A Heart for Action

Most people who believe in God have a heart that shares His compassion.  They also have a sense of awe and reverence for What and Who He is.  But it isn’t just enough to have this in your mind and in your heart.  It must create in you a desire to act upon this knowledge and those feelings.  Jesus said that the heart is where things come from that identify what a man is or becomes.  He was speaking of things that defile, but the opposite is true, as well.  Those things that eventually result in our righteousness begin in our hearts.  Those responses are things spoken of by David in the 100th Psalm. 

David’s relationship with God led him to respond in several ways, the first being that he praised God by shouting joyfully.  He was thankful for the blessings showered on him by the Lord and he shouted praises to Him for it.  The second thing David says is serve the Lord with gladness.  The serving part isn’t that unknown.  Many people serve God and other causes.  Some serve out of sense of obligation and others for self promotion.  If not for that they wouldn’t serve.  But the true servant of God, one pleasing in His sight is the one serving with gladness.  One who is full of joy knowing that Jesus Christ served us first in going to the cross of Calvary. 

“Come to God”, David says in verse 2.  This invitation is extended to all.  Indeed this is God’s desire for all people.  He doesn’t want any to be lost.  Sadly though there are going to be those who will not accept His invitation.  Those that do however will follow up by entering into his presence with thanksgiving and praise vs.4, acknowledging that He is truly their Lord and creator; that He is good and filled with a lovingkindness that endures forever.  How do you respond to God?  I can’t answer that question for you but know that God is waiting for you to turn to him in your hearts, in your minds and with your actions.

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

Unity With God

Unity, it’s what Christ prayed for.  But what exactly was Jesus praying for?  In John 17, we read “That they may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.”

It’s clear that the unity prayed for by Jesus, once achieved, was for the benefit of being fruitful in spreading the Gospel to the lost.  But how do we attain that unity?  How do we become like Christ and the Father and thus go about having the world believe that God sent Jesus to us and eventually the cross of Calvary?  Our lesson this past week covered several unities, but constraints here allow elaboration on only one, possibly the most important and that is unity with the personality with God. 

We often hear people say, “He is a chip off the old block,” “He’s just like his father,” or “She’s just like her mother.”  We have the tendency to demonstrate or take on the personality and characteristics of our parents, do we not?  Just as we do that in the physical realm we certainly do that in the spiritual realm.  In John 8:44 we find Jesus telling the Jews that they were of their father the devil.  This was evident to Him by their actions and their failure to love Him.  They held to traits or their spiritual father.

  Once we are born again, a new creation, have the right to be called a child of God we will begin to demonstrate characteristics of our heavenly Father.  Just to name a few, God is loving and forgiving, God cares about the spiritual well-being of others, God cares for the physical well-being of others and God is holy.  These traits are also seen in His children.  God’s children are loving and forgiving, caring about the spiritual and physical well-being of others and seeking to be holy.  With these traits in place, the unity prayed for by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane will have begun, and so with it the ability for the world to see that Jesus is the sent one from God.

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

The Abomination of Same-Sex Marriage

Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made the male and female, and said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife;”… Matthew 19:4-5a 

Our lesson last week addressed an issue that continues to gain national attention.  Should same sex marriages be recognized by the U.S.  Thirty of our states have enacted legislation already making it clear that marriages are made up of a man and a woman; however they do not preclude drafting legislation that provides for “civil unions”.  We have seen this passed in Vermont and very possibly Massachusetts in the near future. 

I ask you, how did we get here?  Why do we have to face this abomination in what began as a country that feared and revered God and respected the authority of His word.  The answer is quite simple really.  Either we have as a country decided our ways are better than God’s or we, who respect God and His ways, just haven’t put our foot down and let our voices be heard!  Which category do you fit in?  We have heard from our President, the leader of our country and I stand with him. 

I reflect over the last 3 decades at how the sin of the homosexual lifestyle has been presented, gently at first, primarily in sitcoms.  First we had a man pretending to be gay, so that he could share an apartment with two women.  Then there was the parody of soap operas, called SOAP with a character that was gay and it continues to worsen.  We now have shows entitled, Queer Folk, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and with the proliferation of reality dating shows; we will have an opportunity now to see “Boy meets Boy” this fall.   This has lead men and women wanting the right to marry their same sex partners. Where will this all end?  How can we expect God to bless America when America presents this abomination and detestable lifestyle before Him as acceptable?  It’s time for God’s people to be heard!  Homosexuality is sin and the practice of it prevents on from inheriting the kingdom of God.

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

The Strength of the Lord

I’m exhausted!  Have you ever been down-right “bone-tired”?  You aren’t alone.  Most people, if not all, have found themselves like that at some point in their lives.  What we may not realize though is that this affliction also happens to us spiritually! We read in Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait {or have their hope in} for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up {with} wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (NAS) 

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard that passage before, and isn’t it a great promise.  When we encounter fatigue or discouragement in our Christian journey, we can take great comfort in the words of Isaiah!  The Lord will strengthen us and has compared it to three types of situations.  First, we will soar like the eagles, majestically without any seeming effort at all.  High in the sky, you see them as they spread their wings and seem to float on the air.

Secondly, we will run and not get tired.  I know that you realize that this is not a normal condition of a person running a race, for we all get tired, in the physical sense.  But remember, we are now applying this to the spiritual aspect of life.  In our Christian marathon, we will run into “the wall” of sin, but we know that with the help of our loving God we will through that “wall” with His strength to carry us.  (1Cor 10:13)

      And finally, we see that we will “walk and not grow weary.”  Our walk with God takes on many forms.  Sometimes we soar without effort, at other times we sprint or run the race set before us.  And there are the times we take a leisurely stroll.  The thing to remember is that with God we will have our strength renewed and that we can press on forward to the goal that is our salvation that we find in Christ Jesus.  I would encourage you, as you walk with God that you maintain that forward momentum, never faltering and above all never go backward!  Trust in Him who leads the way to carry you through to the end of our life’s journey.

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter

Take God’s Advice

One of the things we dread in life is the unsolicited advice offered by friends, acquaintances and family.  It’s not always unwelcome and there are even occasions when we seek advice from those we trust.  This was our topic for study last week and we drew from the text of Jeremiah 6:16.  There are several things the Lord gave advice on through this man of God to those who were chosen of God to be His people.  The text is – Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk {in it}.’”

In God’s call for reviving their relationship with Him they were advised to stand by the way and look for something.  It isn’t the easiest thing to look for something when actively involved in other areas, so the Lord says “stop” and look.  But what are we to look for?  In addition to looking the Lord adds asking.  We are to seek “the ancient paths, where the good way is.” 

I have been led to believe in the past that we should seek the paths of our heritage, sometimes from recent history, while other times directed to the early church activities found in the New Testament.  The passage of study however directs us to “ancient paths”.  A path is where one walks.  I can’t help but think about passages where men of God walked with Him.  Men like Enoch, Noah and Abraham.  These were also men of faith.  The ancient paths are too often looked at in regard to their actions rather than the faith that resulted in their actions.  Do we not refer to our new Christian life as a walk of faith?  Do we not “walk by faith, not by sight?”  I believe the “ancient paths, the good way, where rest for our souls is found” is the path of faith.  When we put our faith in God it will manifest itself, or make itself known by our actions as described in the book of James, chapter 2, when he says, “Faith without works is dead.”   

The latter part of the verse shows a rejection of God in that those addressed by Jeremiah stated, “I will not walk in it.”  What will you do?

Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter