November 30, 2010

Come, Learn and Find – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:01 pm by sranderson0103

 

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) This great invitation offered by Jesus contains three action elements that everyone who accepts his invitation must do. They must come, learn and find.

Come

To come to Jesus we must go from where we are to where he is. The first chapter of John provides a record of just such an action. “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see.” (John 1:35-39) Later in that same chapter we read about Philip finding Nathanael and telling him about Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael said, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip replied, “Come and see.” (John 1:45-47) Individuals who realize that something is missing in their lives will do well to go to Jesus for he has the means to provide rest and a peaceful life.

Learn

To come to Jesus carries with it the obligation to learn of him. It is not sufficient to exclaim, “Jesus, I come to thee.” For today many will be drawn near to Jesus by hearing others speak of him or by watching the actions of Christians as they conduct their lives in keeping with his will. Curiosity is a good thing when it leads one to enquire about the teachings of Christ written in his last will and testament. Jesus said, “Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:43-45)

For one to learn, there must of necessity also be a teacher. “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?” (Romans 10:13-14) We know that faith comes from hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) We must be careful, however, to ensure that the teacher is relying on the word of God. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31) The Bereans searched the scriptures to determine whether the things they were being taught were true. (Acts 17:11)

We too must watch and “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.” (2 Thessalonians 5:21) We would do well to heed the advice that Paul gave to Timothy. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God,

and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17) Learning comes from teaching and it also comes from study as Paul also exhorted Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Find

Jesus said that if you come and learn of him, you will find rest for your souls. Rest has always been found in following the things revealed to us by God and his son. Jeremiah reminded Israel, “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16) Jesus never spoke anything that was not in keeping with God’s will and those things that had already been taught. Jesus said that the words he spoke were given to him by God. (John 12:49)

If we search all the scriptures to learn of Jesus, we have done a good and right thing. (John 5:39). David told Solomon to seek God with a willing heart and he would find him. (1 Chronicles 28:9). The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalms 119:2 ) “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.” (Psalms 70:4) “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember his marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.” (Psalms 105:1-6)

If we seek, we shall find. (Matthew 7:7) And what shall we find? The scriptures tell us we will find rest for our souls and blessings in Christ Jesus. We will be glad and rejoice, and be willing to teach others of his wondrous and marvelous works. We will find salvation and a hope that looks forward to a heavenly home where there are no more troubles and sorrow. Come and learn! ——-Amen.

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November 21, 2010

Give Me Your Tired – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Graven on a tablet on the base of the Statue of Liberty are the following words that come from a poem written by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free.” For many years Lady Liberty has greeted immigrants to this country who left a life behind them seeking a new life where they could be free and prosper.

Nearly 2000 years ago Christ gave a similar invitation with eternal consequences to all who would be free and leave their old lives behind to live anew in his kingdom. He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Come

Just as the United States beckoned to those who had grown weary of the lives they were living, so also Christ beckons us to come. This requires us to move from where we are to where we want to be. The offer stands, we must accept it. It will not be forced on us, neither is it something that others can accept for us. But not everyone is willing to come. Just as in Jesus’ day many wouldn’t come (Matthew 23:37), so today many will not come. Why? There’s no good reason. There are only excuses. (Luke 14:15-21)

All Ye That Labor and Are Heavy Laden

Those who are in the world and enthralled by its pleasures are not the ones who will be willing to come. It is those who are burdened by their own sin and recognize it. While many are burdened with cares of the world and grow tired from their physical labor, it is their spiritual condition that weighs them down. Christians have a different attitude toward the trials of this life. James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4) The individual is made stronger by the trials he faces. Christians are able to face these trials with the confidence that comes from a faith that will not be moved and standing on the bedrock that is Jesus. Christians know that only through Christ can burdens truly be lifted.

And I Will Give You Rest

Who among us does not desire to find rest. After an especially tiring day we look forward to a restful evening. A time to regenerate ourselves and regain our strength from a good night’s rest. The rest that Christ offers is a rest from the burden of sin and the weight that it presses on us. It not only helps us through the day and night, but also looks forward to that time when we will all lay our labors down and go to be with him in heaven.

This beautiful forward-looking to that eternal home is not available to the atheist or unrepentant sinner. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3 ) This eternal home is only open to those who believe in God and his only son. There are many blessings that come only to Christians in this life and the life to come. (Hebrews 11:6) When we accept the offer of Jesus and take his yoke upon us, we will find that promised rest.

Take My Yoke

In order to fully understand the yoke of Christ, we must first know what a yoke is. It was well understood by the people in Christ’s time, but those of us who have been primarily city dwellers may not. A yoke is a crossbar or wooden frame that is fitted with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of two oxen or other strong animals working together to pull or move a load. When Jesus offers us his yoke, implicit in this invitation is the thought that Jesus will be yoked together with us. How comforting that is! I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather be yoked with than the son of God.

What is my part in this load. First, I must believe as we have already mentioned. Second, I must be committed to a life of service and obedience to the will of God and the teachings of his son. (Matthew 7:21) Is this easy? No! Is it a burden? Some think it might be, but it is a matter of perception. Nothing worth having ever comes without effort and sometimes sacrifice. There is only temporary pleasure in having something for which you have paid little or nothing or for which you made no effort. Who has the greater pleasure: a mountain climber who has struggled to the top or the person who is dropped at the summit by a helicopter? I remember as a child that the toys that were given me were often soon broken and forgotten. The things that I saved my allowance to buy were treasures. And the longer I had to save, the more treasured it was.

Jesus knows that the road to heaven is narrow and few will find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) As we pass through this life remember that Christ is always with us. If we draw near to him for comfort, he will draw close to us and if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. (James 4:7-8).

“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) ———Amen.

 

November 14, 2010

What Day Is It? – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Last week we discussed Psalm 118:24 where the Psalmist wrote, “This is the day the Lord hath make; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” This verse certainly has application to each and every day that we arise from our sleep to live another day in God’s creation. However, we found when we considered the context of the verse that the Psalmist was referring to a day of salvation. We noted that the verse was meaningful to them in their day, but also had a prophetic nature too because it looked forward to the day that Christ died on the cross for the sin of the world and the ushering in of his kingdom on the day of Pentecost.

It is the Lord’s Day

As we gather together today to worship God and to remember the death of his son on the cross, the day is called Sunday. It is interesting that the common name of the day carries with it the connotation of the pagan worship of the sun god. Many of the days of the week carry with them similar roots such as Monday (moon) and Saturday (Saturn). However, we Christians use Biblical terms for Biblical things. For us it is the Lord’s day. John referred to it as such in Revelations where he wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, …” (Revelation 1:10) It is called the Lord’s day in recognition of the day of the Lord’s resurrection. (Matthew 28:1). It is on the Lord’s day, the first day of the week, that every

Christian commemorates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We do this following the example set by the early Christians. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7)

It Is One of the Last Days

We also know that there are three dispensations or ages recorded for us in the Bible. We are living in the last days of the third dispensation. (Acts 2:17, 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:2)

The first age was that of the patriarchs which was the name given to the head of a family or tribe in Old Testament times. The title of patriarch is assigned especially to those whose lives are recorded in scripture previous to the time of Moses. Adam was the first, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Following them were the twelve sons of Jacob. “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs.” (Acts 7:8-9) The Patriarchial age began with Adam and continued until the death of Christ on the cross. This age covered all people on earth and was a period of blood sacrifice unto God. (Genesis 4:4, Hebrews 11:4). It should be noted that this age ran in parallel with the second age which was the Mosaical age.

This second age began with the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai and described a period in the Old Testament where God dealt directly with the nation of Israel. Moses was its head and it too was a period of blood sacrifice. A middle wall of separation was established between Jew and gentile and was not removed until Christ’s death on the cross. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:” (Ephesians 2:11-16)

The third and final dispensation is the Christian age. Christ is the head and there was only one blood sacrifice in this age.  Christ died on the cross and shed his blood there as the one perfect sacrifice that could reconcile man unto God and serve as the only atonement possible for mankind. (Romans 5:10-11) This age is repeatedly referred to as the last days, (Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:2) and we are living in it.

It May Be The Last Day

We often forget that we are not promised a certain number of days in our life. In contrast to infinity, our time here is short. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14) We never know when this day will be our last day on earth. I’m certain that when we read in the newspaper of the death of individuals through some auto accident or natural disaster, we never imagine that those people said to themselves that this would be the day they would die. Hardly anyone except those suffering horribly from terminal illnesses give it much thought. Our last day may be the day we die or it may be when the Lord comes in which case it will come as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10). Many will be unprepared to meet their God. Will you?

 

November 7, 2010

This Is The Day The Lord Hath Made – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

In Psalm 118:24 the Psalmist wrote, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” I have often referred to this verse as I prepare myself for the day ahead. Actually I have a wall hanging with the verse on it right where I get ready so I cannot fail to see it each day. It reminds me of the creator who made the earth, heavens, stars, sun and moon. In fact he created everything in the beginning and saw that it was very good. (Genesis 1:1-31)

It also reminds me that I have a choice. How will I respond to the things that happen during the day. Will I rejoice and be glad in them or will I let them wear me down to the point of despair? Will I be distracted by them so that I forget why I am here? “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) If I keep his commandments foremost in my mind it will affect my attitude toward God, those that I meet during the day, my relationship with my boss and fellow workers, and with my family. (Matthew 22:36-40, Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 5:25, Ephesians 6:1-9, Exodus 24:15)

Paul reminds us that we should “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 that passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7). Considering all these things that the verse from Psalms calls to mind has been a most beneficial exercise for me each day and I recommend it to you.

The Verse In Context

However beneficial this verse is in terms of our preparation to live another day in God’s creation, we need to understand the context in which the statement was made and why the Psalmist would rejoice in the “day that the Lord hath made.” As we consider the context we find that Psalm 118 was a song of thanksgiving for the Lord’s salvation. Whether it was written by David or after the captivity as some believe, the message is still clear, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Psalm 118:1) Many of the verses in this Psalm gave comfort to those who read or sang them back in the day. They still are meaningful today. For instance, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” and “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:6, 8)   How true, even today.

Now read the verses that proclaim the salvation of the Lord:

Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. (Psalms 118:19-26)

Here we find the Psalmist expressing the desire to enter into the gates of righteousness for one sole purpose: to praise the Lord from whom salvation and prosperity will come.

 The Psalm in Prophecy

While the Psalm was comforting to them when it was written and filled them with a sense of God’s provision for them, it is nearly impossible to miss the prophetic nature of the verses describing the Messiah who was to come and the nature of his kingdom. The gates of righteousness were opened when Christ gave the keys to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Those who were obedient to the gospel they heard preached on that day by repenting and being baptized entered into the kingdom through the narrow gate.

From our vantage point in time we know that Christ himself is the head stone spoken of by the Psalmist. (Ephesians 2:14-22) That Jesus became the chief corner stone was indeed “the LORD’S doing” and it was marvelous. (John 3:16).

Now we understand more what day the Psalmist spoke of—the day of salvation. We can rejoice because God planned it, Jesus executed it, and the Holy Spirit revealed it to us. We can rejoice because we have the promised seed, Jesus Christ, and the hope of eternal life through him. We can sing as the Psalmist did, “Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”——Amen.