Sunday, December 11, 2016

Jesus, The Light of the World

I have always been a fan of Christmas lights. I love to ride around just before Christmas and see all the lights in the neighborhoods. I was hanging lights on our house today, and I began to think about the way it shines. The more lights, the lighter it got in the yard. It’s not the Grizwolds’ house or anything, but I like it. The concept of light vs. darkness came to mind.

There is always a reminder of this world’s darkness and what it represents. The apostle John recorded by inspiration two times when our Lord refers to Himself as the “light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), as well as the “light of life.” John also wrote: “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19) teaching us that this world is so lost in sin. After Jesus had told the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), “go and sin no more” (v. 11), he then turned to those He had been teaching and said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Jesus is the answer to this world’s wickedness. Luke recorded: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He is the “light” that all mankind must come to see. His message of salvation is one for all. Paul wrote: “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of salvation to everyone who believes: to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

True disciples of Christ have the opportunity to teach and show the world through the preaching of the Gospel and through the living of the Gospel. Jesus with His authority gave the command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV). So, we “go and teach” (KJV), but we are also taught to live out the Gospel each day in our lives:  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

So, while you are out and about this next few weeks and seeing lights in your neighborhood, remember that Christ is the “light of the world” and that we are to live in such a way that others can see that “light.”
Wayne Rodgers

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Storms, Floods, & Fires

   A preacher friend reminded me of Ira North’s statement of his beloved state of Tennessee: “It is the state that pillows its head in the Great Smoky Mountains and dips its feet in the mighty Mississippi.” 
   This week we have seen its pillow burning with fire. We will hear of much by way of tragedy concerning this disaster, while we will likely also hear of heroism to save and rescue people, wildlife, homes, etc. 
   We know the Gatlinburg church of Christ building was destroyed and several members lost their homes completely. There are efforts through our brotherhood to help the congregation there and their members.
   It gives us a moment to pause and be reminded of this life’s tragedies that we all face. Some have gone through storms, floods, and fires such as this with great loss. Some have come through these disasters unscathed or with very little loss at all. 
   These physical disasters are often compared to the spiritual storms and fires which plague us in this life. Paul wrote: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). These, we all share in common, and we are told to rely on and help “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2).
   It also gives us a moment to pause and be reminded of this life’s wondrous blessings through Christ (Eph. 1:3). As children of God, we soon learn that we are not alone (1 Cor. 10:12), and we have a wonderful family in Christ upon which we can share (fellowship) and care (love & compassion) and show to the world (evangelize) to whom we belong. John wrote: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
~Wayne Rodgers

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Sermon of Attitudes (pt. 8)

The previous character trait or attitude discussed was that of a peacemaker, which gives us some insight as to “counting the cost” of the Christian life (Lk. 14:28). The type of persecution under consideration is that which comes from a life faithful to God.
Jesus along with the apostle Paul wrote of the real possibility of persecution: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12, KJV); “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (Rom. 8:35, NKJV).
Persecution comes about in various ways and forms: physical violence, sharp tongues, angry pens, rejection from family, friends, etc., socially out casted, etc. Yet, whatever form it may show, we must learn to properly respond with a joyful and glad heart (Mt. 5:12). Jesus reminded us that we stand in good company: “for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” The kingdom of heaven is that for which Christ “suffered” (Heb. 5:7-8) and “tasted death” (Heb. 2:9) for each of us. He is our example (2 Pet. 2:21); therefore, we must follow in His steps. First, we must know that we, too, will face persecution, as did He. Second, we must face persecution as He has taught. These attitudes or character traits that are to be found in the man approved of God are those which were new to the Jewish economy, but would continue to this day in the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What follows the Beatitudes are those verses teaching that we are, in fact, “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Mt. 5:13-16). Therefore, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which his in heaven.”

- Wayne Rodgers

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Sermon of Attitudes (pt. 7)

Continuing in our Sermon of Attitudes series, we come to the topic of peace and those that make it. Isaiah referred to Jesus, prophetically as “the Prince of peace.” (Isa. 9:6). We are reminded by the Hebrews writer of “the God of peace” that raised Jesus from the dead (Heb. 13:20).
The Godhead is definitely interested in peace, but what kind of peace is Jesus talking about and making available to all?
The peace afforded to all by the Gospel of Christ is certainly in mind: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace” (Rom. 10:15). A peace that comes as a result of justification: “…being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Jesus in the Beatitude speaks of those who make peace. Something made is not void of effort on our part.
We should be those who “preach peace by Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36), those who make peace passively by showing restraint, patience and forbearance with one another, those who make peace actively by speaking the right things “ministering grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29), and those who will help settle disputes between men, between God and man, and even inner conflicts within ourselves. The Christian has obtained peace and seeks to promote it with others. The blessing is truly serving as one of God’s children. TGBTG.
-Wayne Rodgers

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Sermon of Attitudes (pt. 6)

As we continue through the Beatitudes, or the attitudes of which the man of approved of God will possess, we’ve learned how an individual is able to approach God and now how to continue to live faithfully before Him. The one described as “pure in heart,” would be the one who is pure, sincere and clean in heart; the one who thinks, feels and purposes to do that which is right.
The heart is at the very seat of our being, for example: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Jesus taught: “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mt. 12:34). Later, Jesus continued: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mt. 15:18-19).  Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount teaching those “would be” disciples the kind of attitudes they should possess in their lives in order to be pleasing to God.
The idea here is that we should live pure lives, which begins with a pure heart; therefore, that which is seen in us is true, no hypocrisy. James wrote: “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (Jms. 1:8). Our hearts become “pure in obeying the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22) and should remain so as “we walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7). The great blessing: “they shall see God.”

-Wayne Rodgers

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Sermon of Attitudes (pt. 5)

The characteristics of the beatitudes helps one approach God by having a humble, sorrowful, meek, and hungering heart for righteousness. The blessings of such character is seen in salvation. The first four beatitudes help one in coming to Christ.
The Christian heart will then want to give and do for others. Mercy will flow from God: “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). Paul refers to God as “the Father of mercies…” (2 Cor. 1:3).  The next four beatitudes show the change that has come about in the individual’s life who has obeyed the Gospel: we become merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and will withstand any persecution for Christ’s sake.
May we learn that our needs will be met as we show compassion, care, and love for others. Mercy shows forth a desire to provide relief for others in their time of need. Jesus says that the reward for showing mercy is mercy. May the God of Heaven be pleased with attitude of mercy.

~Wayne Rodgers