Mike's Message

Mike Rogers' Messages

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

  • December 10, 2023


    The Way to the Father


    In John 13, Jesus has just told His apostles that He was going away. They did not understand. So, Jesus explained: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:1-4 NKJV). But, Thomas, revealing his confusion said, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way” (John 14:5). Answering “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).


    Jesus had just told them, one would betray Him, one would deny knowing Him three times before daylight, and all would abandon Him Matt. 26:20-35). This troubled His apostles, and Jesus provides three avenues of comfort. First, He says, “You believe in God.” These apostles never had any question about the reality, power, and providence of God. So, if they believed in God, they should also believe in Jesus. They had witnessed the miracles, the teachings, and the fact that Jesus was the Son of God (John 6:68-69). They did not understand Jesus’ real purpose, but they knew He was from God, so they should believe Him too. Second, Jesus extends comfort saying He was going to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. They, like all of us, could not fathom a place in the Father’s house, but to believe that Jesus is going there to prepare a place for them should be a source of great comfort.


    The third point of comfort is that Jesus would come back and get them. The apostles had spent the past three years with Jesus. They had learned to depend on Him for almost every need. Now, He is going away and they cannot go with Him. To hear Him say He is coming back had to give them great comfort.


    Jesus said to them they know where He is going, and they know the way. But, Thomas said, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way. Jesus had just told them He was going to prepare a place in His Father’s house, but it is obvious that they did not understand what that meant completely. So, Jesus made it very clear that the only way to the Father was through Him saying, “I

    am the way.” He then declared, “I am the truth” reiterating that He is the only way to the Father. He explained the great benefits of following Him to the Father saying, “I am the life.” Join us Sunday for more on this text!


    --Mike Rogers     



    December 3, 2023


    Victory in Jesus


    John was in exile on the small island of Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9). He “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” when he heard behind him a “loud voice like a trumpet.” Turning to the voice he saw “one like a son of man” standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands. The man was wearing a long robe with a golden sash around his chest. His hair was white like wool; his eyes like a flame of fire; his feet like burnished bronze. His voice was like the roar of many waters. “From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and his face was like the sun  shining in full strength.” John “fell at his feet as though dead” (v. 17). But the one like a man laid his right hand on him and said, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forever more, and I have the keys to Death and Hades” (v. 18). You must know John was filled with excitement and felt a strong sense of hope for the  persecuted church.

    In Revelation chapter 4 John is once again “in the Spirit.” He is ushered into the throne room of God. He saw one sitting upon the throne. Around the throne were twenty-four elders wearing white garments with golden crowns on their heads. John must be getting more and more excited about victory over the persecution.


    Then, as chapter 5 begins, John saw a scroll in the right hand of the one seated on the throne. This scroll was written on the inside and on the outside. It was tightly sealed with seven seals. John must know this scroll holds the answers to the end of persecution and victory for the church. And John “saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals’” (5:2)? No one in heaven, or in the earth or on the earth or under the earth was  found worthy to open the scroll. And John began to weep loudly. His excitement deflated; his hope shattered.


    Then, just as all hope was lost, one of the elders said to him, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (5:5). John looked up maybe expecting to see a strong, fierce, courageous figure, but he sees a meek, innocent, gentle lamb standing, as though it had been slain— dead but alive (cf. 1:18). When the Lamb took the scroll from the right hand of God, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders and myriads of angels, along with every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea fell down before him and began singing and worshipping (5:9-14). Victory in Jesus!


                                      --Mike Rogers




  • November 26, 2023


    I Am Thankful for the Cross


    “Were You There?” is an old spiritual sung by slaves to ease the pain of their own suffering. They understood the humiliation of being stripped naked and paraded across the auction block. They could relate to the pain and brutality that Christ suffered as His skin was lacerated by a Roman scourge. The tune and words are almost haunting as we are asked, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The heart wrenches with each verse as we place ourselves at the foot of the cross watching with our mind the crucifixion. The original song included in William E. Barton’s Old Plantation Songs (1899) had four stanzas: Were you there when they crucified my Lord? . . . when they nailed him to the cross? . . . when they pierced him in the side? . . . when the sun refused to shine? Many other songbooks, include a fifth stanza: “Were you there when they laid him in the tomb.” In the words of this song, we see the humiliated Christ stripped of all dignity and honor; we feel the pain as the nails are driven into His hands and feet; we watch and cringe as the blood and water flows from His spear-pierced side. We tremble with fear as the ground begins to shake, and as darkness overcomes the midday sun. We feel His loneliness as He pleads, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We feel a helpless sense of remorse, as His dead body is laid in the tomb.


    None of us were there in body when Christ died, but this song, takes us back to that terrible, yet blessed day when Jesus took all our sins upon Himself, and provided for us the hope for eternal life. Unfortunately, the verse that asks, “Were you there when the sun refused to shine” has been removed from the version recorded in our book, but two verses are added that provide hope: “Were you there when He rose up from the grave?” and “I’ll be there when the Savior calls my name.” The love and grace of the cross were illuminated in the darkness as Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself. Just as the scape goat would carry the sins of Israel away under the old sacrificial system, Jesus took the sins of the world to the tomb and claimed victory over death by His own resurrection. Isaiah wrote “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (Isa. 25:8). The cross should cause us to be thankful for the love and mercy Jesus has for sinners—that he willingly suffered the humiliation and pain that is due me.


    While I am sorry my Lord had to endure the cross, I am thankful, because without it I would have no hope.


    --Mike Rogers     



    November 19, 2023


    Thanksgiving


    I read a story that told of an older couple who had no children that had begun the practice of inviting young families who could not be with their own families into their home for Thanksgiving. As the invited couple entered the home, they smelled the delightful aroma of turkey and all the trimmings. As they all made their way to the dinner table, they observed a great feast set before them! But as the young wife scanned the table, she noticed something uncommon and out of place. Among the turkey, dressing, casseroles, and sweet potato pie were three Chinese takeout cartons and a plate of egg rolls! "I know what you're thinking," the homeowner said. "Why is there Chinese takeout on the table?" "You see," he explained, "40 years ago on our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife, my dear wife burned the turkey and started a fire in our kitchen! In fact, our entire kitchen nearly caught fire and the whole Thanksgiving meal was ruined . . .. So, after the fire department left," he chuckled, "we ordered Chinese takeout and that was our Thanksgiving meal! And every year since, we've had Chinese takeout as a part of our meal to remind us to be thankful for what we have!"


    I don’t know what your Thanksgiving traditions involve, but I hope there is something special to remind you of how much you have to be thankful for.


    “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalms 118:1). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything giving thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:16-18). “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called into one body, and be thankful” (Col. 3:15). “. . . always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:20). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).


    Life is not always easy, but we all have much to be thankful for. We are thankful for God. It is through Him we have hope. We are thankful for one another. It is through one another that we draw strength and courage. We are thankful for the word of God. It is the truth that shows us the will of God.


    This year, I hope Thanksgiving isn't just a holiday for you. I hope it reminds you of all that God has done and continues to do for us all. We serve a wonderful God who rains. His love down on us every day. Be Thankful!


    -Mike Rogers     



    November 12, 2023


    The Power of the Assembly
    Hebrews 10:24-31


    The Hebrews writer is addressing Christians who are slipping back into a former way of life. Many Christians today are influenced by our culture to go the way of the world. Maybe we do not think we are; maybe we do not intend to, but when we do what the world does rather than what God desires, we cannot be in any other way but in the world. It is as Jesus said, “men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). We do this, not because it is easier to follow the world, but because the world has a greater influence on us than God does. We spend more time in the world than we do with God, His word, and His people. This may sound judgmental, but the world is in darkness and their deeds are evil. So, if we follow the influences of the world, we are in darkness, and our deeds are evil. The Hebrews writer had given his readers three previous warnings in this letter, the warning not to neglect the “great salvation” provided by Jesus (2:1-3), the warning not to harden the hearts to the truth (3:7-4:1), the warning of falling away from the truth (6:4-6), and now he turns to a fourth warning of not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together (10:25-31. There is a fifth warning in chapter 12:25-26 of turning away from God. We can see the natural progression of these warnings, neglect, hard hearts, falling away, forsaking the assembly, and finally rejecting God. Obviously, the warning in 10:24-31 is about stimulating one another to love and good works, but the writer instructs us to do this by “assembling together” and “encouraging one another.” If we don’t, the only thing we have to look forward to is a judgment of fire, i.e., hell. Have you ever considered your personal role in encouraging others by being in the assembly? Consider the warning to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some.” There can be no other conclusion to this warning than that those who are in the habit of forsaking the assembling together are in danger of the “fury of fire” in judgment. Assembling together is often thought of as the worship service, and this is certainly included. But when we put it in the context of encouragement, and note that the Hebrews writer instructs his readers to “encourage one another day after day” (3:13), we are forced to accept that much more than a worship service is implied. When we are in the habit of not assembling with the church whenever she meets, we are in danger of the eternal fires of Hell. Are you in the habit of choosing to be a part of something in the world rather than assembling together with the people of God? Think about it!


                                                                                                                       --Mike Rogers



    November 5, 2023


    “Contend for the Faith”


    We are living in a time when many people have little or no respect for authority. Our jails are full of those who have no respect for the authority of the laws of the land. This disrespect and blatant disregard for authority begins with a people who do not know the Bible and have no respect for the truth. General truths may be learned from various sources. Text Books, Magazines, News Papers, even teachers can teach truth about various subjects. But, until we all accept that “the truth” that matters most—that will give proper direction and guidance to one’s life—can only be found in God’s word, we will never be a people with the kind of respect for authority that God intends for mankind to have.


    Even in everyday life, if we do not recognize that proper authority provides precise guidance, we are in trouble. The captain on the bridge of a large naval vessel saw a light ahead on a collision course. He signaled, “Alter your course ten degrees south.” The reply came back, “Alter your course ten degrees north.” The captain then signaled, “Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a captain.” The reply: “Alter your course ten degrees north. I am a seaman third-class.” The furious captain signaled, “Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a battleship.” The reply: “Alter your course ten degrees north. I am a lighthouse.” You see, authority is often determined by what it is, such as the word of God. If we do not recognize the value of proper authority, we will make many decisions that will be detrimental to our lives — not to mention eternal anguish and devastating pain.


    Jude’s letter warns of the danger of disrespect for the authority of God’s word that false teachers are promoting. He encourages his readers that the only way to overcome the threat is to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).


    The word “contend,” refers to a determined contentious battle. Jude reveals that the Christian faith is under attack by false teachers. The only way they would defeat the false teaching is by putting up a strong convicted fight for the authority of  the word.


    Our faith is being threatened more now than at any time in my lifetime. The truth of God’s word is being challenged when people say it is relative. People are being sucked into the false teaching of our world by plausible sounding arguments that are contrary to Scripture. The only way we can defeat these lies is to “contend for the faith” revealed in the word of God. Will you fight for the truth?


                                                                                                                                                                                          --Mike Rogers


  • October 29, 2023


    Women Praying and Prophesying


    1 Corinthians 11:3-5 tells of women praying and prophesying; most commentators think Paul is referring to a worship assembly in these verses because “pray” and “prophecy” are verbs that describe two acts of Christian worship. The New Testament confirms women praying and prophesying. Luke records, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy . . .” (Acts 2:17). Luke also mentions a prophetess named Anna (Luke 2:36-38). Likewise, Philip the evangelist “had four virgin daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21:9). Yet, Scripture does not mention any of these women prophesying in worship assemblies. The same is true for women leading in prayer in a worship assembly. There is no Scripture that speaks of a woman praying or prophesying in a public assembly.


    There are two ways to view this text. We can assume it refers to a worship assembly, but based on what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, he cannot be approving of women leading in worship. Or, it might not be referring to an assembly for worship at all. I suggest it does not refer to a worship assembly.


    Origen (AD 185-254) did not believe 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 speaks of a worship assembly. In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, he “observed that various women who are said to have prophesied in Scripture need not have done it in a public assembly.” Jack Lewis declares, “While it is commonly assumed that 1 Corinthians 11:5 is dealing with actions of women in the assembly and also assumed that Paul gave his approval to what is being done, there is nothing in the text that says so” (The Role of Women in the Assembly; [Lecture presented at “Thinking Christianly,” 79th Harding University Bible Lectureship, Searcy, Ark.]. 8-9). Nothing in this text says Paul approved of women leading in worship, or that these verses even refer to an assembly for worship.


    In verse 17, Paul uses the most common transitional conjunction to move from one thought to another. The natural way to understand this conjunction is that what follows is the point of emphasis, not what precedes it. So, Paul says, “But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you come together as a church . . .” (vv. 17-18a). The idea of coming together is prevalent in verses 17-34, but is absent in verses 2-16. Since Paul makes a clear transition in verse 17 mentioning the church coming together, and says nothing about the church being together in verses 2-16, there is no reason to determine that 2-16 refers to a worship assembly.


                                                                                                           --Mike Rogers




    October 22, 2023


    Lord, Teach Us to Pray

    Luke 11:1-4


    The disciples must have seen something very unique in Jesus as He prayed, else why would they have asked Him to teach them to pray “just as John taught his disciples.” As I read this text, I ask myself, “Do I pray like Jesus prayed?” I admit I have not always had the proper state of mind when I prayed. Maybe I was being selfish, or routine. I don’t think I was intentionally irreverent, or insincere. I just think, sometimes, my prayers were not as intense and filled with the faith they should be. I believe the disciples saw the intensity, sincerity, and unmitigated devotion to the Father as they watched Jesus pray. In this model prayer we learn several things about how to pray. 


    First, we learn that prayer must begin with deep, sincere, reverence for the Father — “Father, hallowed be Your name.” The word “hallowed” refers to God’s holiness. When we pray, we must honor His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature. 


    Second, when we pray, we must have a deep desire for the complete will of God to be accomplished. Jesus instructed them to say, “Your kingdom come.” His apostles probably did not fully comprehend this statement, but Jesus was teaching more about devotion and trust than the specific words they were to use. Jesus was instructing them to desire God’s will and not their own (cf. Matt. 6:10; 1 John 5:14). 


    A third lesson we learn about how to pray is to depend on the Father completely. They were to depend on the Father for food, “Give us each day our daily bread.”; for forgiveness, “forgive us our sins”; for knowledge and strength, “lead us not into temptation.” Matthew adds, “but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). On another occasion, Jesus told His disciples, “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you” (Mark 11:24). This simply means we are to trust the Father for our needs (cf. Matt. 6:33). Jesus also qualifies our receiving what we ask saying, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). 


    Furthermore, we learn from the word of God that we are to be devoted to prayer (Col. 4:2), to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and to “pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18). Finally, our prayers are to be with thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20; Col.4:2b; 1 Thess. 5:18; Phil. 4:6). 


    I may not be able to explain completely how prayer works, but I know what it takes for it to work. We must be reverent, devoted to the Father, with full faith in Him. We must live in harmony with His will and pray fervently, continuously, humbly, confidently and thankfully. 


    --Mike Rogers     



    October 15, 2023


    His Grace Reaches Me


    I am a sinner. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Furthermore, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). So, how can I be saved (Rom. 6:23b)? The simple answer is God’s grace. 


    I want to do three things in this lesson on grace. I want to investigate what God’s grace actually is, how we as sinners access this grace, and how we can remain in God’s grace. 


    First, as sinners, we should understand that God has always required a blood sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9:22). When Jesus shed His blood as the atoning sacrifice, He paid the price for all men for all sins for all times (Heb. 10:12). Herein the truths are reconciled for our salvation: Because I am a sinner, and death is the penalty for sin, I deserve to die. But Jesus became the blood sacrifice for my sins and yours! God provided this permanent solution — the perfect life of His own Son. Herein is the grace of God — that He gave His own Son to die in my place. Paul explains it saying, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus not only took our place in death; He gave us His place in righteousness. Peter explains it like this: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds, you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). This is God’s grace. 


    Second, man accesses grace through his faith. Paul declares, “For you have been saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8-9a). God’s part in our salvation is grace; our part in salvation is faith. Faith is more than just trusting God. It is obeying God. This is what James means when he says, “faith, if it has no works is dead” (James 2:17). One can believe that grace saves him, but if he never acts on that faith, it does no good. Paul confirms that faith provides access to this grace saying, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). One’s faith moves him to access this grace by being baptized into Christ and raised to walk a new life. (Rom. 6:1-4. [Please read these verses]). 


    Third, once we have access to grace through baptism, we can remain in grace by living for Jesus (see Rom. 6:1-2, 12- 13, 15-16). This does not mean that we can live a sinless life, but we can have continual forgiveness when we live for Jesus (see 1 John 1:5-2:2). The fact that we must live for Jesus to remain in grace is seen because we are instructed not to “come short of the grace of God” (Heb. 12:15a). We are told to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (Titus 2:11-12). 


    -Mike Rogers          



    October 8, 2023


    The Weaker Vessel
    1 Peter 3:7


    After creating Adam, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). So, God took a rib from the man and made woman (Gen. 2:22). This woman was given to the man to assist him in carrying out his responsibilities to “tend and keep” the garden (Gen. 2:15), and to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28).


    While the man and woman were carrying out God’s instructions to tend the garden, the serpent deceived the woman and she ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband and he ate it. God punished both of them (3:16-19), but for the woman, in addition to increased pain in childbirth, God declared to her, “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). We learn that because man was created first, and the woman was deceived by the serpent, she was not allowed to “teach or exercise authority over a man.” She was to show submission to male leadership (see 1 Tim 2:12-14)


    By the time of the birth of Jesus, people had become so male-dominated that a woman was considered “inferior to her husband in all things” (Josephus, Against Apion, 2.25). It is said that women were nothing more than second-class humans, only good for bearing and rearing children, cooking, and whatever role was assigned to them by man. While it is true that women are responsible for domestic duties (see Titus 2:5), Jesus's attitude toward women was remarkably different than those before Him. Jesus listened to women, healed women, and even called women to follow Him (see Luke 8:1-3). Consequently, by the beginning of the Christian dispensation, women were not nearly as under privileged as they once were.


    It is in this context that Peter instructs husbands to treat their wives “with understanding giving honor” (1 Peter 3:7). So, when Peter refers to a woman as the “weaker vessel,” he is not diminishing her value in God’s plan. He is saying that generally speaking, women are weaker emotionally; and, thus, likely, more prone to deception (cf. 1 Tim. 2:14). The husband should cherish and understand the woman’s vulnerabilities. In this, the husband is appreciating and honoring his wife in the role God has given her as his helper.


    No verse in the New Testament speaks of women’s inferiority. God gave the woman the role of helper and declared that she would be under the rule of the man. Women should not think that being a helper is any less important to God’s plan than the role a man is instructed to play as the spiritual leader. 


     --Mike Rogers     




    October 1, 2023


    Whatever Happened to Morality?


    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote the book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times. In his introduction Sacks presents four phenomena that the lack of morality has imposed upon our world: change in politics where individual desire rather than what is best for all is most important, increased depression, “economics of inequality,” and “assault on free speech.” He argues that the lack of morality stems from one basic growing factor, selfishness.


    The premise of the book seems to be if we want to return to the pursuit of happiness, which he implies, has eluded us, we must restore morality; we can only do this by returning to thinking in terms of “we” and “us”; not “I” and “me.” Selflessness is a biblical principle that Jesus and the apostles taught. When I think of selflessness, I think of the second commandment Jesus taught, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). That is to think and act on the needs of others just as we think and act on our own needs (see Matt. 7:12).


    In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he instructs, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). But more precisely, Paul instructs the Corinthians, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1 Cor. 10:24).


    But the real question is, “What happened to morality in the church?” Sacks may not address this question specifically, but the same principles apply to the church as applies to the world around us. In order for there to be unity in the church, there must be an attitude of selflessness developed by three basic principles.


    First, we must have love for one another (John 13:15; 1 John 4:20-21; cf. 1 Peter 1:22).


    Second, there must be commitment to truth (John 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:22). If unity is to prevail, all must be guided by the same principles of faith.


    Third, there must be tolerance. No one is perfect. Everyone cannot be expected to do everything (see 1 Cor. 12:18), but everyone should be doing something for the benefit of all. If we want to become a united church, free from all sufferings resulting from selfishness, we must return to the principles taught in the New Testament. We must start thinking more about the good of “us” and less about the selfish “I.” This will begin to promote morality, and then unity. But it must start with me thinking about us.


    Think about this and start applying it today!


    --Mike Rogers     





  • September 24, 2023


    Man Makes His Choice


    To best prepare yourself for the sermon Sunday morning, please read Romans 1:16-32. Verses 16-17 reflect the theme of the entire book of Romans: The Gospel is for All. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. First, because it is the power of God unto salvation, to both Jews and Gentiles. The idea of “power” is that no one can be saved without the gospel. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (see 1 Cor. 15:4). The term used to translate Gentiles includes all who are not Jews. Second, Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because it reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus reveals God’s righteousness to all mankind. This assures us that Jesus did not die and be raised from the dead for a select group of people but for all people who put their faith in Jesus. 


    Furthermore, verses 18-32 reveal that if a person refuses to accept God’s righteousness, he is subject to God’s wrath. Paul declares, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). Paul explains that righteousness is a choice saying that these unrighteous and ungodly men knew God (vv. 19, 21, 32), because God made Himself evident to them through creation. His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature was clearly seen through what has been made so that those who reject Him are without excuse (v. 20). 


    Paul further explains that even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God (v. 21). As a result of their ungodliness, they became futile in their speculations; their foolish heart was darkened (v. 21); they became fools, although they perceived themselves to be wise (v. 22); they worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator (vv. 23, 25). “Therefore, God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24). 


    Then in verses 24-31 Paul expresses the wrath of God. We see three times in these verses that “God gave them over” (vv. 24, 26, 28). God did not make them immoral. He simply stepped back and let the natural progression of unrighteousness take order. History confirms that idolatry leads to immorality. We bring the wrath of God on ourselves when we trade the truth for a lie, and worship and serve the created rather than the Creator. God gives everyone an opportunity to know Him. Every human being on earth then and now is a descendant of Adam. God never abandoned man. Man abandons God. God desires that all be saved (1 Tim. 2:4-6); that no one would perish (2 Peter 3:9). 


     --Mike Rogers     



    September 17, 2023


    When I Feel Alone

    1 Kings 19:9-18


    Feeling alone and rejected, Elijah ran from Jezebel sat down under a “broom tree” and prayed to die. “The angel of the Lord” appeared to him and told him to travel to Horeb. Upon arriving, he entered a cave and spent the night. The Lord spoke to him and asked, “What are you doing here?” Elijah expressed his feeling of rejection and loneliness, and God showed him how to deal with his feelings. “The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper . . ..” This quite voice asked again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah responded just as before, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:11-14). 


    Elijah was a great prophet of God. He had just defeated 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40), but when opposed he felt threatened and alone. Running away from his call as a prophet, he began to feel sorry for himself. He was looking for help in all the wrong places. God doesn't always appear in the big things. Sometimes he appears in a still solemn voice. 


    For us, loneliness may come a little while after retirement when one realizes his or her whole life was in the job. It may come at the death of a loved one for whom you have been the primary caregiver. Loneliness may come at the fulfilling of some major project that has given life meaning and purpose. The reason for loneliness in every situation is the lack of purpose. 


    Just like Elijah, we too often wallow in our own loneliness because we have been looking for God to help us in a big way. Maybe we should listen for a quite solemn voice that says, “What are you doing here?” Our purpose in life is to serve God and one another. When loneliness overtakes us, it is because we have abandoned that purpose. Don’t look for the answers to your loneliness in others. Look for it in yourself, as you listen for that quite solemn voice that says, “What are you doing here?” God has a purpose for each one of us. Is your loneliness overtaking you? Listen to that still solemn voice from God that says, you are not alone, go, and serve Me (cf. 1 Kings 19:15-16). 


     —Mike Rogers      



    September 10, 2023


    THE HOLE IN OUR SOULS


    Most of us have been amused watching a child trying to fit blocks into the appropriate hole. They may try and try to fit a square block into a round hole, or a star shaped block into a rectangular hole, or a rectangular block into a star shaped hole. They often get frustrated and throw the block across the room.


    What is curious is that adults often do the same thing. We are looking for ways to be content, but we keep trying to put a block into the wrong hole.


    Someone once observed that everyone has a hole in his soul in the shape of a cross, but we keep trying to fill that hole with material or physical things, and they never fit.  We wind up frustrated and malcontent.  But, the really sad thing is, we
    keep trying the same thing over and over. (Remember the definition of insanity).


    Human beings are more than flesh and blood. We are more than physical beings. God made us with an empty soul that can only be filled with Jesus. There is nothing wrong with having some material things, but these will never fill the hole in our souls.


    There is no other letter that stresses this point more than the Gospel According to John. John declares for those looking for truth, Jesus says, “I am the truth.” (John 14:6). Truth is essential for personal relationships to thrive. Truth is essential to avoid legal and social penalties. Truth is essential for us to learn from our mistakes.


    Second, John says, for those walking in darkness, Jesus says, “I am the light” (John 8:12; 9:5); he also quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the way” (John 14:6). Everyone is going somewhere. If we follow the wrong example, we will wind up in trouble. Following Jesus may have some rough times, but it always ends in contentment.


    Third, John reveals, for those who are hungry, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). All human beings need physical food to nourish our bodies. But we must have Jesus to fill the hole in our souls.


    Finally, for those looking for life, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). We will all die, and where we spend eternity will depend on who we follow.


    Some people do not think Jesus is important. But when we weigh all the evidence and admit that material things have never given us lasting contentment. We will accept that we need Jesus in our minds guiding our thoughts, in our hearts guiding our words, and in our legs and arms guiding our actions. We need Jesus to fill the hole in our souls!


    Think about it!


    --Mike Rogers     



    September 3,2023


    Make Me A Servant Like Jesus


    One of the most significant things about being a Christian is being a servant. A Christian servant patterns his service after Jesus. His whole life is about serving others. It makes no difference who they are, where they are from, or what they look like. Jesus was a servant to everyone. I want to submit three points about the service of Jesus that all Christians should emulate.


    First, Jesus was always looking for ways to serve others. Jesus saw two blind men sitting by the road crying, “Lord, have mercy on us.” Jesus stopped and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matt. 20:32). A servant like Jesus never asks, “what can you do for me?” He does not complain about the preacher, song leader, elders, or teachers. Servants like Jesus are focused on what others need and how they can help, what they can do to make their lives easier and better.


    Second, Jesus humbled himself and washed the feet of his disciples. He got up from the table with a pan of water, and one by one washed their feet. He washed the feet of the one who would betray Him, the one who would deny Him, and all the rest who would abandon Him. He then returned to the table and said, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet” (John 13:14). This instruction is not really about washing feet, it is about humbling oneself and getting out of our own comfort zones and doing what needs to be done for others. It may be mowing someone’s lawn, cooking a meal for a shut-in, or washing windows or cleaning a commode. Serving like Jesus is serving in humility.


    Third, a servant like Jesus will treat everybody as somebody. Jesus exhorts, “Therefore however you want people to treat you, so treat them” (Matt. 7:12). Jesus treated everyone with honor and respect. He showed compassion for the sick and sinners (Matt. 9:35-36), the hungry (Matt. 14:14), and the hurting (Luke 7:13).


    Paul recognized Jesus’s humble service to everyone saying, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:3-8).


                                                                                                                                                                                          --Mike Rogers



  • August 27,2023


    “Give Me This Mountain”
    Joshua 14:6-14


    After the twelve spies returned from the land God had promised Israel, ten of those spies had no faith in the power and promise of God. Joshua and Caleb however, believed that if God was with them, they would overcome all challenges (Numb. 14:8). Yet, because the ten other spies lacked faith, God declared “None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully” (Numb. 32:11; cf. Numb. 14:22-23).


    Yet, because Caleb had “a different spirit” and followed [God] fully, God promised, “I will bring him into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it” (Num.14:24; cf. Deut. 1:36; Josh. 14:8, 9, 14). While it is not said specifically that Joshua had a different spirit, it is obvious he did, because he too “followed the Lord fully” (Numb. 32:11-12), and was allowed to enter the Promised Land. Therefore, it was the fact that Joshua and Caleb had different attitudes from the ten other spies that drove them to follow God fully; and prompted God to allow only them from all Israelites 20 years old and older to enter the Promised Land. Caleb’s and Joshua’s attitudes were, “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us” (Numb. 14:8).


    After Israel began conquering the people of the Promised Land, Caleb came to Joshua and pleaded, “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. . .. Now then, give me this hill country . . .” (Josh. 14:7-12). It is obvious that Caleb is still following God fully because he said, “perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken” (Josh. 14:12). Forty-five years after spying out the land, Caleb went to Joshua and pleaded, “Give me this mountain” (Josh. 14:12 KJV). At eighty-five years of age, Caleb declared that he was as strong then as he had been when he spied out the land. Joshua granted the request and Hebron became the inheritance for Caleb and his descendants (Josh. 14:13-14).


    Joshua and Caleb believed, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). He also believed that it might not be possible for man alone to defeat the armies of Canaan, but “all things are possible with God” (Matt. 19:26). Remember God gives us the tools and the ability to do all that He asks.


                                                –Mike Rogers



    August 20,2023


    Why Am I Here?


    This question is not about my purpose in life. It is about my reason for assembling together.

     

    What is our reason for assembling with the saints? Do we think about this when we are getting ready on Sundays or Wednesdays, or any other time when the church meets?


    There are several reasons we may assemble. 1) We may assemble because it is a tradition, and we feel we are violating our parents or our tradition if we do not assemble when the church comes together. 2) We may come to socialize. We have friends in the church and we get to see and talk to them. 3) Some may assemble hoping to get something. It is common to see people in church while running for some office and never see them again after the election. They only assemble in  hopes of getting votes. Some people will assemble in hopes of getting some kind of social assistance.


    Now, ask this question to yourself. “Why do I assemble with the Saints?” Do you have your answer?


    Let me remind us, there is nothing in the Bible that instructs us or encourages us to come together because of tradition, to socialize, or to solicit social assistance. I am not saying you get no benefit from assembling for these reasons. They are just not biblical.


    The Bible presents many examples of the first Christians coming together regularly (1 Cor. 14:23; James 2:2; Acts 20:7). The very fact it is called the “church” is because they assembled regularly. The same Greek word that translates “church” translates “assembly.”


    But, why did the first Christians assemble regularly? Three reasons are given for the purpose of assembling together.


    First, they came together to worship the one true God, the creator, giver and sustainer of life, and the only one who provides salvation from sin. When we assemble and worship Him from the heart, we are showing thanksgiving, and adoration (John 4:24; 1 Cor. 14:25). If we are thankful for all He has done and continues to do, we should willingly, lovingly, and conscientiously assemble to worship Him (cf. 1 Cor. 14:15-16).


    Second, they came together to encourage one another (Heb. 10:25). Life is hard, and we all need encouragement from fellow Christians (cf. Heb. 3:13).


    Finally, they came together to teach and learn (Acts 11:26; 17:22-31; 1 Cor. 14: 26-33). If anyone is looking to be fed spiritually in the assembly, that is good. However, we usually only get out of something what we put into it. So, if we want to be fed spiritually in the assembly, we must prepare for that every day (see 1 Peter 2:1; Rom. 12:1-2).


                                                                                                                                                                             —Mike Rogers



    August 13,2023


    Choosing Eternity
    Text: Matt. 25:31-46


    On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards preached, “Oh sinner, consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of fire that you are held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with flames of divine wrath flashing about it and ready every moment to singe it.” While Edwards’ sermon may be too graphic and present only one side of the nature of God, it does cause us to consider the torment of Hell.


    Hell is from the Greek word gehenna. This word describes the place outside the city of Jerusalem where Canaanites offered sacrifices to Molech. After the return of the Jews from captivity they made it a garbage dump, where people would dump and burn their refuse. The fire was never quenched (cf. Matt. 3:12). Because of the unquenchable fire the Jews applied the name gehenna to the place of eternal punishment. This place is prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). John refers to this place as “the lake of fire and brimstone” where those “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10, 15).


    Our text confirms that the unrighteous will suffer in “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46). In this text, “eternal” refers to a period of unending duration (see 2 Cor. 5:1; Matt. 25:46). Punishment indicates horrific retribution (Matt. 25:46, cf. Luke 16:19-31). Imagine being cast into a flaming pit of fire longing for just a drop of water, but there is none to be had. Now try and imagine that the torment never eases, there is nothing better to look forward to, not even death, because you are in eternal punishment because you didn’t walk with Jesus while living on earth.


    The alternative to Hell is a place of eternal life (Matt. 25:46). Life in this verse is the opposite of punishment. It carries the idea of bliss (cf. John 10:10). Our eternal life is called “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). The idea is that the light afflictions we bear in this life are nothing compared to the eternal life with God (see Rom. 8:18). I am convinced that these two destinations are eternal, they have no end. Too many people live as if they do not believe in eternal punishment. But the Bible clearly teaches if we do not pattern our lives after Jesus, we will live in eternal punishment (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). If we do follow Jesus, we will live in eternal bliss (1 John 5:11-12). What will you choose?


                                               –Mike Rogers



    August 6,2023


    Take the Name of Jesus with You


    Well, it’s back to school time again! Some of you are excited. Some of you are sad. Some of you may be a little nervous. Some of you will have new teachers, maybe new friends, and some of you may even be going to a new school. You may even be a little concerned that you are not ready for the next level of education. What I want to share with teachers and students alike to help take away the back-to-school anxiety is, Take the Name of Jesus with You. This is the title of a very familiar song written by Lydia Baxter in 1870. Baxter lived the majority of her adult life in bed. Even through her sickness, it is said that she maintained a “cheerful and patient” spirit. It is said when people visited her on her sick bed to comfort her, they were the ones who were comforted. When she was questioned about her cheerful spirit, she replied, “I have a very special armor. I have the name of Jesus. When the tempter tries to make me blue or despondent, I mention the name of Jesus, and He can’t get through to me anymore.” 


    Baxter wrote Take the Name of Jesus with You while on her sick bed four years before her death on June 22, 1874. The words of this song may be an encouragement to students and teachers as you face the many challenges of this new year. 


    Take the name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe; 

    It will joy and comfort give you, take it then where’er you go. 

    Take the name of Jesus ever, as a shield from every snare. 

    If temptations round you gather, breathe that holy name in prayer. 

    Oh, the precious name of Jesus, how it thrills our souls with joy; 

    all the favor of the Father in this name we may enjoy. 


    Chorus: 

    Precious name! Oh, how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heav’n 

    (Repeat chorus). 


    A fourth verse exists that is not the same in all sources, and apparently has been left out completely in some hymnals. The one most commonly attributed to Baxter reads: 


    At the name of Jesus bowing, falling prostrate at His feet, 

    King of kings in heav’n we’ll crown Him, when our journey is complete. 


    In some sources, the ending of this last verse reads, 

    Claim His vict’ry over evil and the enemy defeat. 


    As you begin a new school year, take the name of Jesus with you! You may be surprised how much easier it is to maintain a positive and cheerful spirit. 


    “. . . for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). 


    Mike Rogers     


  • July 30,2023


    Jesus is My Light


    In the sermon last Sunday night, I said the general idea of a Christian is that he/she is one who patterns his own life after Jesus. We know we all fall short in this, but this is what a Christian must strive for if he wants to live eternally with God.


    In this lesson, I want to examine who Jesus is. In John chapter 1 and verse 14 we are told that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This describes the “only begotten of the Father” (1:14), Jesus.


    Leading up to this, we learn who Jesus was in the beginning: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men (vv. 1-4). In these verses we learn six things about Jesus. 


    First, we learn that He existed in the beginning (cf. 1 John 1:1-3). This is the beginning of creation. He therefore, cannot be a created being as some people suggest.


    Second, we learn that He existed in the beginning as the Word. This describes the eternal being that spoke the creation of the world into existence with the repeated words, “Then God said . . ..”


    Third, we learn that that the Word is a distinct individual being. He was “with” God (John 1:1).


    Fourth, we learn that He is God (1:1; cf. Phil. 2:6). He shares the same traits, qualities, and desires as God. This is what Jesus meant when He said, I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).


    Fifth, we learn that He is the Creator, “All things came into being through Him, . . .” (John 1:3). This is also noted by the inspired apostle Paul when he writes, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).


    Sixth, we are told that He is the “Light of men” (v. 4). Light is essential for life to exist. Jesus is the “true Light which, coming into the world enlightens every man” (John 1:9). As long as we walk in the Light, the darkness will not overtake us (John 8:12). John also reminds us that as long as we “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Jesus illuminates the way into eternity with God (John 14:6). If we follow Him, we will live with God eternally; if we don’t, we won’t.


                                                 --Mike Rogers



    July 23,2023


    The God of All Comfort

    2 Corinthians 1:3-11


    Have you ever heard the saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle”? You may think this is what 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, but it is not. What this verse teaches is that when we have more trouble than we can handle alone, God is there to “provide a way of escape that you may be able to endure it.” You see, when we can’t overcome our difficulties, God provides a way. God will never leave us alone if we will trust Him (Heb. 13:5b-6). 


    The fact is, life will give you more than you can handle. Consider Job as everything he had was taken from him. Only his wife and three friends remained, and they turned against him. Job even felt God had abandoned him. But, Job did not know God was at work to make him stronger. 


    James uses a word that affirms we will go through hardships that are unexpected and difficult to endure saying, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials . . .” (1:2). The word “encounter” is “fall” in the KJV. It pictures a life that is great, then all of the sudden everything falls apart. When we continue to read in James 1, we learn that when we trust God for wisdom, He will be there to provide a way for us to endure (vv. 5-8). 


    In 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, we learn that God is our comfort (v. 3), hope (vv. 7, 10), and deliverer (v. 10) in “all our afflictions” (v. 4). When our world caves in around us, our God is not the one causing the pain and suffering. He is suffering the hurt with us. Jesus knows what it is like to suffer beyond one’s own ability to endure. Remember His prayers in the garden: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39). Remember some of His final words upon the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matt. 27:46). Jesus knew what it was like to suffer beyond human ability, but He also knew His Father would receive Him as He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). 


    One of the ways that God comforts His children is through His Church (2 Corinthians 1:4, 11). God knows we cannot handle all the pain and sufferings of this life alone. But we can trust God, Christ, and our brothers and sisters for the help we need. So, when life caves in, and our burdens are too great for us to bear alone, turn to God in prayer, look to the example of Jesus, and ask your brethren for help. God never promised that we would not have more burdens than we could bear, but He did promise He would “provide a way of escape, that we may be able to endure.” 


     --Mike Rogers     



    July 16,2023


    The Eternal Home of the Redeemed

    Revelation 21 & 22


    We cannot fully comprehend what the home of the redeemed will be like, but we can see the holy city in all its splendor presented with five particular blessings that makes us long to be there. 


    First, John sees God’s abiding presence (Rev. 21:1-3). John saw a new heaven and new earth. The first heaven and earth are gone (see 2 Peter 3:10-13), and a new heaven and earth will be God’s eternal home with His people (v. 3). There is “no longer any sea.” Sea is a symbol for separation from God (see 4:6). So, with the sea gone there is no longer any separation from God (21:1). Satan has been destroyed, and a new world created in which nothing but righteousness dwells (see 2 Peter 3:13). “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). 


    Second, John sees God’s constant consolation (Rev. 21:4- 8). God will wipe away every tear, and erase forever crying, mourning, pain and death. Without the pain and suffering of this life, there is nothing but peace and joy for the redeemed; we are given a written guarantee that all things are new (v. 5). God promises these things to all who “overcome” the trials and persecutions of this life (vv. 7-8). 


    Third, John sees God’s glory in the church (Rev. 21:9-11). In verse 9 John is told by one of the seven angels, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” The bride is the church; the Lamb is Christ. In verse 10 John was taken to a godly vantage point and shown, what he called the “holy city, Jerusalem” which is a reference to the church. Seeing the church from this godly vantage point may explain why, beginning in verse 11, John describes a physical city. Like the bride, the church has “the glory of God” (v. 11). John later says that the “city has no need for the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (21:23). “Glory” refers to God’s majestic nature. The church is as holy and pure as God Himself (cf. 1 John 3:2). “Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper” (v.11). 


    Fourth, John saw God’s eternal protection (Rev. 21:12-27). These verses present a strong, spacious, perfect, and beautiful city where the redeemed of all ages will dwell with God in perfect fellowship for eternity. 


    Finally, John sees God’s eternal provisions (22:1-5). The redeemed will lack for nothing. Surely, we can all understand why, after seeing all this, John cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20). 


     --Mike Rogers     



    July 9,2023


    Three Cs for a Lifelong Marriage


    Volumes of books have been written on how to save or strengthen a marriage. The information in these books can be helpful only if read and applied. The Bible is the best book of all books to strengthen our marriages, but it also has to be read and applied. No marriage counselor, not even God will save a marriage if a couple does not apply the teaching. Having said that, it is my most solemn prayer that some reading this will hear what God says about saving and strengthening a marriage, and be willing to apply these principles. Three simple principles are: Commitment, Communication, and Compromise. These principles are prevalent in books, and in the Bible. Love is important in a marriage, but without commitment, communication, and compromise, love will never really develop.


    Commitment in marriage is the attitude of complete unity. Moses writes, “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). “One flesh” emphasizes commitment Jesus adds, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). The “no man” includes the couple joined together. God intends that a man and woman joined in marriage be completely committed to one another. While there will be difficulties in every marriage, ultimately it is not the trouble that determines the success or failure of our marriages—it is the strength of our commitment.


    Communication is about understanding one another more than talking. Communication in marriage is a tool for expressing love and commitment. Arguing or complaining is not communicating. Some couples complain, “You never talk to me.” Or “You never listen.” Solomon asserts, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). Furthermore, Solomon says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath: but harsh words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1; cf. Eph. 4:29). Healthy communication is not easy. It involves listening with a desire to understand and correct what may need correcting.


    Compromise in a marriage is not necessarily a win/win resolution. It may not always be agreeing to a means. Compromise in marriage is both parties doing what is best for the marriage. It is more about relinquishing our own selfish desires in the interest of serving each other (cf. Eph. 5:22, 25). Compromise requires commitment and communication. If your marriage needs help be more committed to God and one another, work on healthier communication, and compromise (be selfless).


     --Mike Rogers     



    July 2,2023


    Freedom


    Tuesday in Independence Day. A day Americans celebrate our freedom as a nation. But is it really freedom?


    It seems that Christians amen the prayers and sermons on the importance of our freedom to worship, but do not assemble for worship at every opportunity. It seems as if many Christians are resting on our freedom as a nation, but forgetting what true freedom really is.


    The greatest freedom one can enjoy is the freedom that is provided by Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God said, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).


    When we have freedom in Christ, we have freedom from the power of sin (Rom. 6:16). Sin is the influence of Satan. Satan is the ultimate murderer, liar, and deceiver (see John 8:44). He had the power to deceive Eve, test Job, and tempt Jesus. Satan can hijack our brains, our senses, and our wills.


    When we obey the word of God, we are freed from sin, and we have freedom from death (Rom. 6:23). Death is the penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23). We have the freedom from the penalty of sin, because in Christ there is death to sin, and new life in the Spirit (Rom. 6:3-8). Therefore, if we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, we put to death the penalty of sin and look forward to life and peace (Rom. 8:1-6). Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).


    Jesus came to give us eternal freedom. The world may offer temporary freedom, but it leads to eternal slavery in the fiery pits of Hell. Jesus offers eternal freedom. A freedom where we will never be chained to the pain and torture of death: “O death, where is your victory, O death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57). We will never be separated from God: “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).


    We will be tempted in this life. But God has promised, “No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Allow the truth to be your guiding influence and you will be free for eternity (see John 8:32; Rom. 8:4). True freedom is not found in America. True freedom is only found in Christ!


    --Mike Rogers     




  • June 25, 2023


    The Secret to Joy and Contentment


    Paul had wanted to go to Rome as a preacher (Rom. 1:13- 16); instead, he had gone as a prisoner. While Paul was a prisoner in Rome in his own hired house, Epaphroditus, a member of the church in Philippi, was sent to Rome to bring a special gift to Paul that would help him in his time of need (Phil. 2:25-30; 4:10-20). Epaphroditus fell ill along the way and was delayed in reaching Paul (Phil. 2:25-28). Yet, even in his time of need Paul remained positive. 


    This letter to the Philippians is a thank-you letter for the love and support from the church in Philippi, but more than that, Paul shares the secret of Christian joy and contentment even in troublesome times. At least 19 times in these four chapters, Paul mentions joy, rejoicing, or gladness. He uses the word “content” once for a total of twenty times that Paul refers to remaining positive in his time of trouble. There is no apparent human reason for him to be rejoicing, or to be content. He is a Roman prisoner possibly facing the death penalty. Yet he had “learned the secret” to joy and contentment (read Phil. 4:10-14). What was the secret of this joy and contentment? In this lesson I want to present two things that Paul refers to that are behind the secret to his joy and contentment. 


    First, his secret is found in his attitude. Paul uses the word “mind” or “attitude” 10 times in this short letter. He also uses the word “think” 5 times; add the time he uses “remember” and you have a total of 16 references to the mind. In other words, the secret to Paul’s joy and contentment is found in the way he was thinking—his attitude. After all, outlook determines outcome. The wise King Solomon wrote, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov. 23:7). Philippians, then, is a letter that reveals the attitude every Christian must have if he is going to experience joy and contentment in a world filled with trouble. 


    Second, Paul found his strength in Jesus: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Jesus was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). Yet He possessed a deep joy that was beyond human imagination. As Jesus faced the cruel death of crucifixion, He said to His followers, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Those who have Christ as Lord have the privilege of knowing true joy. Paul began chapter 4:4 with the phrase “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” The Psalmist declares to God, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). 


    In this attitude and strength, Paul learned joy! 


    --Mike Rogers     



    June 18, 2023


    Lessons Learned from the Father

    Luke 15:11-32


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2022, more than 1 in 4 children, live without a father in the home. This is one of the greatest tragedies in our world. Statistics reveal that children with involved dads in the home do better in school, the boys have fewer behavior problems, and the girls have fewer psychological problems, and they are less likely to do drugs, or become involved in gangs. 


    This lesson will show some things I have gleaned from my study of the father in Jesus’ parable of the “Prodigal Son.” The first lesson I saw was the father allowing his son to learn from his own mistakes. Nothing suggests that the father was bound by law to give the son his inheritance. But the father believed he had instilled in his son the ability to ultimately make the right decisions. This is proven to be true when the text says that the boy “came to himself” (KJV). Secondly, the father never gave up on his son. The text says “While he was still a long way off,” his father saw him (Luke 15:20). The implication seems to be that the father would have been waiting and watching for his son to come home. The reaction of the father shows he never gave up hope that his son would come home (see v. 20). Third, the father had made sure his son felt he had a home to come back to (vv. 17-18). When the boy was in the hog pen, he “came to his senses” and began thinking about his father and how well his father treated his servants (vv. 17- 19). 


    Fourth, the father was not judgmental but compassionate (v. 20). Although he knew how his son had been living (v. 30), he saw him “still a long way off” and “ran” to him (v. 20). He did not start with interrogative questioning like, “Where have you been?” or “What have you done with all that money?” He did not greet him with degrading remarks such as, “I knew you couldn't make it on your own”! or “I knew you would come crawling back”! He “felt compassion for him and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” A fifth lesson from the father is forgiveness. He showed qualities of forgiveness in action (vv. 22-24). The boy knew he had sinned, and he came home in repentance. The boy left with the attitude of “give me my inheritance” (v. 11); he returned with the attitude of “make me a servant” (v. 19). The boy had squandered his inheritance; all that was left belonged to the older son (v. 31). Yet, the father celebrated the return of his son (v. 32). 


    Consider the value of a godly father in the home, even when the child makes a mistake. 


     --Mike Rogers     



    June 11, 2023


    A Mind for Endurance 

    1 Peter 1:13-2:3


    While it is true that our persecution cannot compare to the persecution of the 1st century Christians, we are persecuted. Maybe not as much persecution because of our faith, but there are certainly trials that challenge our faith. Peter’s letter encourages us to focus on the hope of salvation provided by God because of His great mercy (1 Peter 1:3-13). When Jesus returns our living hope and inheritance will be realized and we will have salvation. Therefore, I wonder why we fear death so much? We cannot receive our full inheritance until we die. We cannot have eternal salvation from trials until we die. Peter’s message in his two letters, at least in part, seems to be: There is nothing to fear in death. 


    Two things are revealed in this text necessary for endurance. First, we should “prepare [our] minds for action” (1:13). The mind is the key to overcoming trials. The mind can’t stop it, but it can make it endurable. The attitude we have toward our trials will determine the affect they have on us (cf. James 1:2-3). To prepare our minds for action simply means to focus on eternal things rather that earthly things. Peter then explains how we can do this: Be “sober in spirit” (“sober minded” ESV; “self-controlled” NIV). The idea is to be calm, temperate, not allowing negative emotions to control you. He also suggests to “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” He concludes saying, “taste the kindness of the Lord” (2:3). To taste means to experience so that it nourishes and sustains us. 


    Second, we must conduct ourselves “as obedient children” (vv. 14-17). Someone said, “The mind and action go together. What you think, you do, what you do, you think.” “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance” (v. 14). Rather, “be holy in all your behavior” (vv. 15-16). Be different from the world. “Conduct yourselves in fear” (v. 17). Remember whose you are and the power He has over your eternal destination. “Love one another” (v. 22). Hold to the word (v. 23b-25). “Put away all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all slander” (2:1), and “long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (2:2). 


    We can prepare our minds and conduct ourselves as obedient children if we remember that we “were not redeemed by perishable things like silver and gold from [our] futile way of life” (v. 18), but rather remember we were redeemed with “precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (v. 19). Because in this we have “purified [our] souls” (v. 22), “we “have been born again” (v. 23), and we “have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (2:3). 


     –Mike Rogers     



    June 4, 2023


    A Touch of Compassion from the Great Physician

    Mark 1:40-45


    This text records a marvelous act of compassion Jesus showed toward a leper. Leprously was commonly thought of as a highly contagious skin disease. This disease sometimes caused deep lesions in the flesh, and sometimes affected the eyes; and body extremities, such as fingers, toes, ears, or even a nose; some claim these infected extremities would sometimes rot and fall off. (There is no example of this in the Bible). It was believed that only God could cure leprosy (see 2 Kings 5:7). One who was pronounced leprous was exiled to a life of isolation outside of camp (Lev. 13:46), and could only be readmitted if declared clean by the priest (Lev. 13:44). Also, leprosy was associated with sin. God punished some people with leprosy because of their sin. Miriam was struck with leprosy because she spoke against Moses marrying a Cushite woman (Numb. 12:10); Gehazi, Elisha’s servant was struck with leprosy because of his greed (2 Kings 5:20-27); King Uzziah was struck with leprosy because he put himself in the place of the priests and burnt incense to the Lord (2 Chron. 26:16-21). Since the common belief was that only God could heal leprosy, and leprosy was associated with sin, the emphasis on healing of leprosy in the NT is to show that Jesus was God, and that God has compassion on sinners. 


    In Mark 1:40-45, we learn that one leper’s desire to be well was greater than his desire to be obedient to the law. The law denied him access to the city, much less the synagogue (Lev. 13:46). Yet, the man came to Jesus on his knees begging for healing. I don’t know what that leper expected for violating the law, but he was willing to accept any consequences to approach the Great Physician. He also showed genuine faith in Jesus’s ability to heal him saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (v. 40). 


    Having seen the man’s desire to be well and his faith in Jesus to heal him, Jesus was “moved with compassion” and “stretched out His hand and touched” the leper. Being overcome with compassion Jesus said, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 


    Some people seem to be “miraculously” healed of sickness and others do everything they can and still are not healed. Physical sickness may not always be cured, but when one is sick with sin there is always the compassion of the Great Physician. When one comes to Jesus in faith, with a genuine desire to be healed from sin, and he truly repents and is baptized for the forgiveness of sins, those sins will be washed away and he will be cleansed. Have you been healed?


    -Mike Rogers    


  • May 28, 2023


    A Great Day to Remember


    Monday is Memorial Day. While Memorial Day does not have its roots in Christianity, Christians all over America are touched by the memories of someone who gave their lives for our freedom.


    Every Sunday morning, we have the great privilege to remember the One who gave His live for the freedom of every person on earth. It was in the upper room, the night before Jesus was crucified, when He 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 saying, “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). In this memorial feast, Christians should remember Christ for at least three reasons.


    First, mankind was in a war that he could not win (Hebrews 10:1-4, 11). Man’s war is with sin (Ephesians 6.11-12). Sin is universal (Rom. 3:23). It was in the garden with Adam and Eve, and it has been fighting to keep possession of man ever since. If sin had not been defeated we all die (Rom. 6:23).


    Second, Christ died to defeat our enemy and deliver us from sin. Only through Christ do we have freedom from sin (John 8:32). Only through Christ do we have access to abundant peace (Phil. 4:4-7). Only through Christ can we stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11). Only through Christ can we hope for eternal life (Rom. 6:23).


    Third, Christ died because no other sacrifice could destroy sin. The old sacrifices were inadequate (Heb. 10:4, 11). There was a reminder every year with sacrifices for the same sins (Heb. 10:3, 11). Christ’s sacrifice was the onetime victory over sin (Heb. 10:12). The last thing Jesus said before the spirit left His body was, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This was a victory cry for all mankind.


    We assemble together on the first day of every week to honor our Lord for fighting and dying for our freedom. Without him we were without God and without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12b). Monday, we will honor all those who have died serving our country. Sunday, we honor our Lord who died for our sins. Will you join us?


    --Mike Rogers     



    May 21, 2023


    The Heart of a Faithful Church
    Colossians 2:1-5


    The church in Colossae was “faithful” (1:2) but confused. Warned not to be taken “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world” (2:8), Paul offered his comfort and encouragement with his teaching of the superiority of Christ. He also offered four points to help them to stand strong in the face of delusion from plausible sounding arguments and worldly philosophies (2:4).


    First, they are to have courageous hearts (v. 2). We often get smothered with plausible sounding arguments (v. 4), and taken “captive with philosophy and empty deception” (2:8). Some people do not care what the Bible says, as long as they feel good. One of the most popular televangelists of the day has avowed, “We’re not about doctrine. We are about making people feel good about their lives.” What a shame. Jesus was all about doctrine (see Col. 2:6-7).


    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. Likewise, Satan can pick off an isolated Christian much easier than he can two or three who are bound by love. In Peter’s first letter to the  persecuted Christians, he repeatedly tells them to love one another saying, “. . . fervently love one another from the heart” (1:22). “. . . Love the brotherhood . . .” (2:17). “. . . keep fervent in your love for one another . . .” (4:8). “Greet one another with a kiss of love” (5:14a). A family knit together in love is a family of strong faith (cf. 2:5). We can withstand most  anything Satan hurls at us if we have courageous and loving hearts.


    Third, we need wise hearts (v. 3). Paul wanted the church to know that a confident church understands that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” in Christ (v.3). They are not in philosophies and traditions as some would lead them to believe (v. 8). When we develop wise hearts for God’s word, we are well on our way to overcoming the delusion of the world.


    Finally, we need committed hearts (v. 5). Paul was thankful that they were firm in their faith in Christ (v. 5). Paul knew that committed hearts is necessary to fight off the philosophies and traditions of men. “This is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).


                                                  --Mike Rogers


    May 14, 2023


    A Mother's Faith


    “Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish. And her daughter was healed at once” (Matthew 15:28). God puts great emphasis on faith: John stresses that Salvation is by faith in Christ: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36a). Paul emphasizes that Christians “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). John states emphatically that our victory in life is by faith: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith” (I John 5:4). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews declares: “But without faith it is impossible to please him” (11:6a). Therefore, it should not seem unreasonable that Jesus emphasizes the faith of a mother in healing her daughter.


    This victorious faith is emphasized in two ways:


    First, in a mother’s petition (v. 22). She took the pain of her daughter upon herself crying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David . . ..” It is always wise to turn to the Savior in time of trouble. The plea this mother cries is seen most vividly in verse 25, “Lord, help me!” With her daughter in trouble, the Canaanite mother had no problem approaching this Jew because she knew He could help.


    Second, this mother’s victorious faith is seen in her persistence (vv. 23-26). Jesus first ignored her. “He did not answer her a word” (v. 23a). The disciples pleaded with Jesus to “send her away” (v. 23b). Jesus told her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 24). He even as much as called her a dog, but this did not discourage this persistent mother (v. 26), she replied, “Yes Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table” (v. 27). Jesus was not trying to discourage her. He was testing her faith. Jesus often tested people before granting their request. Remember the healing of the blind man recorded in John 9? Jesus made a mud pack and put it on his eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. What was the purpose of this? Jesus could have healed him saying, now you may see, but he wanted the man to prove his faith. The mother never gave up. Her daughter was in need and she would not take no for an answer.


    It was because of the mother’s petition and persistent faith that caused her to prevail (vv. 27-28). The mother believed that Jesus could heal her daughter. She never doubted it. Her persistent faith was the persuasion Jesus wanted (v. 28). In the end, she was commended by the Lord for her faith: “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish” (v. 28a).

     

                                                                                                                                                                                --Mike Rogers



    May 7, 2023


    Freed From Sin


    Shortly after Adam was put in the garden to care for it, God told him not to eat the fruit from the tree that stood in the middle of the garden. This was the tree that revealed sin to man, the “knowledge of good and evil.” Before eating from this tree man had no knowledge of right and wrong. God had given Adam all the information he needed to remain pure and sinless. However, God wanted man to follow His instructions by choice. Therefore, He gave him free will.God did not create man a sinful creature without ability to overcome temptation as some teach. He simply created him with the ability to make his own choices. When Satan, who had already chosen to turn against God, deceived Eve and told her she would be like God and know good and evil, she ate the fruit and gave some to Adam and he ate (Gen. 3:6). They had been told the consequences for eating the fruit. They had all the information to make a conscious choice. After eating the forbidden fruit, they immediately knew the difference between good and evil and recognized they were naked. The consequences for the wrong choice were imposed and they died (see Gen. 2:17). They did not die immediately, but the consequences for sin is death (see Rom. 6:23), and separation from God.


    Their sin enslaved them  and made them ashamed and guilty. But rather than trying to correct their mistake they tried to hide their nakedness with fig leaves; and they tried to hide from the presence of God. Furthermore, sin so enslaved them that they refused to accept the responsibility for their bad choice and blamed others (see Gen. 3:12-13). Paul explains that Adam’s sin “led to condemnation for all men” (Rom. 5:18a). Thus, because of the sin of Adam, all men were enslaved by sin.


    “But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5a). “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of  sins” (Eph. 1:7). Not because we deserved it, but by His grace we are justified (Rom. 3:24-25).


    Furthermore, we are freed by the Spirit not to serve the flesh that provides only death, but we serve the Spirit that provides life and peace (Rom. 8:5-6).


    Paul declares that upon one’s resurrection from the watery grave of baptism in which he has buried the old man of sin, he is no longer “enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:4-7). In the waters of baptism, one is redeemed by the blood of Jesus (Gal. 4:1- 7), justified by the grace of God (Rom. 3:24), and freed from sin by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:2ff).


                                                                                                                                  -Mike Rogers




  • April 30, 2023


    Accepting God’s Silence


    Tragedy, hardships and even decisions made by governing authorities are often incomprehensible. Yet, we long for explanations. We plead for understanding. We turn to God, but He is silent. Habakkuk pleaded for an answer from God asking, “Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness” (Hab. 1:3)? But God was silent. While the story revealed in Habakkuk does show God punishing Israel for their disobedience, God is not always responsible for the things that happen in our lives (see Gen. 3:1-7; Job 1-2). In any case, we must learn to accept three fundamental truths regarding God’s silence.


    First, even if God were responsible, He is under no obligation to explain Himself. Habakkuk cried out, “O Lord, how long will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry to You, ‘Violence!’ Yet You do not save” (Hab. 1:2)? God was silent to Habakkuk’s repeated cry for answers, but God is just and His judgments are always right even when we fail or refuse to acknowledge them (Deut. 32:3-4). God has given us all the information we need in His word.


    Second, God knows what is happening and He will respond when He is ready. When God finally did reply to Habakkuk, He said, “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days— you would not believe if you were told” (Hab. 1:5). Isaiah records, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8, 9). Man determines good and bad from a human perspective. But God sees it differently (see Rom. 8:28; Gen. 50:20). God reveals the “why” at His discretion.


    Third, God tells us how to respond to His silence (2:3a). Habakkuk did not understand God’s silence, but he resolved, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved” (2:1). Then God told Habakkuk how to respond to His silence: be patient and wait for God’s explanation (2:3b); live by faith (2:4); rely completely on God (2:20); and remember God’s mercy (3:2).


    We do not have to understand all the apparent wickedness in our world. Yet, we must accept God’s silence and respond with patience and faith, relying on the mercy of God (cf. Rom. 11:22). Remember, God answers in His time and He does not see good and bad in the same way man does.


                                                            -Mike Rogers



    April 23, 2023


    Israel Forsakes their Commitment
    Nehemiah 13


    On the same day as the Israelites dedicated the wall in celebration (Nehemiah 12), the priests “read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people” (13:1). They learned that the Law required that “no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God” (13:1). This exclusion was because after the exodus from Egypt, these two groups had not shown hospitality as Israel moved toward the promised land, but rather hired the prophet Baalam to curse them (see Numbers 22-24). Having signed a commitment to the Law of God, when they heard this law and why it was written, they “excluded all foreigners from Israel” (13:3).


    Nehemiah then returned to Babylon where he spent the next twelve years (see 13:6). When he returned to Judah for his second term as governor, he found a very different city than the one he left. During his absence, Eliashib the priest had removed “the grain offerings, frankincense, the utensils and the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, the singers and the gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests” from a large room in the temple and moved Tobiah the Ammonite into the room with his household items (13:4-7). He also found that the temple servants were not being  provided for (13:10), the laws regarding the Sabbath were not being observed (13:15), and the people had engaged in forbidden marriages (13:23-24).


    When Nehemiah saw how the officials had forgotten their commitment to the law of God, he threw Tobiah and all his goods out of the room in the temple and replaced all the items for temple service (13:8-9). He rebuked the officials for not providing for the temple servants. He then called the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers together and restored them to their position putting reliable people in charge of providing for them (13:11-14). Nehemiah then admonished the officials for violating the Sabbath. He closed the gates and put servants there to keep anyone from entering until after the Sabbath was over (13:16-22). Nehemiah also was very angry because they had married foreigners and had children who could not even “speak the language of Judah” (13:24). So, he “contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God” that they would not allow their children to intermarry with foreigners (13:25-29).


    It is common that when people surround themselves with the world, they become more like the world. Think about how this applies to us today.


                                                   --Mike Rogers



    April 16, 2023


    Revives Us Again: The Need for Faith (Reprint)


    The letter to the Hebrews is a letter for revival because some of these Christians were “drifting away” from Christ and His church. The writer emphasizes that Jesus is better, and that encouragement is expected from each one of us to help prevent drifting away. In addition, faith is essential to keep us from drifting away from God.


    In chapter ten, the writer encourages his readers to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). This faith is what they must hold on to so they can endure to the end (Heb. 10:35-39; cf. 6:11-12). But one might ask: “What is this “faith” which leads “to the preserving of the soul”? (10:39); “How does this faith manifest itself in the lives of those who possess it?”


    In chapter eleven, the writer defines faith (read Heb. 11:1). He then explains how faith manifests itself in the lives of people by illustrating faith in the righteous attitudes of OT saints (see Heb. 11:3-40).


    The attitude Abel displayed through his faith was, “I’ll give God my best in worship” (Gen. 4:3-5). Abel gave the first and the best of his flock and God was pleased. It is not said that Cain gave either the first or the best of his crop. Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain because he offered it in faith (Heb. 11:4).


    The attitude Enoch showed through his faith was, “I’ll walk with God” (cf. Gen. 5:21-24). For 300 years Enoch did all that was pleasing to God and “God took him” (Heb. 11:5).


    The attitude Noah manifested by his faith was, “I’ll just do it” (cf. Gen. 6). It had never rained on the earth, but Noah believed God when God told him He would destroy the earth with a flood of water, and he did exactly as God had commanded him (Heb. 11:7).


    The attitude Abraham displayed through his faith was, “This world is not my home, so I’ll follow God wherever He leads.” When God called Abraham to leave his home, and did not tell him where he was going, he went because of his faith in God. He lived in tents because he trusted God to provide a better city (Heb. 11:8-10). We also see the attitude produced by Abraham’s faith as he was told to offer his son Isaac, “God will provide ...” (see Gen. 22:1-10; Heb. 11:17-19).


    The attitude Moses revealed through his faith was, “The price is too high” (Heb. 11:23-29; Exo. 2). He could have stayed in Pharoah’s palace and lived like a king, but he chose to “endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25).


    Join us Sunday as we explore more on the need for faith to keep us from drifting away from Christ.


                                                                                                                                                                                         –Mike Rogers




    April 9, 2023


    God is Bigger than Our Storm


    Over the past week Tipton County has been cleaning up, accessing damage, and getting ready to rebuild from the devastation of the tornado that ripped through our area on Friday evening March 31. We have seen our community come together unlike anything I have ever experienced. People wanting to help clean up, people wanting to donate food, money, water, Gatorade, or whatever was/is needed. One thing I think we can learn from our tragic storm is that God is bigger than any storm.


    We looked last week at Job chapters 1 and 2 and saw four specific lessons: We will never be so righteous that God will not test us (Job 1:1); Satan is always looking for opportunities to tempt mankind (1:6-8; 2:1-5); God is in control (see 1:12;  :6); Sometimes we need help (2:11-13).


    We concluded that lesson by answering the question “Where is God?” We looked at several passages in Psalms that show  that God is waiting to hear us call on Him in our suffering.


    As we look deeper into the book of Job, we learn the philosophy of Job and his friends that bad things happen to people because they sin. Job’s friends encouraged him to repent and his suffering would be over. Job repeatedly denied sinning and tried to make sense out of his suffering.


    Finally, God spoke to Job and basically asked, “Who do you think you are to contend with Me?” (See chapters 38-41). Job then repented because of his lack of understanding, and God blessed him with more than he had when the storms came (chapter 42). God is bigger than any storm!


    Luke 8:22-25 is another passage that reminds us that “God is bigger than any storm.” (Read text). In this text, we learn some valuable lessons for dealing with tragedy. First, God is always with His children. Jesus got into the boat with His disciples, and instructed “Let us go over to the other side” (v. 22.) We must be reminded that we are never alone. Jesus is always with us, even in the midst of a storm.


    Second, there can be peace even in the midst of a storm. The boat was filling with water and beginning to sink; the  disciples were “perishing,” but Jesus was asleep (vv. 23-24). Out of fear, or confusion they woke Jesus up and He “rebuked the wind and surging waves and they stopped.” Jesus could sleep because His faith was bigger than the storm. When Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” Maybe their faith was in the boat, or in themselves. They learned where their faith was and where it should have been that day. Maybe our faith is in our homes, or our possessions. May our faith grow in the midst of storms because God is bigger than any storm.


                                                                                                                                                                                      --Mike Rogers



    April 2, 2023


    Revives Us Again: The Need for Faith


    The letter to the Hebrews is a letter for revival because some of these Christians were “drifting away” from Christ and His church. The writer emphasizes that Jesus is better, and that encouragement is expected from each one of us to help prevent drifting away. In addition, faith is essential to keep us from drifting away from God.


    In chapter ten, the writer encourages his readers to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). This faith is what they must hold on to so they can endure to the end (Heb. 10:35-39; cf. 6:11-12). But one might ask: “What is this “faith” which leads “to the preserving of the soul”? (10:39); “How does this faith manifest itself in the lives of those who possess it?”


    In chapter eleven, the writer defines faith (read Heb. 11:1). He then explains how faith manifests itself in the lives of people by illustrating faith in the righteous attitudes of OT saints (see Heb. 11:3-40).


    The attitude Abel displayed through his faith was, “I’ll give God my best in worship” (Gen. 4:3-5). Abel gave the first and the best of his flock and God was pleased. It is not said that Cain gave either the first or the best of his crop. Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain because he offered it in faith (Heb. 11:4).


    The attitude Enoch showed through his faith was, “I’ll walk with God” (cf. Gen. 5:21-24). For 300 years Enoch did all that was pleasing to God and “God took him” (Heb. 11:5).


    The attitude Noah manifested by his faith was, “I’ll just do it” (cf. Gen. 6). It had never rained on the earth, but Noah believed God when God told him He would destroy the earth with a flood of water, and he did exactly as God had commanded him (Heb. 11:7).


    The attitude Abraham displayed through his faith was, “This world is not my home, so I’ll follow God wherever He leads.” When God called Abraham to leave his home, and did not tell him where he was going, he went because of his faith in God. He lived in tents because he trusted God to provide a better city (Heb. 11:8-10). We also see the attitude produced by Abraham’s faith as he was told to offer his son Isaac, “God will provide ...” (see Gen. 22:1-10; Heb. 11:17-19).


    The attitude Moses revealed through his faith was, “The price is too high” (Heb. 11:23-29; Exo. 2). He could have stayed in Pharoah’s palace and lived like a king, but he chose to “endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25).


    Join us Sunday as we explore more on the need for faith to keep us from drifting away from Christ.


                                                                                                                                                                                         –Mike Rogers



  • March 26, 2023


    Revive us Again: The Need for Encouragement


    Hebrews is a book for revival because it tells of Christians who were drifting away from Christ and His church and how to come back. The reason they were drifting away was the same reason Christians drift away today. It was/is sin. Yet, the letter tells us that Jesus is the only answer to sin because He is “better” and everything He offers is “better.” As the writer closes this letter, he tells his readers that he has written them a letter of exhortation” i.e., encouragement (13:22).


    Encouragement is one thing that is essential to keep from drifting away from Christ and His church. The Hebrew writer uses the term "Let us" thirteen times to show that these Christians were not alone in their struggles (cf. 12:1). Every Christian needs empathy from brothers and sisters in Christ.


    First, encouragement is commanded from all of us (3:13; 10:25). It is commanded of us daily (Heb. 3:13). It is commanded of us when we are assembled together (Heb.10:23- 25).


    Second, the writer reveals the many benefits of encouragement. He asserts that encouragement prevents a hard and unbelieving heart (3:12-13), it prevents departing from God (3:12), it helps us overcome the deceitful nature of sin (3:13), it helps us “hold fast to the beginning of our assurance” (3:14), it helps us “hold fast the confession of our hope” (10:23), it is how we “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (10:24-25), it helps us prepare for the judgment (10:25-27), and it helps us finish the race (12:1-3).


    We should also understand that encouragement involves correction (Heb. 12:5). The NASB has the word “exhortation” in 12:5, but Paul uses the same word here as in 3:13 and 10:25. Therefore, we understand that Paul included correction in encouragement. Encouragement/correction is from God’s word and because of God’s love, just as certainly as a father disciplines his children out of love (12:4-11). We must likewise accept the encouragement/correction from our brethren because they love us and are concerned about our eternal destination. The Hebrews writer uses the phrase “let us” to encourage his readers to enter God’s promised eternal rest (4:11), to “press on to maturity” (6:1), to “draw near” to our eternal home (10:22), to “hold fast the confession of our hope” (10:23), and to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1). Remember that Christ is better, and encourage others from that perspective. We all need encouragement, both in the form of a compliment, and correction. Therefore, “let us” resolve to be encouragers when it comes to correction and compliments. “Let us” encourage one another daily with love.

                                                                                                                                                            --Mike Rogers


    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


    Forgiveness


    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

    Truth

    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