September 30, 2018

The Masquerade Is Over -By David Diestelkamp

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

You’ve seen the television shows that “make- over” people so they are hardly recognizable even to those who know them. Experts are brought in to choose just the right clothes, hairstyle, and makeup for them. They look and even act like different people. Paul says that sometimes Satan does the same thing—he “…transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). It’s a clear warning to those of us who think we know him. But we need to take this a little farther to see it in our current culture.

What do you suppose an “angel of light” is like? In Scripture, light is a consistent metaphor for the pure nature of God and the way of righteousness (1 Tim. 6:16; Jas. 1:17; 1 Jn. 1:5). Darkness is the way of sin from which we have been called “…into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). So, an “angel of light” would be a “messenger” or someone who presents himself as being consistent with the nature of God and the way of righteousness and one who claims and appears to be in “His marvelous light.” It is someone who is an advocate for the things of “light” (righteousness and truth) over the things of “darkness” (sin and error).

So, the obvious point of 2 Corinthians 11:14 is that things aren’t always as they appear. False apostles and deceitful workers don’t always wear black hats. It’s an old trick: “…as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Now this may state the obvious, but Satan only needs to masquerade himself and his ways when people are truly interested in the light and in avoiding darkness. Just how hard does he have to try to disguise himself today?

Do we think nothing of letting Satan enter our houses through our TV’s and portray fornication in front of us? Where is the masquerade? Do we laugh over Satan’s silly drunken behavior? Do we accept his greed and covetousness and selfish ambitions as success and happiness? Where is the deception? When lewdness is style, lies are the “loving” thing, and heresies are just being politically correct, Satan doesn’t even need to wear a mask. Why would Satan pretend to bear the fruit of the Spirit when the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-23) are the accepted norm?

It should come as a shock to us that Satan generally need not mask himself among us, but it gets worse. If Satan were to disguise himself as an angel of light, it would likely seriously harm his influence today. Angels of light are not popular on TV or in the movies. Angels of light are not generally elected to government office. Angels of light are not tolerated long in pulpits. Angels of light seem boring on dates or backward, weird, judgmental, or hateful.

Look at Satan. The mask is off and he is not hiding. Pure evil is before us. We must not harden our hearts (Heb. 3:8, 13) or allow our consciences to be seared (1 Tim. 4:2). Actively “Set your mind on things above, not on the things on earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:2-4). Satan is not afraid to show himself in our world today. Look at him and his filthy, evil, death-filled world. Look at Jesus and His pure, righteous, eternal life-filled kingdom. Take a good, long look. The masquerade is over. The choice is clear.

 

 

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September 23, 2018

A Father’s Love – By Joe R. Price

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

God described Israel as His child in Hosea 11:1-4: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. As they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images. I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” A father guides and teaches his children (11:1-3). In love, God called Israel out of Egypt, guiding His son to freedom. Fathers teach their children, from their formative years to maturity and beyond, with the guidance of wisdom and understanding (Prov. 3:1-2; 4:20-23). Israel did not always and immediately follow the guidance of God, their Father.

In fact, Israel often turned away from its Father and served idols (Hos. 11:2). Children are quite similar. They do not always and immediately follow their father’s instruction and guidance. But, just as God sent His servants the prophets to Israel to call the nation to repentance and back to His law, fathers must repeatedly teach and guide their children even when they disobey. Do not lose heart when your child does not immediately follow your guidance. Keep training and calling your child to walk in the way of truth. That’s a father’s love. A father nurtures his children (11:3-4). God embraced Israel and nurtured His child, even as a father must cultivate his relationship with his children. Give your children your time and attention. Take them in your arms and draw them to you with gentle cords of love. By doing so you begin to know your children in a way that helps you address their problems and burdens. God healed and sustained Israel in times of distress, just as every father wishes to do for his own children. With strength and tenderness, a father engenders his child’s trust and reliance by developing his bond with his child. That’s a father’s love. A father corrects his children (Hos. 11:5-9). God did not ignore His child’s transgressions. When He punished Israel His heart churned within Him (Hos. 11:8; Amos 4:6-12). Yet, He applied the punishment with love, not with the terror of fierce anger (Hos. 11:9; Heb. 12:6). When you must correct your child, do not do it with hot anger. Your goal is to correct the child’s behavior, not provoke him to bitterness against you (Col. 3:21; Heb. 12:10-11). Fathers apply corrective discipline when their children sin. That’s a father’s love.

 

 

God Hates Divorce – By Bill Hall

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

“I’m getting a divorce, but I don’t plan to marry again” These words are being heard with increasing frequency. Usually the spokesman is thinking that God allows the right to divorce, but would disapprove remarriage. The truth is, however; divorce itself is sinful unless it is for the cause of fornication.

Consider Matthew 19: 3-6. The question originally asked Jesus by the Pharisees was not concerning remarriage, but concerning divorce: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus’ reply to that question: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” It was only after further questioning that Jesus discussed the problem of remarriage and adultery.

Consider Malachi 2:16. “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away.” Even under the old covenant God did not approve of indiscriminate divorce. It is likely that the “tears” of verse 12 that “covered the altar” and caused the Lord to refuse their offering, were the tears of those who had been wrongfully put away.

Consider Matthew 5:32. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.” Observe the words, “causeth her” or maketh her” (ASV). This writer understands this verse to say that if one divorces his wife he places her in a position of temptation to commit adultery, and shares the guilt when she does commit adultery. On the other hand, if he puts her away for the cause of fornication, he has put her away legitimately and shares no guilt in whatever adultery she may subsequently commit. Consider I Corinthians 7:16: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.” Observe the word “command” or “charge” (ASV). The following verse (verse 11) does not negate or nullify this command, but simply recognizes that one might disobey the Lord’s command (in which case he sins; 1 John 3:4), and states his options if he has disobeyed. Not only does the Lord command husband and wife to live together but also he commands them to meet one another’s physical needs (I Corinthians 7:3-5) and to love one another (Ephesians 5:25). If one companion in a marriage fails along these lines, the other must still be obedient to God, seeking to be what He would have him or her to be in the marriage relationship. Never should the thought of divorce or separation ever enter the mind unless fornication occurs. We are not suggesting that divorce itself is “adultery,” but we are saying that divorce for any cause other than fornication is sin. Christians must not be influenced by the loose standards that prevail in the world in which they live.

September 16, 2018

Two Men Try To Worship – Bill Hall

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Worship under the best of conditions can sometimes be difficult. Distractions, human error, and sometimes funny situations can occur to take one’s attention away from the Lord. Attitudes, however, can prove to be a major factor in acceptable (or non-acceptable) worship.

For instance …

Two men sincerely try to worship. The first man, though, is frustrated throughout. His frustrations begin with the opening announcements when the man in charge takes ten minutes to say what any normal man could say in three. He is hardly over that when the song leader adds to his frustrations, selecting a song he is sure contains an unscriptural phrase. The man who presides at the table doesn’t help when he uses the term “loaf” instead of “bread,” and then the man who is called on to “give thanks for the bread” gives thanks for everything but the bread. The preacher makes a major contribution by totally misapplying a passage of scripture (“He probably didn’t spend enough time on that one,” the man thinks). When the worship period is finally dismissed, he tries to share his frustrations with those around him, but no one seems to care.

The second man observes many of the mistakes the first man observes. In fact, without fanfare he just doesn’t sing the questionable phrase in the song and he silently thanks God for the bread when he realizes the leader’s failure to do so. But while observing mistakes, he focuses attention on the good sentiments of the songs that are used, and on the death of his Savior during the Lord’s Supper. He makes the prayer that is led his own and appreciates the good thoughts presented in the lesson. He has come to worship God. He makes allowances for human frailty on the part of the leaders in worship, appreciates their sincere efforts, and refuses to let their mistakes keep him from his purpose.

The first man is to be pitied. His ability to “worship” is dependent on the ability of the leaders in the worship period, and any half-observant person knows how inept that leadership can be at times. He comes to worship, but spends the hour criticizing. He blames others for that which is really his own problem. Consequently, his problem with worship becomes a problem also with his brethren; but one cannot have a problem with his worship and his brethren without having a problem in his relationship with God.

The second man, by maintaining a positive attitude toward his brethren, even when they make mistakes, is able to worship acceptably and is drawn closer to God by his worship. We are not condoning sloppily conducted worship periods. Leaders in worship should seek to avoid mistakes and to do their work effectively. But acceptable worship depends far more on the heart and attitude of the worshiper than on the abilities of leaders. Our first man may point the finger of blame at others, but his real need is a total change of attitude within himself.

(It is obvious to me that that the attitude of the “second worshiper” is the prevailing attitude of the brethren here at Hot Springs. We are thankful for, and deeply appreciate that. Nevertheless, all of us are tempted to drift from time to time. Please consider the insightful thoughts by brother Hall, examine our own hearts and renew our resolve to worship acceptably, with reverence and awe. DRP)

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1)           

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;…Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach…”(Philippians 2:1-3,14-15)

 

 

September 9, 2018

Make IT As Sure As You Can – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.” (Matt. 27:65-66)

Pilate had endured many different, disturbing experiences leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Both he and some close to him had wanted to release Him, finding no fault in Him.

“As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today.” (Matt. 27:19)

“He asked, ‘Why? What wrong has he done?’ But they shouted more insistently, ‘Crucify him!’” (Matt. 27:23)

We wonder about the inner struggles of Pilate. His own wife had interrupted his judicial proceedings with an urgent, conscious appeal. He was the proud representative of Roman justice. He listened to the shameful accusations and was likely very aware they stemmed from envy.

But, the mob was unhappy. They were shouting their displeasure. (sound familiar?) “Come let us reason together” is crushed by “survival of the loudest.” Noble Roman justice folded. Known injustice prevailed. Political expediency ruled. Pilate determined to pacify the Jewish leaders and quell a riot, ignobly agreeing to the execution of an innocent man.

But once Christ was dead and in the grave, Pilate’s tormenting troubles did not end. I would like to know what he was thinking when said, “make it as sure as you can.” I wonder.

Fear of the promised resurrection? Would prove his injustice.

Maybe a guard could prevent his fears from becoming reality.

Fear the promise would appear to be fulfilled by theft of the body?

Sarcasm ridicule? Now He is dead. What could a dead man do?

Sarcastic fear of the inevitable? Guard the tomb if you want.

From our perspective, however, we can see divine irony in these words. Satan had seemingly won a great victory at the cross, for the Heir had been slain. Therefore, the one thing Satan had to prevent to secure his victory was the resurrection. The purpose Christ’s coming depended on His victory over death. This is the keystone. Without it, all fails. With it all is proven true.

Note the limitation in the words “as sure as you can.” How tightly sealed and well-guarded must a tomb be to contain the Creator of all things? If His purpose was to die and rise from the dead, would man’s or Satan’s efforts be able to thwart it? “As sure as you can” was surely not sure enough!

Today we know that the tomb’s sealed entrance was breached, not so much to allow Him out (walked through closed doors, John 20:19) but to allow us to see the empty inside. Satan’s henchmen still deny the resurrection, but their efforts are just as futile as those who tried to keep Him inside. The fact remains, He left the tomb, triumphantly proving and offering eternal life.

Adapted from an article by John Morris

 

 

 

September 2, 2018

“You Must Memorize It” By Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

That Joshua had a big job on his shoulders is a huge understatement. The momentous job of leading God’s people into the divinely chosen land of promise (full of giants and walled cities) had now fallen on Joshua’s shoulders.

 

The typical modern-day reporter, trained in humanistic philosophy would ask, “Joshua, how do you feel about that? Do you feel intimidated? Do you feel adequate for the job?” Most reporters are oblivious to the fact that it doesn’t matter how he felt about it. When God said do it, feelings are immaterial. It’s time to “Get ‘er done.” Three times in three verses God commands Joshua…

“Be strong and courageous.”

(Joshua 1:6, 7, 9.)

That should be clear enough, but how do you do that? How do you fearlessly succeed (where Moses had failed) in accomplishing a task that seems impossible? It is typical of God’s always practical directions to include “how to” instructions. God instructs…

“This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful…” (Joshua 1:8 NET)

This divine directive contains the first use of the Hebrew verb for “memorize,” (hagah), often translated “meditate.”

The Theological Lexicon Of the Old Testament says the word translated “memorize” or “meditate” means:

“to remember,” is the basic meaning… memory, mention, name”

Joshua is commanded to “remember,” to “memorize,” “meditate” on the Scriptures. The word has nothing to do with daydreaming, or contemplating your navel, but is remembering with a purpose…“so you can carefully obey all that is written in it.

David got it. Using the same word he says:

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,” (Psa. 63:6)

“I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, And my spirit ponders:” (Psa. 77:6)

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. (Psa. 143:5)

Memorizing or meditation to show off or as an end in itself is often useless or even harmful. Witness the Western proliferation of Eastern “meditation cults” (T.M., etc.) in recent years, which lead their devotees into pantheism and occultism.

God’s prophet warns against those who…“Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” (same word). Then he admonishes, “should not a people consult their God?” (Isaiah 8:19). It’s not about how it makes you feel. It’s about filling ourselves with God’s word, His wisdom.

David condemns those who “…imagine [same word again] a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1). He understands that the blessed man is the one whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2).

In other words, if we fill ourselves with and are continually guided by the Holy Scriptures will we be happy and successful.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for meditate” (melatao) is used only twice. Once, it is translated “imagine” (Acts 4:25) and is in a quotation of Psalm 2, as above. The last time it is used, however, its emphasis reverts back to the context of its first usage, as in our text above. Paul instructs (according to the NKJV)…

“Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. …Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” (I Timothy 4:13, 15 NKJV)

Or…

“Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. …Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.” (I Timothy 4:13, 15 NLT).

The modern fad promises wonderful benefits from the goal of meditation to, “clear our minds of things,” but God wants us to “meditate on or to memorize these things,” the life-giving, life-directing doctrines of His Word. The world’s humanistic, temporally centered counsel is worse than useless. God’s divine wisdom is different and is accompanied by God’s realistic promise…“for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:8.