It’s hot; it’s sticky; and it’s muggy—you are back in Birmingham; it’s been a while…
As you traverse through the city, the lights still flicker; the tea is still sweet; the food is still fried; and the people still roll with the tide… You are home…
No matter how long you’ve been away from it, home will always be home. Time and space do not change our roots.
In Isaiah chapter 53, the prophet Isaiah was reminded of this fact.
In this passage, as the prophet is looking down through the corridors of time, he sees a root that would spring up as a tender shoot out of dry ground (Isaiah 53:2), he sees a root that would stand as a signal, give wisdom, and provide glorious rest to the people of God (Isaiah 11:10), he sees a root that would love, care for, and bless all men despite their age, race, color, gender, or ethnicity, (Romans 15:12).
What Isaiah saw was truly remarkable, he saw a root that had been planted, cultivated, and harvested within the mind of God, he saw the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Brethren, this is our root. We are a part of a kingdom, a priesthood, a church, a family that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).
Time and space may separate us; people may come, and people may go; we celebrate life, and we grieve death, but as people of God, we can find hope and comfort, knowing that, whatever may happen on this side of Heaven, we share an eternal bond that is greater than this side of Heaven. We share a bond that is connected, woven, and knit together by an eternal God, who has given us His Root.
North Hixson, you will always be family, this place will always be home; I will never forget my roots. I love you all.
- Timothy G. Ruffin
Her dress is old. Her feet are tired. Her Bible is worn, and her thin gray hair rested on the pew in front of you…
The final “Amens” are said, and today, it’s Lupi’s Pizza, with the Young and the Restless.
A week has passed. The bulletins are passed, and she takes her seat...
The final “Amens” are said, and today, it’s O’Charley’s, with the Young and the Restless.
A week has passed. The emblems are passed, she breaks the bread…
The final “Amens” are said, and today, it’s Applebee’s, with the Young and the Restless.
A week has passed. The sermon has passed, with shoulders slumped, cane in hand, she slowly stands...
The final “Amens” are said, and today, its Chili's, with the Young and the Restless.
A week has passed. The clouds have passed, it’s a beautiful day, worship was great.
The final “Amens” are said, and today, it’s Olive Garden, with the Young and the Restless...
As the hostess leads you to your table, you take your seat, and you see her thin gray hair resting on the booth in front of you…
Her dress is old, her feet are tired, her Bible is worn; she’s all alone…
“I’ll get to know her…next week”, you say….
A week has passed. Class has passed, the announcements are read, and she is dead…
There was no one in the pew in front of you…
We are blessed with a tremendous amount of men and women who have been on the battlefield for a long time. There is so much we can learn from them. Get to know them, today, because one day, a week will pass, and so will they…
“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”, Leviticus 19:32
- Timothy G. Ruffin
The cashier at Food City has the most beautiful eyes you’ve ever seen. She has been so kind; she has greeted you, she has asked about your kids, she has even given you some tips on how to tenderize your pot roast most effectively.
As she hands you your receipt, with a gentle smile on her face—It runs through your head… you know what you need to do, and you know what you need to say…but you just stand there, and say nothing.
She hands you the receipt. You grab it. You smile. You say good bye. And you leave.
Three days later, as you’re sitting on your back porch enjoying a nice glass of sweet tea, strange things begin to happen.
You see something so glorious and wonderful descending from the skies, you hear this cry of command, angelic voices begin to sing, the sound of a trumpet can be heard, tombs begin to open, and dead men rise.
As men, women, and children begin to ascend to the clouds, it hits you… this is the Day of Judgement. …
As the Lord takes His seat on His high and lofty throne, all nations gather before Him, all knees bow, all tongues confess, and everyone cries out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”
The Lord begins to separate, as all lie prostrate.
You look to your left, and the most familiar and beautiful eyes you have ever seen are staring right at you…It’s the cashier…
As she’s trembling in fear, full of sorrow, guilt, and anguish, she whispers something ever so softly to you.
The words, “You never mentioned Him to Me…” painfully pierce through your ears.
As these words roll off her tongue you hear another voice thundering from the throne of God crying out to her, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” …
Friends, sadly, this tragedy will be a reality for so many of us who have had the opportunity to share the gospel with our friends, our neighbors, our relatives, our co-workers, or that cashier with the beautiful eyes, but we never mentioned Him them.
This year, we have had the congregational goal: Rise and Build. As we reflect on all that has been said and done this year, we must ask ourselves if we have really put forth the effort to rise and build.
From what I can see, we have. I am very proud of all the time, planning, and effort that so many of you have put in toward achieving this goal. Many of you have gone well beyond your comfort zones, and have done so much this year for the glory of God.
Whatever category you find yourself in: Having done little, or having done much, we all have room to improve.
There is always work to do in the Kingdom. This is a great work. It’s a work that is so great, it had the power to expel Christ from the glories of Heaven and come to this earth to seek and save that which was lost.
Let’s join Him in this effort. Keep working. Never Quit, and just do it…look her in those beautiful eyes, and mention Him, today.
- Timothy G. Ruffin
It’s here… Monday…Monday means work, Monday means school, and Monday means gym. Mondays are so mundane. Mondays help us develop a greater appreciation for the weekend.
Weekends are so wonderful. Weekends provide people all across the world an opportunity to pause from the rigors of life and spend a couple of days doing whatever they so please.
It’s always nice to have a break, because quite frankly, life is hard; there are bills to pay, kids to raise, jobs to attend, and classes to pass.
Aside from the physical, mundane aspects of life, Christians are also engaged in spiritual warfare. The devil is constantly trying to tempt us, discourage us, and keep us off course.
Juggling the routine aspects of life while trying to flee from sin can be a pretty laborious task.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just have a lifetime of rest? I’m happy to tell you, we can.
I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28, 29, He says:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Our Heavenly Father has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to give us what no one else can give—rest from the burdens of sin. In order to obtain this rest, Christ tells His disciples in the above passage to “learn from Him”.
We learn from Him by being absorbed in His word.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).”
Those who are absorbed in the word of God will learn truths that will comfort, encourage, strengthen, and protect them from both the physical and the spiritual burdens of life.
If we are daily meditating on, consumed in, and are practicing what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, we will be lavished with God’s peace and love (Philippians 4:8, 9) this peace is greater than what any weekend can offer. The peace of God brings forth a lifetime of rest and true happiness.
- Timothy G. Ruffin
What if you discovered a book; a lost, divine, inspired revelation from God. You open this book, begin reading, and you discover that it is a sin to wear the color red; those who wear red will be eternally lost.
King Josiah had an experience very similar to this.
Josiah became king at the age of 8. Scripture tell us that he did right in the sight of God and walked in all the ways of his father David.
When Josiah was 26 years old, a book was brought before him that he had never seen. As the book was read to him, Josiah begins to tear his clothes, he has realized that this was the Word of God and God’s wrath was great.
The people had not abided by the words of this book, they had forsaken the God of Israel, and they had given themselves over to idolatry. The Lord had set out to bring evil on Judah and all its inhabitants for their sins.
“For great is the wrath of the Lord, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book.” 2 Kings 22:13
The problems facing Judah did not just happen overnight, they happened as a result of their forefather’s lack of reverence and disobedience to the laws of God.
An immature king would have sat back, made excuses, and blamed all of his actions and the actions of his kingdom on the forefather’s disobedience; however, we don’t see this type of behavior in the actions of Josiah. Josiah repented, took responsibility, and went to God for direction.
As a result, Josiah was able to find favor in the eyes of God. God promised that he would be gathered to his fathers and would see his grave in peace and his eyes would not see all the evil that would come upon Judah.
The Lord promised to spare Josiah, but Josiah wasn’t satisfied with simply his own personal well-being, he cared about the entire nation.
In 2 Kings Chapter 23, Josiah gathers all of the people together, both small and great; and reads to them the words of this lost book. He continues to make a covenant before the Lord, declaring that he and the people will keep His commandments, testimonies, and statutes with all of their heart, soul, and might. With great zeal, Josiah reforms this entire kingdom; he removes all the idolatrous priests, he destroys all of the shrines and sacred objects associated with other gods, and he centralizes Judah’s worship in Jerusalem, re-establishing the worship of God by keeping the Passover.
This wonderful story is a great example for us today. We cannot neglect the Book, we cannot solely rely upon those who have come before us, and we must take personal accountability for our own actions or lack thereof.
As Christians, we must strive towards godliness and shine our lights in this very dark world.
When this is neglected, it becomes very difficult for godliness to spread into future generations, and fifty years from now, some poor soul may find themselves in a situation very similar to Josiah, coming upon a “lost book”.
Josiah had been ignorant of his nation’s many sins and failures before the true God, yet the Book taught him. God will help those who desire to be helped. Preserve the Book: Read it, think about it, meditate on it, and share it with someone today.
- Timothy G. Ruffin
As I stepped outside this morning, I was greeted by nature’s gentle breeze. I looked around and I couldn’t help but see vegetation changing, flowers blooming, birds chirping, and simply the arrival of a beautiful new season; spring has sprung. Nature and the power of God are yet again on display for all to see.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time,” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
It’s so awesome to see things change. This is the nature of life. Times change, trends change, people change, and today, we can clearly see that the seasons change.
Friends, I will tell you, one thing that does not change, is the inspired, unadulterated, Word of God. As people of God, we must continue to accept it, proclaim it, and defend it despite the ever-changing trends of this world.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever,” Isaiah 40:8.
I’m reminded of a time in Scripture in Acts 5, when the Sanhedrin Council, Jewish religious leaders, tried to hinder the word of God from being preached.
Christ’s apostles were doing great signs and wonders, promoting great crowds. As a result of this, the Jewish leaders became envious and had Christ’s apostles arrested and thrown into prison. During the night, however, an angel of the Lord came and released them and the next day the apostles were again found in the temple preaching and teaching Jesus.
The Council was perplexed at this, and once again had them questioned. When asked why they continued to speak of this Jesus, the apostle Peter declared that they must obey God rather than men and that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world.
At this statement, the Scriptures say the leaders became envious and wanted them killed.
Right at the point of execution, a well-respected Pharisee, named Gamaliel, stood up and told the Sadducees to hold off. He reasoned about men who claimed to be from God, but were eventually killed, their followers were scattered, and their messages came to nothing.
Gamaliel continued to say that if this message Peter and the apostles were preaching is of man, it too will come to nothing, but, if it is indeed from God, it will not be overthrown and those who attempt to silence it may even be found opposing God.
Friends, the fact that we, some two thousand years removed from this declaration are still preaching, teaching, worshiping, and serving this same Jesus Christ means we can know for certain that this plan and this undertaking of the apostles and the early Christians has certainly not been overthrown and is truly inspired. For this reason, unlike the seasons, we can know for certain that the Word of God will never change.
- Timothy G. Ruffin
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine there being any humor in the Bible but I found this not to be the case a few months ago. One morning, as I was reading through the book of Proverbs, I came across this verse:
“If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.”
– Proverbs 25:16
This verse is very straightforward, blunt, and hilarious but, this verse wasn’t put into the inspired Word of God to make us laugh; it has meaning to it. The truths of yesterday are still true today.
Parents, after Halloween, do you allow your kids to eat their entire sack of candy? Of course not! If they did, they would vomit. Without self-control in eating, people can harm their health.
This can be said about many things in life. Too much of anything is never good. For example, someone who watches too much T.V. can possibly neglect his family, work, or school. Someone who spends too much time at work can neglect his family; someone who spends too much time with his family can neglect his work; anything can be factored into this analogy.
Those who do things in excess live a life of ‘give and take’. One thing gets all of our attention while hundreds of other tasks and responsibilities get neglected. The solution to this problem can be summed up in one simple word: Prioritize.
The apostle Paul uses a similar analogy in 1 Timothy 4:6-9. In this chapter, the apostle begins the passage explaining to the young evangelist Timothy how times will come when some will depart from the faith having devoted themselves to false teaching. The apostle charges Timothy to reprove those who have strayed from the faith. He tells Timothy that he must be a good servant of Christ, being trained in the words of faith and of the good doctrine. Paul urges Timothy to pay no attention to irreverent silly myths, but to be trained in godliness. Paul continues
“… for while bodily exercise profits little, godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and that which is to come.”
– 1 Timothy 4:8
Initially, we saw how Solomon warns readers that too much honey is not good. As Christians today, it’s important for us to recognize that work profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things. School profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things. Family profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things, the list goes on and on.
Too much of the world will produce a nasty spirit. The question we should reflect on today is how am I spending my time?
May we continue to spend our time doing things that bring us joy and satisfaction, but let us never forget to devote time to our Heavenly Father who deserves all glory, honor, and praise—the God who provides His people with everlasting joy and satisfaction.
- Timothy G. Ruffin
People believe what they do in religion for a variety of reasons. Some simply accept whatever their parents believe. Some adopt the beliefs of a church they have found to their liking. Others put their trust in an admired preacher and pretty much go along with whatever he teaches. Many would see religious conviction as being a “leap of faith” without any real evidence to support such faith. The Bible, however, warns against gullibility, bias, and emotionalism, and calls for an honest consideration of the evidence in order to arrive at faith.
I believe there is a personal God who is the creator of the universe, the giver of life, and the judge before whom we must ultimately appear and give an account for how we’ve lived our lives. And I believe this God is the God revealed in the Bible.
I believe Jesus is God’s son. And I believe Jesus was proven to be God’s son by his resurrection from the dead.
I believe the Bible was inspired by God and is the revelation of God’s will.
When I say I believe in God, and Christ, and the Bible, I mean: I believe and I know why I believe. I believe because the evidence compels me to believe.
Christian faith is not ignorant gullibility. It is conviction based upon convincing evidence. It’s not a matter of what I want to believe, or what my parent’s believe. And it’s not a matter of what I have always been taught to believe. It’s a matter of evidence. I have seen the evidence and I believe because of the evidence.
Other people may believe (or, say they believe) for other reasons, but real Christians believe because of the evidence.
The Bible writers warn against being gullible and too easily convinced. For example, when the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus, he said they “should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph 4:14). In his epistle to the Christians at Thessalonica he cautioned them to examine everything carefully and accept only what was proven to be true (1Th 5:21).
The apostle John, in his first epistle, warned Christians everywhere about the many false prophets at work in the world. He said that every “prophet” should be put to the test (1Jn 4:1). And he commended the Christians at Ephesus for having exposed some who were false apostles (Rev 2:2).
The Bible writers always pointed to the evidence in calling upon people to believe. Consider the example of Paul at Thessalonica: “And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ’” (Ac 17:2-3).
There are many reasons for why people believe the things they do, but the only valid reason for believing is the evidence.
- Bill Walton
The Roman soldiers were professionals in execution. Like thousands before and after Jesus, they marched the Son of God to "the place of the Skull" where He was to suffer a vicious, embarrassing death. The Roman soldiers were instruments of cruelty and pain. It was the Roman soldiers who scourged Jesus (Matt 27:26). It was the Roman soldiers who put the robe on His back, who fashioned the crown of thorns and beat it into His skull (Matt 27:28-31). They mocked Him as the "King of the Jews." They spat upon Him. They treated Jesus like one of their low-life victims.
When we look to the Roman soldiers at the scene of the cross, we see two very different pictures.
On one hand you see the soldiers gambling for Jesus' possessions. According to tradition, the guards were given the possessions of the condemned. You might expect the spoils to be few from a man who confessed that "foxes have holes, the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no where to lay His head" (Luke 9:58). No money. No jewelry. No matter. These soldiers will gladly gamble for whatever bounty this crucified King may have (Jn. 19:23-24). Like Caiaphas before them, they are unknowingly playing their role in the fulfillment of prophecy (Jn 11:49).
In looking at the gambling soldiers, you have to wonder how many today are following in their footsteps? "What's in it for me" has become our national cliche. Much of modern religion seems to be built upon the creed that we are happy to be Christians provided the Provider provides. We put some cheep prices on the love of God and the blood of Jesus when we play games at the foot of the cross. "If God loved me... I wouldn't be sick...I'd have a job...I'd have more money...my family would be happy... and seeing this the Savior must cry.
How could they...but how can we...be so close to the blood of Christ and yet be so preoccupied with our selfish interests? May it never be said of us what one author wrote of these gambling soldiers: "So close to the timber, yet so far from the blood. So close to the cross, but so far from the Christ."
On the other hand there's the Centurion's confession. On a normal day he would be commanding a hundred of Rome's finest fighting men. On this day he is supervising a four-man death squad. No doubt he had seen men die. He had heard their despair as pain overtook their resolve. He had heard them curse their executioners, their father and mother, and the day they were born. No doubt he had heard them curse God.
But on this day he heard the Son of God. He heard teh Savior offer forgiveness to the mob, and hope to a thief. He heard the cry of victory and the prayer of faith. Had the Centurion seen Jesus raise the dead, walk on water, or give sight to the blind? I don't know. But he saw Jesus die. He heard the Victor's cry. He felt the earth quake and stood in awe of the blackness that replaced the noon day sun. For the Centurion the evidence was overwhelming and the conclusion was obvious: "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39).
Of all the things in God's creation, it is the cross that cannot be ignored. The cross which exposes the enormity of our sin also demonstrates teh depth of God's love for man.
Two groups of soldiers - one was focused on self gain and possessions, the other on the Lord who was slain. What do you see when you gaze at the old rugged cross?
- Jordan Shouse
The gospel preacher steps out of the pulpit, the congregation is led in its final two songs, the ‘Amens’ are said, brethren file to the foyer, and it happens…the preacher is now the point man.
He is showered with love and encouragement. Kind words are exchanged, “good jobs” are said, hands are shaken, hugs are received, and the preacher leaves the building feeling like a million bucks.
Brethren do a marvelous job of making the preacher feel special, whether his sermon was a homerun or not. Despite all of this, unbeknownst to some, the preacher is often fighting an inward battle with himself; trying not to become worm bait.
Being in the public eye can often cause one to become conceited. Friends, there is no room for this in the Lord’s church. God’s people must stay humble. We have no reason to boast in anything, except for in the cross and Him crucified.
“…but far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,” Galatians 6:14.
I’m reminded of one in scripture who was speaking publically, this man was encouraged, he failed to give God the glory, and he was ultimately killed because of it. I’m thinking about Herod in Acts chapter 12.
“On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of god, and not of a man!” Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last,” Acts 12:21-2.
Compare the above passage to the one below. Just after Jesus had fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, the Scriptures say in John 6:14-15,
“When the people saw the sign that He had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.”
The example in Acts shows a mere man claiming praise and honor for himself. The passage in John portrays One who deserves all praise, glory, and honor withdrawing Himself from such accolades.
We all know in the end Jesus was exalted (Philippians 2:9) and Herod was struck dead and eaten by worms (Acts 12:23).The question remains, what will become of you?
Don’t become worm bait. Give God the glory.
“…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31.