July 27, 2014

Patience – Jacob Stringer

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

This past Friday my day was interrupted after my lunch break by a flat tire. This was the first time I ever changed one alone, let alone in that kind of heat. When I took my car to the shop, there was no way to fix the flat tire, so I had to get new ones. Through this somewhat minor inconvenience, I was forced to take a step back and examine how I react to sudden changes of plan. My work day was set behind and I had to sweat in the sun while putting on my flimsy spare. However, though I was so annoyed by this unexpected hassle, it made me realize how trivial the things are that we are so often impatient about. Perhaps our waiter is taking too long, or our coworkers aren’t pulling their slack, or our Internet connection isn’t fast enough. We can become so wrapped up in our own vain cares that we forget about the patient suffering of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Isaiah 53:7—“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”

How quick we are to put our own cares above serving Jesus, who serves us in ways we can never truly repay. Next time we are faced with a circumstance that tests our patience, let’s consider what James the brother of Jesus has to say:

James 5:8—“You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

We will one day give an account for every deed we committed, good and bad. Our patience, or lack thereof, will be judged just like any other sin. Let us then take on the servant’s attitude that Jesus had, and esteem our own problems as inferior to the glory that we will share with the Lord one day.

Romans 8:18—“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

 

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Woe To You – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? (Matthew 23:16-17)

In this chapter Jesus addresses the crowds and His disciples and pronounces eight “Woes,” harsh, severe condemnations. The actual word used by Jesus was “ούαί” The Greek lexicon BDAG, defines the term:

“1. interjection denoting pain or displeasure, woe, alas…”

This ominous threat from Jesus was expressed in a way that will sound somewhat familiar to people from Arkansas. It is pronounced “oo-ah-ee!” A chant of “wooo pig sooie” is known statewide as a hog call, used as a football cheer, seen on t-shirts and hats throughout Arkansas. However, unlike the encouraging shout for sporting events, the dire warning from Jesus was eternally serious. Can you imagine this series of eight stern admonitions delivered to the faces of these self-righteous manipulators of truth? The true Messiah cries out, “Oo-ah-ee…

you scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, hypocrites!” It certainly would have arrested the attention of everyone.

The blindness that Jesus was condemning has both a practical and spiritual impact. Obviously, if one does not understand simple truth, the result is going to be either embarrassing or painful. Jesus said,

“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

The great Creator of the universe knows best how to guide His creation. As is the case from the manufacturer of hi-tech machinery, instructions are provided. If we do not know or understand the Creator’s directions, we are bound to get into trouble. That “truth blindness” often results in “… blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)

But the greater blindness is spiritual. Peter listed attributes on how to grow in faith and gain assurance. Then he advised,

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (II Peter 1:9)

In His messages to the seven churches, Jesus warned Laodicea,

“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,” (Revelation 3:17)

His counsel:

“I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” (Revelation 3:18)

July 20, 2014

Are You Charimatic? – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16 NKJV)

“Charisma,” is a word we hear quite often today along with the related term, “Charismatic.” The popular use distorts the original meaning beyond recognition. For example, we are told that successful preachers need “charisma,” or a politician must have a “charismatic” personality. In some circles, the term “charismatic” usually refers of the practice of babbling incoherently, known as “speaking in tongues.”

None of these usages have anything to do with scriptural concepts, certainly not the inspired words associated with this terminology.

The usage associated with “speaking in tongues” comes from the fact that in New Testament times, when the New Testament was being revealed, the Holy Spirit used the ability to speak in languages the speaker has not studied, in order to confirm the miraculous origin of new revelation. Speaking in tongues was a “gift” of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:1, 28). The Greek word is “χάρισμα,” (charisma, charismatos). It does not mean “tongues.” It has nothing to with an outgoing and articulate temperament. It simply means “gift.” A classic example being, Romans 6:23. “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Charisma is derived from the word charis, from which we get our word, “charity.” “Charis” means “grace” and is usually translated that way. For example, in the verse with which we began we are told that if the “word of Christ dwell[s] in us richly,” we will be “singing with grace in [our] hearts.” Just a few verses down Paul admonishes us to “let your speech be always with grace.” (Colossians 4:6) Then Paul concludes the Colossian epistle with: “Grace be with you. Amen” (Colossians 4:18).

Paul teaches that if we have true grace in our hearts, this will produce grace in our speech, and as a result the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will always be with us! This is a truly charismatic person, charismatic with true charisma! This person is a gracious person—one to whom…

“…God is able to make all grace abound…so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” (II Corinthians 9:8)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

July 13, 2014

Will They Believe – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Everyone believes in things they have not seen. They do so for many different reasons, some reasonable, some ridiculous, with many steps in between. Most of us have faith in the identity our Mother and Father. Most believe George Washington was our first president and that Barak Obama now lives in the White House, without actually seeing either. A significant number believe that extra-terrestrials inhabit our planet and that tin-foil hats can protect from their mind controlling electromagnetic fields. Many disciples believed that David Koresh of Waco, Texas, was the real Messiah.

Where does New Testament faith fit into this picture? John Calvin taught that faith was a gift from God that you get if you are among the elect. You get it when you “pray through,” or have your “salvation experience.” The idea of some brethren is not that different. They say you “get” faith when you read the Bible, quoting Romans 10:17.

The faith that we see in the New Testament is the result of an honest, noble heart with a high regard for truth that is willing to yield to the evidence, much of which is found in God’s Word.

On the first Day of Pentecost after the resurrection, Peter had the opportunity to address such a crowd. Acts 2 records the process of the production of faith in the hearts of devout Jews who were ignorantly guilty of crucifying Jesus. Peter skillfully marshals evidence from the prophets Joel (vs.16-21) and David (vs.30-31), from eyewitnesses (v.32) and from the supernatural evidence that the crowd had seen and heard (v.33). Then he forcefully concludes…

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ …(Acts 2:36)

The result of this process was they believed and obeyed.

Philip followed the same procedure, recorded in Acts 8.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. (Acts 8:5-6 ESV)

The Apostle Paul repeatedly followed the same procedure. Consider the record in Act 13. When the magician Elymas opposed the truth, Paul miraculously struck him blind.

“…the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence,” (Acts 13:7) was watching. “Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened,…(Acts 13:10-12)

In a recent publication by a prominent creationist, the question was raised, what would be the result of finding Noah’s ark on Mt. Ararat? He responded by citing Abraham’s conclusion about the rich man’s five brothers. “…they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:32) He thought the dishonesty of these five men proved that no one would be convinced by clear evidence. This conclusion denies the obvious implications to the contrary demonstrated in the above examples, and it discourages efforts to take advantage of similar opportunities. “It won’t work.” Furthermore, I know the conclusion is wrong because Jesus said so.

Citizens of two cities of Galilee witnessed most of the miracles of Jesus, evidence that clearly demonstrated the divinity of Jesus. He severely rebuked the dishonesty of these cities because they saw but refused to repent. But, should we conclude that no one will be convinced by such evidence? Absolutely not. Jesus said Tyre and Sidon, like Nineveh of old, would have responded honestly. Jesus said this evidence would have convinced them.

“Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented…” (Matthew 11:20-21)

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that some people respond honestly and some do not. Some soil is hard and rocky. Some is fertile.

“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, (Luke 8:15)

What should we learn from this? First, we have the responsibility to honor the truth, to respond honestly to the evidence. (The opposite is implied if it doesn’t work.) Second, honest people will respond to clear evidence. Unless we think we are the only honest people in the world, we need to be busy presenting it.

 

July 6, 2014

“Me In That Ridiculous Ark? No Way!” Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Imagine what it was like for those outside of the ark when…

“…all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell…” (Genesis 7:11-12).

Imagine what were they thinking as the flood-waters rose around them. How quickly stubborn, hardened hearts would change from confident, mocking rebellion to, “Wait a minute, I’m not so sure now…to anxiety…to fear…panic…terror!

What “everybody” had been thinking, that seemed so certain and dominant, now meant absolutely nothing. Here is a vivid example of shifting prevailing opinions. We see it every day as “out of fashion” ideas gradually fade from the headlines, almost indiscernibly…but not here. Overnight Noah was no longer that crazy kook spouting cockamamie ideas. Now, “everyone” was thinking, “Could he possibly be right?” Attitudes quickly morphed into, “Why didn’t I listen to Noah. He was tying to save me. How foolish I was to follow the crowd.”

Think about it. How much weight should prevailing public opinion (unsupported by compelling evidence) exert in our attitudes and on our actions?

The tragedy of Noah’s story is it is being repeated today. Jesus said, “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:38-39). The popular vices that tempt today are somewhat different from that ancient generation, but the basic refusal to acknowledge God over our lives is still the same. The majority of the world refuses to fear God and keep His commandments; choosing to dismiss His promise of an upcoming judgment (Acts 17:30-31). When He does finally bring this world to an end, the majority of people will be doing the same thing as Noah’s generation: living for their temporal pleasure, foolishly ignoring God’s eternal wisdom.

What Noah’s ark was to his generation is what the church is to our generation, in terms of salvation. The gopher wood had no magic power, but the only ones who survived the flood were those in the ark. You think that’s narrow-minded? Try arguing with God about it. Can you handle the truth? The only ones who will survive the fiery judgment of hell are those in the body of Christ. The Judge says, “Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians. 5:23). Salvation and eternal life are in Jesus (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 5:11).

Noah had to trust God’s word to build the ark, long before the flood waters encompassed the earth (Hebrews 11:7). The same is true today regarding Christ. It takes faith to believe in His saving power and to enter His body, before the final judgment. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Unfortunately, many are dismissing these words, clinging to manmade doctrines instead. “Just ask Jesus into your heart and you’ll be saved,” say many. “Baptism has no magic power.”

Those who reject water baptism for salvation to enter Christ are the same ones who would have criticized Noah for building and entering the ark. “We’re saved by faith through grace, Noah, not by works!” But, Noah ignored his critics and walked by faith in God’s pattern. Anyone who expects to be saved from sin must fear God more than man and walk by faith in Jesus’ blueprint, which clearly requires faith, repentance, confession, and baptism for salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:35-39).

If you are wise you will enter the ark before it’s too late. What your family and friends might think of you doesn’t matter as much as truth. Think about God and how much you should love Him more. Your family can’t save you from your sin and its eternal, fiery consequences. You need Christ to do that. Be wise and submit to God in faith by moving with godly fear in obedience to His will. It may not seem like it now, but one day you’ll be glad you trusted in God to enter the ark of Christ—as the flames of death encompass the earth.

Adapted from an article by Mike Thomas