lives of others. Of course one of the topics that I truly enjoy is the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God. Well, maybe they are three topics in one, but it is so good to see how the spiritual area of life is coming along in another person and share about how God is touching my heart as well. We spend so much talking about the weather, sports, and other trivial topics in our life and leave God out of our discussions. Since the Bible is the most fundamental and foundational area of our lives, I think it should be a top priority of our life and our fellowship with others. The impact that God is making in our lives is of the most important matter, or should be, a high priority of concern and discussion with others. May many of your discussions this week center on biblical truths and the person of Jesus Christ. Enjoy each of them!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:21-2221 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.)22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.

 

Subject:  The Advantage of Slavery

 

In our culture in America, being a slave and owned by another person is rare. However, if we equate being a slave with being an employee in some companies, there is not much difference. There are some people, both men and women, which are slaves of their jobs and occupations. It was not and is not the intent of the person who is an employee, but the pressure by the corporation makes a person a slave to their work and company.

 

I was talking with some people last Sunday about life and many times the topic of work came to the surface. One young lady was on her cell phone, whether texting or on a phone call I could not tell, and it was her work wanting for her to share some knowledge of a problem to a co-worker who was working on Sunday. She was on-call. That happens to nurses, firemen, police officers, and many other occupations in our world today.

 

Some people are a slave to their jobs by putting in 60 or more hours every week in their line of work. This would be equated with a bondservant (slave) in verse 21. Paul gives a command, “Do not be concerned (care) about it.” But, he continues, “If you can (are able) to gain (come to acquire) your freedom, avail (make use of) the opportunity.”

 

Here in America as employees, we have three choices: we can continue to work with the situation as it is (long hours, etc.), we can complain, protest, grumble, and criticize the establishment where we currently work, or we can find a new job and quit our present one. If we stay in our situation at work and it is intolerable, as a Christian we should not be moaning and groaning about the work situation. We should go in each day rejoicing and thanking God that we have a job. We need to thank God that we have financial income to provide for the family. But, you and I have a choice to make about where we work, not the working conditions. May our light shine especially at work and for those people that are our superiors.

 

In everything, give thanks! Rejoice in the Lord (not our situation), and again I say, rejoice! Do your work as unto the Lord and not unto men. Do what you believe to the right thing about staying or moving on from your present job and be willing to trust the Lord should you decide to move on.

 

Staying put at Grace Bible,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 8/8/2017

 

Hi, Christian,

 

Today we have the electrician coming to our home to finish the electrical work. A few receptacles, a light over the kitchen sink, some lights under the cabinets, a garbage disposal and dishwasher are needed to be hooked up. Linda will be a happy camper when all of that is completed. We cut off 3.5 inches of the legs of three of the five stools off so they are at the correct height for out peninsula to eat and enjoy our times of fellowship with family and friends. Pete and Chelsea loaned us their portable saw to do the cutting…it was super!!! Donnie Patterson had his friend put a skin to match our color scheme for the kitchen and it looks fantastic. I need to make time to put in the area of the cubby hole. The time for the doors to go in soon needs to be done before the transitions from the flooring into the rooms is done. Finally, the trim work has to be put in around the cabinet bottoms, around the new doors, and the base boards need to be put on the wall bottoms as well. We are taking our time to get these things done and rejoice in the progress!! Thanks for praying for us since May 6th and for those of you who have shared financially to get us to this stage of the Kitchen Remodel Project…it really looks GREAT. It is our hope to have our home ready for our people in the church to see the completed project when we have our 85th Anniversary Picnic and Celebration on October 14th. Please rejoice with us in what God has done through many people!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:17-2017 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.

 

Subject: Stay Where You Are

 

One of the most difficult decisions in a difficult marriage situation is to stay married. People find it so easy to separate and get a “no-fault” divorce in the culture in which we live in America. Over 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Thank God for those marriages that stay married for 50 or 60 years in our society. Yes, we need to “stay where we are”…stay married!!!

 

In verses 14-16, Paul speaks about staying married to your first spouse whether saved or unsaved. The goal is not separate in any marriage and to live in peace with one another. In verse 17, Paul gives a command to let each person behave (walk, lead) the life that the Lord has assigned (dealt out, apportioned) to each person. This is Paul’s rule (instruction, directive) in all the churches.

 

If a person was called by God to salvation and already circumcised, do not try to remove (undo, conceal) the marks of circumcision. If one is called by God to a task uncircumcised, let not that person seek to be circumcised. For neither situation counts for anything (nothing). However the keeping (observing, obeying) the commandments (orders) of God is important.

 

If you were called to be a Christian, remain (continue, stay) in that condition (station, role socially) at the time of your calling. He applies this command to the marriage situation later on and we shall address that when we get to it in the context. But, the bottom line is to stay in the situation of your marital status as you are when you became a Christian. Do not strive to change your social role in any way just because you became a Christian. You are stuck in that situation for the glory of the Lord! Make the best of your relationships as you can and live at peace with one another.

 

Let God lead you as you walk with the Lord each day. Do your very best to keep the commandments of the Lord and stay in the will of God. May you do your finest work for the Lord in the days and years to come. You will be pleasing to God!

 

Staying put,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Monday, 8/7/2017

 

Good Morning,

 

Last Saturday Linda and I attempted to go to a memorial service visitation of our neighbor, Gene Shusta. Nancy, the wife, just lost her husband within the last month. Gene and Nancy lived next door to us until about 15 years ago when they were “forced” by the city of West Allis to sell their property and home of 33 years. They lived on a flood plain and had many water problems over the past decades in their house. Their place was never flooded, but their basement had been the cause of years of water damage because of their location. Here is the ironic thing…they poured about $20,000 into a project to avoid any such problems in the future. They found that the problem was the city of West Allis sewer that caused the storm tank to be closed off by a cement blockage to the street and thereby causing the water to back up on their property. As fast as the water was being pumped out by the sump pumps, the water returned to surround the house in heavy rains. They could never get rid of the problem and so the city demanded that they sell their property. But, the cement blockage was not found out until after their move to a nearby city was completed. Gene and Nancy would drive by their “old home” often and eventually watched it being torn down and covered over with dirt. Today it is just a vacant lot with the ability to buy it for a meager sum of $1,900, but without any ability to build anything on it. It was a sad situation…now Gene has died and Nancy will need to make decisions about where to live and finish out the rest of her life on earth. As I stated, we attempted to go to the memorial service, we missed it by 24 hours. Praise the Lord! It is our second funeral service we missed in 28 years. Please pray for her and her family…very religious, but unsaved. Thanks!

 

1 Corinthians 7:14-1614 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

 

Subject:  The Priority of Peace

 

One of the most important ingredients in a marriage and in life is peace. Many relationships are praying for peace and never finding peace with other people in this world, especially their spouse. Is it not interesting how it can go from a friendly discussion to a high level argument in just a short period of time? And, it can be about such a trivial matter.

 

If one is married to an unbelieving spouse and the unsaved person is still desirous to live with the Christian spouse, they should stay married to each other. There is an element of holiness that is spread to the whole family if the Christian emanates the life of Christ in each day. No, we are not talking about perfection, but a life that is desirous of shining for the Savior and making godly choices in each day.

 

But, if the unbelieving partner separates and divorce is the final product, the matter of peace between the two people is vitally important. It is this matter of tranquility that change the direction of any relationship no matter how rocky it has been in the past. The words, “let it be so” is an imperative (command). Allow it to happen no matter how disruptive the situation may be after the divorce is a completed action. One of the most important and maturing characteristics is that we understand that we cannot change anyone’s decision in life. We are not in control of the other person and what they have decided about the marriage or the divorce.

 

So many spouses are in the business of striving to change the other person’s attitude or ways. Please understand, that is not the business of any spouse in a marital relationship. It tell a couple before they get married, please understand that your job is not to change the other person after you get married. If you marry that person with certain habits, ways of living, or quirks, then do expect them to continue after you get married.

 

Yes, we can all change, but we must be willing to change. It begins in the heart and for the betterment of the relationship. I cannot tell you how many things God has had to change in me over the past 51 years. And, I am still changing to please my wife. There are times when I change, my wife changes as well. We have both changed over the years for the good.

 

If you are finding that you and your spouse are not having peace in your relationship, ask God to show you how YOU must change, not your spouse. You will find God slowly changing you and your marriage. Yes, God called you to peace, not fighting. Shoot for that goal (of peace) in your relationship with your spouse and all people around you.

 

Desiring peace above all else,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.