Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Does Family Really Mean To Us?

It never ceases to amaze me how much family really means to us. Sometimes, it takes some absence to make us realize what we really have or are missing. The old adage often rings true: "absence makes the heart grow fonder;" but, only when there was a fondness to be missed. To me, it has become sweeter through the years to have my family closer to me, and I wonder if there is not a spiritual application to be seen in that. It seems that it is easier to be with family the more that we are with our families. We continue to grow in love toward each other.

It has been the case lately that as I study more about the family of God, I realize that it is much better for the family of God to be together than apart. The Hebrew's author wrote:

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:19-25, ESV)

The idea that "closeness" not absence causes the heart to grow fonder may be more appropriate and truthful. 

Consider the following words and phrases from the text highlighted above:

  •   “enter” - We enter into the church by the blood of Jesus  who was sacrificed as our High Priest.
  •   “draw near” - We are admonished to draw near to Him with a true heart, having been washed (cleansed) by faith and baptism.
  •   “hold fast” - Cling to or hold close to the confession of our hope without doubting.
  •   “stir up one another” - Provoke one another to greater things like love and good works.
  •   “not neglecting to meet together” - This is where those who have entered in, drawn near, holding fast, and stirring one another have the opportunity to finally be close together in an assembly of a family worshipping together.
  •   “encouraging one another” - An amazing and needed result of such closeness and assembling together is the wonderful encouragement reciprocated to each other on each occasion we come together.

I have noticed over this last year especially that each time the church comes together, whether at worship services, fellowship meals, church outings, hospital visits, in-home visits, etc., we grow closer and closer with each other and with God as a result of our mutual encouragement and provoking.  When we apply verse 24, verse 25 is never a problem for those who love the Lord and each other.

Consider also 1 John 4:7-12, ESV:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

May we ever be drawn closer together with one another and to Him who first loved us.

~Wayne Rodgers

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jesus, the Master Teacher

The book of John gives some insight as to the wonderful teaching of Jesus and the reaction of those around Him.  While He taught that His doctrine was from the Father, and He spoke by His authority, notice that chapter records the responses to that authority.

There were “his brethren” that did not believe in Him (John 7:5).
Those who murmured “among the people concerning Him” (7:12) and would not speak openly “of him” (7:13).
Those who marvelled (7:15) at His knowledge of Scripture.
Those who sought to kill Him (7:25).
Those who believed on Him (7:31).
Those who sent officers to capture Him (7:32).
Those who responded: “Of a truth this is the Prophet” (7:40).
Those who responded: “This is the Christ” (7:41).
Those who questioned: “Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” (7:41).
Those who knew the Scripture concerning the Christ (7:42).
Verse 43 shows that “there was a great division among the people because of him.”  Not much has changed today.  There are those who perceive Jesus as a good man, but will not follow Him.  There are those who say, “He was a prophet,” but will not listen to what He says.  There are those who know the Scripture concerning the Christ, and they logically can conclude that Jesus truly IS the Son of God.  Still there are those who would attempt to kill Him again, because Jesus exposes their error, as He did the Pharisees (7:33-34).
The truth is that there is much division, today. 
In this world, we need direction; Jesus is the Way (John 14:6).
In this world, we need knowledge; Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6).
In this world, we need salvation; Jesus is the Life (John 14:6). 
What is our reaction to the Master Teacher?
May it be like the officers who answered: “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46, ESV).  That should ever draw us to the fact that His words are meaningful to our lives.  May we ever respond properly to the Master Teacher when He calls us to obey His Word.
“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” (John 12:48-50, ESV).