Our Hope because of the Unchanging Nature of Christ

Last weekend, Franklin, Tennessee had over 15 inches of rain within 30 hours.  In my 53 years, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed as much water in such a short period of time.  There was flooding all over the Middle Tennessee area causing death and devastation affecting so many people.  With it comes so much uncertainty about life on earth. Relatives and friends are sick and dying, people losing jobs, children and spouses abused, divorce all over the globe, and I could go on and on.  You can get so easily discouraged if you let this world fill your thoughts with all the suffering and misery that goes with it.

One thing is for certain and for sure, God loves mankind and proved it by sending His one and only begotten Son to the cross.

Although people change over the years and relationships come and go with friends and family members , Jesus hasn’t and doesn’t change, and never will.  Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”  Is there anything more comforting than the thought of God never changing!  Man has always been able to count on God for every situation in life.  That is such a comforting thought in this day and time.

Even though we have been blessed in this country and have so much, life is a challenge and we are constantly facing the temptations of life.  We have decisions to make every day, and God is the only one that we can count on daily, 100% of the time, to be there with us and for me as I trust in him and serve him.  No matter what I encounter in this life, through today’s challenges and victories, and tomorrow’s losses, the Bible tells me there is a foundation and anchor in my soul whom I can count on. That person is Jesus Christ, who is  with me, and getting me through every situation and temptation in life.

So, as the Hebrew writer encourages the Christian in chapter 13, and verse 6, by writing, “so that we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).   I can’t state it any plainer than the Bible.

–Phil Barnes

P.S. The house pictured above is David and Jennifer Barlar’s. They are members at Franklin. If you would like to help the Barlars, contact Ryan Thomley at rdthomley@gmail.com. You can also go to the Facebook page he has set up to find out more info about how to help– A Flood of Love. (ELC)

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Faith: The Foundation of the Christian Life

April 15, 2010 by  
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One day I was talking to a man that builds houses. I told him I have seen houses in a certain area that were not all that old, but had problems with cracks in the brick walls, sagging roofs and other structural problems. I have also seen other houses in the same area that are much older but have no structural issues. He said the difference is the houses with problems probably have a bad foundation and the ones without problems have a good strong one. I found this same principle in the Bible. Luke 6:48-49 says, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was build on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who builded a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

The Christian life is built on a foundation of faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). What is faith? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We also read in Romans 8:24-25,“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Faith then is believing in something you cannot see or touch. To illustrate this point, I have personally not seen the beautiful country of Scotland, but I believe it exists, or I have faith based on evidences that it exists. I believe or have faith that the Bible is the inspired word of God, based on evidences that we find in the Bible, as well as ancient manuscripts found and read by Bible scholars.

When we read the Bible we must have faith.From a human standpoint, we cannot explain how God spoke the world and all the universe, as well as all animals and mankind into existence. We cannot explain how Noah could build a craft as large as the ark where two or more of all kinds of animals on the earth as well as eight people lived for over a year. Without faith I cannot explain how a man could have been swallowed by a great fish, live inside it for three days and survive. Without faith I could not understand how a man who had been dead for several days was raised from the grave to live again.

The Christian life must be built on a strong foundation of faith, Paul summarizes the topic of faith in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” If you have a strong faith in God and his teaching you will be able to withstand the temptations placed on you by the devil, but if you have a weak faith or have doubt you will never be able to overcome the many temptations placed on you by the devil. Faith can grow and mature by a regular study of the Bible and applying the principles found therein to your life.

–by Don Adair

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Doubt is Different from Not Understanding God’s Plan

When I was growing up in the country there were certain things I experienced that were without a doubt real and easily believable. Take for instance when my dog had confronted a skunk; I smelled the odor and the evidence left no doubt what had taken place. Looking west and seeing the colors as the sunset were just beautiful. Before eating dinner one evening I picked up a pan with food in it and was reminded very quickly, it was hot; didn’t take long to realize it was either.

I remember driving a tractor while helping dad with the crops many years ago. He instructed me to steer the tractor in a certain direction. From my position in the drivers seat I could see the steel drum in front of the tractor but dad could not see it from where he was standing. I didn’t run over the drum but ran against it. How did I know dad was upset? I heard him in no questionable terms. Dad pretty well let his feeling be known in words that are not printable. Once on a vacation trip my granddaughter wanted me to taste one of those jelly bean type candies, I did and it was horrible. She laughed and told me the flavor was earwax and dirt. I certainly had no doubt as to what it tasted like.

I have used the above examples to illustrate the way we identify something. These 5 senses leave little doubt that what we hear, see, smell, taste, and touch are real.  But there is something in this life that a lot of people have and it can’t be detected by one of these senses: Faith.

Faith as used in the New Testament is defined as “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing. We read in the Scriptures things that are true.  We cannot determine this  by the 5 senses.  How do we determine it is true?  We read in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” When read, God’s word produces a firm persuasion and a conviction in our heart based on the Word. For the best definition of Faith notice Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In this verse, which is the only definition of faith revealed in the Scriptures, the root word from which “substance” is translated means “ that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on.” In the last part of the verse the root word from which we translate “evidence” signifies a “conviction” in the mind by the substance as hearing reveals it. This faith is the evidence that it is and cannot but be so. We cannot see it, otherwise it would not be faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, ”We walk by faith and not by sight.” If we could prove by the 5 senses that faith existed then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.

But some have doubts about what the Scriptures reveal. There are certain  things I don’t understand and can’t explain other than that is the way God accomplishes His purpose. His thoughts are so far above ours and His ways past finding out. But doubts and not understanding are completely different. One may believe that God raised Jesus from the dead on the 3rd day, and that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and yet have doubts what God said happened in other instances. My question is “How do you determine which to believe and which to doubt?” We cannot say one miraculous event is believable and another we doubt.  Doesn’t this show a lack of faith on our part of believing God accomplishes things in his own way?

Consider when Jesus told Peter to come to him from the boat in Matthew 14:31. Peter walked on the water but when he looked around he started to sink. Jesus extended his hand said, “O you of little faith why did you doubt?” The context of James 1:6-8 certainly applies here. The one doubting is described in verse 7 – 8. Let us accept the fact that there are some things God has done. The way He accomplished his purpose we may not understand. But not understanding and doubting what God says and the way He has done things are totally different. May we pray to understand as we increase our faith and not doubt what is revealed in Scripture.

-Jimmy Frasier

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In God We Trust

March 11, 2010 by  
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The phrase, “In God We Trust”, is found on the United States’ currency.  I fear it will not be there for very much longer.  Why?  As a nation, the majority seems to have lost their trust in God. The polls suggest a majority of Americans still believe in God, but how can anyone have faith in someone or something they no longer trust.  We know the biblical definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”(NASB).  Thus, we have the difference in belief and faith; trust!  Do we really trust God?  When we receive a promise and feel assured the promise will be delivered, we must necessarily trust the promise giver.

In Joshua 1, God spoke to Joshua encouraging him to be strong and courageous in the face of the daunting task of taking the promised land.  In His encouragement, He promised Joshua something that would bolster his courage; in verse 5 He tells him – “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”  What it came down to; did Joshua merely believe in God or did he believe God.  Did he trust God when He said to enter the land which He was giving the people; the land of promise?  The question we all have to ask ourselves is, do we just acknowledge God or do we really believe Him and trust Him?

When we read about the examples of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we read about people who really trusted God.  God had made each of them promises.  Each acted boldly based on their trust that God would keep His promises.  Verse 13 tells us they trusted in God and His promises though they died without seeing the promises fulfilled.  God has made us promises.  Do we trust Him so as to act boldly based on those promises even if we do not see them fulfilled in this physical life?

This is a time in my life when I see the world not knowing who to trust anymore.  Marriages fail due to a violation of the trust spouses place in each other.  We see our current financial crisis because individuals with great power have violated the trust placed in them.  Many see our government in what appears to be a complete shambles, so they have lost their trust in its ability to govern effectively anymore.  When all else fails and when our trusted companions let us down, we can still trust in our God.  We may not see the results we long for while on this earth, but do not construe this to mean that the results will not come.  I often ask myself, do I want what I want now because I have placed too much emphasis on the here and now, or do I trust God to keep His most precious promise in the judgment?  I strive to have a faith like Paul’s when he said in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “… for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (NASB).

I take great comfort in the words of Jesus when He spoke to Thomas about you and me in John 20:29 – “…Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”(NASB).  As a part of that faith, we must truly trust in God and Jesus to fulfill the promises made to us all.  True faith and trust comes from knowledge of God and the history of His promise keeping.  This knowledge is not found in philosophy or secular education; it is found in the Bible according to Romans 10:17.  God has revealed Himself to us through His Word.  But even beyond that, He has revealed Himself to us through His creation.  Romans 1:18-22 tells us that God’s creation reveals His power, and by its very existence, man knows God.  Verse 20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  Verse 21 tells us that some did not acknowledge God because of their futile speculations and their hearts became darkened.  Verse 22 says “Professing to be wise, they became fools.”  I am reminded of the Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, who while in space said he did not see God up there.  Yet, astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders of Apollo 8, chose to read from Genesis 1 about God’s creation.  As Romans 1 tells us, some may come to distrust God to the point they no longer acknowledge God.  Their hearts have become darkened.

Let’s all be guided by the wisdom found in Proverbs 3:5-8 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.”  Do I possess all knowledge and all understanding? No! But I do know God and am determined to obey His will whether I understand it completely or not.  It’s a matter of trust.

In God we must trust!

-Ron Adams

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