09 June 2019

D-DAY CEREMONIES - A SOBERING THOUGHT!

One of the most solemn statements that I heard on June 6th, during the gathering of aged warriors at the Normandy site, was that these men will not be present for the next remembrance of the invasion on the coast of France by the Allied Forces. The reason being, it will be 25 years in the future. These brave men are in their 90s. They had to be in their late teens or early twenties when they ‘hit the beaches’ of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The thought entered my mind, neither will I be present, nor my wife, for the 100th anniversary of D-Day. The reason being, we are presently in the 84th year of our lives, by God’s grace and providence. But, we are not alone. Our nation is filled with people in the ‘sunset’ of their lives. But, death is no respecter of age. Death ‘knocks on the door’ of the young as well as the old. It invades the lives of the rich and the poor, the famous and the pauper. It is written in the Holy Scriptures “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Again, “For the living know that they will die…” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). The greatest advice that I could give to all the living is found in 2 Kings 20:1:”In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” (KJV) The point to be taken from this verse, is knowing that we shall die, and we should make preparations, that is, we need to “set thine house in order.” God desires for all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). He gave His precious Son to die on Calvary’s cross because He loved us (John 3:16). We all need to obey the gospel of Christ and live faithfully, that by God’s grace, we can be with God and all the redeemed in that place prepared for the redeemed (John 14:1-3). As penitent believers, would you not be baptized for the remission of your sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)? It is in kindness that I ask, is your house (life) in order?

11 May 2019

"WHERE THE ROSES NEVER FADE"

The pink roses on our white picket fence this spring have been absolutely beautiful! However, they are now losing their color and are slowing fading into a pale white shade that denote they are dying. I have walked near them and around them several times, enjoying their radiant color. It seems that this year, perhaps, because of my age, I am very sorry to watch the blooms fall from the vines. There is a song that can be found in some of the old hymnals that we used to sing years ago, “Where The Roses Never Fade”. Here is the first stanza: “I am going to a city where the streets with gold are laid, Where the tree of life is blooming, And the roses never fade.” Now, the chorus: “Here they bloom for a season, So their beauty is decayed; I am going to a city Where the roses never fade.” Of course, we know that there will not be literal ‘roses’ in heaven; however, we can understand one lesson to be learn in this song, and that is, like the roses, we ‘bloom’ for a season and eventually, we all will ‘fade away’. In 1 Peter 1:24, 25, we read, “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” In Psalm 90, the author writes of the brevity of man’s life on this earth, “You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up, In the evening it is cut down and withers” (vs.5,6). In verses 9 and 10, the writer emphasizes the certainty of death, “For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” The positive side of the lyrics of the song, “Where The Roses Never Fade”, there is a place where “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Though we do not read of ‘roses’ in this place prepared for those whose names are written in “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27); we do read that “the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass” (21:21); and, there is “a pure river of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb”. John also mentions the“tree of life” (22:2)being in “the holy city, New Jerusalem” (21:2). The aged apostle John, in highly symbolic language, as found in the book of Revelation, was describing the beauties of “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11), where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for all who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (John 14:1-3;Revelation 7:14). Our finite mind cannot comprehend eternity, and the fact there will no longer be death that brings so much sorrow to the hearts of mankind when loved ones depart from this life. However, our mortal, natural bodies will be changed into spiritual bodies, suitable for eternity (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). It is in the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ that our sins are washed away, and by which we have been redeemed (Revelation 1:5; Ephesians 1:7). If you are a pentinet believer, “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord?” (Acts 22:16). It should be the desire of everyone to go to that “Pearly White City” when life has ended for us on this earth. Question, is your name written in “the Book of Life” (Revelation 20:15)

12 April 2019

"GREATLY LOVED"

The Bible is replete with the names of persons who found favor in the sight of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Here are just a few names: We read in Genesis 5:23,24, that Enoch “”walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”; and, Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11). Thus these two men of God did not die as mentioned in Hebrews 9:27. Abraham trusted in God inasmuch he was willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). The writer of the book of Hebrews (11:17); and, James in his epistle (2:21), declared that in God’s sight, he did offer up his son. Abraham was truly a “friend of God” (2:23). God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). The angel announced that Mary, who “was betrothed to Joseph”,would “bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” Matthew 1:20, 21). The apostle John, was, without doubt, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26). It is written that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Martha) and Lazarus” (John 11:5, 36). There were five men mentioned in the Old Testament who had endeared themselves to God. They were Moses, Samuel (Jeremiah 15:1), Noah, Daniel and Job (Ezekiel 14:14, 16, 18, 19). The Lord said that if these men stood before Him, and prayed to Him on the behalf of the children of Israel, His people would not be spared because of the depth and darkness of their sin and rebellious ways. These godly men “would deliver only themselves by their righteousness” Among the five men previously mentioned by the Lord, I want to observe what He said about Daniel. In Daniel 9:20-23, while Daniel was praying on the behalf of his people, Gabriel spoke to him, saying, “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you for you are greatly loved…” (ESV,emphasis mine,re). This expression, “greatly loved”, regarding Daniel is used again in Daniel 10:11, 19. In Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible, we read, “and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved; or, "art desires" (p); all desire, exceedingly desired; very lovely, amiable, and delightful, in the sight of God, and all good men: or, "that thou art greatly beloved" (q); thus the angel came from God, out of heaven, to show it to him, to make it appear that he was highly in the favour of God, in that he made known his secrets to him” How wonderful that such an expression should be used for any child of God! Though our names are not found in the Word of God, we can know with all assurance they are written in the “book of life” (Revelation 3:5: 21:27), provided we have been saved by the grace of God, and the blood of His son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Ephesians 1:7). How great was God’s love for us? “For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV, John 3:16, 17, emphasis mine,re). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God gave His precious Son to die for us on Calvary’s cross! His love is immeasurable. Praise be to our Heavenly Father, and the Lamb of God, by whose blood we have been cleansed from our sins (Revelation 1:5)!

06 April 2019

"BLESS THE LORD"

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefit…” (Psalm 103:1, 2). For whatever reason that David had experienced in his life, he was moved to write this beautiful Psalm (Of course, guided by the Holy Spirit). His heart was overflowing with the need of blessing the Lord for all that God had done for him. Should we not possess the same kind of heart as David? Consider all that the Lord has done for us, physically and especially spiritually. All the perfect and good gifts come from God (James 1:18). His Son, Jesus Christ, died for us on Calvary’s cross, so that we could be forgiven by His precious blood (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7). I want to encourage our brethren who lead our minds in prayers during our worship assemblies to include expressions of praise and gratitude for all that God has done, and is doing for us. It is sad to note there are times when prayers are led wherein brethren fail to express thanks for God’s grace, mercy, love, lovingkindness, and His longsuffering. How can this be? Petitions, supplications and intercessions are expressed; however, there is a great need of our expressions of gratitude! (1 Timothy 2:1; Philippians 4:6) in our prayers. Let us “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4, 5).