January 29, 2012

His Precious and Magnificent Promises – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

When we understand that it is impossible for God to lie (Heb.6:18) God’s promises are especially encouraging. The apostle Peter said, “…He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust,” (II Peter 1:4).

Unfortunately, many of today’s popular “feel good” preachers assure virtually everyone that God’s promises are certainly theirs, especially if they send money. It is not popular to remind people that some of God’s promises are conditional. For example, remission of sins is conditioned on obedience (Acts 2:38).

There are some promises that are absolute and unconditional. The awesome destruction of the world by a flood proves that God will certainly judge those who do not meet His conditions (II Peter 3:3-6), but God promises unconditionally that He will never again accomplish this by a universal flood.

“…I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done,” Genesis 8:21.

Nevertheless, God has promised a future judgment, a destruction of the world and the fact that it seems like a long time since He made that promise, is not to be interpreted as an indication that the promise will not be kept. Peter responded to some who thought like this. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,  4 and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’” II Peter 3:3-4. Peter explained that what seems like a long time to us, is not evaluated the same way by God, then he reaffirmed God’s unconditional promise.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” II Peter 3:10. In spite of such a disturbing divine promise, Christians do not fear because of another promise. Christ will return to save us.

“And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11.

In spite of the fact that our hearts are saddened by the loss of loved ones by death, we are encouraged by God’s promise that death is temporary and will be conquered by a general resurrection of everyone.

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” I Corinthians 15:22.

“…an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” John 5:28-29.

God has promised. We can rest assured that it is true. God will judge sin. The flood demonstrated this fact. Now, He promises to judge this wicked world by fire. We cannot escape. We are all guilty. Eternal judgment is promised. The only solution is Jesus whom we are promised will return to save us. We are promised salvation, and eternal bliss but, as we have seen, this promise is conditional. “His precious and magnificent promises,” will be received by those who obey Him. “…He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” Hebrews 5:9. Therefore, those who have and are obeying can confidently stand on His promises of grace and blessings, now and forever more because God has promised.

 

judge sin. The flood demonstrated this fact. Now, He promises to judge this wicked world by fire. We cannot escape. We are all guilty. Eternal judgment is promised. The only solution is Jesus whom we are promised will return to save us. We are promised salvation, and eternal bliss but, as we have seen, this promise is conditional. “His precious and magnificent promises,” will be received by those who obey Him. “…He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” Hebrews 5:9. Therefore, those who have and are obeying can confidently stand on His promises of grace and blessings, now and forever more because God has promised.

 

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January 22, 2012

God’s Bottle of Tears – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8).

In this passage David affords us an amazing insight into the tender, compassionate, caring heart of the one who spoke this universe into existence, the majestic, all powerful being who is described in scripture as our heavenly Father. He has a book which records our tears. He has a tear bottle, perhaps a tear bottle for each of His wandering children.

Ancient “tear bottles,” made similar to wineskins, have actually been excavated by archaeologists in Israel. This discovery is reflected in the New English Translation’s rendition of this passage.

“You keep track of my misery. Put my tears in your leather container! Are they not recorded in your scroll?”

Evidently these small vessels were used to catch and preserve the owner’s tears during times of grief. We recall that this psalm was written by David when he was being pursued by Saul, while at the same time surrounded by Philistines in the city of Goliath. Perhaps David had his own tear bottle. David obviously believed that in some sense, God was also storing up his own personal tears in His own heavenly bottle of tears. The Holy Spirit chose to record a description of a moving event in the life of Jesus which also implies a divine awareness of tears.

“And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.” (Luke 7:37-38).

This woman heaped honor on Jesus by applying precious ointment or perfume to His feet after she had first washed His feet with tears. Some scholars think, as is implied by the text, that these tears came from a tear bottle containing her own tears, which was emptied on His feet. Others argue that those tear bottles that have been found actually contained the collected tears of mourners at a burial site.

Regardless, we are effectively reminded of what we are prone to forget. God knows. He knows our wanderings, our sorrows and all our tears. They are not insignificant to Him. He stores them up. He is not unaware and He does not forget!

 

January 15, 2012

Perishable versus Imperishable – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

There are profound implications in Peter’s statement that we “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” (I Peter 1:23).

We have all watched magnificent roses drop their lovely fragrant petals, begin to droop, wither and dry to an ugly, blackened, brittle shell. It is interesting that Paul describes the daughter whose father decided not give her in marriage, as one who was “passed her youth” (I Cor.7:36), using a word which literally means passed her “bloom.” Like it or not, this is the way the world works.

Everything in the physical creation is decaying and dying. In fact, we know that one day “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (II Peter 3:10). What will that new Mercedes be worth then?

Even the very seeds which transmit life are “perishable” seed (I Peter 1:23), and Paul describes all mankind as “corruptible man” (Romans 1:23).

True science has demonstrated that this universal principle of decay is one of the most basic laws governing the universe—the second law of thermodynamics. Our own experience teaches effectively that everything is unrelentingly going downhill.

However, even in this degenerating, perishing world, some things are imperishable. God Himself is the “incorruptible God” (Romans 1:23).

Peter says this is true of “the living and enduring word of God.” (I Peter 1:23). Even though “heaven and earth shall pass away,” the words of Christ “will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). When we face the Lord in judgment, we may wish His word had perished with the rest of the world but that word is imperishable. It will still be there to judge us. (John 12:48).

It is reassuring in this perishing world to know that our eternal salvation in Christ is accomplished by that which is imperishable. Peter said “you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (I Peter 1:18-19).

Painful experience educates us to the fact that man made promises fail. Earnest assurances, guilt-edged guarantees often prove useless. How comforting to know that He “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, ” (I Peter 1:3,4).

Long hard hours of diligent effort may produce a fleeting benefit, “a perishable wreath,” but not Christian labor. Our crown is “imperishable.” (I Corinthians 9:25).

Finally, these dying bodies will themselves be redeemed, “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Corinthians 15:52,53).

 

 

January 8, 2012

Keep It To Yourself – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Several months ago a good friend and brother saw that Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, had made public comments depreciating faith in God, along with a number of lame “reasons” for his unbelief.  My brother decided to write a letter to this influential businessman regarding his comments, correcting some of his misconceptions and expressing a more reasonable view. He received a response from the billionaire’s secretary saying, “That’s your belief. Keep it to yourself.”

This popular concept is the Devil’s propaganda. He would love for all Christians to swallow it. He preaches that one must be tolerant of fallacious, disrespectful arguments against faith. The Devil wants you to feel that it is “inappropriate” to defend your faith. Much of society seems to have accepted that we should keep our faith to ourselves.

This attitude has been so effectively propagated that we all need to be reminded how different that view is from the teaching of the New Testament.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; Matt.28:19-20

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15

And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:4

Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” Acts 26:28

When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Acts 28:23

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. II Cor.5:11

“And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. I Cor. 9:16

… knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the  gospel; Phil. 1:16

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. II Tim. 4:2

Prescribe and teach these things. I Tim. 4:11

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. II Tim. 2:2

Yes, we know what the world thinks about trying to influence the religious thinking of others. From all these passages, there can be no doubt that what God thinks of efforts to teach our neighbors the truth is different. Please consider these admonitions in light of one more passage.

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a  bond-servant of Christ.” Gal. 1:10

 

January 1, 2012

Do Not Enter – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Do not enter

the path of the wicked…”

Proverbs 4:14

In Proverb 14, Solomon, as a deeply concerned parent, pleads passionately.

1 “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction.”

This parent recalls the instruction he received from his father (David). He now approaches the same issues, but from a different perspective. How different things look through the eyes of a parent.

3 When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, 4 Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words;

This father spoke to his son about wisdom (vs.5-13). Evidently his father’s words were heard. See, it can happen. Solomon learned to appreciate wisdom and prayed for it.  Now, as a parent he speaks, understanding that the son is more interested in what is cool (what his peers think) and what is thrilling, at this moment.

This wise parent continues with an even more difficult lesson; the danger of the opposite course. The “way of wisdom” cannot be described without a warning against the “path of the wicked.”

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.

We know the father was not suggesting that his son live as a hermit, though that might be what the son hears. His wisdom does not contradict that of Jesus who acknowledged His disciples could not avoid worldly association. In His prayer for them He said, “‘I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:15-16). He taught that they were to maintain separateness and at the same time “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt.28:19).

The problem we all have is maintaining this balance. Some say, “We must be separate from the world so I don’t need to invite my neighbor into my home to talk about how to go to heaven.” Others say, “We can’t be out of the world, we have to influence the world so…we don’t concern ourselves with dire warnings about continual, preferential associations with the wicked.”

I am confident that Solomon understood the responsibility to be a positive influence but still considered it wise to warn against the real danger of unnecessary choices to walk in the path with the wicked. Different translators express Solomon’s thought in ways that may make the plain admonition even more clear.

Today’s English Version renders this passage “Do not go where evil people go…” The New International Version says. “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked…”

Charles Swindoll wrote a book entitled, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. (I do not recommend it all, DRP) On page 223 he spins an insightful yarn that may help illustrate Solomon’s warning for us.

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a ‘customer’ he would clean up on him so the other flies would not get suspicious. Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web. Old man spider called out, ‘Come in and sit.’ But the fairly intelligent fly said, ‘No, sir. I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!’ But presently he saw on the floor below, a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. So he came in for a landing. Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, ‘Don’t land there, stupid! That’s flypaper!’ But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, ‘Don’t be silly. Those flies are dancing. There’s a big crowd there. Everybody’s doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong!’ Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot. Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue?”