Pastor's Pen

Bad Laws Make Good Citizens Lawbreakers - February 26, 2017

"All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions… Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree." (Dan. 6:7,9)

Daniel, the prophet of God, was a faithful, loyal, and good citizen in the Medo-Persian Empire. Unfortunately, there was a bad law passed that made this good citizen a lawbreaker. Daniel lived by principles—principles based upon the perfect law of God. His enemies came up with a plan to make him a lawbreaker, by making it illegal to ask any petition of God or man for 30 days (Daniel 6:7). These men feigned wanting to honour the king by this proposed law. King Darius unwittingly fell into their trap and passed the law (Daniel 6:9).

Being a man of prayer and principled living, Daniel "prayed and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime" (Daniel 6:10). These jealous leaders reported Daniel, as a lawbreaker, to the king: "" (Daniel 6:13). Try as hard as he possibly could, King Darius could not deliver Daniel from the consequences of this bad law (Daniel 6:14-15). Daniel was thrown into the den of lions.

God has ordained human government for the primary purpose of "the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well." (1 Peter 2:14). Governments are to punish evildoers by upholding the law of God, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. Further, governments are to praise those who do well by acknowledging the good they do by awards, medals, feasts, and proclamations. No government has authority from God to pass laws that are evil or violate His laws.

Some examples of bad laws in Bible times would be the command by Pharaoh to kill all the male Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:16-22). This command made the Hebrew midwives and Moses' parents lawbreakers. Another was the law by King Ahasuerus to kill all the Jews in his kingdom simply because they were Jews (Esther 3:8-14). This command was a death sentence for Mordecai and Queen Esther. Further, the decree by Nebuchadnezzar that forced all people to bow down and worship his golden image made Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lawbreakers (Daniel 3:4-7). Additionally, the command of the Sanhedrin not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus made Peter and John and the rest of the disciples lawbreakers (Acts 4:16-21; 5:27-29).

Today, laws that endorse confusion can make good citizens who do not support immorality lawbreakers. Laws that prohibit the free exercise of religious belief such as public praying, Bible reading, or preaching on certain issues, can make good Christian citizens lawbreakers. Hate speech laws can make a good citizen a lawbreaker as he expresses his beliefs and exposes error. Disagreement does not equal hate. Let's pray that for our leaders that they will pass good laws and rescind bad laws so that we can we "may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Pastor David Harness Sr.

A Happy Home - January 15, 2017

A HAPPY HOME AND A DEVOTED HUSBAND

"Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (Proverbs 5:18). "Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun"(Ecc. 9:9).

In all of the realms of their marriage relationship, the husband is to rejoice and find joy with, in, through, and concerning his wife. He must not be filled with annoyance over her troublesome attributes, but must be filled with joy over her endearing qualities. He must not be regularly complaining about her faults and failures, but must be ever rejoicing over her efforts and accomplishments. He must not seek to avoid her company as much as possible, but must choose to enjoy her company. Yea, the husband must seek to make their time together upon this earth as happy and enjoyable as possible. He must live joyfully with his wife all the days of their life together. He must seek, as much as he is able, to create a happy, joyful, and enjoyable atmosphere within their marriage relationship, that he may find joy in and with his wife and that she may find joy in and with him. Let the husband then seek for ways to put a smile on his wife's face, a bounce in her step, and a song in her heart.

A HAPPY HOME AND A DEVOTED WIFE

"Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." (Eph. 5:33).

What then does it mean for the wife to reverence her husband? It means that she is to maintain a spirit and attitude of respect, esteem, and honor toward him. She is to hold him in an exalted place within her heart and to treat him with honor through her behavior. She is not to be critical of him, but to lift him up with honor. She is to adore him as her husband, to be attentive unto his thoughts and desires, and to be supportive of him and his pursuits. She is to be ever concerned to please him and to be ever cautious not to offend him. Though the wife will certainly be aware of her husband's weaknesses and unworthiness, yet in her submission unto him she is to maintain a spirit of reverence toward him "as unto the Lord."

By Scott Markle, taken from God’s Wisdom for Marriage and the Home

The New Year That Went Bad - January 8, 2017

"…Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed into Thessalonica…" II Timothy 4:10

The year A.D. 66 was definitely not a good year for Demas. It was in that year he forsook the will of God – the blessings of God. He also forsook Paul, the faithful servant of God. He forsook these treasures for a thing called "the world." When the year began, did Demas plan to backslide and go into the world? Probably not. Did Demas take preventative measures to keep from going astray? Again, probably not.

What was it that Demas so loved in this world that he would forsake the ministry and his good friend? Was it a woman who captured his attention? Was it a business opportunity and the financial gain it promised that he just couldn’t pass up? Was it the glamour and glitter of the world that captured the desires of his flesh? Was it the easy life the world offered as opposed to the cross Christ demanded? We are not specifically told. And for good reason, because we are dealing with a principle, not an isolated and specific issue.

There are some Biblical principles Demas had either neglected or purposely violated. First, he did not heed what the Bible teaches about the world, that is, this world's system. The world hates Christ and Christians (John 15:18-25). The world is at enmity with Christ (James 4:4). We are not to love the world, neither the things in the world (I John 2:15).

Secondly, Demas fell into the trap of only considering the temporal, not the eternal. Notice the reference "this present world."

Someday, this present world will be destroyed – nothing this present world produces can ever last for eternity. God calls this present world "evil" (Galatians 1:4), and He wants to deliver us from it. We look forward to the new "world to come" (Hebrews 6:5).

Finally, Demas had his focus on the wrong things. We are to set our "affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also (Matthew 6:21). Demas did not lose his love for God, he left his love for God (Revelation 2:4). He allowed his affections to wander and as a result, his love grew cold.

We must be disciplined and keep our attention fixed on Christ. I trust that this year will be a great year for you and for me, and that we will finish the year for God – better than we began it.

Pastor David Harness Sr.

Beware of Drifting Along! - January 1, 2017

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip [drift away]" (Hebrews 2:1).

There is nothing easier than drifting; but at the same time, there is nothing that can be more dangerous. While this holds true on any sea, it becomes even more serious when we think of life's sea. Where few would ever dare to drift in any boat, many seem unconcerned about drifting along through life. Therefore, we need this warning from God's Word. We need to realize the awful consequences of drifting along.

In the first place, the drifter is always going down. No one ever drifts upstream. The law of gravity applies spiritually too. It is easy to float downstream. Oh, the many that are doing it! To go the way of the world with the crowd is the easy way of the drifter, but it is the way down to Hell itself.

The drifter not only is going down, but even worse is the fact that he is seldom aware of it. For the most part, he does not even realize that he is drifting. The drifter becomes so much like Samson of whom we read, "He wist not that the Lord was departed from him" (Judges 16:20). The currents that cause drifting are often barely perceptible. We drift before we know it. That is why we need to constantly keep our bearings and have our port in view.

The Devil seldom urges a Christian to leave the church or give up his faith in the Lord. His strategy is more subtle than that. He just seeks to cause us to relax ― to rest on the oars and drift along in our Christian life.

Are there not many Christians who have drifted into a state of coldness and indifference in this way? They have seemingly forgotten their conversion experience with its sense of guilt concerning sin and subsequent joy in coming to the Lord. The truths of sin and grace which once so strongly gripped their hearts and consciences have become so familiar that they now fall on almost deaf ears. Their "first love" for the Lord and for the souls of men has been largely left, and other things, though good and legitimate, have taken first place.

This is the peril of drifting. We must recognize it. We must beware of its deceitfulness and also realize "it can happen to me".

Drifting along is so serious. If we continue drifting along, we will ultimately come to ruin. The waters may still seem placid, but the rapids and finally the falls are sure to come at last. Besides, all the time we are drifting, we are not only ruining ourselves, but we are also endangering the lives of others. Just as derelicts endanger other ships, so aimless, ambitionless, spiritual drifters are often a menace to the spiritual welfare of others.

Are you drifting along? Heed the songwriter's plea: "Drift no longer! Let Jesus save".

By Stanley Dokken in The Sword Scrapbook, Vol. 1

Amazing Grace - December 11, 2016

He was such a foul-mouthed, wicked, brute-beast of a sinner that on one occasion he was so drunk that he fell overboard his ship. The crew would not even let down a lifeboat - rather they harpooned him, dragging their captain back on board. Such is the account of John Newton.

John Newton was born in 1725, the son of a sea captain. His mother was a godly Christian who faithfully taught him Bible verses, hymns, and prayer. She died when John was only seven years old. At the young age of 11 years, he became a cabin boy on his father's ship. Later he served in the British navy and then on a slave ship, eventually becoming captain of his own slave ship. His heart grew harder and harder, his conduct more vile: so wicked that he was despised by subordinates and superiors alike. Yet God, in His great love, showed mercy on him and saved Newton's soul.

John Newton never got over the wonderful, transforming grace of God. At age 39, the former slave trader became a pastor. He preached the saving grace of God to all who would hear. He also fought against the slave trade, exposing its evils. At age 59, he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. The first line rings out, "Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" Even in death in the year 1807, Newton told of God's rich grace. The epitaph on his tombstone reads:

John Newton, Clerk, Once an infidel and libertine, A servant of slaves in Africa; Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour, JESUS CHRIST, Preserved, restored, pardoned, And appointed to preach the faith,He had long laboured to destroy.

John Newton's crew struck his hip with that harpoon when he stumbled blindly overboard – and he walked throughout his life with a perpetual limp. But he did not mind it. Rather, he declared, "Each limp is a constant reminder of God’s grace to this wretched sinner." Friend, have you opened your heart to God’s amazing grace?

Pastor David Harness Sr.