November 2, 2014
In this issue: "I Will Give You Rest" by Robert Notgrass | Faithfulness Does Matter by Sam Willcut
by Robert Notgrass
The world cannot understand Americans. Considering all of our society, Americans have the greatest prosperity and highest standard of living known in any sizable society on earth. In fact, history has never known a sizable nation that had our standard of living. Yet, depression is common in America. Among both young and the old, suicide is significant. Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, sexually transmitted disease, promiscuity, dysfunctional families, one parent families, rejection of commitment, dishonesty, and a lack of integrity and character are sources of major social problems.
How can a society with so much, experience so many serious problems? This is why many of the world’s societies cannot understand. In their societies, the majority live in poverty with minimal human rights and to them, the combination of prosperity and human rights produce a wonderful society. America has that combination. So, why do we not enjoy our wonderful existence? It is because these things do not eliminate stress. Our country uses alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sexual indulgences and other things in an attempt to escape stress. Family relationships fail to nurture and sustain healthy love and acceptance and therefore, this brings forth the stress of loneliness, rejection, and despair. Thus, many are in distress.
In the first century, Jesus once invited the burdened of Jewish society to come to him (Matthew 11:28–30). His guidance would unburden their lives. He was gentle and humble and through him they would find rest. Rest! What a wonderful word! What a beautiful concept! Rest is the opposite of stress. Stress is the enemy of rest and here Jesus produces rest in a burdened life by taking the burdens. Therefore, it is easier to serve Jesus than it is to be enslaved to burdens. And, if we as Christians wish to validate the gospel and capture the attention of the masses, all we need to do is to allow Jesus to give us rest for stressed out Christians cannot communicate the peace and healing of the gospel.
Jesus said, “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Now, we know there is rest of salvation or justification. This is the rest of deliverance from the slavery and bondage of sin, the power of Christ to conquer the enslaving habits that damage the human body and destroy the human soul. It is the rest of conscience that comes to a person’s soul when he ceases his struggle in the wilderness of sin by obeying Him. But notice, Jesus mentions rest twice: “Ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This rest is not referring to a rest of inactivity. It is a rest of refreshment: a rest of refreshing one’s body, mind, and spirit. It is a rest that fits one for life: a rest that infuses a person with true purpose, meaning, and significance. It is a rest of encouragement and motivation of soul: a rest that stirs a person to live and undertake his God– given task with enthusiasm and vigor and endurance.
Let me suggest to you that when you are stressed that you let your life demonstrate that Christ destroys stress. Second, never distress each other. Third, do not promote or endorse ungodliness because evil creates stress. Third, commit to honesty, integrity, and character and learn how to help each other with life’s burdens. ~
by Sam Willcut
If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?
As Paul teaches us in the above quote from Romans 8:31, when we put our absolute faith and trust in God, we will not need to worry or fear whatever happens in our lives. In understanding the providential care and power of God, we may learn several great lessons that the Bible illustrates.
First, numbers do not matter. In a world filled with wickedness to the point that God was determined to destroy it, He found one faithful man named Noah and his family. The wickedness described among the countless millions of people (as many have estimated) compared to the faithfulness of Noah probably was indescribable. God could have very well killed Noah also, “but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Think about one family among so many wicked. Moreover, we learn this lesson from Abraham in Genesis 14, who took his army of 318 trained servants and rescued Lot among all the people captured in the war of four kings versus five kings. Because of this glorious victory among so many nations, not only did the five kings come to meet Abraham, but also Melchizedek, king of Salem, came to meet this hero. In addition, we learn this lesson from Gideon in Judges 7. God Himself viewed the army of 32,000 Israelites as too many and whittled the army down to just three hundred to fight against the Midianites that “came as grasshoppers for multitude; for they and their camels were without number” (Judg. 6:5). What a great victory ensued, because with God, numbers do not matter.
Second, size does not matter. When the Israelites and the Philistines warred with each other in First Samuel 17, the Philistine champion named Goliath challenged the Israelites to a simple one-on-one match for supremacy. Nevertheless, at the barking words of this heathen, all of the people of God “were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (1 Sam. 17:11). It took a “youth” (1 Sam. 17:33) named David with enough faith in God to defeat this massive man, whose stature was over nine feet tall.
Third, age does not matter. In the midst of some of the most wicked kings of Israel and Judah, a boy named Josiah of just eight years took the throne of Judah (2 Kings 22:1). When he was a teenager of sixteen, “he began to seek after the God of David, his father,” and when he was twenty, “he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images” (2 Chron. 34:3). When he was twenty-six (26), the book of the law was found in the temple, and he revolutionized the nation by cleansing the country of idolatry and reestablishing the Passover. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25).
Fourth, gender does not matter. While one might think most of the faithful heroes recorded in the Bible are male, do not forget about the wonderful females that exemplified the righteousness of God. Esther literally saved the Israelites single-handedly. Deborah was the savior of the people, serving as one of the judges of the land. The mother of Moses, Jochebed, hid her son against the laws of the Egyptian land. Rahab saved the Israelites from the Canaanites. A woman named Jael contributed to the victory of the Israelites by killing the enemy captain, Sisera (Judg. 4:17-21).
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). ~