Come


From Pastor’s Desk:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

***

The body needs rest from time to time, if not regularly. So it is with the mind, especially in a hectic, helter-skelter world in which we live. Beyond that, the spirit needs rest as well. Things which we cannot control often besets us, causing our spirit to be troubled.

There are various usages for the word “troubled” in Scripture. One in particular is when Jesus was “troubled” at the death of Lazarus. The Greek word in John 11:33 is ταράσσω tarassō (tar-as’-so), meaning, to stir or agitate (roil [stir up] water).

Rest is a precious thing. The body will eventually wear out without it. A tired body, without rest will come to a point of fatigue. Fatigue brings with it many different aspects, including what is called “burnout.” Trust me, you do not want to get to the point of burnout. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. It is not a pretty picture. Burnout will bring you to a point of not caring, and, what is worse, to a point of not caring that you don’t care.

Jesus’ invitation is to anyone that will come. We Christians use this verse as one of “Salvation Scriptures” but it addresses issues within Christendom as well. A weary body, a less-than-serene mind, and a troubled spirit is, in my opinion, is what is addressed in Matthew 11:28. Needless to say, there are going to be times when we are confronted with all the above, often all at once. Yes, even, if not especially, Christians. Sure, it is to the sinner who is laboring and heavy laden with sin. But it is also to we who are on the “Battlefield” engaged is spiritual warfare every moment of everyday.

It is to this that Jesus says, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.”

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The Old and the New


From Pastor’s Desk:

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
***

“…you have taken off…” and “…put on the new…” lays the responsibility at our “Doorstep.” It’s time, maybe, to accept the fact that God has done, does, and will do, all He can do. It’s up to the individual to dedicate, commit, and pursue the life that He wants us to live.

It’s a win-win situation. What could be better than purposely living in the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator? After all, isn’t this how man-kind was created in the beginning? God declared, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

If man-kind was created in His image, after His likeness, then it’s a safe, fore-gone conclusion that we are to be like Him.

That can only be done by taking off the “old self” and putting on the “new self.” Maybe now, at the beginning of 2019, that would be a good “New Year’s Resolution” if you’re into that, and if not, just purpose in your heart to do it anyway.

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Discipline: Punishment or Correction


From Pastor’s Desk:

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

***

For some clarification, may I offer a few different versions and comments:

>   TLB: And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.

>   PHILLIPS: Fathers, don’t over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline.

>   AMP: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

>   NIV: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

>   ADAM CLARKE: Avoid all severity; this will hurt your own souls, and do them no good; on the contrary, if punished with severity or cruelty, they will be only hardened and made desperate in their sins.  Cruel parents generally have bad children.  He who corrects his children according to God and reason will feel every blow on his own heart more sensibly than his child feels it on his body.  Parents are called to correct; not to punish, their children.  Those who punish them do it from a principle of revenge; those who correct them do it from a principle of affectionate concern.[i]

Provoke is used in different forms, but here it is παραπικραίνω parapikrainō (par-ap-ik-rah’ee-no); to embitter alongside, that is, (figuratively) to exasperate: – provoke. It comes from a similar form, which is to embitter alongside, that is, (figuratively) to exasperate.[ii]

We are not given an instruction manual at the birth of a child, but Paul submits a substantial premise upon which to build. One of the most significant injustices we, as fathers, can do to a child is to discipline them when we are angry. Often, the punishment does even fit the situation, but because of anger, we go overboard, exasperating and embittering. One might look again at Clarke’s Parents are called to correct; not to punish, their children.  Those who punish them do it from a principle of revenge; those who correct them do it from a principle of affectionate concern.

 There is absolutely no pretense of expertise in this article. I just wish I had known all this stuff when I was raising my children. They really have grown up to be two great men and one great woman of God, through no fault of my own.

[i] Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Power BibleCD,                                                                         [ii] Strong’s Concordance, e-SwordSunset over Mountain Range

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The Best of Everything


From Pastor’s Desk:

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. Acts 3:6

***

One really needs to examine different translations, as well as the original language to fully understand this verse. It looks rather simplistic at a glance, but there’s some still waters running here.

We see quite a difference in the lives of Peter and John, especially Peter. It wasn’t too long prior to this that Peter could not, nor would not, have been able to offer anything at all. We don’t know the exact time frame between the Day of Pentecost and the event in Acts 3:1-8, but if the chronology is right, it was soon after. That was the day that Peter received the promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-4). Along with this infilling came the power to be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

The old Peter more than likely would not even have stopped when the crippled man asked alms of them. What’s more, he may not even have been on his way to the temple to pray. But that’s the old Peter. Now there was something more to him. There had been a transformation in his life that transcended all that he had been. Whereas, before he had denied Christ, he now was standing forefront in witnessing for Christ. Remember, it was he who preached that great sermon on the Day of Pentecost, when the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).

Coming from a life of commercial fishing, plus taking into consideration that he and John had been following Jesus for a while, indeed they would have had nothing of monetary value to give to the man. Also, it must be considered that many people passed by this man every day, as he was laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple (Acts 3:2). We don’t have any evidence, but it has been surmised that Jesus Himself may have regularly passed him. One might ask, “Why didn’t Jesus heal him?” if indeed He did. Of course, there is no answer to that question, at least none that I know of.

Some things that are recorded in the Bible happened for a reasons and purposes unknown. But one thing we can be sure of is that some things took place at a certain time so that God would receive all honor and glory. Further, how much we learn from accounts, lessons that will otherwise not be learned that our faith might be increased.

Upon Peter’s admission that he and John had nothing to give the man, we can see that truly they did not, within themselves, have the best of everything. Actually, however, they did have the best of everything. That everything was in a Name. Such as I have said Peter to the man. The Amplified Bible sheds some light on what they had: Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have I give to you: In the name (authority, power) of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — [begin now to] walk and go on walking!” Like that? authority, power…and go on walking?

Accredited to an Amish Proverb is an old adage, “If you can’t have the best of everything, make the best of what you have.” Peter and John made the best of what they had, the authority and power in the Name of Jesus.

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Groaning Together


From Pastor’s Desk:

…our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Philippians 3:20

***

The Amplified Bible not only makes this verse clearer, but brings the whole subject matter of the entire chapter into even a sharper focus by adding verse 21: But [we are different, because] our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, will [not only] transform [but completely refashion] our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious resurrected body.

The caption at the beginning of Chapter three is The Goal of Life. The ending verses translate into a goal that is often times difficult in achieving, but it will be worth all perseverance and/or anything we might go through to reach it.

That’s what we’re waiting for, isn’t it, the return of our Lord Jesus Christ? Even nature itself is groaning awaiting that event. Paul tells us, “…we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22-23).

Groaneth is translated from συστενάζω sustenazō (soos-ten-ad’-zo) From G4862 and G4727; to moan jointly, that is, (figuratively) experience a common calamity.[i] If you have time, or if you will take the time, to research those two reference numbers, it will show something interesting, that is, all those in Christendom are, together, moaning jointly and experiencing a common calamity. Have you ever stopped right smack dab in the middle of a situation and cried out to God, “Lord, please come soon?” Or, as John states in the next to the last verse of the Bible by saying “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20).

By the way, conversation is from a word that means a community, that is, (abstractly) citizenship (figuratively).[ii] Paul wrote to the Colossians, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

Not to say that we should be heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good, but that’s so much better than being so earthly-minded that we are no heavenly good. After all, that’s where our citizen-ship is!

Let’s continue to groan together for that day when the One for whom we are looking appears to take us home to be eternally with Him.

[i] Strong’s Concordance, e-Sword                                                                                                  [ii] ibid

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Lives Without Direction


From Pastor’s Desk:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13 NIV

***

In this “Parable of Persistence” as the Amplified Bible captions it, this verse is found at the end of the passage of 5-8. You remember the parable about the importunity with which the man asked his neighbor for bread. And then, Jesus uses that to tell his disciples in verses 9-12, “ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you,”

The Amplified Bible explains evil by inserting that is, sinful by nature. It is understood that is where evil comes from, the Adamic, carnal, or fleshly, nature of mankind. Romans 3:10 gives us insight into that: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Why? Romans 3:23 is explicit on that: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Why should there be concern? Romans 6:23 explains that: “…the wages of sin is death…”

There is a wonderful alternative to that last one, however. The last part of that verse assures us: “…the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Why does the Scripture finish with “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him?” Could we venture a guess that without the Holy Spirit we will continue to do evil? The only way to combat evil is through the working of the Holy Spirit. Whatever your concept of receiving the Holy Spirit, whether at the time of salvation, which of course is true, or as Pentecostals believe, by the infilling of the Holy Spirit, subsequent to salvation, every believer receives the Holy Spirit.

It is easily seen that Jesus is talking to the disciples, and possibly others around Him. He is teaching them to ask…seek…knock for the Holy Spirit. Does that not speak to the church today? We cannot hope to live a victorious life in Jesus Christ without the Spirit’s working. Without Him we are just existing in lives that have no direction.

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Stop, Look, and Listen


From Pastor’s Desk:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2 NASB

***

The chapter that begins with “Bless the Lord, O, my soul, and all that is within me…” (Psalm 103:1) ends with “Bless the Lord, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:22). NASB

The word dominion comes from the Hebrew that means rule or realm of a ruler.[i] The heavens are of an expanse of which the human mind cannot grasp. Not to say that we (mankind) aren’t trying, but no one will ever come close to realizing that which is in the realm of God’s rule.

Walk out into a star-studded night and view the heavens. Just as an example of what you are seeing (or cannot see) let’s examine some information: Stars are not scattered randomly through space, they are gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies. The Sun belongs to a galaxy called the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also![ii]

Mind-boggling to say the least! Never mind knowledge of space, there still so many things we don’t know about the earth, including knowledge of oceans, seas, and land. But God has not left us without some knowledge, and that knowledge is derived from studies on everything we have access to. As the Scripture says, the heavens are telling of the glory of God…

May we not get so busy that we miss out on the glorious lessons that can be learned from such a vast domain! Don’t let days go by without seeking some knowledge of God from them. He is there, in every moment of every day. Let us not take for granted the sights of the heavens that we have at our disposal!

Maybe the old adage of Stop, Look, and Listen might be something we should pay attention to. One can learn a lot!                                                                                                     [i] Strong’s Concordance, e-Sword                                                                                                  [ii] https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Herschel /How_many_stars_are_there_in_the_Universe

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Be Still and Let God Be God


From Pastor’s Desk:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

***

We must be careful in the interpretation of this verse, because of the word still. The meaning is interesting. The original word, רָפָה râphâh (raw-faw); to slacken (in many applications, literally or figuratively). English derivatives are quite a few: abate, cease, consume, draw [toward evening], fail, (be) faint, be (wax) feeble, forsake, idle, leave, let alone (go, down), (be) slack, stay, be still, be slothful, (be) weak (-en).[i]

That word comes from another word that is pronounced the same, but notice the first letter is slightly different: רָפָא râphâh (raw-faw’); properly to mend (by stitching), that is, (figuratively) to cure. English derivatives here are: cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, X thoroughly, make whole.[ii]

Wesley says of this verse:                                                                                                                >     Be still] Stir no more against my people.                                                                                  >     God] The only true and almighty God; your gods are but dumb and impotent idols.     >     Exalted] I will make myself glorious by my great and wonderful works.[iii]

Clarke comments:                                                                                                                             >     Be still, and know that I am God] wprh harpu, Cease from your provocations of the       Divine justice; cease from murmuring against the dispensations of his providence; cease from your labour for a season, that ye may deeply reflect on the severity and goodness of God-severity to those who are brought down and destroyed; goodness to you who are raised up and exalted:-cease from sin and rebellion against your God; let that disgrace you no more, that we may no more be brought into distress and desolation.                        >     Know that I am God] Understand that I am the Fountain of power, wisdom, justice,      goodness, and truth.                                                                                                                          >     I will be exalted among the heathen] By the dispensation of punishments, the       heathen shall know me to be the God of justice; by the publication of my Gospel among them, they shall know me to be the God of goodness.                                                              >     I will be exalted in the earth.] I will have my salvation proclaimed in every nation, among every people, and in every tongue.[iv]

The beginning verse and the ending verse of this chapter assures us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” and “The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Life would go so much better for us if we cease striving against God and let Him be God, and be glad He is and We’re not!

[i] Strong’s Concordance, e-Sword                                                                                                   [ii] ibid                                                                                                                                                 [iii] John Wesley’s Notes on the Old and New Testaments, Power BilbeCD 5.9                   [iv] Adam Clarke’s Commentary, e-Sword

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As Christ Forgave


From Pastor’s Desk:

…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Colossians 3:13 NKJV

***

J B Phillips renders verse 13, “…be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.”

As usual, the gathering of other verses or passages to substantiate one verse or passage is helpful to gain insight to the full impact of meaning. For instance, bearing with one another suggests that we look at Galatians 5:22, where a couple of Fruits of the Spirit speak to the same concept. Always ready to forgive leads us to the passage of Matthew 18:21-35 as Jesus answer’s Peter’s question on forgiveness. The last verse of that passage sums up all of it: “…My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” The gist of the discussion between Jesus and Peter is that forgiveness should extend throughout infinity. Nor does the passage specify for which trespass we are to forgive. It just says forgive.

Maybe reading on through verse 14 will shed some more light: “…above everything else, be truly loving, for love is the golden chain of all the virtues.” Needless to say, we’re not going to be forgiving, and certainly not going to be concerned with bearing with one another if we are not loving.

Love is of utmost significance. Without love, says Paul, we are as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1). Some would argue that the fruit listed after love in Gal. 5:22 is but a result of love itself. Without being argumentative, I’m not sure that’s so far off. Are we really going to exhibit joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance unless we first love? God is all those things, but above all, He is love (1 John 4:8).

To say that Christ forgave you is to say that He forgave because He loved us so much that He died for us. To say that God forgives is to say that He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… (John 3:16). He didn’t send His son into the world to condemn the world that but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

To be like Him, we must be forgiving. To forgive, we must be loving. To not forgive strongly indicates that we have forgotten the trespasses for which God has forgiven us.

Stephen, the first martyr of the early church forgave those who stoned him to death. Acts 7:60 tells us, “he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Can you imagine? Simultaneously with death he forgave his executioners.

That was the personification of “…even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

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