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