July 25, 2010

I will give you rest – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

We are all probably familiar with the passage in Matthew where Jesus offers the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I wonder, though, what most people think of when they read or hear these words. The question may be asked—rest from what? Many people are so involved in the world, that they may think of a worldly application of the word rest.

In the work-a-day world, rest is usually thought of as a time of sleep, of refreshing, of ease, or even a time when all activity stops or ceases. This is also a biblical usage of the word. (Mark 6:30-31; Mark 14:41; Luke 12:19) I’ve heard people say many times that this period of refreshing will come when they just get through this day, or this week, or even this month. People are so busy and stressed that rest always seems to be just around the corner.

Stress often comes from worry about jobs and providing for one’s family. These are times when people are working longer for less, or not being able to work at all because their jobs have been lost for one reason or another. Others are worried about hanging onto what they’ve got or missing out on what they could have. We worry about our health, our relationships with others, the oil in the gulf, our mortgages, and the price of gasoline. You name it, and someone is worried about it.

The Christian needs to slow down and count the many blessings already possessed. Solomon wrote, “Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19) But, Solomon also warns, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-13) The Christian who is so worried about the things of this world needs to read over and over the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) He also said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 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?” (Matt 6:24-25 ) The Bible is full of good advice about how man should deal with the world he lives in. But, when Jesus said he would give rest to all who would come to him, he was talking about something different.

The context of the passage helps us to understand that Jesus was talking about something spiritual. As Matthew chapter 11 begins, John the Baptizer who was in prison sent two of his disciples to Christ to ask if he was the one to come or should they look for another. Jesus replied by telling them to remind John of the miracles that he had seen or heard that Jesus had performed. He went on to reprove his listeners over their unbelief and lack of repentance. His mighty works done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were surely sufficient evidence that he was sent from God. Even a pagan Roman centurion present at the crucifixion of Jesus, when he saw the earthquake and things that happened there, exclaimed that Jesus must truly have been the son of God. (Matthew 27:54)

It is true that Jesus is able to comfort us and give us rest from the stress we impose on ourselves if we will only let him. But,  that rest is only temporary. The rest he speaks of in Matthew 11:28-30 is eternal. The people he was speaking to were laden down with sin and unbelief. He told them to take his yoke upon them and throw off the yoke of works that could not save them from their sin. Because of the commands that the Pharisees and Sadducees had layered on top of the Law of Moses, they were burdened with law keeping that would never make them righteous in the site of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The invitation is still offered today. We read in Revelations, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” (Revelations 14:13 ) And also, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelations 22:17) Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14) Let us all remain steadfast in the Lord as we pass along life’s weary road looking forward always to that heavenly home and rest that awaits the faithful. Amen.

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July 18, 2010

For Good Or For Evil – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

In the book of Genesis it is written, “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31 ) Everything that God created was good and it was good for the man and woman he created. But because of their sin, they took that which was good and made something bad out of it. This has been the history of man—to take something good that God has made and use it for evil.

Ben Franklin in his autobiography mused about God and His revelation, “Revelation had indeed no weight with me as such; but I entertained an opinion that though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them, yet probably those actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered.” Ben reasoned correctly that some things are bad because of what they are and some things are good because of what they are. God has warned us about those things that are evil and commanded us to avoid them. He has also told us those things that are good and encouraged us to pursue them. (Galatians 5:19-23) Man has not changed much since God spoke of those who were living in the days of Noah, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 ) Man will take that which is good and make something evil out of it. Let’s consider a few of them.

Language

God has given man the ability to communicate by means of the spoken word. Man is able to put his thoughts into spoken words and thus share them with others. But language can be used for an evil purpose. “And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4) God was not pleased with this. “So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off building the city. Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because Jehovah did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:8-9 ) James wrote of the tongue, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:5-10) Our language today has become such an accepted evil that a federal appeals court this week ruled that the FCC’s crackdown on “indecency” and expletives on television is unconstitutionally vague, and creates a “chilling effect”.

Drugs

I for one am glad that I live in this age. I feel so blessed to live in a time where there are antibiotics, drugs to control diabetes and high blood pressure, fight cancer, eliminate pain. I can’t imagine having surgery to remove a leg or arm without pain killers. The use of anesthetics has allowed us to move into areas of open heart surgery and all manner of joint replacements. Yet man has taken those same drugs and turned them into an epidemic of evil. “Throughout Arkansas foreign-based and domestic drug trafficking groups have developed sizable transportation and distribution networks for methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. By far, the most significant problem facing Arkansas is the proliferation of small, toxic local clandestine methamphetamine labs distributing locally.” (www.drugaddictions.com)

Medical Practice

The practice of medicine has reached levels of sophistication today that would have been thought of as science fiction only 50 years ago. Today we are able to replace hearts, livers, kidneys, corneas, knees, hips and many other body parts. The skill of medical professionals in the United States is second to none. Yet some use their skill for one of the greatest evils to overtake America. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “In 2005 (the most recent year for which there is reliable data), approximately 1.21 million abortions took place in the U.S., down from an estimated 1.29 million in 2002, 1.31 million in 2000 and 1.36 million in 1996. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S.” The taking of an unborn child’s life is a blot on America that God will not ignore.

Choose You This Day

Joshua wrote, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 ) Let us choose who we will follow, whether it will be the gods of this world which have turned the goodness of God’s world into evil, or the goodness of God and his will for us. Choose now and choose wisely. Amen

July 11, 2010

The Devine Right of Kings – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The Devine Right of Kings is a doctrine that goes back many centuries and reached its height, or should I say its low point, in 15th century England. Briefly, this doctrine stated that a king derived his authority to rule from God. Therefore, a king was not subject to the will of the people, any other appointed body put in place by the king to do his bidding, or any religious body claiming to be the agents of God. This doctrine was finally abandoned in the 18th century during times of high taxes, wars, and luxurious life styles of the monarchs. Revolutions in France, England and Spain were necessary to make the change. In the American revolution, we determined that we would have no king over us, but that we would have a president who would have powers limited by the other two branches of government.

The idea of God ordained rulers certainly has its basis in the Bible. Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2) Jesus standing before Pilate said, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11)

 We can turn to the history of Israel to see exactly how God felt about earthly rulers over his people. Before Israel had its first king, they were led by men such as Moses and Joshua. After the death of Joshua, Israel was a loosely bound together by their common faith, but had no strong central government. They were involved in civil wars and surrounded by heathen nations who were trying their best to enslave or destroy the tribes, collectively or one at a time. During this time there were a series of judges that “ruled” for about 400 years. Some were good, some were bad, and others were very bad. For about 100 years of that time, Israel was oppressed and in subjugation to the notorious Mesopotamians, Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites, Philistines, and Canaanites. There was a cycle of prosperity, sin, subjugation, pleas to God, and deliverance. When Israel forgot their true “King,” the foreign powers took over. When Israel turned once again to their God, they were delivered.

However, Israel became weary of the judges in the time of Samuel and demanded that they should have a king like the other nations around them. (1 Samuel 8:1-5). Samuel was displeased and prayed unto the Lord. The Lord’s reply to his prayer was, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7) God foretold what kind of kings there would be and it would not be good. “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots; and he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and he will set some to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and Jehovah will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 10-18) Nevertheless, the people demanded a king and they got what they asked for and all that God had spoken came to pass.

After the death of Solomon, Rehoboam became king. When the Israelites assembled in Shechem, they petitioned Rehoboam to reduce the heavy burden that Solomon had placed on them. Rehoboam sought the council of the older men and they said if he would serve the people and speak good words to them, the people would serve him forever. He then sought the council of the younger men who advised him to increase the burden even more. He followed the advice of the younger men. As a result, the ten northern tribes rebelled against Rehoboam and made Jeroboam their king. (1 Kings 12:1-20)

The Bible and history have taught us that when men and governments turn away from God, the lives of the people become hard and the governments soon wither and fall. That was seen in the time of the judges, the early kings of Israel, and during the time of the Devine Right of Kings doctrine.

Even though Paul said that everyone should be subject to the higher powers, there are exceptions to that. When Peter and John were admonished by certain Jews not to teach or preach in the name of Jesus, they replied, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto
God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) When once again they all were admonished not to preach in the name of Jesus, Peter and the other apostles replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

We Christians need to keep clearly in mind that God is control of everything and Jesus is our only King. In hard times and when the way ahead seems dim, listen to the words of Paul, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) – Amen