Yes! There Is Good News!
Bill Rollins has been publishing each week a column in the local Elk Horn, Iowa paper for the past several years.
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Note the original publication date on each blog post
How powerful are words?
Concerning His own “words,” God said this, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” Wow! That is a long time. In our previous article I mentioned that God spoke and the heavens and the earth were created. God’s words are powerful!!
Here is how the apostle John begins his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” We may wonder what John is saying here but he goes on to explain, “(this Word) was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came unto His own but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who receive Him, to those
who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God; born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” I think it is especially interesting that John is inspired, by the Spirit of God, to call the one who would become the Savior, by the term “the Word.” (John 1:1-14)
Yes, God’s word is the ultimate in power and authority. It is by His words that we truly have life, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” That everyone of us can have access to this word of His is truly a gift from God. We have access to the written word of God because down through the ages men have given their lives to ensure its availability. For a very
modest amount of money, we may have this treasure to hold in our hands! But we have access to the true and living Word of God, Jesus Christ. It is interesting how the Bible describes this access to the Living Word.
In John 6:44 Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Earlier in this same chapter we read, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37) And then once more in verse 65, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has given it to him.”
Access to this Living Word – Jesus Christ – is limited to the will of the Father. I feel compelled to say, “Thank you, Father, for drawing me to your Son.”
If you run across a new word that you have never used before, it is easy to get a dictionary and find its meaning. (Oh, I know, nobody uses the dictionary anymore; you just ask Siri for the definition and bingo, you have it.) But what if you want to come to know the true and living Word? That is where the written word comes in. Are you a curious person? Are you one who wants to add to your knowledge? The written word of God is a true treasure, filled with knowledge and understanding. What? It’s not easy, you say? All things of value take hard work to attain. But God is always there to help. It may not be immediate, for God wants us to seek Him with all our heart.
Don’t go away folks; there’s still more to come!
The words we speak are important! We say many things in the course of the day; some of them are off the cuff and some of them are deliberately formed to try and get across a point. I would go on to say that words are powerful – I believe you have heard the saying that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” So, if words have power, how should we form and evaluate the words that we speak on a daily basis?
Let us first consider God’s words. Genesis 1:3 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” If we look at each of the six days of creation, we see that they all begin with, “And God said.” God spoke the universe into existence. God’s word is powerful – He speaks and things happen.
I am always struck by the scriptures wherein the words, “thus declares the LORD” end a very powerful lesson or correction. God speaks and He means what He says!!
One particular piece of scripture gives me great excitement whenever I read it and I ask you to pay attention to how it ends: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath, and from doing your pleasure on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall find your joy in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13 – 14)
So what about our words? In Matthew 12:36 Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Now, there’s a scripture to pay attention to! What kind of things come out of our mouths on a daily basis? What kind of careless words do we say?
I am sure that every one of us, reading this article, has spoken words that have gotten us into trouble. And it’s a kind of trouble that is not always easy to undo. Two verses before this in Matthew 12, Jesus makes a very interesting comment, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” In other words, if our hearts are filled with evil things, then evil words come out of the mouth. Again Jesus puts it this way, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
Well, then, perhaps we should consider what is in our hearts – we should examine our hearts. Solomon wrote the book of wisdom which we call Proverbs. In the first eight chapters he make 10 paternal appeals and in chapter 4, toward the end, he says this, “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Thank you Solomon!! Shall we look more closely at this next time?
Yes! There is Good News! 4.26.19
Yes! There is Good News!
by Bill Rollins
original post date: 4.26.19
Have you ever noticed that we human beings seem to “seek the LORD” only when we are in trouble? “O, LORD if you will only get me out of this jam, I will do thus and such…….” You fill in the blank! Somehow we seem to think that God is some kind of a deal maker. “I’ll do something for you, God, if you will do this for me.”
Allow me to share with you that this is not how God, who created the universe by His spoken word, works! Sometimes we think that we are mighty big and mighty important people, but If one would care to understand just how big God is and how small we are, this chapter 40 of Isaiah should hit the mark. Verse 14: “Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?” Verse 22: “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in……..to whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He it is who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Yeah, God is an awesome God!!
So let’s get back to our original thought, and ask the question; how and when should we seek this awesome God? Might I suggest that if we sought Him when things were good in our lives, then things might not have to turn sour. Isaiah addresses this idea in chapter 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, for my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
So that’s the when we should seek Him; and as for the how? James tells us in chapter 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” As was said before in this article: David, a man after God’s own heart sought the LORD with great humility.
When all is well, let us seek God’s face. Let us humbly bow before Him and give Him honor and praise and glory; His grace will be ours – for He is God and we are the sheep of His pasture.
How much are you worth? No, I am not interested in your monetary value, but I am interested in the intrinsic value of your life! We could start off with a very familiar scripture and realize that we are “worth more than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:31); but that is not telling us very much.
So, how much is your life worth? “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” We have been looking at Isaiah 53 in our previous articles and this quote is a continuation of that piece of scripture; it is found in verse 5.
I had mentioned that Isaiah 53 is arguably the greatest prophecy of the crucifixion of our Savior in the entirety of the Bible. It fits so closely that many Rabbinical Jews do not know what to do with it – for they reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah and yet…..it fits!!
So, I ask again, how much is your life worth? This “suffering Servant” of the LORD God, this Savior of all mankind, was nailed to a wooden cross for us; “He was pierced for our transgressions.” This Son of God was beaten, spit upon and mocked; “He was crushed for our iniquities." This Redeemer died for you and for me; “Upon him was the punishment that brought us peace.” “And with his stripes we are healed,” healed from the disease of unrighteousness, healed from the sins that lead to death!
Do you begin to see just how much your life is worth? God desires our redemption! God desires that we accept His free gift of grace! God, our Father, sent His only begotten Son as a ransom for our lives! The Bible tells us that God is “unwilling that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
The love of God is not just good news, it is the greatest news that the ears of mankind could hear.
Isaiah continues in verse 6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD had laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” God showed His love for us even when we were yet sinners; even when we turned away from Him; even when we desired nothing but our own ways to walk in!
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Have you ever wanted your own way? Have you ever argued your own opinion to the point where you almost lost a friend? By our human standards, Jesus had every reason to “open His mouth” and state His case – but He didn’t. He submitted to the will of His Father and, “He humbled Himself becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8) Hallelujah, what a Savior!
And so I ask you, what is your life worth in God’s eyes?
I was looking at a scripture yesterday that got me to thinking. It is not an unusual or obscure scripture but one that should be quite familiar. It is found in the Gospel of John chapter 14:1. But before I type it out, let’s fill in a little background.
Jesus has just spent approximately thirty-three and one half years on this earth. Of those years, He has been with the twelve apostles for about three and one half years. When we get to chapter 13 of John we encounter Jesus partaking of His final Passover on this earth and the twelve are gathered around Him.
I’m not sure if the events leading up to this Passover were any different than the others He had spent with the twelve, but He alone knew that this would be a very special Passover; He would be the true Passover Lamb – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
He had been giving the Apostles clues about what was to happen. Four times in the book of Matthew He mentions to them that He would have to suffer and be crucified (16:21, 17:22, 20:18 and 26:2), but they never really comprehended His words. And now in the book of John 13:1 we are told, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father.”
It is appropriate for us to examine this part of scripture at this time of year, for we are only about 3 weeks from the time of Passover. The next line in John 13:1 reads, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” Wow!! The full extent of His love!! And it is that line that leads me into the scripture that I was about to type at the beginning of this article.
Jesus is confronting His imminent death – a most torturous, hideous and painful type of death - death by crucifixion. But at this last Passover meal, His thoughts are upon His disciples and not upon Himself. He takes time to comfort His friends. John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many abodes; if it were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”
Jesus had just washed His disciple’s feet. He shared a meal with them and He brought forth the symbols of His own life – the bread (“Take and eat; this is my body.”) And the cup (“Drink from it all of you, this is my blood of the new covenant.”)
And so He now takes advantage of this precious time with the twelve and begins to teach them some of the most profound things He could ever share with them!! (Read John 14, 15, 16 and 17) And yes, He begins by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. I am reminded of the words of a song, “Hallelujah, what a Savior”.
Yes, there is more to come on this subject
I was reading an article a short time ago on the subject of “balance”. The author was contemplating this busy world in which we live and the struggle we encounter as we strive to deal with balancing the many activities in our lives: family, job, exercise, sleep, entertainment and diet.
Did I leave anything out? Well, yes, I probably did and I’m sure you might be able to add to this list. The question that must be asked here is, where does God fit into our busy schedules? Do we just figure that God has to fit into a one-hour slot when we gather together with others to sing a few songs and listen to a message? Is that all that God deserves?
This article I was reading made this statement, “Your effort to balance life is a waste of time, like striving after the wind. Don’t even try.” And then the author quoted this scripture, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
You see, God does not deserve the leftovers of our lives. The God that we should be serving is the one who is the Creator of all the universe. He is the God that confronted Job and asked where he was when God “laid the foundations of the earth” and the same God who commissioned Isaiah to cry out to His people concerning their sins. He is the one who sent His only begotten Son to die an extremely torturous death so that we might have life. Do we really understand who this God is?
What was it Isaiah said when he realized that the majesty of God was in front of him? What was it that he spoke when the angels that accompanied God cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Is. 6:3) Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Is. 6:5) Did Isaiah realize something at that point? Did his whole life change at that moment? You bet it did! As much as his small human mind could comprehend what he was experiencing at that moment, his whole life took a great pivot Godward!!
Who is this God? Let us read the words of King David, the man after God’s own heart, “Praise to you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hands are power and might to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)
Read that again – slowly! These are true words of praise and honor to the only living God.
Oh - that article I mentioned was written by my son Nathan to his men’s Bible study.
Do you know what I love about that quote from last week’s article? The one in 2 Timothy 3:14-17? It tells us that Timothy learned the Sacred Writings in his childhood. In other words, someone was busy teaching this young child about the salvation of God.
And of course, the message of salvation through a Messiah, sent from the Father, is taught in many places throughout the Old Testament!! Now, if we go back to the first chapter of this letter to Timothy we read this: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Tim. 1:5)
In the book of Acts, chapter 16 we read of Paul coming into contact with Timothy. We are told that he was a disciple, that his mother was a Jewish believer and that his Father was a Greek (possibly not a believer).
This young man was blessed to have a godly mother and a godly grandmother who desired that Timothy know and understand the ways and purposes of God! These women were knowledgeable of the scriptures and so they were familiar with Deuteronomy 4:9, “Be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Isn’t it a beautiful thing that Paul commends both mom and grandma in his letter to Timothy?
God continues with Moses here in Deuteronomy 4:10, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” But God isn’t finished. He knows we have short memories and so in Deuteronomy 6:6, He tells us again, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
One more time God tells of the importance of godly instruction. In Deuteronomy 11:18 He says, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” This last expression: sitting, walking, lying down and rising is used to let us know that we should be teaching our children at every opportunity we get. God was, and still is, serious about this teaching of our children – He mentions it 4 times in these three chapters. And then King David picks up the command in the 34th Psalm verse 11, “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois must have done a wonderful job of instructing him. He was a valuable asset to the Apostle Paul in so many areas of preaching the good news. Paul even calls him “His true son in the faith,” and the New Testament mentions his name 27 times.
Teach your children. Teach them diligently. Teach them about God. Instruction from someone else is O.K. but instruction from Dad and Mom pleases the Heavenly Father.
I have heard some people say the Old Testament has been done away with. Making a statement like that, puts an individual on very shaky ground!! Last week we took a look at a couple of statements Paul wrote to his young assistant, Timothy. Let’s take a closer look at them.
In his first letter we find this admonition, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13) What scripture did Timothy have to read and teach from? At the time of this letter, the only scripture available to Timothy was the manuscript (or series of scrolls) we call the Old Testament – the New Testament had not yet been penned. Timothy was to read, preach and teach the Old Testament, or as Jesus called it, “the law and the prophets."
Are you familiar with the books from Genesis through Malachi? Jesus certainly was; and so was Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter and James. Over and over, these men quoted from them; they understood them; they taught from them – Jesus said, at one point, that they were the words of life (Matt. 4:4) and when He said this He was quoting from the book of Deuteronomy 8:3, “(God) humbled you (Israel) causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
Jesus used these words when Satan was tempting Him to turn some stones into bread. In Matthew 4:4-10 Jesus quoted words from “the Law” each time Satan posed a temptation, “Jesus answered him, ‘it is also written: You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.’” (Deut. 6:16) and finally, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: Worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.’” (Deut. 6:13)
I believe I have indicated in the past that the Bible may be compared to a jigsaw puzzle. God wants us to read, to think, to meditate and so to put together an understanding of His true plan for mankind. But if we toss out three quarters of the puzzle, we have a very skewed; yes a very incomplete, picture. The Old Testament is an integral part of the picture God wants us to see. And now we come to the second quote mentioned in last week’s article, “But as for you, Timothy, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:14-17)
Here, Paul calls the Old Testament “the sacred writings” and also tells us that they are able to make one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Let me end here by stating that salvation is significant to the good news we seek!!
As I look back upon the beginning of the articles I have written, it occurs to me that this is just about the third anniversary. Yes, I started writing them in March of 2016. This has been a very enjoyable endeavor for me and I know that many of you have appreciated them for you have stopped me on the street, or spoken to me at the post office. And some have e-mailed me through the newspaper, to thank me for them. I have even talked over the phone with a couple of you.
But only one person has actually asked me a question. We visited face to face and I shared my thoughts to what I believe was a satisfactory conclusion. So let me ask you right now – do you have a question, idea, thought or suggestion? You can write me (anonymously if you wish) at; Bill Rollins, P O Box 85, Elk Horn, Iowa 51531. You can call me at 712-249-1631 or you can send an e-mail to the newspaper and it will get forwarded to me. If it is a personal concern, we can talk privately. Or perhaps it is a suggestion and I can address it in a future column.
In any event, get in touch – if you have the inclination!
The Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, is a unified piece of literature consisting of 66 books with approximately 40 authors. That statement, in itself, is astounding. I do not believe that there is anything like it in all of the world’s literature. The one thing that makes it a unified text is that its editor is God.
Yes, God used humans to pen this tome in order that we might have an instruction manual for life itself!
Paul put it this way, “But as for you, Timothy, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:14-17)
Paul, here, is urging his young assistant to continue to teach the scriptures. These scriptures with which Timothy was acquainted, consisted of the Old Testament; Genesis through Malachi. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul tells him to, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13)
The only Scriptures extant at that time were the Old Testament. These scriptures, Paul tells him, were “able to make you wise for salvation through Jesus Christ”. Consider that for the time being – we’ll talk some more about it next time (God willing).
Bill Rollins resides in Elk Horn, IA, with his wife, Sally, and has pastored the Church of God of Omaha, NE for more than 35 years.