Monday, November 26, 2012

                                         DOING THE RIGHT THING

     It is amazing how one can go through life and never hear a popular saying uttered or a word used in the course of a conversation.  Then once sayings or a word are spoken, it seems you hear it repeatedly from that time on.  One saying that comes to mind is, "It isn't hard to know what the right thing to do is, the hard part is doing it."  That may not be the exact quote but it's close, and you may have heard it spoken in other ways.  But it is true.
     We were all raised, or are being raised, to know the difference between right and wrong.  Our parents were hoping to teach us how to be honest in all things and always seek to do the right thing.  Often times the right thing can be known and still not be done.  For instance, how many of us who are possessors of a driver's license don't know to pull over or off the road when an emergency vehicle is approaching from the rear.  Yet while driving this past week no less than two state patrolman were driving with lights flashing and even a siren blaring, only to have a vehicle refuse to move over and let them pass.  Lives may have been in danger but it mattered not to this particular motorist.
     I have no doubt this motorist knew the right thing to do.  It just wasn't done.  We are much the same way in our walk with the Lord.  Israel was told by God, "And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers" (Deut. 6:18).  When the Lord speaks of doing that which is right and good, the reference is to the commandments that Israel had received from God.  Israel's claim to any land promised by the Lord was based on their obedience to His word.
     With that in mind, how many of us are struggling daily with choices we need to make?  And why are those choices so difficult? For the most part we know what the right thing is to do, we just seem to be having trouble doing it.  We all struggle with the weakness of the flesh in certain areas of life, but the truth is we know what God desires for us and we know what is the right thing to do based on His teachings. 
     Amos spoke of heathen nations who did not know what was right for they were not taught the word of God (Amos 3:10).  If parents are upholding their God given responsibility then children should be learning what God's word says concerning them.  What are the right things to do?  Simply read Philippians 4:8 and you will be given a good list based on divine instruction.  While there may be areas where our knowledge is lacking, we can still learn and grow as we come into contact with that knowledge.
     If we want to pursue after what is right, then our heart must be right with God.  We don't need to live our lives in order to please men.  We should desire to live in such a way so our life is pleasing to God.  That above all else is the right thing to do.  Rodger

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

                                                      OF WHOSE SPIRIT ARE YOU?    
Much is taught about the Holy Spirit concerning the function, work, and role of the Spirit as it relates to salvation and everyday life.  We are told the importance of growing in the fruit of the Spirit as spoken of by Paul in Galatians 5:22,23.  Though various characteristics are listed the fruit is singular.  This is perhaps more easily understood in view of God.  These characteristics are the sum total of God's character and our God is one, and we are to be one in Him.  We can attain to that oneness by growing in these characteristics in our own life, thus revealing God to others through the life we live.
     We see this lifestyle contrasted earlier in Galatians 5 as Paul admonishes the Galatians in regard to biting and devouring one another (vs. 15).  This ungodly behavior speaks to those who perhaps are gossips and speak about others in hurtful and harmful ways.  This is biting and devouring, for such behavior can only destroy.  Paul then tells the Galatians to walk in the Spirit (vs. 16), which leads one to walk in accordance with the love God shows to us.  If we love others as God loves us, then we will walk in the Spirit and seek what is best for others.
     Other passages of Scripture will teach us about the Spirit and the role He fulfills in our life, but it will always get us back to God and who God is.  When we know who God is then we will know what we are to be, and how that can be brought to completion.  Two of Jesus' disciples who had a problem grasping this reality were James and John.  We may find this hard to believe but these men were just that, men.  They had their times of weakness like us.  So take heart.
     In the life of Jesus as He reached a point to where He was going to Jerusalem, He sent messengers before His face, or His arrival in that village.  The village did not receive Him because "His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem" (Lu. 9:51-53).  When the disciples, James and John, saw this they were overcome with anger.  They said to Jesus, "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" (Lu. 9:54)  It was here that Jesus revealed the spirit that was in them.
     In verses 55 and 56 Jesus says, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."  James and John were making a reference back to the days of  Elijah when he confronted the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, and they were given into his hand by God (1 Kings 18:37-40).  Jehovah was justified in the slaying of the false prophets, but Jesus was letting it be known His purpose was quite different than that of Elijah.
     In making the distinction between the two accounts, Jesus was revealing why He was going to Jerusalem.  He came not to destroy man but to save Him.  When Jesus told James and John they didn't know what manner of spirit they were of, He was letting them know they were not understanding the love of God and therefore were unable to practice it.
     Sometimes we may do exactly what James and John had done if we fail to remember of whose Spirit we are.  It is God who gives us His Spirit and that Spirit indwells us.  Our lives should reflect that spirit in the love we show to others as well as our love and faithfulness unto our heavenly Father.   The question, "Of whose spirit are ye?" helps remind us of who it is we serve and why. Rodger

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

                          HISTORY REVEALS OUR ENEMY'S IDENTITY     
     Much has been said about history.  The more common sayings center on the repeating characteristic of history.  One of my favorites is, "If we have learned one thing from history, it's that we have learned nothing from history."  This seemingly contradictory statement has been credited to former President John F. Kennedy, though I don't know if it originated with him or if he borrowed it from another source. 
     Regardless, the words are true and they serve to show us again why history has a tendency to repeat itself.  We still haven't truly learned anything from past historical events, even when those events are taken from the annuls of inspired Scripture.  Recently, a major league baseball player was suspended because of a homophobic slur.  While I believe there are better ways to address such issues, what really stands out is the deteriorating right of free speech.
     Speak out today against Christianity or God and that's okay.  Speak out against sinful lifestyles and that's not okay, it is getting to be a crime.  But such is not new.  In Acts 4:18 we read where Peter and John were ordered not to speak any more in the name of Jesus, nor were they to teach about Jesus to others.  What was their response?  Instead of shrinking back in fear they simply said, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (vs. 19,20).
     Efforts continued to silence these two men as well as others who would dare to speak in the name of Jesus.  After being arrested again (chapter 5) for preaching Jesus to the people, Peter and John were brought before the council and again ordered to keep silent concerning the name of Jesus.  This time the rest of the apostles were also there.  When the fact they were ordered not to teach in Jesus' name to the people was brought to their attention they responded, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (5:29).
     Throughout history those who desire to live godly lives have been persecuted by one common enemy, Satan.  It was ultimately Satan who was behind the attacks of the Jews upon the apostles.  It is Satan is at the heart of the attacks against godliness today.  The real issue is do we as God's children believe in His power as the apostles did, or are going to allow Satan, God's enemy as well as ours, to win battles upon this earth?
     Satan has already lost the war and he knows it.  So why should we allow him to win any battle?  Remember the battle still belongs to the Lord (! Sam. 17:47; 2 Chron. 20:15).  While there are many forces seeking to do harm to our children, the ultimate enemy is Satan.  It is fallen to this generation to take the stand necessary to defeat Satan and his evil schemes.  May we learn what history keeps telling us.  As we take up the banner of our Lord may we echo the words, "We must obey God rather than men."   And to God be the glory.  Rodger

Friday, September 7, 2012

                                           WHO CAN BE BAPTIZED?
     When studying the subject of baptism, many will delve into innumerable sources available from many writers and scholars.  When coming to a conclusion on the matter it is not uncommon for one to settle on a viewpoint that seems most logical as well as one they can agree with.  Unfortunately, what they decide upon is not the written word of God.
     Most people will recognize that baptism is necessary, though they will not agree on how baptism is to be administered.  In line with that thinking it is also called into question who can be baptized.  Because of the many denominational ideas and teachings concerning baptism, sprinkling and pouring have become very popular modes of baptism, which has led to the baptizing of infants as well as adults.  When we understand that baptism is a burial as we discussed in last week's article it should become a bit clearer as to who can be baptized in accordance with God's teaching on the subject.
     Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"  (Mk. 16:16).  When the eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being baptized Philip responded, "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest" (Acts 8:36,37).  What the eunuch believed is that Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 37).  This and other passages relate to us that one must believe in Jesus in order to be baptized.  An infant is incapable of this.
     When Peter began to proclaim to the Jews in Jerusalem what they must do to be saved, he told them to, "repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). We are told that God desires all men to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).  To repent is to turn from one thing and go to another.  In this case it is to cease from sin and turn to God.  An infant is incapable of this.
     We are also required to confess that Jesus is Lord as well as the Son of God, and that He died for our sins (Jn. 3:16; Ro. 5:8, 10:9).  This confession must be made with the mouth (Ro. 10:10).  An infant is incapable of this.
     Infants are said to be born into sin but the Scriptures teach no such thing. It is not a sin to be born and prior to birth one cannot do good or evil (Ro. 9:11).  To be born in sin is to be born into a sinful world which is the meaning of the psalmist (51:5). Infants are born pure until such time as they grow to know and understand what sin really is.  That will come at various times in the life of each child.
     Since baptism is a burial and is essential for salvation, then one must be able to hear what the word of God says about sin, believe that word, repent of the wrongs one has committed in life, and confess a need for the saving blood of Christ which is contacted in the watery grave of baptism (Mt. 26:28; Acts 2:38; Col. 2:11,12; Ro. 6:3,4).  All of this is the result of faith which is produced in the heart of the hearer as the gospel is proclaimed (Ro. 1:16,17).  An infant cannot have this faith for it lacks the ability to comprehend these basic truths.  Since Scripture cannot contradict itself, passages that deal with whole households being saved can only mean those of a household who qualify for baptism through obedience to the gospel.
     God's truth is pure and is most precious.  May we diligently strive to uphold this truth in our lives as we share it with others.  Rodger

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

                                   IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT BAPTISM

    Peter wrote to his brothers and sisters in Christ that his second letter as well as his first was stirring their pure minds by way of remembrance (2 Pet. 3:1).  Simply put, the brethren needed to be reminded on some basic truths and Peter used the letters to accomplish that purpose.  Today, we still need to be reminded of the pure and simple truth of God's word to help keep our hearts and minds pure before God.
     This became increasingly evident to me through recent conversations I have had with people.  Many people hold that the Scripture is the word of God.  Yet when it comes to reading to what God has written, they most often will reject His word.  This is true in many subjects that relate to our worship, but the most common rejection of His word comes in relation to baptism.
     I am not sure why people are so adamant in their opposition to baptism, other than Satan has deceived their hearts through the teachings of men.  Jesus even chastised those of His day for, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mt. 15:9).  In the 3rd verse of Matthew 15 Jesus asked why they transgress the commandment of God by their tradition.  Yet man does that today and doesn't seem to care.
     It was Jesus who commanded baptism take place (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15,16).  When Peter preached to the Jews on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, he told them to repent and be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins in the name of Jesus Christ (vs. 38).  This is what Jesus commanded.  If one states that baptism is not essential for salvation then the word of God has been rejected.  Too many passages relate the baptismal experience to salvation (Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21). 
     It is also important to understand how baptism is to take place.  Baptism is a burial (Ro. 6:3,4; Col. 2:11,12).  When one has been sprinkled or had water poured upon the forehead no baptism has taken place.  The Greek language is a very specific language in that words will describe the action.  The word for baptism means immersion or burial.  The words for sprinkling and pouring are completely different, and neither of those words are ever used in connection with salvation.  These are simply traditions of men and nothing more.
     In the New Testament Scriptures baptism is always a burial for that is what the word implies.  Philip went down into the water with the eunuch.  If sprinkling or pouring was sufficient, Philip would not have needed to accompany the eunuch into the water but it became necessary for the burial required (Acts 8:35-39).  Anyone reading or hearing the word describing baptism would have known immediately what was being said and what action was required for salvation to be obtained. Also take note that Philip preached to the eunuch Jesus.  When preaching Jesus baptism must be addressed.  That is the gospel.
     Baptism is a burial from which we are resurrected.  Those who were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) had this new birth in common.  Next week we will speak more as to who can be baptized.  Rodger

Thursday, August 2, 2012

                                             SEEKING THE LORD
     The act of seeking is a part of every individual.  From the earliest age when we gain the ability to hunt we begin to seek after objects of value.  Watch an infant as they develop and there is that ability to hunt for their thumb or the mother's breast.  As they grow older they begin to look for other things necessary for their well being or usefulness.  The importance of the objects sought will grow as the person grows from childhood into adulthood.
     More important than seeking and finding material things is the need for God.  At some point everyone comes to understand their need for God.  The level of God's importance in the individual's life will dictate how diligently the search for God is conducted.  Many will acknowledge a need to have a relationship with God but their search is based on their own standard.  When they feel comfortable and think they have reached a level of comfort of how God is allowed to fit into their life, they stop searching.
     Ceasing from searching for anything is natural to a point.  If we are searching for an object that can be touched and handled, it is obvious the search for that object need not continue once it is found.  This is where our search for God is different.  God cannot be handled or touched (Jn. 4:24).  Yet He can be found.  So the question becomes, "How real is God to us and how diligently are we willing to search for Him?"
     The psalmist says "I sought the Lord and He heard me..(34:4).  When seeking the Lord it becomes important to understand what it really means to do so.  In Deuteronomy Israel was told, "But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul (4:29).  Then is the exhortation, "seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near (Is. 55:6).  In New Testament Scripture we read, "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:27).
     The basic meaning of all of these Scriptures as well as others tells us the meaning of seeking the Lord is to seek Him according to truth, His truth.  One Scripture quoted most often is, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness: and all these things will be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33).  When we seek His righteousness we must seek after His truth.  If we want the Lord to hear us we must seek Him according to the way He has set forth. 
     The Lord has promised those who diligently seek Him will find Him (Lu. 11:10), and upon finding Him our search must continue as we then seek to grow in our knowledge of Him, and correctly apply that new knowledge to our daily walk.  To know God is to know His truth, and that knowledge is revealed to us as we seek Him in His word.   Rodger

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


     It is one thing to endure tribulations.  It is quite another to be happy about it.  Paul writes to the Romans (5:1-5) that our faith is strengthened and our hope made secure through tribulations which serve to reveal our godly character and the depth of our faith.  We exult in our tribulations for those who understand the love of God also realize the goal of our adversary.
     In Luke 22:31,32 Jesus tells Peter (Simon) Satan has demanded to sift him like wheat.  Imagine Jesus telling you that Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat.  When you sift wheat or flour there is a certain shaking action performed designed to separate the good from the bad.  In the sifting of wheat there is a removal of the chaff from the wheat.  In life Satan is looking to shake us in order to separate us from God.
     But notice that something is said to take the pain away from the sifting process.  Jesus said to Peter, "But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail" (vs. 32).  We are told that Satan prowls about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).  And yet just as Peter can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has prayed for him, so we too have this advocate and mediator who cares for us and intercedes for us (1 Tim. 2:5).
     When Jesus serves as our advocate it is a reminder that God is in control.  As Satan sought to test Job it was God who established the boundaries of the testing in that Satan could not take His life (Job 1:10-12).  So it is with us today.  Satan is going to tempt us in order to sift us as wheat in hopes of separating us from our God.  We must realize his power, though strong, is limited, and we can escape through the power of God (Ja. 4:8-10).
     Also to be noted is that Jesus spoke of Peter's turning again to help strengthen his brothers.  I believe this is telling us that Peter's sifting was his denials of Jesus, though other events could also be included in that sifting.  We know that after the third denial Peter went out and wept bitterly.  He had failed to do what he said.  He said he was ready to go to prison and to death for Jesus (Lu. 22:33), and yet did neither one.  But we also read where Peter was restored to service for Jesus, and from then on he was a powerful spokesman for God (Jn. 21:15-17; Acts 2; 15:7ff).
     What we learn from this sifting of Peter, as well as that of Job is our God is always in control.  We also learn it is possible to flee from temptation and the attacks of the devil if we seek the refuge of God for protection.  There is always going to be times in life when our faith is going to be tested or sifted.  If we truly believe God then this sifting should leave us a stronger person, knowing we can persevere and that ultimately our hope will not be disappointed.  Remember, the victory that overcomes the world is our faith (1 Jn. 5:4).  Rodger

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

                                                DID MOSES SEE A UNICORN?
     When reading the pages of Scripture there are those passages we come upon that raise questions in our mind.  We realize God's word is inspired and therefore, inerrant.  So when we come across particular words we begin to wonder just what the real truth is. 
     One such subject is the unicorn.  Having been somewhat jaded by the popular song of the 1960's there may be a lingering belief that unicorns used to exist, and because they didn't want to stop playing long enough for Noah to get a male and female on the ark, they became extinct.  Others believe unicorns never existed except in mythological stories and epics, and the wonderful world of make believe.
then do we do when we read of unicorns in Scripture?  This was brought to my attention recently in questions that were asked by inmates at the Grayson County Detention Center.  In the writings of Moses 'unicorn' appears in Numbers 23:22;24:8; and Deut. 33:17.  Before the days of Moses were the days of Job and in Job 39:9,10, we find the unicorn mentioned again.  After the days of Moses we find the unicorn mentioned in Psalm 22:21; 29:6; and 92:10.  Isaiah 34:7 also mentions the unicorn.  It must be pointed out that these passages of Scripture speak of the unicorn only in the King James Version.
     As I began to research the subject of the unicorn from the Hebrew language, the word in the Hebrew text in translated 'buffalo.'  There is a note saying 'unicorn' is from the Greek word monokeros, 'mono' meaning one and the 'keros' perhaps having reference to the horn, since that is our depiction of the unicorn.  This Greek term is found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.  It is not found in the Greek New Testament or in the Greek lexicons used to translate from the Greek to other languages.
     Most translations will render the Hebrew term 'wild ox,' with antelope also used in places.  Another rendering of monokeros is rhinoceros.  The unicorn of Numbers 23:22 and 24:8 as well as the other passages may just be depictions of the popular thinking of the time when the Septuagint was translated (around the 3rd century B.C.) and is simply the choice of the translators.  It should also be noted that during this time of the Septuagint's being translated the Grecian Empire ruled and Greek mythology would be on the rise.  Why only the King James Version translators chose to use 'unicorn' is not clear.
     It is important to keep in mind that when you read the passages listed which make mention of the unicorn, the emphasis seems to be on the horn and its meaning is tied to the strength often associated with the horn of an animal.  With this in mind the rendering of the Hebrew term re'em as rhinoceros or wild ox is most likely the better translation.
     Concerning the question that serves as the title for this article, it is reasonable to conclude Moses, as well as David and Isaiah, did not see a unicorn.  Rodger

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

                                          THE WORD AND ITS WORK     
       As children of God we are given many blessings, some of which we fail to engage.  One such blessing is our time of Bible study either on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening.  These times are there to encourage us and also to help us become stronger in our faith as we learn from one another through study and discussion.
     Not one of us knows everything and through the sharing of thoughts from God's word we can learn valuable truths to help us in our understanding of God's word and its application to our lives.  I experienced this through the jail ministry and the lesson being presented by Jim Long.  He was speaking on the subject "What The Bible Demands From Us" and one passage in particular caught my attention during his presentation.
     In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul records, "And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which performs its work in you who believe" (NASB).  In connection to our discussion last Lord's day concerning the Holy Spirit, I found this verse extremely helpful in my understanding of  the Spirit and the word and
the role they are to fill in my life.
     The role and work of the Holy Spirit is highly misunderstood as is the role and work of the word of God.  To begin with we need to understand the Spirit cannot be separated from the Father and the Son, any more than the Father can be separated from the Son and His Spirit.  When addressing subjects such as the direct operation of the Holy Spirit one will find that many will try and get the Spirit to act apart from the Father and Son.  Jesus said this cannot be (Jn. 12:49; 14:10; 16:13).  These words are spoken to the disciples in the upper room and are not intended for the church in general, but the principle applies.  If the Spirit cannot speak on His own initiative with the disciples (apostles), He will not do it with us either.
     The fact that our bodies are to be a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) speaks of relationship and not the function of the Holy Spirit.  If the Spirit lives in us then we are living according to the truth of God's word, thus growing in knowledge and walking as faithful children of God.  This would relate to what Paul writes in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God..."  If we walk according to God's truth, the word, the Spirit lives in us.  If we are unfaithful to God in our walk, the Spirit will not remain in us, thus causing us to lose our salvation (Ro. 6:1ff; 8:12,13; Ga. 5:19-21: Acts 13:46). 
     If the Spirit is living in us then we are spiritual people, for God gives to us His Spirit upon our obedience to the gospel and becoming clothed in Christ Jesus (Acts 2:38; Ga. 3:26,27).  It is at this time that the Father adds us to the church (Acts 2:47).
If we are being prompted by the Spirit to do any good work, then that prompting is going to come through the word.  Is through the word of God we receive instruction and godly counsel, for only through the word does the Father communicate with His children (Heb. 1:1ff).  It is for this reason we are to contend earnestly for this faith, God's teaching, which has been once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  There is no other revelation to come.
     What we learn most of all from God's words is our need to study so that we can become a workman who needs not be ashamed, but one who is approved, thus handling accurately, or rightly, the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15).  This is the work of the word but that work can only be performed by us giving ourselves to God's word and the truth it contains.  Rodger

Monday, April 23, 2012

                                    WORTHY OF LOVE AND PRAISE
     Just how great is your God?  I don't ask that with the implication that there may be more than one, but in your personal relationship, just how great is your God?  We know He is the creator of the universe.  We know He is the giver of life.  And we acknowledge He is the fount of all blessings.  With all of that knowledge, the question still remains, how great is your God?
     A song that used to be sung quite often is "Worthy Art Thou."  The last two lines of that song's chorus are, "Worthy of earth and heaven's thanksgiving, Worthy art Thou, Worthy art Thou."  The rest of the words relate His greatness and why he is worthy of our praise and admiration, not to mention our worship.  I often wonder if we really comprehend the privilege we have of entering into God's presence, and the love He has for us.
     When we ask why our God is worthy of our love and praise, we must begin with acknowledging what He has done for us.  This is going to get us to focus on forgiveness.  When we fully realize the forgiveness we have received from God, or can receive from Him, it will help us to understand just how much He loves us.  The basis of our relationship with God is based on love.  His love for us and our response to Him by showing our love for Him in the lives we live for Him.
     This is brought out in Psalm 99.  The beginning verses of this psalm speak of the exalted position of our God, and that He is worthy to be praised.  The last several verses give to us explanation through the lives of three men we hold in high esteem.  They are Moses, Aaron and Samuel.  We are told in verse 6 they called upon the Lord.and the Lord answered them.  God spoke to them in various ways because they kept His testimonies.
     But the reason of God's love for them and their love for God is brought out in verse 8.  We are told that God was a forgiving God to them, yet an avenger of their evil deeds.  Even though they were faithful men, they were not perfect men.  When they sinned against God they were disciplined for their wrong, but the Lord never stopped loving them.  And they never stopped loving Him. 
     The psalm closes with the exhortation to, "Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For holy is the Lord our God," (vs. 9; NASB).  What we can learn from this psalm is very valuable and uplifting.  First, those so-called great people of the Bible are no different than we are; they sinned too.  Secondly, when we sin our God loves us enough to correct us, to help strengthen us against the temptations of life and to know that He is there to help us.  Thirdly, He does hear us and will give answer to our prayers, but desires we will be faithful to Him in obedience to His word.  The key here is that they kept His testimonies and statutes, though they somethings fell short, as we do today.  Fourthly, love is the key.  God has proven His love for us.  We show our love for Him in giving ourselves to His teaching and growing in our knowledge of Him.  This will lead to more fully understand why He is worthy of our love and our praise.  No one is as forgiving and longsuffering as He.
     I hope and pray God is worthy of your love and praise.  Let Him know that everyday and you will be greatly blessed.  Rodger

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

                                       WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR
     One of the most famous sayings from the World War II era was, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."  You will hear those words used quite often when uncertain times come upon you or your family, or when deeply troubling circumstances have entered our lives.
     There is more to those words than just a catchy slogan.  There is a purpose behind them.  Sometimes when we are afraid, and quite possibly most of the time when fear strikes us, we become so frightened we are afraid to do anything.  We become frozen in time because we are not quite sure how to approach a particular problem.  It is usually about this time we don't even seek counsel.  So when the words of this phrase come to our mind, we must know we can't be so fearful we don't do anything. 
      The devil wants us to be afraid.  He brings things into our lives hoping to paralyze us from being able to do what we know is the right thing to do.  The right thing is always seeking God regardless of the situation.  The psalmist said, "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears (34:4).  Now we know how to overcome fear.  We do so by seeking the Lord's counsel and waiting for Him to guide us to a solution.
     It is interesting to note the psalmist began this psalm by praising the Lord and telling his brethren to magnify the Lord with him, so that they might exalt His name together.  Have you ever been so happy you needed to share your joy with someone?  What is more joyful than knowing the Lord is there hearing your prayers and answering them?
     The 34th Psalm begins by telling us the Lord is worthy to be praised.  The remainder of the psalm tells us why.  Those who fear the Lord will be rescued by Him.  The fear of verse 7 is a reverential fear that acknowledges the awesome power of our God, not a fear borne out of anxiety or sense of danger.  It is the sense of danger that causes us to do nothing when fear grips us, but having a confidence in our God that He is able to deliver should dispel that fear.
     No one will live a life free from trials and temptation.  But we do have an avenue of escape.  We should daily be echoing the words of the psalmist as we encourage our brothers and sisters today to come and exalt the name of God with us, so we may share our joy with one another because of His great love for us.  It is then that our boast will be only in the Lord as we magnify His name. 
     As we do this we will grow stronger in our faith and love for God.  For we are continually living in the knowledge we truly have nothing to fear.  Rodger

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

                                     THE APPEARING OF GOD'S LOVE     
     To make an appearance is to actually be someplace physically.  If we are told to appear in court, that means our presence is required.  The same is true when we were told to go to the principal's office during our childhood days.  Even worse was being called into the presence of your mom or dad.  You always knew how mad they were by the manner in which you were called.  When you were called by your full name (first, middle, last) there was trouble ahead.
     Scripture speaks to us about the appearing of our Savior, and the love that led to His appearing.  In the much quoted passage of John 3:16 we are told of God's love, and the appearing of Jesus as our sacrifice because of that love.  The appearing that is mentioned here is in general terms for it reveals the availability of God's love for all men.  Jesus did not die for just a few men, but for the whole world.
     Paul speaks of those who have loved His appearing.  In reading this passage in 2 Timothy 4:8, I was struck by the past tense of Paul's reference to the appearing of Jesus.  Most often you will read this passage and think of the second coming of Christ.  But Paul didn't speak of those who will love His appearing, but who have loved His appearing.  It is not the second coming that Paul has in mind but another appearance that has already taken place.
     So we must ask ourselves when did that appearance take place?  To answer that question we turn to Paul's letter to Titus.  In the third chapter of Titus, verse 4, Paul cites the appearance of the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind.  In the context of this verse, Paul is writing to Titus about godly living and reminds us of our foolish ways and how we used to live.  Our foolishness was revealed in how we deceived ourselves into thinking all was well when indeed it wasn't.  We were disobedient and slaves to our passions, following, and even pursuing,  the cares of this world.
     But then something wonderful happened.  The appearance of God's kindness and love came through the gospel, that good news that is able to change our lives through the regeneration that takes place when we put aside our disobedience and give ourselves to God.  This washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit takes place as we are clothed with Christ, as we put Him on in baptism.  When we came into contact with the gospel, we came face to face with God, and He was able to appear to us as we listened to that wonderful story of His love.
     The appearing of God is no longer a general revealing of His love's availability, but now a personal appearing to those have come face to face with Him through the gospel.  The brethren cleansed of their sin by the washing of regeneration (vs. 5) are those who have loved His appearing.  They are now His covenant children and are indeed longing for His second coming.
     There are many, some reading this article, who know that God's love is available.  How many have actually allowed His appearance to take place?   Each heart must answer.  The good news is that God is always ready to appear when we decide we really need Him in our lives.  Rodger

Saturday, February 4, 2012

                                WHAT WE STORE SAYS WHO WE ARE

     Living in this rapidly growing age of technology certainly has its advantages, and in many ways its blessings. Unfortunately it is not without its problems.  If you have been the victim of a clerical billing error you know full well the difficulties often involved in trying to correct that mistake.  You will hear the words, "The computer does not make mistakes!"  There is some truth to that statement, but only to a certain point.
What we have come to realize is the computer is not the problem.  The problem is the one entering the data.  We lived this first-hand recently on a trip to the grocery store.  As careful a shopper as Denise is, it was disheartening to find out she had spent more than she had estimated.  It wasn't just a few cents or a couple of dollars, but nearly $27.00.  A closer look at the receipt revealed the problem.  The checker had entered 14 heads of cauliflower when Denise had purchased only 1.  You would think the checker would have caught this mistake for no one can eat that much cauliflower.  This situation was easily resolved, but many times it can be quite a struggle to fix the mistake of someone else.
     In life there is an instrument that is constantly with us and we feed information into this instrument daily.  It is our heart.  Jesus addressed the problem of data processing when He addressed the Pharisees about their heart.  It didn't help when He stated they were a brood of vipers.  The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders must have gotten tired of hearing this since John the Baptist used the same words in his ministry (Mt. 3:7).  Vipers have forked tongues and it may be this is what Jesus made reference to as He confronted the Pharisees about their hypocrisy.
     The Pharisees claimed to speak what was good but Jesus called them evil.  So how can someone who is evil speak something that's good? In today's world Jesus might use the illustration of us putting something into our computer we say is good, when in fact it may be evil.  Very simply Jesus says, "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Mt. 12:34)  This teaching is given to admonish us against some of those thoughts we may encounter through the course of a day.
     This is on a personal level.  The only one who can program my heart is me.   The checker made a mistake by entering a wrong number.  On a deeper level we may be sinning if we are not paying attention to what we are putting into our heart.  For out of the heart come our words and our actions.  What we are storing in our heart on a regular basis says much about who we really are.  The damage that can be caused by the tongue springs from what is stored in the heart (Ja. 3:1-6).
     If we are to pursue after what is godly then we must pay constant attention to what we allow to enter our heart.  Just because a thought may enter our mind doesn't mean we have sinned (2 Cor. 10:5).  Sin enters our heart when we allow such thoughts to tempt us to the point of ungodly action (Ja. 1:13-16).  Remember, what we choose to store in our heart says clearly who we really are.  Let us store only what is good in the sight of God.  Rodger

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

                            OUR NEED FOR GOD AND ONE ANOTHER     There is a song that tells us, "No one ever cared for me like Jesus..."  It is true no one could show the depth of love revealed by Jesus in the death He suffered for us.  Even if man wanted to only Jesus could have been our sacrifice for sin, for all others have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. 
     The song ends with the words, "O how much He cares for me."  My heavenly Father did not call me into service to be a sacrifice for sin, but that doesn't mean I can't show my brothers and sisters how much I care for them.  In fact, as I serve God each day and acknowledge my love for Him, my brothers and sisters will at times be the recipients of that love.
     Mention the passage in Philippians 4:13 and most will readily quote the words contained in that verse.  The words of that verse are most certainly true.  We are dependent upon our heavenly Father for strength.  This is not a physical strength needed for some laborious task, but an inner strength needed to stand strong against the trials and temptations of life.  While each of us live this truth each day, we should also pay attention to what else Paul said.
     Verse 14 begins with the word "nevertheless."  That term is meant to convey an additional thought which goes deeper into the relationship Paul shared with the brethren in Philipi.  You have probably taken note that in the context of Philippians 4:10ff, Paul is speaking of contentment.  He states he has learned to be content in whatever circumstances of life he happens to be experiencing.  This not to say he is happy about those circumstances, but that he possesses an inner peace provided by God that sees him through any circumstance life brings his way.
     In his "nevertheless" statement Paul makes mention of the brethren's help.  It was these brethren who attended to Paul's needs, both in his affliction and in financial support during his travels and preaching of the gospel (vs. 15,16).  In these words Paul tells us today how much we need God, as well as one another.
     Each of us must gain our inner strength from God.  But that strength is made stronger through the love and concern shown to us by our brothers and sisters.  This is why Paul acknowledges their gift.  Praying for God's strength and showing our love for God is manifested in our love for one another.  What God wants us to see through these inspired words is that God is working in our lives, both individually and collectively through the church.
     I can do all things through God who strengthens me.  Those 'things' relate to a life fully anchored in God's love and truth and walking faithfully with Him each day.  As I do it is a wonderful assurance to know my brethren are walking with me, and that our God will supply our needs.  Rodger