Tuesday, July 9, 2013

                                  HE HATH DONE ALL THINGS WELL
      If you've lived for more than just a few years or if you're a fan of country music, you may remember a song entitled, Do What you Do, Do Well.  This song speaks of a boy's admiration of his father and the lessons he learned.  The most important lesson, whatever you do, do it well.
     In the gospel of Mark there is a very telling statement made by those who witnessed the mighty works performed by Jesus.  In the casting out of a demon, to the healing of one deaf and dumb, those who witnessed these miraculous healings could not help but speak the things they saw, even though Jesus charged them not to.  In their astonishment they proclaimed, "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:24-37). 
     Another song we sometimes sin, All Things Bright and Beautiful, speaks of the glorious creation of God.  L.O. Sanderson composed the music to  this song,while the lyrics were written by C.F. Alexander.  The last line of the third stanza says, "How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well."
     I'm reminded of the creation account where God looks each day upon His creation and says it was good.  But on the sixth day when man was created God looked upon His creation and said it was very good as He looks upon all that He has made (Gen. 1:31).  It was the creation of one made in the image of God that changed something from good to something that was very good.
     How much more then should we marvel as we look back upon Calvary and acknowledge the price that was paid for our sins and the blessings we receive because of the death Jesus suffered.  Through His death Jesus brought salvation into the world and through the resurrection He has given us everlasting life.
     To be changed from mortality to immortality is something those in Christ will experience upon the Lord's return.  Even now upon our obedience to the gospel we can go from death to life as we are raised to walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:4).  Another creation made possible by our loving, all powerful God and Father.
     As we enjoy the daily cleansing of the blood of Christ why not be as those who witnessed the healings performed by Jesus.  They could not keep silent about what they witnessed and neither should we.  Let us like them proclaim, "He hath done all things well."  Rodger

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

                                           THE NEWNESS OF LIFE
      Being able to possess something new brings a certain excitement to life, and we promise ourselves we will take care of that new possession so the newness lasts a long time.  Eventually the newness wears off and so does the care we provide.
     I often wonder if that same attitude is present in our spiritual walk with God.  If owning something brand new demands our care, how much more wonderful is a new life in Christ?  If it's so wonderful how much care are we giving to it?
     The phrase "newness of life" is a familiar one for we memorize the passage where those words are found.  Romans 6:4 tells of the saving work of God who raises us up out of the watery grave of baptism, just as He raised up Christ from the dead, so we might walk in the newness of life.  But do we really live as though we have a new life?  Have we really changed our lifestyle to one that glorifies God? 
     Paul tells the Ephesians (2:1ff) they were made alive spiritually upon their obedience to the gospel so their walk (lifestyle) should reflect that change.  Being at one time dead in our sins we have now been made alive through the blood of Christ, but that life must continue beyond the baptism and actually become our new walk.
     The same thought is expressed in Isaiah (65:17ff; 66:22ff) as Isaiah writes of a new heaven and new earth.  Many hold this to mean what will take place when Jesus returns and establishes an earthly reign that will last for a thousand years.  This is a false teaching not supported by Scripture.
     Isaiah is writing to a people who will be brought back from captivity and allowed to live in their land once again.  Following years of oppression and death, they will experience a newness of life in this new heaven and new earth.  Not a newly created heaven and earth, but a new life free from the bondage inflicted upon them.
     Peter writes of a new heaven and new earth in 2 Peter 3:13.  In the context of the passage Peter is speaking of the second coming of Christ and the end of time as we know it.  The new heaven and new earth Peter speaks of will be our release from the burdens and travails of everyday life on earth into a place where righteousness dwells.  That is heaven itself.
     The Father desires that all men will come to repentance and be a part of that new heaven and new earth.  For that to happen we must be washed by the blood of Christ and upon being raised up by the Father live in such a way so as to reflect our walk in the newness of life.  Rodger

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

                               WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?
     When one spends time in God's word, there are many things we will come across that prompt questions or bring back familiar thoughts.  Isaiah and Luke have reminded me of songs we sing and the message of those songs.
     In Isaiah 29:1,2 we read of Ariel.  This name may have meaning to people for a variety of reasons but in Isaiah 29 its reference is to Jerusalem.  It's meaning is to tell of Jerusalem's woes because Israel had forgotten her place before God.  In verse 16 Isaiah writes, "Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?.."  Remember here the song, Have Thine Own Way, Lord.  In that song we sing, "Thou art the potter, I am the clay."  Sometimes we forget that.
     In Isaiah 21:11, we read the question, "watchman, what of the night?"  Here we have the impending destruction of Edom.  The text in the King James Version has Dumah, which means 'silence' and makes reference to the silence of death.  Seir which is also mentioned in that context is Edom.  Homer Hailey cites this as one who is in misery and asks through the night, "what time is it?"  Or how soon will the morning come? (Isaiah, pg. 177-178)  The watchman is Jehovah, and His judgment is toward Edom.  Tied together with Jesus' words as recorded by Luke (12:35-40)  the songs, Let The Lower Lights Be Burning, and Will Jesus Find Us Watching?  come to mind.
     Reading God's word brings us words of victory as well as words of comfort and hope.  Also there are words of admonition for us to make sure we are walking closely and faithfully with God by giving ourselves to His truth, and not forgetting our place before Him.  By doing so we can focus on the joyful return of our Lord, and not the question, "Watchman, what of the night?"  Rodger

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

                                     THE UNDERSTANDING HEART
    Without the ability to communicate we would be in dire straits.  Every facet of life is affected by communicating.  But there is a reason communication is important.  Without communication there can be no understanding.
     I recently talked with my granddaughter on the phone.  Talking with a two year old is difficult at best but even more so when on the phone long distance.  I considered it quite an accomplishment to be able to understand her words though they were not very clear.  We could not have communicated if I failed to understand her words.
     The same is true with God's word.  God reveals to us His will and has written in such a way that is understandable.  This past week at the detention center a young man was baptized, and another expressed a desire to be baptized.  As one understands the need for baptism, it will require growth to fully understand the blessings of the new life and the walk that has been undertaken by the new man.
     When we talk about understanding we are talking about something that effects each and every one of us.  When Jesus says, "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Mt. 13:9), He means for those who hear His words to understand them.  Teachings that are not understood cannot be properly applied, and therefore have no spiritual value.
     Solomon writes of one who is happy when he gets understanding (Prov. 3:13).  This understanding Solomon speaks of is tied directly to God's teachings and the wisdom it provides through understanding God's word.  This theme is repeated often throughout Proverbs, and also is recorded in New Testament Scripture.
     Paul tells the Ephesian brethren not to walk as other Gentiles do, for their understanding is darkened by not doing what God wants them to do.  For the Ephesians the application is that to have their hearts blinded to God's truth so as not to obey it, alienates them from God and the life He provides through Jesus Christ.  That same exhortation also applies to us.
     Matters of the heart are focused on a heart that understands God's word and does it.  This application is individual as well collective in view of the body of Christ.  Understanding can come only through study and a growth in knowledge.  God provides us with understanding (1 John 5:20) as we study and realize true faithfulness is based on an understanding heart.  Rodger

Friday, April 12, 2013

                                          GOD'S TAX FREE GIFT
     The month of April holds many historical moments.  Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865.  The greatest maritime disaster occurred on the 15th of April, 1912,  with the sinking of the Titanic.  Many great people were born in April, some on the 21st.
    Also in the month of April, as we have done just recently, there's the tax payment deadline.  It serves as a reminder of what Israel endured for years in offering up sacrifices.  No matter how often it was done, it was never good enough to pay the ultimate price due.
    The reminder of this is the truism that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes.  In the midst of this gloomy news there is another truism that deserves our attention.  "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Ro. 6:23).
     Taxes are a part of life.  Jesus told the Jews to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's (Mt. 22:21). The government will always tax and citizens will always pay. While paying higher taxes we should take time to note the one gift that can't be taxed.  The gift of eternal life.
   As we go through life paying what we must in taxes never lose sight of the greatest tax free gift given to man, for the price to provide that gift was supplied by God also. We should then live as one who truly cherishes the gift we've been given.  Rodger

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

                       WHAT IS NEEDED IS AN EARNEST DEFENSE    
     With all the talk recently about the need to ban assault rifles another problem has reared its ugly head.  It is the continual assault directed at our God and His holy word.  What we have here is a godly reminder to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
     Long ago the psalmist wrote, "if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps. 11:3) The foundations that are crumbling before our eyes are those upon which the truth of God stands.  The reason for this destruction is the continual assault on God's word.  The reason for the assault is ignorance.  Many who claim to love God and hold to a form of faith are the main culprits.
     First, let me affirm the fact that God is always the victorious one.  As Paul wrote to Timothy, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are his..." (2 Tim. 2:19).  That said there are still those who will suffer and lose their soul because of the attitudes and beliefs of those who claim to know God and yet are devoid of knowledge concerning His word.
     The current battle over gay marriage is the latest assault.  What is driving the debate is an ignorance of God's word.  Many are beginning to voice the viewpoint that gay marriage will succeed because all the so-called Bible thumpers can do is speak from the Scriptures.  In so doing they are denying the love being shown in the gay community which is really not love but lust.  The ignorance behind this viewpoint is that many want to believe that the Bible is not relevant to today's world, so those who hold to Scripture are the one's out of touch with reality and therefore out of touch with God.  Just one more argument Satan has devised to deceive the hearts of man.    
     What many people are refusing to see is the damage that will be done to children.  Some of this damage will be inflicted on those who are raised in the midst of godless unions, while others will deceived and led into the practice of this ungodliness because of society's desire to be tolerant.  Any who uphold this lifestyle in any way are answerable to God.
     The truth is this.  Either Scripture is the word of God or it isn't.  Either it means what is says or it doesn't.  If we are going to walk in manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1), then we must walk according to the divine instructions designed to guide us to our heavenly home (2 Tim. 3:16,17). 
     It is not surprising we are being assaulted from the world for this is Satan's dominion (2 Cor. 4:4).  What is troubling is the weakness of those who claim to be Christians and yet really have no understanding of how the Scriptures are to be applied to everyday living.  This is a danger of denominational teachings for they rob people of their faith and the ability to discern truth and its application.
    While we must be people of love and compassion we must also be faithful children to our Father.  It is possible to do both without compromising His truth.  Since love is inherent within the word we must continue to earnestly contend for the faith which was delivered unto the saints.  Rodger

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

                                                 HE KNOWS ME!   
     It's not what you know, it's who you know.  We hear this a lot as we look to improve our station in life.  As people we have a burning desire to be known by people.  This desire starts at a very early age and increases as we get older.  If we're not well known in high school we have wasted four good years.  This is true also in college and continues into our professional life.
     What if nobody knew who you are?  That would be sad indeed.  What if family didn't know you?  Sadder still!  Recently a situation arose that got me to thinking about this.  Civil War buffs will recall a battle that took place on the sea between Union and Confederate  forces.  The first battle of its kind.  The Confederate ship Virginia was going to battle the Union ship Monitor.  The Union leaders didn't want this to happen but President Lincoln went ahead anyway.  It was an unexpected victory for the Union forces that turned the tide of the war and led to victory. 
     But the victory was short lived as the Monitor sank a couple of months later in a ferocious storm.  Of the 63 crew members 16 lost their lives.  In recent times expeditions have discovered the Monitor's resting place on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and when trying to salvage portions of the ship, the remains of two of the crew members were also discovered.  While records have recorded the names of those who perished when the ship went down, there was no way to identify the remains of those found.  When these two unknown men were buried recently at Arlington National Cemetery, it was noted it would never be known who they are.  Even descendents of those who died attended the ceremony not knowing who it was being buried.
     I read this article and was saddened by this.  I began to imagine what it would be like not to be known to anyone, not even family.  I then turned my thoughts to the Scriptures and found great comfort in the fact that while men may not know me, my heavenly Father does.  And if my Father knows me, that's all that matters.
     Jesus told His disciples, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (Jn. 10:27).  In writing to the young man Timothy, Paul writes, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His. And let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19).  Paul exhorts Timothy and us to make our lives a vessel of honor unto Jehovah by living according to the truth of God's word.
     It's a wonderful thing to be known by people.  It is even better when those who know you also like you.  But what really matters is not how well known I am among men, but that I'm known by God.  The names of those two sailors are unknown to everyone but God.  When you get right down to the bottom line, there are more people who don't know me than those who do.  But when I lay my head down to sleep tonight I will do so with the knowledge my God knows me because I am His covenant child.  That's all that matters.  Rodger