February 20, 2011

God’s Unchanging Word – Matt Allen

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

After they finished speaking, James replied, “Bothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the word of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from old.’ Therefore, my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Mosses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues”

The cultural differences in the first century were staggering. Devout Jews and Gentiles were radically different. Basically, they had nothing in common. Many Jews were under the impression that in order to be accepted by Christ, Gentiles had to conform to Jewish traditions and requirements of the Old Law. The disagreement became so sharp that the matter was brought before the church in Jerusalem where the apostles and elders could determine how to proceed. As one reads through Acts 15, Peter recounts his own personal testimony of how God received the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas added their experiences. Then James speaks. He adds the authority of scripture—quoting from Amos 9:11-12 and part of Isaiah 43:7. The inclusion of the Gentiles into god’s plan of salvation had been revealed centuries before. In churches today, controversy will come. What will be our guide? While personal experience and testimony are powerful, we must always seek the message found in God’s word. The Bible has many relevant solutions for today’s problems. We need to renew our commitment to read and meditate on Scripture. When we do, we will begin to see how the principles in God’s word apply to what is happening in our world.

Psalm 19 – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The nineteenth Psalm is one which bears frequent reading. It begins by declaring the glory of God as shown through his creation. There is no doubt in the mind of the Psalmist that the earth and heavens are his creation. The words of This Is My Father’s World come readily to mind when reading the first six verses.

This is my Father’s world,

And to my list’ning ears,

All nature sings, and round me rings,

The music of the spheres.

We cannot help but see God’s majesty in the rising of the sun and the beautiful colors radiating from the sunset. The invisible things of God are clearly seen in his creation, and there is no excuse for not seeing his eternal power and Godhead in it. (Romans 1:20).

The Psalmist next calls to our minds the power of the word of God. It is perfect and is able to convert the soul. It is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), and by hearing it we come to believe and have faith. (Romans 10:17) His testimony is sure, reliable and trustworthy, and is able to make wise in the ways of God those who are unlearned. So also are his statutes and commandments. His judgments are righteous altogether. As our faith deepens, we realize that his word is more valuable that gold and much to be desired. God has told us his word will accomplish what he sent it to do and it shall prosper. (Isaiah 55:11)

Finally, the Psalmist shows us through prayer we are able to have our sins cleansed. John also reminds us that God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness if we confess those sins. (1 John 1:9) The Lord is our strength, our rock, our redeemer. The Psalmist knew it, believed it and relied on it.

How fortunate we are to have the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. We are able to see things that the Psalmist only was able to see from afar. (Hebrews 11:13) We are blessed to be able to read and learn from those things that were written long ago like this beautiful psalm. For through the patience and comfort of the scriptures, we are able to  have hope. (Romans 15:4)——Amen

February 6, 2011

Do I Love Jesus Enough – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

This is an interesting question, isn’t it? But you might ask, enough for what? Jesus spoke often about love and it is worth our examination.

Jesus said, “ If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Do we love Jesus enough to keep his commandments? Often we are torn between our families, our jobs and our own desires. We have to keep all these in the proper perspective and set the right priorities. Jesus said, “He who loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) This very clearly sets the priority for us. When we consider his love for us shown through his life, his teaching and his sacrifice on the cross, who could doubt his right to make such a declaration?

Actually, he is showing his concern for us. He knows that the love we have for our families can sometimes pull us away from what we know to be right. We have seen how an unbelieving relative can cause some to forsake the assembly at the appointed times, to compromise their belief in order to keep harmony in the family, or even worse, to fall away altogether. We need to keep Jesus first, then our families after that. However, we should not think that Jesus is minimizing our love for our families. He just wants us to love him more than them. The teaching of the Bible is clear that we need to love and care for our parents, love our spouses and love and care for our children. (Matthew 15:4, Ephesians 5:22-6:4)

Do we love Jesus enough to deny ourselves? Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Jesus is not saying that we should take a vow of poverty or deny ourselves the rich blessings that God provides for us in his creation. Rather he is saying that we should humble ourselves before him and set aside our pride. (Matthew 5:3-6) We should not allow ourselves to be drawn away by our own desires to sin (James 1:14-15), and we should not set ourselves up to be better than others in an arrogant way. (Philippians 2:3)

Do we love Jesus enough to love others in the same way we love ourselves? (Matthew 22:39) Jesus takes it to an even higher level when he said that we should love one another as he loved us. (John 15:12) What a sobering thought that is! One of the strongest urges we have is to take care of our own selves. The tendency toward selfishness is one that we all strive to control. We know what makes us happy, we know what we need for ourselves, and we know when we need it. To have the same care and concern for others takes time and effort. Most of us find it hard to love those who don’t much care for us or who are not much like us. We have learned that birds of a feather flock together. That’s an easy thing to do. Getting past what we see on the outside to see what God sees on the inside is the hard part. I’m sure you must have known someone who at first made you uncomfortable or uneasy. However, once you got to know them, you discovered that they were not so bad after all. It took some effort on your part and sometimes you had to take the first step. To do good things for others is something that is well pleasing to God. (Galatians 6:7-10)

Do we love Jesus enough to take the time to teach others? We are not supposed to keep the faith to ourselves, but to teach others. We sing a song with the words, “You never mentioned him to me.” What a sad lament that is. Have you passed up the opportunity to teach when others ask why it is that you don’t do some of the things they do? Have you missed a teachable moment when they ask why you are “always in church” or why you didn’t take the night off to watch the Super Bowl? We know that faith comes from hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) If we don’t teach, others cannot learn. We have an obligation to teach. (1 Timothy 2:2) One of the joys of teaching is watching others learn and mature. We start teaching the little ones with short bible stories and cute little songs. Their smiles, the sparkle in their eyes and laughter from their little hearts is reward enough for anyone. As they grow older and realize some of the things they do are not pleasing to God, their questions become more probing and deeper in substance. Finally, what joy there is when they make their commitment to follow Jesus and are baptized for remission of their sins. What a reward it is to know that you played a part! Teaching adults is just as rewarding. When someone comes to an understanding that their relationship with God needs repair, you rejoice with them as they confess Jesus as the only begotten son of God, their Lord and savior, and put him on in baptism.  What greater reward can their teacher have than this? Teaching is nothing more than sharing knowledge. Everyone can do that. Do you love Jesus enough to try?

Finally, do you love Jesus enough to be faithful the rest of your life? (Revelations 2:10) None of us lives a sinless life and we all need the encouragement of others to remain faithful. That is one of the values of assembling together to worship. (Hebrews 10:25) We also need to pray for forgiveness when we have sinned. As a child of God we have the confidence that he is able and willing to forgive us when we come to him with penitent hearts. (1 John 1:9) We also must realize that sin originates with us.(James 1:14-15) But, there is an escape from the temptation that leads us to sin in the first place. (1 Corinthians 10:13) The question is do we love Jesus enough to search for it, and having found it, use it.

Jesus loved us enough to be obedient to the will of his father, even to his death on the cross for the sin of mankind. Let us love him with all our heart, soul and mind by being obedient to his commandments and loving one another.———Amen