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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

                                       THE SUFFICIENCY OF GRACE      
     We have a new brother in Christ.  Donnie Patterson was baptized this past Tuesday (February 26th) at the Grayson County Detention Center.  Through the teaching of God's word Donnie came to realize his lost state due to sin, and in obedience to the gospel decided to put on Christ through baptism. 
     Thinking of this wonderful event and given the privilege of performing this baptism, my thoughts were captivated by the wonderful grace of God.  But what does this grace that God supplies really mean?  If we truly want to be thankful for receiving God's grace, we should seek to understand as much as possible about grace. 
     As we discussed last week concerning our good works, Paul writes about grace to the Ephesians (2:8) and the fact that it is a gift from God.  No one denies this.  But a close reading of the context of this passage will reveal to us that the recipients of God's grace are those who are His workmanship (2:10).  What this means is that while we can't perform a work to earn salvation, for it is God's gift to us, we are recreated through the working of God who creates the new man free from sin by removing the old man of sin through spiritual circumcision (Col. 2:11,12).  Man has obeyed God's command regarding salvation but the work here is performed by God and not man.  The Ephesians had done this as well (1:13,14).
     Grace is then made even more sufficient in that it helps to provide strength to us for our daily walk.  When Paul is praying for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, he is told that God's grace is sufficient, for God's power is made perfect through weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).  The grace mentioned here is, "The favor of Christ, assisting and strengthening his followers and ministers to bear their troubles (Joseph Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament, pg. 666).  Grace then serves to help strengthen us through our Lord and His promises as we contend with earthly struggles until our victory is complete.
     Then there is the element of grace concerning instruction.  Titus was told by Paul that grace "appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11,12; ASV).  Grace then acts as a teacher helping us to understand we can't live in sin and think that grace is going to cover ungodly behavior (Ro. 6:1).  God's love to us demands our love in return through obedient living as covenant children.
      God's grace is truly sufficient for it serves many functions in the life of God's children.  Let us then walk in God's light and live as recipients of His grace as we await the return of our blessed Savior and Lord.  Rodger

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

                                           OUR GOOD WORKS   
       We hear a lot about works in the religious world.  Most of what is said is we can't earn our salvation through our own works or merit and that is true.  There is really no disagreement on that point.  Others want to make actions commanded of us by God a work because it does not agree with their interpretation of Scripture concerning salvation.  Chief among this argument is the subject of baptism.
     While disagreements may continue to abound concerning the subject of works, it cannot be denied that works are mentioned often enough in the Scriptures to warrant our attention.  It also must be understood these works are not only important but necessary.  Of course, we must be clear what defines a good work.
     The most often mentioned Scripture associated with good works is Ephesians 2:10.  Here we are told, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (KJV).  The reason this verse stands out is because of the mention of grace in verse 8, used by many to show baptism is a work and therefore not essential to salvation since we are saved by grace.  Baptism is not a work unto salvation but obedience to a divine command, wherein we become recipients of God's grace (Col. 2:11,12).
     Moving on from that argument we must address the good works we have been designed to perform.  I was told some time ago of a preacher who told people he was off to do a "good work."  It came to be known his deeds were sinful and therefore, not the good works of which Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10.  However, our good works do serve a purpose.
     Peter writes, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1Pet. 2:12; KJV).  Our works are to serve as a glory to God so others who observe them can also come to glorify God in obedience to the gospel.  James speaks of our faith and the works that prove that faith (J. 2:17-26).  Our works are not done to earn salvation but because of the gift of salvation (God's grace) we have received.
     The following passages speak of doing good works.  They are Colossians 1:10, 1 Timothy 3:1 (elders), 2 Timothy 2:21, and Titus 3:1.  There are others besides but these will suffice to help us understand our walk with God is not a passive one.  It is to be a life based on faith, while understanding true faith requires obedience to God's word.  Then we are to glorify God in our daily walk so as to show to others through our deeds the love of God.  This what Peter wrote of in the passage cited earlier.  We were created to glorify God and this is done through our good (godly) works.  Rodger

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

                                        SEEKING TRUE FREEDOM
     Tim Hardin sang a song popular many years ago that said, "Come and sing a simple song of freedom; sing it you've never sung before.."  Today we have a simple song of freedom that can be sung but there are those who are trying to complicate the simplicity of this freedom.
     The song we sing is that of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 15:3).  These songs speak of deliverance.  For Moses (Israel) it was deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 15).  For us it is the deliverance from the bondage of sin. When God delivers His children it is a true freedom they enjoy, and no freedom is greater than that of being freed from our sins.
     Some are seeking to destroy that freedom by telling us that no one church has a monopoly on truth.  Of course the purpose behind this proclamation is to get us to believe that one church is as good as another, since all churches have at least a partial amount of truth associated with them.  Some will go so far as to say it is impossible to know the perfect gospel.
     There is a major problem with this supposition.  The problem is that truth did not originate in any church.  Truth comes from God so we must believe God's truth is perfect.  Understanding that God's truth is itself perfect leads us to what our response is to be.  We must accept God's truth and be obedient to it if we are to truly become free for the church was established on the truth of God's word.  This is why only God can add us to the church (Acts 2:47).
     Why people stumble over this is due to the lack of teaching concerning the covenants.  Many want to hold to the old covenant (Law) under Moses while retaining portions of the new covenant established by Christ.  This can't be done for Christ has taken the first out of the way, nailing it to the cross (Eph. 2:13ff; Col. 2:11-15).  God alone establishes the covenant and its conditions, and  man responds.  Doing so is the basis of obedience and faithfulness.
     Jesus said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32).  John later writes we can know we have eternal life (1 Jn. 5:13), and that knowledge is based upon knowing God.  Truly knowing God is possible only through obedience to His word (1 Jn. 5:2).  When man seeks to change what God has set forth he has left the righteousness of God (Ro. 1:16,17) and, in turn, has established a righteousness of his own (Ro. 10:2-4). 
    It is possible to know the perfect gospel for the perfect God, our Father, has revealed it.  It is simple and easy to understand for those seeking God's truth.  Becoming truly free in obedience to that truth allows us to sing that simple song of freedom.  Rodger

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

                           THE BLESSINGS OF BEING GRATEFUL   
       I have been reminded of the need to be thankful several times recently.  Reasons for people's jealousy has been addressed, and brethren are always commenting on our need to be thankful.  But the last reminder came from a most unexpected place.  There I was at the Grayson County Detention Center getting ready for a study session.
     I was thankful first that eight inmates would be in attendance, though one was not able to come.  As the first few came into the room to get ready to start, we had a conversation about their lives and current events taking place around them.  Several in the group are members of the church which helps in talking about certain subjects.  Still you don't expect people in this environment to be thankful for anything.  Wrong again.
     As the conversation progressed the inmates began to talk about how to get more than what you currently possess.  The key is to be grateful for what you have.  Neither the ASV or KJV mention the word grateful, and the NASB speaks of gratitude.  Of course gratitude is being thankful, and you'll certainly find words associated with thankfulness sprinkled generously throughout Scripture.  It was a blessing to listen to the inmates.  Even here they spoke of blessings they received.
     As one remarked, if you want more time, be grateful or thankful for the time you have.  It must be noted he was not speaking of time in reference to his sentence but in being able to accomplish certain tasks or goals.  If you want more money, be thankful for the money you have.  The Lord can give you more of what you already have since He has given what you currently possess. Tell the Lord thank you.
     As an illustration another inmate spoke of something given to him by his father as a young boy.  He ran around and shouted to all who would listen, "Look what my father gave to me!"  So thankful to receive something that gift needed to be shared.  Our heavenly Father blesses us richly everyday, and we should be thankful He provides as He does.
     If you want more of something, first be thankful for what you have, not sorrowful for what you don't have.  Use your blessings to God's glory and allow Him to bless you even more.  While going with the thought of teaching others, I was taught another lesson myself.  If these people can find reason to be thankful, certainly I can too. 
     The joys of life can be found in the most unlikely places.  For that I am grateful.  Rodger

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

                                                  THE ROCK OF AGES    
     We are familiar with the song Rock of Ages.  The lyrics read, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me; Let me hide myself in Thee.."  I thought about these words in light of recent news events, and how Scripture relates to them.  Again sin has reared its ugly head with the news of the Boy Scouts of America deciding to lift the ban of homosexual leaders and members of the scouting program.
     I'm sure there are many who will hail this as a huge step forward and yet through ignorance the consequences are being pushed aside as inconsequential.  But the consequences are far reaching.  It is these consequences that tie us to the words, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me."  These words are directly linked to the foundations upon which our life should be based as well as the standard by which all men will be judged.
     The psalmist states, "In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to the mountain?" (Ps. 11:1)  It is the rationale of man to simply say this is life and there is nothing we can do about it.  So if the foundations be destroyed (vs. 3) what can the righteous do?  The righteous must do what the psalmist has proclaimed.  Put your trust in the Lord, for He is the foundation.
     In verse 4, the psalmist brings it home to the mind of those who told him to run, "The Lord is in His holy temple."  From where the Lord sits He sees all and from His throne issues the judgments of life.  Many will say there is nothing we can do, but the truth of the matter is we must put our trust in God and stand on His foundation.  The Lord's countenance beholds the righteous (vs. 7).
     This thought is also brought home to us in Paul's words to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:19).  Concerning the sin of Hymenaeus and Philetus, Paul says in spite of such false teaching the foundation of God standeth sure.  Furthermore there is the seal of this foundation, "The Lord knows those who are His."  So if you name the name of Christ, i.e. if you stand truly on the firm foundation of God's truth, you must depart from iniquity.
     One principle taught by Jesus that must be remembered is found in Matthew 12:30, "he that is not with Me is against Me.."  Either we stand with God in all things or we do not stand with Him at all.  For this reason we must stand on the firm foundation of truth without wavering.
     The world at large is seeking to destroy the foundations of God but they will one day have to stand before Him.  The Lord is still in His holy temple, and we must keep silent before him (Hab. 2:20).  When we do we can speak those words, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee."  Rodger

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

                              A MOST UNCOMFORTABLE MEETING

     There is a lot of noise filling our airwaves and public places.  That noise stems from the multiple viewpoints being espoused by people from all walks of life.  This noise centers around political speeches, religious thought and beliefs, and social issues.  This noise will grow louder and will not go away.  So we have been placed in a position of deciding how we will deal with it.
     In the days of the early church, there was a lot of noise as well.  This noise was being advanced by a zealot known as Saul who was out to destroy the Lord's church.  This led Saul to a most uncomfortable meeting.  While traveling to Damascus shortly after the stoning of Stephen, Saul was introduced to someone he didn't want to meet.  It was Jesus Himself.  It became pretty obvious to Saul Jesus really had been raised from the dead, and now there was this accountability issue to deal with.
     Interestingly, Jesus did not have Saul cast into prison for the murder of Stephen, but there was something else to be done.  As Jesus instructed Saul what to do, we read of the conversion of one who truly hated the church and all it stood for, only to become a leading voice of God's grace and salvation.
     Many today are heading for this most uncomfortable meeting with Jesus in a much different way.  We can read words of Scripture such as Luke quoting the words of Peter, "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).  We can also read where Luke quotes Paul (formerly Saul) on Mars Hill, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).
     These words cannot be allowed to be weakened.  Either they mean something or they don't.  Either we believe them or we don't. The noise I made reference to at the beginning of this article is largely looking to silence the voice of God by silencing those who claim to follow Him.  There are those who have joined the forces of Satan by advocating this God of love will not punish evil doers who practice things contrary to His word, regardless of what those things are. 
     The good news is this.  The power of God's word cannot be weakened.  Another baptism is in the process of taking place in our jail ministry.  God's word will not return to us void if we stand for what is right. Those who think God's word will not be upheld, either in the church or out, are heading for a time when they must stand before the Lord and give an account.  For them it will be a most uncomfortable meeting.  Rodger