The Voice Of God

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Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:8-9)

The Voice Of God

Innovations have defined the abilities of civilizations to create spectacular edifices of engineering marvels with many enduring for generations. Men continue to marvel at the creations of the ancient Egyptians that have remained for thousands of year’s continually unlocking mysteries with each new era. Great cities have reached the skies with structural accomplishments that almost defy natural law. Scientists have explored the depths of the oceans to the furthest known stars opening incredible vistas of the creation of God. Technology has changed the face of the world in ways never imagined even in modern times. All of the accomplishments of men are measured by the work of a man’s hand to create, design and implement his creation that more often than not will only last for a short time or fall into disrepair and ruin. The greatest works of men are only temporary and limited to the scope of human wisdom. There is within the intelligence of man the creative power to make things from the world about him provided by the hand the Creator but it is in this ability to imagine and form a creation that separates him from his Maker. A man takes elements of this world to create something. God only speaks and a thing comes into existence. In describing the creation of the universe and the earth, sun, moon and stars, Moses simply says that God spoke and there was light. He spoke again and created the firmament and divided the waters from the waters. On the third day of creation, the voice of God sounded over the face of the earth and the waters were gathered in one place and dry land appeared. The grass, herb, fruit trees, and all vegetation came into being by the voice of the Lord. Looking into the sky man beholds a sun created by the sound of God’s voice as the moon is in its place among the billions of stars that are placed precisely where the voice of God placed them. Oceans filled with creatures formed by the sound of the eternal voice and then the land creatures rose from the earth at the command of God. All of creation was fashioned not by tools from elements that existed but rather by the voice of God from nothing. The stroke of a master painters brush is a powerful tool to create marvelous canvases of beauty but what great artist created a world with only his voice? There is nothing in the annals of human wisdom that can match the majestic power of the Almighty who created the world and all that is in it by His voice.

Before the fall of man and his expulsion from the garden, a covenant was enjoyed between the Creator and the creation. Moses described the activity of the garden as the Lord spoke to Adam and Eve and told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve hid because they heard the voice of God in the garden and was afraid. There was a good reason to fear the voice of the Lord. Because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve knew they were naked and fear came upon them when they heard the voice of God because they knew what that voice represented. The voice of God was His power, authority, dominion and glory. They like all men will stand in awe at the voice of God with fear and trembling. The voice of God came to Noah and told him of the impending doom of the wicked and what he must do to be saved. Grace is seen in the voice of God allowing Noah and his family to know of the wrath of the Lord coming against the wicked world and then to tell the family of eight what to do to be saved. They were saved by the voice of God warning them and providing them with salvation. Throughout the history of the Old Testament, the voice of God warned men of His wrath and instructed them what to do to find salvation. The manner of God’s voice expressed to man would find itself in different forms as the law was written down for the Jews as the voice of God. When the Jews disobeyed the Law of Moses they rejected the word of God. Through the prophets, God warned Israel of impending doom and rejecting the prophets was to reject the voice of the Lord. Sin continued to rule the world until a day of the voice of salvation appeared to all men.

When John began his gospel about Jesus, he began with the voice of God. Jesus was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Son of God was the voice of the Father and failing to listen to Jesus is failing to listen to the voice of God. As the church was established and began to grow, the gospel of Christ became the word of the Lord. Obedience was demanded at the voice of God as revealed through the Holy Spirit. Disobedience to the word of God would bring severe judgment. In the creation, God spoke and what He spoke came about and remained true. The sun remains at a constant distance from the earth since the day God spoke it into existence as a testimony to the word of God. Generations have passed in eons of time without the word of God changing in His creation. The word of God is settled in Heaven and no man can change the word of God. What was established by the Lord in the first-century remains the same today. The gospel of Christ does not change with the tides of time and frailties of human wisdom. Men have tried to corrupt the nature of the church but the word of God remains the same in contrast to the religious error so prevalent in the world today. The voice of God told men what to do to be saved and that has remained unchanged in the mind of God since the day He spoke. No other book can claim the infallibility of God’s voice than the Bible as a guide for men to hear the voice of truth that remains unchanged over time. The voice of God with Paul in the city of Athens so long ago is just as powerful as the spoken word in 1343 or 2032 or any other year the Lord allows the earth to stand. For when God spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

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Children Are Like Seeds

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Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:3-9)

Children Are Like Seeds

Jesus spoke often in parables teaching the multitudes the principles of the kingdom gospel that would characterize the disciples of Christ. One of the more familiar parables is the story of the sower that sowed seed on different types of the ground resulting in varied kinds of harvest. On the first ground, the seed fell along the wayside but did not produce a crop as the hard was impenetrable and the birds quickly devoured the seeds. The second ground was receptive to the seed but was unable to maintain growth as there was little soil to nourish the seed to full growth. The seed that fell among the thorns had ample nourishment and grew very well but because of the weeds and thorns became choked out and unable to produce a crop of any significance. It was only the final ground that had been broken up from the impacted soil of the land and with great effort and hard work removed the stones, rocks, and hindrances of growth to allow the seed to produce a crop. Constant work continued with the care of the seed as the weeds and thorns were removed as the seed slowly grew into maturity and then finally a beautiful harvest of wheat stood ready as a field white for harvest. The joy of a bountiful crop did not come from the seed sown on the wayside. Seed thrown amongst the stony ground had some fruit but withered in time and died. Those seeds that found themselves in some good ground had every opportunity to grow but the thorns choked the seed and the crop was limited. The harvest came only when a diligent effort was put forth to guide the seed from the planting stage to the place of harvest. It could not survive on its own but required much effort and constant attention to help the seed develop into a bountiful harvest. Then and only then was the fruit enjoyed after much work and effort to train the seed to be what it was created to become. The farmer was not lucky to have a field ready for harvest. It took a lot of work, effort, toil, and sweat of brow to bring forth a harvest. And so it is with parenting.

Children are like the seed in the story of the sower. There are four types of children that come from four types of parents. Every child born has the potential to be something great in the eyes of his or her Creator. God has created the soul of a child to grow up to show forth His glory. Like the seed in the parable, the outcome will be determined by the kind of soil it finds itself. The soils can be viewed in the manner the parents take to training their children. Many parents have no concern for the eternal destiny of their children. Like the wayside soil, the word of God is heard by the hearts of the children but because there is no root in the soul of the child, the devil comes quickly and takes away the seed of the word of God. Many children find themselves with parents who have no concern for spiritual matters and live apart from a belief in God. Children of the wayside will find it hard to grow up knowing God. This does not condemn the child forever as many children who have grown up in the wayside path of the world come to know the power of God and the blood of Christ breaks up the hardened ground to open up the grace of the Lord in their hearts. Sadly, their parents did not train them and teach them. Children can be seen as the seed that fell on stony ground. This could easily be found in the lives of many of God’s people who are members of the church but rarely bring their children to worship, seldom engage in any Bible studies with their children and disregard the teachings of the preacher and admonitions of the elders. These children live on the edge of the church with no involvement growing up with little interest in the church and live shallow lives without God. Their parents seldom attend worship, seldom get involved in the work of the church and are offended if anyone challenges their lack of spiritual awareness but their children see clearly the lack of love for the Lord. Like the parents, they grow up with little or no interest and in time wither away and die.

The final two stories of seed are more prevalent in the church than any other. There are many parents who have a love for the Lord but cannot shake their love of the world and the trappings of popularity, social status and recreation. The ground is good but it is full of thorns, weeds, and hindrances to growth. When the seed is planted in this soil there is sufficient nourishment for the seed to grow but with the competition of the thorns is unable to grow to maturity. Jesus explained this soil as one that hears God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. There are many children who are like the seed sown in the thorny ground whose parents crowd their lives with the attractions of the world and choke out the heart of love for God and devotion to the kingdom of Christ. They never obey the gospel of Christ because their parents fill the ground of their hearts with the world. If they obey the gospel they never grow to maturity as the cares and riches of the world crowd out a heart of love for God. The final harvest is withered due to the overabundance of weeds and thorns. It is only in the good ground that has been broken up, stones and rocks removed and the constant care of keeping the thorns and weeds out will the seed grow to harvest. Parents must realize the heart of a child requires a diligent effort to break up the influences of the world to guide the spirit of the child to a love of God. Much of the heart of the child will come from the heart of the parent who shows in their own lives a diligent love for the Lord. Preparing the soil requires a lot of work. Removing the stones and rocks in the heart of the child is removing the hindrances of a child’s faith as they see the faith of the parent who does not forsake the worship of the Lord, spends many hours in examining the word of God and extends a benevolent hand to those in need. Children who grow up as faithful children of God do not come about by luck or chance. It takes hard work and diligent effort to constantly remove the thorns and weeds of the world from the heart of the child. They see the love of God in the heart of their parents. It is sad to witness parents who are more concerned about their children being the popular and successful student or athlete than a love for God. Parents who dress their children in the apparel of the world, encouraging them to engage in the social interactions of worldly popularity will not create a heart of spirituality. The good ground of faith comes from a lot of hard work and prayer. Parents who plant the word of God in the heart of their children will prepare the ground for a bountiful harvest of eternal reward. Children are like a seed. Parents will determine the type of soil their children are planted.

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Spiritual Farming

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Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)

Spiritual Farming

Sin came upon the heart of man in the Garden of Eden and among the consequences of his rebellion, Adam would toil the ground by the sweat of his brow that was cursed for his sake. Through the millennia of time, the earth has required constant work of plowing the hard ground, sowing the seed and harvesting the bounty of the crops produced through diligent labor of the hand of men. As a shadow of the spiritual condition of sinful man, farming is used by the Lord to impress upon the heart of the disobedient the pattern of salvation and redemption. Hosea was a prophet tasked with pleading with the people of God to return to their first love and to see the forgiveness of God as a man taking back his adulterous wife. The Lord had required the prophet to marry a woman of harlotry and her story would be the backdrop for the prophet’s burden in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah and Jeroboam, king of Israel. Forgiveness was offered to the rebellious people if they would but repent and change their hearts. The key to repentance is described by the Lord in the parable of the man who sowed seed on hard ground with the blessings of harvesting the love of God through their obedience to his word. It would require plowing up the hard ground of their hearts to allow the seeds of righteousness to be planted. Sin had hardened their hearts against the love of God. Like a woman going after her many lovers, Israel and Judah had plowed the fields of the nations around them for their delight and engaged in spiritual harlotry. Repentance must begin with breaking the heart of rebellion in the sorrow for sin. Without a mourning spirit over the seriousness of sin, the people of God would never return to the Lord. Repentance demanded a breaking of the ground in order to allow the seeds of righteousness, goodness, and mercy to be implanted in the heart. Good ground broken and plowed will readily receive the good seed and bring forth a harvest of God’s love and he showers righteousness upon the people.

Forgiveness comes from the heart of God but repentance begins in the heart of man. It requires an action on his part to receive the grace of the Lord and without the willingness of the heart of man to change, there can be no mercy. God is not willing that any man perishes but will not force his will upon the heart if the spirit of man is unwilling to yield to the word of the Lord. Sowing seed on hard ground will never produce a crop. Jesus told the disciples a parable of the seed that fell on the hard ground that was immediately devoured by the birds. This is the man who hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it and the devil comes and quickly snatches away the word lest the heart of the man receives the mercy of God. Only the good ground broken up, tilled and plowed with a penitent heart is able to receive the seed of righteousness. The work is not finished with the ground is plowed. The seed must be planted and cultivated to produce a crop. Seeds of righteousness must be sown. Hosea reminds the people the admonition of the Lord was to plant the good seeds of righteousness. Refusing to plant the right kind of seed would not bring forth a crop of love. There was only one seed that could be planted. It could not be tainted with the disease of worldliness, carnality, sensual pleasures and self-will. The incorruptible seed of truth must come from the storehouse of a merciful God willing to forgive. Harvesting a crop of love would only come from the seeds of righteousness. Not any seed would suffice. Only the one true seed of God’s word would save the people.

With all the warnings of prophets like Hosea and others, Israel cultivated wickedness and harvested a flourishing crop of sins. They ate the fruit of lies when they trusted in the might of their own power, believing they could save themselves without God. Their hard ground of rebellion was not broken up and Satan devoured their hearts with his lies and deceit. The day of judgment came upon the people and they were cast from the presence of the Lord. Harvesting the crop of sin did not bring the bounty of joy they sought and it never will. Satan’s greatest deception is to sell in the market of self-will the seeds of pride, fleshly gratification and the eye-candy of human wisdom to hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Without spiritual farming to break up the hardened heart and sow the good seeds of righteousness, there will never be a reaping of mercy. Forgiveness comes to those who seek the will of the Lord and yield their hearts to his mercy as he showers upon them his righteousness. Ground broken and planted with good seed will receive the seasons of rain to nourish and bless the bountiful harvest. The heart of man will find joy when he breaks up his stubborn will to receive the implanted word which is able to save the soul. It is then the Lord rains down his righteousness and mercy on the good ground that will bear fruit and produce a hundredfold of divine blessings. Joy is found in the harvest. It comes from the broken ground. Grab your hat and your plow and let’s break up some fallow ground. A harvest of joy awaits from the heart of God.

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He Came To Serve

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From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. (Mark 7:24)

He Came To Serve

The ministry of Jesus was less than three years but it was an intense period of activity that at times would have seemed impossible for any man to endure. His pace of teaching, preaching, healing, administering, miracles and exhorting his disciples was a constant force of finishing the work of the Father before the final act of servitude in death on a cross. Often the character of servitude focuses on the gift of his life at Calvary but the life of Jesus as a whole was every bit of serving the needs of humanity. It is impossible to imagine how many thousands of people Jesus healed in his short ministry. On one occasion he fed more than five thousand people and on another, he fed four thousand. Enumerable crowds of people came to him to be healed of various diseases and maladies and Jesus healed every person who came to him. After a heated debate with the Pharisees over defilement, the Son of God came into the region of Tyre and Sidon and sought refuge in a house where he could spend some time alone. His desire was to quietly enter the home and be away from the crowds and the ever-present criticism of the Jewish leaders. As the Son of God who took on the form of flesh, Jesus needed time alone to spend with his father and to regain strength for the arduous work of his ministry. He thought he could find respite in the house but to no avail. Word spread that he had come and a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him and came seeking his healing. As the servant doing the bidding of the heavenly father, Jesus healed the young girl. He departed the region of Tyre and Sidon and arriving at the Sea of Galilee was presented with a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech. Jesus healed him. Later, he would feed the five thousand, heal a blind man at Bethsaida and continue to heal all those who came to him.

When Jesus arrived in the region of Tyre and Sidon, he wanted some downtime and could not find it. It is remarkable how the Holy Spirit simply states the Son of God didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. As God, the Lord had the power to pass through crowds without them being aware and yet he was unable to hide from the crowds that always pressed upon him. The heart of a servant is one that is willing to expend his time and energies for the good of others. It would have been easy for Jesus to enter the home and surround himself in a shroud of secrecy allowing him the time and opportunity to be away from the crowds. He did often go into the mountains and spend time alone but on this occasion, he could not be hidden. He knew his time was limited and there was much work to be done. Thirty years had prepared him to begin an arduous and challenging work of ministering to the needs of the people. He always sought opportunities to help others. On one occasion he was resting at the well of Jacob and a woman from Samaria came to draw water. He could have quietly sat by the side and said nothing but Jesus used it to change the heart of the woman and many from the city. His work was to see the fields white for harvest and the urgency of taking the time to seek honest souls who would listen and come to know his father. As a divine servant, he came to serve and he gave his life in servitude to the pressing needs of men. Ultimately, his spirit of serving leads him to a place of death where he would offer his life as a sacrifice for the sins of all. As a servant, Jesus gave his life to the glory of the Father.

No man has had the burden of the work as Jesus did and fewer still have the stamina and courage of Jesus to expend their lives as servants in the kingdom. One of the most important parts of serving others is the need to take time. Jesus healed a young girl who was afflicted with an unclean spirit. This little girl’s life was filled with grief, pain, and sorrow and there was no healing apart from Jesus. Had the son of God hidden himself by his divine power the little girl would not have received the healing. Jesus served the needs of her mother and blessed her life with the healing power of the divine because he took the time to allow his life to be interrupted. Serving God takes effort and time to help others. In the judgment scene depicted by Jesus as the separation of the sheep and goats, the main focus was on the time spent by the faithful to care for others. In contrast, those condemned never took the time to consider the needs of their fellow man. Servants take the time to help others and often when it is not the most convenient time or place. There are many opportunities afforded the people of God to show the glory of the Lord in their lives by a simple gesture of kindness, benevolence or lending a helping hand. Love is important to find expression in action rather than words alone. Jesus did not tell men he loved them; he showed them his love by dying for them. Servants serve the needs of others. As Jesus served, may all the children of God serve with his spirit.

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There Is No One Like Him

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Thus says the Lord, the king of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me, there is no God. And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them. Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Indeed there is no other rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:6-8)

There Is No One Like Him

The history of humanity is filled with stories of great men who rose to power and conquered their worlds with courage, boldness and great insight. Legions of scholars have filled the libraries of the world with their intellectual prowess explaining the complex issues of life. Empires dot the landscape of history as they ruled vast parcels of land through the power of might subduing any peoples that would defy them. The story of man is rich. History books gleam with the heroic tales of the incredible feats of men through the ages. With all the accolades of human wisdom there is historically a common thread that is shared by all generations: all that he accomplishes is short-lived and with all the advances in his intelligence and philosophical understanding he remains in the dark about the answers to life. No generation can explain the complexities of life through human experiment and when they attempt to seek the answers through self-will it ends in failure – always. The bleached bones of human wisdom fill the pages of history as they lay in deserts of carnal despair. Israel of old faced the dilemma of trying to serve God and live by their selfish wisdom. As the people of God they had every advantage of the heavenly hosts and yet they tried to find through idolatry the satisfaction of their flesh. The further they turned away from the Lord the deeper they fell into the despair of sin’s depravity. God had revealed himself through Moses and the prophets his great power and wisdom. No god could proclaim the wisdom of the ages as the Lord God had done from the beginning of time. Only through the power of the hand of God had Israel been delivered from Egyptian bondage. There was no god or man who could say he was the first and the last. All the words of God proclaimed since the beginning of time has come true without variation. The idols Israel trusted were mute and could never impart wisdom. What folly to fall down and worship a piece of stone or wood and call it a delivering god. There would be no comparison between the living God and the dead gods of idolatry. One gave life and the other brought death. Is there any other God but the Lord God?

Isaiah will describe the folly of idolatry when men cut down trees to use for warmth and to cook their food yet falling down to a part of the tree as a god who will deliver them. The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes trusting in something that can’t help him at all. It never comes to the mind of the idol worshiper to admit what he holds in his hand is a lie. Why is it a lie? It is an object that has no voice, no mind, no power and dependent upon its creator for its existence. The god of the man is not the creator but the worshiper is the creator of his own god. There are many cultures in the world today that serve idols of wood and stone but there is a greater idol that men worship that is more insidious than what is commonly seen as an idol. The multi-gods of self-indulgence, materialism and fleshly pleasures are gods that are real, powerful and consuming the people of God. What makes Isaiah’s preaching so important is to remember he is writing to people who were the chosen bride of God, His beloved vineyard and the apple of his eye. Israel was a chosen nation for the glory of the Lord and because of their selfish desire to live for self, rebelled against the word of God and followed the idols of the nations around them. This is still a problem in the nation of God’s people today who are called Christians who worship the gods of carnality, pleasure and earthly gain. The church is struggling with saints who follow the gods of immodesty to dress like the world in its shameful and revealing attire. Social drinking is a god of pleasure where children of God praise the Lord with a hymnal in one hand and a cocktail in the other. Foul language comes from the lips of church members who bow their heads in prayer one moment and the next gossiping, murmuring, speaking evil of others and using the name of the Lord in vain. Work has become the most popular god that serves the lusts of the material possessions of the world so that many saints fail to assemble on the first day of the week because they are too busy bowing down to the gods of cars, homes, vacations, the latest gadgets and popular clothing.

Idolatry is vibrant in the hearts of many Christians as they serve the gods of the world failing to see what they have in their hands is a lie. When women dress in revealing attire to attract attention to their bodies they embrace the lie of youth. It passes, it fades and it brings disgrace to the glory of God. Accepting the god of alcohol and drugs is indulging in a pleasure that will bring nothing but misery and sorrow. Filling the heart with hatred, malice and envy bring forth death and decay. Working long hours to have more money and to pay bills created by credit hungry mongrels bent on having the best of the finer things of the world will only see them decay and pass away and left in the empty tombs of tomorrow. The great lie for the church today is when the god of this world has more sway over the hearts of its members than the true and living God. Is there any god that is greater than the God who sent his only beloved Son to die for humanity? Isaiah still pleads with the people of God today to open their eyes to the true God and deliverer and mighty one who knows all, establishes his will throughout all ages and is the only rock that delivers man from the putridity of his condition. Salvation is in God alone. All the trappings of the world with its gods of sensual pleasure, worldly gain and popularity will all fade in the dust of time like an idol of stone and wood. Eternity will have only one God and his name is Lord of hosts.

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Arrested For Believing

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Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” (Acts 9:13-14)

Arrested For Believing

Ananias was a devout man, who lived in strict adherence to the law and was well respected by the Jews for his fidelity of character, honesty, and example of justice and fairness. He had a good testimony with all the Jews which set him apart as a follower of Christ and one who called upon the name of Jesus with courage in the face of great persecution. News had arrived at the saints in Damascus that Saul of Tarsus was coming to find all those who were of the Way in the city to bind them to Jerusalem. Stephen had been killed for his faith in the risen Christ and Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s disciples wherever they could be found. The saints in Damascus feared what Saul would do when he brought his legion of Jewish mercenaries to root out those who believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. He was not looking for murderers, rapists, thieves, embezzlers, or traitors to the crown of Rome. Saul was wholly devoted to finding men and women who embraced a belief that a man from Nazareth in the region of Galilee was the long-promised Messiah of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. These were law-abiding citizens in every sense of the word. The arrest records did not list heinous crimes against humanity or rebellion to the government but simply a belief that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and buried yet found alive after many days by hundreds of people. Small bands of followers had begun to gather in cities across Judea, Galilee, and Samaria being called Christians first in Antioch. Saul of Tarsus received authority from the high priest to arrest everyone who believed in Jesus dragging them bound to Jerusalem for trial. Word had come to the saints in Damascus of the coming of Saul and Ananias was gravely concerned for his own life. In came as a complete surprise to Ananias when the Lord told him that he was to find Saul and baptize him into the body of saints he had been so opposed to. Strengthened with great courage and faith in the word of God, Ananias went to Saul and baptized him into Christ changing the course of history forever. Saul would become one of the greatest servants in the kingdom of God leading untold number of souls to believe Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

The government is established for the good of the people and to execute wrath on those who practice evil. This becomes subjective to the ideals of the government when they decide to prosecute a body of people based solely on a system of belief. Saul had authority from the high priest to arrest a man because of a belief; not a crime against another man, an act of physical harm to another, or mistreatment of a neighbor. Legal actions were allowed to be executed against a group of people who quietly served their government with obedience to the laws of the land, rendering to Caesar those things that belonged to Caesar and to God those things that belonged to God. The acts of these believers were to care for others who had a need such as in the early days of the church when the first disciples had all things in common, selling possessions and goods and dividing them among all, as anyone had need. Through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, the infirmed were healed of blindness, leprosy, crippled limbs, blood issues, withered body parts, stomach problems, cancers, and a host of diseases unnamed but all were healed by the workings of those endowed with the power of God. These were the people Saul had come to arrest. Benevolent workers of good toward the downtrodden and oppressed had their names on the list of charges brought against the church of Christ and its believers. Damascus was full of these disciples and Saul had come to find each person and to place them in irons. What was remarkable about these early saints is that in the face of such great persecution, they were scattered abroad preaching the word of Christ in every place they went. It did not stop them from telling the story of Jesus but it encouraged it. Saul had not come to Damascus to arrest the lukewarm and half-hearted believers but rather those who were dedicated to the cause of the Way and the name of Jesus Christ.

America is a place of religious freedom that allows its citizens to worship in whatever fashion they desire. This is a patriotic blessing but not according to the Biblical pattern. Nevertheless, there is a freedom to believe in Jesus Christ without fear of reprisal or arrest. This is not true in many places in the world. In many countries espousing a belief in Jesus can lead to arrest and in some cases death. It can become easy to be comfortable in a land that does not have men like Saul seeking out those who would profess a belief in a risen Christ. Owning a Bible is not illegal and is now available in more forms than in the history of man. Reading the Bible is not outlawed. Teaching the message of Jesus Christ is not refuted by armed thugs who kill those who believe in the story of man two thousand years ago. And this is where the problem will come of complacency and create a false sense of security for the believer. The saints in the early church faced a real threat that could bring torture and death and yet they did not stop doing what they believed and how they were sharing the message of Christ. Modern-day saints find it difficult to assemble with the saints when there are no laws against such assemblies. Reading the Bible is readily available and not acts of subversion against the government but few spend time in the holy pages. The truth lies in the fact the church grows best when it is persecuted for what it believes. The man from Tarsus was not interested in the once-in-a-while Christian who would easily deny he knew Jesus Christ than face death. The man and woman who courageously admitted they were a Christian and refused to give up their faith were the targets of abuse. What you believe may be tested one day by what you do when asked what you believe.

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The Joy Of Healing

healing by Jesus (3)

When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. (Luke 4:40-41)

The Joy Of Healing

Medicine has developed in the long history of man to combat disease, offer relief from the maladies of the body and to understand the biology of the human frame. It has not always been an exact science and never will be a complete discipline where man will understand all the reasons for the causes of disease. From a Biblical perspective the answer is found in man’s expulsion from the garden and the tree of life. Disease is the consequence of disobedience ultimately from the choice of man to disobey the clear word of the Creator. However, God did not leave man without answers and endued men with the wisdom to unlock the secrets of the causes of illness in the science of medicine. From a modern view, the medicine of Jesus’ day was rather primitive. The gospels tell of a woman with an issue of blood had who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any showing how difficult it was for men to find answers and the plight of those who could never find relief. Natural causes rendered a cruel blow to many like the man with a withered hand, those born blind and the frightful diagnosis of leprosy. To say the least, disease was a plague inflicted on the masses with little concern for the station of life, economic outlook and age. And then a man from Nazareth came into the region of Galilee near the city of Capernaum and changed everything.

Jesus had returned to His home at Nazareth and found only hatred and contempt. Coming down to Capernaum, He healed a man possessed with an evil spirit and the report about Him went out into the regions of Galilee. Entering into the home of Peter, the Lord healed Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with a high fever. Word began to spread and when the sun was setting, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one. Luke does not say what the diseases were but one can only imagine the types of maladies the people suffered from that came to Jesus. A woman comes to Jesus with pain in her belly that burns with great intensity and she is healed. Blind men approach the Lord seeking their sight and with the touch of His hand, the Son of God gives them sight. Men and women with broken bones, shriveled limbs, and deformed bodies are restored whole as a little child. Cancers that are ravaging the body are taken away, tumors are dispelled, organs decaying made whole again and the lepers cleansed of the dreaded disease. When Jesus laid His hands upon the people they were healed immediately and totally. There was never a time to wait for the healing to come about. These people did not go away with a prescription to take for a time and find healing days, weeks or months later. When the hand of Jesus touched their body, they felt immediate relief. The pain of arthritis that crippled the body was taken away with a sudden rush of relief. Eyes dimmed with glaucoma were made clear as crystal. What the people felt was an abrupt and full healing. Whatever the disease and without exception, the joy of healing was felt by every person that came to Jesus. When they stood before the Son of God they were broken with the pain of disease. He touched them and brought them joy. Healing as had never been known before and that no man could ever understand took place that day when Jesus laid His hands on everyone that came to Him.

There is a greater disease than the bodily maladies of flesh. The disease of sin has done more to destroy lives than any plague, cancer or terminal illness. It destroys the joy and the happiness of life in its insidious destruction of the reason man was created. When God placed man in the garden He desired to dwell with Him and abide with Him as one. Sin took that happiness away and the sorrow and pain of sin came upon all men. All the solutions of men failed to remedy the disease of sin. Human wisdom made his condition worse. Seeking fulfillment in the pleasures of the flesh brought no joy. Elevating self as a god was defeated in the rumble of pride. Nothing could bring happiness to the plight of sin until the Son of God came to earth and laid His hands on the hearts of men. There is only one means of finding a cure for sin and that is from the hand of Jesus Christ. No man could heal every person with various diseases as Jesus did that day in Galilee. There is nothing man can do today that will bring happiness and joy to the soul of man but the blood of Jesus Christ. The healing of sin is the greatest message of joy. Burdened with the guilt of serving the prince of darkness there is no hope for man. Jesus brings relief in giving the soul of man eternal life through the forgiveness of sin. Think for a moment how wonderful it felt for the man and woman standing before Jesus who lived every day with intense pain and when the hand of Jesus touched them – their pain was gone – totally gone. What joy! How refreshing! And now think of how wonderful it feels to have the horror of God’s wrath removed in the waters of baptism when the Father washes away all sins and brings joy to the troubled heart. There is a greater promise that when the child of God confesses his sins, the hand of Jesus is faithful and just to forgive those sins and to cleanse the soul from all unrighteousness. Healing brings joy. Thank you, God, for your healing power that brings the eternal happiness of your divine grace to dwell in the heart of the saved. Joy.

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