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