June 24, 2018

“They Are Mine” – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

By Don R. Patton

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. “And they will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” (Malachi 3:16-17)

We find this assuring promise toward the end of the Old Testament period, a sad time of disgusting, idolatrous unfaithfulness on the part of most in God’s chosen nation. But, there were a faithful few, a remnant.

Today, again, Christians find themselves in the minority (as expected). We can benefit from God’s words of encouragement to those in similar circumstances in the past. We should study the former situations, the conduct of the faithful remnant as well as God’s attitude toward them. First, consider the attitude of the faithful toward God. These were the few, who “fear the LORD and who esteem His name.” In addition to the demonstration of God’ majesty, obvious in His creation, their own heritage taught them multiple lesson of God’s awesome power, His character, and generous provision when His servants served Him. Noble hearts, pondering such lessons, respond in reverence. The shallow, ungrateful majority remain oblivious.

Then, consider that these faithful few “spoke one to another.” (The King James Version adds, “often.”) The remnant (typically confronted, threatened by the majority) understood the benefit of encouragement from each other. Their conversations were not just about the weather or sports events. They talked about things that mattered, their spiritual survival.

Next, consider God’s response to the conversations of these few saints: “the LORD gave attention and heard it.” Are we aware that God listens to what we talk about? Those whose conversation indicated that they “fear the LORD and …esteem His name,” God hears, gives attention, and registers in a special “book of remembrance.” Would you be embarrassed to have your conversations in God’s book…or would God appreciate what he hears?

This faithful few, God’s remnant is assured of His ultimate provision: “they will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” They will be spared while others are being judged “on the day” when all will give account.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10)

Let’s determine to be among the remnant (ignoring the influence of the majority), making sure we fear the LORD and esteem His name. And make sure that our frequent conversations with fellow Christians reflect that attitude. Know that God is watching, listening and writing. The reward of the faithful few will be great.

 

 

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June 17, 2018

Joy and Gladess – Curtis E. Flatt

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

In Luke 1:14 Zacharias was told that Elizabeth would bear a son and that he would, as a result, have joy and gladness. This combination of words joy and gladness was often used in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 35:10 they are used to describe the joyful flourishing of the kingdom of God or the church which was to come. This son of joy and gladness was born and came announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand. (Matthew 3:2) This is certainly a New Testament theme, for the word joy in its various forms is found nearly a hundred times in the New Testament. Those of us who are in the church apparently sometimes fail to find or else we forget the joy and gladness of being a part of the redeemed.

No Joy And Gladness

There are things in which people should find no joy and gladness. So often people find joy and gladness in sin. This is no strange thing, for sin has its attractions, for sure. (1 John 2:15-17) But this which seems to be of joy and gladness finally leads to destruction. We must not find joy and gladness in doing our own thing as did the Israelites when they made their golden calf. (Acts 7:41) Innovations in worship bring joy and gladness to many, but there will be sorrow one day because of them. (Matthew 7:23)

Many Things Of Joy and Gladness

There are many things in which people should have joy and gladness even though they may not recognize their attractions.

Here is contained a number of these as found in the New Testament.

  1. People ought to have joy and gladness in the temporal things God prepared, i.e., rain from heaven and fruitful seasons. (Acts 14:17). However, there are other things of much more importance to bring joy and gladness.
  2. People ought to have joy and gladness in that they have opportunity to hear the gospel—the good news. When the man of Ethiopia heard the gospel, he went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:39) This was because he had found something of great importance to fill him with joy and gladness. So many miss this entirely.
  3. People ought to have joy and gladness in that through this gospel they can be in Christ. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” (Philippians 3:1) Herein is reason for joy and gladness for it is here (in Christ) where all spiritual blessings are available. (Ephesians 1:3) This reminds us of the importance of baptism for it is by and through baptism that people get into Christ. (Galatians 3:26,27). None are in Christ who have not been baptized correctly.
  4. People should have joy and gladness in the hope which is in Christ. (Hebrews 3.6) Nothing is so saddening as to see our loved one die without the hope which is in Christ. On the other hand, nothing fills the soul of the mourner with joy and gladness like hope. Hope is one of the abiding things. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three ….” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

It should also be noticed that people should have joy and gladness in the opportunity to worship God. Even though the psalmist did not have all the advantages people have in Christ, he experienced joy and gladness in worship: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) There is but little doubt, if any, that he was talking about worship. I may be a poor judge, but I fail to detect on the part of many when it comes to worshipping God. Have we missed something?

  1. In view of all of this, is it any wonder that when Christians have to suffer for right that the New Testament teaches that they should suffer with joy and gladness? The New Testament does teach that. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” There is so much meaning in the song we sing:

Tho’ your heart may be heavy with sorrow and care,

You may others to gladness beguile,

If a face like the light of the morning you wear,

And carry your cross with a smile!

For the work that you willingly, faithfully do,

You shall reap a reward after while;

Only grace in your service can glorify you,

So carry your cross with a smile.

We conclude with David’s statement to which Peter referred in Acts 2:26:”Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:8) “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at the right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

 

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June 10, 2018

Answering God’s Call – Philip C. Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Former heavyweight boxing champ George Foreman said he named all five of his sons and two of his five girls some form of “George” so that when he called out “George!” someone would show up! Good plan- though I’m sure it got somewhat confusing at times.

The Old Testament has some interesting and informative accounts of various individual’s responses to God calling them….

  • Adam, after his sin, hid himself when God called to him, Genesis 3:9-10;
  • Contrastingly, when God called to Moses from the burning bush, Moses responded simply, “Here I am,” Exodus 3:4;
  • When God called to the young boy Samuel in the still quietness of the night, he responded (as advised by the much older and wiser Eli), “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant is listening,” 1Samuel 3:10; and,
  • Isaiah, after being cleansed from sin (cf. Isaiah 6:5-7), heard the Lord say, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” responded, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of it before or not, but there is no record of any of the Twelve disciples whom Jesus called refusing to answer favorably, drop whatever they were doing, and follow Him, cf. Matthew 9:9; 10:2-4ff; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:27-28; 6:12-16ff.

Before we continue, please understand that God no longer speaks to us audibly or individually today as He did in these examples. The reason for this is simple: God now speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His gospel. Consider two passages in these regards. Hebrews 1:1-2, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world.” And, 2Thessalonians 2:13-14, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So “Yes,” we are all “called” by God, but such is accomplished through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

All of this begs the question (perhaps somewhat obviously by now), “How are you responding to God’s call?”

  • When He calls you into account for your sin and to repentance, do you refuse to answer and seek to hide yourself from Him, as did Adam? You can’t hide from God. Instead of trying to do so, you should confess our sins, and repent of them. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is no declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead,” Acts 17:30-31.
  • When He calls you to become His servant to go and save, serve, and lead others to the promised land of heaven, do you respond, as did Moses, “Here I am.”? Understand your purpose. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy,” 1Peter 2:9-10.
    • When He calls to you regarding the course and dedication of your life to His purposes, do you respond, as did Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant is listening.”? You must not only listen, but also follow Jesus in obedience. “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood arose, the river burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built,” Luke 6:46-48.
    • When He calls you to the difficult task of condemning sin and proclaiming His salvation to the lost, do you respond, as did Isaiah, “Here I am. Send Me!”? You can’t be a “closet Christian.” “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith that was once delivered to the saints,” Jude 4; and, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

    God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit is calling you to salvation and service in the Kingdom. How are you are responding to Their call?

    (Philip C. Strong; Southport Church of Christ; 7202 Madison Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46227

     

 

 

June 3, 2018

The Greatness of God’s Love – Ken Weliever

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

This morning reading Romans 8 reminded me of the story of little Johnny visiting his grandparents on their farm.

Johnny was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced shooting rocks, but he could never hit the target. Discouraged, he headed back inside for lunch.

As he returned to his grandma’s backyard, he spied her pet duck. Impulsively he took aim and hit the duck square in the head and killed it. Johnny panicked and hid the duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister, Sally, watching.

After lunch that day Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally responded, “Grandma. Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today, didn’t you Johnny?” And then she whispered to him. “Remember the duck!”

So Johnny did the dishes. What choice did he have?

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, and Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help me make supper.” But, Sally smiled and said, “Well, that’s all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help.”

And she whispered again, “Remember the duck!” So, Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed at the house!

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, he finally could not stand it any longer. He came up to his grandmother and confessed that he killed the duck.

She knelt down, gave him a hug and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. It does my heart good to see you admit you’re wrong and because I love you, I forgive you. But I was wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”

Too many Christians are like little Johnny. They are trying to hide their sins. Deny their faults. Or cover their tracks. But the fact is we all sin. Even Christians. We’re not perfect. But we’re pardoned.

Paul reminds us in Romans that the “gift of God” through our faith in Christ and obedience to His Word offers justification from our sins. So, Paul raises these pertinent and practical questions.

Who can accuse us? Who can condemn us? Who can be against us?

Not God.

God loves us with a love that is beyond human comprehension.  Rhetorically, Paul asks “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

But to leave no doubt, the apostle emphatically and powerfully answers the question.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When Satan accuses you and tries to burden you with guilt,  turn to the love of God to receive forgiveness.

When you face some trouble, trial, trauma or circumstances beyond your control that saps your spirit, remember God loves you.

When you lament the debilitating effects of sin that impact all of us. Either directly or indirectly. Crooked politicians. Greedy business people. Hypocritical church leaders. Fickle friends. All of which can leave us feeling betrayed. Empty. And alone. Never forget God loves you.

When feelings of loneliness, doubt or discouragement surface, lean on the divine truth that God loves you.

God’s love is greater than any adversity. Higher than any hurdle. Deeper than any hole. Wider than any sea. Stronger than any wind. Sweeter than than any love.

God’s love cannot be extinguished. Bought. Sold. Compromised. Or diminished.

There is no circumstance, no person, or problem that can separate us from the love of God.

In fact, even your own rejection of God does not dampen His love for you. As a bumper sticker, I once saw said, “God loves you. Whether you like it or not.”

God has made a conscious choice to love us. Even while we were yet sinners.

God’s love is longsuffering. Kind. And unselfish. God’s love is wide enough to include all people. Deep enough to forgive all sins. And long enough to use all people for His purpose.

So when the world tries to dampen your spirit, and Satan wants to steal the music from within you, fill your heart with the melody and message of this song by Frederick M Lehman.

The love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell It goes beyond the highest star And reaches to the lowest hell The guilty pair, bowed down with care God gave His Son to win His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman