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Truths To Ponder

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, it is because the Holy Spirit has convicted us of sin and led us to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  We are convinced that God loved us and sent His Son to be our substitute, taking the wrath of God that we deserve upon Himself.  How amazing is God’s love for us!

The Bible emphasizes the love of God as one of God’s motives (God’s glory being another) for sending Jesus to die for us.

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten
son . . ."

I John 3:16  “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down
his life for us . . ."

I John 4:10  “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Romans 5:8  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

God’s love did not stop at the cross.  He loves those who believe on Jesus with the love of a father for his child (Hebrews 12:5,6) and the love of a husband for his wife (Ephesians 5:25,32).  Believers are sons of God (I John 3:1), and the church is the bride of Christ (John 3:29; Revelation 21:9).  His love is enduring, so that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38,39).

Our relationship with God all started because He loved us.  If we want to effectively serve Him, our motive must be that we love Him.  Paul said, “the love of Christ constraineth us” (II Corinthians 5:17).  While we are serving our Lord, His love keeps us in line.  John said, “we love him, because he first loved us” ( I John 4:19).  His love for us prompts our love for Him.  John also said that loving the Lord will keep us from loving the world (I John 2:15), will assure that we love fellow Christians (I John 4:11-12: 3:15-18; 5:1), and produce obedience to His commandments (I John 2:5; John 14:15,21, 23).

Our reason and motivation for serving the Lord should be because we love Him.  Other motivations, such as reward, peace of mind, approval of man, or fear of the Lord’s chastening fall short of what our Lord desires.  God wants us to serve Him, because we love Him.  Our love for the Lord will grow as we learn more of His love for us.  Therefore, the Bible must be read and studied, because it is the only source of truth concerning His love for us.  The more we know Him, the more we love Him.

It is possible to do many good things for Jesus, and yet fail to please Him because we were not motivated by love for Him. The church of Ephesus was known for its patience, rejection of evil, and labor for Jesus’ sake.  This is all good, but they were in danger of having their candlestick (witness, usefulness) removed.  That was because Jesus said, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:2-4).

May we grow in our love for Him.  This will assure service from the correct motivation.

It is hard to lose a loved one, friend, or fellow church member who shared your faith in Jesus.  You worshipped together, prayed together, studied the Bible together, talked of spiritual things, or shared your successes and failures in the Christian walk.  Your brother or sister in Christ was one of God’s gifts to you.  Then the Lord saw fit to take them home to Heaven, and you are left to continue your life without them.  How should you face this loss?

Let’s consider three proper responses to this change in your life.  You should respond with thanksgiving, rejoicing, and trust.

Thanksgiving is to be expressed to God and others for the Christian who blessed your life.  Paul spoke often of Christians he remembered, even though he was removed from them (Phil. 1:3;  II Tim. 1:3-5; I Thess. 1:3). He thanked God for their faith and their contribution to his life (Romans 1:8; I Cor. 1:4; Eph. 1:15,16; Phil. 1:3; Col. 1:3; I Thess. 1:2; II Thess. 1:3).  When God takes a Christian from your life, you should reflect on their contribution to you and His work and be thankful.  Sorrow should never remove your thankfulness.

Rejoicing is to be expressed to God and others over the wonderful blessing that death has brought to your fellow Christian.  Your loss has been great, but their gain has been out of this world!  They are present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8), which is far better than anything they enjoyed on this earth (Phil.1:23).  Love for them desires the best for them, and they have gone on to the best.  They are in Heaven, seeing their Savoir and enjoying all the blessings of the place He has prepared for them (John 14:2).  They are in a place where there is no sin, death, sickness, pain, sorrow, tears, regrets, disappointments, frustrations, or fears.

Wow! What a place!   You must think of them and rejoice.

Trust is to be placed in your Lord Jesus.  He has not made a mistake, because He never does.  It was His time to take the Christian you love.  Their death is part of His perfect plan, and He has promised to work it together for your good (Rom. 8:28).  This loss to you was not God working against you, because He never works against the child of God.  God always works for the believer (Psalm 56:9; Romans 8:31; II Cor. 4:17).  God is a person who loves us at all times (Rom. 8:38,39) and proved that love by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).  He has also revealed to us that He cares about us when we face trials and asks us to cast all of our troubles on Him (I Peter 5:6,7).  The days ahead, without the Christian who meant so much to you, can be faced with confidence, because you trust God.  He asks you to trust in Him with all your heart, not to rely on your own understanding, and He promised that He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5,6).  He will someday take you home to Heaven, and you will find that His plan was perfect.  Wait on the Lord and remain faithful to Him.  Your friend’s walk of faith is over, but yours is still progressing.  Walk it well.  It won’t be long till your walk also comes to an end.

Pastor Earl

It is very evident, as you view today’s society, that most people do not fear God.. When people laugh about their sin, justify their sin, normalize their sin, and criticize those who speak against their sin, they prove that they do not fear God.  Many of these people will say they are not afraid to die.  They speak as if their lack of fear is reason to believe they are alright and ready to die. Their actions and their speech only reveal that they do not fear God now. But they will fear God when they leave this world, because the Bible says:

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  (Hebrews 10:31)

To fear God means to stand in reverential awe of His holiness, His power, and His authority. The Scripture clearly teaches us to fear God.

Deuteronomy 6:13  “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him . . .”

Joshua 24:14  “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth . . .”

I Samuel 12:24  “Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.”

Psalm 33:8  “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

Proverbs 3:7  “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Revelation 14:7  “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

We should fear God because of who He is. He is the all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), everywhere present (omnipresent), and holy God. An understanding of who He is will demand that we stand in awe of Him.

We should also fear God because of what He has done for us. He made us and has provided everything that we have. Because man sinned against Him, He provided a way for man’s forgiveness and salvation through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, for our sins on the cross of Calvary. Jesus then rose victorious over the grave as proof that our sin debt was paid.  Such undeserved love should cause us to reverence God and stand in awe of what He has done.

Finally, we should fear God because of what He can do. Some people say that God would not send anyone to hell, but that people send themselves to hell by their unbelief.  It is true that people qualify themselves for hell, but it is not true that they send themselves to hell. There is only one who can send a person to hell, and that is God.

Jesus made this clear in Luke 12:4,5:

‘Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forwarn you whom ye shall fear:  Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

The person who lives their life without fearing God is a foolish person, indeed!

Pastor Earl

11

Anti-Semitism is on the rise today as Satan turns up the heat on God’s chosen people, the Jews.  As our nation drifts further away for God and His Word, we can expect Satan to be emboldened against Jews and Christians.  He is against Jews, because the Son of God became a man through a Jewish virgin.  Yes, Jesus was born a Jew.  Then He went to the cross to pay for our sins and to defeat Satan.  When He rose from the grave, it proved that He had accomplished both.  Satan is against Christians, because they put their trust in Jesus and have been delivered from their sins and his evil hand.

Since God formed the nation of Israel, Satan has made many attempts to destroy the Jew.  Yet, the Jew always rises from the rubble and continues to exist.  The only lasting results from Satan’s many attempts of annihilation have been some new feast or holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Pharaoh enslaved the Jews and attempted to keep them from leaving Egypt.  This resulted in God killing all the firstborn of Egypt, and the Jewish celebration of Passover was instituted.  Pharaoh and his army were drowned in the sea and the Jews lived on.

The Seleucid Empire (167-160 BC), under Antiochus issued decrees to stop Jewish religious practices and the Jewish Temple was desecrated.  This brought about the Maccebean revolt, which resulted in the defeat of the Seleucid Dynasty.  The Jewish holiday Hanukkah celebrates the cleansing and rededication of the Jewish Temple following that victory.

Last week (March 4-5), the Jews celebrated Purim, which is a holiday to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from wicked Haman during the Persian Empire.  Haman had cast lots (Purim) to determine the day on which they would annihilate the Jews.  The date was set “to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month . . .” (Esther 3:13).  Wicked Haman had intended to hang the Jew, Mordecai, on a gallows which he had built for that purpose.  Instead, God intervened,  Haman was hanged on the gallows and the Jewish people were spared (Esther 7:10; 8:10-9:19).  Because of the victory over their enemies, the celebration of Purim was instituted, again demonstrating that anti-Semitism is a losing proposition.

And then, in more recent history, Hitler tried to annihilate the Jews by killing over 6 million of them.  The result was Hitler’s own defeat, and the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948.  Thus, Israel celebrates their Independence Day each year.

Our nation and its leaders would do well to remember the lessons of the past and the Scriptures which speak clearly about Israel.  No nation that has moved against Israel has escaped the judgment of God.  As the Lord said to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” Genesis 12:3).  The United States must stand in support of Israel or be judged by God.

- Pastor Earl

     When we lived in West Virginia and our children were young, we would occasionally visit the fish hatchery in Whith Sulphur Springs.  As we walked along the ponds, we would sometimes pretend that we were feeding the fish.  With a swing of our arm, as if we were throwing fish-food pellets into the water, hundreds of fish would rush to the surface expecting to be fed.  They were expecting food, because they had seen the arm of the hatchery attendant swing out many times before, and it always brought them something good.

     If a fish can learn to expect good things when they see the motion of an arm, shouldn't we as God's people expect good things when we see God move in our life?  God has been so good to us.  He has saved us from sin, placed us as sons in His family, given us His righteousness, and promised us a home in Heaven.  He has given us strength, protection, wisdom, and daily provisions.  He has calmed our hearts, answered our prayers, and directed our lives.  He has promised never to leave us and always to love us.  Then things begin to happen in our life which puzzle us.  We see the action of God's arm, but we do not know what he is doing.  We begin to doubt, fear, and even question God.  Rather than expecting good things from God and running to Him, we expect bad things and run from Him.

     In Psalm 81, the Lord reminded Israel of His goodness to them in the past.  He had taken them out of Egypt and removed them from the burden of slavery (v. 6,7,10).  Then He told them to open their mouth wide and He would fill it (v. 10).  They had seen Him act in the past, now they should trust Him for the present and the future.  He was ready to bless them, they just needed to expect it and open their mouth wide.  But Israel refused to hearken to God's voice (v. 11), therefore God allowed them to follow their own desires and walk after their own counsels (v. 12).  Because they would not obey the Lord and trust Him, they missed out on victories and provisions (v. 13-16).

     We should trust in the Lord and follow Him even when circumstances do not look favorable (Proverbs 3:5,6).  He has promised that He is for us and not against us and will work all things together for good to them that love Him (Romans 8:28,31).  When God begins to work in our life, let's open our mouth wide, expecting good thinigs from Him.  He has promised, "I will fill it."

- Pastor Earl