February 17, 2019

Gress by Philip C. Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I’m intrigued by words that we only use with prefixes or suffixes.  For example, I’ve never heard anyone speak of someone being “gruntled”- only “disgruntled” (yes, I am aware that a pig with laryngitis is “disgruntled”).   If a prefix or suffix can be added, doesn’t the root necessarily have to be a word?  Apparently not, at least not in English.  Consider:  If “gress” was a word, and therefore had a meaning, it would have to refer to “movement.”  This conclusion is forced by all the prefixes we add to “gress” that have to do with the direction or type of movement they describe. Consider that…

Egress means outward movement.  To be in Christ, we have to move out of (and get over) ourselves!  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’,” Matthew 16:24.  Consider also Philippians 2:3-7, where the example of Jesus emptying Himself and becoming a servant in obedience to God is given to show how we must get outside of ourselves and “regard one another as more important” than ourselves in order to properly serve God and each other.

Congress means together movement (coming together; contrary to popular belief, it does not mean “no movement”!).  On the day of Pentecost and following, saved individuals came together to listen to the apostles’ inspired teaching, to pray, and to the breaking of bread (generally thought to be the commemoration of Lord’s Supper, cf. Acts 20:7), to care for one another, and to simply be together and enjoy each other’s company, Acts 2:42-45.  Great encouragement and growth were the products of this coming together

Progressive means forward movement.  After thanking and commending the Thessalonians for their reception of the gospel, their imitation of the apostles and the Lord in living the gospel, and their continued endurance in all of these areas, Paul urged them to continue to “excel still more,” 1Thessalonians 4:1,10.  He is counseling them to progress- to continue to move forward in their faith!  Peter makes it clear that Christians must add to their faith and grow as security against stumbling, and to make certain of their entrance into heaven, 2Peter 1:5-11.   But on the other hand…

Aggressive means violent movement.  The apostle Paul said, of his life prior to conversion to Christ, that he was a “blasphemer and a persecutor and violent aggressor,” 1Timothy 1:13.  Those violent and aggressive traits and characteristics are supposed to be a part of that which is put away when we come to Christ, cf. Colossians 3:5-11.  We are to be peaceable (loving and making peace), refuse to take our own revenge, and kind to our enemies to overcome evil with good, Romans 12:17-21.

Regressive means backward movement.  After the ancient children of Israel had been freed from slavery by God’s miraculous plagues upon the Egyptians, after they had been miraculously delivered from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army by crossing the Red Sea on dry land, and after they had been miraculously provided for and sustained by God in the wilderness, when they reached the promised land of Canaan and most of the spies sent into it brought back an intimidating report, Stephen says of them, “in their hearts (they) turned back to Egypt,” Acts 7:39 (cf. Numbers 13:25 – 14:4).  The Hebrew writer seems to referencing this turning back when he urges Jewish Christians of his day (and us today as well!), “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul,” Hebrews 10:39.  Thus, backward movement is the wrong way for God’s children!

Digressive means downward movement.  In Romans 1:18-32, Paul delineates and describes those who, “though they knew God, did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts were darkened, professing to be wise, they became fools…”  As a result of this rejection of what they knew and could plainly see of God, they digressed away from Him into degradation, depravity and ultimately, destruction.  Surely, this is not the way to move!

We can “gress” (move) out of ourselves and into Christ; we can come together as Christians to worship God and encourage one another; and we can grow and move forward toward heaven; or, we can continue in violent, backward, and downward movements toward hell.  We get to pick the direction we move, but we can’t stay still.  Choose wisely!

(Philip C. Strong; Southport Church of Christ; 7202 Madison Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46227; online at southportcofc.org; email to mrpcstrong@hotmail.com)

 

 

 

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February 10, 2019

Continuing Obligation – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I was recently asked about a question that arises fairly often among conscientious Christians. The inquirer was concerned about whether or not one’s contributions should be “made up” if absent from the first day of the week assembly. There is no passage that deals directly, specifically with this question. However, there are a number of biblical principles, that when considered together, provide answers.

“The sum of Your word is truth,…” (Psalm 119:160)

First, we must understand that Christians are taught to associate themselves with fellow Christians, to function together as a local church.

“When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples;” (Acts 9:26).

This local congregation of fellow Christians constitutes the only functional arrangement authorized to carry out Christ’s mission on earth.

“Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:” (Philippians 1:1)

Christians associated in this manner form a single, complete functional body of Christians.

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ….For the body is not one member, but many.” (I Corinthians 12:12, 14).

Only one specified method is “ordered” (I Corinthians 16:1) for obtaining funds necessary to carry out the authorized work of that body. This is the first day of the week contribution.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside…” (I Corinthians 16:1)

The apostle Paul compares the work of this local church to the responsibilities of a family.

“(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (I Timothy 3:5)

We must understand that individual Christians are uniquely related in a functioning body, a family, that they are in a relationship that does not exist with other local churches. Then, we should realize that the responsibilities we have as a part of that body do not float around or transfer when we temporarily visit other churches. As when a bread-winner in a family is out of town, so it is with responsibilities in a local family of Christians.

It is possible to fulfill these responsibilities on the occasions when one is absent from the first day assembly, in a number of different ways. It may be wise to plan ahead and leave your contribution with a brother or sister who can place your donation in the “collection” for you, on the first day of the week. If not, remember that your responsibilities did not dissolve just because you were out of town. Your family’s bills must be paid, even while you are at Disney World. Likewise, the responsibilities did not dissolve just because you were out of town. Your family’s bills must be paid, even while you are at Disney World. Likewise, the responsibilities of your local body, the family of God, continue.

When the Lord was in the temple in Jerusalem, He was interested in and watching the many, very different examples of giving.

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.” (Mark 12:41-42)

We all need to be reminded, He is still interested and still watching.

“Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.” (II Corinthians 8:24)

 

 

 

February 3, 2019

Faith In Our Creator by Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)

This verse describes the very first example of faith in the Bible’s great “faith chapter,” Hebrews 11. This fact strongly argues that meaningful and effective faith is to be founded, first of all, on the revealed fact of special creation—creation ex nihilo—in contrast to “creation” through some protracted, naturalistic, imaginary process of evolution. All of the “worlds” were simply called into existence by God’s omnipotent word.

“For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9).

In no way did He have to start with some chaotic form of matter already in existence. Jesus Christ—the Word of God (John 1:14)—created space and time as well as matter/energy.

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16).

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3).

It is interesting that the ancient world saw this characteristic (Creator) as the fundamental factor, distinguishing the true God from all others.

Xerxes, King Of Persia (Esther’s husband, Ahasuerus) placed a huge billboard sized inscription on the stone wall seen by all who approached his magnificent castle (over a mile long) at what is now Van, Turkey. This greatest of monarchs, who “reigned from India to Ethiopia,” (Est.1:1) publicly proclaimed his faith in the Creator to his idol deluded subjects.

“…The Great God, The Greatest God Who Created The Sky And Created The Land And Created Humans Who Gave Prosperity To The Humans Who Made Xerxes King, King Of Many Kings…”

When the apostle Paul spoke to the Athenian philosophers, he proclaimed the “Unknown God,” which he distinguished from all the “gods” worshiped in Athens, the city full of idols. Paul said this was, “The God who made the world and all things in it,…” (Acts 17:24)

This is the beginning point, the foundation of true faith.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen.1:1)

Inspiration records the wisdom of Solomon urging …

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth,” (Eccl. 12:1)

This is the faith introduced in the last verses of the previous chapter, that is the foundation of our lives and our salvation.

“BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; …But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Heb.10:38-39)

Following immediately then is his description of faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

After that the great progression examples of faith in Hebrews 11. Heading the list of these, of course, is faith in the special creation of all things by the Word of God. The necessary conclusion is that a “living” faith and “saving” faith must be founded, first of all, on the fact of supernatural creation of all things by God in the beginning.

Evolution is also based on faith, but it is contrary to Scripture and to true science.

Richard Dawkins, known as the “Pope of Evolution,” freely admitted this fact on the BBC program, “Brief History of Disbelief,” broadcast in October of 2004. Jonathan Miller was interviewing and asked about the obvious difficulty in explaining the origin of feathers from scales by natural selection. Dawkins responded…

“…there’s got to be a series of advantages all the way in the feather. If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem not, not, not natural selection’s problem. Natural selection um, err, well, I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my part…”

His conclusions are based on faith, a faith that has a fundamental weakness. Natural selection only operates on what already exists. Random mutations only change what already exists. Neither is a creative process. Neither even addresses the subject of true origins.

Our faith is in a truly adequate cause…an eternal creator. Hard to fathom? Understandable. But honorably face the only alternative… nothing created everything. When, with integrity, we face the fact that there are only two alternatives, the honest choice is obvious.

Adapted from an idea in an article by Henry Morris

 

January 27, 2019

The Donkey’s Rebuke – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?’…The donkey said to Balaam, “Am not I your donkey that you have ridden ever since I was yours until this day? Have I ever attempted to treat you this way?” And he said, ‘No.’” (Numbers 22:28-30)

This tale of a donkey talking has long been the object of ridicule by skeptics. Elitist, liberal theologians assure us the story is an allegory or fable. We know that it is not, rather, a real historical event for several reasons. It is confirmed, both by inspiration through the apostle Peter and by Archeology.

“forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.” (II Peter 2:15-16)

For those who truly believe the Bible, this is sufficient. More and more of today’s society do not believe the Bible is God’s word (as was the case in the New Testament world). Following the example of the prophets and Apostles, we need to learn to teach these people. Both in the Old and the New Testaments, the wonders of creation (Isaiah 40:26-27; Romans 1:20) and supernatural power were effectively used to persuade precious souls to believe. (I Kings 17:22:24; 18:19-39; II Kings 5:8-17; John 4:39: 11:42-45; John 20:8-9; Acts 17:28; 14:17; Romans 1:4) Those who insist contentiously, that only the Bible may be used to persuade, are woefully ignorant of Biblical methodology and would effectively tie one hand behind our backs as we seek to seek and save the lost.

Obviously, there is no naturalistic explanation for a donkey speaking with the voice of a man. When we find confirmation, we are demonstrating that supernatural powers were necessarily involved.

I was personally involved, in a small way, with an ongoing excavation at Deir Alla, Jordan, originally discovered in1967. The dig has revealed eighth century BC artifacts that document the activities of a prophet named Balaam. Three times in the first four lines he is referred to as “Balaam son of Beor,” exactly as in the Bible. The complete inscription consists of 119 fragments of plaster inscribed with black and red ink. It clearly describes the vision of Balaam son of Beor, a “seer of the gods,” described in in Numbers 22–24. (I have displayed in our museum, a certified replica of this critical fragment. DRP)

This dramatic confirmation does not come from the Israelites, who one might imagine would be tempted to embellish. It is from the antagonistic witness of the Amorites, their enemies. Amazingly, this Amorite inscription refers to God as “el” and “Shaddai” which is exactly the term often used to refer to God during the period before Moses. (Balaam Son of Beor, Bible and Spade, Bryant G. Wood, p114, 1995)

Archaeology is an important science that continually strengthens our faith in the historical accuracy of the Bible. Since the Bible refers to hundreds of cities, kings, and places, we would expect to find evidence from on-site excavations. Ninety-seven percent of all cities mentioned in the Bible have been found. (Zero percent of cities peculiar to the Book Of Mormon have been found.) The Bible is the most historically accurate book of history on earth.

We have extra-Biblical, tangible archeological evidence that God intervened supernaturally in the affairs of the nation of Israel (for our benefit, Romans 4:23) and that the record we have of these amazing events actually happened.

This divine record tells us that Balaam blessed Israel, instead of pronouncing the curse for which he was to have been paid by the Moabites, who were desperately trying to keep God’s people out of the Promised Land. The Moabites needed an unforgettable rebuke. They were apostate descendants of Lot, who had known the true God (Numbers 25:1-3) but were determined to thwart God’s purposes.

Consider also that this account demonstrates that God is concerned about His animal creation, caring even for every sparrow. (Matthew 10:29). The animals have been placed under man’s dominion, but they are for his service, his instruction, and his enjoyment—not for his abuse.

Thus, Balaam’s donkey was supernaturally enabled by God to rebuke not only Balaam but also anyone who would unnecessarily abuse one of His specially and beautifully designed animal subjects.

 

 

 

 

 

January 20, 2019

The Authority To Edify – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

     The Authority To Edify

       Don R. Patton

“Because of this I am writing these things while absent, so that when I arrive I may not have to deal harshly with you by using my authority—the Lord gave it to me for building up, not for tearing down!” (II Cor.13:10 NET)

Paul is teaching the Corinthians about “building up” the church and about the different building tools used for accomplishing that end. He often spoke of “gentleness.” (II Tim. 2:25) In the above passage, He speaks of dealing harshly. God has given authority for both. Both are for edification.

He had just explained the reason for the possible need of harshness.

“For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;…” (II Corinthians 12:20

Therefore, he warns, “…if I come again I will not spare anyone,” (II Corinthians 13:2) The reason, this conduct hinders the building of the church.

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. … And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:16, 18)

The Greek word “οἰκοδομή” (translated “edification”) pictures the building of a house.

“1. process of building, building, construction

  1. a building as result of a construction process, building, edifice… The builders, the masons (after Ps 117:22) Matt 21:42″ BDAG

The same word is used in Matt. 21:42.

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone…”

We still use the word edifice to describe an imposing structure. Paul specifically said there was divine “authority” to edify, here referring to harshness. Later he called himself a “wise master-builder.” Paul used the Greek word ἀρχιτέκτων. When transliterated we have “architektōn,” from which we get architect. Paul laid the foundation on which we are to build (I Corinthians 3:10).

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.” (I Corinthians 3:10)

When Jesus used the same word, “οἰκοδομή,” to depict those who would build their house on a rock (His Word) or the sand (the ideas of men), He was painting a picture, not only of initially coming to Christ, but also of building (edifying) the coming church (Luke 6:48-49). The various gifts of leadership are to be used to “perfect” the saints in the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12), using the living “stones” that will build the “spiritual house” of God (I Peter 2:5).

And like any good builder, the Christian carpenter has tools of the trade to assist the process. There are “things which make for peace” that must be employed (Romans 14:19). While our text refers to harshness, most certainly “love edifies.” (I Corinthians 8:1) It a major tool along with Godly communication that does not “corrupt” the building work.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification” (Ephesians 4:29)

Paul commanded the church at Corinth to, “…Let all things be done for edification.” (I Corinthians 14:26) Luke reveals, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord.” (Acts 9:31

 

 

 

January 13, 2019

“Beginning Of The Year – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Now pay attention to all the commandments I am giving you today, so that you may be strong enough to enter and possess the land where you are headed, and that you may enjoy long life in the land the LORD promised to give to your ancestors and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land where you are headed is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, a land where you planted seed and which you irrigated by hand like a vegetable garden. Instead, the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy is one of hills and valleys, a land that drinks in water from the rains, a land the LORD your God looks after. He is constantly attentive to it from the beginning to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:8-12)

The phrase, “the beginning of the year,” occurs only twice in the Bible, here in Deuteronomy 11:12 and in Ezekiel 40:1. The Bible is not referring to January 1, but to the month Abib, in the spring, just before Passover.

“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” (Deuteronomy 16:1)

“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” (Exodus 12:2)

Moses is reminding Israel that their blessings depend on God’s favor and that favor depends on paying attention to all His commandments, all the time. This is one of the most obvious and powerful lessons to be learned from God’s dealing with Israel.

In this passage, the Lord, through Moses, is speaking of the “promised” land, which He had prepared for the children of Israel. It was “a land flowing with milk and honey,” a phrase used eight times to describe a fertile, generously productive land. It was not like Egypt, which receives its produce from the overflowing Nile. Instead, this was “a land that drinks in water from the rains, a land the LORD your God looks after.” It required God’s constant, continual attention. This promised land was promised God’s blessings if they obeyed God. It was promised God’s judgment if they disobeyed.

“When Lot was choosing his portion of the land we read, “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — …like the garden of the LORD…”

This is the way it was, a paradise, like the Garden of Eden. Today it is a desert land, a pile of rocks. It takes a proud, blind prejudice to ignore the contrast. God’s repeated warnings have been dramatically fulfilled.

‘Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me… ‘I will make the land desolate … I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.” (Leviticus 26:27, 32-33)

God has withdrawn His attentive care, on which Israel’s “water from the rains” depends. It does rain in Israel, only in the winter, when they don’t need it.

Although these promises were made specifically with reference to Israel, blessings of a covenant relationship with God are now extended to individuals of “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), including America. God has certainly blessed our nation most abundantly, founded as it was in its beginnings on the principles of God’s words. Sadly, however, there may be indications that His blessings are being withdrawn. Apostasy dominates religious service and moral decay has overtaken us. Could His judgment be on the way?

Here, at “the beginning of the year,” let us resolve pray and work to bring America back to the God of our fathers before it is too late and final judgment falls on our once-blessed nation. Our text reminds, “He is constantly attentive…from the beginning to the end of the year.”

Adapted from some thoughts expressed by Henry Morris

 

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2019

Deceptive “False Wonders” – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. (Exodus 7:12)

Magicians go back a long way in the history of mankind. Man has been aspiring to be like God since the Garden of Eden. The desire to have an audience ooh and awe is certainly not new nor unfamiliar today. These magicians were con men, who had apparently convinced Pharaoh that their supernatural power was superior to the representatives of any Israelite God. Paul does tell us of the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness…” (II Thessalonians 2:10). However, on this occasion, while we are not given all the details we may desire, I believe there is good reason to believe they had no supernatural power (demonic or otherwise). I acknowledge that I am influenced by my experience performing as a magician in my younger days. I am very much aware of the amazing deception that can be produced, all perfectly natural. The purpose of the power given to Moses was to provide persuasive evidence that the message from Moses and Aaron was from the only real God. Those who claimed similar credentials, with a different message were frauds. Neither men nor demons can really create life; this is a prerogative of God alone, who “created every living creature.” (Genesis 1:21) However, human magicians can effectively deceive people into thinking that they can do what God alone can do.

It is interesting to notice that when their fraudulent performance was over, nothing was left. Even their rods (not “serpents”) were gone. Aaron’s supernaturally produced genuine serpent had made a meal of them. This was a true miracle of creation. Aaron’s God had transmuted the dead atoms of a wooden stick (just as He later made it to produce blossoms and almonds, Numbers 17:8) into a living serpent, capable of consuming other sticks that only appeared to be serpents.

The deception of the magicians was unmistakably revealed when, later, they were unable provide an imitation of Moses’ miracle of turning dust into lice throughout the land of Egypt.

“The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.'” (Exodus 8:18-19).

Egypt’s greatest experts of deception would know. This was not like their deception. The evidence was so convincing, that even the professionally dishonest admitted, this is really from God. And, by implication, “Our performance is not the finger of God.” Wow! That’s powerful evidence.

Interestingly, many scientists believed for many centuries that a similar phenomena—which they called “spontaneous generation”— occurred naturalistically. “Maggots appeared on rotting meat, so this is how maggots originate.” They believed microbes would naturally develop in milk from nothing. These foolish notions were scientifically demolished, demonstrated to be false by Pasteur and Redi over a hundred years ago. They were Creationists who understood that life only comes from life, which only comes from God. They understood that only the living God can create life!
The miracle of Aaron’s rod can also be viewed as an amazing antitype, an occurrence in the Old Testament that foreshadows the type, the reality fulfilled in the New Testament. Aaron’s rod of life took on the nature of the serpent, just as Christ was made sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21). But then it swallowed up the other serpent-rods, and the sting of “that old serpent” was put away. Thus, “death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting?” (I Corinthians 15:54-55). Only the real God can foresee and plan in this way.

“I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized…” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

Several of these thoughts were adapted from ideas

expressed by Henry Morris

 

 

December 30, 2018

Joy and Gladness – Curtis E. Flatt

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Joy and Gladness

In Luke 1:14 Zacharias was told that Elizabeth would bear a son and that he would, as a result, have joy and gladness. This combination of words joy and gladness was often used in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 35:10 they are used to describe the joyful flourishing of the kingdom of God or the church which was to come. This son of joy and gladness was born and came announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand. (Matthew 3:2) This is certainly a New Testament theme, for the word joy in its various forms is found nearly a hundred times in the New Testament. Those of us who are in the church apparently sometimes fail to find or else we forget the joy and gladness of being a part of the redeemed.

No Joy And Gladness

There are things in which people should find no joy and gladness. So often people find joy and gladness in sin. This is no strange thing, for sin has its attractions, for sure. (1 John 2:15-17) But this which seems to be of joy and gladness finally leads to destruction. We must not find joy and gladness in doing our own thing as did the Israelites when they made their golden calf. (Acts 7:41) Innovations in worship bring joy and gladness to many, but there will be sorrow one day because of them. (Matthew 7:23)

Many Things Of Joy and Gladness

There are many things in which people should have joy and gladness even though they may not recognize their attractions.

Here is contained a number of these as found in the New Testament.

  1. People ought to have joy and gladness in the temporal things God prepared, i.e., rain from heaven and fruitful seasons. (Acts 14:17). However, there are other things of much more importance to bring joy and gladness.
  2. People ought to have joy and gladness in that they have opportunity to hear the gospel—the good news. When the man of Ethiopia heard the gospel, he went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:39) This was because he had found something of great importance to fill him with joy and gladness. So many miss this entirely.
  3. People ought to have joy and gladness in that through this gospel they can be in Christ. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” (Philippians 3:1) Herein is reason for joy and gladness for it is here (in Christ) where all spiritual blessings are available. (Ephesians 1:3) This reminds us of the importance of baptism for it is by and through baptism that people get into Christ. (Galatians 3:26,27). None are in Christ who have not been baptized correctly.
  4. People should have joy and gladness in the hope which is in Christ. (Hebrews 3.6) Nothing is so saddening as to see our loved one die without the hope which is in Christ. On the other hand, nothing fills the soul of the mourner with joy and gladness like hope. Hope is one of the abiding things. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ….” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  5. It should also be noticed that people should have joy and gladness in the opportunity to worship God. Even though the psalmist did not have all the advantages people have in Christ, he experienced joy and gladness in worship: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) There is but little doubt, if any, that he was talking about worship. I may be a poor judge, but I fail to detect this joy and gladness on the part of many when it comes to worshipping God. Have we missed something?
    1. In view of all of this, is it any wonder that when Christians have to suffer for right that the New Testament teaches that they should suffer with joy and gladness? The New Testament does teach that. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” There is so much meaning in the song we sing:

    Tho’ your heart may be heavy with sorrow and care,

    You may others to gladness beguile,

    If a face like the light of the morning you wear,

    And carry your cross with a smile!

    For the work that you willingly, faithfully do,

    You shall reap a reward after while;

    Only grace in your service can glorify you,

    So carry your cross with a smile.

    We conclude with David’s statement to which Peter referred in Acts 2:26:”Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:8) “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at the right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

     

 

 

December 23, 2018

Lay Up Treasures – Author Unknown

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

One of the most common struggles people have in their giving decisions is an uneasy sense of loss at what is given away. Some feel if they give, they will become poorer while the recipient becomes richer. Instead of giving with a cheerful heart for the Lord’s work (II Corinthians 9:7), the giver often weighs the cost of giving based on how much they feel they can afford to lose. The question “How much poorer am I willing to be?” becomes the determining factor in deciding how much they want to give.

Ironically, almost none of us feel poorer when we put money aside for retirement, invest in stock, or make a house payment. On the contrary, we feel financially more secure by doing so, even though our net worth hasn’t changed. We understand we’ve simply transferred a portion of our resources into a different asset that will be beneficial in the future.

Scripture teaches a similar approach but with a completely opposite focus. To begin with, you and I don’t really “own” anything. If God created the world, He is the sole and

rightful owner of the entire cosmos. Everything that exists comes from the God who “gives to all life, breath, and all things,” (Acts 17:25). But we are God’s stewards (Genesis 1:28). God has temporarily entrusted a portion of His resources into our care to accomplish His work here on Earth. And as the great Creator-Owner, God is just and right to expect an accounting one day (I Corinthians 3:10-15).

But a marvelous part of the message of Scripture is that we are privileged to participate with God as His “fellow workers” (I Corinthians 3:9). And as co-laborers with God, we are promised great rewards for the work we do for Him. The Lord Jesus said as much when He counseled the disciples to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20), which Paul echoed when he commanded rich believers to be “ready to give, willing to share” in order to store up “for themselves a good foundation for the time to come” (I Timothy 6:18-19).

Notice that these “treasures” and “good foundations” are not being deposited in heaven for God, or for the poor and needy, or even for the lost—they are for us. We are not losing anything when we give to God’s work but are simply transferring available “assets” into an account that will pay everlasting dividends.

In view of these passages, feeling poorer when we give to the Lord’s work is just flat-out wrong! Rather, we are blessed and far richer when we give because we have willingly transferred some of our God-given resources into the heavenly account that will be waiting for us when we “retire” from this life.

 

December 16, 2018

God’s Ways Are Best – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” (I Kings 17:8-9)

The “what” and the “why” of God’s requirements for our lives are often puzzling to us. We scratch our heads and think, “That makes no sense at all.” Of course, we are wrong, not because we see the sense, but because we know the source.

We should not be the least bit surprised that the Creator’s thinking is different from our own. God’s will and purpose is far beyond ours and is infinitely wise. It is perfect. How arrogant to imagine that we are qualified to sit in judgment.

Elijah had been supernaturally guided to safety and fed by ravens until the brook of Cherith dried up, due to the very drought Elijah had prophesied. Then, instead of supernaturally providing water into the dry stream, God told Elijah to move to a village in Zidon (of all places) to stay with a rich benefactor….poor widow who would feed him.

Recall that James reminds us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” James 5:17). He got discouraged and disillusioned as we do. How would you react to God’s plan? It’s not difficult to imagine Elijah thinking sarcastically, “Oh, now I understand. That makes perfect sense.” Zidon was the home of Elijah’s sworn enemy, the infamous idolater, murdering queen Jezebel.

“Now, Elijah (after your magnificent victory on Mt. Carmel) you are to humble yourself, asking a non-Jewish stranger, a poor starving widow with a dependent son, to give to you what she thinks will be her last meal. This is your plan for survival. Go for it.”

Elijah obeyed. So did the widow of Zarephath. The result? Foolish embarrassment? Disaster? Absolutely not.

God was able to meet the spiritual, as well as the physical needs, of this unlikely duo — the greatest spiritual leader of his age and an apparently insignificant widow. An amazing daily miracle of continuing creation of oil and meal took place as long as the drought continued. And then an even more astounding miracle was performed. For the first time in all history, so far as the record goes, one who was dead (the widow’s son) was restored to life (I Kings 17:20-24). God determined to perform two of His mightiest miracles and then demonstrate the divinely designed, appropriate, response…faith.

Faith was produced in the heart of a foreign stranger. She came to believe that Jehovah was the true God, not by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, not even by the testimony of the written word (as is often the case). Rather, faith came into her heart by honestly evaluating the evidence, facts that could be reasonably explained only by a supernatural God.

“Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.” (I Kings 17:24)

God’s ways are certainly not our ways, but they are always best. May He give us the determination to always obey His word, whether we fully understand, or not.

 

 

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