December 30, 2018

Joy and Gladness – Curtis E. Flatt

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Joy and Gladness

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)
  5. 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 this joy and gladness 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)




December 23, 2018

Lay Up Treasures – Author Unknown

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

One of the most common struggles people have in their giving decisions is an uneasy sense of loss at what is given away. Some feel if they give, they will become poorer while the recipient becomes richer. Instead of giving with a cheerful heart for the Lord’s work (II Corinthians 9:7), the giver often weighs the cost of giving based on how much they feel they can afford to lose. The question “How much poorer am I willing to be?” becomes the determining factor in deciding how much they want to give.

Ironically, almost none of us feel poorer when we put money aside for retirement, invest in stock, or make a house payment. On the contrary, we feel financially more secure by doing so, even though our net worth hasn’t changed. We understand we’ve simply transferred a portion of our resources into a different asset that will be beneficial in the future.

Scripture teaches a similar approach but with a completely opposite focus. To begin with, you and I don’t really “own” anything. If God created the world, He is the sole and

rightful owner of the entire cosmos. Everything that exists comes from the God who “gives to all life, breath, and all things,” (Acts 17:25). But we are God’s stewards (Genesis 1:28). God has temporarily entrusted a portion of His resources into our care to accomplish His work here on Earth. And as the great Creator-Owner, God is just and right to expect an accounting one day (I Corinthians 3:10-15).

But a marvelous part of the message of Scripture is that we are privileged to participate with God as His “fellow workers” (I Corinthians 3:9). And as co-laborers with God, we are promised great rewards for the work we do for Him. The Lord Jesus said as much when He counseled the disciples to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20), which Paul echoed when he commanded rich believers to be “ready to give, willing to share” in order to store up “for themselves a good foundation for the time to come” (I Timothy 6:18-19).

Notice that these “treasures” and “good foundations” are not being deposited in heaven for God, or for the poor and needy, or even for the lost—they are for us. We are not losing anything when we give to God’s work but are simply transferring available “assets” into an account that will pay everlasting dividends.

In view of these passages, feeling poorer when we give to the Lord’s work is just flat-out wrong! Rather, we are blessed and far richer when we give because we have willingly transferred some of our God-given resources into the heavenly account that will be waiting for us when we “retire” from this life.


December 16, 2018

God’s Ways Are Best – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” (I Kings 17:8-9)

The “what” and the “why” of God’s requirements for our lives are often puzzling to us. We scratch our heads and think, “That makes no sense at all.” Of course, we are wrong, not because we see the sense, but because we know the source.

We should not be the least bit surprised that the Creator’s thinking is different from our own. God’s will and purpose is far beyond ours and is infinitely wise. It is perfect. How arrogant to imagine that we are qualified to sit in judgment.

Elijah had been supernaturally guided to safety and fed by ravens until the brook of Cherith dried up, due to the very drought Elijah had prophesied. Then, instead of supernaturally providing water into the dry stream, God told Elijah to move to a village in Zidon (of all places) to stay with a rich benefactor….poor widow who would feed him.

Recall that James reminds us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” James 5:17). He got discouraged and disillusioned as we do. How would you react to God’s plan? It’s not difficult to imagine Elijah thinking sarcastically, “Oh, now I understand. That makes perfect sense.” Zidon was the home of Elijah’s sworn enemy, the infamous idolater, murdering queen Jezebel.

“Now, Elijah (after your magnificent victory on Mt. Carmel) you are to humble yourself, asking a non-Jewish stranger, a poor starving widow with a dependent son, to give to you what she thinks will be her last meal. This is your plan for survival. Go for it.”

Elijah obeyed. So did the widow of Zarephath. The result? Foolish embarrassment? Disaster? Absolutely not.

God was able to meet the spiritual, as well as the physical needs, of this unlikely duo — the greatest spiritual leader of his age and an apparently insignificant widow. An amazing daily miracle of continuing creation of oil and meal took place as long as the drought continued. And then an even more astounding miracle was performed. For the first time in all history, so far as the record goes, one who was dead (the widow’s son) was restored to life (I Kings 17:20-24). God determined to perform two of His mightiest miracles and then demonstrate the divinely designed, appropriate, response…faith.

Faith was produced in the heart of a foreign stranger. She came to believe that Jehovah was the true God, not by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, not even by the testimony of the written word (as is often the case). Rather, faith came into her heart by honestly evaluating the evidence, facts that could be reasonably explained only by a supernatural God.

“Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.” (I Kings 17:24)

God’s ways are certainly not our ways, but they are always best. May He give us the determination to always obey His word, whether we fully understand, or not.



December 9, 2018

Humble Submission To God – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Perhaps the greatest challenge to producing submission to God’s will, in ourselves or others, is realizing that our own wisdom is not ours, but a gift and it is pitifully inferior to the much higher, infinite wisdom of God. If that understanding is impressed on our heart, then humble submission follows easily. If, on the other hand, we think we are pretty wise, submission will be difficult.

A powerful illustration of that lesson is seen in Daniel chapter two.

“In the second year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar had many dreams. His mind was disturbed and he suffered from insomnia. The king issued an order to summon the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and wise men in order to explain his dreams to him. So they came and awaited the king’s instructions.” (Daniel 2:1-2)

The “wise men” of Babylon claimed great wisdom. The king was not so sure and devised a means of testing their pompous assertions.

The king effectively said. “You claim to be all-wise?” “Let’s see about that.”

“The king told them, ‘I have had a dream, and I am anxious to understand the dream.’ The wise men replied to the king: “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will disclose its interpretation.”

The king effectively said. “You claim to be all-wise?” “Let’s see about that.”

“The king replied to the wise men, “My decision is firm. If you do not inform me of both the dream and its interpretation, you will be dismembered and your homes reduced to rubble! But if you can disclose the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts, a reward, and considerable honor. So disclose to me the dream and its interpretation!” (Daniel 2:3-6)

They complained about the test, because it did test and exposed their foolishness. “The wise men replied to the king, “There is no man on earth who is able to disclose the king’s secret,…” (Daniel 2:10). Of course, they were right, but simply telling the dream would be nothing, if they could truly interpret the dream. The king demonstrated they could do neither.

The king replied, “I know for sure that you are attempting to gain time, because you see that my decision is firm. If you don’t inform me of the dream, there is only one thing that is going to happen to you. For you have agreed among yourselves to report to me something false and deceitful…” (Daniel 2:8-9)

The wise men were frauds, perhaps even deceiving themselves as do many today who claim to know the wise course, even when God says otherwise. “You think we should do what?” “That makes no sense,” (per my wisdom). When the one who spoke the universe into existence speaks, it is time to dump our pitiful ideas and say, “Yes sir.”

But we think that really seems dumb. “I think it would be much wiser to do it my way.” It is time to remember who we are, who God is and bow our heads in humble submission.

Daniel knew he was not the source of wisdom but that God revealed answers.

Then in a night vision the mystery was revealed to Daniel. So Daniel praised the God of heaven, saying, ‘Let the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to him. …He gives wisdom to the wise; he imparts knowledge to those with understanding;'” (Daniel 2:19-21)

Wisdom is from God. In the Lord Jesus Christ …are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3). The wisdom God revealed in Christ, is both omniscient and omnipotent. True wisdom must come from Him.

Therefore, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).

Daniel was speaking to the most powerful monarch on Earth, with access to all the wisdom of the most highly educated men of the age. But human wisdom could not solve his problem. Only Daniel, drawing on the wisdom and power of the God of creation, could meet his need. God’s servants, even today, have this privilege and responsibility, because our God is “for ever and ever.”




December 2, 2018

Giving Thanks For Christian Friends -Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers, because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, (I Thessalonians 1:2-3 NET).

When we rationally consider how helpless we are without God’s blessings, it becomes obvious that it is irrational to fail to be thankful. If we understand that our blessings come from God, it is certainly appropriate to express thanks for our daily bread, whether in private, at a family meal, or in public at a fine restaurant. In fact, Jesus set the example. When He miraculously fed the multitude beside the Sea of Galilee, He began with a prayer of thanksgiving:

he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples, who then gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. (Matthew 15:36-37)

If we should give thanks for our food and shelter and clothing, then it certainly stands to reason that the blessing of having Christian friends is even more worthy of thanksgiving. Paul thought so and set an example we should follow.

The first letter to the Thessalonians was possibly Paul’s first inspired letter to Christian friends, and Paul began with the expression of thankfulness to God for them (see text above).

Consider the similar beginning of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3)

Likewise, his letter to the Colossians started with thanksgiving:

“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;” (Colossians 1:3-4)

He began his epistle to the church at Corinth similarly:

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,” (I Corinthians 1:4)

Even when writing to the Christians at Rome, brethren he had not yet met personally, he wrote,

First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you, (Romans 1:8-9)

He also thanked God for his personal friends, Timothy and Philemon.

“I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.” (II Timothy 1:3-4)

I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;” (Philemon 1:4-5)

Throughout our life journey, we develop cherished Christian friends and we should follow Paul’s example, thanking God for all of them. What a marvelous blessing. How fitting it is to be thankful and to express our thankfulness.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris