March 28, 2010

Let Not Government Be Our God – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said,

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

(Matthew 6:9-14)

We also find the following statement written in James 1:17 about the goodness of God:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

(James 1:17)

We Christians almost take it for granted that everyone knows how we have been blessed by God and his goodness toward all of us. We believe that God sent his son to die on the cross so that we might have our sins remitted and be reconciled unto the God of heaven. Being justified by the blood of Christ, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. (Romans 5:9).

The psalmist wrote one of the great pieces of poetry that has comforted mankind for ages and clearly presents the goodness of God:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil;

my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

(Psalms 23:1-6)

Finally, Jesus taught his disciples to trust God to take care of our material needs with these words:

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore fore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

(Matt 6:25-34)

There are many in our country that seem to place their trust more and more not in God but in the civil government. They rely on government to take care of their every material need. History tells that government cannot long perform this service for its citizens without falling into ruin. We must not think of our government as being able to supply us with our daily bread. It cannot deliver us from evil. It cannot comfort us in the way that the psalmist describes God. Government cannot do what God has said the we should do for ourselves.

We are to do good for all men, especially those of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10) We are to care for the widows among us. (1 Timothy 5:16) We are to “lay by in store” for the time when there are needy saints. Funds freely given in love can be used to meet the need, no matter how large or for how long. These verses present us with principles we are to follow, and we have. We only need to think of the number of times this congregation addressed the needs of those among us. God in his wisdom has placed the meeting of needs close to the giver of the funds that met that need. Consider the blessing you receive when you see the good that your benevolence does. That can never happen when we trust some far away government agency to do it for us.

Let not government try to take the place of God. Our God is able to deliver us from every harm and supply our every need. Amen.

March 21, 2010

Give me understanding – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The Psalmist wrote, “Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” (Psalms 119:33-34) It isn’t enough to just read our Bibles. We must understand what we read. Sometimes that’s difficult to do. Peter wrote of Paul’s letters, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16) There is great danger as this verse tells us in not understanding the meaning of what we read. Unless we understand what we read, we can go down a path that leads us to accepting false doctrine that is taught by others. We only need to call to mind the doctrines of original sin, predestination and premillenialism as erroneously taught by some to see the danger in failing to clearly understand what the Bible teaches. The Psalmist also wrote, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalms 119:103-104)

The Ethiopian eunuch was riding in his chariot reading Isaiah when Philip asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” And the eunuch replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:30-31) We all need to be taught. We know that the way we obtain understanding and develop our faith is by hearing the word of God. Hearing implies that someone is speaking to us from the scriptures.

Luke begins his book by writing, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4) Luke had a perfect understanding of the things he wrote and he wanted to share his knowledge with others so that they too might understand and understand with certainty. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Proverbs 3:13)

Getting understanding in not a one time effort. Sometimes we need to be taught again and again before we fully grasp the meaning. This was true of the apostles too. Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25-26) He also told them, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:12-13) You have heard it said many times that the life of a Christian is a journey. This is true of our learning and understanding too. We assemble each Lord’s day to hear the preaching of the word, but also to join together in Bible classes to study together and to ask questions about the things we do not understand. We need to have inquisitive minds that always desire to search out the depths of God’s knowledge. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are  are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) When we miss Bible class, we miss a perfect opportunity to deepen our understanding of the scriptures. Some may say that Bible class is not that important. But I agree with the Proverbs which say, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:1-7) Did you take notice of the words apply, seek, and search in this quotation? Getting understanding is not a passive undertaking. It takes action on our part including being present at every opportunity we have of being taught. Then we should study on our own the things we have been taught.

We should be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily to determine whether the things they were being taught were so. (Acts 17:11) And if we come to a fuller understanding of the things we are taught, then we are able to teach others also. Paul told Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2)

I have found that one of the best ways to understand something is to teach it to someone else. To have to verbalize something helps to cement those things in your mind. We should never stop learning so that we can be better able to teach others. That starts in our own households. As Moses wrote, “And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up”. (Deuteronomy11:19-21)

My desire for you is the same as Paul had for the Colossians, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” (Colossians 1:9)

March 14, 2010

After Repentance – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by kdkelly

After we repent, then what? All of us who have come to Christ and put him on in baptism have done so because we have repented of our sins and chosen to follow our Lord and Savior,  Jesus Christ. We arise to walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)But temptation is always before us because the devil does not give up on us just because we have become children of God. Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because  your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are suffered by your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)  Paul urged the Philippians to “Stand fast in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:1). 

We are tempted, but we should trust God who will not allow us to be tempted with more than we can resist. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) We still have to do our part however. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:7-8)

If we put our trust in God, then we can say each day, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24) We can follow the admonition of Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

Repentance – Ron Boatwright

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Many people believe repentance is when you feel sorrow, guilt, or shame for sin; but this is not repentance.  The Bible says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).  If one is only sorry he got caught, then this will not lead to repentance.  Godly sorrow helps bring on repentance.  Repentance is not sorrow for sin, but one cannot repent without being sorry he has sinned.  “Let the wicked forsake his way…let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him…for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).  In repentance, one must first understand he has sinned, feel sorrow for the sin, and then stop and turn away from that sin.

“Truly, the times of this ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).  All people are commanded to repent.  It is not possible for anyone, except our Lord, to live a sin-free life, but this is no excuse for our sinning.  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves; and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).  We also read in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  It is God’s goodness that should lead us to repentance.  “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).

Paul says, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1-2).  To show our repentance we are to “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  Why should we repent of sins?  “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:3).  Spiritual death is separation from God in eternity.  Jesus says, “I tell you no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).  Unless one repents he cannot go to Heaven, but will eternally suffer the torments of Hell.  We must give up our sin and “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Romans 6:12).

If one is an alien sinner then he must, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).  But if one is a child of God who has sinned then he must, “Repent of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22).  We must repent before we ask God to forgive us.  Our repentance also includes our confessing our sins.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sin shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Repentance is a change of heart, which results in a change of actions for the better.  Without repentance we cannot receive forgiveness and be saved.  Where we spend eternity, in Heaven or Hell, is determined by our repentance.  All of Heaven is anxious for us to repent.  Jesus says, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

March 7, 2010

The Bible – Luther Bolenbarker

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by kdkelly

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to  be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Where paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be open at the judgment, and remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy contents.

It’s a good book to have around, to read, to know and live by. Get better acquainted with it. (John 12:48)

A Sense of Ought – Steve Dewhirst

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Human beings have a universal sense of right and wrong. The particulars of what is “moral” may vary from culture to culture, and yet man’s moral sense is remarkably consistent throughout the world and has been throughout history. We are created with instincts which are aroused in various ways, but it is that sense of right and wrong which tells us which instinct we ought to listen to. And this sense of right and wrong is separate from our conscience. The conscience is the mechanism that gives us a capacity for determining right and wrong, but the standard which influences the conscience must come from outside the conscience itself. All humans feel the press of Moral Law on our lives and conduct. Occasionally one may encounter a sociopath with no apparent concept of good and evil, but he’s the exception rather than the rule. It is the existence of this Moral Law we feel pressing upon us that serves as one of the greatest evidences for the existence of God.

Now immediately, many will object to the existence of any such Moral Law. But think about it from the basis of personal experience. Why do we become upset if someone cuts to the front of the line while others have been waiting patiently? Because we perceive “it’s not fair.” But who says “it’s not fair?” Every time we pass judgment on behavior we deem unethical or immoral, we acknowledge the existence of an objective Law higher than ourselves. We appeal to it even while we might foolishly deny its existence in another setting.

Likewise, why do even unbelievers “feel guilty” over their bad behavior? It’s not because of a mere social convention they’ve violated; it’s because they know deep down that they are guilty. And guilt itself is an admission of the existence of a Moral Law dictating what they ought to have done. Isn’t it interesting that when professed atheists campaign for social change, it’s on the basis of what is right and fair? Their very efforts to establish “social justice” speak to the fact that there exists an independent, objective standard of right and wrong in the universe. They do not want to obey, but they will appeal to it for political gain.

Of course many will argue that this human sense of “ought” is nothing more than the product of persistent education by parents and teachers. But it is just too ingrained in the human psyche. And history demonstrates that from earliest times, man has had this innate sense of what he should be doing. Moral Law exists separate from man in the same way as mathematics. We teach mathematics, but we didn’t invent it. Mathematical truth existed long before many ever figured out how to write it down and use it. And even if we never learn it, mathematics will exist anyway. So it is with Moral Law. We teach what we have learned of morals and ethics, but Moral Law exists even if we refuse to recognize it.

It was this very recognition of Moral Law existing separate from man which led the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis from atheism to belief. He could not ignore his own conclusions. Please note that the recognition of Moral Law in the universe does not tell us anything about the personal God of the Bible, but it leads one to a willingness to read scripture and find out. It serves to make the concept of faith viable to those who have rejected faith in the past. For further insight, I heartily recommend Lewis’ book Mere Christianity from which these ideas were taken. It’s a profound little book which can greatly effect the way we try to lead others to Christ.