April 15, 2015 Leave a comment
April 15, 2015 1 Comment
The annals of history show the early days of the United States fraught with slavery. It was a time that tainted the flag of freedom showed as a cloak of burden. The slavery in the United States presented an institution that was anti-Constitutional, yet many fought to keep certain of the citizens downtrodden by hatred and selfishness. Slavery meant that segments of the population were under the control of the masters with no freedom to choose or live any other way except as instructed. The ever present bondage meant that the slave was beholden to his master no matter the slave’s desire.
There were also instances wherein slaves were freed. The freed slaves were no longer beholden to their masters. However, some slaves chose to live in a state of slavery except they were often counted as indentured servants. They chose to stay because in the master’s house there was comfort. There was a place to sleep, and food to eat. There was no need to buy food because the master took care of everything. As long as they stayed with the master the master made sure they were well.
Not much has changed in these United States. There is still slavery except that the slaves are not bound by chains. Some have been freed from the harsh taskmaster; yet they have given him allegiance because of the things he provides. Often these taskmasters present all the comforts of that can be had. Fame and fortune sometimes come with giving in to a taskmaster that loves only what can be done to further his own mission. However, there is no true freedom. There is nothing but constant appeasing of the thing that seeks only destruction.
The fact of the matter is that there is no reason for anyone to be enslaved. This is particularly true when it comes to sin. While it is true that the sin nature of man is natural it is more natural for the Son of God to come and provide a path of freedom from the sin. His vicarious death on the cross meant that no one has to give in to the bondage of the yoke of sin. All one needs to do is accept the atoning death of Christ as atonement for his own sin. However, there are those that choose to live in the bondage of sin, even though the Messiah has shed His blood so that sin can no longer have mastery of its subjects.
Galatians 5:1 shows Paul encouraging the church at Galatia with the words “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” The yoke Paul refers to is sin. Sin is a relentless slave master that promises all the world while doing nothing more than pulling the slave deeper into the abyss of death and destruction. Are we yet slaves to sin? Must we give our lives for a few comforts and a little pleasure? Must we remain in bondage so as to seal our eternal fate out of the presence of a loving God?
The fact is that Christ did make us free. In His freedom the liberty is without bounds. All we need do is shed the robes of sin and replace those robes with the garments of praise. The praise will serve only to keep sin far from the one singing praises while building that relationship between God and man. And then there are those that choose not to walk in the liberty provided by Christ. There are some who chose to stay with the slave master who will only use them until they can be used no more. Are we yet slaves? Must we where the yoke of bondage that serves only to choke the life out of us?
Living as a slave to sin is living to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Adultery, fornication and uncleanness are tools of the slave trade. Must we give in to lasciviousness and idolatry? Are witchcraft, hatred and variance so important that we must relent our freedom? Are we yet slaves to wrath, strife and seditions? Must we give in to Envyings, murders, drunkenness, and reveling? Do we have to lay down our freedom for the temporary fulfillment of desire?
The death of Jesus served to set man free from the power of sin. Sin enslaves and separates while salvation joins and liberates. If Christ died for our sin are we yet slaves to sin?
April 8, 2015 Leave a comment
I have to say that it is really getting personal now. The attacks on Christians and Christianity are an unbearable truth. Christians in countries highly influenced by Islamic terrorists are being killed as though they are bugs on the floor. They are being beheaded merely because they are Christians. College students are also being attacked by those seeking to please Allah. They are shown no mercy only because they have chosen to worship and serve the One and only God. All this is going on while other Christians are forced to denounce the Holy One or suffer dire consequences.
As if this were not sad enough activities in the United States are not much better. Consider the Indiana and Arkansas laws which are but a mirror of Federal law instituted about twenty years ago. The laws have nothing to do with discrimination and all to do with the enforcement of the 1st Amendment. Yet many were riled by the gross misconception (or ignoring of the facts) that the laws were the target of homosexuals. Out of this the attacks on Christians were such that at least on pizza establishment was forced to close its doors at least temporarily. And there are other attacks on Christians. These attacks are legal and political and serve only to shame Christians.
Well, I have had more than I am willing to take. I am weary of the President bemoaning Christians while extolling Muslims. If Mr. Obama is the Christian he purports to be why does he not defend Christianity? Why is the Muslim prayer at sunset the most beautiful thing that falls on his ears? Why, does the good President, not extol the virtues of Christianity above all? Perhaps, and only perhaps, he enjoys Islam above the teachings of Christ. Well, I have had enough and I will not relent on the virtuosity of the Gospel. Relenting is not an option!
Scriptural texts clearly show that Christians will suffer persecution. Even more, Christians are not promised an easy time. The God-head new in advance these things would be which is, in part, why the Holy Spirit was sent. Nonetheless, Christians are encouraged to stand in the face of adversity. Ephesians 6:13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” This text clearly shows that there will be opposition to Christians. The Christian is not to be unprepared rather; he is to be ready in the face of opposition.
Consider two significant words in this text, “evil day.” There is no doubt that these are evil days. Right is wrong and wrong has become right. The less than two percent of homosexuals in this nation are all but discriminated against yet they hold themselves as being beaten and downtrodden. Frankly, I am vehemently opposed to homosexuality even while I embrace those that are entangled by this unseemly (Romans 1:27) behavior. As Christians we are called to love and love has much to do with doing what is right even in the face of apparent wrongs.
Just as it is wrong to steal, cheat, lie and commit adultery it is also wrong to commit homosexuality. Furthermore the Constitution clearly provides Christians the right to celebrate Jesus without retribution. However this has not stopped special interest and political detractors from doing all to silence Christians. Well, I will not be silent. I will not give in to the pressures of political correctness. I refuse to lay down the standard of holiness because some choose to live contrary to God’s Word. I will not give up and I will certainly not give in. Relenting is not an option!
April 1, 2015 Leave a comment
The story has been told time and time again. It would take little effort to examine the incarnation of Christ from an academic viewpoint. However, academia is not the reason for the incarnation. In fact, the only reason for Christ laying aside some of His attributes was because love was the impetus for the sacrifice. Love looked through the annals of time and realized that without the redemptive work of an incarnate Christ, man would be forever dammed.
Pardon my imagination. I am sure that a conversation took place in Heaven. The Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit engaged in a discussion centered on finalizing the plan of salvation. The Old Testament paved the way with multiple foreshadows of how the plan of salvation would play out. The time was ripe and the season ready for the Son of man to humbly present himself. And, so the Son of God took on the flesh of man and walked the earth. For the last three of His thirty-three years Christ worked tirelessly to restore the broken relationship between God and man. He sought to put to rest the consequences of sin. This is a work He didn’t have to do yet He saw reason for salvation.
At this juncture to rehearse the story Good Friday might serve to bore some while encourage others. To talk about the mock trials and the thorn of crowns would cause some to weep and others to repent. The fact of the Via Dolorosa might consider some to look at their own sorrows, or even consider the fact the Christ did not have to suffer unjust lashings. He did not have to suffer the lies and embarrassments of a false declaration of guilt. No, Jesus did not have to suffer at the hands of the man over whom He held ultimate authority. Still, nothing was to stop the King of kings from fulfilling the will of the Father.
No, Emanuel did not have to suffer the cross. He could have avoided the nails. The thirst He suffered showed that the God-man suffered as a man; yet, His determination to redeem man was born from the God He was. This Jesus, the One betrayed with a kiss, could have called ten thousand angels to come to His defense – but He stayed on the cross. His blood dripped from His torn and broken body. He refused to come down. The mission was not accomplished so He could not come down. He stayed on the cross because He sought to please His Father as He worked to heal man. The Saviour after much anguish, after considerable pain, and untold humiliation chose to bow his head and die. He died so that man would not have to die in sin. The death of the Anointed One meant that there would no longer be a separation between God and man as the Blood of the Saviour was now available to wash away the sin of the world.
The story, however, does not end at the cross. No, the story is just to begin and cannot be contained in the words of this essay. The torn veil says much. The darkened sky and earthquake was more than one soldier could take. Yea, the centurion indicated that this One on the cross must have been the Son of God. And, then there were those dead lovers of God that were freed from the grave. The confrontation of our Lord and Saviour with the enemy would have made headlines today. Death was not able to keep Him. The grave could not hold Him. The keys to death, Hell, and the grave were snatched from the hand of Satan. The victory had been won!
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Christ did get up from the grave. He held the victory then and holds it now. Now He sits on the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me all because He wanted to restore that broken relationship. All He asks is that we follow His perfect example.
If Christ has not risen in your heart now is the time. Do not put it off until tomorrow as tomorrow may be too late. Don’t, I beg you, let it be said to late; let the Lord in. Now is the time of salvation. Now is the time to let Christ rise in you!
March 25, 2015 Leave a comment
Some of you may be aware that this past week I was in Lynchburg, VA at Liberty University participating in an intensive for the degree I am working on. The trip was a long one that entailed considerable planning. I did not simply go on the trip on the spur of the moment. The decision was not a sudden spontaneous act that I thought might be a good idea one morning. Instead, a lot of preparatory work went into not only the physical trip but also the work that had to be done prior to my arrival.
Preparation was key to the success of my trip. For instance, there was great need for lodging so I reserved a hotel room no less than a month in advance. This allowed me to get a good rate as well as guarantee a hotel room. A car was also needed so one was reserved well in advance. Not only were these major things reserved but also the financing for the reservations as well as gasoline, food and other incidentals. I also had to study and otherwise prepare for the intensive in order to be successful.
My trip to Liberty is a parallel to the things Christians need to do in anticipation for the return of Christ. I Thessalonians 4:15-17 reads, “15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Attention is drawn to verse seventeen where the phrase “alive and remain” points to those who have prepared for the inevitable return of Christ. The indication is that these are those that chose to put on the whole armor of God. They have cleansed their hearts and laid aside the works of the flesh. Moreover, these that seek the return of Christ have built relationships with Him by prayer, Bible reading, church attendance and the like. They wait with anticipation while doing all possible to do the will of the Father.
Matthew 24:44 admonishes its audience with the words, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Mankind is to be ready at anytime. In order to be ready preparatory things must take place. Among the very first things in getting ready to go with Jesus when He returns is to receive Him and Lord and Saviour. This is not a mere belief in His existence. Instead, it is turning away from those things that offend Him in return for a life that seeks to please the resurrected One.
There is no doubt that Christ will return and it is certain that no man knows the day or the hour. Yet it is encumbered upon all looking to His coming to get ready to go.
February 25, 2015 Leave a comment
I am currently reading A Practical Guide for Successful Church Change by Ramsey Coutta. In his work the doctor outlines his arguments for the inevitability of change within local church bodies. This change can be good or bad depending upon how change is presented by the leadership and how it is received by those who may or may not embrace the change. Suffice it to say that not only are there changes in the local Houses of Worship but also there comes changes in communities, families and individuals. Change is a thing that will happen either by reason of prompting or by natural course of action. Either way there will be change and that change will come.
Now, it might as well be said that I am not expert on change. However after having been on this Earth for more than five decades I can say with certain confidence that change is inevitable. Take, for instance, the young babe born just a few days ago. A number of changes have already taken place. For instance the babe is no longer protected by the womb of his mother. Instead of being fed through the umbilical cord the child must be fed by mouth. The change of growth is persistent and leads to a lifetime of changes. As such we can be certain that change will come in this life. Change is inevitable and should often be embraced.
The point of this message is to encourage all that are facing change with at least some trepidation. Some are changing marital status while others may have lost a loved one to death. Some are walking into new jobs while others are at the threshold of retirement. Some are moving to a land in which they have never been while others are merely changing local addresses. Either way there is change coming and as a rule change serves only to strengthen that which is already in us. Do not be afraid to embrace change as nothing ever remains the same except God who is immutable. Even as I pen these words things are changing all around me to include the things that are happening to propel me into the future. So go ahead and change. Let God uphold you as you walk toward and into your destiny of change.
Heavenly Father, first I thank you for giving me this forum to be an encouragement to your people. I also ask that you comfort those who are facing change with anxiety and grave concern. Please allow them to rest in and trust You as you have their best interest at heart. Thank you for changing not only me but also all those that have chosen to serve you as that was the best change we could have made. We love you Lord and thank You for making positive changes in our lives.