Mike's Message

Mike Rogers' Messages

(click on the month to view the messages for that month)

  • March 19, 2023

    Revive Us Again: Christ is Better

    The book of Hebrews may be the most needed study in the church today because sin is still the problem that overwhelms us all. Christ is still the only sure answer to sin, and the main focus of the letter to the Hebrews is Christ. Many of these Christians were slowly but surely slipping back to a comfortable and familiar way of life. It is much the same today. Many Christians are slipping back into the world; sin is the cause, and Christ is the answer then and now. 

    The three most prominent points in this letter intended to revive the faltering Christians is: First, a reminder that Christ is better – at least thirteen times in this letter the author reminds his readers that Jesus is better than anything they held dear under the Law. Second, the need for encouragement – the Hebrews writer uses the phrase "Let us" thirteen times empathizing with his readers. Third, faith – the Hebrews writer uses the word “faith” thirty-one times, twenty-four of those are in chapter 11. Certainly, the Hebrews writer wants to concentrate on the importance of faith in the life of the Christian. 

    Christians need reviving because too many are slipping away from Christ and His church. As stated earlier, Christians slip away because of sin. The Hebrews writer tells us why sin has such a negative effect on people. He reminds us that sin is deceitful (3:13), sin presents itself as pleasing (11:25; cf. Gen 3:6, 13), and sin entangles us (12:1). 

    The Hebrews writer also acknowledges the progressive nature of slipping away. The Christians he addresses were first neglecting Christ (2:3), their heart was growing hard (3:7, 8), they got tired of listening about the superiority of Christ (5:11), for many the next step was to stop assembling together (10:25), which showed they were on the verge of rejecting God completely (12:25). Christians still slip away today for the same reasons the Hebrew Christians were. It is a result of sin that deceives us, presents itself as attractive, and entangles us. 

    The Hebrews writer then warns his readers of the danger of slipping away. He declares that when one slips away and remains, he cannot escape the penalty of judgement (2:1-3; 12:25), cannot enter God’s eternal rest (4:1), he can get to the point of no return (6:4-6), and he has nothing to look forward to but the “terrifying expectation of judgement and the fury of fire which will consume the adversaries” (10:26- 27). 

    So, the only permanent answer to sin is Christ, because He is “better.” He is better than angels, he provides a better hope, a better covenant and promises, He is a better sacrifice, and mediator. 

    --Mike Roger     

    March 12, 2023

    Our Living Hope

    1 Peter 1:3-9

    Peter writes to Christians who were running from Roman persecution. He reminds them that they were “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and sprinkling with His blood” (v. 2). God did His part so we can be “born again to a living hope.” This living hope suggests that our hope is real, genuine, active. It is in contrast to a dead hope that provides nothing. Our living hope is a future inheritance, established upon God’s mercy, secured through Christ’s resurrection, dependent upon our new birth, and protected by God’s power (1:3-5). 

    This living hope is in a perfect inheritance (v. 4). It is in an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, will not diminish, and is “reserved in heaven.” 

    Our living hope is established by the great mercy of God (v. 3). It is not founded on our own righteousness. It is because of God’s great mercy. 

    Our living hope is secured “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (v. 3). Paul taught that without the resurrection from the dead our faith is worthless (1 Cor. 15:12-18). 

    Our living hope is dependent upon our new birth (v. 3). Jesus confirmed that “. . . unless one is born of the water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). Being born of the water and Spirit is a reference to baptism (Rom. 6:4-7). One is born again when he is “sprinkled with the blood of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2); and has his “heart sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Heb. 10:22). Without this new birth, Peters explains that we have no hope. 

    Finally, our living hope is guaranteed because we are protected by the power of God (v. 5). God preserves our inheritance while protecting us through difficult times. We can have no greater protector than God. There is no greater power in heaven or on earth. However, God will not protect us, if we do not do our part. We must be born again and live by faith (vv.3-9). To live by faith means that we must put our whole trust in God. 

    Once Peter’s readers learned of this living hope, there was a stirring in them that caused them to look to the future with a joyful expectation. They were strengthened even in their persecution. How about us? Are we able to endure our own persecution because of the hope of a perfect inheritance? Peter’s message of hope is a message of assurance. No matter what may befall us in this life, we have a hope for something much better. 

    --Mike Roger     

    March 5, 2023

    A Heart of Thanksgiving

    By law, they were to identify themselves to everyone they met. If a passerby came too close, they were required to shout “unclean, unclean.” Rejected by society, they were forced to live outside the city in a commune. They were lepers. With no known cure, many would die a slow and tormenting death isolated from all friends and family. They had no hope for the future. Life was meaningless, painful, and empty. Then, one day Jesus passed by. A group of despised and rejected lepers cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus looked at the group—not as other men looked at them—Jesus looked at them with compassion. His words were simple and straightforward: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” (They could only return to society if the priest pronounced them clean). They headed toward the priests and a remarkable thing happened. “They were cleansed.” No doubt they were overcome with excitement, confusion, and awe all at the same time. Conceivably, they began to laugh and shout, and dance with joy. They ran to tell somebody, anybody, everybody, “We are healed!” 

    But one of the cleansed lepers was different. He was not a Jew that shared a heritage with Jesus. He was a Samaritan. As the Samaritan ran, something tugged at his heart. A sense of gratitude overtook him and with his restored legs, he ran back to Jesus, bowed his face to the ground at His feet, and thanked Him. Jesus appreciated his heartfelt thanks, but perhaps He looked in the direction of the nine and with a sad expression asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was there no one found who returned to give glory to God but this foreigner?” Then looking back at the one who returned with a pleasant expression of appreciation said, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” We too were unclean, sentenced to torment and death; then Jesus came! Remember the words of Ananias who told Saul of Tarsus, “Now why do you delay? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). We should be thankful that Jesus had compassion for all of us who were despised and rejected. We were once without hope and without God (Eph. 2:12), but Jesus gave His life that we might be made clean. How thankful are we? Do we all have the same heart of thanksgiving the Samaritan had? Won’t you plan to assemble on Sunday to express your thanksgiving to God for His love and healing! Think about it! 

     --Mike Rogers      

  • February 26, 2023

    Love One Another

    Love is a command (John 13:35). No one denies that it is hard to love some people, but it is still a command. If we don’t have to keep this command, why would we have to abstain from adultery, lying, stealing, drunkenness, etc.? No command is necessary if loving one another is not essential, because Jesus says that all commands depend on love (see Matt.22:37-40; cf. Rom. 13:8-10).

    Also, Jesus was teaching about the kingdom of God in Luke 10:25-29 “and a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.’ But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” To love God like this is to love Him sincerely, emotionally, vigorously, and intellectually. We must love God completely. God comes before anything or anyone. Loving God means doing His will even if it costs us everything.

    Second, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Most of us have loving ourselves down pretty well. We do just about everything for ourselves. But do we love our neighbor the same way? We may be more like the lawyer who knew the right answer, but wanted to justify his wrongdoing so he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” This lawyer wanted to present himself before the Lord as if he had kept the law. Don’t we do this? Don’t we make excuses? We may say, “Yes, but Preacher, you just don’t understand what he has done to me.” God knows what “he” did to you, but He still commands you to love him! Remember what the people did to Jesus, yet the first thing He said as He hung on that cross was “Father, forgive them.”

    In Romans 12:9-21 Paul teaches what it means to love our brethren. He says, “Let love be without hypocrisy . . .. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love . . .. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone . . .. If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink . . ..” In Romans 13:8 Paul instructs, “Owe no man anything except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.” We cannot love God, if we do not love our brethren (1 John 4:7-21).

                                                                                                                                                                                     --Mike Rogers

    February 19, 2023

    God and Government

    Many of us have heard about the church in California that defied the government mandate to not assemble for worship during the COVID pandemic. God has given His directive that the church come together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25). God has also given instruction that we obey the laws of the land (Rom. 13:1). However,  when that law violates a directive given by God, we are to “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). God’s word has more authority than any law or any government mandate.

    However, if the government makes a mandate that does not violate or hinder us from obeying God’s word, we are under obligation to obey that mandate (1 Peter 2:13). Thus, we wear a seatbelt and do not hold the cell phone when we drive a car, we pay attention to the speed limits and other road signs. We do not have to agree with the law, but we are instructed by God to be in submission to the civil laws.

    But, someone may ask, “What about the separation of church and state?” The separation of church and state, as I understand it, protects the church from governmental control. When we are assembled as a church, the government has no authority over that assembly. The government can make recommendations that apply to citizens under their authority even when assembled for worship, this falls under the free speech act. The governing officials have no authority, however, to make mandates that govern when or how we worship God.

    Elders must understand they only have the authority to instruct those under their charge in what God has already said in His inspired word. We, as members under their charge are to obey and submit to them (Heb. 13:17a). If we refuse to do that, the Hebrews writer says that it would be “unprofitable for [us]” (Heb. 13:17c). Therefore, elders strongly encourage those under their spiritual oversight to come together for worship and Bible Study. They have this authority given by God (see Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3; cf. Heb. 10:25-26). If we refuse, it is a sin for which we will answer on judgment day (Heb.  10:26-27).

    Therefore, as citizens of the US, we are under the authority of civil government; as citizens in God’s kingdom, we are under the authority/oversight of our elders. If we violate government, we will be punished. This is just as true if we violate the laws of God and refuse to submit to our elders. Think about it!

                                                                                                                                                                                      -Mike Rogers

    February 12, 2023

    How to Reignite Love in a Marriage

    There are three natural prerequisites to love that couples must understand and agree to before love can be reignited in a marriage. First, couples must understand and agree that love is commanded. Husbands are commanded to love their wives (Eph. 5:25); wives are commanded to love their husbands (Tit. 2:4). Love may be the most difficult command to obey we are given. However, if you want to obey God, you will learn to love your spouse. Second, couples must understand and agree that love is always a choice. We can love our enemies if we choose (Matt. 5:44). Likewise, husbands and wives can love one another, but they must choose to do so (Eph. 5:25; Tit. 2:4). The third prerequisite couples must understand and agree upon is that they must desire to love. I want to go on record as saying, “If one does not want to love their mate, if they are looking for an excuse to get out of a marriage, there is probably no way to have a scriptural divorce. I know this is hard to accept, but we cannot deny what the scriptures teach (Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:3-9). 

    So, if love has been waning in your marriage and you want to reignite the flame of love, I want to offer some suggestions in addition to these prerequisites: First, fake it until you make it! This is probably not always good advice, but in the case of reigniting love, I think it is. Love is tough, but outward changes can and will create inward changes. Act like you love your mate and before long you will begin to change inside. Action often precedes understanding. 

    Second, apply the principles recorded in 1 Cor. 13:5-8. Be Persistent. Love is tough under the best circumstances! You have to be patient and endure (see 1 Cor. 13:4, 7). Love never quits (1 Cor. 13:8a). Be Kind to one another. You must be gentle and not arrogant or rude (see 1 Cor. 13:4c, 5a). You must not be intentionally irritating or resentful (1 Cor. 13:7c). Consider your mate first (1 Cor. 13:5b). When trying to reignite love, you must look out for the best interest of your mate. You cannot insist on having everything your own way. Paul makes this applicable for all of us (see Phil. 2:3-4). Jesus also applies this rule to all people (Matt. 7:12). 

    We should all desire love in our marriages. Not just because it is commanded, but also because love brings peace, joy, and contentment to our lives. Love takes the focus off ourselves and places it on others. Try this experiment for one week and see if you do not enjoy life better: Every time you think of something that you want for yourself, replace that thought with something that would be good for your spouse. If you are having marital issues, I can almost guarantee you will begin to see the flame of love reignite. 

     -Mike Rogers     

    February 5, 2023

    Appointing an Overseer

    Paul left Titus, an evangelist, in Crete to “put what remained in order, and appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5). We know that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in the congregations they established on the first missionary journey when they visited them on their return to Antioch (Acts 14:23). We also know there were elders in Jerusalem (Acts 11:30; 15:2), Ephesus (Acts 20:17), and Philippi (Phil. 1:1). From these few references we learn that God intends for every congregation to have a plurality of men to oversee, shepherd, and lead the church. Last Sunday I stated there is only one qualification for a husband and father who aspires and desires the work of an overseer, and that is, that he is “above reproach.” This means there is no legitimate criticism that he may be charged with in his family life, in his personal life, and in his spiritual life. These three areas cover his complete character. He is one with the highest moral, and spiritual integrity in every aspect of his life. 

    Being an overseer is a work. Paul states, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” (1 Tim. 3:1). The work of overseers is to teach, lead, protect, and manage the church that has been put in their charge (see Heb. 13:17; Acts 20:28). Six different Greek terms are used to refer to the men that oversee a congregation. Five of them refer to the work he does. The only word that does not refer to the work is the one that traditionally translates “elder.” This word refers mostly to the wisdom, experience, and judgement of an older man. 

    When a man expresses his desire to work as one of the overseers of a congregation, the congregation should be given a reasonable amount of time to express any reason why the man’s character is not above reproach. If no opposition is given, the brother should be appointed. The Scriptures provide no information on how to appoint a man to the office and work of an overseer in congregations with overseers. (The examples in Acts 14:23; and Titus 1 are both congregations without overseers). For this reason, while the congregation selects the men, I think it is in keeping with the authority the Bible gives existing overseers to do the appointing of additional overseers. Please join us Sunday as we have a special service to appoint David Keith as one of our overseers. 

     –Mike Rogers     

  • January 29, 2023

    What it Takes to Be an Overseer

    Justin Rogers wrote a book for Lads 2 Leaders entitled, Courage 2 Lead. In this book, Justin declares, leaders have to be self-motivated. He also asserts, “There is no right way to step into leadership. A leader needs only a heart attuned to God and a willingness to step up to His work” (21). Obviously, not all Christians can be elders. But as Justin affirms, all Christians should be leaders. In this lesson, I will discuss what it takes to be an overseer in the church. We will concentrate on 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Before digging into the qualities or attributes of an elder I want to say, Paul never intended for these verses to be a check list for elders. 

    First, for one to assume the office and work of an overseer, he must desire the work. In 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul states, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” The word “aspires” means, “to work toward something,” “to strive for something.” The word “desires” means “to set the heart upon,” “to long for.” So, Paul declares that the work of an overseer is a good work upon which man first sets his heart; then, works diligently toward developing the attributes that qualify him to serve as an overseer. The point is that becoming an elder should not be something one achieves accidentally. It is a work one sets his heart upon early in life; then works to obtain it. 

    Secondly, Paul makes it perfectly clear that an overseer must be male (1 Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:6). Paul uses different words in 1 Timothy 3:2 and in Titus 1:6 for “husband,” but both words are gender-specific. It is impossible for a woman to be the “husband (male) of one wife” (female). An overseer must be, literally, “a one-woman-man.” 

    Third, he must have children ((Titus 1:6). How many children is not the issue. The point is he knows how to manage. I propose there is only one qualification for a man who desires the work of an overseer. The rest are attributes that explain the qualification. The qualification is, “above reproach.” Above reproach means that no legitimate criticism can be brought against this man. He is one with the highest moral and spiritual standards. All of the attributes Paul lists in Timothy and Titus can be read under three headings: An elder must be above reproach in his family life (the husband of one wife, having children who believe), above reproach in his spiritual life (“holding fast the faithful word,” and able to teach), and above reproach in his personal life (all the other attributes listed in Timothy and Titus explain the man’s personal life). 

    –Mike Rogers     

    January 22, 2023

    From Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

    “You may be the only Bible some people ever read.” No doubt this statement is true, but have you ever really thought about its implications? We cannot deny there are hypocrites in the church; and we must all be aware that each of us is being watched by others. So, we ask, “Are you a stumbling block or a stepping stone?” 

    The Bible is filled with people who turned stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Joseph was ridiculed, mocked, plotted against, and sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused, imprisoned and forgotten. Yet, Joseph only saw opportunity in the malevolence. Because of him, the entire nation of Israel was saved; in the end, Joseph told his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). How would you describe Joseph, a stumbling block or a stepping stone? 

    David had Bathsheba’s husband killed to try and hide his sin with her (see 2 Sam. 11-12). Yet when it was pointed out what he had done, he repented (2 Sam. 12:13). How would you describe David, a stumbling block or stepping stone? 

    In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he addresses Christians who would be a stumbling block to others, even though their actions might not be sinful. He says, “If food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble” (1 Cor. 8:13). In his letter to the Romans, Paul makes a similar assertion, “Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). 

    We can even be stepping stones by helping others. The good Samaritan was a stepping stone (Luke 10:30-37). How do you respond to someone’s hardship? Do you pass by on the other side, or do you offer a helping hand? Are you a stepping stone or a stumbling block? We should strive to be stepping stones for people. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes. Therefore, we must encourage, support and console people who are hurting— criticism or condemnation only produces more stumbling blocks. 

    When life knocks you down, don't stay down, jump back up! Everybody stumbles from time to time; the winners are the ones who keep getting back up! That may be what Paul meant when he said, “In all things we are more than conquerors.” We may not ever see the good in some adversities, but we must trust God. Someone once said, “The difference between winners and losers is their ability to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”

    --Mike Rogers     

    January 15, 2023

    Dealing With Conflict from Within
    Nehemiah 5:1-19

    Chapter 4 ends on a note of victory over Sanballat and Tobiah, who were trying to stop the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. Chapter 5 deals with more opposition; this time, however, it is not opposition to stop the rebuilding of the walls; it is conflict among the Jews. The text does not say it, but it seems apparent that this internal conflict stopped the work on the wall. Conflict among a group of people is a sure way to stop the positive progress of any work.

    In 5:1-5 we learn the reason for the conflict. Many poorer Jews who owned property were forced to mortgage their fields, vineyards, and houses to get food. Others had to borrow to pay the king’s tax on their lands. Some were even forced to sell their children into slavery to their fellow Jews to pay their bills. While it was not against the Law to loan money to the poor (Deut. 15:8), or to sell themselves as slaves, the Law did require that they be released after seven years or at the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:39). Furthermore, the greedy Jews were charging an exorbitant amount of interest which the Law did not allow (see Ex. 22:25).

    So, the oppressed were calling out to God with a “great outcry.” They were pleading with God for help. We are not told why the wealthier Jews were exploiting the poorer ones, but it appears to be selfish greed. Perhaps the rich saw an opportunity to get richer and took advantage of it. I am reminded of James 4:1 – “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” One’s selfish pleasures are almost always the source of conflict within a group.

    When Nehemiah learned what was happening, he was “very angry” (5:6). Nehemiah’s anger did not consume him, rather he “consulted with himself” (v. 7a). Nehemiah did not strike out in anger. He took some time to consider how to deal with this injustice. After deciding the best approach, he confronted those who were exploiting the poor, and called for an assembly to deal with the greedy Jews. Nehemiah explained to them that they had sinned and told them to return everything, even the interest they had charged. The Jews solemnly promised to do as Nehemiah had instructed and to require nothing. This is a perfect example of repentance.

    In verses 14-19, Nehemiah presents his own example for preventing conflict within a group of people. During the twelve years Nehemiah served as governor of Judah, he never burdened the people for food, even though former governors had, and it was acceptable to do so. Dealing with conflict means to put others before yourself (Phil. 2:3-4).

                                                                                                                                                                                    –Mike Rogers

    January 8, 2023

    Trials or Temptations?

    As we reviewed Nehemiah chapter 2 last Sunday evening, we observed that our journey to success always has opposition. Opposition may come in various forms. One of the most harmful forms of oppositions may be found in our temptations.  James explains where temptations come from saying, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted, when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). By the world's standards, sin is attractive. Otherwise, it would not be enticing. But God does not tempt us (v. 13). Temptation is one weapon Satan uses to fight the battle against righteousness. Satan determines what temptation is appropriate to entice an individual based on one’s vulnerability. When tempting Jesus in the wilderness, he first used food, because Jesus was hungry after forty days of fasting (Matt. 4:1-3). Satan knows when we are most vulnerable, and where we are most vulnerable. Satan will try to entice us at our weakest moment, and with our weakest characteristic. Even though temptations are not from God (v. 13), He allows Satan to use trials to tempt us and test our faith (James 1:2-4; cf. Job 1-2). Whether our faith is strengthened or weakened depends on how we respond to the trials. To prevent the trials from becoming temptations we must “Keep watching and praying that [we] may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41a, emphasis mine). James encourages us, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Also, we must learn to avoid the situations that may cause us to be more vulnerable. The inspired apostle Paul instructs, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). He also instructs, “Abstain from every appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). Finally, we must view our trials with a positive attitude: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2). The point James emphasizes is: “Do not think about what your trials can do to you; think about what they can do for you. When one looks at the trials in this way his faith is strengthened (James 1:2-4). You see God tests us with trials; Satan uses the trials to tempt us. We cannot avoid the trials. However, the way we respond to the trials will determine the effect they have on us.

                                                                                                                                                                    --Mike Rogers

    January 1, 2023

    A Better New Year’s Resolution

    Most Americans make a New Year’s resolution every year. The number one resolution that most Americans make is to lose weight. The second is to exercise more. While these resolutions can be profitable, they can only be so if they are continued, but statistics reveal that  most Americans give up on their resolution within three days. Another resolution thousands of Christians make each year is to read through the Bible. Although I am no medical doctor or physical trainer, my personal experience tells me that losing weight and exercising will help you to think more clearly and thus your desire to study will be exalted as well. Therefore, make this resolution for 2023: “I will resolve to become more physically and spiritually fit this year.” One way to become more spiritually fit is to study the Bible more.

    John Adams, the second president of the United States, read the entire Bible every year. He studied the Scriptures every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Reading and studying the Bible regularly shaped his character, and his character shaped our country. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What lies behind you and what lies before you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you.” When you read the Bible and apply the truths, it will change your life, and you will never regret it. Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, referred to the  Bible as “the rock on which our Republic rests.” It is said that he read three to five chapters each day. Abraham Lincoln, our 16th  resident, called the Bible “the best gift God has ever given to man . . . but for it we could not know right from wrong.” Woodrow Wilson, our 28th  president, said, “The Bible is the Word of life. I beg that you will read it and find this out for yourself. When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found in it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th president, and his family used the Bible each day during family devotions, with each family member taking his or her  turn in reading a passage. Jimmy Carter, our 39th president, read the Bible daily and taught a Sunday school class for over four decades.  Ronald Reagan, the 40th president, wrote, “Inside the Bible’s pages lie all the answers to all the problems man has ever known. I hope Americans will read and study the Bible . . . . It is my firm belief that the enduring values presented in its pages have a great meaning for  each of us and for our nation.

    The Bible can touch our hearts, order our minds, and refresh our souls.” Make it your New Years resolution to study your Bible more!

    --Mike Rogers      

  • December 25, 2022

    The Torn Curtain

    Several miracles might be noted at the cross, but possibly the greatest miracle was when the curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place was torn into. This curtain was made of "blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twisted linen” (Ex. 36:35-38). According to Jewish tradition the curtain was 60’ long, 40’ wide and about 4” thick. Rabbinic literature claims it took 300 priests to clean it. The size of the curtain is not described in scripture, and the thickness, along with the number of priests it took to clean it may be somewhat exaggerated. Even so, this was no ordinary window covering. Yet at the death of Jesus, this massive majestic curtain, which concealed the holiest of all places, “was torn into, from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). What does this torn curtain mean? Only the high priest could enter through the curtain once a year for the explicit purpose of approaching God on behalf of himself and the people. If anyone else entered the most holy place he would die (Numb. 4:17-20). If the high priest entered through the curtain on any day other than the Day of Atonement, he would die (Lev. 16:2). If the high priest entered through the curtain without the proper attire he would die (Ex. 28:43). To the Jews, everything about the curtain served as a warning that trespassers and violators will be executed.

    The torn curtain reveals an open door for all people to enter into the presence of God. The Hebrews writer declares that at the death of Jesus all people “have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh” (Heb. 10:19-20). This shows the torn curtain opens the way into the presence of God for anyone, not just the high priest. Furthermore, it is not the physical holy place that Jesus opens: “For Christ has not entered into the holy place made with hands . . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:24).

    "Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).

    The emphasis on the curtain being torn from “top to bottom” shows that God opens the curtain completely and permanently. What does the torn curtain mean to you?

    -Mike Rogers      

    December 18, 2022

    When I See a Cross

    The symbol of a cross has changed in significance over the years. Prior to Christianity the cross was a symbol of shame and humiliation, a symbol of warning and terror, it was the cruelest form of execution known. In early Christianity the cross still had connotations of shame. However, by the early third century, when Tertullian called Christians, “devotees of the cross” the cross became a recognized symbol for Christianity. Then, in the early fourth century the Roman emperor Constantine claimed to see a vision in the sky of a cross with the inscription, “Conquer by This.” The cross then became a symbol of divine protection and victory. It was not until the seventh century that the cross became a common symbol for victory through Christ’s crucifixion.

    When I see a cross, I think of Christ. Although many other people have been crucified, even unjustifiably so, Christ is the one we think of. When I see a cross, I think of pain, suffering, and humiliation; and I feel sorry that my Lord had to suffer persecution. When I see a cross, I feel guilty, because it should have been me on that cross. When I see a cross, I think of complete submission to the Father. In the garden prior to His arrest, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). On the cross, just before his death, Jesus cried out in  confident submission, “Father, into y o u r h a n d s I c o m m i t m y s p i r i t ” ( L u k e 2 3 : 4 6 ) . When I see a cross, I think of the perfect forgiveness for my sins. We understand that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22); the first words from the mouth of Jesus as he was raised on the cross was, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). It is remarkable that Jesus’ prayer during this time of pain and suffering is for those who are responsible for his suffering. To forgive is to choose to no longer hold one accountable for a debt owed (cf. Matt. 18:27). The debt I owe for my sins is my life (Rom. 6:23). Jesus paid that debt on the cross. A song that touches me every time we sing it is:

    “He paid a debt he did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. He paid that debt at Calvary, He cleansed my soul and set me free, I’m glad that Jesus did all my sins erase; And now I sing a brand-new song: Amazing Grace. Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

    Jesus took our place as sinners and gave us his place in righteousness (“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God in Him” [2 Cor. 5:21]).

    --Mike Rogers    

    December 11, 2022

    The Greatest Truth Ever Told

    Truth is defined as indisputable facts. Truth is not always dependent on evidence, not always objective. I might tell you something is true. You may ask me to prove it. But, even if I can’t prove it, the lack of evidence does not negate the truth. It may hinder the believability, but if it is truth, it is still truth.

    When one considers the origin of truth, three foundational principles come to mind. First, Jesus is the origin of truth (John 1:14, 17; John 14:6). Second, God’s word is the origin of truth (John 8:31-32; John 17:17). Third, truth is reflected in the “gospel” (Eph. 1:13).

    The Greek word that translates “gospel” is used 76 times in the New Testament and always refers to the good news about a man who was conceived miraculously, lived humbly, died in agony, and raised in glory. His name is Jesus. Therefore, when we speak of the gospel we are speaking of the absolute, undeniable good news about the man, Savior, and Lord Jesus the Christ that is revealed in the word of God. What makes the story of Jesus the greatest truth ever told?

    First, mankind was bound by sin punishable by death. The sacrifices of the old system could not take away sin (Heb. 10:4). Yet, because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22), God sent His Son to become the perfect sacrifice to save us from the penalty of sin (Rom. 6:23). Paul explains that the core message of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Our own baptism is a reenactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Rom. 6:3-7). This is what Paul meant by “obey the gospel” (see 2 Thess. 1:8). This story not only tells of our freedom from sin, it tells of our blessed life in Christ. Obedience to the gospel can transform a sinner to a saint (Eph. 2:19). It can transfer one from death to life (Eph. 2:5; Col. 1:13). It also provides a life of peace beyond comprehension (cf. Phil. 4: 7), a life of inexpressible joy (1 Pt. 1:8; Rom. 14:17), hope (Col. 1:21-23, 27), and “every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3). A life of redemption, (Eph. 1:7, 13), “forgiveness” (v. 7) because there is no more debt to be paid. Our debt for sin has been paid in full, “salvation” (v. 13) because salvation refers to a delivering from the bondage, and debt of sin, “an inheritance”guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:11-14) that is greater than all the gold in the world.

    What does the gospel really mean to you? Is it just another story, or is it the greatest truth ever told?

    –Mike Rogers    

  • November 27, 2022

    Be Thankful

    Thankfulness was a prevalent attitude and practice for Christians from the 1st to 3rd centuries. Christians suffered severe persecution from Nero to Diocletian (305). This changed when Constantine overcame Rome (312) and put forth an edict of toleration for Christianity (313). However, during the time of persecution Christianity grew because they had hope for a better life.

    Many things need attention in our world. But we also have many blessings which we take for granted. The greatest gift that God has given is the promise of eternal life through His Son. This promise is extended to the faithful as a place of eternal health, security, and sustenance (Rev. 21:3-4; 22:1- 5). This is our hope. The Psalmist said, “That my soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever” (Ps. 30:12). With many verses, the New Testament urges Christians to be thankful. (See Col. 3:15; 1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:4, 20, et al.).

    Many benefits come from being thankful. When we are thankful, we tend to get things back into the proper perspective. Material things aren't as important (1 Tim 6:17-19), and selfish pleasures aren't as vital (James 4:1-4). There are social benefits to being thankful: We grow closer to others. Paul writes, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater” (2 Thess. 1:3).

    Many medical benefits have been attributed to the attitude and practice of thankfulness. Just 15 minutes a day focusing on things you’re grateful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies. Naturally grateful people are less vulnerable to clinical depression. A grateful state of mind induces a physiological state called resonance that’s associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rate. Caring for others is draining. But grateful caregivers are healthier and more capable than less grateful ones. Recipients of donated organs who have the most grateful attitudes heal faster (Institute for Research on Unlimited Love [IRUL], founded by Stephen Post PhD).

    Through His divine word, God urges us to be thankful. We have more to be thankful for than we can even begin to count. Even in this life,  we benefit spiritually, socially, and medically when we develop the attitude and practice of thankfulness. But the greatest blessing for which we are thankful is our hope for an eternal life of health, sustenance, and security. We ought not to focus on being thankful only once a year, but every day.

    –Mike Rogers    

    November 20, 2022

    Running for Joy
    Philippians 3:1-4:1

    Paul insists that “minds set on earthly things” (3:19) is robbing people of the true joy God intends for them to have. This fleshly, earthly, materialistic mindset produces disappointment and misery, largely, because the things we desire to possess, actually possess us. In chapter 3 of this short letter, Paul sets the example of the Spiritual minded person in his race for joy. That person is focused on his heavenly citizenship; not this earthly life (3:20), which is the only way to true and lasting joy. Paul shares four points in this text that will help us as we race for joy.

    First, we must be on guard (3:2). Satan is always trying to steal our joy. Anytime we let down our guard, Satan pounces as a lion stalking its prey (1 Peter 5:8). Wickedness is illustrated as a pack of wild dogs surrounding us (3:3; cf. Ps. 22:16). We can easily apply hungry dogs to the materialism that is robbing us of our joy today. Therefore, be watchful. Beware. Be on your guard against the wickedness of this world, so you will stay in the race for true joy.

    Second, we must be guided by right priorities (3:3-11). Paul insists true Christians “put no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). He asserts that  he had everything that people think will provide joy but declares, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8). Paul realized that all the power, fame and fortune of this world could not compare to the joy found “in Christ Jesus” (3:3-6; Rom. 8:18). The most important thing in this life is “knowing Christ” so you will have confidence in the joy found only in Christ Jesus (3:8; cf. Jer. 9:23-24).

    Third, we must be driven by determination (3:12-16). Determination recognizes dissatisfaction with where one is spiritually (3:12-13). Paul realized that he was not where he needed to be saying, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect” (3:12). Paul’s goal was still in front of him. He still had more to accomplish (cf. 3:13). No one should ever allow himself to become satisfied with
    where he is spiritually. He must keep “pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14).

    Finally, we must be disciplined. Paul declares, “Let us keep living by that same standard” (3:16). Sometimes the challenges get tough, but we have to be disciplined enough to keep pressing forward. A life of joy does not mean a life without suffering (see 2 Tim. 3:12). A life of joy is a life that has confidence in Christ Jesus. It is a life of one who “stands firm in the Lord,” not in earthly things. Keep on racing toward true and lasting joy!

    -Mike Rogers   

    November 13, 2022

    Sorrow and Repentance

    Repentance is often confused with sorrow. Sorrow may produce repentance, but sorrow is not repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7:8-16, Paul clearly shows the difference in sorrow and repentance.

    Paul’s first preserved letter was harsh and scathing, because it rebuked his readers for their toleration of sexual immorality in the church (see 1 Cor. 5). He was sorry he had to write the letter, but he did not regret it because it led them to repentance (2 Cor. 7:9).

    In 2 Corinthians 7:10-12 Paul mentions two types of sorrow: godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Sorrow and guilt can be expressed by both types of sorrow. A person with “sorrow of this world” may be genuinely sorry. Yet, just because a person admits guilt and expresses sorrow does not mean the person has repented. You may know people who are truly sorry for their sin. They may have admitted guilt. They may have expressed sorrow for the hurt they caused others, or for the reproach they brought on the church. But they never changed their behavior. There is no question of their sorrow, but it is a sorrow of this world because they never changed. Sorrow of the world leads to death because there is no repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).

    However, godly sorrow is different. It produces true repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). Repentance is a change in behavior. Paul explains godly sorrow in verse 11: “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong!” The idea is summarized in the next sentence, “In everything you have demonstrated yourself to be innocent in the matter” (2 Cor. 7:11). They changed their behavior. They repented. They handled their rebuke and correction of sin properly. They accepted that they had done wrong. They likely understood many consequences would remain from their sin and they were willing to accept those consequences. They responded with godly sorrow shown by their eagerness, diligence, and longing for what is right.

    This is true repentance produced by godly sorrow that leads to salvation without regret. There is no regret at the end of this process. There is simply joy. Joy that they confronted their own sin. Joy that sin was responded to with godly sorrow. Joy that repentance occurred, and joy in the salvation of the soul.

    So, sorrow is not repentance. It may produce repentance if it is “according to the will of God.” But sorrow alone is not repentance.

    --Mike Rogers    

    November 6, 2022

    “Hold Fast Your Confession”

    Hebrews 4:14

    The book of Hebrews is as practical as any book in the bible. It tells of Christians who are slipping away from their faith (2:1). Some are on the verge of neglecting their “great salvation” (2:3). Some are on the path to an “unbelieving heart” (3:12). Some are tired and about ready to give up (5:11). Some are forsaking the assemblies of the church (10:25). If they continue in this way, they will eventually reject God (12:25). The Hebrews writer writes as if he understands their situation. Yet, refuses to excuse their laxity (cf. Heb. 10:26). He declares that the only hope we have is to “hold fast our confession” in Christ (cf. Heb. 4:14; 10:23).

    Our “confession” is the very foundation of our faith in Christ (see Matt. 16:16-18). It is an open statement of belief that Jesus is the Son of God (see 1 John 4:15). However, it is more than a statement of faith, it is “our profession” (Heb. 4:14b KJV). It is who we are. Our confession is the open declaration of daily allegiance to Jesus. It is affirming through word and works that only through Jesus do we have the hope of eternal life.

    The phrase “hold fast” means “to cling to tenaciously” (Robertson 365). We should cleave to our faith in Christ like a baby cleaves to his mother. We must hold fast to what we claim to be (4:14). The writer warns his readers of the danger of not holding persistently to the facts we declared at baptism—Jesus is the Son of God, and He is our Lord, and not holding to the integrity of our Christian faith.

    The Hebrews writer encourages his readers to hold fast to our confession using 13 phrases that begin with “Let us . . . .” Each phrase expresses a concentrated continual effort “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). So, as the writer encourages his readers to “hold fast our confession,” he is stressing that we understand how easy it is to slip away (Heb. 2:1; Luke 15:11ff), how easily and quickly an “unbelieving heart” can come upon us and draw us away from God (Heb. 3:12), how easy it is to “become dull of hearing,” (Heb. 5:11), that missing the assembly and the opportunities to encourage and strengthen others is sinful (10:24-26), and he wants us to fully comprehend that if we continue down this road of apostasy, we will lose our souls (Heb. 10:26; 12:25-26). Therefore, he encourages, “Let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you might seem to have come short of it” (4:1); “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). May we take the message of Hebrews and not slip away from our faith in Christ.

    --Mike Rogers    

  • October 30, 2022

    Friends and Family Day, 2022

    Our annual Friends and Family Day is one of the most exciting Sundays of the year. We have guest speakers addressing assigned topics, and they do a remarkable job. This year Kirk Brothers will speak on Evangelizing Friends and Family. Kirk was here for our Summer Series several years ago and has done a great job every time I have heard him speak. Kirk is presently the president of Heritage University in Florence, Alabama. (Our own Joshua Evins attends this school).

    Our theme for 2022 is “Evangelism.” We have done some fantastic things this year in reaching out to our community with the gospel. From January thru October, we have had sixteen baptisms. Despite our efforts to get each one involved, three of these no longer attend our worship services. One has moved, one has extenuating circumstances, and one quit. We continue to have a new members class on Sundays and additional individual studies at other times. We have also had six responses asking for prayers for strength and forgiveness. We had two restorations. We continue to try and encourage and support every member. Many of our members are continuing to make contacts and develop prospects. Even some of our newest members are evangelizing friends and family members. It is a joy to be a part of an evangelistic congregation.

    One of the topics assigned to Kirk is “Showing Love to Friends and Family.” Love is revealed in the way we treat others. Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan illustrating to the defiant lawyer what loving one’s neighbor looks like (Luke 10:30-37). The man robbed and beaten was ignored by a priest and a Levite, but a Samaritan stopped and helped the battered man and paid for his recovery. Jesus asked the lawyer which one proved to be a neighbor. The lawyer answered correctly, “the one who showed mercy.” One shows love by doing what is good for another, even if he has to make sacrifices. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

    I have never asked anyone if they wanted to go to heaven who responded, No! Going to heaven is everyone’s ultimate goal. We cannot show our love to our friends and family more than to help them understand how they can achieve their greatest goal.

    Please invite your family and friends to this great day and show them how much you love them.

                                                                                                                                                                  --Mike Rogers


    October 23, 2022


    Initially, God forgives us when we obey Him. One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24), repent of his sins (Luke 13:3, 5), die to sin (Rom. 6:2), bury the old sinner in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4), and be raised from the waters of baptism in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:4-11). The one who does this is raised forgiven (Acts 22:16). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). However, God knows we are not perfect and will sin even after we have been forgiven (cf. Rom. 3:10, 23). Therefore, He made provisions that if we continue to confess sins, He will continue to forgive (see 1 John 1:9).

    Some people suggest there are two types of forgiveness presented in the Bible: God’s forgiveness, and man’s forgiveness. They argue that when God forgives, He forgets. One text they use to prove this is Hebrews 10:17, “. . . and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” However, since God is omniscient (see 1 John 3:20), He can forget nothing. Therefore, perhaps we should consider that not remembering is not the same as forgetting, but, rather, it means that God does not hold our sins against us. If this is what it means for God to forgive, then I suggest we can forgive as God does. Therefore, there are not two types of forgiveness presented in the Bible, but only one. This one type of forgiveness applies to both God and man.

    I recognize that only God can forgive sins so that one is not accountable for his sin in judgment (see James 4:12). However, when God forgives a person, we have no choice but to forgive that person. We may not forget their sin, but we cannot hold that sin against them and be forgiving.

    Jesus uses a parable in Matthew 18:21-35 to teach we are to forgive one who sins against us in the same way God forgives us. The first point is that the slave owner, who represents God, forgave his servant an insurmountable debt. The slave was forgiven completely.

    Next, the forgiven slave refused to forgive one who owed him a small amount. When the slave owner learned that the slave was unwilling to forgive a fellow slave, he had him tortured until he paid it all. The primary point is that we must forgive the one who sins against us in the same way that God forgives us. Man’s forgiveness is no different from God’s forgiveness. We should forgive others because we have been forgiven (Eph. 4:32). “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14-15). No matter how many times one offends us, we must forgive.

    –Mike Rogers    

    October 16, 2022

    Hungry Soul!

    Someone once said, “Each city is only three meals away from anarchy.” However, most of us have plenty to eat and drink, but we are starving spiritually. We are more than flesh and blood. God made us with a soul that needs nourishment.

    In the garden of Eden was a tree called the “tree of life.” Moses writes, “Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:9). We have no doubt Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life; they would have lived eternally had they not disobeyed God and eaten from the forbidden tree. God had explained that if they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would die. They ate the forbidden fruit and suffered the consequences of their sin. This death was both physical – they could not live forever – and spiritual – separated from the very presence of God. So, Adam and Eve were driven from the garden and the tree of life (Gen. 3:24). Their punishment was extended “to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). But, when the time was right, God sent Jesus to redeem man from the punishment of sin, and restore him to eternal life. I want to present some things necessary for feeding the starving soul. For those who are hungry, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). He also says, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:48-51).

    For those who are thirsty, Jesus says, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water . . .. but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that  I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 14).

    Only through Jesus can we return to the tree of life. When Satan is destroyed, and God creates a new heaven and a new earth for His redeemed church, there will be the “water of life” and “the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit, each in its season” (Rev. 22:2). There, in this eternal home of the redeemed, we can eat from the eternal fruit, and we will never thirst again.

    --Mike Rogers    

    October 9, 2022

    Maintaining Joy in Unfortunate Circumstances
    Philippians 1

    Each chapter of Philippians presents a different struggle, Paul overcame and maintained his joy. Paul was under house arrest in Rome, awaiting his hearing with the emperor. Being under house arrest was not as bad as being in the innermost part of the prison. But it was not without challenges. For example, the government did not provide food and other necessities in this situation. Paul relied on friends and relatives for his food and other needs. When his friends did not supply these needs, Paul learned to be content regardless of his circumstances (4:11-12).

    Furthermore, Paul did not know if he would be put to death as the leaders of the Jews wanted or if he would be released. Even so, Paul maintains a positive attitude as he writes to the church in Philippi, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear”(1:12-14).

    It seems impossible for us to understand how Paul refused to allow his agonizing circumstances to rob him of his joy. In this lesson, I want to consider why Paul maintained joy in his dreadful circumstances. If we adopt the same attitude as Paul had, we, too, can retain joy when our circumstances turn sour.

    First, Paul overcame his circumstances because he was Living for Jesus (1:21). Paul had one purpose, and that was to serve the Lord. Paul explains his devotion to Jesus like this: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21; see Gal. 2:20). Paul’s difficult circumstances could not rob him of his joy because he was not living to enjoy circumstances; he was living to serve Jesus.

    Second, Paul overcame his circumstances because he remembered His fellowship with the church (1:3-8). Third, Paul focused on the spread of the gospel (1:12-18). Paul saw opportunities to teach the gospel even in his challenging circumstances. He taught the whole imperial guard (Vv. 12-13). Others have been encouraged to be bold in preaching the gospel because of his imprisonment (Vv. 14-18).

    Finally, Paul overcame his circumstances because he focused on others rather than himself (1:23-30).

                                                                                                                                                                                   --Mike Rogers

    October 2, 2022

    God is Love
    1 John 4:8, 16

    Just as “God is light,” “God is love.” That is, the very nature of God is love. Everything that love is, God is. Everything that love does God does. The New Testament has two Greek words that translate love. One word is phileo which emphasizes the affection one has for another. The other word is agapao or agape. This word emphasizes faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. Both words express God’s love. 1 John 4:8 and 16 have agape, “God is love.” Yet, John 5:20 has phileo, “For the Father loves the Son, . . .” John 16:27 has phileo “for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me . . ..” John also uses phileo in reference to Jesus loving Lazarus (John 11:3) and Peter loving Jesus (John 21:17). Paul uses this word to refer to the curse upon one who does not “love the Lord” (1 Cor. 16:22). But the word used most referring to God’s love and the love that man is to have for God and one another is agape. Just as God’s love involves faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice, our love for God and one another should involve these same characteristics.

    God’s sacrifice expresses His love: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Paul writes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). John also writes, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). God’s faithfulness and commitment to humanity without expecting anything in return express His love. John writes, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us” (1 John 4:10a). “[J]ust as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4- 6). God loves us because He has chosen to love us. He is under no obligation except that it would be contrary to His nature not to love because “God is love” (1 John 4:8b). God has loved us and expects nothing in return. He only wants us to love Him of our own free will. So, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

    God’s love is forgiving. See you Sunday!

                                                                                                                             --Mike Rogers

  • September 25, 2022

    God is Light
    1 John 1:5

    Light is one of the greatest blessings of life. When we go for a few days without the sun shining brightly, we become depressed. Without light, life as we know it would cease to exist. Every living creature would lose its brightness, every plant would wither, and the entire material world would lose its attraction. Depression would escalate; the death rate would soar. When John records “God is Light,” he asserts several truths we should all keep in mind.

    First, the nature of God is light. John does not say that God is “the light” as Jesus says about His disciples in His sermon on the mount (Matt. 5:14). John doesn’t say that God is “a light” as one of the stars in the sky. John says, “God is Light.” God’s very nature is light. The psalmist pictures God clothed in light (Ps. 104:2). One aspect of light is that no one can look directly into it. Paul reminds Timothy that God is so bright that He is unapproachable (see 1Tim. 6:16). This imagery takes us back to the glory of God that Moses saw as a burning bush (Ex. 3:6). Also, Paul was blinded by the bright light from heaven (Acts 9:8; 22:11). Another aspect of light is that it is revealing. As the light of the world, Jesus has shown the way to God – “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’” (John 8:12). Paul declares that as the light, Christ delivers from darkness (Col. 1:12-13). Also, the written word is light revealed to man. The psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105; cf. 2 Peter 1:19).

    Third, John says, “and in Him is no darkness at all.” In the beginning, “God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night (Gen. 1:3-5). God said that the light was good. He did not say this about darkness.   Darkness is not good. “Darkness” is often used for anxiety (See Gen. 15:12), punishment (Ex. 10:21-22), sin (see Prov. 2:13, Eph. 5:8), the realm of Satan (Col. 1:13), and 28 times in Job “darkness refers to dread and pain. There is nothing in God that is dark and dreary. James states God does not cast even a shadow: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). “If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).

    Walk in the light. Follow Jesus. Have fellowship with Him and others that walk in the light of God’s word.

                                                                                                                                                                                   –Mike Rogers

    September 18, 2022

    Won’t it be Wonderful There?
    Revelation 21:1-22:5

    After John witnesses the coming fiery judgment (Rev. 20:11-21:1), he sees the holy city, new Jerusalem come down out of the heavens as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2). Surely, there is not a more beautiful sight than a bride on her wedding day. Here the church is pictured as that beautiful bride. As we look at these verses, we see the holy city (the church) in all its splendor presented with five particular blessings.

    First, God will be there (Rev. 21:3). The sea, symbolic of separation from God (see Rev. 4:6), has passed away (Rev. 21:1). The “holy city,” the church will be in the “new heaven and a new earth” that God will create for the righteous church alone (see Rev. 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13; Isa. 65:17). John is told that “the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be among them” (Rev. 21:3). The tabernacle was where God dwelt with His people in the wilderness. It reflects constant love, sustenance, protection, worship, and companionship. This beautiful place will be God’s place of abode with His children for all eternity (Rev. 21:7).

    Second, we will have God’s constant consolation (Rev. 21:4). He will wipe away every tear and erase crying, mourning, pain, and death forever. Man has his share of troubles in this life, but in the new heaven and earth, “all things are made new” (Rev. 21:5).

    Third, we will appear in God’s glory (Rev. 21:11, 23-24). John was shown the church from an exalted position, “having the glory of God” (21:10-11). There was no need for a sun or moon “for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (21:23). The glory of God is so radiant and magnificent that it lights the city (church) so that there  is no need for any other light.

    Fourth, we will have God’s eternal protection (Rev. 21:12, 25-27). A great high wall with twelve foundations measured for protection shows the strength and safety of the place of the redeemed (Rev. 21:12-16). The twelve gates are never closed (Rev. 21:12, 25), which indicates perfect and eternal access. The city is perfectly square (Rev. 21:16) and shows enough room for all who dwell there. The complete description presents a strong, spacious, perfect, and beautiful city where the redeemed of all ages will live with God in perfect fellowship for eternity.

    We will have God’s eternal provisions (22:1-5). We will never be thirsty, hungry, sick, or afraid in this beautiful land of eternity. Read. Revelation 22:14-15.

                                                                                                                                                                --Mike Rogers    

    September 11, 2022

    Guaranteed Investment

    Most of us have IRAs, 401Ks, maybe even a 403B, or some other type of retirement account. And most of us are probably, at least, a little concerned with how these investments are doing, especially if we are nearing retirement age or already retired. We may wonder if we have been wise in our decisions. However, there is an investment that is more significant than any financial investment we may have. It is the investment of our time. We use time in three ways: We spend our time—using it to accomplish things of little or no value. We waste our time—use it to accomplish nothing. Or, we can invest our time—use it to accomplish something of lasting value. In this lesson, I will offer three foundational principles regarding time.

    First, time is a gift from God. Therefore, we must use it to glorify Him. Someone once said, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” I don’t know about that, but I know time is a gift from God. We do not deserve it, we have done nothing to earn it, and we should use it to glorify God. Even in our times of suffering, we should glorify God. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph used all those years to bring glory to God. He later explained to his brothers, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:19-20).

    Second, we must think of the time God gives us as an opportunity to get right with Him. Remember what Peter said, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9). Perhaps some of us should consider time an opportunity to get right with God.

    Third, we should invest our time in pleasing God. Paul writes, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Similarly, Paul charges that we invest the time God gives bringing glory to Him because people are watching us, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Col. 4:5). Furthermore, time is far too short to spend frivolously or to waste. James reminds us that our lives “are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Rather, we should think, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (4:13-15).

    --Mike Rogers    

    September 4, 2022

    The Working Christian

    The first recognized Labor Day was observed on Sept. 5, 1882, when about 10,000 workers gathered in New York City for a parade,  concert, picnic, and speeches in the park. This celebration triggered similar events in other cities across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a "workingman's holiday." Congress passed legislation for a “Labor Day” Holiday and President Grover Cleveland signed the bill on June 28, 1894 naming the first Monday in September "Labor Day." Another interesting note is that in 1909 the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as “Labor Sunday.” Many preachers dedicated their sermons to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement. These “Labor Sunday” sermons may have been similar to the following article.

    God’s plan is for man to work. When God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the garden “to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15 ESV). The wise King Solomon declares, “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward” (Eccl. 5:18).

    God will not do what we can do for ourselves. God told Noah to build an ark. He told him why he was to do it, and how to do it. But God did not do it for him. God told King David exactly how He wanted the temple built, and David passed these instructions on to Solomon (see 1 Chron. 28:11-19). God gave instructions but did not build the temple. In Paul’s instruction to the church in Thessalonica, he criticized one who refused to work saying, “If one is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). God has always intended for man to work.

    God also intends for man to rest. God rested from His work on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). God commanded rest in His instructions to Moses: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (Ex. 31:15). God’s law even required that the land rest every seven years (Exodus 23:11). Jesus even encouraged His disciples to rest with Him (Mark 6:31-32). Corporate America is learning the value of rest. An experiment was done in 2017 with one small undisclosed company which required the employees to take one scheduled week off with pay every seven weeks. The creativity went up 33%, happiness rose 25%, and productivity increased 13%.

    God’s plan is clear, we must learn to balance our time for work and rest, but in everything, we must be workers for the Lord (see Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 10:31).

    --Mike Rogers    

  • August 28, 2022

    The Heart of the Church
    Please read Colossians 2.

    The church at Colossae reflects a typical church of today. Many were “faithful” (1:2), but being deceived with “Philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men” (2:8). This clear contradiction between the gospel of Christ and the traditions of the world confused them. Some religious teachers were dictating their diet, holidays, and worship practices (2:16). People were even confusing them with entertaining doctrines such as worship of angels, and visions blown out of proportion (see 2:18). Sound familiar? In the second chapter of this beautiful epistle, Paul encourages his readers to develop the right kind of heart for Christ and the truth. This is just as true for the deceived and confused church today as it was in Colossae in the first century. First, we need courageous hearts (v. 2). Paul’s desire was to comfort, encourage, and cheer up the confused Christians with his teaching of the superiority of Christ. We often get smothered with plausible sounding arguments (v. 4), and taken “captive with empty deception” (v. 8). Many people are unconcerned with the teachings of the Bible. One of the most popular televangelists of the day announced, “We’re not about doctrine. We are about making people feel good about their lives.” How sad! Is not the gospel the only doctrine that provides hope?

    Second, we need loving hearts (v. 2). Paul knew that before the church could withstand the philosophies and elementary principles of the world, they must have hearts “knit together in love” (v. 2). A single thread can usually be broken quite easily; but three or four of the same individual threads twisted together become much stronger. Satan can pick off an isolated Christian much easier than he can two or three together. Our strength is in our unity.

    Third, we need wise hearts (v. 3). Paul wanted the church to understand that a living and dynamic church is blessed with people who understand that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” in Christ (v. 3); not in philosophies and traditions (v. 8).

    Finally, we need committed hearts (v. 5). Paul was thankful that they were firm in their faith in Christ (v. 5) because it is impossible to defeat Satan without it (cf. Heb. 11:6). Paul knew that devoted, steadfast, stable, committed hearts is necessary to fight off the philosophies and traditions of men.

    --Mike Rogers    

    August 21, 2022

    Don’t Let Your Faith in God Slip Away

    I once read of a small boy who went to Sunday school where the teacher taught a lesson on faith and each child was  handed a picture to color with the caption, “Faith in God.” On his way home the paper slipped from the boy’s fingers and flew out the open car window. The boy screamed in distress: "I've lost my 'faith in God'! Stop the car?" The boy’s father pulled to the curb and recovered the paper. Smiling proudly at her husband, the boy’s mother said, "How precious is the innocence of a child." The father, with a deeper thought answered, "We would all be happier if we were wise enough to call a halt when we see our faith in God slipping away."

    It is easy to let our faith slip away when we stop attending Bible Class, and worship service. I have witnessed many Christians through the years slip away without even recognizing they were doing it. The Hebrews writer warns his readers of letting their faith slip away saying, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). The picture painted with the phrase “drift away” is a boat that is loosed from its moorings and slowly and silently slips out to sea. We see this happening with people in the church in many cases. A person misses Bible study a time or two, then they miss worship to attend a ball game or concert, etc. No one misses them at first, but this soon becomes more frequent, until their faith has become so weak that they don’t care anymore (see Heb. 6:4-6).

    The Hebrews writer warns his readers that letting their faith slip away puts them in danger of developing an “evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God” (3:12). They are reminded that it was the lack of faith that destroyed the children of Israel in the wilderness (3:16-19). He encourages his readers, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise  remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it” (4:1). He also encourages his readers to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). He further encourages, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith” (Heb. 12:2a).

    During this challenging time of uncertainty, we must be extra careful not to let our faith in God slip away. Too many are using live-streaming as an excuse not to assemble. Please know one cannot encourage and edify others in the assembly from their living room recliner. While this may be the best some can do due to their condition, please know that if you can assemble and don’t you may be putting your soul in jeopardy (see Heb. 10:25). Please pay careful attention, and do not let your faith in God slip away!

     -Mike Rogers


    August 14, 2022

    Freedom to Choose

    “Free will” is the means by which human beings make choices independently. Every choice we make is based on our prevailing desires—what we want most—what we “will.” For example, what car to buy, college to attend, major to pursue, job to accept, etc. are all influenced by personal desire. Many different factors may determine our desire, but it still is our own choice. While most people accept this, some deny it applies to one’s eternal salvation. They might admit man has a choice, but man chooses what he desires most; and, since man is by nature evil, he cannot choose righteousness over sin unless it is predetermined for him by God. This implies that man has free will in every aspect of life except eternal salvation. In the area of salvation, they wrongly insist that the choice is made specifically and independently for him by God. They call this person God’s “elect.” I understand how one might conclude that human beings are naturally predisposed to evil. Paul states, “None is righteous, no, not one. No one understands; no one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10b-11). Yet, some did choose to seek God and were freed from the slavery of sin (Rom. 6:7). And, to those same people Paul writes, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Rom. 6:12). It certainly sounds like Paul believes these Christians had a choice of following Christ or turning back to a life of sin. Furthermore, when Paul writes, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13 emphasis mine), it does not seem as though they had no say in their own salvation. James implies that everyone has a choice of being a friend of God or His enemy when he writes, “. . . whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4 emphasis mine). Do you think the Scriptures teach salvation is man’s choice? If man does not have free will to choose to be saved, why did Paul teach Timothy that God would have “all men to be saved” (see 1 Tim. 2:4)? Why does Peter write that God does not desire that “any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)? Why did Jesus say, “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, but whoever does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16)? Why did Jesus declare “to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’” (John 8:31-32)? The “if . . . then” statement surely affirms one has a choice to follow the truth and be free, or not. Surely these verses insist that salvation is a matter of one’s own free will! What do you choose?

    -Mike Rogers    

    August 7, 2022


    At least five different philosophies of truth exist today: Relative truth, based on how something relates to something else. Subjective truth, based off of a person's perspective, feelings, or opinions. Normative truth, whatever is accepted by groups of people. Complex truth tries to see validity in all philosophies of truth.

    If someone argues, “if you believe abortion is wrong then it is wrong for you, but if I believe abortion is completely acceptable, then it is not wrong for me.” This person is expressing the popular belief that truth is relative or subjective; and if enough people in society come to believe this then it becomes normative or complex truth.

    The fifth philosophy is Objective truth which is absolute truth based on verifiable evidence. Most modern philosophies argue, “there is no such thing as absolute truth” only when applied to God, religion, or morality. However, it does seem that any kind of absolute truth may be considered irrelevant in our world today if it does not satisfy one’s personal agenda. Media often distorts truth to dress up a story or to promote an agenda. Many people in politics, in business, or just in conversation disregard truth in order to progress their platform, product, or opinion. This seems to have been Pilate’s feelings when he asked Jesus, “What is truth?” in John 18:38. I think Pilate believed Jesus was who He claimed to be, but he was more concerned with preventing a riot than he was with truth. For Pilate, truth was irrelevant at that moment.

    Even in the religious world, we encounter people who seem to think that truth is a matter of personal opinion (subjective), or based on what God has not said (relative), rather than what God has said (objective).

    Jesus declared, “Sanctify them by the truth, Your word is truth” (John 17:17). We can only be set apart from the world through truth. Jesus also asserts that God’s word is truth. Therefore, if we have God’s word, we have the truth. Jesus also stated, “If you continue in My words, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31b-32). One can only be a true disciple of Jesus by continuing to follow His words. If we continually follow His words, we will know the truth. And, nothing but the truth of these words can make us free. Jesus also said, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Man will not be judged by what Jesus did NOT say. We will all be judged by the words revealed in the Bible.

    -Mike Rogers    

  • July 31, 2022

    I Am Thankful

    I am thankful for the encouragement from my brethren The Hebrews writer instructs, “Encourage one another daily . . .” (Heb. 3:13). The Greek verb the writer uses that translates “encourage” literally means to urge, exhort, or to appeal. Jesus uses the noun in John 14:16 that translates “helper.” The idea as relates to this lesson is that we are to be a help to one another as we struggle with the trials of life on a daily basis. Encouragement i.e., being a help to one another can keep one from being taken in by sin. The Hebrews writer also instructs, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). One of the ways the writer instructs us to stimulate one another to love and good deeds is “encouraging one another” (10:25). Do you remember a time when you were on the verge of giving up the faith and a brother or sister encouraged you to persevere? We must be thankful for the encouragement of our brethren!

    I am thankful for the support of my brethren. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, He declares, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5). Even under 24-hour guard in Rome, Paul was thankful for the support of his brethren. Even though Epaphroditus fell sick and was delayed in bringing provisions to Paul, he was still thankful for their support: “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity” (Phil. 4:10). Paul follows this with, “I can do all things through Him that strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction” Phil. 4:13-14). Another way we are supported by our brethren is helping us to bear our burdens. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he declares, “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). How many times have you felt the weight of the world on your shoulders, and a brother or sister in Christ came and helped you bear your burden?

    I am thankful for the correction I have received from my brethren. Paul implores Timothy, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). Correction is good for us all if we accept it with open hearts. It will make us more conscientious Christians. It will make us more devoted to truth. It will deepen our study.

    I am thankful for the encouragement, support, and correction from my brethren. I hope you are too.

    -Mike Rogers    

    July 24, 2022

    Why I Believe the Bible is the Word of God

    A wise man once said, “You open your Bible and read, ‘In the beginning God . . ..’” He added, “If you don’t believe that the rest will mean nothing.” While his point is well taken, I do not accept that our belief/faith in God, His Son, and His word is a blind leap in the dark. Biblical faith is built on evidence (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 1:19-20). Admittedly, this evidence is partly incomprehensible. No one can comprehend how something can be made from nothing. Neither is it humanly possible to comprehend eternity. These things cannot be logically or reasonably explained outside the realm of faith. However, the very existence of the world, and the fact that it cannot be reasonably or  logically explained any other way supports an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent Creator. If one believes this Creator exists, and that He created all things for a purpose, then one must believe that a special revelation from Him is necessary. If that revelation is to be applicable to every generation, it has to be written. Otherwise, it would be susceptible to change. However, the simple fact that our creator would reveal his plan in written form does not give creditable evidence to the Bible as that revelation. Some people believe the Bible is fiction. Some believe the Bible is mostly from God, but has been corrupted by man’s copies; some believe the Bible contains truth, but it is not all truth; and some believe the Bible is God’s complete revelation and reveals everything man needs to know to be everything God wants him to be.

    If a book is God’s revelation to man, you would expect it to make such a claim. The Bible does make this claim: 2 Tim. 3:16 — “all scripture is inspired by God . . ..” The meaning of inspiration, as used here, may be best explained by looking at 2 Peter 1:21: “for no prophecy of scripture was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The phrase “inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16) carries the same idea as “moved” by the Holy Spirit although different Greek words are used. To better understand what takes place in the inspiration of scripture, we compare “moved” by the Holy Spirit with Acts 27:15 as the ship was “driven along” by the wind. Both words, “moved” and “driven along” have the same Greek root. Therefore, the wind moved the ship, in the same way that men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write scripture. Thus, “all scripture is inspired by God” through the Holy Spirit who moved men to write God’s will. Therefore, I believe the New Testament is God’s revelation to man that instructs us on what God, our Creator, desires us to do to be pleasing to Him.

    --Mike Rogers    

    July 17, 2022

    Music in Church

    Many ask why we do not have instruments of music in our church. Before answering this question, it is essential to explain that we get the authority for all we do from the Bible (see Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:18-21). The Bible says, “God is Spirit, and those that  worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Those who worship God “must” worship the way He prescribes. With this said, we answer two common questions on music in the church.

    First, “The Jews used instruments in worship in the Old Testament, so why can’t we use them today?” There is a big difference in temple worship and synagogue worship. Temple worship was in Jerusalem alone; synagogue worship was in any city with ten Jewish male adults. Temple worship involved sacrifices, instruments, and dancing. Synagogue worship involved, praying, reading the Law, exposition, and singing. (McClintock and Strong declare, “Instruments were never used in ancient synagogue worship” [Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature]). Christian worship is based on synagogue worship; not temple worship. We can affirm from the New Testament that singing is the only music approved in Christian worship: “. . . singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19); “. . . singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16); “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also” (1 Cor. 14:15); “. . . in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise” (Heb. 2:12 Qtd. from Psalm 22:22).

    Another question we may hear is, “What about the harp in the book of Revelation?” In Revelation 5:8-9 we read, “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp . . . and they sang a new song.” John was “in the spirit” when he saw this (see 4:2). Also, if the “golden bowls full of incense” represent the “prayers of the saints,” then the harps represent the praise of the saints. This is further indicated by the fact that “they sang.” The second mention of harp in Revelation is in 14:2-3. John did not say he saw or heard harps. He said, “The voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps” (emphasis mine). John heard a melodious “voice.” The third passage is Revelation 15:2-3. The mention of the harp here is part of the sign (15:1) John saw. It represents beautiful praise to God (cf. 14:2). It is not to be understood as a literal harp, but rather as beautiful music in praise to God. In every  passage discussed from Revelation, the scriptures say exactly what this beautiful music is: “They sang” (5:9); “They were singing” (14:3); “They sang” (15:3).

     –Mike Rogers    

    July 10, 2022

    Have You Really Seen My Lord?

    Under the reign of king Uzziah Judah had prospered greatly; and even though King Uzziah had served Judah as a righteous king for many years, he finally became proud and entered the temple to burn incense, which only the priests were allowed to do. King Uzziah was struck with leprosy and confined to a sperate house to live alone until he died (see 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). It was in this same year that Isaiah saw the Lord in a vision. A contrast exists between Uzziah and Isaiah. Uzziah became proud because of his own strength and became ritually impure. Isaiah, on the other hand, humbled himself admitting his sin and cried out in repentance. In this text we are told what Isaiah really saw and heard, when he saw the Lord that day.

    First, Isaiah saw God in His sovereignty. King Uzziah was dead, and Judah was still burning incense on pagan altars, but Isaiah saw a greater King reigning from His heavenly throne. The “train of His robe filling the temple” illustrates God’s sovereignty. Uzziah might be gone, but the sovereign Lord was still King!

    Second, Isaiah saw the Lord in all His glory. Glory is the majestic nature of God. Seraphim were calling to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory” (vv. 2-3). When Isaiah saw the seraphim calling to one another with the triple superlative, he must have realized that Uzziah may have been a good king, but the Lord was the one and only holy One, and He and He alone held the glory that filled the earth. Isaiah saw God’s glory because the seraphim proclaimed His holiness. Our duty before the Lord is to honor His holy nature by living holy lives before Him. Isaiah learned God alone deserves to be in the highest place of honor and glory for all people.

    Third Isaiah saw the presence of God (v. 4). We are told that the “temple was filling with smoke.” Smoke is often used as a symbol for the presence of God (see Ex. 19:18). Seeing the sovereignty of God, the glory of God, and the presence of God changed Isaiah’s life; and he cried, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (6:5). The seraphim cleansed Isaiah of his sin and Isaiah “heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’” Because Isaiah really saw the Lord and it changed his life, he cried out, “Here am I. Send me” (6:8).

    Have we really seen the Lord? Have we really seen Him as sovereign? Have we really seen His glory? Have we really seen His presence? If we see Him like Isaiah saw Him, it will change our lives like it did Isaiah’s.

    --Mike Rogers    

    July 3, 2022

    John 4:34-38

    Making disciples for Jesus is what all Christians should be about. The wise king Solomon writes, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he who is wise wins souls” (Prov. 11:30). In John 4:34-38, Jesus presents two areas of personal evangelism using the metaphor of a wheat crop saying, “He who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36b).

    First, Jesus addresses sowing the seed. Before any seed is sowed in the soil, the soil has to be prepared (cf. Luke 8:5- 15). Just as soil must be prepared for planting, so also the heart. Just as a seed will not grow in infertile soil, the word of God will not grow in infertile hearts. A fertile heart has been properly prepared so that it is open and receptive to truth. When the soil has been properly prepared, then comes the sowing of the seed i.e., planting. Remember, the fruit of a seed is in the seed, not in the soil. Likewise, the fruit of the word is in the word not in the heart. Jesus reminds His disciples, “The words that I have spoken to you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). God’s word planted in honest and receptive hearts will produce “a hundred times as great” (Luke 8:8). However, the word cannot produce fruit if it is not planted in prepared hearts.

    When the seed has been planted in fertile soil and has been nurtured and watered, it breaks through the surface to grow to maturity and be harvested as food for men. When the word of God has taken root in man’s heart, been cultivated by repentance and watered by baptism, the man breaks forth from the watery grave a new creature ready to grow and mature and start sowing the word in others.

    Second, Jesus addresses the harvest. We may think we have plenty of time for harvesting as the disciples did thinking, “there are four months, and then comes the harvest (v. 35). But Jesus points to the Samaritans coming out of the city and proclaims, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white for harvest” (v. 35). The harvest in this text does not refer to the judgement day. It means that the time for man to get to work saving souls is now.

    The one who is reaping is already receiving benefits of joy, peace, the abundant life. Once you become actively involved in personal evangelism and reap the benefits of that labor, you will experience a zeal for Jesus like you never dreamed possible. You will feel like Jeremiah, “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jer. 20:9)

    --Mike Rogers

  • June 26, 2022

    A Model for Evangelism

    When we read the New Testament, we are made keenly aware it is about saving souls. The gospels begin talking about John the Baptist coming “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). People from Jerusalem and all Judea and the surrounding district were coming out to be baptized by him (Matt. 3:5). Jesus was also baptized by John (Matt. 3:13-15). After forty days of temptation, He came out of the wilderness and immediately began calling men to be “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and instructed, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, . . .” (Matt. 28:19-20). He also instructed them to begin their teaching in Jerusalem, move throughout all Judea, then to Samaria, and then to the rest of the world (Acts 1:8). As we read the rest of Acts, we are introduced to Peter, the other apostles, Luke, Stephen, Philip, Saul, Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, Timothy, and many others who were working to save souls by instructing people to repent of their sins, and be baptized to have their sins forgiven (see Acts 2:38; 8:36-38; 22:16; et al.). Saving souls is not a job for one or two people employed by a church. It is what every disciple of Jesus should be about. In John 4, Jesus shows a model for saving souls. First, Jesus did not avoid any place. John declares that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” (4:4). The phrase “had to” does not mean this was a geological consideration. It was a moral obligation. Jesus had a mission “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) no matter where they were. Second, exhaustion did not deter Jesus from His mission. He was extremely tired, but He continued His mission (see 4:6). Third, neither race nor gender prevented Jesus from His mission. She was a Samaritan woman, but He still carried out His mission (4:7-9). Fourth, being alone did not discourage Jesus from His mission. His disciples had gone into town and He was alone (4:8). One of the greatest fears in doing a Bible Study with someone is knowing how to start. Jesus simply asks her for a drink. This was a strange request for a Jew to ask of a Samaritan, but it never-the-less opened the door for conversation. The Samaritan woman did not know where Jesus was going with this question, but Jesus did; and He offered her more than what she had (4:10-14). While the woman still did not fully understand, she desired what Jesus offered (4:15).

    Please join us Sunday as we look deeper into John 4.

    -Mike Rogers    

    June 19, 2022

    Getting to Know the Designer

    Following the evidence presented in a previous lesson, it is understood that the world and everything in it has to come from an intelligent, powerful source which has no beginning. In this lesson, we begin to introduce this source. We begin with Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The name “God” is simply one of many designations for the one who “created the heavens and earth.” He is also called Creator, I AM, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Lord of Hosts, Ancient of Days, Father, Jehovah and Most High. He is called in Hebrew Elohim, El Shaddai, Yahweh, and Adonai. Abba is an Aramaic term used to translate “Father” referring to God. While the term “God” is used to refer to these terms, we can never-the-less see it is simply a way of describing the one powerful, intelligent source.

    The very phrase, “In the beginning, God” implies this source existed before the heavens and the earth came into being. The Hebrew word “created” implies supernatural activity. Therefore, creation is the work of one called God, who existed prior to the creation of the heavens and earth. As we continue on in Genesis 1, we see that this same source, put everything in its place so that it was good. To speak of the essence of God is to speak about who God really is. The word essence is derived from the Latin verb “to be” and is in turn a translation of the Greek word that translates “being.” More than having being, God is being. He makes this point clear when He proclaims His name to
    Moses and explains its meaning in Exodus 3:13-15. When God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, Moses asks, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them? God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM; and He said, thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ God further said to Moses, ‘Thus you will say to the sons of Israel: the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” (Ex. 3:13-15). Understanding that the phrase “I AM” is a term that implies eternal existence, we can learn that this same being is the intelligent, powerful source that existed before anything was created. He is PERIOD. He was not created. He simply exists. We have noted that for anything to come into being, it is necessary for a powerful, intelligent source to exist first. This is what the God of the Bible claims for Himself.

    --Mike Rogers    

    June 12, 2022

    “If You Love Me”
    John 14:15-24

    In John 14:12-14 Jesus declares that His disciples must carry on His work when He is gone. He assures them that He will always answer their prayers, and in verses 16-18 promises to send them “another Helper.” This Helper is the “Spirit of truth” and Jesus later tells them that this Spirit of truth “will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). John 14:15-24 seems to be set in the middle of this discussion to impress upon these disciples that even though it is going to be tough, they can accomplish great things for the kingdom.

    In these verses, we first see the challenge “If you love Me.” This is written as a present active subjunctive and, along with context, implies this: “If you should keep on loving Me even when the world turns against you, you will keep My commandments.” This phrase indicates a condition for righteous obedience. One’s love is identified by how well he keeps Jesus’ commandments. So, the challenge is not to keep the commandments. The challenge is to love.

    Second, Jesus declares, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” This phrase does not reflect simple obedience to law. It reflects a way of life in loving communion with the Father and the Son. It shows obedience out of respect. When one loves Jesus, he will obey Him completely.

    Third, when we love Him and keep His commandments, we receive the benefit. A statement about loving Jesus and keeping His commandments occurs three times in this text (vv. 15, 21, 23). In all three places we learn that a promise of a divine presence coming to the aid of one who loves and obeys: First, He promises that a “Helper,” the “Spirit of truth” will come (14:15-17). Second, Jesus promises to come Himself (14:18-21). Third, He promises that the Father will come along with Him (14:23). There have been various suggestions for understanding when these three will come. However, it seems best to understand the three as one. Jesus will no longer dwell among  them in the flesh, but the Father will send His Spirit whom they will know, “for He dwells with you and will be in you” (v. 17). Likewise, Jesus declares, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We [Jesus and the Father] will come to him and make Our home with him” (v. 23 brackets mine). It seems certain that one cannot separate the Spirit, the Son, and the Father. If one dwells in us, they all dwell in us.

    --Mike Rogers    

    June 5, 2022

    Telling Others About God

    The theme of our Summer Series is “Searching for truth.” (Pick up a flyer on the table by the nursery for a schedule). The first lesson is on God. “Telling Others About God” is also the theme of our VBS. In this lesson, I want to provide an example of how one might tell someone about God who claims not to believe in Him.

    One may begin asking, “How do you feel about God?” If the answer is, “I do not believe in God.” You may ask, “Do you mind telling me why?” They may respond, “If God exists there would not be so much suffering in this world,” or, “Believing in your God is illogical,” or, some other answer. You may then ask, “If I could show you evidence for the existence of God, would you be willing to follow where the evidence leads?” If the answer is “Sure,” or “Maybe?” Then, you may begin asking, “Can you explain where the world came from?” If they respond, “evolution.” You may ask, “Is it possible for something to come from nothing?” You can point out that according to the law of biology, everything must come from something that already exists (biogenesis). You may ask, “If evolution is a possibility, where did the thing come from which other things evolved from?” You may continue, “Would you agree that no type of evolution can explain the origin of the first thing?” (If they are honest, they have to agree). You may then ask, “Does not the evidence suggest that the origin of everything had to begin with something that has no beginning?” If they are following the evidence of biology, they have to agree.

    Up to this point, we have said nothing about God creating anything. We are simply trying to get them to see that it is impossible for  anything that exists to come from itself. Therefore, even if one holds to some idea of evolution, it is only logical to conclude that something that has no beginning is the original source of everything that exists.

    We may then proceed by asking, “Do you agree that the world as we know it has a specific design?” If they follow the evidence of science, they have to agree. You might then respond, “Would you not agree there had to be a designer that knew exactly how to plan and place everything so that it exists together in perfect harmony?”

    I think the case for a conclusion that the world and everything in it had to come from an intelligent, powerful designer has been made. We have not mentioned the word “creation”; we have not used any Bible references to prove anything. In this study, we are simply interested in them seeing the evidence that a powerful, intelligent, designer is the original source of everything that exists.

    -Mike Rogers    

  • May 29, 2022

    Why We Remember?

    Next Monday is Memorial Day in the USA. This is a day set aside to honor Americans who gave their lives for our freedom. Most of us even take this opportunity to honor all who have ever fought for or are fighting for our freedom. However, every first day of the week, Christians have the great privilege of assembling to remember the one who gave His life for the freedom of every person on earth. It was in the upper room, the night before Jesus was crucified, when Jesus took the bread and told his disciples, “This is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Later, when Paul addressed the Church at Corinth, he said, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’” (1 Cor 11:23-26). We remember Christ by eating the bread and drinking the fruit from the vine every first day of the week. But think about why we remember!

    We remember because we are in a war we cannot win (Heb. 10:1-4, 11). Our war is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). It is against Satan’s scheming, conniving, lawless ways. Satan knows our weaknesses and our most vulnerable moments; and that is when and where he becomes most aggressive. As vulnerable, weak human beings, we are incapable of defeating Satan. Paul declares, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We continue to fall short of being able to save ourselves. If not defeated, sin would destroy us (Rom. 6:23). But God demonstrated the greatest love known to man by giving His own Son to destroy sin for us (see John 15:13; Rom. 5:6-11).

    Second, we should remember because nothing else could destroy sin. John declares, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b ESV). The old sacrifices were inadequate to destroy the penalty of sin (Heb. 10:1-4, 11). Before Christ died, man’s sins were remembered every year; Christ took sin away permanently. Christ’s sacrifice was the one-time victory over sin (Heb. 10:12; John 19:30 Rev. 5:9-10).

    Monday, we will honor all those who have died serving our country. Sunday, we honor our Lord who died to free us from the pain and penalty of sin. Remember, without Him we were without God and without hope in the world (Eph.2:12b).

    - Mike Rogers    

    May 22, 2022

    Three Cs in a Successful Marriage
    Lesson 3: Communication:

    I am convinced that all failed marriages are connected, in some way, to the failure to communicate effectively. Studies have shown that couples who communicate effectively are happier, thus their marriages are more likely to be successful. The King James Version of the Bible uses some form of the word “communicate” twelve times in the NT. Six of these (Gal. 6:6; Phil. 4:14, 15; 1 Tim. 6:18; Philemon 1:6; Heb. 13:16) are from the Greek word koinonia. This word translates “share” in the NASB, NIV, and NKJV. Four of the other six references are from the Greek word logos, translated “word,” “speech,” “statement” or the equivalent. One of the other two refers to obscene or abusive speech (Col. 3:8). Based on the use of these words in the NT, it is clear that effective communication in marriage requires the husband and wife sharing themselves—their thoughts, ideas, desires, and needs. Every couple must accept that problems increase when we fail to share our concerns, our feelings, and desires with our mate. Couples who are creating an environment for love to grow will learn to share themselves completely. No secrets can be kept that may affect the relationship. Each one must share their thoughts and ideas and be completely honest, open and receptive to their differences. Second, effective communication requires understanding. James writes, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). The nagging wife and negligent husband are insisting on the same thing— understanding. True understanding involves empathy—trying to see your mate’s perspective. Understanding one another is more about listening than talking. Solomon asserts, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). Understanding also involves Self Control. Every husband, wife, mother, father, brother or sister must remember, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). A husband and wife that control their tongues in times of argument can learn to communicate more effectively. Solomon says, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger . . . A gentle tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:1, 4). He further adds, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a picture of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, KJV). Paul explains a soft answer saying, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29, ESV).

    Join us Sunday night for more on effective communication in a marriage.

    –Mike Rogers

    May 15, 2022

    Commitment In A Successful Marriage

    When asked why they want to get married, almost every couple responds, “I love him/her. But, after a few years, as many as 75% of those will ask, “Where did the love go?” One reason this happens is because too many couples enter marriage with misconceptions concerning love. They think “Nothing can make me stop loving him/her,” or “If I love him/her enough he/she will change.” All of the misconceptions about love come from one idea:“Love will keep us together.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “It is not love that sustains your marriage, but marriage that sustains your love.” What this means is that love has to be fed to survive, and true marriage feeds love. A successful marriage requires a better understanding and application of three basic principles: commitment, compromise, and communication. (Space does not permit me to deal with all three, so our focus is on Commitment).

    If I asked what single four-letter word most accurately describes a wedding, what would you say? The most common answer is LOVE. But this is the wrong answer. The four-letter word that describes a wedding is VOWS. The wedding vows is the commitment a couple is promising to keep to one another.

    Commitment can be defined as “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.” A couple committed to a marriage is simply both giving themselves totally to the relationship. This relationship takes priority over everything. Every desire, every plan, every dream, every goal. It is keeping the promise, obligation, and pledge a couple made in their wedding vows.

    The general principal of Genesis 2:24 suggests the broad idea of total commitment: “. . . for this reason shall a man leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Jesus quotes this in Matt. 19:5 and follows it with, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). This describes the “one flesh” idea and also expresses the commitment God intended for couples to have in their marriage. One writer suggests that a marriage involves three rings: the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. Ultimately, it is not the amount of suffering that determines whether a couple sticks it out—it is the strength of their commitment. If our marriages are going to be successful, we are going to have to focus on our vows and remain committed to the promises, obligation, and pledges we made in those vows.

    --Mike Rogers

    May 8, 2022

    A Tribute to Mothers

    In his acceptance speech, after being named MVP of the NBA, Kevin Durant spoke to his mother saying, “We weren't supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs. You put food on the table. When you didn't eat, you made sure we ate and [you] went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP.”

    Sunday is a special day set aside to pay special tribute to our mothers. This day of celebration was established on May 9, 1914 by an act of Congress when, out of love and respect for his own mother, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May, “Mother's Day.” At the death of his mom, Wilson is quoted as saying, “Her loss has left me with a sad, oppressive sense of having somehow suddenly lost my youth. I feel old and responsibility-ridden.” A similar idea for honoring women was first started in 1870, after the American Civil War. Julia Ward Howe (Writer of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) called for an assembly of women to honor those who had died in battle and to promote peace in the families on both sides. After a few years, Anna Reeves Jarvis involved herself with the peace movement and appealed for a day in which prayers for mothers and their children, as well as peaceful solutions, would be attained. In 1907 Jarvis’s daughter continued the campaign and started the tradition of carnations to honor all mothers—white for those mothers who had deceased, and red for those still living. The carnation tradition has almost ceased, but we still honor our mothers.

    Motherhood is not perceived as exciting and glamorous by most people. Yet, motherhood is the most honorable position a woman can hold because it is a role God gave exclusively to women (Gen. 3:20). No matter how many 2AM feedings a husband or father responds to, or how many diapers he changes, he will never be a mom. No matter how badly he desires to be a woman or how many operations he undergoes he will never give birth to a living being. It was to the woman that God said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16).

    Motherhood seems to be a natural role for a woman, because they seem to gravitate toward children. I have seen this multiple times in my life. How many single or childless women do you know who are school teachers and have a compassion for children? It seems that most women desire to be a mom at some point in their lives.

    --Mike Rogers    

    May 1, 2022

    Full Assurance of Faith

    Heb. 10:19-11:1, 6

    The Hebrews writer explains faith in 11:1 saying, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There is much discussion on what the words that translate assurance and conviction really mean with regards to faith. Some ascribe to the idea that faith is “confident assurance” of what is not seen, while others prefer the idea that faith gives substance or evidence to what is not seen. In either case, faith is the means by which we can know that what we hope for is a reality. Thus, in a sense, faith is our guarantee that eternal life with God is real. However, this guarantee is not a blind leap in the dark. It is based on substantiated evidence.

    The definition of faith as the writer presents it in 11:1 is a summary of what has been written in chapter 10:19-25. First, he offers the reason for our confidence: “Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus . . . and since we have a great high priest over the house of God”.

    Second, he offers the means to our confidence: “let us draw near” to the holy place “with a sincere heart” i.e., genuinely open and receptive to the truth about Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. He further encourages, let us draw near “in full assurance of faith” i.e., the guarantee provided by our trusting in Jesus; and let us draw near “having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” i.e., repentance; and let us draw near having “our bodies washed with pure water” i.e., baptism (10:22).

    Third, once we "draw near" it is essential to "hold fast" in order to maintain our confidence (10:23). The writer insists that we hold fast "the confession of our hope without wavering" counting on the promise of God (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). However, no one can maintain this confidence all by himself. Therefore, the Hebrews writer offers further encouragement saying, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds." We do this by “assembling together” and “encouraging one another” (10:24-25). The writer also asserts that faith is expressed when we “come” to God in belief i.e., in full assurance of faith; when we truly believe that “God is” i.e., that God exists; and, when we believe that God rewards those who seek Him i.e., we will have the hope of our faith.

    You may remember faith can be defined as, “Trusting God to do what He said He would do when we do what He asks us to do.” If you look at each character in chapter 11, you notice that their faith moved them to obedience. Faith only provides assurance when we do what God asks us to do.

    --Mike Rogers    

  • April 24, 2022

    Growing as a Christian

    I once read a story that compared one who failed to grow spiritually to the fairy tale character, Peter Pan. It is said that some adults who refuse to grow up have a condition called “Ponce de Leon syndrome.” It is named after the man who supposedly found the fountain of youth. But, if a person without a mental handicap becomes an adult and refuses to take on adult responsibilities, he/she is looked down on, ridiculed, and often considered a menace to society; and in some cases, rightly so (see 1 Cor. 13:11). Yet, when one becomes a Christian and refuses to grow spiritually it is an even greater tragedy. Yet few people look at this person with the same contempt as one who refuses to take on adult responsibilities.

    In Hebrews 5:11-6:2, the writer insists that many of his readers had been Christians long enough that they should be teaching others (v. 12). Now, there is a time when Christians should not teach (see James 3:1). For example, spiritual maturity does not usually exceed emotional maturity. We cannot expect one who is 15 years old and been a Christian two years to be as mature and capable of teaching as one who is twenty-five years old and been a Christian two years. Neither would we expect an adult who has been a Christian for three years to be as spiritually mature as one who has been a Christian for twenty-five years. There is a time for spiritual immaturity.

    However, it is unacceptable for one who has been a Christian for twenty-five years to be as unlearned and immature as one who is a babe in Christ. This is what the Hebrews writer addresses when he informs his readers that they “have need of milk” (v. 12c). Milk is a pre-digested food given to a baby. But as a baby grows physically, he develops a desire for table food. The same thing should happen for Christians. We can feast on “milk” for a while. But there must come a time when we leave the milk and start feasting on the “meat” (5:14).

    The Hebrews writer offers help for maturing spiritually. First, we must believe in ourselves: “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you . . .” (6:9a). Second, we must believe in God: “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (6:10). Third, we must work at it: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:11-12). Join us Sunday for more! 

    --Mike Rogers    

    April 17, 2022

    Overcoming Temptation

    The book of Hebrews may be the most needed study in the church today because sin is still the most difficult and pejorative problem in our world. Hebrews acknowledges that sin can be enjoyable and have its pleasures. However, the writer informs us that these pleasures are only temporary acknowledging that Moses chose “rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25). This letter also informs us of the destructive nature of sin. He writes that sin is “deceitful” (3:13) and sin “entangles us” (12:1). When we are deceived and entangled by sin, we have a tendency to neglect salvation through Christ (2:3), our hearts grow hard (3:7, 8), we become tired of listening about how great Jesus is (5:11), we stop assembling together (10:25), and finally we reject God completely (12:25). When this happens, we “fall” (4:11), and forfeit our eternal “rest” (3:18-4:7).

    The letter to the Hebrews offers us some very timely encouragement and answers as to how we might overcome the temptations we face and avoid falling into eternal condemnation.

    First, we have the word to help us: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). The message they heard from the apostles about Jesus was most important in helping them from drifting away from Jesus. It will help us too.

    Second, we have the example of Jesus. The writer warns, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the  heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16). As a human being, Jesus was “tempted in all things” like every man (Heb. 4:15); and by enduring the temptations He is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus understands what it means to be tempted. He also knows how to overcome temptations. Therefore, if we will learn more about Jesus, and follow His example, we can be better equipped to overcome our own temptations.

    Third, we have one another to help us. The writer uses the phrase, “Let us” thirteen times empathizing with his readers. Further, in 3:13 he advises, “Encourage one another day after day as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Encouragement from our brothers and sisters can help us overcome.

    –Mike Rogers    

    April 10, 2022

    Human Gender Identity as Determined by God

    In our world, people seem to think they can be whatever gender they choose. As a matter of fact, in order to disassociate gender from sex, some states are allowing people to classify themselves as gender x. I am not sure what this means, unless it means one can be whatever gender he or she may choose. It seems pretty easy to change one’s “natural gender” these days – an operation here, an implant or reduction there and voilà, you are whatever you want to be. But, no amount of desire, or surgeries can change one’s natural gender. Most everyone, with any amount of intelligence at all, recognizes this fact. So, many have decided to redefine gender so that the word does not associate with sex, but with desire. A brief internet search on the Bible and gender identity, revealed an amazing number of articles claiming that one’s sex is determined at conception, but one’s gender is determined by one’s heart. 

    However, from the earliest known sources, one’s “gender” was decided by one’s sex. If the child was born male, he was masculine gender. If the child was born female, she was feminine gender. There was no other gender, or sex.

    In the beginning God created only two sexes, male and female (Gen. 1:27); and God “saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). He created male and female for the purpose of reproduction (Gen. 1:28). Even in the animal world, a male and a female are required for reproduction. Furthermore, Moses, by inspiration from God describes how Adam and Eve were perfectly comfortable in
    their God-given, gendered bodies. He writes, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). There was no gender dysphoria (a modern term used by psychologists to describe one’s dissatisfaction with their God-given gender). One can read the Bible from cover to cover, and he will find every human either identified as a man or a woman i.e., masculine gender or feminine gender.
    There is no mention of gender x, transgender, decided gender, or gender of choice. One was born male or female and that was their natural gender.

    Even after the creation, God was insistent on human gender identity. Moses relays God’s law to the children of Israel saying, “A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God (Deut.22:5). God had specific dress for men and women and they were not to interchange.

    (Please read Deut. 23:1ff; 1 Cor. 11:2-16; 1 Cor. 6:9-10 to further prepare for Sunday’s sermons).

    –Mike Rogers    

    April 3, 2022

    The Crucifixion

    The crucifixion of Jesus was the most tragic, inhumane display of injustice in the history of the world. However, it was also the most unselfish display of divine love ever revealed. All preparations had been made for the crucifixion. The sign had been painted (Matt. 27:37), soldiers assigned to the execution detail (John 23; Matt. 27:54). The cross built and laid on the shoulders of Jesus (John 19:17). Now just before 9:00 AM the procession started north toward Golgotha. Weak from the Roman scourging, Jesus could not bear up under the weight of the cross, so Simon of Cyrene was chosen from the crowd to bear the cross (Mark 15:21).

    Arriving at Golgotha, the soldiers offered Jesus some wine mixed with myrrh (a sort of sedative), but He refused. Jesus was stripped of His clothes, and nailed to a cross. Pilate placed a sign “above His head” that read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:37). The sign was “written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek” (John 19:20). The chief priests protested, but Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written” (John 19:21-22).

    At the third hour (9AM), with Jesus nailed to the cross, the cross was raised and dropped into the hole. The soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ garments. Hanging there between two thieves, Jesus was naked and completely exposed in total humiliation. The place of the skull was on the main road leading in and out of Jerusalem, so everyone who passed saw Him. Those who passed by were “hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mark 15:29-30). Even one of the thieves was criticizing Him saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39). But the other thief, rebuked him, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41).

    Jesus spoke seven times from the cross. In the first three hours (9AM-Noon): Jesus spoke three times, all out of concern for others. “From the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour” (Matt. 27:45a). From noon to 3:00PM; during these three hours, Jesus spoke four times out of concern for Himself.

    Please join us Sunday as we consider the crucifixion of Jesus; and look more intently at the seven sayings of Jesus as He hung suspended between heaven and earth, between God and man.

    --Mike Rogers

  • March 27, 2022

    Jesus’ Arrest

    Shortly after Jesus started His ministry the Scribes, Pharisees, and even the High Priest began looking for ways to trap Jesus into something for which they could legitimately charge Him (Matt. 12:14; 21:15, 23; 22:15). With every attempt, Jesus had an answer for which they could not discredit Him. Finally, “they plotted together to seize Him by stealth and kill Him” (Matt. 26:4). Yet, they decided to wait for the Passover to end because they were afraid of a riot from the people (Matt. 26:5). But when Judas came into the meeting and offered to betray Him to them, they eagerly agreed (Luke 22:4-5).

    After Jesus spent several hours in the garden in prayer, He went out to finish what He was sent to do. All proceedings leading up to the arrest of Jesus were illegal by Roman and Jewish policy (Matt. 26:1-5): The chief priest and elders of the Jews plotted to kill Him even if they had to do it by deception (Matt. 26:4); they were glad to pay Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray Him (Matt. 26:14-16). (Maybe they thought if one of His own followers accuse Him, then the people would not be so likely to cause a riot).

    After Jesus concluded His prayers, He told Peter, James, and John that the time had come for Him to be glorified and at the entrance of the garden they met Judas leading “a crowd” (Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47; “large crowd” Matt. 26:47). This crowd carried “swords and clubs” (Matt. 26:47; Mark 14:43); John reads “lanterns and torches and weapons” (18:3). Apparently, they were expecting some resistance. But there was none. Jesus plainly told them that He was the one they were looking for (John 18:4-7). Judas identified Jesus with a kiss. Maybe the kiss was simply to fulfill prophecy even though I can find no evidence that the kiss was prophesied. Or, some have suggested that Jesus was not as well-known as we might think. Yet, the chief priests and elders of the Jews, who were in the crowd (Luke 22:52), would have certainly recognized Jesus under normal circumstances. Maybe it was because it was dark and Judas would have been able to distinguish Jesus from the rest even in the dark. Whatever the reason for the kiss, Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the darkness of night, and  taken captive by a crowd of people including “the chief priests, officers of the temple, and elders” (Luke 22:52). In an  attempt to defend Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ right ear. Jesus told him to put his sword up and “He touched his ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51). With this, they led Jesus away to face Annas first, and then Caiaphas. Join us Sunday as we look at these trials.

    –Mike Rogers

    March 20, 2022

    The Last Supper (John 13-17)

    Peter and John had prepared for the feast on Thursday. They had found the upper room furnished just as Jesus had in-
    structed. Early on Friday, just after sunset (if my time line is correct), Jesus and the twelve gathered in the upper room
    to eat the Passover meal. While eating the Passover with Jesus, the disciples got into a dispute about who is the greater
    disciple (Luke 22:24-25). This dispute between the apostles may have been going on prior to entering the upper room,
    because it would have been common practice for a servant to be posted at the door to wash the guests’ feet as they en-
    tered. Apparently, this was not done. So, rather than settling the dispute with words, Jesus got up from the table wrapped
    a towel around Himself, took a basin of water and proceeded to wash each disciple’s feet (see John 13:4-11).

    After Jesus had washed their feet and returned to the table, He explained that they “called Him Teacher and Lord” im-
    plying that they accepted Him as being superior to them, yet He had humbled Himself to serve them. Therefore, they
    were to do to one another what He had done to them. This did not necessarily mean washing feet. It meant humbling
    themselves and loving one another enough to be a servant to one another (John 13:12-17, 34-35).

    Then, what was heavy on the heart of Jesus came forth and He explained that not everyone of them were clean and the
    unclean one would betray Him. The disciples questioned who it was that would betray Him. Jesus identified the one
    who would betray Him by handing him a piece of bread (John 13:18-32). The only disciple that understood what
    was happening was Judas, and when Jesus had given Him the piece of bread, “Satan entered into him” again (see 13:2)
    and Jesus told him to do what he had to do quickly.

    The third discussion came as Jesus began to explain that He is going away, and they were not ready to go with Him
    (John 13:33-14:6). He said this in regards to His death, but they did not understand it, so Jesus began to comfort and
    encourage them (John 14:1-16:33).

    Then, before leaving the upper room, Jesus prayed to the Father, “I have finished the work which you gave Me to do”
    (John 17:4). “I have manifested Your name unto the men which You gave Me out of the world” (John 17:6). “I have
    given unto them the words which You gave Me” (John 17:8). “As you have sent Me into the world, even so have I
    sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Jesus then prays for unity through His word (17:20-21). “After singing a hymn,
    they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26).

    –Mike Rogers

    March 13, 2022

    The Scheming Sanhedrin
    Matt. 26:3-5; Mark 14:1, 2; Luke 22:1, 2

    The discourse of Jesus teaching His disciples on Mount Olivet likely went on past sundown on Tuesday, which, according to the way Jews counted time, would have been Wednesday. This harmonizes Matthew 26:2 when Jesus says, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming.” The Passover being on Friday, two days before could make this event on Wednesday. We are not told what Jesus did on Wednesday. He may have been teaching in the temple, or He may have rested. Most of the scriptures recorded for Wednesday are reserved for the enemies of Christ.

    Christ may have rested on Wednesday, but His enemies did not. The Sanhedrin met in secret session in the court of Caiaphas, the high priest (Matt. 26:3). In this meeting “they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth (secret deception), and kill Him” (Matt. 26:4, parenthesis mine). Previously Caiaphas had presided over a meeting when the decision was made to have Jesus killed (John 11:47-53). Their attempts at discrediting Jesus on Tuesday had failed, and He was more popular than ever. They were afraid to take Jesus publicly for fear of a riot from the people (see Luke 22:2b), and they could not capture Him privately because they did not know where to find Him (see
    John 18:2). They concluded that they would have to wait until the feast was over to capture Him (see Mark 14:2).

    Just as the Sanhedrin had resolved to wait, “Satan entered into Judas” (Luke 22:3a) and he “went to the chief priests, and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?” (Matt. 26:14, 15a). Luke’s account says that Judas “discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them” (Luke 22:4). The chief priests and officers “were glad and agreed to give him money” (Luke 22:4b, 5). Matthew reports, “They weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 26:15b). This may have been as much as four months wages. Some suppose this amount was only a down payment based on Mark 14:11: “and they were glad when they heard this and promised to give him money.” If this is a promise for additional money, then the thirty pieces of silver was only the down payment. There is no way to prove this however, and even if Scripture supported it, Judas did not accept any more money; and even regretted taking what he had and tried to return it (see Matt. 27:1-5).

    After this secret meeting with the chief priests, Judas “began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him” (Matt. 26:16).

    --Mike Rogers    

    March 6, 2022

    A Call to Discipleship
    Luke 5:1-11

    Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee, and a multitude of people were following Him listening as He proclaimed “the word of God”  from Peter’s boat (Luke 5:1, 3). When He had finished teaching, He told Peter, “Launch out into the deep water and let down your nets for  a catch” (Luke 5:4). These instructions struck Peter as odd, because he knew the best time to fish was at night, and the best place was in shallow water. Besides, they had fished all night and caught nothing. “Nevertheless” Peter said, “at Your word I will let down the nets.” He did as he was told and his boat, as well as James and John’s boat was filled with fish. He fell to his knees and said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). Obviously, Peter did what Jesus instructed, but certainly, never expected to catch the fish he did.

    We are often like this. We may do some things Jesus asks us to do, but never expect a change. We go to church, but do not expect to grow in our relationship to God or one another. We pray, but never really expect to get what we pray for. Jesus taught Peter and the rest of the crowd that He can deliver when one submits to Him.

    Bringing their boats to shore Peter, Andrew, James and John left everything and followed Jesus. They left their boats, nets, family and servants, even the catch of fish. Following Jesus had become their priority.

    True disciples of Jesus must listen to Jesus. Even though Peter did not understand the reasoning behind Jesus’ instruction, he listened to Him. Sometimes, we may not fully understand all required of us, but if we will just do it, we might be surprised at the outcome. Peter had no reason to expect to catch any fish, especially two boat loads. Yet, he did what Jesus told him to do and the outcome was life-changing.

    True disciples must follow Jesus. When the disciples got back to the land, they left everything and followed Jesus. Our greatest priority must be to follow Jesus wherever He leads (cf. Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 10:31). Jesus declares, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37-38).

    To be a true disciple of Jesus, we must listen to Him—whatever He says, and follow Him wherever He leads. Join us this weekend, for lessons on “Discipleship Is . . .” delivered by Bobby Rawson.

    -Mike Rogers