December 27, 2010

Newness of Life – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:26 pm by sranderson0103

As we look forward to the new year, many of us think about how we might do things differently or stop doing some things that we have been doing. We make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions. As the new year wears on, we keep some and break the majority of them. However, there is one resolution we make that can come any time of the year. That resolution is to follow Jesus. We had better take that resolution seriously because it has eternal consequences. There is only one time that we will be able to start anew. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4) Those of us who have been baptized for the remission of our sins are indeed new creatures. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) It is through the word of God that we are made new again. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:22-23)

It was Jesus who said that we must be born again. “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:1-7)

We have faith because we believe the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Our faith leads us to understand that Jesus Christ is the son of God. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-5)

When we make our New Year’s resolutions, let us resolve to do those things that are in keeping with God’s will. On the night he was betrayed Christ prayed in the garden. “And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:39-42) We can do no better than to pattern ourselves after Christ as did Paul. (1 Corinthians 11:1) Let us pray that all we resolve to do in the new year will be in keeping with God’s will. In doing so we can overcome the world and be pleasing in the sight of God.——Amen.

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December 19, 2010

There Is But One God – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:45 pm by sranderson0103

The first of the ten commandments God gave to the Israelites at Mount Sinai was “Thou shalt have no other gods, besides me.” God knew that as the Israelites traveled to the promised land and dwelt there, they would come into contact with many different cultures each having their own deities. These deities were gods made with hands after man’s own imagination. God continually warned them about practicing idolatry, and it eventually was one of the reasons he caused the northern kingdom to be dispersed (2 Kings 17:6-18) and the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin to be carried away into captivity. (2 Kings 6:19-23)

Early Evidence

There was plenty of early evidence that the God of Israel was the only real god. It should have been sufficient to recall the seven plagues in Egypt, all the blessings God bestowed on them to bring them out of Egypt into the promised land, and the taking of the land from pagans who where stronger than they were. But then, as now, time dims the memory. Elijah was accused of troubling Israel by King Ahab. “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” (1 Kings 18:17-18) Elijah challenged the king to allow all Israel to 

assemble with prophets of Baalim. The prophets and Elijah would place a bullock on a pyre of wood. They would call on their god to bring down fire to consume their bullock and Elijah would pray to God to do the same. When nothing happened after much praying to Baalim, Elijah said, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27). Of course, the fire never came. But when Elijah prayed to God, fire came down from heaven and consumed the bullock even after Elijah had commanded that the bullock and wood be drenched in water. “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.” (1 Kings 18:39)

Idolatry Today

Idolatry is not something that is relegated to the pages of ancient history. There is still idol worship in the world today. Many countries have religions that worship many gods or a god that is not the God that we worship. On one extreme we have the atheists who have made a “religion” of believing there is no God. At the other extreme we have the Hinduism which is a diverse system that ranges from monotheist to polytheist.

What does the Bible teach us? There is one God who is the father of all, and through all, and in us all. (Ephesians 4:6). We would do well to heed the words of Paul speaking to the Athenians. “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31)

What Should We Believe?

First of all we need to believe that God is and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) We need to read and study the Old Testament for in it we learn of God, how he deals with mankind, and his love for his creation. (Romans 15:4) We needn’t be discouraged when we see others who do not believe as we do prospering in this world. We know they appear to be blessed because God is at the same time blessing us. (Matthew 5:45)

We need to understand that the God we worship is not the same god worshipped by others even though some may claim that to be true. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33). He would not say one thing to one group of believers, and something contradictory to another. He would not say one thing through his son, and contradict himself through another “prophet.” God said at the transfiguration, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5) And what did his son say? “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18) He also said, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19)

We must earnestly contend for the faith that was once given to us. And let us not forget to read all of Jude. (Jude 1-25)—-Amen

December 12, 2010

Speak To Us Smooth Things – Ron Boatwright

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:33 pm by sranderson0103

We are living in a “politically correct” world today. Much of this “political correctness” has made its way into the Lord’s church just as it did in Isaiah’s day. God says in Isaiah 30:9-10, “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord; who say…do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” Many people did not want to hear God’s truth then, and they do not want to hear it today. Paul says that people “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap to themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This is happening in the Lord’s church today. There are those who are tickling people’s ears with their teaching and preaching in all the stories (fables) they tell as they strive to entertain the people.

Jesus says “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15). If people do not hear and follow the Lord’s word they will be lost.

Many in the church do not want to hear what the Bible says about Hell, drinking alcohol, dancing, adultery, lying, denominationalism, marriage, divorce, and remarriage, or any of the other sinful activities that are going to cause people to be lost. People do not want to give up their sinful activities. For this reason many in the church are not preaching and teaching the whole counsel of God. People are wanting them to “speak to us smooth things”. Some are preaching and teaching only what the people want to hear. Many of the lessons and sermons that are being taught would be readily acceptable in any denominational church.

We must have a desire to hear the truth of God’s word or we will not hear it. Paul says, “because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they may be condemned who did not believe the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

Those who refuse to teach and preach all of what God says will be held accountable for what they have done or have failed to do. Elders are ultimately responsible. God says in Ezekiel 3:18, “When I say to the wicked, you shall surely die and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand.” We become guilty when we refuse to teach and preach all the truth of God’s will. Paul says in Acts 20:26-27, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” If we refuse to teach and preach “the whole counsel of God” or fail as elders to see that it is taught, we will cause other people to be lost, and we will also lose our own soul when we stand before the Lord in the Judgment. We must teach all of the Lord’s will so we can be pleasing to Him and go to Heaven.

December 7, 2010

Did You Think To Pray? – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:59 pm by sranderson0103

Why would I have asked such a question? When times of trial and trouble entered our lives, did we think to pray about it? When we rejoice over some good fortune, did we think to give thanks through prayer? When we needed comfort or guidance, did we think to pray? Prayer may be one of the most neglected parts of a Christian’s life. Prayer is a means of addressing and communicating directly with God. We see over and over again in life that troubles between a husband and wife or between parents and children begin with a breakdown in communication. Problems at work can often be solved by opening the lines of communication, but is put off and used only as a last resort. If we can see the importance of communication in our daily lives, why should we be surprised about the value of communication with our father in heaven?

Why Pray?

If it was important enough for Jesus to pray, don’t you think it is important for us to follow his example? As we pray to God we draw near to him. This certainly has its benefits. James tells us, “Draw nigh unto God and he will draw nigh unto you.” (James 4:8) We should also pray so that we “may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Jesus told his disciples to ask in prayer so that our prayers could be answered and our joy be made full. We should pray the same blessing on others.

 How To Pray

The Hebrew writer tells us that we should approach the throne of grace boldly. (Hebrews 4:16) What would embolden us to approach our mighty God this way? It is because we know that we are his children, and as his children we have free access to him. It is in this sense that we come boldly before our God.

James tells us that we should “ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” This also demonstrates the sense of coming boldly before God. Notice that we must ask in faith. “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

We must pray in accordance with his will. John reminds us that, “we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) But, why do we sometimes not have our prayers answered? We need to examine the nature of our prayer and strive to determine whether it is in keeping with God’s will. James tells us that it is possible for us to ask “amiss.” (James 4:3)

In Luke 11:1-13 we find the disciples going to Jesus after he had finished praying and asking him to teach them to pray. He didn’t tell them that it just comes naturally, just say what your heart tells you to say. He told them in what manner they should pray.

I think we are all familiar with the model pray as presented in Luke 11:2-4 and also in Matthew 6:9-13. He first instructs them to address the Father in reverent terms. We no longer pray for the kingdom to come for we know that it has already come. (Colossians 1:13) He also indicated that they should pray that the Father’s will be done as it is in heaven. Implicit in this statement is that they, and we, should strive to know what that will is and to be obedient to it. We should ask Him to sustain us in the physical needs of this life and for our

spiritual needs as well, to forgive our sins and to deliver us from evil or the evil one. Jesus does not stop there, but goes on to explain that if we ask we will receive. He uses the every day example of seeking and receiving a favor of a friend. In Matthew 7:9-11, he uses the example of children receiving good gifts from their father. He concluded with, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him.”

Jesus also instructed them that they should pray privately. (Matthew 6:5) This is not to say that we should never pray publicly. There is a need for congregational prayer when we gather on the Lord’s day to pray and to give thanks for the bread and fruit of the vine as we partake of the Lord’s supper. Jesus was saying that we should not be hypocritical in our prayer and use vain repetitions. When I implied earlier that we should not pray saying whatever our hearts tell us to say, it was with the understanding that such a prayer could be hypocritical and not in keeping with God’s will. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1 John 3:22).

Conclusion

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Psalms 5:1-3)