Black Friday

 

“…One- hundred two dollars and sixty four cents.” As you hear these numbers roll off of the cashiers tongue, you can’t help but be ecstatic. You’re tired, you’re wounded, beaten, and your feet are in distress, but you’re thrilled. You have just purchased a two hundred dollar T.V. for almost half the original sales price.

Strange things start to happen the Friday after Thanksgiving. Walmart’s become dojos, Parking lots turn into campsites, malls seem to be hosting the annual Olympic track and field games, and millions of people all across America simply lose their minds.

What is the cause for this madness? Two words: Black Friday.

Black Friday signifies the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, major retailers open their doors exceptionally early, welcoming throngs of people who are seeking these one-time promotional sales. On this day, we get a glimpse of the incredible lengths many will go to save a pretty penny.

On a Friday just a little over two thousand years ago, we got a glimpse of the incredible lengths God was willing to go to save this world from destruction.  Much like this past Friday, strange things happened. There was betrayal, suicide, injustices, riots, mocking’s, scourging’s, crucifixions, redemption, and death.

The earth witnessed supernatural phenomena. At high noon, there was an unusual three hour period of darkness. The curtain to the temple was spontaneously torn in two, the earth shook, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and dead men rose.

“When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’,” Matthew 27:54

This was a dark day indeed. The Son of Man was killed.

On this day, 1,500 years of prophecy was fulfilled; it was finished.

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished’, and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit”, John 19:30

The blood of bulls and goats could no longer atone for the sins of men. A sacrifice had to be made. (Hebrews 10:4).

Someone had to die. This someone had to be perfect, He had to be blameless, He had to be sinless, He had to be the Son of God. The pure, undefiled, innocent, and spotless Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the world.

On this very dark and black Friday, there was a ray of hope. Hope lied in the resurrection. Not only did Jesus die for man, but three days later He got up.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He told you the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise”, Luke 24:6-7

Today, we can bask in even greater savings than any earthly Black Friday deal. On this Friday, over 2,000 years ago, despite our wretched and sinful nature, Jesus gave up His life, paying the ultimate price for our very lives, and saved the word.

By Timothy G. Ruffin

Cry Out All The More

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Its 7:59 AM and you’re in the midst of a pleasant dream. You hear your alarm clock and you’re suddenly awake, back to reality. You open your eyes and you see black. You rub them, still black. Maybe you’re dreaming? You lie back down, wait a few minutes, open your eyes again; pure blackness. You’re blind. What are you going to do?

If this happened to me, I would be in a panic, desperately trying to find help; desperately trying to get a hold of a physician to correct this issue.

I’m reminded of one in Scripture who was faced with a similar dilemma. This man was blind, he was a beggar, and he was desperate.

I’m thinking about Bartimaeus in Mark 10. In this chapter, we read of an account where Jesus is leaving Jericho. As He’s passing through, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus hears Him. This beggar soon begins to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” As he shouts, people begin telling him to be quiet. At this, Bartimaeus shouts all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stops in His tracks and says to His disciples, “Call him.”  His disciples call the blind man, saying, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” The text says Bartimaeus immediately threw off his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replies, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” Jesus says to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus immediately recieves his sight and follows Jesus.

Although we may not see many blind beggars on the side of Nashville Highway, I use this story to pose the question: Are you blind? I’m not asking are you physically blind, that’s obviously not the case or you wouldn’t be reading this article. I’m asking are you blind spiritually?

Maybe you’re like Bartimaeus. Maybe you’ve heard about this Jesus but you can’t see Him. You see all of these people proclaiming to be Christians, but they’re not acting like it. You see all of these churches, but they’re wearing different names. You’re reading all of these religious articles, but they’re all saying different things.

You feel lost. You don’t know where to begin. You don’t know where to go. You’re crying out for help, looking for answers, seeking encouragement, but you just can’t find the help you need.

Friends, I’m here to tell you, there are scores of people in this world, who feel the same way, much like Bartimaeus: blind and crying out for help. They are seeking a Savior; they are searching for answers, and looking for the Truth. I’m here to tell you, cry out all the more.

The search for Truth can be a daunting task. If this is how you feel, I can tell you one thing: You won’t find Truth from any source but from the One who is Truth, and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the right way to look.

“…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

Friends, Jesus is the Light of the world and He is able to illuminate this dark, desperate, and curious world into all paths of righteousness.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” John 8:12

When we have questions look to Jesus Christ for answers. Open up His word and study it diligently. When Satan tries to quench your spirit, be like Bartimaeus and cry out all the more; never quit.

When you do, the Truth will be exposed and you will be able to see Christ for who He truly is—The Great Physician, the Savior, and the Light of the World.

By Timothy G. Ruffin

Worm Bait

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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 home run 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.

By Timothy G. Ruffin

The Seasons Change, God’s Word Doesn’t

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As I stepped outside this morning, I was greeted by nature’s gentle breeze.  I looked around and I couldn’t help but see the vegetation changing, leaves falling, squirrels harvesting, and simply the arrival of a beautiful new season; fall is here. The nature and the power of God are yet again on display for all men 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, prompting 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 the 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.

By Timothy G. Ruffin

A Lifetime of Rest

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Not only is today the last day that it is socially acceptable to wear the color white, but today is Labor Day. This first Monday in September is a National holiday that provides many American citizens a break from the rigors of work and school and allows them to spend this day resting and doing whatever they 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 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 pretty laborious.

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.

“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,” Matthew 11:28-29.

Our Heavenly Father has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to give us what no one else can give—rest from the burden of sin. In order to obtain this rest, Christ tells His disciples in the above passage to “learn from Him.”

We learn from Jesus by being absorbed in His word.

“Study to shew 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). God’s peace is greater than what any National Holiday or employer can provide; this is a peace which brings forth a lifetime of rest and true happiness.

By Timothy G. Ruffin