The following is by one of our members, Matt Robison. He delivered this meditation before we took communion yesterday morning, Feb. 10th. We are sharing it here because it is an excellent reminder of God's goodness to us throughout time and at the communion table.
The promise of land to Israel was always a promise of food, always described as a land flowing with milk and honey. God has always provided food for his people, from the very beginning when, on the third day of creation, the dry land immediately began producing fruit and grain.
In the wilderness, Israel was literally provided with bread from heaven. And the first thing Joshua and the people do, after they pass through the waters of the Jordan, into the promised land, is to celebrate a feast. They celebrated Passover. And then they acted as if the land were already theirs.
"While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." (Joshua 5:10-12)
This was was a pretty bold move. The feasting would leave the people open to attack. They had not fought any battles, nor had they planted a single garden, nor had they won rest from their enemies. But the land was already a place for feasting. When they formally began the conquest, they had already been acting as if the conquest was over. The land was theirs.
The Lord had provided a table in the midst of their enemies. And just because the Manna stopped, that didn’t mean something fundamental about the source of the food had changed.
Look at Deut. 11:10-12. "For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year."
Their food still came from the Lord. It was still His blessing upon them. The food was still very much heavenly food, drinking the water from the heavens, as opposed to the irrigated water of the Nile. The milk and honey of the land was food from heaven, just as dependent upon the Lord’s generosity, and just as miraculous as the Manna. Remember, it is God who gives the increase.
This meal we partake of now is just as bold as that first meal in the promised land. The Lord has prepared this table in the midst of our enemies. And just like the Israelites, we have a promised inheritance, though ours is a better one, one that encompasses all things. And just like the Israelites, we feast in the midst of that promised inheritance.
We feast on the true bread from heaven: Jesus. We sit at a table of a greater Joshua, one who has drawn us through the waters of Jordan in baptism. We are His, and He is ours, and so everything is ours, as Paul tells us at the end of 1 Cor. 3 We do not yet see everything put under the feet of Jesus, but we see enough. Because we eat and drink in faith.
And like the Israelites we will rise up from this feast, confident of our victory. Confident of the consummation of our inheritance. Confidant that we will be more than conquerors. Confident that, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow.
So take and eat the bread and drink the cup. And welcome to Jesus Christ.
- Matt Robison
As believers living in a world filled with sin, it can become pretty discouraging at times and hard to escape Satan’s fiery darts. Even at our best attempts to avoid it, we may fall prey to the pitfalls of sin. We turn on the TV and sin is there. It’s at our jobs, in our schools, and even in some churches. In fact, many of us don’t have to leave home to know the impacts of sin. Let’s face it: sin is everywhere, and the troubles of this world will eventually come our way.
Jesus said in Galatians 6.2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” To bear one another’s burdens is a command from God. The Greek word for “burden” means excess burden or burdens. It gives the illustration of something so heavy that it weighs us down. These are things that could crush even the strongest in the faith. When we bear or carry another’s burden, we lighten the load so that a brother or sister can get through whatever is weighing them down.
The word “load” means cargo in the Greek. Can we imagine carrying a load of cargo on our backs alone? Bearing one another’s burden doesn’t mean we get entangled with the load. It means we lend a helping hand so that the burden of the load might be lessened. We are to share in the cares and anxieties of one another with love and compassion. Roman 12:15 reads, “Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.” At some point in this Christian journey, we will fall under the weight of sin. And when we do, we should never be alone, but look to one another to fulfill the law of Christ.
- Kristopher Sanders, minister
"For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, `Do not be afraid'" (Acts 27:23-24a)
Paul was a prisoner on his way to Rome for trial. The ship he was traveling on had been tossed by a hurricane force wind for several days. God sent comfort to Paul so that he would not despair. As He passes the good news on to the others that they would not die, Paul mentions God - "to whom I belong and whom I serve."
To Whom I Belong
Christians belong to God. We have been purchased by the blood of Christ. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Some are unwilling to belong to the Lord. They belong to their jobs, their spouse, their children, their hobbies, etc. Most simply belong to themselves. They do what they want, not what GOD wants. Many are controlled by sin. " ...do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts" (Romans 6:12).
And Whom I Serve
Never forget that, because children of God belong to God, we have a duty to do all that He asks us to do. Paul served God because he belonged to Him. "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey? Whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” (Rom. 6:16) When we understand that we have given control of our lives to God, we will obey and serve Him in ALL things.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1).
To whom do YOU belong?
- Roger Hillis, evangelist
"...the heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days. And he brought into the house of the Lord the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels." (1 Kings 15:14-15)
The story of those gold & silver vessels becomes a bit of a theme throughout the story of Israel and God. Through the books of Kings & Chronicles, as various monarchs give away parts of the set, we get the impression that they are giving away part of their national relationship with God. And when the vessels are finally taken away by the king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-13 & 25:14-15), it is because the people have so fully rejected God that their home and their nation must be wrenched from their hands.
The evident problem with all of this is that these vessels were used for worship, and to see the people giving them away shows the extremely low value that they place on that worship. It reminds us that honest, heartfelt worship should always have a place of prominence in our lives. When we love God, we worship him. And conversely, when we do not worship him, it indicates our lack of love for him. King Asa's addition to the vessels of worship speaks to his deep appreciation of God's worthiness, and it is a lesson for us. To neglect worship is to neglect God himself. We dare not treat our worship with the same negligence as Israel's kings treated the Temple vessels.
- Dan Lankford, minister
There is a pervasive belief in Western society that life should be lived on two levels: the personal arena and the public arena. It is as though we live in a two-story house where we can go from floor to floor, but we can’t be in both places at the same time. And so the belief is that some things are—and should remain—only in the private sector of our lives. Chief among them: religion and all of its accompanying convictions.
Of course, Biblically-minded Christians have a problem with this world-view. Because the life teachings of the Bible are not just meant to be a matter of private conviction. They are meant to be sum total of our existence, including the way that our friends—and even the enemies of our faith—know us.
When the Holy Spirit speaks of religion, we don’t get the sense that he wants it to be a private affair. He warns us not to make a show of ourselves (Mt. 23:5), but we must also be impressed by the number of times that Christians are just noticed for living differently. Paul, Peter, and others suffered persecution simply because they were living good Christian lives and others saw that. The “two levels” of their lives both belonged to Jesus Christ.
Now, there may be times when Christian’s faith is justifiably kept secret (see John 19:38), but they are extreme circumstances. Until such a time as that comes in your life, be a Christian all the time. Let Christ be king in your private life and public interactions, “so that others may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
- Dan Lankford, minister
"If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31b)
The sentence above is made up of two clauses, and each one of them contains an important reminder—one to drive us on to diligent faithful living; the other to assure us that living like that is worth it.
"If God is for us..." means we must be in a proper relationship with him—one in which we are for him and he is for us. If we are against him, why should we demand that he should be for us? When we live as we should, we demonstrate that we are living for him. So as long as we are trying to do that, we can know with certainty that he is for us.
"...who can be against us?" There are obviously some people who will be against us; persecution is an eternal problem for God's people. But the rhetorical question (and the rest of the context at the end of Romans) shows us very clearly that their efforts will not stand. Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against his church (Mt. 16:18), and Peter said these words: "Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed." (1 Pet. 3:13-14)
So today, give your best effort to live for God as you should, and as you do that, find peace and assurance in his promise that he is for you and no one else can stand against you.
- Dan Lankford, minister
I recently read in an article where a Tennessee minister concluded: “The Bible is the best-selling, least-read, and least-understood book in the world.” In his view and experience, “Biblical illiteracy is rampant.” I am not a pollster on religious matters, but I would have to agree with this preacher. “We revere the Bible,” he says, “but we don’t read it.”
In a recent survey, 64 percent of those questioned said they were “too busy” to read the Bible. The average household has three Bibles, but less than half the people in the United States can name the first book in the Old Testament. One survey found that 12 percent of Christians identified Noah’s wife as Joan of Arc!
So, what is the solution to biblical illiteracy? The simple answer is to read the Bible! We all have busy lives but failing to include God in our business can ultimately lead to sin. The Noble Bereans studied daily. “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) All of us could take 15 to 30 minutes to follow a daily reading regimen of God’s Word. The same amount of exercise time that many doctors say could extend your life span. Well what about our eternal life span?
We all need to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). If we have not been studying God’s word, let us make a commitment today to put Him first so that we can grow in the truth and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Kristopher Sanders, minister
There’s a new show premiering on February 12, called Miracle Workers. The cable channel on which it will run offers this description: “A comedy set in the offices of Heaven, Inc. When God plans to destroy the Earth, two low-level angels must convince their boss to save humanity. They bet him they can pull off their most impossible miracle yet: help two humans fall in love.”
It is fascinating (and usually disheartening) to see how the secular world thinks about YHWH God. As evidenced by the quote above, we are tempted to think of Him much like the ancient Greeks thought of their gods: flighty, untrustworthy, and sometimes dangerous. Gods like that play with human lives like a child plays with dolls. We think of them simply as more powerful, more aloof versions of ourselves.
But that’s not at all what the God of the Bible is like.
He does not toy with humanity. He does not throw us into chaos or suffering on a whim. Even at times when he responds suddenly or harshly to humanity, he is never at the mercy of his temper. No, the God of the Bible is solid, steady, and unchanging (Psa. 102:26-27). He does not sleep or slumber (Psa. 121:4), so he is always able to help when we need him. He gives us difficulties, but that is because, like any good father, “he disciplines us for our good.” (Heb. 12:7-10) And most importantly, he loves us (John 3:16).
YHWH God is not petty, flighty, or puny as unbelievers might think of him. He is good, he is loving, and he is holy. And we praise him.
- Dan Lankford, minister
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
For Kris & myself, it is our job to talk about the things of God and how that affects our lives. And as the above quote from the apostle Paul clearly indicates, that commission is anything but inconsequential.
But while it's our job to talk about those things, it's everybody's job to live them. What we preach is supposed to be so aligned with God's will that it is like the words of God himself (1 Peter 4:10-11), and those words have eternal implications for all of our lives.
Kris and I do our best to speak about God's will accurately and clearly so that it can be easily understood by our hearers. Let's make sure that all of us are doing out best to live God's will accurately and humbly so that it be easily seen by others.
- Dan Lankford, minister
Have you ever wondered why God put so much emphasis on the church assembling together? It’s because He knew we needed one another. When we stay in closer relationship with one another, we are sharpened and stirred by one another in our walk with Christ. The scriptures place a lot emphasis on “one another” statements: “exhort or encourage, love and bear with, admonish and greet, accept, and serve one another.”
Worship is a privilege reserved only for the children of God and there are many benefits and blessings received from faithfully attending worship. God has commanded us to assemble weekly to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Hebrews 10:23-27 records, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation.”
When we forsake the assembly of the church except for circumstances beyond our control, we not only disobey God, but we rob ourselves of the benefits that worship affords us. For the Christian, assembling together is a sacred duty, an act of obedience and a blessed privilege. I saw a quote that asked this question: “If the church were your job would you still be employed”?
- Kristopher Sanders, minister