May 30, 2010

In Memoriam – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

When we hear In Memoriam, what do we think of. If you are like me, you think about funerals and memorial services. Monday is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance. When it first was celebrated on May 30, 1868, it was called Decoration Day, and I can remember it being called that when I was a young boy. It was a day that we all went to the grave yard and decorated the graves with flowers. We were careful to leave flowers on the graves of fallen heroes killed in America’s wars beginning with the Civil War or the War of Northern Aggression depending which side you were on. Memorial Day did not become an official federal holiday until 1971 when Congress passed the National Holiday Act designating the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.

Moina Michael wrote a poem in 1918 entitled We Shall Keep The Faith. The words are beautiful:

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows of fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That the blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead,

In Flanders Fields.

Today we gather on the Lord’s day to remember one who also made the ultimate sacrifice. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

That we keep certain things in remembrance through memorials is nothing new. “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:12-15)

There are some things we would like God not to remember and some that we would as David did when he wrote, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness sake, O Lord.“(Psalms 25:7)

“Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” (Psalms 97:12 KJV) Paul also wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” There are so many things that Christians have to rejoice about. We only need to call to our remembrance how he created the world, how he provides for our material needs and how he as blessed us through his saving grace. Let us call to memory how much he loved us by sending us his son. (John 3:16) He has provided for our material needs and our spiritual needs.

Peter wrote of his care for us. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:2-4)

So, as we gather here today to worship God, let us also remember him who gave his life for us. Let us remember the words that Paul wrote. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.””

“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Let us never forget those who have died for us so that we would have the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Let us also never forget the one who set us free by his death on the cross. These are troubling times we are living in now. But, think on these words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

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May 23, 2010

The Grace of God (Part 2) – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Six weeks ago I wrote an article in which I discussed the grace of God. This is a continuation of that article. Many today quote Ephesians 2:8 by saying, “For by grace are ye saved” and stop there. They neglect to continue with “through faith.” We understand that faith is the door through which we reach salvation. Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Jesus said when likening us to sheep, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9) Paul wrote to the Romans, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:6-9). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) God in his grace and mercy sent us his only begotten son that through him we might be saved. We understand the concept of having to “pass through” something to get from one point to another. Whenever I drive from Little Rock to Hot Springs, I pass through Benton. When we drive in the mountains, we often pass through a tunnel to get from one side to the other. When we were in New Jersey, we passed through the Holland Tunnel to get to Manhattan. Jesus is the way, he is the door, he is the means by which we pass from sin to life everlasting.

We read earlier that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been begotten unto a lively hope. Our hope is alive and it lives in every one of us. This hope is a confident expectation that God will do all that he has promised and this hope saves us. Paul wrote, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:24-25) How does this hope save us? I have noticed one thing about people who have survived terrible tragedies like being buried in rubble following an earthquake, clinging for days to a capsized boat, being lost in a blizzard on a mountain, or sealed off in a mine after a cave in. They all had hope that carried them through. They all believed that they would be rescued to once again be with loved ones. We have a God who has done the most remarkable thing to rescue us from sin. He gave us his only son to die for those sins.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

 In this passage from Titus we see that through the kindness, love and mercy of God we are saved. This love, kindness and mercy give us hope. The hope of eternal life. This hope based on God’s kindness, love and mercy is more sure than the hope of those poor souls mentioned earlier who have their hope based on the efforts of man to rescue them. Our God will never abandon us, and he will never give up on us.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2) Paul tells us that the gospel saves us if we remember the things that are contained in it. This adds another thing to the list that the Bible tells us will save us.

And one more thing, listen to the words written for us in 1 Peter 3:18-22. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”

There is more to understanding the grace of God than to just accept it as an unmerited favor. It is that, but it is also his love, his kindness, and his mercy. It involves the obedience of his son    to the death on the cross by which he became the author of our salvation (Hebrews 5:9) It involves the hope of eternal life that springs from belief in the gospel. It involves our obedience to God’s will that leads us to baptism, and forgiveness of sins. Saved by grace, yes, but let us understand all that truly means.

May 16, 2010

The Gospel Is For All – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Received ye freely, freely give,

From every land they call;

Unless they hear, they cannot live

The gospel is for all.

J. M. McCaleb

We sing these words in our worship service from time to time, and they are especially meaningful this week as we begin our gospel meeting with Brian Anderson. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:16-18) Perhaps Mr. McCaleb had these scriptures in mind when he wrote the verse above.

He may have also thought about these scriptures, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:12-17)

Let me call one other scripture citation to your attention, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)

From these verses we understand that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. That is comforting to know, but it begs the question, “How do you come to believe?” Paul tells us that too. You come to believe by hearing the word of God. Well, how do you come to hear? That comes to you by preaching which is to the world foolishness, but to those that believe it is the power of God. Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)

Not everyone who hears will believe and be obedient to God’s will. They must have a good heart, be willing to listen carefully and respond to the gospel when they have been presented with    enough evidence. We cannot tell just by looking who will respond. Our job is to invite them to hear. This week is the perfect opportunity to do that. We have a preacher who has come a long way to be with us to preach the gospel of peace and to bring glad tidings of good things. He will call our attention back to the basics. We must let him do his work and trust that God will do his. What a joy it is to see someone who has not believed finally realize that what is missing in their life is the peace that passes all understanding. That peace comes only through having a right relationship with God that only comes by being one of his children.

Those of us who are Christians have the opportunity to focus the whole week on the word of God, to rekindle our fire that may have grown cool because of the cares of the world, to share our evenings with others of like faith and to draw strength from their faithfulness as they too will draw strength from ours.

Won’t you make plans to be at every service this week? God will be pleased if you do. Invite others. You never know whether your invitation may be the one that opens the door to belief.

May 9, 2010

Should We Be More Like Thomas? – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:24-28)

It may seem strange to you that I would ask “should we be more like Thomas” if you think of Thomas based on his nickname “Doubting Thomas.”  But think for a moment how Thomas must have felt when the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” (John 20:25). Doubt, certainly, as we have just read, but probably also great disappointment. He was one of the twelve and had been with Jesus throughout his ministry, had seen the miracles, shared the last supper with Jesus and the rest, and then seen Jesus crucified like a common criminal. After Jesus was buried he must have wondered how something like this could have happened to his master and his Lord. Then to have missed seeing Jesus as the others did. How could this be?

However, the other disciples had something that Thomas didn’t have—evidence. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (John 20:19-23). They had seen his hands and his side. Thomas only wanted that same evidence.

There is nothing wrong with doubt as long as doubt ends when sufficient evidence is presented to remove it. Listen again to what Thomas said when confronted with the evidence, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28). All doubt had been removed. Not only did Thomas recognize and proclaim Jesus as his Lord, signifying one who has authority, but he also immediately proclaimed him to be deity. Therein lies the basis for my question, “should we be more like Thomas.” When confronted with ample evidence of the deity of Jesus, should we also not proclaim him to be the Lord of our lives and deity and being one with the Father.

Paul wrote to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:16-25)

The gospel of Christ is God’s power unto salvation. There is ample evidence in it to lead men to believe and obey. John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30-31). There is ample evidence of the existence of God in nature as Paul pointed out. Men have tried to deny that it is his creation, but our good brother Don Patton presented ample evidence that the Bible account of creation is believable in every aspect of it.

In the face of the evidence presented in God’s creation and the Holy Scriptures, men still turn their backs on God. He will eventually give them up to their own lusts. But thanks be to God that he is long suffering toward us and not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9) Let us all assemble this Lord’s day to proclaim together, “My Lord and My God.”