January 31, 2016

Blessed Are The Dead – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:09 am by sranderson0103

Between us, Donna and I attended four funerals in nine days.  The deceased were mostly family members of our spiritual family, and family members of our friends. Our hearts go out to them all. There have been several high-profile singers and actors that have also died recently.  Death is hard, prevalent, and inevitable.  Obviously, death is just as much a part of life as birth- though we sure don’t view (or memorialize) them the same.  But have you ever considered how differently from God- the Creator and Sustainer of life, we view death?  John was specifically instructed to write, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from now on!” in Revelation 14:13.   The Greek word translated as blessed means “happy” or “fortunate.”  Indeed, those dying “in the Lord” are just that!  Even when the departed was, as far as we can determine at least, a righteous person who lived and trusted “in the Lord,” do we really view their passing as a “blessed” event?  Typically, we do not.  Why not?  Shouldn’t Christians view the passing of other Christians as  “blessed” like God?  When you get right down to it, should not we strive to view everything as God does?

To have the proper view of death, we must first have the proper view of life. This means viewing life as God does.  Please consider the following points, and perhaps they will help.

  • The quality of life is not tied to length. We view and react very differently to the death of someone who has lived a long life than we do to the passing of those who have lived but a short time.  Perhaps this is only natural, and human.  However, how the departed lived is much more important, and a more accurate measure of their life, than the length of it.  Whether “long” or “short,” was their life one of spiritual content?  If so, their death was and should be viewed as a “blessed” event!   “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones,” Psalm 116:15.  A godly life is precious to God, and should be praised, celebrated, and emulated by us regardless of its length.
  • For one who has lived righteously, death is graduation day.  Life is but preparation for eternity.  It is “the school” of but a few years that prepares us for our eternal home and occupation.  Thus, the school of life trains us for either: an eternity of misery, torment, anguish, and regret of what might have been (together with the Devil, his demons, and the dregs of human society from all of time); or alternatively, an eternity of joy and blessedness in the presence of God singing praises with the angels of heaven.  For those who have lived life in preparation for eternity, death is the culmination of all their labors, and the temporal hardships they endured. Thus, for the righteous, death is a graduation- a day of celebrated accomplishment, and the completion of a necessary but preparatory journey.  Thus, life is to be viewed as “momentary, light affliction” that produces “an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison,” 2Corinthians 4:17.
  • Living a godly life can be hard- death is a rest. Life can be, and often is, hard.  Once we commit ourselves to living a life of service to God and preparation for eternity, Satan will do everything within his power to make us doubt, retreat from, and recant that commitment- he can, and often does, make life difficult, if not miserable.  But for the one who perseveres in godliness, death is a blessed rest.  God said that for those who “die in the Lord” death is a “rest from their labors,” Revelation 14:13.  Whatever pain, hardship, temptation, and trials Satan threw their way to dissuade them has ended.  The toil and labor of “working for the Lord” and His Cause is likewise completed.  Death is blessed, sweet, happy rest for the godly.Our physical bodies were not “built to last.”  They were created to be but a temporary abode for an eternal spirit that God placed within them.  As we’ve heard and know, our bodies will all “go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust,” Ecclesiastes 3:20.  But our spirits “will return to God” who gave them, Ecclesiastes 12:7.  Thus, death is the necessary conclusion of physical life as much as birth is its beginning- for everyone (see 1Corinthians 15:35-58).  But if we view life as God does, death can be a precious, blessed, rest that culminates in eternity with God.  We may selfishly mourn the passing of a righteous loved one for what we lose, but please be happy for what they have gained!

     

 

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January 24, 2016

Wise Words For The Foolish – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 pm by sranderson0103

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,

But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

(Proverbs 12:15)

The book of Proverbs has much to say about those whom the writer calls fools. Actually, about ten different Hebrew words are used in Proverbs that translate as “fools,” “foolishness,” etc., and such words occur almost 100 times in that one book. Assuming the human writer was Solomon (of course, the Holy Spirit was guiding the divine record), it is noteworthy that the reputedly wisest man of all time had more to say about fools than did anyone else. At the same time, he used the words “wise,” “wisdom,” etc., at least 125 times!

Our text uses both, contrasting the self-satisfied fool with the wise who listen to the advice of others. Such contrasts are abundant in Solomon’s proverbs, and we would do well to take them to heart. Note a few of these “pithy maxims,” as men have called them.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

The definition of the Hebrew term translated “knowledge”(דַּעַת – da’ath) is:

“Knowledge, cunning… a general term for knowledge, particularly that which is of a personal, experimental nature (Prov. 24:5). It is also used for technical knowledge or ability such as that needed for building the tabernacle and temple…” BDB]

“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22)

“O naive ones, understand prudence; And, O fools, understand wisdom.” (Proverbs 8:5)

“The wise of heart will receive commands, But a babbling fool will be ruined.” (Proverbs 10:8)

“He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.” (Proverbs 10:18)

“The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.” (Proverbs 10:21)

“Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 10:23)

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)

“Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:7)

“Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will.” (Proverbs 14:9)

“A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.” (Proverbs 14:16)

“A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who regards reproof is sensible.” (Proverbs 15:5)

“A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 17:10)

“Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” (Prov.17:28)

“A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.” (Proverbs 18:2)

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 26:12)

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)

“A fool lets fly with all his temper, but a wise person keeps it back.” (Proverbs 29:11 NET)

“The wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor.” (Proverbs 3:35)

There are many more proverbs about wisdom, but the wise reader will profit even from these. Those with wise hearts will “listen to counsel” and will eventually “inherit honor.”

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

January 17, 2016

Courageous Warriors – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“The LORD’s messenger appeared and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, courageous warrior!’” (Judges 6:12 NET)
“Who me?” seems to have been Gideon’s attitude toward this supernatural compliment.

“‘But Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.’” (Judges 6:15 NET).
This is exactly the kind of man God can use.
“But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast…” (I Corinthians 1:27-29 NET)
In spite of Gideon’s objections (perhaps because of them) he is assured: “The LORD is with you, courageous warrior” (Judges 6:12 NET)
We can see other qualities in Gideon that must have commended him to God. He was already busy.

“Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress so he could hide it from the Midianites.” (Judges 6:11 NET)
He was not sitting idly but was already doing what he could for his people. He lived in an evil time, when even his own father kept an altar for the god Baal. Gideon’s deep concern about the terrible circumstances imposed on Israel is indicated by his response to the Lord’s messenger.
“Pardon me, but if the LORD is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us?” (Judges 6:13 NET)
He was burdened for his people, but all he had been able to do was to try to feed them, hiding his wheat from the invaders.
Before the Lord could use him further, however, Gideon had to destroy the family idol and offer his own sacrifice to the true God, even though he knew such action would be very dangerous.
“The men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, so we can execute him!” (Judges 6:30 NET)
Joash, Gideon’s father, was not as far into Israel’s idolatrous worship as it appeared. He just needed a courageous example. His son was threatened because he offended this “god” whose altar now lay scattered on the ground. Joash responded more rationally than the mob.
“…Must you fight Baal’s battles? Must you rescue him? …If he really is a god, let him fight his own battles! After all, it was his altar that was pulled down.” (Judges 6:31 NET)
The God of Israel was not like this.
“Then the LORD himself turned to him and said, “You have the strength. Deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites! Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14 NET)

Gideon was brought to courageous faith by God’s insightful, patient instruction. He proceeded to defeat an innumerable army with a small handful of faithful men that he led to a glorious victory.
If we would be courageous warriors, like Gideon, we must begin like him: humble, faithful, burdened for the Lord’s truth, and doing what we can — putting away every idol of the mind, trusting God’s wisdom and power in our life, and in the redeeming sacrifice of our Savior.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

January 10, 2016

Rethinking Our 2016 Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

How are your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions going? Have they survived the first week?

Are you still on your diet? Are you working out? Texting less? Listening more? Living within your means? Reading your Bible? Praying daily?

I have two thoughts about why our goals and resolutions may not always be effective and too often jettisoned. One thought comes from John Maxwell and the other from Leonard Sweet.

Maxwell says, “there is something more important than goal setting.” He says it is being “growth conscious.” John explains his thinking this way. “If you’re goal-conscious, then you focus on a destination-a sales target, a prestigious position, or a certain level of income. Whereas goal-conscious people lock onto a destination, growth-conscious people focus on the journey. They see the big picture, and they understand that success comes through a process.”

The Bible often speaks of our spiritual growth in terms of being complete, developing maturity, adding Christian virtues and developing the fruit of the spirit (Jas 1:4; Col. 4:12; Eph 4:13; 2 Pet 3:18). These are not short-term goals. They involve a life-long commitment to discipleship and daily following the footsteps of Jesus.

Writer and preacher Leonard Sweet also makes some pertinent observations about the challenge of many of our resolutions.

“Most ‘resolutions’ we make are self-directed: get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life. We want to make changes that will help us, improve us, and bring us good feelings about ourselves.“

Sweet suggests that instead of making resolutions “that makes us feel good about ourselves, that brings ourselves pleasure, what if we resolve to live a life that brings pleasure to God?” He challenges us with this questions: “What if we were to forget the little resolutions and resolve something big?” Something, he says, “that brings God pleasure.”

Bringing God pleasure? Is that Biblical? Listen to the Psalmist.

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” (Ps 147:1)

“Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Ps 35:27)

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Ps 149:4)

Maybe one way to understand this is to remember how much we enjoyed the approval of our parents when we were children. Their smile. A pat on the back. A hug. The words, “I’m so proud of you.” It made us feel good. Accepted. Secure. And loved.

Our Heavenly Father desires to find pleasure in our lives. And, if we really care about pleasing Him, it will bring to our lives a great sense of gratification, knowing that we are living a life pleasing to God.

These two thoughts come together and provide for us a new paradigm about goal setting and New Year’s resolutions. Growth and God. God wants us to grow. It pleases Him. And when we grow to become more like Him we really reach the goals that He desires. Goals that will cause us to be conformed to His image.

“Be Holy for I am Holy,” God says. (1 Pet 1:15-16).

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 2:5).

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23)

So, if you are having trouble following through on your resolutions and reaching your goals, try this. Commit to personal growth. And seek to give God pleasure in 2016. If you do, the goals you achieve are sure to give both you and Him great satisfaction.

By Ken Weliever

The Preacherman

 

 

January 3, 2016

Protecting and Avoiding – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Our society continually tells us that we must emphasize positive thoughts that bring powerfully magical results. On the other hand, negative thoughts and actions are destructive and nonproductive. When results are honestly evaluated, it should be obvious that the approach does not work. Virtually every measurable factor in society is getting worse. Divine wisdom reveals again and again that the dynamic that changes lives involves both positive and negative effort. Yes, some things are right and should be encouraged. But, some things are wrong and must be opposed. Society shouts, “No. That’s negative, that’s judgmental, etc.” The inspired apostle Paul disagrees. Consider the contrasting wisdom that he wrote to his child in the faith.

“Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and absurdities of so-called ‘knowledge.’ By professing it, some have strayed from the faith. …” (I Timothy 6:20-21 NET)

The word “protect” is a military word which might better be translated “guard.” (NASV, ESV, NLT, NKJV, HCSB, NRSV, NIV)) The word means…

“1. to carry out sentinel functions, watch, guard,… 2. to protect by taking careful measures, guard, protect,” (BDAG).

The effort described positively implies support for that which is right and good. Timothy is to guard that which has been committed into his care—by inference, something quite valuable — the complete gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice the similar admonition in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.

“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (II Timothy 1:13-14)

Guarding affirms the positive but also includes defending against opposing forces. When we ignore attacking dangers we are failures as guards.

Furthermore, Paul teaches that one must also “avoid,” implying more than merely refraining from contact. Definitions of this term are instructive.

“1. turn, turn away…2.to be wrenched, be dislocated” ,” (BDAG)

“to turn out of the course,…2. to turn a person off the road, order him out of the way.” (Liddell & Scott;)

The word has to do with actively and deliberately turning away from something. Paul describes specific dangers.

“avoid…profane chatter”

Defined: “talk that has no value, chatter, empty talkprofane chatter i.e. devoid of Christian content … contemporary jargon,” (BDAG)

To be appreciated in our society you must listen and “talk the talk.” They may not be saying anything but it sounds good and you get “points” for nodding encouragement, implying endorsement. The world requires such conduct. Paul disagrees.

“avoid…absurdities of so-called “knowledge.”

Defined: “a statement that involves contradiction or inconsistency, contradiction” (BDAG)

Fallacious, circular arguments can sound good but they are dangerous, deceitful. The Contemporary English Version calls it “godless and stupid talk that sounds smart but really isn’t.”

Laurence M. Krauss has written an example in his bestselling book, A Universe From Nothing. With dignified, impressive words, Krauss says that nothing plus nobody equals everything. With profound insight, G. K. Chesterton answered this foolishness. He said, “It is absurd for the evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

Elsewhere, Paul teaches 16 But avoid profane chatter, because those occupied with it will stray further and further into ungodliness, 17 and their message will spread its infection like gangrene.” (II Timothy 2:16)

Paul says this danger has influenced men of faith and caused them to turn away from the faith. While our Calvinistic friends tell us that faith only saves irreversibly, Paul says some have, gone astray from the faith.”

Let us determine the guard the truth entrusted to us, and avoid the foolishness that is so impressive to the world.