October 28, 2012

The Scarlet Hope – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. She said to them, “ Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. (Joshua 2:15-18)

The walls of Jericho fell down around Rahab and her family but they were supernaturally protected. Everyone else in their city died but they remained unharmed.

Today, over 3,000 years later, those crumbled walls can be still seen. (I have one of the bricks from that wall in my museum.) There is one small portion of the north wall that still stands amid the ruins of Jericho. Yes, there is a house built into the top of that enduring section of wall.

I believe I know who lived there.

Rahab protected Joshua’s spies from discovery by the officials of Jericho and in return asked the spies to…

“deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of  truth,”

It is interesting that the word translated “household” can refer either to a building or to a family and that same word is used both ways in this text.

The spies instructed her to,

“…tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and  gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household.”

Rahab had seen evidence of Jehovah’s power and God’s provision for the people who now confronted her city.

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed,” (Joshua 2:9-10).

It was obvious that these people enjoyed God’s special blessings and would prevail, so she acted honestly to what she saw.

“by faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31).

She acknowledged to the spies that “the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath,” (Joshua 2:11).

Even a lying harlot could see this and when she did, responded in acts of faith. I am sure that later she learned to live a Godly life, but now she responded with integrity to obvious evidence.

Rahab’s spiritual salvation came because of her faith in the true God; she soon entered into the covenant family of Israel and eventually even became a member of the family line leading to Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). Her physical deliverance, on the other hand, and that of her family depended on a “cord of scarlet thread” suspended from her window, identifying her home as different and under God’s special protection when Jericho fell and all its other inhabitants perished.

This thin, blood-red line constituted a very slender hope for Rahab in the midst of such a scene of judgment and total destruction, but it sufficed. It is fascinating to note that the Hebrew word for “line” (occurring here for the first time in the Bible) is everywhere else translated by the key word “hope.” Perhaps “line” soon came to mean “hope” because of this very experience, when a “scarlet hope” extended all the way from a heart of integrity to the very God of heaven!

Note the same thought with the same word: “For thou art my hope, O Lord God” (Psalm 71:5)

 

Advertisements

October 21, 2012

Sowing Continually – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

As we begin our Gospel meeting with Steve Patton this week, let’s think about the opportunities and responsibilities that are presented to us by this occasion. In the Bible, the common occupation of sowing seed is frequently used as a symbol for teaching the Word of God, which is able and necessary to save souls.

“The sower went out to sow his seed;… Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God,…” Luke 8:5, 11.

“…receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls,” James 1:21

“Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6

Unlike an actual farmer, however, Christian seed-sowers are responsible for engaging in their occupation perpetually, day after day, morning and evening, everywhere they go.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” Mark 16:15.

“Cast your bread on the surface of the waters,” the wise preacher said, “for you will find it after many days,” Ecclesiastes11:1.

The farmer knows that sowing seed often involves rising early and long hours in the hot sun. Sowing God’s word often involves enduring painful opposition and humiliating ridicule. It may involve disappointing loss of friends or painful division in families. It is often difficult, but is necessary before the fruit can grow, and the promise is that, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting,” Psalms 126:5.

Often others may reap the fruit of our seed-sowing labors (or we may reap the fruit of theirs), but that is all right, for Christ Himself said…

“Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.” Jn. 4:36-38.

Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth,” I Cor. 3:6.

Some seed, faithfully sown, may not seem to grow at all. In Christ’s great parable of the sower, much of the seed fell by the wayside or on rocky or weed-infested ground, but…

“…others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matt.13:8.

It is not our job to decide whether or not we think the ground on which the seed is sown will be productive. Our job is to be sure that the seed we sow is good seed, then wherever we go, courageously speaking up when we have opportunity, by the examples of our life, by giving to those in need, by listening, by our very presence, by praying, by whatever we say or do or even think, and then to trust God to bring forth the fruit according to His own perfect will.

The Gospel meeting this week brings us extra sowing opportunities and responsibilities.

“How blessed will you be, you who sow beside all waters,” Isaiah 32:20.

Therefore, resolve especially this week and continually, “Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know…” God will prosper our faithfulness in His own good way and time.

(Adapted from an article by Henry Morris)

 

 

October 14, 2012

The Serpent In The Wilderness – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” Numbers 21:8

I’ve heard of some pretty strange snakebite treatments. I receive some pretty weird looks when I suggest that zapping with a stun gun appears to be quite effective. However, who would believe venomous snakebites could be cured by looking at a brass replica of the snake? Of course, the Bible doesn’t teach that this was a natural, medical remedy. Looking at the brass snake was an act of faith, necessary to receive a supernatural cure. Furthermore, as incredible as the story might seem, it was confirmed by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” John.3:14-15

A plague of poisonous snakes had infested the camp of Israel, sent as a divine judgment because of their murmuring complaints and ingratitude. Many today would minimize this sin, telling us it was “understandable.” God did not see this as a trivial matter. The painful death of many people was the result. You think this was overreaction? Does it surprise you that God’s exalted, hallowed view is different from your own? The difficulty we have appreciating the surpassing, infinite holiness of God obscures the foolishness of this superficially reasonable reaction.

When Israel realized their foolishness, confessed that they had sinned and prayed for forgiveness and deliverance, God demonstrated His grace by prescribing this unique remedy.

Of course, there is no process assessable to our understanding that can heal a deadly snakebite by a look. Neither, of course, is there a naturalistic explanation for the salvation of a sin-poisoned soul by acting in faith toward the crucified Son of God. Both are mighty miracles, with the first being beautifully designed by God to be a prophetic foreshadowing of the other.

It is interesting to notice that the reception of God’s blessings in both these examples was by faith, but neither was by faith only. We have no problem understanding exactly what God’s attitude would be toward an Israelite suffering from snake venom, who would sit in his tent and say, “I believe the brass snake can heal me, but getting out of my tent and walking over to where I can see it and actually looking at the snake is working. God said this cure was by faith. I’ll just sit in my tent and believe.” Unless someone could change the mind of this stubborn, rebellious ingrate, it would be time to get the shovel out…one more dead Israelite.

Remember the words the apostle Paul said,

“Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” I Corinthians 10:9-11.The parallels and the symbolism are striking.

The brass serpent impaled on the pole represented the poisonous serpents slain, but it also spoke of

“…the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan,” Rev. 20:2.

He will be cast forever into the lake of fire.

“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever,” Revelation 2:10.

This amazing experience of Israel in the wilderness also symbolized the judgment on sin itself and its final banishment from God’s creation.

All of this, however, was only the symbol. The real deliverance required Christ.

“to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Cor.5:21.

The Son of man had to be lifted up on the cross, and then all who believe and are willing to follow His instructions, receive life instead of death.

 

October 7, 2012

What’s The Heart Of The Matter? – Ken Weliever

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

On Jason’s first day of school, the class was asked to stand, place their right hand over their heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The teacher, Mrs. Jones, watched the children as they began, “I pledge allegiance to the flag….” when she noticed Jason had his right hand over his left ear. She stopped and said, “Jason, put your hand over your heart.”

Jason replied, “It is over my heart!”

After repeated attempts failed to get Jason to put his hand over his heart, Mrs. Jones asked, “Why do you think that is your heart?”

“Because when my Granny visits,” said Jason, “she picks me up and pats me here and says, “Bless your little heart.” And then he added with conviction, “And my Granny doesn’t lie!”

A lot of people today are like Jason regarding spiritual matters. I hear folks talk about “heart felt religion.” Or say “I feel it right down here in my heart.” Or “I just follow my heart.” And as Vince Gill and Reba McIntyre sang, “The heart don’t lie!”

What is the heart of the matter?

Just like the physical heart consists of four chambers, so does the spiritual heart. Each has a specific function. And play a distinct role. These four chambers of the heart impact and affect our lives completely.

(1) The heart involves the intellect. The wise man wrote, “as he thinks in his heart so is he.” Jesus asked the question of the doubting Pharisees, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?” (Mk. 2:8). And Paul affirmed, “that with the heart man believes unto righteousness….” (Rom 10:9)

So the heart thinks. Reasons. Believes. That is the intellectual chamber.

(2) The heart involves emotion. It can feel pain. The Psalmist said, The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart…(PS 34:18). The heart may be broken by sin. Separation. Rejection. When we say, “that just breaks my heart” we’re not talking about something intellectual, but emotional. And, of course, the heart can also feel joy (Ps. 33:21; 32:11).

So the heart hurts. Grieves. Rejoices. This second chamber of the heart experiences all the emotions known to human beings.

(3) The heart involves the conscience. In John 3:20-21 the apostle says that our heart “condemns us.” When we violate our conscience, we have a gnawing sense of being wrong. Of course, as Peter observed, one can have a “heart trained in covetous practices” (2 Pet. 2:14). After a period of time of repeatedly sinning, our conscience may become, as Paul put it, “seared with a hot iron.”

This third chamber of the heart, the conscience, is our moral compass. An internal ethical governor. It can keep you from dangerous and reckless practices.

(4) The heart involves the will of Man. Will speaks to the volition of a person. To purpose. To preference. Barnabas encouraged the Christians that “with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” (Act 11:23). This requires a decision. A choice. A selection.

This fourth chamber of the heart, the will, involves resolve, intentionality and determination.

Now, how do you apply this to the great commandment? Jesus said, “to love God with all your heart.”

Intellectually I know God through His Word. He has given me reasons to believe and love Him. I can think about Him. And meditate on His loving kindness.

Emotionally, I feel the joy of God’s love. I revel in His goodness. Rejoice in His grace. And delight in mercy.

Conscientiously, because of what I both know and feel, I have a moral sense of God’s love within me. My conscience is pricked when I hurt Him. And it is soothed when I seek Him.

And so, my decision is to obey God. My purpose is to praise Him. I have chosen to serve Him. My intention is to draw near to Him. And I am determined to be discipled after Jesus.

And that my friends is the heart of the matter. The heart.

From The Preachers Word