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Archive for July, 2014

YES – I’m not an Optimist!

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38,39
      The apostle Paul who penned these words was fully “persuaded” about the love of God in Christ Jesus, and so am I.  There are times that people ask why I’m always smiling.  “You must be a positive person – an optimist.”  In which I reply, “No – I am a Christian.  A Christian goes far beyond an optimist.”
      It is obvious that our world is falling apart.  Murders, wars, health-care cost and gas prices are out of sight while politicians fight.  Advances in technology that make life easier have made life more hectic.  As far as “free speech,” the New Age Gestapo and the P.C. Police are around every corner squashing it.  This is definitely not Jimmy Stewart’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” that we are living in.
      We are flooded with opinions about how to deal with societal depression and how to fix our problems.  There are self-help books and seminars about how to reach for a “higher life,” a “deeper life,” or a “meaningful life.”  They can’t decide which life to sell, but they sell them anyway.   Terms like optimist, realist, or idealist are used to convey positive thinking in a pessimistic world.  Obviously there is no power in negative thinking, but the power of positive thinking relating to this world is an uncertain hope – a “hope so” hope.  Where as the Christian has a “know so” hope grounded on the sure foundation of God’s promises.  That is a bright eternal hope, which will never fade away because it looks forward with certainty.  It will make you smile knowing that you have the “…hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2).  The Christian hope is in the Sovereign God who created us, saved us, and who is working out “all things” for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
      Christian stay informed and pray, but while the “talking-heads” talk, the politician’s fight, and the P.C. Police hand out their “tolerance tickets,” just be “persuaded” that no power shall be able to separate you from the love of God.  Even though we still have to deal with the mess of life, deal with it by talking with Christ in your heart and a smile of grace upon your face.  A Christian is far beyond an optimist, simply because a Christian trusts in God’s promises.  “Yes, I’m not an optimist – I’m a Christian!”  An optimist is too pessimistic and short sighted.  Lift up your eyes child of God and rejoice – YOU are a Christian!  –  (Published in the Marshall County Tribune)
David C. Hale, pastor
New Life Community Church
1001 Easy Street
Lewisburg, TN 37091

Speak to the Rock!

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather the assembly and speak unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water… and Moses took the rod from before the LORD… and said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank.”

Numbers 20:7-11

 

In our passage, Moses was instructed to “speak” to the rock. Instead Moses in anger spoke to the people, and smote the rock disobeying the LORD God.

Now think with me!  Is not Moses at fault?  So why would God command Moses to take the rod if he was commanded only to “speak” to the rock? Understand that the rod of God was identified with judgment. It was the same rod used in judgment against the Egyptians. Also the rod was used to strike the rock some thirty-eight years earlier (Exodus 17), which pictured the judgment that was to come upon Christ “our Rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Moses was commanded to “speak” to the rock in order to show grace, but instead he struck the rock with the rod of judgment and that was emblematic of re-crucifying Christ.   God is not pleased with man-made religious rituals that re-sacrifice His Son. God’s children are “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Only one sacrifice for sin and therefore the rock was to be smitten only once.

Clearly, this is teaching that judgment is in the background when grace is given. If judgment did not lurk in the background then how would we understand God’s amazing and sovereign grace? Israel seeing the rod may fear, yet if Moses spoke to the rock it would produce a river of grace. Moses in anger struck the rock – but God graciously did not withhold water from the people.   Nevertheless, the reaction of Moses was not without consequences. Moses did not sanctify God’s holiness before the people and therefore he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12).

We all need to be reminded that God’s holiness will never be compromised. Wonder of wonders it is that God in His sovereign purpose gives grace to the lost in a way that does not violate His holiness and His purpose, through His Son Jesus Christ. That is why Christ “our Rock” was smitten on the cross, which both satisfies God’s holy justice and reconciles lost sinners. What a plan! The Holy God remains holy, and sinners receive abundant grace. I hope you can see that it is a joy for God to pour out abundant grace for those who “speak” to the Rock.    (Printed in the Marshall County Tribune)

 

David C. Hale, pastor

New Life Community Church

Lewisburg, TN 37091

“Rock-water”

“Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it that the people may drink.” Exodus 17:6

 

Many times in our Christian walk God leads us into difficult situations for us to depend upon Him. In Exodus 17 Israel was led into a desert by God for them to demonstrate their faith. Instead, they murmured and rebelled. They sinned before God, but what did God do? God said to Moses, “I will stand before thee there upon the rock.” What an astonishing statement! God by His free will stood upon the rock identifying with the rock that was to be smitten, which also meant that God identified with these rebellious sinners. Instead of smiting the rebels, the LORD instructs Moses to smite the rock. If the LORD justly smote the rebels there would be a river of blood in the desert, but rather the LORD God condescended to show grace and love toward His people. As Moses lifts the rod of judgment and strikes the rock, water came out for the people to drink. God stood upon the rock to take the judgment for His people so that a river of life-giving water would flow out to them.

It’s truly a miracle for water to come out of a rock. Going to a rock for water is not natural. Marshall County is full of rock, but you cannot find one rock giving water. You may find some wet rocks around Rock Creek, but not a life-giving rock producing water. What a miracle! No one would expect water from a dry desert rock.

This miracle had even a greater meaning because it is an object lesson pre-figuring the Christ who would identify Himself with sinners by being smitten upon the cross in their place.   Can you see Christ in this account?   Clearly, the Old Testament and the New Testament are all about Christ if we have the spiritual eyes to see it. There are bloodstained pages from Genesis to Revelation, and the blood is the blood of Christ. When we miss Christ, we miss the message. The apostle Paul makes this clear when he comments on Exodus 17.   Paul said that Israel “drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ 1 Corinthians 10:4.

Dear child of God, Christ did much more than just pay for your sins at Calvary?   When He was smitten upon the cross, a river of free grace flowed out of Him and it continues to flow in order to cleanse you, and to refresh you as you walk in this filthy world. That is why Christ our “Rock-water” miraculously revives, rejuvenates, regenerates, and refreshes the soul now and eternally. Are you thirsty? Come to the Rock!  – (Printed in the Marshall County Tribune)

David C. Hale, pastor

New Life Community Church

Lewisburg, TN

A Tale of Twin Sisters

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
1 Peter 1:21

The believer in Christ has been graciously given faith and hope as a powerful gift to be used in this life. Faith and Hope works together as twin-sisters. Faith helps us in the moment, while Hope encourages us toward the future. Faith and Hope are never negligent in their duties for the believer. When sister Faith is struggling, sister Hope encourages the believer of the future promises of God found in Christ. When sister Hope is quiet, then sister Faith speaks up and reminds us of the promises that God has already kept for Christ’s sake.
The world speaks about a faith and hope that is worthless. It is a restless faith and an unsure hope. A restless faith is a self motivating faith that comes and goes with ones feelings when obstacles arise. An unsure hope is base upon uncertain knowledge of the future, which leads to a “hope so” kind of hope. Biblical faith does not look at the obstacles, but rather looks to God. Biblical hope is not a “hope so,” but rather a “know so” hope in the sure promises of God.
Many try to stir up faith and hope within themselves, by having faith in their faith and hope in their hope. Many try to convince themselves of faith and hope by striving to do better. This may be sincere, but it is in vain. Our faith and hope is only as good and strong as our object. Having faith, and hope in one’s self, or in another person, or even in a church organization is worthless. Once again, our faith and hope is only as good, and only as strong as our object, and at the end of our scripture it clearly teaches that the object of our faith and hope “might be in God.”
A dear elderly woman expressed such faith and hope in her life toward God that some one said to her, “I believe that if you thought the Lord told you to jump through a stone wall, you would jump.” The lady replied, “if the Lord told me to jump through a wall, it would be my business to jump, and it would be His business to make the hole.”
Although we do not understand every step that we must take in this world, we do know that sister Faith and sister Hope are there to help us persevere in this wicked world. These twin sister are held together by the common cord of LOVE, according to 1 Cor 13:13, and they work together to remind us that a “real faith” that works, is in the God who raised Christ from the dead, and a “real hope” is in the God who gave Christ glory, according to 1 Peter 1:21.  – (Printed in the Marshall County Tribune)

David C. Hale, pastor

New Life Community Church

Lewisburg, TN

“Three-sixteen”

 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:16

 

As Christian we all know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”   Now how many of you know Revelation 3:16? What an interesting contrast!   In one “three-sixteen” God is giving His only begotten Son so that we should not perish, while in another “three-sixteen” God is regurgitating a church out of His mouth for a lukewarm spirit.

As Christians we need to be aware of things that pull us away from following the LORD, and one of the most dangerous things in our Christian life is indifference. In Revelation 3:16 the word “lukewarm” is used. Being “lukewarm” or “indifferent” to the spiritual things of God comes from an apathetic spirit toward God’s sovereign love in John 3:16.   Indifference is dangerous because it allows doubt and unbelief to grow and fester. Indifference is dangerous because it is hard to notice, it’s like a chameleon always changing colors. Indifference is dangerous because it whispers the lie, “oh, it’ll be okay.” A good illustration is Kris and his truck.

One day Kris saw an old pick-up truck in a field and thought it would be nice to have a work truck to haul his stuff. So Kris bought this old truck at a cheap price. All it needed was a few adjustments. Kris drove this truck around for a few weeks and one day his father rode with him. His father asked, “What is that awful smell – that stench?” Kris said, “I know it’s bad, but just roll your window down and it’ll be okay.” A couple weeks later Kris was driving down the road when to his surprise a fat, long snake came out from under the passengers seat and slithered upon the dash while he was driving. He immediately pulled over, grabbed a tire tool to get the snake out and killed it.

I fear that among God’s people that there are seasons of indifference, in which we apathetically go through the motions of praising, praying, and preaching without Christ’s leadership.   All the while indifference is saying, “just roll your window down, it’ll be okay.” How long will we drive down life’s road with the horrible smell of sin and that Old Serpent called the Devil underneath our seat. Dear Christian do not slight the sin of indifference because it makes God nauseous. The good news is that the same sovereign God in Revelation 3:16 who would have every right to spit us out is also the same sovereign God of John 3:16 who loves us beyond explanation, and if you come to Him through Christ and confess your indifference He will renew your spirit.  –  (Printed in the Marshall County Tribune)

David C. Hale, pastor

New Life Community Church

Lewisburg, TN