Faith Bible Baptist Church of Yuma
Faith Bible Baptist Church of Yuma

From the desk of Pastor Ed ...  2016 Archives

The Greatest Gift Ever Given                December 26, 2016

 

The Christmas holiday celebrates the greatest Gift ever given.  No billionaire can top the greatest Gift.  No other gift will make the recipient happier.  This Gift will never be broken and tossed out.  Time will never diminish its value.  This Gift is the invaluable gift of righteousness which is wrapped in the grace of God.

 

This gift of the grace of God offered to all the “Grinches” of the world.  I used to be one of them.  All are born with a sin nature.  That sin nature is more vicious in some, latent in many, because, as the Word of God declares, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Saul of Tarsus testified that before he was converted he was an enemy of God (Romans 5:10).  All sinners are aliens having “no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12).  Destitute and without any hope of heaven is a terrible situation.

 

Looking down from His throne in heaven, God had great compassion for the “Grinches” below. What could spare them from the justice they deserved?  Can we build a ladder to the gate of heaven?

Impossible!  Can such “Grinches” be forgiven by another “Grinch”?  Hardly.  Could a “Grinch” un-Grinch himself and try hard to be good enough to earn entrance?  No way.  Just as a tiger cannot wash off the black stripes on its body, neither a sinner wash his sins away in the baptistry.  The physical cannot cleanse the spiritual.  Again, the “Grinch-sinners” are hopeless.

 

But God has the perfect plan to save “Grinches.”  Romans 5:6-8 tells it all.  “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even die.  But, God demonstrates His own love for us, in that we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”   God is the Judge.  God’s law makes it clear the “soul that sins shall die.”  He deserves to die and be sent to Hell.  Hell was prepared for the devil and demons, not the descendants of Adam and Eve. (Matthew 25:41). A judge must keep the law.  If God does not keep the law, then He would be a lawbreaker.

 

But God had a perfect plan:  what man could suffer the penalty as their representative.  It had to be a man, a member of the human race.  An angel could not do it.  The devil would not do it.  The answer is a Man who could reconcile the “Grinches” to God.  Here is the plan:  Jesus would become that Man.  The Son of God would be born as a little Baby, live a sinless life, and die on the cross for sinners.  Paul explained the divine plan: “He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us (a sin offering), that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus)” (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  The sins of every sinner, every “Grinch” was imputed upon the soul of Jesus on those 3 hours of terrible suffering a darkness on the cross.  He suffered the death penalty alone.  Justice was satisfied.

 

Romans 5:17 – tells the whole story: “For if by one man’s offense (Adam’s sinned) death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the Gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” 5:15 – “But the free Gift is not like the offense.  For if by one man’s offense (Adam sinned) many died, much more the grace of God and the Gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.”

 

The greatest Gift ever given was the life’s blood of the Perfect Man, the incarnate Son of God.   God saw that justice was finished.  Jesus paid the full price.  Rising from the dead, Jesus Christ calls the sinners of this world, the “Grinches” to repent and turn from sin unto God, and put their faith in Christ alone who can pardon their crimes.  Have you received the Gift of God’s salvation?  Now’s the time.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

The Bittersweet Life of Mary                December 21, 2016

 

Mary’s life began in a small town in Galilee.  Nazareth was nestled in hills with a wonderful view of the valley of Jezreel.  But, the town had a poor reputation.  When Philip, a disciple of Jesus, told Nathanael that Jesus grew up there, he reacted with serious doubts, saying, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).  Philip countered, “Come and see!”  He did and his life was never the same again.  He met Jesus of Nazareth, the firstborn Son of Mary.

 

The name Mary goes back to the time of Moses.  His older sister was named Miriam.  It was not uncommon for children to be named for some great or sometimes grievous event.  Miriam means “bitter.”  Her name memorialized the bitter years of slavery in ancient Egypt.  As the centuries went by, the name Miriam lost its dark past and became a common name because of Miriam’s heroic rescue of baby Moses.  In fact, the four Gospels list 6 different women blessed with that name.

 

The early years of Mary knew sweetness.  She had godly parents who taught her to love the LORD and a synagogue where she learned the great events of the history of Israel.  That education was proven in her song of praise to God in which there are two dozen references in 10 verses about the mighty power of God over all nations and empires.  Perhaps when she was 14 or older, Mary’s parents arranged a marriage for her with Joseph the carpenter.  This was a wonderful match—both were believers who walked by faith in the LORD.  Both were anticipating marriage, children, and a quiet and satisfying life.

 

Then an angel by the name of Gabriel appeared to Mary with a heaven-sent announcement: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And, behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31).  What a shock!  The angel knew her name.  The angel told her the impossible.  She was virgin and engaged.  How could this be?  The angel’s message did not fit her wildest dreams.  Gabriel left her fiancé out of the picture.  This boy to be born was to be great, the Son of the Highest (God), and the prophesied King of the Messianic kingdom.  By faith Mary responded, “Behold the maidservant of the LORD!  Let it be to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:38).  Mary and Joseph, the step-father, were extremely happy to raise Jesus and have more children.

 

After the Jesus was dedicated to the LORD, the elderly saint Simeon praised God that he had cradled Him in his arms.  This Child was his Savior.  Then came the foreboding prophecy: “Behold this child is destined for the rising and falling of many in Israel and for a sign to be spoken against, yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also….”  (Luke 2:34-35).

 

The path of bitterness forced fleeing to Egypt to escape death and rejection of her Son by her own synagogue.  Hearing slanderous words being leveled at her Son grieved her soul greatly:  He has a demon in Him!!  He is a Sabbath-breaker!  He is a winebibber!  He claims to be God—he is crazy, a blasphemer.  He was betrayed to his enemies by one of His disciples. 

 

The most bitter sight in her life was to stand near the cross helplessly.  Helplessly hearing the sneering of the chief priests, scribes, and elders ring in her ears.  This was like dagger slicing her soul to pieces.

 

Three days later came the comforting words of the angels at His tomb:  “He is not here.  He is risen!”  Oh, yes!  He would be great, the Savior of her soul.  How sweet to her heart that He was the Son of the Highest (God).  How sweet to know her Child, God’s Son, would establish a kingdom and live forever.

 

Have you lived a bittersweet life?  With Jesus comes joy and the abundant life.  Is He your Savior?

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Christmas Perfect Timing                       December 15, 2016

 

One of the most remarkable proofs that the Bible is the supernatural Word of God is the fulfillment of many remarkable prophecies.  We discover that in A.D. 56  St. Paul wrote a letter in which he declared God’s perfect timing for Christmas.  In that book named Galatians, it says, "But when fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."  (Galatians 4:4) - The time of the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem was on God’s perfect timing.

Over 4 centuries before Christmas, God gave an amazing prophecy to Daniel which is found in chapter 9:24-27.   “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your Holy City, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation from iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.  Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem, there shall be 7 weeks and 62 weeks ….  And after the 62 weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself ….”  The prophetic 70 weeks must be understood as weeks of years.

How was this prophecy calculated?  Using the lunar calendar of the Hebrews and allowing for years 1 B.C. to A. D. 1, Bible scholars calculated it was 483 years (the 69 prophetic years) from the decree of King Artaxerxes given to Nehemiah, a man of God, on March 14, 445 B.C.  to “restore and build Jerusalem” to the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ on April 6, A.D. 32 adds up to 69 prophetic weeks (of years). 

Accident?  No.  Lucky guess?  No.  God revealed the prophecy to Daniel and fulfilled at exactly the right time.  History is indeed "His Story."  God is sovereign over nations and great historic events causing them to fulfill His divine plan.

This fullness of the time includes other close events that promoted the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For international evangelism, the Greek language had become the literary media of that time, and by doing so, it gave the readable Greek New Testament to all citizens of the Roman Empire.  Not only that, but the feverish Roman desire to build roads and highways all over its empire were a great help for traveling missionaries like Paul, Barnabas, and Silas to speed their journeys to unreached territories.  What a great impulse this gave to obey the Great Commission of Christ to reach all peoples.

How should we respond to God’s timing?  Let's get to know our Bibles better.  Let's comprehend God's salvation plan.  Let's share it with others who have been blinded spiritually to accept the teaching that keeping God's laws will save lost souls.  Salvation comes by repentance toward God and faith toward and in Jesus Christ alone.  Are you carrying out the Great Commission in our generation?  It is always a good time to share the Gospel of Christ with needy souls.  Let’s be out there sharing the sure hope of Jesus Christ.

 Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Christmas Began With Senior Saints               December 5, 2016

 

 

A wonderful thought occurred to me as I was reading the Christmas story in the first two chapters of the
Gospel of Luke.  It’s this:  CHRISTMAS BEGAN WITH SENIOR SAINTS.  What do I mean by this?  Wasn’t Christmas begun with a Baby in the manger?   Well, not really.  Some senior saints were eagerly waiting the first Christmas before the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.

 

Senior saints:  who were they?  The Jewish priest Zacharias testified that he was an old man.  He softened the description of his wife Elizabeth’s age by not calling her an old lady.  With a gentle spirit, he informed the angel that she was “well advanced in years” (Luke 1:18).  Nice touch!  Then comes Simeon in Luke 2:25ff who was blessed of God to be privileged to live until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Messiah).  Then there is Anna, a prophetess who looked longingly the coming of the King of kings (Luke 2:36ff).  Her age topped the others.  If married at age 16, then her husband died 7 years later, and she lived 84 years as a widow, her age reached 107 or more.  Read on for their stories.

 

First of all, Luke introduced Zacharias and Elizabeth to his readers. They were righteous before God and had dedicated their lives to keep all of God’s commandments.  But their hearts were sad.  She was barren.  They had prayed for many years for their first baby.  Now, they were too old; age denied their hope.

 

The first century Christmas began when Zacharias the priest was chosen to offer incense in the Holy Place in the temple of Jehovah (Luke 1:5-25).  Only once in a lifetime could a priest be so honored.  He entered the Holy Place alone for the very first time with hushed reverence.  The lights on the Menorah, the golden lampstand, lit up the room.  Suddenly, the silence was broken by a voice!  “Do not be afraid.”  The figure called him by name!  Wondrous words softly echoed the glad tidings that his prayers for a child would be answered.  Sorrow filled his heart when he could not bring himself believe the angel. No way that their prayers could be answered at their age.  Gabriel admonished his unbelief by making him deaf and mute.

For the 9 months of her pregnancy, he could communicate only by writing on a tablet.  When the baby boy was born, he named him John just as the angel Gabriel instructed him.  Miracle!  His voice and hearing returned.  God answered their prayers!  More thrilling than that, John the Baptist would be the forerunner of the Messiah proclaiming the fulfillment of great prophecies about Jesus Christ.

 

Next came Simeon.  Luke 2:25-35). Little is known of him except that he righteous, devout, and was waiting for the “consolation of Israel” -- the Millennial Kingdom.  Directed by the Holy Spirit, he met Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus coming into the temple courts.  Simeon was told by the Spirit that this Baby was the Messiah.  Immediately and gently, He grasped Baby Jesus in his arms praying aloud: “Lord, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation.”  What did that mean?  It means our salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, not in ritual or tradition, good works or keeping the Golden Rule.  Jesus gave His life a ransom for our sin.  He arose triumphantly.  Now Jesus invites us to repent and believe in Him to be given everlasting life.

 

And, the next senior saint was Anna.  Like Moses of old, she was a spry 107 plus years.  Yet, she was on her knees every day in prayer and fasting.  Just like the Holy Spirit told Simeon where to find Jesus, He did the same for Anna.  Immediately she rushed to meet Joseph, Mary, and the Baby.  She raised her eyes in prayer to return thanks to the Lord for allowing her to see her Redeemer during her lifetime.  When they parted, she scurried around Jerusalem telling every one of her fellow believers that what we call “Christmas” had come.  Her hopes and prayers were answered marvelously!

 

May you have a Merry Christmas and rejoice in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Because Jesus Came                     November 28, 2016

 

When we stop to think about the Son of God descending from heaven to earth, it’s absolutely amazing.  It’s amazing, incredible…and yet true.  There is no way at all to dismiss the historical record of the four Gospels, the records of the Jewish historian Josephus, and the records of notable Roman historians.  No one has ever lived making a greater impact for good on this planet.  Jesus impacted our calendar—it divides all of history between before Christ (B. C.) and in the year of our Lord (A. D.).  Jesus impacted the rise and fall of nations and empires.  And, Jesus has and continues to impact the spiritual and moral codes of all cultures.

 

Because Jesus came we can have peace with God now and forever.

            Because Jesus came we can be overflowing with joy in our hearts.

                        Because Jesus came we have hope for the future that cannot be lost.

Because Jesus came a Christian can be thankful for the sacrifice of his life on that “old rugged cross.”

            Because Jesus came a sinner can be saved by grace—God’s favor extended to that sinner.

                        Because Jesus came a believer can be justified by faith alone.

Because Jesus came, a sinner can be declared forgiven and made right with God.

            Because Jesus came, a believer can receive the free gift of eternal life—now and forever.

                        Because Jesus came one’s heart, soul, and body can be conformed to His likeness.

Because Jesus came a believer can be adopted into God’s family as a child of God.

            Because Jesus came a believer can be an heir of God and joint-heir with Jesus Christ.

                        Because Jesus came the Christian overcome the temptations of this fallen world.

Because Jesus came--the believer’s future will be forever wonderful, yes, glorious!

 

Jesus came down from heaven to offer His life’s blood as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (compare John 1:29 and 10:17-18).  Just why did He allow himself to die a criminal’s death?  Because Adam sinned against God, that curse of sin has thoroughly corrupted every person who has ever been born.  Just as breaking national law demands justice for murder, lying under oath, or theft, God’s law has been broken by all of us.  Penalties must be carried out.  God’s Word declares that “the wages of sin is death….” (Romans 6:23).  How can anyone be spared from the death sentence of body and soul—that is, in hell?

 

Pastor John Charles Ryle laid out clearly what one must do to be saved from that place.  “Let us ask ourselves what we know of this repentance and faith.  Have we felt our sins?  And forsaken them?  Have we laid hold of Christ and believed in Him?  We may reach heaven without learning, or riches, or health, or worldly greatness.  But we shall never reach heaven if we die unrepentant and unbelieving.

 

A new heart and a living faith in a Redeemer are absolutely needful to salvation.  May we never rest until we know them by experience and can call them our own!  With them, Christianity begins in the soul.  In the exercise of them consists the life of true religion.  It is only through the possession of repentance and faith that men have peace with God at last.  Church membership and priestly absolution alone can save no one.”

 

The apostle Paul preached repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (read Acts of the Apostles 20:21).  These truths impacted me as a boy of 9 years.  I knew that I sinned against others.  I knew I had a sin nature.  But, I had never repented confessing my sins to God.  I prayed to the Lord asking forgiveness and put my faith in Christ alone.  That moment, that day, that setting, that placing my faith in Christ alone is forever etched in my soul and mind.

 

Because Jesus came, my life was impacted forever.  What a joy to knew Him personally and live for Him.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

How Jesus Expressed His Thanksgiving                     November 21, 2016

 

There are four occasions in the Gospels in which Jesus gave thanks to God.  The first was the time Jesus sent out 70 disciples to proclaim that the Kingdom of God had come down from heaven (Luke 10:17-24).  Jesus gave each one of the 70 power to heal diseases and medical conditions (10:9) even to the extent of “treading on serpents and scorpions” and “over all the power of the enemy of souls.  When they reported back to Jesus, they were ecstatic!!   They shouted, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your Name!!” (10:17).  Jesus responded, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your name are written in heaven” (10:20).  What is that about?  Beware of the sensational.  Much more important is that a person turn from the pathways sin, have their sinned blotted out, and have their names inscribed permanently in God’s Book of Life (10:20; Hebrews 12:23).  At that very moment, “Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit, and said, I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” that You revealed the good news that the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews had come (10:21).

 

On the second occasion Jesus gave thanks to His Father for the miraculous power to multiply a young boy’s lunch bag (2 dried fish and 5 dinner rolls) into enough to feed 5,000 men plus all the women and children.  But before He prayed, Jesus tested Philip and Andrew:  “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?”  Should they dismiss the multitude?  No, they were really hungry and it was late in the day.  Should they buy food?  No, who had that much money in their money pouch??  Well, Andrew spotted a young boy’s lunch bag and with a feeling of helplessness said what good is that lunch?

 

Knowing what He had already planned to do, Jesus instructed the 12 disciples to make everyone sit down on the grass in organized groups.  Surely some of the 12 looked at each other with blank faces.  Jesus politely asked the boy for his lunch.  With child-like trust, he gave it to Jesus.  Holding that small lunch in His hands, Jesus gave thanks to God for the food and for the miracle.  Do children often have more faith in God than do ministers and church members?  Why did the leftovers fill 12 baskets?  Was it for 12 doubting disciples?  This miracle caused many to sense that Jesus was a Prophet from God.

 

On the occasion of the last miracle recorded in the Gospel of John, a desperate message was brought to Jesus: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” – on his deathbed (John 11:3).  Jesus responded, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

(11:5).  He thanked His Father that He always answered every prayer of Jesus. (11:41; 12:28).  Just like the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus knew exactly what He would do.  He would spend 3 more days teaching the Kingdom of God, and then trek 20 miles to the village of Bethany to “wake him up.” (11:11). 

Again the 12 were confused—just who treks tedious 20 miles to wait somebody up??  Won’t the sunrise do that?  When Jesus reached the outskirts of Bethany, Martha and Mary with tears blurted out, “Lord, if You had been here, our brother would not have died.  Then at the tomb, Jesus prayed, thanked God, and then commanded, “Lazarus, come forth!” (11:43).  Immediately the sisters and all the mourners wiped away tears praising and giving glory to the Son of God.

 

The fourth occasion was to observe the Jewish Passover when Jesus gathered the 12 disciples.  He served the 3 cups of the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread.  To the bewilderment of the disciples who had observed Passovers with Him before, He revealed that this was His last Passover with them.  He spoke of His death on the cross.  He would become the Lamb of God who would sacrifice His life to redeem lost souls.  Jesus gave thanks for the elements and what they represented:  His blood and His body.  The Last Supper was a memorial and not a miracle.  May all Christians remember the high price Jesus paid to save our souls from the judgment to come.  May we glory in His powerful resurrection from the dead. 

 

It is my great desire that you and I give the Lord thanks for these 4 things and much more.  Let Jesus be our role model for giving thanks to God. 

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

The Blessed Fruit of Thanksgiving -- Psalm 116:1-2 &-16-19     

November 20, 2016

 

Despair on the Mayflower

           

Just as the sun can be blotted out by an eclipse, so moods of pessimism and doubt can plunge us into spiritual darkness. At times our situation may seem so desperate that we think even God Almighty can’t carry us through.

           

That was the gloomy attitude of Robert Cushman, who recorded his despair on the Mayflower in 1620. He wrote, “If we ever make a plantation in New England, God works a miracle! Especially considering how scant we shall be of victuals [vittles], and (worst of all) ununited amongst ourselves. If I should write you of all the things that foretell our ruin, I should overcharge my weak head and grieve your tender heart. Only this I pray you. Prepare for evil tidings of us every day. I see not in reason how we can escape. Pray for us instantly.” In spite of Cushman’s fears, God brought the pilgrims to their destination and enabled them to establish a home in the wilderness.”           Our Daily Bread, Sept. 3, 1998

 

Psalm 116:10 “I believed, therefore I spoke….”    Can we trust in the providence of God? 

Isaiah 65:24 “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

 

The Story of Squanto

 

Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving—at least, we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?

           

No, I’m not talking about some revisionist, p.c. version of history. I’m talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.

           

Historical accounts of Squanto’s life vary, but historians believe that around 1608—more than a decade before the Pilgrims landed in the New World—a group of English traders, led by a Captain Hunt, sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, Hunt took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery.

           

But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indians—a boy named Squanto.  Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith.  Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stable of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto’s desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.  It wasn’t until 1619—ten years after Squanto was first kidnapped—that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home.  But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto’s entire village.

           

We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto’s mind. Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead?

           

A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto’s people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.

           

According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] till he died.”

           

When Squanto lay dying of a fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend “desir[ed] the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.” Squanto bequeathed his possessions to his English friends “as remembrances of his love.”

           

Who but God could so miraculously weave together the lives of a lonely Indian and a struggling band of Englishmen?   It’s hard not to make comparisons with the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery—and whom God likewise used as a special instrument for good.

Squanto’s life story is remarkable, and we ought to make sure our children and grandchildren learn about it.  Tell them about Squanto, the “special instrument sent of God”—who changed the course of American history.

 

Charles Colson, BreakPoint Commentary

 

Why Is There Suffering?  Part 5            October 30, 2016

 

Most books which venture into the cause of suffering begin with a tragic, heart-breaking story.  The reader may be driven to tears.  She may become severely despondent.  He may become very angry.  A popular song in the 1960s was sung by Ed Ames.  Its repeated chorus line was: “Who will answer?”  The gifted Christian apologist, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, believes Christ is the only one with a full-orbed answer: “I am convinced that there is no more comprehensive answer to the problem of suffering and evil than the one the Christian faith affords.”

 

Let’s follow Jesus as He walks away from the Temple courts.  He has just had a debate with combatant Pharisees.  In John 9:1, Jesus took compassionate notice of a man born blind.  Influenced by the cultural philosophy of that era, the twelve disciples put forth this age-old question: “Rabbi, who has sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 

 

Pantheistic religions like Hinduism could only answer that blindness of this man was only an illusion.  But the man and his affliction was real.  Next it would assert that in the man’s former life he was bad.  He slipped down the reincarnation ladder.  Clinging to the same philosophy, Brahmans would pronounce that both man and parents were at fault.  But, Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (9:3). 

 

Atheism and pantheism adherents assert that if there was a God, he is not fair.  If there are no such standards as goodness and evil, as they claim, then nothing bad happen in an amoral universe.  Such is a meaningless form of fatalism.  It has no answer to the “why?” question.

 

The overarching purpose was the displaying of the power of the Son of God, the Jewish Messiah (John 9:3; Isaiah 35:5 and Luke 4:18).  The salvation of the soul of the healed man was worth much more than any suffering (John 9:35-38).  The spiritual blindness of the Pharisees condemned their souls (9:40-41).  The healed man was blessed to recognize his Messiah and save his soul.

 

One cause for suffering is that Adam listened to Satan and disobeyed God.  Being the righteous Judge, God pronounced a curse upon all creation.  Death, suffering, and wickedness were the consequences.  Man became one of his worst enemies.  Being merciful, God did not destroy our first parents.  “The problem of evil has ultimately one source:  the “resistance to God’s holiness.  It is a mystery because we are engulfed in spiritual blindness.” (Ravi Zacharias).

 

Dr. Edward Hindson gave this insight: “In fact, all death must be seen in the contrast to the reality of eternal life.  Therefore, death is never a tragedy for the child of God.”  Death is a defeated foe.  The Word of God mocks the power of death: “O death, where is your sting?  O Hades (the grave), where is your victory?  The sting of death is sin….” (1st Corinthians 15:55-56).  Just like the sting of a mosquito, the sting of death hurts but is not fatal for the Christian.  Verse 54 gives the reason why: “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory!’”  When one turns from evil and puts his trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior, he receives the gift of everlasting life.

 

Do we have the complete answer to the “why?” of unmerited tragedies.  A pastor friend’s wife passed away due to brain cancer.  Our first child died in childbirth.  A pastor friend died of pancreatic cancer at 42 leaving behind his wife and three children.  A fellow seminary student died in a car crash by a drunk driver leaving a widow.  I cannot not understand tragedies.  Jesus foretold suffering and death would come, but encouraged His disciples with the promise:  “I will overcome the world.”  This is my comfort.

 

If you are a Christian, let’s avoid the “betrayal barrier” -- the thought that God has done us wrong, that God has betrayed us.  Job began well (Job 1:20-22), questioned God, but in the end found that Romans 8:28 was true.  When this solar system passes away, there remains the Paradise of God in the new heaven and new earth.  I will see my parents there, our daughter there, our loved ones there.  Most important, I will see the Son of God who suffered innocently to make atonement for our sins and arose in triumph.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Why Is There Suffering?   Part four                 October 21, 2016

 

Scott Willis has learned to place his faith in the Lord: “We realized [like Job] it was possible to praise God without an explanation.  God has a reason for these things.  We can leave it there and trust Him.”

 

What happened to him, his wife Janet, and their family?  On November 8, 1994, the sun arose on a clear autumn morning in Chicago.  They buckled their six young children in their minivan for a looking forward to a pleasant trip to Wisconsin to visit a grown son and his family.  Pausing a moment to pray, they pulled out of their driveway.  Scott was thinking out loud about one of his friends who unexpectedly died of a heart attack.  In a moment his wife became a widow.  Why would that happen to her?

 

The car in front of them suddenly swerved to miss a 90-pound mud flap bracket.  In a split second Scott chose to run over it hoping to clear it rather than risk a dangerous roll over.  The iron bracket pierced the full gas tank, sparks instantly ignited the fuel engulfing the van in flames.  In the inferno Scott fought to stop the van.  He, Janet, and Ben put their hands into the flames to unbuckle seat belts.  Scott screamed to Janet, “Get out of the car!!”  Scott suffered burns on his face and both their hands were burned.  Most of 13-year-old Ben’s clothes were burned off and he died later.  They stared helplessly as the raging furnace quickly snuffed out the lives of their 5 precious children buckled in the back of the van—Joseph, 11, Sam, 9, Hank, 7, Elizabeth, 3, and baby Peter, 6 weeks. 

 

Standing on the side of the highway in pain, Scott hugged his wife, whispering, “Janet, they’re with the Lord.  It was quick.  God has prepared us for this.”  Pastor Scott Willis could not understand the “why” question.  But, he and Janet held on to Psalm 34:1-4 -- “I will bless the LORD at all times….” and “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

 

Like Job, that suffering, innocent character in the Old Testament, he had no answer to the “why me?” question.  Without warning, a tornadic storm crushed out the lives of their 10 children.  Other terrible calamities wiped out his livestock leaving him a pauper.  “Then Job arose, tore his robe and shaved his head [cultural responses to sorrow]; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” (1:20-22).

 

On December 18, 1978, Job’s words helped me and my wife.  On that cold, wintry day the sun shone brightly while our tears slipped down our faces.  Our first child Amy was stillborn.  We don’t know why.

We changed her middle name from Earlene (my mother’s name) to “Joy.”  To us at that moment, though our arms were empty, heaven was a bit sweeter.  Our baby girl was with Jesus.

 

A. M. Overton penned these words: 

            My Father’s way may twist and turn,               But in my soul I’m glad I know

                        My heart may throb and ache.                                       He maketh no mistake.

 

The “why’s” are difficult to understand.  The innocents suffer with the guilty.  Seems unfair.  But God’s word reveals that there is a great issue here:  the world is under the sway of the prince of darkness, the evil one.  Adam sinned after Eve was deceived (1st Timothy 2:14).  The collateral damage done in the Garden of Eden brought about the worldwide curse of death, pain, and struggle.  Throughout history, when God withdraws His mercies in such situations, the human race inflicts upon itself many troubles.  Common to all peoples and nations is suffering—a constant reminder of Adam’s fall.  Adam and Eve had been warned.  That collateral damage hurts the innocent, too, reminding them that life is fragile.

 

Jesus Christ was 101% innocent, but motivated by love, made atonement for our sins.  He suffered an ignominious death on that old rugged cross.  But, Jesus is alive and well!  In the words of a Gospel song, the Christian’s firm hope is this: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

Why Is There Suffering?    Part three              October 11, 2016

 

God inspired King David to expose another reason for suffering.   Many from all ranks of life have invented a multitude of excuses in order to deny the divine allegation.  But it is true and irrefutable. The reason is us.  Psalm 58:1-3 is the verdict of the Judge of all the earth: “Do you speak righteousness, O congregation?  Do you judge unrightly, O you sons of men?  Yea, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh the violence of your hand in the earth.  The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are be born, speaking lies.”  We are born sinners.  We are rebels always resisting God.

 

After our first parents sinned by turning their backs on God, the Judge pronounced a curse upon man and all of creation.  The CURSE was true justice in Paradise and is the same on our generation.  The earth is a dangerous planet:  hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, lightning.  Poisonous plants, drugs, and creatures bring death to the unwary.  Murder began in Paradise and the ghost of death marches over seven continents.  This year in Chicago murder has cut short over 500 lives.  Los Angeles and New York City combined lost 409 by September.  The wars and terrorism of the Middle East have claimed millions of lives.  All of this has been done by human hands.

 

And self-inflicted wounds have destroyed a tremendous number of lives by dangerous drugs, STDs, drunkenness, suicides, and by seemingly endless foolish decisions.

 

We ought to be extremely thankful that God is limiting the damage because of His great mercy.  In Psalm 78:30-39 the author listed sins of ancient Israel:  insatiable lust, flattery in worship of God which was fake, lying to His face, breaking the commandments of God constantly, yet despite all of this, God “being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not:  yea, many a time turned He his anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath.”  As bad as things are, it could be worse but for the compassion of God.

 

God’s tender heart put up with the Israelites in 40 long years of wandering in the Sinai desert.  He limited His anger when in Judges 10 they worshipped 7 different idols.  When they repented and turned back to the Lord, verse 16 says, “…and His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”  Later, when they turned their backs on God again, He was compelled to punish their disobedience.  They deserved it.

 

God gave Israel good laws and was near them (Deuteronomy 4:6-14).  When they obeyed God, He blessed them with divine delight.

 

What can we learn from the CURSE and its personal and collateral damage?  Suffering was meant to cause people to seek God for the spiritual healing of the soul and deliverance from penal suffering.

The LORD is always read to forgive (Psalm 86:5).  The LORD is always ready to shed His blessings upon the humble and the obedient (2nd Chronicles 7:14). 

 

The LORD is “talking” to you and me to do the simple and right thing:  Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Why Is There Suffering?”  Part two                 October 3, 2016

 

Last week the sources of all suffering were highlighted:  the fallen angel Lucifer was identified as the first adversary to the LORD God Almighty.  The 5 “I wills” describe his insidious plan for himself:  Isaiah 14: 12-15 ends with pompous boasting – “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (God).  But God responded:  “Yet you will be brought down to Sheol (the realm of the dead), to the lowest depths of the Pit” (hell).  Not until he is cast into the Lake of Fire will human suffering end.  That day is coming!  Romans 8:21 has tremendous news:  “… the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the  glorious liberty of the children of God.”

 

As the apostle Paul summarized the temptation of our first parents, Adam and Eve.  She was deceived and fell into transgression.  Had he made God’s command clear that they were not to eat the forbidden fruit?  Adam was close by.  Did he warn her of Satan’s lie?  Warren Wiersbe explained it this way:  Eve was deceived, but Adam sinned willfully with his eyes open (1st Timothy 2:14).  That is why Paul points to Adam, not Eve, as the one who brought sin and death into the human race” (Romans 5:12).  It was this act of disobedience that brought suffering into the world of woe.

 

Ever since then, the “god of this world” (2nd Corinthians 4:4), that is, the evil “spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2) is the “walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1st Peter 5:8).  He is to be blamed for all suffering. What terrible things has he done?

 

> Satan brought sin into the world (Isaiah 14:12f; Genesis 3:1-6).

> Satan attempted to prove that Job believed in God only because God bribed him with riches. 

     (Job 1:9-11)

> Satan incited King David to conduct a census to count how large his army could be.  It was a scheme

    to trust in the military might of men rather than trust in God alone to protect the nation of Israel.

   (1st Chronicles 21:1ff)

> Satan bound a woman 18 years with a severely painful curvature of the spine until Jesus miraculously

    set her free (Luke 13:10-17).

> Satan hindered the missionary travels of the apostle Paul (1st Thessalonians 2:18).

 

But, Satan’s days are numbered.  He and his horde of fallen angels—demons—will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:7-15).

 

And, there is another reason for suffering:  you, me, and all peoples possess a fallen nature.  God’s Word declares this clearly.  Romans 3:10 - “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  And verses 19-20 – “Now we know that whatever the Law (the Ten Commandments) says, it says to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore, by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.”

 

Since Adam’s fall, every soul has been born with a sin nature:  selfish, greedy, jealous, unloving, unthankful—the list goes on and on (2nd Timothy 4:1-9).  That sin nature can explode to wreak all kinds of suffering, some worse than the wildest of vicious animals.  Think Inquisition, cannibalism, the Holocaust, ISIS; these and more have ravaged history with suffering to unbelievable depths.  The collateral damages have horridly tortured millions.  Suffering is inflicted by fallen mankind

 

In lesser ways our sin nature is continually causing suffering.  Domestic violence, abuse of children, by drugs of all kinds, needless and cruel abortion, and more cause much suffering for its victims.  It is not a pretty picture.  Neither was the bleeding Savior who rose from the death and soon end all suffering.   Jesus is the only one who can, and will, end suffering.  Romans 8:31-32 is the solution.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

Why Is There Suffering?             September 27, 2016

 

Everyone that has ever lived has faced suffering.  From infants both in the womb and in their first year all the way to that 104-year-old lady someone recently talked about.  There is suffering, and, such suffering varies greatly with everyone in the world.  What is behind all of this?

 

I know of a family who for the last 5 generations have lost a baby by miscarriages and by some unknown causes.  Some other families are grieved when one of their children develops MS, MD, cerebral palsy, or some rare but degenerating affliction. The famous hymn writer Fannie Crosby at the age of 6 weeks was blinded for life by a doctor’s mistake.  The list of sufferers is endless.

 

Many in Bible times suffered.  Rachel died in childbirth; so did the wife of Phineas, a priest.  Elisha the prophet went blind in old age.  Mephibosheth was crippled.  Peter’s mother-in-law almost died of a Middle East fever.  Lazarus died probably in his 20s.  Timothy had stomach problems.  Paul left his companion Trophimus at Miletus sick.  What was behind all this?

 

Humanity began when God shaped Adam out of the dust of the ground.  Perhaps years later, Eve ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  She had been deceived by the serpent (the devil).  For the first time, sin entered this privileged planet.  Punishment followed just as God had warned the innocent couple:  death, sickness, pain in child-birth, curse upon the soil, and banishment from Paradise.  Suffering was the collateral damage.  Romans 5:12 – “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and thus death spread to all men—because all sinned.”  Our first parents got more than they ever wanted—severe judgment.  Rebellion was behind all suffering.

 

Romans 8:20-23 gives insight into the question.  The apostle wrote: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors in birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

 

So suffering was humanity’s choice.  By default, it still is—every baby is born with a sin nature.  Should God stop all suffering?    Or, may I put it this way:  who deserves it.  Absolute answer:  no one.  We are rebellious planet.  We deserve the “bondage of corruption.”  God is holy, pure, righteous.  God is also the Judge of all the earth.  Justice must be carried out.

 

There is “hope”!  “Deliverance” is coming.” “Glorious liberty” from suffering will be realized in the New heaven and new earth—Paradise Restored!  Born again Christians can “eagerly wait for … the redemption of our bodies”:  perfect health with “no more death, sorrow, crying, nor pain” (Revelation 21:4-5).  God gave this awesome promise.

 

How can we cope with suffering?  Knowing heaven is next, I can bear it here below knowing Jesus Christ will receive us with joy to live with Him forever.  Meanwhile, I continue to wear trifocals, have aches and pains when I ask my limbs to act like a 21-year-old.  Meanwhile, I endeavor to comfort those suffering, be their hands and feet, and ease their existence.  One day, maybe soon, all true Christians will stand in perfect health in brand-new resurrection bodies and praise the great Healer of both soul and body.

 

We suffer because of sin’s consequences from Adam till today.  Yet, I know suffering will be a forgotten memory.  Amen!!

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man                      September 19, 2016

 

The account of the rich young ruler began with hope and ended with grief (Mark 10:17-22).  He did the right thing—he sought to ask Jesus for an answer to this question:  “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

 

He had good manners.  He had a lot of money.  He had good morality.  Yet his soul was deeply troubled:

He had no assurance of inheriting heaven.  Jesus explained to him that no one was perfect.  He claimed that he kept every one of the Ten Commandments.  Jesus tested him on #10 – “One thing you lack.  Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”   Love Christ or cash.  What would he choose?

 

Despite his admirable attributes, he turned his back on Jesus rejecting the cost of becoming a disciple.  He had great possessions!  He did the wrong thing.  One of the most difficult things for a man to do is to give up his riches and self-righteous religion to follow Christ.

 

A man named Saul of Tarsus was just like this rich young man.  Both men boasted that all these things they had kept from my youth.

 

Unlike the rich young man who dismissed it when confronted with his covetousness, Saul's soul was convicted of breaking the 10th Commandment (Romans 7:7-12).  Before he had been parading his religion, now the hypocrisy of it all hit him like a ton of bricks.  Confronted by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul cried out, "Lord, what will You have me to do?"  He had given up his wealth and religion to follow the Messiah, the Son of God.

 

Here's how Saul ...; no, let's call him Paul now.  Here's how Paul shared his conversion:  "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ"

 (Philippians 3:7-8).

 

Here's the huge obstacle that Paul overcame when he put his faith alone in Jesus Christ:  “Yet indeed I also count all things but loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”  (Philippians 3:8-9).  Both the rich young man and Saul practiced the same religion--earning one's way into heaven by trying to qualify as the ultimate do-gooders. Both broke the 10th Commandment—“You shall not covet.”  It’s like a chain.  You break one link, you break the chain (James 2:10-11).

 

Where do you stand?  On your own vain righteousness or on Christ's righteousness?   The former will bring condemnation.  The latter brings pardon of sins and heaven.  Paul testified, "He (God) made Him (Jesus suffered on the cross because of our sins) who knew (by experiencing sin) no sin to be (a sin offering) for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Christ)" -- 2nd Corinthians 5:21.

 

How can you inherit eternal life?  Here is the answer of Jesus in John’s Gospel 5:24 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”  Will you put your faith in him today?

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

His Ears Are Open To Their Cry -- Psalm 34               September 13, 2016

 

Ps. 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

           

Why did King David begin Psalm 34 by praising God?  He wanted children to know that the LORD had delivered him from undeserved criticism and many dangerous situations.  David declared, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  David wanted men, women, and children to know that the LORD can deliver them from harm.  What afflictions?

           

He was criticized harshly by his own oldest brother.  Eliab scolded him for his courageous talk about confronting that huge Philistine warrior named Goliath in winner-takes-all confrontation.  “I know the pride and insolence of your heart…!” (1st Samuel 17:28).  That undeserved criticism hurt.  How could he “read” what was in his youngest brother’s heart??  David wanted “all the earth to know that there is a God in Israel.” (vs. 46).

           

He was hated by the disobedient and self-centered King Saul.  David was dedicated to King Saul and even helped sooth Saul’s troubled heart with melodies on the harp.  After David’s astonishing victory over the giant, women gathered singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”  Saul thought that how dare women publicly celebrate a young man half his age more than him (18:7-9).  Jealousy and envy mix a bitter brew in the soul (Proverbs 27:4).  The king determined to kill David.  

           

He was lied about by his own wife.  When in great danger, David’s wife Michal (Saul’s daughter) helped him escape execution and then lied about him (19:8-17).  She told her father that David pled with her to “Let me go!” and threatened to kill her if she refused.  He became mad at her for aiding his escape and madder at David for threatening her life. 

           

He and men who rallied to his side were constantly on the run from the king and his 3,000 elite guard.  David was forced to be a fugitive for several years. 

 

He and his men saved the citizens of Keilah from being slaughtered by the heathen Philistine terrorists.  Saul got wind of his whereabouts and rushed to chase him down.  Sensing something was wrong, David asked God if the Keilah citizens would defend David out of gratitude or would they betray him.  God told him that they would turn against him.  Refusing to fight the king, David and his men broke camp and were on the run again (1st Samuel 21:10-15).

 

And David endangered his own life.  Instead of trusting the LORD who helped him slay Goliath, he did a dumb thing.  Ever do a dumb thing twice?  David had done this before and concocted a hazardous escape from the Philistines (21:10-15).  In his depression he was not thinking straight.  He did not pray.  He did not ask God what to do.  He reasoned that the only way to get Saul off his back was to hide out with the king’s persistent enemies (1st Samuel 27).  Those military leaders were adamant that David and his men never go to battle with them.  They remembered who killed Goliath.

           

His cowardice allowed the blood-thirsty Amalekites to attack Ziklag.  Upon returning home, David and his fighters found their city had been burned to the ground and all their wives and children were captured.   Sure they were dead, some of his own fighters plotted to kill David.  Finally, David bowed down and sought God’s help (30:6-8).  God did not allow the Amalekites to harm even one soul (1st Samuel 30:1-19).

           

Yes, “many are the afflictions of the righteous” (34:19; 2nd Tim. 3:10-15; John 16:33).  “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6).  May we trust in the LORD our God in all our troubles.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

How to Be Really Rich:   Ephesians 2:7                       September 6, 2016

While millions of Americans throw their money away in the lotteries, only an extremely scarce few hold the right ticket.  Those same millions of Americans could, without putting a single dollar on the counter, inherit the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”

Jesus has more to offer.  His riches last forever.  Lottery winners, most of them, either waste it, or are conned out of a lot of it, or die before using it all.  Jesus has a better deal.

What “unsearchable riches” am I talking about?  One way to explain this to you is to use His name:  CHRIST.   That Name reveals 6 great and lasting riches which you can possess:

C -- on the Cross, Jesus purchased the redemption of my soul.

H – the promise of Heaven gives me absolute assurance of salvation.

R – Rising from the death, Jesus forever broke the power of sin and death over me.

I – the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, my Comforter and Teacher, assures my inheritance in Heaven.

S – Sanctifying grace makes me more and more like Jesus through the Holy Spirit and prepares for me everlasting life in Heaven.

T – Treasures—all the riches of heaven--come with being an “heir of God and joint-heir with Christ.

A missionary once declared: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”   Nate Saint gave his life for Jesus Christ and now dwells safe, secure, and extremely satisfied in Heaven.  Anyone grasping for riches on earth will be like a man trying to grasp air in his hand.  No billionaire ever took his stocks and bonds, mansions, and all possessions with him beyond the grave.  Standing in a cemetery, one man asked another how much the rich man in the coffin left behind.  His companion said, “All of it.”

In Heaven they walk on what mortals fight over down here.  The Bible says that there are streets of gold in heaven.  In the new heaven and new earth, it will be Paradise, the Garden of Eden, the land of love, joy, and peace that last forever and ever.

How can you inherit the “unsearchable riches” of Jesus Christ? 

First, confess your poverty of soul—that you have failed to keep all of the Ten Commandments perfectly (Acts 7:53).  Second, put your trust in Jesus Christ Himself and His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection (Romans 10:9-10, 13).  Jesus will forgive your sins and redeem your soul.   Jesus paid the ultimate price.  He is waiting to hear from you.

I urge you to bow your head, confess to Him your sinfulness, and believe in Him.

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Ephesians 4                         August 30, 2016

 

When composing the letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul followed the pattern he often used.  First, he taught sound doctrine clearly and persuasively.  Second, he made practical applications from those Christian doctrines.  Thus, Ephesians 4 begins with the application, "I ... beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love."   The chapter closes with his encouragement to be kindhearted and forgiving.  That is a Christian life modeled after Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus Christ prayed for unity among the disciples who had followed Him for 3-1/2 years.  No doubt the high priestly prayer of John 17 included the Church for the next 2,000 years and beyond. Paul insisted that this unity must be solidly based on sound doctrine.  For example, read Ephesians 4:4-6 - ONE - Body (the Church), Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father of all. These are core doctrines. There can be no real spiritual unity with any group denying the truth of these points.  If persons agree on the major doctrines of the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Sometimes when listening to Christian radio, I will "talk" to the preacher who declares a Biblical truth to be so and call him my "companion" in the faith--even if he is not a Baptist.  We are "companions" of all who "fear the LORD and of those who keep His commandments" (Psalm 119:63). 

 

Then, to guard the faith, the apostle explained the necessity of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers (4:11).  They were God-given to "equip" the saints so that they are trained and ready to do the work of ministry/serving the Lord and building up the faith in the hearts of God's people (4:12).  Why? for that true "unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God" to form a strong, robust, and mature faith in each believer (4:13).

 

Why guard the faith?  In Ephesians 4:17-32 there are tough spiritual battles to be fought.  First, put off the old lifestyle consisting of lewdness, immorality, greed, and deceitful lusts (4:17-20).  In particular, Paul commanded the Christians to stop lying, control anger, quit stealing, clean up their language, stop grieving the Holy Spirit, as well as quit being bitter, wrathful, loud and quarrelsome, and filled with malice (4:26-31).  God declares:  “Be holy, for I am holy.”

 

Second, be renewed in the spirit of your mind "in true righteousness and holiness" (4:20-24).  That included being truthful, an honest and generous worker, of wholesome speech, and "kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (4:26-32).

 

These behaviors are what Paul meant when he told them to "walk worthy of the calling" of Jesus Christ to follow Him (4:1).  Lord, help me and my readers to walk worthy of your call on their lives today.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

“What Does a Christian Have in Christ?”                  August 23, 2016

 

One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is in the 8th chapter of the book of Romans.   I love it because it overflows with at least 11 great things Jesus Christ does for the Christian.  Let’s cover some of them.  Whenever it says “in Christ,” it means that person is a genuine believer.*

 

1)   Romans 8:1 – If I am in Christ, there is no condemnation because every last sin I have committed has been forgiven and blotted out by the Lord (Romans 8:2-4; John 3:16-18; Acts 3:19).

 

2)   Romans 8:9, 11 – If I am in Christ, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in my heart giving me eternal life, teaching me God’s truth, and comforting me (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26).

 

3)  Romans 8:14-16 -- If I am in Christ, I have been spiritually adopted into the family of God forever (John 1:12-13).

 

4)  Romans 8:17 – If I am in Christ, I have become an heir of God and joint-heir of Christ of the glorious land called heaven (John 14:1-3).

 

5)  Romans 8:23 – If I am in Christ, my earthly body will be supernaturally resurrected because I have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and will experience the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10, 20-21).

 

6)  Romans 8:26-27 – If I am in Christ, the Holy Spirit will help me to pray when I just do not know how to pray and what to pray.

 

7)  Romans 8:28 – If I am in Christ, in His wisdom and by His power, God will work all things together for my good and the good of every Christian.

 

8)  Romans 8:30 – If I am in Christ, I have been justified (pardoned and declared righteous) by God and

     will one day be glorified in Heaven (Romans 3:24-25; 4:5; John 17:17, 21).

 

9)  Romans 8:31 – If I am in Christ, I know that God is for me.  Who can possibly be successful when he tries to resist God? 

 

10) Romans 8:32 – If I am in Christ, I know that God will keep all His promises to bless me, provide for Me, and make me secure in His love.  We can believe that because God gave us the greatest gift—the sacrificial death of His only Son on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

 

11)  Romans 8:35-39 – If I am in Christ, no man, devil, or anything can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.   

 

Are these great promises wonderful?

 

God’s offer to you—would you like to have all of these promises too?

 

*  note: what must one do to be a Christian?  “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  Romans 10:9-10

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 “Use It or Lose It” -- Matthew 25:14-31                   August 15, 2016

 

There is a niche provided for every man;

Each makes his contribution in God’s great plan.

Let no one feel inferior in that vast scheme,

However small and hidden his life may seem.     ~ M. I. Reich

 

Jesus was the best storyteller of all time.  He called them “parables.”  A parable is a simple story from a real life situation that conveys a spiritual lesson.  The parable found in the Gospel of Matthew 25:14-31 is the story of 4 men:  the master and three of his servants.  The point Jesus was making is this:  God gives each believer a spiritual blessing according to their God-given ability to make the most of it.           

 

A rich man was about to leave on a long journey when he called his servants and gave them a large portion of his goods.  To the first man, he entrusted five talents.  Let’s call him Andy.  To the second man, he entrusted two talents.  Let’s call him Ben.  To the third man, he entrusted one talent.  Let’s call him Clint.  A “talent” (definitions vary—a block of precious metal weighing 75 pounds) in the first century culture of Israel was a “monetary reckoning (though not an actual coin), … valued at … the equivalent of 20 years’ wages for a laborer….  If a laborer earns $15.00 per hour, at 2,000 hours per year he would earn $30,000, and a talent would equal $600,000 (USD).”  [from ESV Study Bible footnote].  Their responsibility with this rich man’s money was to preserve it, to invest it wisely, and make a good profit for the master while he was away.

 

All three men, Andy, Ben, and Clint got busy right away.   Andy invested his 5 talents and was able to double its value while the rich man was on his journey (now valued at $3,000,000.  Ben got busy investing his 2 talents and he also doubled its value ($1,200,000).  But, Clint got busy, … ah, well no --nervous.  He might have been thinking what if the “stock market” crashed?  What if some thief knew he had a talent worth $600,000 and would steal it?  He hurried to bury it in a secret place. He had no faith.

 

When the rich man returned home, he called the three men for an accounting.  Andy smiled announcing that his investment doubled the 5 talents in value.  Ben smiled, too. He had doubled the investment, too.  Very pleased, the man exclaimed, “Well done! good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of your lord.”  (25:21-23).  Andy and Ben were surprised by the master promoting them from day labor to office work.

 

Clint must have been pondering just how to face his master.  “Sir, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” (25:24-25).  A lazy, irresponsible worker will blame his boss for being so demanding and harsh.  Clint knew better.  The master made good money through the wise management of his faithful workers.  Frowning, the master rebuked him for being wicked and lazy and for not trusting the master’s ability to make a profit.  The master admonished him for being too lazy to walk into town and invest the one talent in the bank and collect interest.  He fired Him.  Clint walked away sullen into the darkness of the night and angry that everything was against him.  John A. Broadus observed: “Alas! How many professed believers are utterly useless.” (compare verse 30).  I hope that you are not one of them.

 

The point that Jesus made in this parable was that a believer must be faithful to use his God-given abilities, opportunities, and wisdom to serve the Lord well.  May the Lord Jesus Christ stir our hearts to labor for Him in His harvest fields of the world bringing lost souls to the Savior.  Let’s be faithful to use our abilities to please the Lord.  The reward is just out of this world.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Ephesians 3             August 8, 2016

 

One of the most amazing verses in the Bible is found in Ephesians 3:19 - "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  Paul finished this chapter of divine mystery and divine love with an overflow of superlatives:  "the riches of His glory!" (3:16), "strengthened with might!" (3:16, notice, he says more that just "strengthened", it is with superb "might"), "the love of Christ which (surpasses) knowledge!" (3:19), and again, "filled with ALL the fullness of God" Himself"! (3:19).  What Paul had, the Ephesian church members had, and we can have is divine riches, superb power, the highest stage of love, and the infinite touch of the fullness of God.

 

Yet, this world refuses that for tangible stuff.  All that is just "stuff."  No one can take "stuff" with them beyond the grave.  The rich young ruler had a superabundance of "stuff."  But, he turned his back on Jesus who challenged him to give it all away and to follow Him (Mark 10:21-22).  Is it "stuff" that is holding you back from loving and serving Jesus Christ with all of your heart?  When that young man died, he lost all the stuff that he treasured.  Paul was talking about "spiritual riches" that await the victorious Christian now and in the new heavens and new earth.

 

Paul was greatly humbled that God would save such a rebel as he was.  Saul (his birth name) had viciously persecuted Christians everywhere he could hunt them down (Acts 9:1ff; 1st Timothy 1:13-14).

When he was converted, he chucked all personal ambition, all religious advancement above his cohorts, and his own pride to follow Jesus Christ.

 

After fighting against God, he was utterly amazed that God would entrust him to carry the Gospel throughout the whole Roman Empire.  What did Paul think of himself?  Verse 1 - simply a "prisoner," but not just a prisoner, he was honored to be a prisoner of the King of kings.  Verse 7 - "a minister", the Greek word is "a common servant."  Verse 8 - he seriously thought that he was the "least of all the saints".  1st Corinthians 15:9 - "the least of the apostles, and not worthy to be called an apostle" because he had persecuted Christians.  With all his heart and soul, he now served the Christ he had hated. What an incredible change took place in his life after being confronted by our risen Lord.

 

In Ephesians 3:14 Paul recorded his second prayer for the local Church family in this epistle.  He now wrote, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."   When have I, have you, last bowed the knee (literally) and poured out your heart to God in worship, praise, and gratitude for the spiritual riches He has given you and me in Christ?  When have I, have you, been strengthened by His might to stop an addiction, a besetting sin, or a worldly attitude and gain the victory?

 

We have no need to continue in defeat in our Christian walk.  All the power of the Spirit of Christ is available to us.  Pray to the Lord, trust God for His power, and begin to serve Him.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Hopelessness -- Ephesians 2:12            August 1, 2016

 

“The witty, brilliant, sophisticated Irish essayist and lecturer, Bernard Shaw summed up the hopelessness of his own barren life and philosophy in this epigram:  ‘There are two tragedies in life.  One is not to get your heart’s desire.  The other is to get it.’  But Shaw was talking about the desire of the heart of the natural man, who knows not God nor Christ, and whose life is only death.  He speaks truly when he says that, when such a man has got his heart’s desire, he finds it only disappointment, empty and unsatisfying.  That is why so many today, both old people and young people having won their heart’s desires, commit suicide.”  (from Sunday School Times).

 

The Apostle Paul cared passionately for the souls of the pagan citizens of 1st Century Ephesus.  It was wealthy.  It was a privileged Roman city.  It boasted of the lavish Temple of Diana, a huge structure of 99,902 square feet, so built that it could resist earthquakes, and rated as one of the 7th wonders of the world.  But in the hearts of many, life was full of hopelessness and dissatisfaction with life.  Here is Paul’s description:  “… at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise (both were Jewish privileges from Jehovah), having no hope, and without God in the world.”  (Ephesians 2:12).   Hopelessness.  That was utter hopelessness.

 

Paul entered that city with eyes that had been enlightened by “the hope of His (God’s) calling … the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18).  He preached the “blessed hope” that Christians possessed by their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior (Titus 2:11-14).  That hope was sure.  Heaven was guaranteed by Jesus Himself.  Paul’s sure hope was is describing the return of Jesus to take believers up to heaven.  He wrote to another church, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And, thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:17).  This is a tremendous hope, a promise as real as God is real.

 

How is this possible for me, for you?  Go to the next verse, Ephesians 2:13 – “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”   When he speaks of the blood of Jesus, he means that Jesus died on the cross, gave up His life’s blood, as a perfect Sacrifice for our sins.  He stepped “into the line of fire” being wounded for our sins.  Our sins, our guilt was thrust upon His righteous souls.  “The wages of sin is death….” and He paid that high price to redeem us.  He arose conquering death and giving hope to all who believe in Him.

           

Shortly before dying, it was the multi-millionaire Sir Thomas Lipton who lamented his heart’s desires in life.  He was well-known as a winner in both English and American boat races.  He confessed his failure, saying, “I’d give up every trophy in my collection for the one I haven’t got – that is, a hope of heaven and eternal life.”  (Gospel Herald)

 

May today be the day you will pray to the Lord confessing your sinfulness and will believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord.  Jesus is the cure for hopelessness.  Jesus is hope personified.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

The Dominion of King Jesus                   July 24, 2016

 

Last night for the evening service, we examined Ephesians 1:19-23 and discussed the mighty power of God.  The Apostle Paul was so enthralled by God’s power that he felt like he needed at least 4 words to describe it in verse 19:  “power” = dynamic power;  “working” =  is energizing power;  “mighty” = power that overcomes resistance; and “power” = inherent power He had as God.

 

That four-fold power was miraculously displayed when God the Father raised Jesus from the dead.  That power did not allow corruption or decay of the body of Jesus to begin as it always does in the death of mortals (Acts 2:27).  By that same power our resurrected, living Savior--Jesus Christ--ascended up into the sky and into the presence of God.  Since being seated at the right hand of God, He has been exercising the power of God.  As Ephesians 1:21-22 declares, Jesus has been exalted “far above all principality (powerful rulers), and power (authorities), might (power of any other source than God), and dominion (lordship).  What does this mean for the Christian?

 

1)  Salvation of our souls:  the Gospel of Christ has power to purge our sin nature once for all             and pardon our sins (Hebrews 1:3).

2)  Security in His hands:  no powers on earth or in the distant galaxies can pluck a Christian out of His hand (John 10:28-29).

3)  Advocacy in the court of Heaven:  Jesus has become our Advocate (defense attorney)

who will rebuke the evil prosecutor of our souls, Satan our adversary, who slanders the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  (1st John 2:1-2 & Revelation 12:10).

4)  Head of the Church universal—all born again believers:  as such, Jesus is our sovereign Lord who has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us to live for Christ

(Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:12-15).

 

Jesus Christ is for real.  Just as I was telling a young man this afternoon, Jesus is not “religion.”  Jesus is a Person.  He is the Son of God who is holy, full of grace, abounding in mercy, and cares for your eternal destiny.  Jesus loves you so much that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).  He gave His life’s blood for sinners.  He accepted the punishment of sins that I deserved, that you deserve. 

                       

The Bible continues in Romans 5:10 – “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  How can we be reconciled with God? 

 

What does the Bible say?  “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”  (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

“God’s Calling, Inheritance, and Power for the Christian” -- Ephesians 1:12-19                                                                                                                              July 19, 2016

Could the Gospel proclamation impact such a thriving, idolatrous, wealthy city as the first century Ephesus?  It boasted of what became one of the seven wonders of the world:  the Temple of Diana.  The religion of that female goddess and the masterpiece of architecture dominated the meg -city.  When the apostle Paul visited that city, he preached Christ crucified and risen from the dead.  He preached Christ as the only Savior of the world with such great passion that many heathen were converted.

 

That temple was 99,902 square feet of splendor.  To make it earthquake resistant, its foundation

consisted of thousands of animal skins and charcoal.  Marble was cut nearby and constructed by skilled stone-cutters, women gave huge amounts of jewels to decorate it.  It displayed 127 Roman-style majestic columns donated by provincial kings.  Artisans crafted and sold so many silver images of the goddess Diana that its coffers were overflowing.  Ephesian citizens had everything – except a Savior.

 

The apostle Paul was not intimidated.  For two years almost 24/7, he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he taught believers to become disciples, and was empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform great miracles of healing the sick and casting out evil spirits (Acts 19:11-12).  Hundreds, maybe thousands received Jesus Christ as their Savior.  They forsook vain idol worship and collected tons of pagan worship books for a huge bonfire.   “So the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” (Acts 19:18-20). 

Christian, there is power in the Gospel!

 

Some years later in about A. D. 61, Paul was imprisoned for his faith in a Roman dungeon. There he penned the book call Ephesians.  He praised these new Christians for their vibrant faith and for their love for one another (Ephesians 1:13-16).  On his heart were three great truths:  God’s calling, inheritance, and power (Ephesians 1:17-19).

 

Christians have a sure hope in God’s calling.  Just as in that first century, the Gospel call goes out reaching many ears.  A calling is to something and for some purpose (1:17-18a).   The calling brings one to faith in Christ.  The purpose is the Spirit’s sealing of one’s soul to God guarantees everlasting life.

 

Christians have a glorious share in God’s inheritance.  Ours is a future life with the Lord in the heavenlies (1:18b).  This includes privileges surpassing our comprehension.  A mansion (John 14:1-3), eternal life in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1), a land to explore, the joy of worshiping Jesus Christ in person, and to experience eternal life.

 

Christians also will experience God’s great power (Ephesians 1:18-21).  The resurrected and enthroned Son of God will miraculously give each Christian a resurrection body like His own (1st John 3:1-2; 1st Corinthians 15:35-50).   His power will once for all defeat death’s grip on us just like Jesus overcame the powers of death and the devil.  King Jesus will rule over all principalities, other powers, might, and dominion (1:20-21).   Romans 8:17 reminds us that every Christian will be heirs of God’s vast creation, that every Christian will also become joint heirs of God in Christ.

 

Can we comprehend all this?!  Not really, it is too tremendous.  It is awesome!

 

Can we live confidently now in frail bodies of clay and weakness knowing that our LORD and Savior has already guaranteed a huge change for the better?  Yes!  We have a sure hope of His calling!

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

“And Be Found in Christ” -- Philippians 3:7-10                   July 12, 2016

Is church-going enough to quality for heaven?  John Bunyan shared a glimpse of his religious life before being confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ.  “I fell in with the customs of the times,” Bunyan said, “to wit, going to church twice a day, and there I would sing and pray with the foremost, yet retaining my evil life.”  While the early years of Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) were deeply immersed in religion, when the risen Lord confronted and scolded him for persecuting Christians, everything in his life was turned upside down.  To be “found in Christ” is to have experienced a powerful transformation.

 

At that terrifying confrontation, Saul cried out, “Who are you, lord?”  For many years he thought that he was pleasing God, doing his religious duties.  He was dead wrong.  What was his smelly baggage?  Religious rituals, family tree, good upbringing, an established denomination (a strict Pharisee), zealous for God, and blameless law-keeper.  The prophet Isaiah called such religions works “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  No one is perfect.  Our best efforts to be perfect fail miserably.

 

After repenting of his sins and putting his faith in the risen Lord as his Savior, he gave this testimony:  “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I count all things but loss, for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, THAT I MIGHT GAIN CHRIST and BE FOUND IN HIM, not having my own righteousness, which is from the Law, but that which is THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST, the righteousness which is from God.” (Philippians 3:7-9).

 

Longtime Pastor and Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe made this observation of our generation:  “Like most religious people today, Saul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven!”  Could this possibly describe you?

 

It described Saul.  In his confession of guilt, he admitted that he was a blasphemer – he had slandered Jesus Christ accusing him of being a false messiah.  He confessed that he was terribly wrong to persecute the Church.  He saw himself as a sinner—injurious, insolent, and violently arrogant (1st Timothy 1:13-15).  The Lord was ready to forgive and blot out his sins (Psalm 86:5; Acts 3:19).

 

Romans 8 contrasted his past and present:  was under God’s wrath, now had no condemnation;  was in bondage to Law and death, now free from the Law’s condemnation and given eternal life; was in the family of the devil, now adopted into the family of God; was a sinner without hope, now was justified (declared pardoned) and assured of heaven; was in danger of hell, now was guaranteed of heaven.

 

Paul rejected his self-righteous past as so much garbage.  After trusting in Jesus Christ, Paul was “found in Him” to have the righteousness of Christ imputed to his spiritual account.  His righteousness before God was not his own.  That expression, “and be found in Him” says it all.  Jesus Christ meant everything to him. 

 

How can you be “found in Him”?   Confess all your vain efforts to earn heaven as loss, as so much garbage.  Put your faith in Jesus Christ alone.  That is what He died for—to make atonement for our sins.  Dying on the cross, He was satisfying the justice of God against sinners.  He took our place and paid the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  Will you pray now and receive forgiveness and eternal life in Christ?  You will be “found in Him” when you do.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Joshua:  Faithful Soldier, Saint, and Father              July 4, 2016

 

It was said of the British hero Sir Henry Havelock: “He was every inch a soldier, and every inch a Christian.”  That could well be said of Joshua the son of Nun.  He suddenly appears in Exodus 17:9 when Moses spoke to the young man Joshua:  “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek.”  In that pagan clan burned a fierce hatred for the LORD, Moses, and the Israelites for centuries.  As Moses prayed, God enabled Joshua and his troops to soundly defeat the enemy.  40 years later God chose Joshua to succeed his friend Moses.  Joshua as a dedicated warrior for the LORD.

 

Next we find him included in the special group of men selected by God to hike up the Mount of God along with the 70 elders and the high priest Aaron and his 4 sons (Exodus 24:12-14).  On that holy  mount they feasted at God’s table.  A few chapters later we find him again, this time with Moses on Mount Sinai.  I have wondered that, though he was a soldier, he was honored to approach nearer to God intimately with Moses the lawgiver.  Was he privileged to remain there 40 days until God gave Moses the Ten Commandments?  After this, he appears descending side-by-side with Moses who was cradling the two tablets of stone to show to Israel (Exodus 32:17).  In the next chapter, Joshua, a “young man, did not depart from the Tabernacle” where God spoke to Moses face to face (33:7-11).  The Spirit of God was abiding upon Joshua (Numbers 27:18: Deuteronomy 34:9).  Joshua was a dedicated man of God.

 

When Moses the servant of God died, his chosen successor was Joshua.  The next phase of his life was as the leader of the huge multitude of Israelites.  He was “strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6 & 9).  He meditated daily on the Book of the Law (especially Deuteronomy) day and night (Joshua 1:8).  Because of that, the LORD blessed him with good success, call it miracles, in crossing the Jordan River (God stopped the river’s flow), conquering the fortress of Jericho (God pushed down its walls), and in rapid succession defeating all the city states of Canaan.  By the way, West Point has used his battle strategies to train its army officers.  Why did God bless him?  Joshua bowed to the commands of his Lord (Joshua 5:13-15 & 6:1-2).  Joshua was a man dedicated to obeying the Word of God explicitly.

 

As Joshua approached the end of his life (110 years), he called together all of the elders, heads of tribes, their judges, and their officers along with the Israelite multitude (Joshua 24:1ff).  Just like he did at Mount Ebal years before, he challenged the budding nation to keep all the commands of the LORD (Joshua 8:30-35).  A copy of the Law was written in stone there for all to read.  May I say here that American courts are caving in to atheists’ demands that the Ten Commandments be removed from the public square and government buildings—no wonder our society is given over to violence, aborting unborn persons, and gross immorality.  Joshua was dedicated to keeping the Laws of God.

 

Listen to the words of a successful father: “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods your fathers served on the other side of the River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt.  SERVE the LORD!  And, if it seems evil to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods (idols like the moon gods) which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, of the gods of the Amorites (in Canaan), in whose land you dwell.  BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.”  (Joshua 24:14-15).  Joshua was a dedicated father whose powerful testimony and influence lasted 3 generations (Judges 2:7-10).

 

Though many tried to cover it up, Joshua knew that they were guilty of idolatry (24:23).  Are you like them?  Choosing the idols of modern culture and rejecting the goodness and mercies of God?  God has challenged fathers to lead their families in the paths of righteousness, to cherish their wives, and set  godly examples for their children.  May you put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  He can make you a better husband and a better father.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

A Father’s Lament -- Genesis 47:9                  June 27, 2016

 

No father wishes to say that “few and evil have been the days of the years of my life.”  But Jacob had to admit that (Genesis 47:9).  The LORD commended his grandfather Abraham saying, “For I have known him, in order that he should command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice….” (18:19).  Where did things go wrong?

 

For years, Isaac and Rebekah were childless.  He pleaded with God to give them a child.  God listened and gave them twin boys. It may be that his father’s advice for raising children was ignored.  After all, Abraham lived to be 175 and might have observed his twin grandsons, Esau and Jacob, for most of their first 15 years.  What went wrong?  Isaac loved Esau because he ate of venison brought home from hunting.  Rebekah loved Jacob.  Favoritism causes strife.  Isaac was rather passive.  Rebekah pushed to get her way and ruled the roost. This was a classical dysfunctional family.

 

Favoritism feeds a covetous heart.  Jacob learned to be self-centered.  Sensing a propitious time to cut a deal with his brother Esau, he jumped on his weak spot.  His brother was exhausted and very hungry as he returned home from the hunt without game.  A big bowl of lentil soup for a legal birthright of the family inheritance?  A horrible trade!  Esau despised his birthright.  Jacob ripped off his own brother.

 

Mom knew better than to force the fulfillment of God’s prophecy. Back in Genesis 25:22-23, she had inquired of the LORD why her unborn sons were struggling with each other.  Answer:  “the older shall serve the younger.”  Faith would wait on the LORD to bring this to reality.  Covetousness would compel her to connive a plan to steal the blessing of the inheritance from Esau.  Rebekah convinced Jacob to wear Esau’s clothes and put skins of young goats on his arms and neck to resemble Esau’s hairy arms and body.  Jacob was scared that this foil would fail and he would be cursed instead of blessed.  He gave in to Mom, approached his father, lied about the source of the meat, and even used God’s name in vain.  Can believers succumb to envy and lust?  Sadly, yes, they can and do. 

 

The plot succeeded.  The family was divided.  Esau soon found out and was overcome with tears and frustration.  Dad was trembling with shock when the truth was known.  Frustration grew to anger and anger to murderous thoughts.  The plot blew up in her face—how naïve can one be!  Mom urged Jacob to run away.  Surely he could live with relatives and return in a few days.   Surely Esau would forget it.  Sure!?  To Rebekah’s sorrow and punishment, she never saw Jacob alive again.

 

Rebekah had disrespected her covenanted husband, broke her wedding vows, and taken advantage of her nearly blind life’s companion.  God’s word commands a woman to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33).  Result:  Jacob fled using the excuse of finding a wife back in Haran (her birthplace).

 

The fugitive took off in a hurry covering 40 miles the first day.  Now God showed Himself.  As he slept, God gave him a dream.  He reminded Jacob of His Covenant blessing with Abraham (28:10-17).  He woke up with a jolt and trembled with fear. “How awesome is this place!” he exclaimed.  Was he converted here?  His self-centered vow to God was full of  “me, me, me.” (28:20-22).

 

Jacob’s next 20 years were payback:  bride switching by his uncle, wages changed 10 times, and 10 sons who grieved his soul with sins of incest, vengeance, pride, immorality, envy, and lies were bitter fruit.  No wonder the elderly Jacob told the king of Egypt, “few and evil have been the days of the years of my life.”  That’s what went wrong.

 

What should a father do?  “behave devoutly, justly, and blamelessly” before God and instruct and comfort his children so that they will “walk worthy of God.” (1st Thessalonians 2:10-11).

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

A Grandfather’s Legacy --  Genesis 18:19                June 21, 2016

 

What Christian man would not wish that this testimonial from God would be conferred upon him?  The LORD commended Abraham with these immortal words:  “For I have known him, in order that he should command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”  What a legacy was imprinted in Holy Scripture!  This is far superior to an epitaph on a silent gravestone in a lonely cemetery.

 

In my Father’s Day sermon, I reviewed the lives of Abraham, Jacob, and Joshua for examples of fathers and grandfathers in Bible days.  How did they do?  This message will be on the first of that trio of men.

 

Abraham is called the “friend of God” three times in the Bible (2nd Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; and James 2:23).  The same day he was called to leave his homeland, he began packing.  He trusted the Lord to lead him from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land sight unseen.  The “Hall of Faith” chapter under-scored this:  “And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).  Abraham trusted the original GPS to reach the Promised Land – God’s Place of Service.

 

Abraham was patient.  His first house in the Promised Land was a … tent! (Hebrews 11:9).  In fact, three generations lived in tents -- Abraham, his son, and his grandson lived. He left a nice house back in Ur of the Chaldees for this?   Not a word of complaint came out of his mouth.  He waited on God.

 

Abraham became impatient.  God had promised him a son, many descendants, a nation with a multitude of citizens (Genesis 12:1-3 – God’s Covenant with Abraham).  Years piled up on years—no son.  His nephew Lot had children.  His servants had children.  They had no promise of an heir as Abraham had.  He reasoned with God:  if Sarah and I cannot have children, how about it if  I adopt my servant Eliezer of Damascus?  (Genesis 15:2-3).  Sounded logical in his ancient culture.  God’s answer:  No.  On a star-lit night, God instructed him to count the stars.  That would be the number of his descendants (15:4-5).  Standing there with God, Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He (God) counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:6; Romans 4:3; James 2:23).   Not until Genesis 21, 6 chapters later, did Sarah discover that she was going to have a baby.  25 years of waiting, hoping, and wishing.  She was 90 years old, too.  Both Abraham and Sarah kept the faith (Hebrews 11:10).  They kept their eyes on heavenly rewards rather than on earthly benefits which pass away (11:16).

 

Abraham was a good father.  His miracle son learned of God at his knee.  When God tested Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering, his son knew something was missing:  the lamb.  Abraham assured him, “God will provide a lamb.”  (Genesis 22:7-8).   The young man experienced firsthand his father’s faith in action when Abraham said that God would provide the lamb.  In his heart Abraham believed he impossible -- if Isaac died, God would bring him back to life (Hebrews 11:17-19).  God had to do that if Isaac died because God made a promise.  This father believed that what God said he would do, he would do.  No wonder he was called the “father of all those who believe.”  (Romans 4:11).

 

That’s the way to do it.  Do the right thing -- the righteous things with one’s wife and children.  Believe that God will uphold divine justice in all He does.   God is faithful, God is fair, God can be believed in by faith, God keeps His promises.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

1st Corinthians 6               June 15, 2016 

The church in Corinth was rapidly destroying its Christian reputation.  Arrogancy, petty squabbles, worldly living, immorality, and now bickering with each other in a court of law--Christ died on the cross for this?!  This was not being in "one spirit with Him" (1st Corinthians 6:17).  A genuine Christian needs to have verse 20 on a large placard on the wall of his or her home:  "For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, WHICH ARE GOD's." 

Pastor Warren Wiersbe found three tragic problems in that church:  (paraphrased below and added to) 

(1)  The believers were presenting a poor testimony to the lost by suing each other and by participating in the rampant religious immorality for which Corinth was infamous.

(2)   The believers had failed to live up to their position in Christ by settling their own differences without resorting to lawsuits over any and every perceived wrong-doing.

(3)   The church members suing each other had already lost.  Lost by ruining their reputation in that city.  Lost by falling victim to pride which disgraced them (Proverbs 11:2).  Lost what little they owned and lost respect because they would not listen to correction (Proverbs 13:18). 

For what did Paul condemn them?  The classic King James Version puts it rather poignantly.  "But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers.  Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.  ....  Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud , and that your brethren" (1st Corinthians 6:6 to 7a; 8).  Could they not settle such small matters by the precepts in the Bible?  Yes! 

What did Paul urge them to do?  "Why do ye not rather take wrong?  Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" (6:7b).  A pastor used this verse to challenge brethren in a Christian organization to quite their self-righteous bickering.  Paul is saying, "Don't start a 'nuclear war' of your own because someone dented your car/slandered your name/was not fair to your child...." on and on.  Again, "Why not rather take wrong" and let it go at that.  Don't be so hypersensitive. Rather, submit to the Holy Spirit and "endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).  Forgive for the cause of Christ and go on. 

Paul then returns to the menace of Corinth:  sexual immorality.  The pagan temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love, had 1,000 prostitutes to serve the men in religious hedonism.   The apostle warned the congregation that to continue to practice any and all forms of immorality was not only sin but such souls would never inherit the kingdom of God.  They were headed for hell (1st Corinthians 6:9-10).  Many had been wondrously rescued from deviant sins.   When they confessed their sinfulness to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they were "washed" from sins, they were "sanctified" by the Spirit, and they were "justified" (6:11).   Their spirits as well as their bodies had become the temple--dwelling place--of the Holy Spirit (6:19).  Jesus came to save the lost and transform a sinner into an obedient child of God.  He is the only sure hope that a slave to pernicious sins may have. 

Christians, let's be diligent to keep our spirits, our souls, and our bodies pure for Jesus Christ (1st Thessalonians 5:23).  By the grace of God we can overcome. 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

Our Nation at a Crossroads                   June 6, 2016

 

The Pilgrims on the Mayflower fled the oppressive kingdom in the British Isles.  A strange marriage of religion and government gone wrong—that was their motivation to flee.  Peaceful Christians were beheaded and burned at the stake because of the religious convictions.  At first they tried to find refuge in the Netherlands from dictatorial persecution as Christian refugees.  When that failed, they felt coerced to make a daring attempt transverse the Atlantic Ocean to live in religious freedom.  They were sailing into the unknown.  They made God their trust.

 

During that long, dangerous trip, some died, some were frightened on that crowded little ship. Yet, they composed and signed the Mayflower Compact.  They would trust God, worship God according to their convictions, and help one another found a new colony—a political experiment in democratic religious freedom.  They believed in the separation of church and state.  They were to be free from government edicts, demanded by the state church, which forced them to give up their religious conscience and convictions, or else.

 

America has come a long way.  The landscape is changing.  That is not good.  Now our nation is at a crossroads.  Will Christians be forced by the government to pay taxes that will pay for abortions of the innocent unborn?  Will Christians be forced by the government to accept same-sex marriage as both legal and moral?  Will Christians be forced by the government to accept immorality and sexual perversions as legal and ethical?   Must their conscience be seared, too?

 

These are questions that Presidents George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and more would answer with an emphatic “no”.  They realized, and it was their conviction, that this new country composed of 13 colonies must trust in God and obey His commandments.  They believed that two pillars to held up our country:  religion (they professed to be Christians) and morality (Ten Commandments).  If these pillars were destroyed, the whole dream of freedom of religion would crumble.

 

In our time, President Ronald Reagan challenged Americans with these words:  “Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience.  Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive.  Without God, there is a coarsening of the society.  And without God, democracy will not and cannot endure.  If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

   (given at the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, Republican National Convention, Dallas, Texas, August 23, 1984)

 

It is time for Americans to seek the Holy One, the God of Providence, LORD Almighty, whose Person was given heart-felt gratitude time and time again by General Washington for sparing the colonies and founding new and different country:  one nation under God.  It is time to make our voices heard across the land urging its citizens to make the right turn at the crossroads—the narrow way of which Jesus spoke (Matthew 7:13-14).  Only then will God bless America.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

One Nation Under God               May 30, 2016

 

On this Memorial Day, we joined others in displaying the American flag in our front yard.  What great appreciation we have for those who have served in the military to defend our land and its freedoms.  My father served in the battle for the South Pacific in the Second World War.  My older brother served in Vietnam until he was wounded and returned home.  Cemeteries at home and abroad testify to the high price many of our soldiers have paid for liberty and justice.

 

When the American colonialists came to the place where their patience worn out due to British abuses and high taxation, our forefathers gathered together to formulate the Declaration of Independence.  It contained a long list of grievances.  Americans would do themselves well to find a complete copy and read it carefully.  Almost all of the signers were God-fearing men.  One was an ordained minister.  At the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, they broke a stalemate by bowing in prayer to the LORD and ratified our Constitution.

 

General George Washington was a Christian patriot and leader of the Constitutional convention.  It was Washington conviction that there were two great pillars upon which this new country stood:  religion and morality.  John Adam, the second president of the United States, agreed that and wrote these words: Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  By “religion” they meant Christianity.

 

Today’s political landscape has become a miry swamp.  Candidates give lip-service to being “men of faith.”  That expression used to be transparent.  Today it means little.  It has been muddied by hypocrisy.  But, Washington and Adams were true “men of faith.” 

 

In his last declaration, King David wrote that “He who rules over men must be just (righteous), ruling in the fear (reverence) of God”  (2nd Samuel 23:3).  In the sacred book of the prophet Jeremiah, he wrote about the coming Messiah:  “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;  a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. ….  Now this is His Name by which He shall be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  (Jeremiah 23:5-6).  That’s One I will vote for!

 

For this Memorial Day, I give you a statement made by one who respected what Washington and Adams stood for.  “Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience.  Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive.  Without God, there is a coarsening of the society.  And without God, democracy will not and cannot endure.  If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”    Words of the late President Ronald Reagan are so true.

(given at the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, Republican National Convention, Dallas, Texas, August 23, 1984)

 

Before we say, “God bless America,” we should pray on our knees, “America bless God.”  When  Americans bless God from their hearts, then, and only then, will  God bless America.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Heaven Grows Sweeter Now               May 24, 2016

 

This morning I rode out east of town on my 21 speed mountain bike getting some exercise.  When I reached the city cemetery, I turned in and was reading names and dates.  Two personalized gravestones caught my eye.  Stopping, I learned why the plots meant so much. They recorded the deaths of boys--twin infants and a toddler.  On the ledge of one gravestone was a memorial display of a long line of cars, trucks, tractors, combines, and other vehicles.  That little boy never had the chance to play with them.  Bereaved Christian parents can have this consolation:  “Heaven grows sweeter now.”

 

Where is a sweeter place than Heaven?  God, angels, and souls live there in perfect harmony and joy. Jesus loves children.  He told His disciples that “Of such is the Kingdom of God” (Luke 18:15-17).  His lesson for these men was that pride leads to a serious fall.  Humility can lead to heaven.  When a person is faced with the guilt of his sinfulness, there is hope of pardon.  Through humble repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ alone such sins can be forgiven.  1st John 1:7 speaks of the cleansing of a soul.  “… the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  Jesus was the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

 

But what about babies and toddlers who die?  Bible history records King David had committed adultery, caused the husband to die, and vainly tried to cover up his sin.  His friend Nathan was commanded by the LORD to confront David.  With grief the king wept saying, “I have sinned.”  The baby boy conceived by that illicit act was born but soon became desperately ill.  David begged God not to let him die.  That prayer was not answered.  The king answered his servants saying, “Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live.  But now he is dead:  why should I fast (any more)?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2nd Samuel 12:22-23).   Note the last line: “I shall go to him.”  This speaks of entering heaven.  Where did David go?  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6).  That is where his infant son will go, too.

 

What of the twins and toddler buried near Yuma?  Were there deaths because of terrible sins of parents?   Was I guilty of a terrible sin when our precious baby girl was stillborn in December of 1978?  I know my heart—it was not because of sin in my life.  Christians are not exempt from tribulations and sorrows, even the sorrows of death.

 

What makes heaven to grow sweeter to me?  It is the assurance that Jesus Christ laid down His life to redeem souls.   1st Peter 2:24 – Jesus “… bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”  His life-blood was shed to made atonement for infants who have “no knowledge between good and evil” (Deuteronomy 1:39).  Do Christians need to sorrow “even as others who have no hope”?  My friends, she is “better provided for … than they could have been in the world. We shall be with them shortly to part no more” (Matthew Henry).

 

That is why heaven grows sweeter now to me.  We will meet our little one again after we see and worship our Savior first of all.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

Luke 14                     May 12, 2016                               

 

Jesus opened His heart to the Eleven disciples in the upper room just before His death.  He said, "Greater love has no one but this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.  You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15).  Jesus is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother.  It's amazing grace that Jesus would ever offer to call His disciples, even you and me His "friends."

 

What are the evidences that Jesus loves us?  What are the evidences that one is a friend of Jesus?

 

On a Sabbath day, Jesus displayed the power of His love when, despite silent glares from the Pharisees, He healed a man of the dreaded disease of dropsy (Luke 14:1-6).  Again, He exposed the hypocrisy of religion without heart.  While they would help rescue a donkey or an ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath, they were angry at Jesus who performed a work of healing this man.  They valued an ox over a man.  But, Jesus, "came to seek and to save that which is lost" (Luke 19:10).  He puts great value on your soul and mine.

 

Jesus described the characteristics of a friend of His.  He will go out of his way to show personal kindness to another person and sacrifice his own pleasure and privilege to do it (Luke 14:7-14).

 

In Luke 14:15-24 a dinner guest at the Pharisee's house blurt out, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God."  Jesus, knowing his inner motives, replied with a challenging story.  A man gave a great supper and invited many of his own friends. His friends, like the nation of Israel, made light of the invitation.  Being rudely "stood up," the supper host ordered his servant to invite the poor and compel any hungry traveler to his feast.  Jesus is the Friend of sinners, of the poor, and of the suffering.  And, those who in humble repentance come to Jesus are His friends.  The Gospel call is "whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).

 

Jesus described the price of friendship with Him.  He was not looking for "chocolate soldiers" who melt when the heat is on.  He is looking for friends willing to leave family, career, and one's own selfish pleasures to follow Him absolutely -- without reservations (not like those who snubbed the dinner host - Luke 14:18-20).  They count the cost. They compare what Jesus offers (14:14-15).  Like Moses, they choose eternal blessings over the short-lived "happy hour" of earth (Hebrews 11:23-27).

 

If you are not this kind of disciple, please re-examine your priorities.  If we do not love Jesus above all, we really do not love Him at all.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

 

May 3, 2016                       

 

The Bible is clear that our risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is coming back.  For example, every time our congregation observes the Lord’s Supper, we read aloud these closing words:  “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death TILL HE COMES.”   (1st Corinthians 11:26).  Christians should be eagerly watching for the return of Jesus Christ.

 

In the 1st century, Christians were being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.  The attacks came from both the political powers and religious establishments of that day.  Times were tough.  Famine and deprivation caused terrible struggles in Christian families.  The Apostle Paul and his companions were raising financial support for the suffering, penniless saints in the land of Israel.   What kept these dedicated souls positive about the future?  Paul described the return of the Lord as the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  He will deliver believers “from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, (those) zealous for good works.”  (Titus 2:13-14).  By faith those early believer had a sure and guaranteed hope for their future.

 

Just when will Jesus return?  Over the last 20-30 years, many date-setters had been bragging they had figured out the year, month, and day of His return.  How accurate were they?  Well, we are still here, and so are they with “egg on their faces.”  Jesus made it very clear --  God knows when.  It’s on His heavenly Dayminder (see Matthew 24:36).

 

Knowing Jesus promised to return at any time, we had better get our act together.  Who wants to be harboring some sin in their hearts when He comes?  Is there some bitterness, some anger, some unforgiving spirit, some quarrel unsettled, some cross words spouted out of our mouths, or any deep-seated malice against another Christian, or against a neighbor, or seething hurt caused by a friend??  (Ephesians 4:30-31).  Better get on your knees and plead with Jesus to forgive you.  What Christian would like to face the Judge with such stains upon his soul?  Eating humble pie will taste better when our hearts are cleansed of the filth of sins and filled with the sweetness of Jesus. Only then can we face Jesus with an eager spirit and clean conscience.

 

The fullest description of the return of Jesus Christ is found in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18. Here are the

events:  #1  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  #2   “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”  #3  “And thus we shall always be with the Lord” in heavenly glory.

 

There will be no supernatural signs of His coming.  Natural disasters such as famines, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and more are not supernatural signs.  Human disasters such as famines caused by wars, wars and fighting of nation against nation, pestilences, and plagues have occurred for over 2000 years.  Jesus has not come.  Christians may observe apocalyptic events such as the rebirth of the Jewish nation, massive, world-wide wars, and apostasy of Christian nations and religious groups.  Such events remind us that we live in the Last Days. 

 

Again I say, Christ will come at the exact time God the Father has penned in His heavenly Dayminder.  I do not know when, but my blessed Hope is that He will return to save me and save Christians world-wide from the righteous wrath of God which will break loose in its fury.  Believers will be caught up to heaven and escape the Great Tribulation that shall devastate nations, oceans, mountains, and all creatures—animal and human.  I hope your heart is pure and ready for the return of Jesus.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

1st Peter 3              April 25, 2016

 

In this chapter Peter presented two very different venues which have parallel threads.  3:1-12 is an exhortation to wives of unconverted husbands and to Christian husbands whose wives were also believers.  3:13-22 expounds the sufferings of Christ on the cross and His exaltation for having accomplished our redemption.  A common theme is one's willingness to submit himself to the will of God when that submission may well involve personal hardship and suffering.  Later in his comforting letter, Peter wrote:  "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you" (5:6-7).  Can we trust God for this?

 

Led by the Holy Spirit, Peter exhorted Christian women to submit voluntarily to their husbands so as to respect their God-given responsibility of leadership in the home.  Note carefully that it is a voluntary decision before God.  It is not forced, coerced, demanded.  It is in following the example of Jesus.  Christians are called of God to model Him (2:21-23).  It is not without limits imposed by God.  Peter courageously responded to his persecutors, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).  God's authority always trumps man's authority (1st Corinthians 11:1, 3).  Husbands will answer to God for how they treat their wives (1st Peter 3:7).  They have been commanded to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25ff).   Any husband who does not treat his wife as God has commanded will have his "prayer phone line" cut off until his heart is repaired (3:7c).

 

Christian husbands and wives are to "be of one mind (in Christ), having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous" not overreacting and casting back "reviling for reviling" (3:8-9).  While actively pursuing peace in the home, both must refrain their tongues from venomous words

 

Jesus Christ is the perfect model of suffering for the sake of righteousness (3:13-22).  God is very pleased with the Sinless One Who suffered and died for the ungodly "that He might bring us to God ...." (3:18). "Bring us" has the connotation of gaining "an audience at court for another" (Commentary on Greek by Kenneth Wuest).  Christ is the Christian's "Advocate" at Court, our defense attorney pleading our case (1st John 2:1-2).  Upon repentant confessing of our sins, God forgives us on the basis of the shed blood and death of Christ for us (1st Peter 1:18-19; 1st John 1:7, 9).  Jesus voluntarily submitted to "being put to death in the flesh but made alive in spirit" (3:18).

 

Verses 19-21 have challenged readers.  Criswell's study notes give 4 major interpretations.  Briefly, I understand this text to mean that Jesus, between His dying moment and His resurrection went "in His spirit" (not the Holy Spirit) to Hades/Tartarus and announced to wicked spirits (fallen angels) that "It is finished!"  The full ransom price was paid in blood.  There is salvation in Christ alone.  Victory had been won over death, the devil, and the bondage of sin!   Our Savior Who suffered incredibly then is now highly exalted and sitting at the right hand of God in heaven.  The suffering was worth it all in order to bring many sinners to God and give them eternal life (3:18; Hebrew 2:9-10).

 

Likewise, we may be suffering now, but then the time is coming when we shall be in glory with Christ.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Romans 2                 April 25, 2016

 

Paul was ready, yes, eager to preach the Gospel in Rome.  What was Paul's background?  Jewish.  What was the background of the church congregation in Rome?  Gentile (at least predominantly so).  What did both cultures have in common?  LAW.  Both cultures boasted in their laws.  In chapter 2, Paul proving to both cultures that there is a great danger in boasting in law-keeping, namely, hypocrisy.

 

Founders of the Roman Republic had developed a great law system.  That law system was imposed upon the entire Empire from Spain to Babylon, from Germanic tribal cultures to north African cultures.  Lex Rex:  "the law is king" was their motto.  By the time Christianity began to evangelize the known world the Roman laws were still on the books, but politicians, dictators, and the commoners and their lawyers were scheming to circumvent laws and twist their interpretations according to their own selfish ends.   Our own culture has bought into such schemes now for a generation. Truth is fallen in the streets. 

 

God gave the Jews great laws to live by.  Yet God had to remind them of the great treasure they had.  Moses, God's servant and lawgiver, declared this:  "And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this Law which I set before you this day!"  And God "commanded you to perform ... the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone" (Deuteronomy 4:7, 13).  Yet, just like the Romans, the scribes and elders invented schemes to circumvent God's laws and to twist the interpretation of those laws to such their selfish desires.  Large documents such as the Talmud and Gemara are overflowing with deviations from the original intent of God's righteous laws.  The same schemes abound in American courts and legislative bodies.

 

Paul suffered under both perverted legal systems.  Taught by the Holy Spirit, he wrote the sentence of the Judge of heaven.  Indictment #1 -- both suppressed the truth by their unrighteousness behavior (Romans 1:18).  Corrupted society not only "practiced such things" and were "deserving of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them"!  (1:32).  No wonder God gave them over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).   Those who practiced such sins were under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; 2:3, 5).

 

Indictment #2 -- both were inexcusable before God the Judge of all the earth (Romans 2:1).  They both despised the "goodness (kindness) of God" which "leads you to repentance" (2:5). Paul indicted his own nation which he dearly loved, exposing hypocrisy, "Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the Law, and make your boast in God ... and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind ... having the form of knowledge and truth in the law" but were two-faced (2:17-20).  They taught the Law to others but broke it.  They condemned stealing but were thieves.  They condemned adultery but committed it in the dark.  They abhorred idol worship but robbed God's temple.

 

Paul commended the Law of God as "holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12).  Stephen died a martyr's death for daring to accuse the high priest and his co-horts as having "received the Law by the direction of angels AND HAVE NOT KEPT IT" (Acts 7:53).

 

Lord, help me and all who read these Comments to obey Your commandments honestly and faithfully.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

Romans 1                 April 18, 2016

 

While he was preaching the Gospel and planting a church in Corinth, the Spirit of Christ moved Paul to take time to pen the powerful book of Romans.  This letter to Christians in the capital city of the empire is the most comprehensive systematic declaration of the Christian faith in the Bible. Paul's theme was the Gospel of righteousness, that is, "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:16-17).

 

The great value of Romans -- "... a serious study of Paul's epistle to the Romans can be a life-transforming experience."   ....  It removes doubts about salvation, restores zeal for holiness and Christian growth (and) enables believers to witness more effectively.  (quote and comment from Dr. Richard W. DeHaan).  The careful study of Romans opened the mind and heart of a German monk to the true Gospel and caused him to renounce his vows and to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  From then on, he boldly preached "the just shall live by faith".  His conversion sparked the Reformation in Germany and its flames lit up most of the European continent.  His name?  Martin Luther.

 

The great importance of Romans -- "Every Christian who desires to become firmly grounded in the faith must sit still at the feet of Paul of Tarsus, and receive with all humility that 'gift of God' which was first committed unto him by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Geoffrey W. Wilson).

 

There are three great truths in the opening chapter that beg to be emphasized:   first, the resurrection of Christ declared unequivocally that Jesus is the all-powerful Son of God (Romans 1:4-5).  Most of the elite among the Romans and Greeks scoffed at resurrection of the body--no way that could happen.  Paul made at least 9 references to this historic miracle.  Jesus Christ was raised for our justification (4:25).  His resurrection was living proof that God had accepted the vicarious sacrifice of His only begotten Son Who had made full atonement for sins.  His resurrection guaranteed that the repentant sinner who trusts in Christ will rise from death in the likeness of His own resurrection (Romans 6:5).  The Holy Spirit "will give life to our mortal bodies" and dwell in our souls (Romans 8:11).  Since the risen Christ sat down on the right hand of the throne of God, He has the power and authority to make intercession for us (Romans 8:34).  We serve the living Christ!

 

Second, the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the power unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  This Gospel revealed God's righteousness in the plan of salvation.  Though the wages of sin is a death sentence, Jesus Christ by becoming a sin offering--the Lamb of God--tasted death for everyone (Romans 6:23; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; John 1:29; Hebrews 2:10).  The death sentence we deserve fell on Him (Isaiah 53:6, 10).  With mighty power, God raised Him from the dead.  Jesus Christ purged our sins (Hebrews 1:3), cleansed our consciences from dead works (Hebrews 9:14), and imputed to every believer the righteousness of God . Therefore, the "just (righteous one) shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).

 

Third, for the sinner who refuses the Gospel and wallows in the muck and mire of sin (Romans 1:21-32), the wrath of God hangs dangerously over his head (Romans 1:18).  They will have no excuse on the day of the Great White Throne Judgment of God (Revelation 20:11-15 and 1:20). 

What must a person do to be saved from the wrath of divine judgment?  The Apostle Paul urged you do this:  “that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

(Romans 10:9, 10, 13).  One becomes a Christian by faith in Christ alone.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Acts 16                     April 11, 2016       

 

Sometimes life can be complicated.  Sometimes the will of God is quite clear.  Paul and Barnabas could testify to that.  In this context Luke introduces us to Silas.  As his life work unfolded at the end of chapter 15 and carried on for the rest of the book, Silas could say a heartfelt "Amen!" to that.  The Christian life is both clear and complicated as we will see in chapter 16.

 

To our knowledge, Silas had made no plans beyond Antioch.  He expected to "exhort and strengthen the brethren with many words" (Acts 15:32-33).  Silas knew what God wanted him to do and did it.  Being a prophet (verse 32), he was well-acquainted with the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies, and God's call to evangelize Gentiles.  Having observed the wonderful ministry of Silas, Paul chose him to replace Barnabas as his fellow missionary evangelist  (Acts 15:40-41).  That was a great choice.

 

After delivering the Jerusalem Church Council's four-fold decision on Christian liberty, Paul and Silas arrived in the territory of Galatia.  Not receiving a clear command from God, they tried to go north--no, the Spirit of God did not permit that.  Then the Spirit of God would not let them go east or south.  Now what?  Well, God had called them to missionary evangelism.  Only one direction was not tried, go west!  They made the journey west right away.  Once they "got west" and stopped in Troas, it was then and only then that God made it clear that they were on the right track (Acts 16:9-10).  Can we walk by faith depending on God to confirm His answer?  God soon led them to Lydia who responded to the Gospel by faith alone.

 

What to do about a problem?   It was bothering Paul and Silas that when they walked around Philippi that a slave girl kept shouting with a nasty voice, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17).   Should Paul ask God to make her stop it?  Should he ignore it?  On a particular day it came to a head--he was "greatly annoyed" (16:18).  In the name of Jesus, he cast out the evil spirit from her.  That "spirit of divination" meant "a spirit of python" possessing her.  Python was a serpent at Delphi which was destroyed by the so-called god Apollo (Criswell Study Bible notes).

 

That decision led to a night in the jail.  Paul ruined her "masters" (handlers) get-rich-quick money scheme.  This led to another decision:  should Paul reveal that he was a Roman citizen or not?  Roman citizenship had special rights.  One was this -- no trial, no punishment.  The magistrates ordered the apostles to be beaten severely.  In another confrontation, Paul had stopped the whipping by identifying his citizenship (Acts 22:25-29).   Paul did not stop it.  The "jail birds" sang praises to God at midnight, and the prisoners and the jailer heard the Gospel.  A great thing happened.  The jailer and family were all converted!

 

We can see that God is sovereign over every facet of life.  He will work all things (even bad things) for good in marvelous ways.  Let's let God decide what we should do and wait patiently on Him to do it in His time and way.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

JESUS CHRIST – THE HOLY ONE, THE LOWLY ONE              April 7, 2016             

 

            Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is absolutely pure in heart and soul.  The Bible declares this truth over and over again:  by Gabriel, Paul, Hebrews, Peter, and other eyewitnesses

 

*  Luke 1:35 – The angel Gabriel announced His character:  “the Holy One which shall be born”

*  2nd Corinthians 5:21 – the Savior Who “knew no sin” (had no sin in Him, not one particle of             DNA)

*  Hebrews 4:15 – despite being severely tempted, Jesus was “yet without sin.”

*  1st Peter 2:22 – Jesus “Who did no sin, neither was guile (deceit) in His mouth”

*  1st John 3:5 – “in Him (Jesus) is no sin”

*  Acts of the Apostles 2:27; 3:14; 4:30; 7:52; 13:35 – Jesus is called the “Holy One.”

 

            What is the Son of God like?  Briscoe wrote:  “God is holy.  He is set apart, totally different from us.  We are sinful; He is without sin.  We are limited by time and space; He inhabits eternity.  All His characteristics and attributes are set apart from us.  His love, His mercy, His (righteous) anger are all different from ours.”

 

            Jesus came into the world, not as a King, but as a little Baby.  As “the Holy One which shall be born” humbled Himself to partake of flesh, and bone, and blood—lowly humanity.  His mission, His pursuit to redeem lost souls was aimed directly at the cross of Calvary.  On that cruel instrument of death, He died to purchase life for us.  Hebrews 9:14 says our best efforts and many sacrifices cannot obtain our salvation.  But,  “…the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.”  It is only through faith in Jesus Christ and in His perfect sacrifice that one can possess eternal life now and Heaven in the future.

 

            Often we sing the old Gospel song, “I Would Be Like Jesus.”  The reality is that if I really want to be like Jesus, I must pursue personal holiness.  That is a noble goal.  Hebrews 12:14 urges Christians to “pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”   Unless a person is as sinless as Jesus, that person cannot enter the gate of Heaven.  You say, “How can anyone ever be that perfect?”  The answer is obvious.  No mortal being can ever match the holiness of Jesus Christ.  You say, “Then no one can ever go to Heaven when they die.”

Answer:  No, many thousands, yes millions and millions will enter Heaven.

 

            Here is the answer.  1st Corinthians 6:9-11.  Sinners listed there include:  fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners.  These cannot inherit the kingdom of God.   Whether “big sinners” or “little sinners,” through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ alone their sins can be washed away spiritually.  Their souls can be justified--all sins pardoned, the soul declared righteous.  Having had one’s soul cleansed of all sins, a new believer begins a new life in Christ.  That is called being sanctified, made pure and holy in a lifelong process of walking with Jesus.  Jesus alone paid the price of our redemption in full on that cross and in His resurrection.

 

            Christ is our Savior, our Holy One, and our glorified Redeemer.  When the Lord saves a soul, He is committed to keeping that soul.  The Holy One is our assurance of dwelling in Heaven.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

THE GLORY OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST                  March 28, 2016

 

The incredible power of God was demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus on the 3rd day.  Peter preached that no power on earth could possibly keep His body in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He declared that “wicked hands have crucified” Jesus of Nazareth, but God “has raised up” Jesus and “loosed the pains of death because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts of the Apostles 2:23-24, 27).  God the Father spoke the word with mighty power and Jesus immediately arose from the bondage of death as no man has ever done. 
 

Scripture also credits the power of the Holy Spirit for this miraculous rising from death (Romans 8:11). Jesus Himself told a Jewish crowd that no mortal could wrest His life from Him.  Instead, according to the plan of God, Jesus Himself would lay down His life “that I may take it again.  This commandment have I received of My Father.”  (John 10:17-18).  Willingly, Jesus died in shame as our sin offering.  With the combined powers of the one Triune God, “up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph over His foes!”   What a glorious, supernatural miracle took place that morning.

 

Because Jesus is the personification of “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26), He has the power to save lost souls from the condemnation due them at the Judgment.  Recently, this letter came to my email address from a Christian ministry to refugees in war-torn Iraq:

 

Dear Edwin,

            It's Good Friday, and I am reminded that the greatest gift ever offered still has the power to change lives. Even little 8-year-old Fatimah.

            Rescued from the evils of ISIS, Fatimah was playing safely in one of our camps when the mayor from a nearby Muslim village stopped by and asked to see the "Elder." Fatimah took him to the prayer area where a discussion began. The Muslim mayor asked RUN's Community of Hope of Refugee Camp "Elder," Why are your people, who have nothing, always at peace and happy, but in my village the people have everything, and they are always fighting and are not happy?”

            The Elder began to tell him about Jesus and the power He has to change a person' heart.  One thing led to another, and soon the Mayor, his wife and others decided to leave their Muslim faith and follow Jesus. That is the power of Easter!

 

In His new glorious resurrection body, Jesus appeared to the disciples hiding in the upper room with doors tightly locked.  Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the room in His resurrection body.  Gasps of fear and terror overcame them—was this a ghost?!   He asked, “Why are you so troubled?”  Had Jesus not told them several times that this would happen?  (Matthew 16:21 and John 16:17-22). 

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Pastor’s Devotional for Palm Sunday             March 21, 2016                                                                     

 

Standing in front of an art store window, a young boy was gazing intently at a famous picture of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.  The artist had graphically captured the suffering and agony of the dying Man.  Noticing how entranced the boy was by that scene, a man stopped to see what had captivated his attention.

 

The boy, sensing his interest in the painting, pointed to the picture explaining, “That’s Jesus!”  The man made no reply.  So the boy continued, “Those men are the Roman soldiers.”  The man was silent.  “They killed Him,” said the boy.

 

The man resumed walking obviously deep in thought.  He had not gone very far when the boy shouted, “Say, mister,” and ran to catch up with him.  “Say, mister,” the boy repeated, “I wanted to tell you that He rose again.”

 

Back in history to that day now universally known as Easter, the Bible account of the crucifixion reminds me of the varied responses of those who watched the Man hanging on that cross—that instrument of execution.  Two others—thieves and terrorists—had also been captured and now hung in agony beside the Man.  The first victim screamed at Jesus in blasphemous desperation, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39ff).  Rebuking that criminal, the second victim answered, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

 

Though weakening due to loss of his own blood, the second victim turned his face to Jesus, and pled, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  This man was overcome with guilt recognizing he had offended God and broken Roman Law.  His plea was for mercy.  Death was imminent.  He deserved the Lake of fire.  Very possibly he had heard the powerful preaching of John the Baptist, “Repent!  For the kingdom of God is at hand.”  It is also possible he had heard Jesus invite sinners to come to him and be saved, saying, the Son of man came to “give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  His soul was repentant and by faith he believed in the dying Savior.

 

The Savior spoke those words any repentant sinner craves to hear: “ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.” (Luke 23:43).

 

Watching that touching promise of Heaven to the second victim, some left shocked by the violence of the crucifixion, some wept because Jesus was the Friend of sinners, some mocked the Holy One viciously and returned to their temple, some just walked away.

 

What will you do?  Just as the boy exclaimed, the Lord Jesus Christ did rise from the dead on the third day.  In His resurrected body, He appeared alive to the apostles and to over 500 other believers.  I urge you, like them, put your faith in the living Savior today!

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

Contentment versus Covetousness                           March 21, 2016                                    

 

When meditating on the Ten Commandments, we may perceive that the 1st and 10th commandments focus on the heart.  The other eight deal with various activities. One person might have god, some forbidden idol, in his heart.  Another person may have self-centered ambitions and lusts.  What we covet exposes what is in our hearts—what we value most.

 

The Tenth Commandment has everything to do with the other nine commandments.  Saul of Tarsus coveted fame, power, and advancement in his religion (Philippians 3:4-6).  Those were his idols despite his attempt to masquerade it under the façade of religion.

On his knees, having been blinded and sharply rebuked by the risen Messiah, he confessed his sin.  The Tenth Commandment broke his stubborn heart (Romans 7:7-12).

 

Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).  Idolatry covers more sins than meets the eye

--mansions, acreages, spouses, elegant cars, servants, and livestock (Deuteronomy 5:21).  Paul imbedded coveting with such sins of the heart as fornication, uncleanness, evil passions and desires.  Coveting is often a “secret sin.”  Nobody knows one’s heart.  And, Christians are not immune to coveting—the desires of the eyes and heart.  Did not Demas forsake Paul and ministry “having desired this present world” and all it has to offer?

(2nd Timothy 4:10).  Do not some Christians in our communities seem pre-occupied with

the “good” life, the comfortable life, the worldly life?

 

How can a Christian overcome that persistent sin of the heart—covetousness?  One word stands out “contentment.”  Paul expressed what the indwelling Holy Spirit did in his life.

He learned “contentment.”  When missionary support was sparse, he refused to have a bad attitude.  He chose rather to think that the First Church of Philippi just lacked the opportunity to help him and his fellow missionaries (Philippians 4:10).  What had he learned from Jesus?  “…for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content” (4:11).

 

The more he trusted in the Lord to meet his spiritual, physical, and financial needs, the more content he was.  He did not beg for better clothes, a younger, faster donkey to ride to the next mission church, or heavier bag of gold coins.  He was satisfied with what the Lord allowed him to have.

 

Here are some guidelines to help us (yes, “us”, I need to be included) to “learn to be content” with whatever, wherever, and however circumstances the Lord Jesus has for us.

 

  • Set our deepest affections of the heart upon Jesus Christ. He can be trusted.  (Colossians 3:1-4)
  •  Be busy fulfilling God’s will for your life.  He will make a way for you. (Philippians 4:13)
  • Rejoice in the Lord each day.  Count the many blessings He has given you.  (Philippians 4:4-8).
  • Remember that life down here may get us down, too, but the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for you where supreme contentment reigns.  (John 14:1-3)

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

The Power of an Endless Life -  Romans 1:3-5                     March 13, 2016

 

RESURRECTION Sunday is coming!  Jesus Christ laid down His life to pay the spiritual ransom of our souls.  He declared that “I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take My life back again” (John 10:18*). The Apostles placed a lot of emphasis upon the RESURRECTION of Jesus. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles contains over two dozen such references.  That’s more than any other book in the New Testament.  The RESURRECTION proved Jesus has the power of an endless life.

 

When American children celebrate the Easter holiday, are their young minds fascinated more by Easter eggs, bunnies, and new dresses than the powerful RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ?   Whenever anything—including colored eggs, bunnies, and dresses--pre-empt the RESURRECTION of our Redeemer, the focus is woefully wrong.  His RESURRECTION was the miracle of miracles!

 

            Chuck Colson lamented: “I wonder if we evangelicals are not—consciously or unconsciously—just as guilty of obscuring the RESURRECTION.  In our eagerness to win the unsaved multitudes, we so often concentrate our message on ‘what God can do for you.’  I don’t just mean the blatant health and wealth gospel that dominates Christian airwaves, but the more subtle emphasis on personal peace, contentment, and the good life.  The message focusing on ‘why nice things happen to God’s people’ concerns not the historic Christ of the Scriptures ….

            “And sometimes unconsciously, we obscure the central truth of the RESURRECTION when we make personal testimony our primary form of evangelism.  When I was in India, I had many opportunities to tell what God has done in my life.  Those 1000s of faces in those prominently Hindu crowds would nod and smile as I shared my experience. (Hindus believe all roads lead to God—(so, if Jesus was my guru, that’s fine. The Hindus all had their gurus, too).

            “But when I spoke of the reason for my faith, the RESURRECTION of CHRIST, the nods would stop.  Expressions changed and each person listened intently. 

            “The FACT of the RESURRECTION demands a choice, one that reduces all other religions to mere philosophies.”  ….   Let’s face it, without the RESURRECTION at the center of the Christian message, we may as well put our hope in the Easter bunny.”                  

 

God put great emphasis upon the physical RESURRECTION of His only begotten Son.  Why?  To prove the tremendous claims by Jesus such as:  He claimed to be the Son of God (John 3:16), to be equal with God in power and character (John 5:17-23), to be the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28),

to have authority to amplify the Ten Commandments (Matt. 5:22ff), and much more.

           

The Apostle Peter preached that death could not keep Jesus in the grave (Acts 2:24, 30-31), that faith in the risen Son of God is the only way of salvation (4:8-12), and that Jesus’ RESURRECTION guaranteed every believer “a living hope” – everlasting life (1st Peter 1:3).

 

Echoing the same Gospel, the Apostle Paul proclaimed “the forgiveness of sins” was obtained by faith in the death and RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ.  Because of this, by faith in Christ each sinner’s soul can be justified before God (Acts 13:29-39).  What assurance goes with these things? The power of an endless life which is in Jesus and can be given to you.

 

Why not just now bow your head, ask the Lord to forgive your sins, and put your faith in the risen Lord.   How?   Read Romans 10:9-10, 13 and believe what God tells you to do.

 

*  my expanded translation

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION – John 11:25-26                   March 6, 2016

 

Messengers from Martha and Mary hurried to Jesus with an urgent request:  “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3).   Lazarus was not just sick.  This sickness swept him to death’s door. Though we do not know exactly what the malady was, it was serious – probably a dangerous high fever not uncommon in that day.  Jesus turned to explain to His disciples that this “…sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4).

 

The disciples were confused by His actions.  Jesus did not immediately rush off to Bethany.  In fact, He deliberately stayed put.  There was no urgency in Him.  Was Jesus afraid of death threats from King Herod Antipas?  No.  He told the Pharisees to pass along this response to that mortal king:  “Go tell that fox, ‘Behold, I drive out demons and perform healings today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall finish (complete) My course”  (Luke 13:32-33 Amplified NT).  God’s will always prevails over man’s evil schemes.

 

Was Jesus afraid of the anger of the religious establishment in Jerusalem just 2 miles from Bethany?  (John 5:16; 8:37, 40).  After all, several times Jesus had deliberately broken their version of the Sabbath.   Jesus never broke His Sabbath by performing miracles on that day.  He did good, not evil (Mark 3:4).  Jesus also claimed equality with God (John 5:17-18; 10:30-33).   Execution was their agenda.

 

Jesus was totally committed to preaching what God the Father told Him, to doing all that God the Father wanted him to do and do it when God the Father wanted Him to do it (John 8:29).  Jesus was not delinquent.  Never was, never is.  My brothers and sisters in Christ, can we trust Jesus to do the Father’s work in His way and in His time?  God is not so concerned about time as He is about timing.

 

Before Jesus stepped into the village of Bethany, 4 days had come and gone.  The patience of Martha and Mary was really stretched.  Their dear brother had died and been buried.  Jesus had missed the funeral.  The impulsive Martha gave Jesus a piece of her mind:  “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” (11:21).  Then in tears she calmed down to admit, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (11:22).  When Mary hurried from their home to see Jesus, she wept with grief, quietly whispering, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Why?  Why?  How could He do this to us?  

 

Weeping, Jesus was disappointed with Mary’s grief and with her sister’s confusion (11:35).  God’s purposes and their desires did not mesh.  Jesus comforted Martha declaring, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (11:25).  He would answer their prayers on God’s time.  “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (forever)” (11:26).  The believer possesses the gift of everlasting life.  May we trust God’s purposes and accept God’s will.

 

Jesus ordered some strong men to roll the large stone away from the door of the tomb.  In that moment, Martha just lost it!  This was too much. The awful stench of a corpse.  Confidently, Jesus prayed, then shouted to the beloved dead, “Lazarus, come forth!” (11:38-44).  Martha, Mary, and the comforters “saw the glory of God”!   It happened just as Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  (11:4).  Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life!  AMEN!

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Jesus Has You on His Mind                    February 29. 2016

 

Looking back to my childhood, I remember how my father and mother had me on their minds.   A child may not be able to explain it or ponder the “what if’s” of life, but having parents who deeply cared gave me a real sense of security.  Jesus has every one of His spiritual children on His mind.  That is a Christian’s real security.

 

While Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, He walked across Solomon’s porch. He declared, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John’s Gospel 10:27).  When Jesus said, “I know them,” this was not simply knowing their first and last name, their home address, and who their parents were.  They were His friends (15:14-15).  They were believers who found great comfort in the Good Shepherd.

 

That feast was not instituted by Moses. Why the celebration?  A wicked ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes attacked Jerusalem in 167 B.C. and slaughtered 50,000 men, women, and children without remorse.  40,000 more were sold into abject slavery. This anti-christ then desecrated the temple by sacrificing a sow and smearing its fluids all around the courtyard.  The Jews were incensed and rightly so.  Judas Maccabaeus rallied them to fight capturing the city two years later.  The temple was cleansed and on December 25, 165 B.C., it was re-dedicated to the LORD.  These were perilous days for the Jews.  This feast is now called Hanukkah.

 

Jesus knew all about that terrible incident.  Jesus knows that “in this world you shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).  Yet He encourages His sheep to be “of good cheer” because He will someday, and I hope soon, come again to gather His children.  Heaven is the sure destination of the believer.  Jesus knows us as His redeemed sheep.  He is the good

Shepherd and will bring us through the tough times in our lives.

 

How will He do this?  First, when we turn from our sinful ways and put our faith and our lives in His hands, He gives us the gift of eternal life.  That the best “insurance policy” – it is eternal life insurance (John 10:28).  He paid the premiums, too!  When our time comes to “cash in” our policy, the award will be that Home in Heaven with our Agent! 

 

Second, Jesus promised never to void that “policy” affirming, “neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hands,” and backed that up by declaring, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:27-28).

 

Jesus “signed me up” on that policy when I was a 9 year old boy.  It’s still good.  Do you have this “policy” from Him??  You can have it today.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Contentment versus Covetousness                           February 23, 2016

 

When meditating on the Ten Commandments, we may perceive that the 1st and 10th commandments focus on the heart.  The other eight deal with various activities. One person might have god, some forbidden idol, in his heart.  Another person may have self-centered ambitions and lusts.  What we covet exposes what is in our hearts—what we value most.

 

The Tenth Commandment has everything to do with the other nine commandments.  Saul of Tarsus coveted fame, power, and advancement in his religion (Philippians 3:4-6).  Those were his idols despite his attempt to masquerade it under the façade of religion.

On his knees, having been blinded and sharply rebuked by the risen Messiah, he confessed his sin.  The Tenth Commandment broke his stubborn heart (Romans 7:7-12).

 

Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).  Idolatry covers more sins than meets the eye

--mansions, acreages, spouses, elegant cars, servants, and livestock (Deuteronomy 5:21).  Paul imbedded coveting with such sins of the heart as fornication, uncleanness, evil passions and desires.  Coveting is often a “secret sin.”  Nobody knows one’s heart.  And, Christians are not immune to coveting—the desires of the eyes and heart.  Did not Demas forsake Paul and ministry “having desired this present world” and all it has to offer?

(2nd Timothy 4:10).  Do not some Christians in our communities seem pre-occupied with

the “good” life, the comfortable life, the worldly life?

 

How can a Christian overcome that persistent sin of the heart—covetousness?  One word stands out “contentment.”  Paul expressed what the indwelling Holy Spirit did in his life.

He learned “contentment.”  When missionary support was sparse, he refused to have a bad attitude.  He chose rather to think that the First Church of Philippi just lacked the opportunity to help him and his fellow missionaries (Philippians 4:10).  What had he learned from Jesus?  “…for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content” (4:11).

 

The more he trusted in the Lord to meet his spiritual, physical, and financial needs, the more content he was.  He did not beg for better clothes, a younger, faster donkey to ride to the next mission church, or heavier bag of gold coins.  He was satisfied with what the Lord allowed him to have.

 

Here are some guidelines to help us (yes, “us”, I need to be included) to “learn to be content” with whatever, wherever, and however circumstances the Lord Jesus has for us.

 

  1. Set our deepest affections of the heart upon Jesus Christ. He can be trusted.  (Colossians 3:1-4)
  2. Be busy fulfilling God’s will for your life.  He will make a way for you.  (Philippians 4:13).
  3. Rejoice in the Lord each day.  Count the many blessings He has given you.  (Philippians 4:4-8).
  4. Remember that life down here may get us down, too, but the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for you where supreme contentment reigns. (John 14:1-3).

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

GOD’S LAW AND THE CHRISTIAN …               February 15, 2016

 

Jesus declared:  “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.”

 

The Law that Moses received from God, written down in stone by His own hand, was to reveal Himself.  God is supremely holy and perfectly righteous in His Person and in His character.  Adam and Eve were formed and given life by the hand of God.  Though no creature can be as holy and righteous as its Creator, the first couple were innocent and pure as the driven snow.  They did not have the Ten Commandments, but the Law Principle of God was in their conscience (Romans 2:15-16).  Adam knew what was right.  God had revealed Himself to mankind in Eden’s Garden as they walked and talked with God in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8).

 

Tragically, Eve was tempted by the deceiver Satan and both disobeyed the clear prohibition which God had given them.  From this sad story to our day mankind has been alienated from God by sin, transgressions, and wickedness.  God’s warning was clear:  disobey by turning your back on God and you will die.  To this day the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  Why is there evil, violence, and suffering of all kinds in the world:  one word—sin.

 

When the clan of Jacob ventured down to Egypt to settle by the generosity of his own son Joseph, God blessed and multiplied them for over 400 years (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:41).  The Pharaoh turned against them thrusting God’s chosen people into slave labor.  What was God doing?  Forming the descendants into a nation.   And, a nation necessitates laws to guide its culture.

 

From the top of Mount Sinai the LORD entrusted to Moses the Ten Commandments.  These were the moral laws.  Many additional laws and statutes were entrusted later to the Israelites which became its civil and religious laws.  The greatest command of all was:  “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” nkjv (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; compare Matthew 22:37 given by Jesus).

 

A close examination of the Ten Commandments will prove that they are commands--not suggestions, are exclusive--not inclusive, and demand perfection--not trying harder.  The Ten point out sin, but the Ten cannot cast out sin.  Something is dreadfully missing.  Unlike young Adam and Eve, we are not born innocent and pure anymore.  No mortal can keep, fulfill the Law perfectly.  If no mortal can do that, he has no hope in himself, no way to cleanse his own sins from his soul.

 

Jesus, the Son of God, was sent on a rescue mission for helpless sinners like us.  Jesus sacrificed His life’s atoning blood on the cross to “save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).  What the Ten could not do because inside of each one is a sin nature, Jesus did.  He perfectly fulfilled—kept—the Law.  “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”  Faith in Jesus Christ and His redeeming grace will save your soul from the death sentence of the broken Law.

 

If you have not done so, I urge you to bow, to confess your sinfulness, and to put your faith in Jesus Christ today.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Matthew 21                        February 10, 2016

 

The chapter begins, "Now when they drew near Jerusalem ...."  Jesus knew full well that His time on earth drew near to the climactic trial and crucifixion.  Yet, Jesus was absolutely determined to carry out His Father's mission to "give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).  The Bible declares "He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). Hebrews 12:2 reads "Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross...."  This mission brought glory to God and offers salvation to anyone who will receive Him as their Savior and Lord (John 17:4).

 

The Herodians, Sadducees, Pharisees, and leaders of Israel -- the ruling powers of Israel -- hated Jesus (John 7:7; 15:18).  Their souls were consumed by a poisonous envy so virulent that it erupted in murder (Matthew 27:18, 22-35).  They convinced themselves that they were really doing God service (John 16:1-3).  But, there were a few exceptions!   Where "sin abounded, grace did much more abound" as proven by the conversions of Nicodemus (John 3), Joseph of Arimathea (John 19), and Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9). 

 

To what proofs were their minds blinded that Jesus was the Messiah?  In this chapter alone, Jesus cited the prophecies of Zachariah 9:9; Psalm 118:22-26; Isaiah 56:7; Psalm 8:2.  Did they have any ears to hear?!  Did Scripture penetrate their hardened hearts?  No!  So, Jesus challenged them by saying, "Have you never read in the Scriptures ...?" (21:42).  This Preacher from Galilee never graduated from their schools.  Yet, He knew the Scriptures thoroughly.

 

In this historical account the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to cite 58 Old Testament verses (if put together enough to form the 3rd longest chapter in the book!).  The disciple Matthew, a Jewish man, wrote for his own people.  The nation was portrayed by Jesus as a fig tree withering and dying (21:18-19) and being utterly stubborn in their rebellion against Him (21:23-27).  He severely rebuked their vicious religiosity by confronting them with God's mercy.   Mercy was not what they were noted for.  Jesus admonished them by declaring that repentant "tax collectors and harlots" would enter the kingdom of God before them (21:28-32).  They took this as an insult.

 

The triumphal procession into Jerusalem literally shook the whole metropolis (21:1-11).   A very great multitude shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David" their king (21:9, 15).  Jesus could have ignited a rebellion and tossed out the apostates out just like He overturned the tables of the moneychangers (21:12-13).  Instead, Jesus exerted a greater power and proof of His Messiahship -- He mercifully healed the blind and lame (21:14; see Isaiah 35:5-6).  Jesus had great compassion for the suffering.

 

Matthew 21 ends with strong contrasts.  The leaders knew Jesus had exposed their hypocrisy and envy. They determined to destroy Him (21:45).  The multitude of common people believed He was only a prophet of God (21:46). 

 

What do you think of Jesus?  Was He the Son of God?  He claimed to be that.  His miracles proved that. His sinlessness proved He was the Holy One, the Messiah.  To enter His kingdom, we need to receive in Jesus as our Lord, Messiah, and Savior (John 1:11-13).  I encourage you, if you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ, please do it now.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Matthew 22                                    January 31, 2016

 

When a teenager, the first verse I chose for a life verse was Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  More than anything else, this pursuit should be the driving force in our walk with Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus expounded on the kingdom of God many times.  It’s the universal sovereign rule of God over all creation (Psalm 103:19).  The gate into His kingdom is the new birth (John 3:3ff – “Most assuredly, I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”).  Its citizens enjoy “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” fellowshipping with the God and Savior of the world -- Jesus Christ (Romans 14:17).

 

He had asked His own disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?”  Peter got it right:  “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16).

 

How did the religious leaders treat Jesus?  Personal attacks on His identity and integrity. But He confounded the religious establishment of His day.  First, the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to smear Him as a rebel against Roman domination (22:15-22).  They failed to prove it! 

 

Second, the Sadducees (a religious group denying life after death in heaven or hell, and anything supernatural) attempted to baffle Jesus with their 84 word conundrum regarding marriage and heaven (22:23-33 – “in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be?”).  Quoting God from Genesis 26:24, He perplexed them with two words:  “I am the God of your father Abraham.”  It does not say “I was”-- meaning Abraham died and is no more because there is no life after death (22:32).  The Bible declares there IS life after death.  They failed to believe God’s Word! 

 

Third, a religious scholar tested Jesus with a question his co-horts debated ad infinitum (22:34-38).   What is the greatest commandment of all?  His answer, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  ,Jesus not only gave the “final answer” correctly but added a bonus (22:39-40 “Love your neighbor as yourself”).  The scholar failed to stump Jesus!

 

Then Jesus’ gave them an exam which left their heads spinning:  if the Messiah is a son of King David, why would David ever call him “Lord”?  that is, superior to David (22:41-44; Psalm 110:1).  Surely an ancestor was to be revered more than his descendants.  Abraham was greater than Jesse, father of David. The correct answer:  though Jesus was of the lineage of David, He is the Son of God sent down from Heaven.  The religious lawyer had no answer.  He failed to understand Jesus is the Son of God.  We do. Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us.”  Jesus declared, “…he who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) and “I and My Father are one” (10:30).  Moses declared, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). 

 

Now my “life verse” is Philippians 3:10 - “That I may know Him (the Lord Jesus) and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”  Jesus is God come in flesh, He gives life after death, and He is King of kings.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Habakkuk                 January 26, 2016

 

The prophet Habakkuk expressed what many Christians sense in their own lives.  He did not always understand what God was doing.  Case in point:  why did God bring the enemies of God against the people of God?  Habakkuk 1:5-11.  We also wonder with the prophet why things happen as they do (2:1).

 

In the 7th century case of Israel the prophet had to admit that “… the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth; for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore, wrong justice proceedeth.”  There was no justice.   And, if any justice was begged for, it was perverted by the judges. (Habakkuk 1:4).

 

The Bible declares that God’s Law is “holy, just, and good” (Romans 7:12).  It is pure, it is righteous to all, and it is beneficial.  The Law and the Ten Commandments came from the heart of the LORD Almighty who is good.  The people of Israel were not good—murmured constantly, built a golden calf to worship, and rebelled against the good Laws of God.  No wonder they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  No wonder calamities, powerful storms, and new diseases pound our once blessed nation.

 

Then we might consider our own personal lives.  Do bad things happen to good people?  Yes.  Good people pass away (my parents, my college friends have).  Good parents have lost babies (in my own family tree, four generations have each lost a baby in death).  Good people suffer ailments of aging, the mind, cancer, and pains (proof is in our church prayer lists).  Why do these things happen?  It all goes back to the Fall of Adam and Eve’s sin and rebellion.  And mankind has suffered ever since then because of Satan’s temptation and their fall.  Is there hope?  Yes!

 

Listen to Habakkuk’s faith in the goodness of God:  “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat [food]; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls;  YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION, THE LORD GOD IS MY STRENGTH, and He will make my feet like hinds’[deer] feet, and  HE WILL MAKE ME WALK UPON MY HIGH PLACES.”  (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

 

This world is not my final Home; I am just passing through. Heaven awaits us. There is a “well done, good and faithful servant” commendation coming for the faithful as well as a crown of righteousness which Jesus Christ will award (2nd Timothy 4:8).

 

Let’s keep trusting our good LORD,

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

Psalm 91                  January 19, 2016

 

THE SECRET PLACE OF THE BELIEVER:  Psalm 91:1

The 90th Psalm was written by Moses some 1450 years before Jesus Christ was born.  Moses faced great obstacles as he led the murmuring and rebellious Israelites through the barren wilderness for 40 strenuous years.  His comfort was to fellowship with the LORD in the “tent of the meeting,” as he called it (Exodus 33:7, 11).   It was in that “tent” away from the crowds that “the LORD spoke to Moses face to face” and encouraged him.  There God brought rest and peace of mind to his soul.

 

The following psalm, the 91st, speaks of another “secret place” with God Himself.  In this “secret place” a Christian can find that same rest and peace of mind because it is the place of “abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.”  That shadow speaks of both intimacy with the LORD and safety since God and His shadow cannot disturbed by the dangers of this sin-cursed world.  An evangelist once said:  “God does not have favorites, but He does have intimates.” (Vance Havner). This abiding with the Lord is sweet intimacy and faith-building.

 

Jesus described that “secret place” as a prayer “closet” where God and the Christian can enjoy a precious time of spiritual fellowship. When we face trials and testings, may we retire to our “secret place” and pour out our hearts to God in prayer.

 

THE SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER:  Psalm 91:2

God Himself, not anyone or anything on earth, is the REFUGE of the Christian.  Psalm 91 spoke of ancient dangers:  traps of the enemies of our souls, pestilences, terror by night, wars and rumors of wars.  The LORD is our refuge—our security.

 

God is also the FORTRESS of the Christian.  He is a strong tower.  The Word of God has promised, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demonic powers, … nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  Jesus assured every believer “ I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father … is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). 

 

THE SALVATION OF THE BELIEVER:  Psalm 91:14-16

What is salvation of the soul?  God Himself  “has set His love upon me….”  (Psalm 91:14).  The Bible says, that “God demonstrated His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, CHRIST DIED FOR US….  For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:8, 10).  The Apostle Paul testified that by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone—not by his works or best human effort—that God saved their souls and has now received them into His glorious presence. 

 

This great salvation assured them that when in difficulty, they could “call upon” their Savior.  He would be with them in trouble and deliver them.  God said to the psalm writer, “with long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation” (91:15-16). 

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Psalm 23                  January 12, 2016

The shepherd-king lived some 70 years and, when meditating on his life, wrote the 23rd Psalm.  The Spirit of God inspired him to write this song as his legacy to future generations.  Many of the kings of Judah and Israel were compared by the righteousness of King David.  Only a few of them could honestly testify that “The LORD is my Shepherd.”  The LORD Himself gave this high commendation to David:  “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who shall fulfill all My will.”  (Acts 13:22).

First of all, David declared that the LORD “is” -  not “was” and is not any more, not “will be” sometime in the future - but “is.”  Everyone who has been born again into a new life by faith in Jesus Christ can declare the same with confidence.  The LORD always is our good (John 10:14), great (Hebrews 3:20), chief (1st Peter 5:4), and guardian Shepherd (1st Peter 2:24-25).

Second, a believer observed:  “I believe Psalm 23 is the most loved psalm of them all, and it is one of the least believed.”  Initially, young David was the hero!  Lowly shepherd turned battle warrior.  He was a man who trusted in his Divine Shepherd absolutely.  David faced the giant shouting so that Goliath could get the message loud and clear:  “You came to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to you in the Name of the LORD, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will deliver you into mine hand….” (1st Samuel 17:45-46).

Third, there are times in the life of a believer which are victorious.  That may be followed by severe obstacles, testings, and extreme stress.  When King Saul became overwhelmed by insidious envy, thanklessly he turned against the youth who saved his life, his reputation as commander, and his throne.  The youth had killed a lion and a bear, predators of the sheep, and Goliath, but this was a friend turned enemy.  Fear began to grip his heart. He fled. He told half-truths.  He feared being murdered (1st Samuel 18-30).  In these intense struggles was David really believing “the LORD is my Shepherd”?

Fourth, David never turned away from God, but his faith was stretched thin.  His integrity kept him from retaliating against the anointed but ruthless king.  He vainly tried to reason with Saul.  Sometimes he asked God what to do:  leave the assumed safety of the fortress of Keilah?  More often he reacted to danger by depending upon himself.  He “hit bottom” when, out of God’s will and protection, he allied himself with the idolatrous Philistines.  The tragic consequence was the sacking and burning of Ziklag, his adopted city and home of the families of David and his 600 warriors.  Assuming all were massacred, the warriors wept uncontrollably all day.

Finally, Psalm 23:3 - the LORD “restores my soul….”  Now on his knees in contrition and prayer, David finally “encouraged Himself in the LORD his God.”  His faith that depended upon the great Shepherd waxed strong, and he asked, “shall I pursue” the wicked Amalekite marauders?  (1st Samuel 30:1-19).  The LORD not only answered that prayer but restored his soul so that by renewed faith David was enabled to overcome obstacles, testings, and intense stress.  No more did the “valley of the shadow of death” bring anxiety.  David could rejoice singing “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”  Amen.

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

Galatians 6              January 5, 2016                                                                     

 

Is the Christian life worth giving it your all?  Paul put his Christian experience into a deeply spiritual perspective when he penned these words in large letters:  "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14).   How does the Christian life look in shoe leather?

 

Because of Christ, the Christian will go to the aid of one "overtaken in any trespass" in a "spirit of gentleness" endeavoring to restore a fallen brother or sister in Christ (6:1).  Pastor, author, and radio preacher J. Vernon McGee related this story:  one of the great preachers in the South was converted from a life of drunkenness.  God called him to preach, and some years later when the pressures of ministry became overwhelming and he was weak, he got drunk one night.  He was so ashamed that he called the church deacons together the next day, confessed his sin, and turned in his resignation.  What did those men do?  Galatians 6:1 - they hugged him and began to pray for his restoration.  They refused to accept his resignation.  After this restored pastor preached the next Sunday, one man exclaimed, "I never heard a greater sermon in my life than that man preached."    Indeed, this was Christianity in shoe leather.  Motivated by the love of our Savior, we rally together to help a Christian brother or sister who was suddenly caught in a trespass.

 

Because of Christ, the Christian "sows to the Spirit" investing time, money, and abilities to further the Gospel ministry (6:6-10).  Benevolence marks the Christian.  He supports the ministry of the preaching of the Word of God (6:6); he supports spiritual ministries to missions, to Christian charities, and gets involved as led by the Holy Spirit (6:7-8; Galatians 2:10); he puts his Christianity into "shoe leather" by personal involvement energized by the Lord (6:9-10).  Paul's mindset was this:  "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved" (2nd Corinthians 12:15).  Paul did not grow weary in while doing good knowing with all his heart that this pleased the One who ransomed his soul.   He was convinced that those deeds done in the name of Jesus would bear fruit sooner or later to God's glory (6:9).

 

Because of Christ, the Christian is willing to suffer if need be for the furtherance of the Gospel.  Paul bore physical marks-scars-from the enemies of Jesus Christ (6:17). What sustained him?  Read Philippians 3:9-10 - "And be found in Him (Christ), not having my own righteousness, which is from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to His death. "

 

May the Lord help us all to so live for our Redeemer.

 

Pastor Ed Anderson

 

 

 

Print Print | Sitemap
© Faith Bible Baptist of Yuma - 1&1 IONOS MyWebsite