A Very Dark Time in History

The period of judges was the darkest time in the nation of Israel’s history. Consider a few interesting facts about this book and period:

The book of Judges is the seventh book of the Bible. It is often a neglected study, but in it we learn so much about the consequences of rebelling against God’s will.

The men (and one woman) who served as Israel’s judges did not sit on a bench and issue rulings, like modern-day judges, but were instead deliverers of God’s people. Many of them were specifically called by God, while others rose to the occasion to save God’s people from their oppression. There are at least 15 people that the Bible specifically mentions as judges.

  • Othniel (Judges 3:7-11)
  • Ehud (Judges 3:12-30)
  • Shamgar (Judges 3:31)
  • Deborah (Judges 4-5)
  • Gideon (Judges 6-8)
  • Abimelech (Judges 9)
  • Tola (Judges 10:1-2)
  • Jair (Judges 10:3-5)
  • Jephthah (Judges 11-12)
  • Ibzan (Judges 12:8-10)
  • Elon (Judges 12:11-12)
  • Adbon (Judges 12:13-15)
  • Samson (Judges 13-16)
  • Eli (1 Samuel 4:18)
  • Samuel (Acts 13:20; Hebrews 11:32)

Judges 1:1-2:5 serves as the Prologue for the book. The opening verses of the book pick up where the book of Joshua leaves off. The people of Israel have taken possession of the Promised Land, but many of the tribes have failed to obey God and drive out the remaining Canaanites. As a result, the Israelites were influenced by them, even embracing their false religions and worshipping their false gods. It got to be so bad that God sent an angel to pronounce judgment on them (Judges 2:2-3). Because of their disobedience, God said He would not help them drive out the remaining nations in the future and that they would become “a thorn” in their side.

The core of the book of Judges is Judges 2:6-16:31. In these chapters we find a cycle repeating itself no less than six times. The people of Israel relapse into sin; they experience oppression (retribution from God) from their enemies; in their oppression Israel decides to repent; and God sends a judge (deliverer) to rescue Had the people just obeyed God in the first place, they could have avoided all of this suffering.

Because Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord repeatedly, they eventually progressed and became much worse. In the last five chapters of the book, a very important statement is given by the writer that really sums up the period.

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.                                                                               – Judges 17:6; 21:25 NKJV

What can we learn?

God has a standard. It was not God’s will that the people of Israel do whatever was “right in their own eyes.” God had given them His law through the prophet Moses (Deuteronomy 5:1-21). God also has given us a law through the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 1:17). This is the standard Jesus will judge us by on the last day (John 12:48).

We need to submit to Gods standard. Israel should have obeyed the commandments of God. Because they refused to, they suffered terribly. Unfortunately, many Americans want to be able to do whatever they desire. They want to marry whoever they want (ex: homosexual marriage), kill whoever they want (ex: abortion), and sever relationships anytime they want (ex: divorce). Many Americans don’t want to be told what to do, but we need to understand that since God made us (Genesis 1:26-27), He has the inherit right to rule over us and He expects us to obey Him (Matthew 7:21-23).

There are consequences for rebelling against Gods standard. Israel suffered at the hands of their enemies because they rebelled against God. We will not only suffer in this life, but in hell for eternity if we follow in their footsteps (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

The period of judges was a very sad time for the Israelites. They glorified sin and dishonored the name of God. We would be wise to learn from their mistakes (Proverbs 14:12).

Building a Biblical Mountain – Part 3

If you were blessed to have your name mentioned in the Bible, what would be said about you? What impression would people have as they read what the Holy Spirit revealed about an aspect of your life?  Would the information given make your family proud and inspire faithfulness to God? Or, would it be embarrassing and be used in sermons about how one ought not to behave?

Throughout the Bible we are given examples of both. Sometimes the Bible says nothing but good about an individual (see Samuel, Daniel, and Nehemiah). Other times an individual is mentioned only to help us learn from their unrighteous behavior (see Nabal, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira).

One particular person to have some of the most commendable words spoken about them in the scriptures is Moses.

Moses was one of the most important people to ever walk on this earth. He was born into the world during a time when Israelite male babies were being murdered by the Egyptians (Exodus 1:22). Through His providence, God made a way for Moses to survive this massacre and actually be raised by the daughter of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:1-10). God wanted Moses’ life to be spared because He would have some important work for him to do in the future.

Moses lived to be 120 years old. His life story can be broken down into three distinct parts,

  • For the first 40 years he grew up in Egypt as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Hebrews 11:24). During this time he became learned and acquainted in the ways of the Egyptians.
  • Due to him killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses was forced to flee from Egypt and spend the next forty years of his life as a shepherd in the land of Midian (Exodus 2:11-25). This would prepare him to shepherd God’s people later.
  • Once Moses turned 80, God miraculously called him to go back to Egypt and deliver His people (the Hebrews) from slavery (Exodus 3). Although he was reluctant, Moses obeyed God. He went before Pharaoh several times speaking the message of God. After a series of plagues sent by God throughout the land, Pharaoh was forced to release the Hebrews. For the next forty years Moses would serve as deliverer and leader of Israel.

The significance of Moses in Bible history cannot be overstated. Not only did God use him to deliver His people from hundreds of years of slavery, but he was also a counselor, judge, and lawgiver for Israel. He wrote the first five books of the Bible (John 1:17; 7:19, 23; Luke 16:29; 24:44). He was a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15). He is mentioned in almost 80 verses in the New Testament!

Many good things can be said about Moses, but probably none any better than these three that have been preserved in the scriptures.

  • So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.    – Exodus 33:11
  • But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. – Deuteronomy 34:10-12
  • By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.                         – Hebrews 11:24-26

If you had your life story preserved in the Bible, would you want the things said about Moses also said about you? Would you want it said that you were a friend of God? Would you want it said that you were a person of faith? Would you want it said that you sacrificed worldly rewards to follow God?

Moses’ story is finished. But yours is still being written. Live for the Lord and ensure it reads well for you on the Judgment Day.

– Shawn Jeffries

Building a Biblical Mountain – Part 2

If there were a Mount Rushmore of Bible characters, Abraham’s face would definitely be on it. Abraham is first mentioned in Genesis 11. Four thousand years ago while living in Haran (and after the death of his father Terah), God spoke to Abraham and made three significant promises to him. In Genesis 12:1-7 God promised to make a great nation from his seed, this nation would take possession of a wonderful and special land (Canaan), and through someone from this nation all families of the earth would be blessed (a reference to Jesus). The rest of the Bible story is about God fulfilling each of these promises.

  • God built the Israelites into a great nation while they were slaves for 400 years in Egypt. By the time they made their exodus they had become the nation He promised Abraham (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:1, 7-9).
  • Not much later, God gave the nation the piece of land He had promised in Genesis 12:7. This was the land of Canaan. By the end of the book of Joshua Israel is a great nation and they have received all of the land which God had promised (Joshua 21:43-45).
  • The rest of the Old Testament (from the end of Joshua all the way to Malachi) is about the people of Israel waiting for the fulfillment of promise #3. This was mentioned in Genesis 12:3, that through someone in Israel all nations of the earth would be able to become the children of God.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of this final promise. The first verse of the New Testament connects Jesus to the family of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Also, the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” It is through Jesus that every person now is able to be adopted into the family of God and have their sins forgiven. This adoption takes place when one is immersed into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).

Many wonder why God chose Abraham to make these important promises to. There are many possible explanations, but the main reason has to do with Abraham’s faith. Abraham’s life is a great example of faith that pleases God. In fact, he is called the father of them that believe (Romans 4:11).

Consider a few lessons about Bible faith we can learn from Abraham.

  • Faith requires belief in the promises of God. When it came to the promise of Abraham having a son in his old age, Paul says, “Even so Abraham believed in God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).
  • Faith requires action. Contrary to what many believe, faith is not merely belief in God. But rather it is belief connected with trust and obedience to God. It was by faith that Abraham “obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). It was “by faith he lived as alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land…” (Hebrews 11:9). It was by faith, “when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:17). Abraham is the prime example of James 2:26, where James says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
  • Faith requires patience. When Abraham was 75 years old, God promised that eventually he and his wife Sarah (who was 65 years old at the time) would have a son. This promise was not fulfilled immediately. Rather, God waited 25 years to fulfill it! Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Abraham believed in what God was going to do, but he had to wait until God fulfilled the promise in His time.
  • Faith always has trials. Despite being a servant of God, Abraham went through many trials. He had to live as a foreigner in Canaan and Egypt (Genesis 12). He had to rescue his nephew Lot and his family when they were kidnapped by kings (Genesis 14). He had to endure sending his son Ishmael away (Genesis 16). He had to face the possibility of God wanting him to offer up Isaac (Genesis 22). He also had to experience losing his wife Sarah (Genesis 23). Abraham went through many rough times, and yet, through it all he continued to serve God.

Indeed Abraham left behind a great legacy of faith. In fact, his legacy is so great that he is mentioned by the New Testament writers almost 60 times!

Where are you in your faith? Is it weak? Is it lacking? If so, apply the great lessons from Abraham. Doing so will only enhance your relationship with God.

As we continue building the Biblical mountain, in our next blog we will fast forward in time several hundred years and consider the great servant of God, Moses.

– Shawn Jeffries

Building a Biblical Mountain – Part 1

Have you ever seen the famous Mount Rushmore? Mount Rushmore (also known as the President’s Mountain) is located in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota. It is famous for its sculpture of four famous presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The monument was completed and ready for dedication in the fall of 1941 and is visited by more than 3 million people every year.

The four presidents whose faces are on the monument were selected because of their significance to our country.

  • George Washington was our first president and represented the foundation of American democracy.
  • Thomas Jefferson greatly expanded the nation with the Louisiana Purchase. He was also the author of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Theodore Roosevelt represented the industrial development of the nation. He was also widely known for his conservative efforts.
  • Abraham Lincoln was the president during the US Civil War. He represented the preservation of our nation at all costs.

When it comes to leadership and influence for our nation, these four presidents are considered by many to be the cream of the crop. Their positive contributions to U.S. history can never be overstated.

But what about when it comes to biblical history? If you were to make a Mount Rushmore of Bible characters who would you put on it? Who do you believe are some of the main people God has used throughout the centuries to accomplish His will and secure our salvation?

Starting with this blog, we want to set out on a journey to discover some of the most influential servants of God in the scriptures. We want to learn some basic facts about them and highlight some of the key lessons we can learn.

The first person we need to put on the biblical mountain is Noah.

  • Noah is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 6:28. His father was Lamech and his grandfather was Methuselah (the oldest person in the Bible). We are never told Noah’s mother’s name.
  • Noah was the tenth generation descendant of Adam. Adam was the first person created by God (Genesia 2:15-20).
  • Noah has three sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 9:20).
  • Due to the extreme wickedness on the earth in Noah’s time, God decided to destroy all flesh with a worldwide flood. But since Noah found favor with God, the Lord told him to build an ark to survive the flood (Genesis 6:13-21). By faith, Noah obeyed all that God commanded him (Genesis 6:22).
  • For about 100 years Noah spent most of his time building the ark. He also preached repentance, but the wicked generation ignored him (2 Peter 2:5).
  • For forty days rain fell upon the earth. After 150 days the waters from the flood began to recede. On the seventeenth day of the seventh month (exactly five months after the flood began) the ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat (Genesis 7-8).
  • Several months later God instructed Noah and his family (his wife, three sons, and three daughter-in-laws) to depart from the ark. Noah was to also release the living creatures so they could repopulate the earth (Genesis 8:13-19).
  • After leaving the ark, Noah built an altar and sacrificed to God. God then made a covenant to Noah and his descendants that He would never again destroy all flesh with a flood (Genesis 8:20-9:17).

From Noah’s story we find many important lessons.

  • There is a lesson about faith. From Noah we see that faith that pleases God is one that not only believes in God, but it also obeys Him. Noah had never seen a worldwide flood. And yet, he believed God’s promise and built the ark (Hebrews 11:6). Do we have faith like Noah?
  • There is a lesson about faithfulness. When it came to preparing the ark, Noah did “according to all that God had commanded him…” (Genesis 6:22). This is why he was preserved.
  • There is a lesson about the future. Remember God promised to never again destroy all flesh with a flood. The rainbow in the sky was a sign of this promise (Genesis 9:12-17). Next time God will destroy all flesh with fire! This will occur when Jesus returns and the world is completely destroyed (2 Peter 3:10). We need to be preparing for that day (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)!

 

Noah is one of the most important figures in the Bible. Through him and his three sons God hit the reset button on the entire human race. In our next blog we will fast forward several generations and make some important observations concerning Abraham.

– Shawn Jeffries

Are You Running On The Wrong Fuel?

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Have you seen the commercial where a young lady is at a gas station trying to put diesel fuel into her new car? People all around the service station notice and try to stop her. Events begin to happen in slow motion. As she lifts the nozzle and opens her fuel-cap, the townspeople are running and yelling and waving their arms to gain her attention. But no one can stop her!

The commercial returns to real time as the neighbors arrive at the pump, only to find that her sporty little car actually has a diesel engine under the hood. The people look relieved and the young lady looks confused – she knew she had selected the right fuel all along.

The commercial is hilarious because everyone knows what happens when you put diesel fuel into a gasoline engine – you wreck the engine! You cannot do it. It does not work.

Likewise, people are designed by God to run on certain “fuel,” but how many of us are trying to run on the wrong fuel? Notice the invitation extended by God’s prophet Isaiah.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,

Come to the waters;

And you who have no money,

Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without price.

2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.

Hear, and your soul shall live;

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you —

The sure mercies of David,” Isaiah 55:1-3

Why do we spend all of our money, time, and energies on things that do not satisfy, that is, on the wrong fuel? Greed, materialism, gluttony, and mammon – all these give the appearance of satisfying our souls and bringing purpose to our lives. But they fail. We were made to run on different fuel – the Word of God (Matthew 4:3-4).

Until we stop trying to fill our hearts and lives with poor substitutes for a right relationship with God, we are wrecked engines trying to run on the wrong fuel. Isaiah’s invitation resonates with all who realize that their own attempts at joy, peace, and abundance have only ended in frustrations and yearnings.

It is time for something different, something more. It is time to feed our lives with the right fuel. It is time we trust and obey God’s Word.

by Andrew Roberts

Why Read the Four Gospels?

Imagine a car accident taking place near an intersection where you live. At this accident there are four witnesses.

  • Witness #1 is a medical doctor. He reports on the injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Witness #2 is an insurance agent. He reports about those liable in the accident.
  • Witness #3 is a policeman. He reports on the legal and safety issues related to the accident.
  • Witness #4 is an auto repairman. He reports on the damage done to the vehicles.

Each of these witnesses gives details that are consistent with their respective purposes. They don’t contradict one another. Instead their reports complement one another. By putting all four of their accounts together, you are able to have a fuller and more complete picture of what happened at the accident.

So often, people ask, “Why are there four gospels? Wouldn’t it be simpler to have only one?” The example about the car accident above helps us understand why four are necessary. The gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us all the same basic information about the life of Jesus, but from four different viewpoints and to four different audiences.

If you are looking for a great place to begin a Bible reading plan for the year, the gospels are a great place to start. While they are not a biography of Jesus (a biography typically tells a person’s whole life story; the gospels give us about 50 days of Jesus’ life over a three year period), when all four accounts are combined we are able to have a fuller and richer portrait of Jesus our Savior.

Here are a few helpful things to remember when reading the gospels:

  • The gospel of Matthew was written by the Galilean Jew who is called “Matthew the tax collector” (Matthew 10:3). His account was targeted to the Jews of his day. This is why he begins with a record of the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1ff). To the Jewish mind it was critical that the Messiah be linked to the patriarch Abraham (the father of their nation). Equally important to the Jews, the Messiah had to fulfill the inspired predictions of the prophets. This is why Matthew quotes more than 40 Jewish prophecies (examples include Matthew 1:22-23; 2:5-6). For centuries the Jews eagerly anticipated a Messiah King. Matthew dedicates his entire account to proving Jesus is that.
  • In the gospel of Mark, Mark presents Jesus as a man of action. Since his account was intended to appeal to a Roman audience (Gentiles), Mark spends a lot of time explaining the Jewish customs that they would have been unfamiliar with (Mark 7:10-13). He also doesn’t give any genealogy, as it would not be of much value to Gentiles (other nations that were not Jewish). Very early in the book Mark makes a goal to emphasize how Jesus was a powerful miracle worker (Mark 1:29-42). A key word found in Mark is “immediately.” This word emphasized the powerful and immediate consequences of Jesus’ actions (Mark 1:42).
  • Luke’s goal is to present Jesus as the “Son of Man.” He is the only Gentile writer of the New Testament and his account broadly appeals to all mankind as it focuses on the humanity of Jesus. The purpose for his writing is to help disciples be certain about their faith (Luke 1:1-14). Like Matthew, Luke also gives genealogy, except he connects Jesus to the entire human race by tracing His genealogy all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). He also presents Jesus as the Master teacher who had come to seek and save the lost from all nations (Luke 19:10).
  • But while Luke focuses on Jesus as the “Son of Man,” the gospel writer John presents Jesus as the Divine Creator, Lamb of God, and Son of God (John 1:1-3, 14, 29; 10:37-39). The purpose of both Jesus’ miracles and John’s gospel are clearly stated in John 20:30-31.

Each of the four gospels presents a unique perspective of Jesus, and yet, they each give harmonious information that completes the picture that God wants mankind to have of His Son. They show many facets of Jesus’ life to help us fully appreciate His amazing nature.

But the story is incomplete. There is an element that must be added to the wonderful story of Jesus in the gospel – you! The great question in life and of the gospel is whether you will make the decision to surrender completely to the will of Jesus.

Have you? If not, will you?

– Shawn Jeffries

The Book of Life

Today you can buy a book about almost anything. There are self-help and how-to books. There are books on poetry, politics, patriotism, popular people, and more. You can find books about any of these things at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. But there is one book you can’t find at any of these places. In fact, this book (which is a book of names) can’t be found in any bookstore on this planet. The owner of this book has the original edition and there are no copies.

This book I am referring to is called “The Book of Life.”

Consider a few interesting things the Bible says about this book:

  • It is a book that belongs to Jesus. It contains the names of those who belong to Jesus and have had their sins washed away by His blood (Revelation 21:27).
  • It is a book of life. Those whose names are listed in it are allowed to enter into heaven. Those whose names are not listed will be excluded from entering the holy city (Revelation 21:27).
  • In the first century, when people obeyed the gospel their names were immediately written in the book. A great example of this can be seen when the gospel was taken to the city of Philippi (Philippians 4:2-3). After Paul preached the gospel in this city, many lost people responded to his message with belief, repentance, and baptism (Acts 16:11-15, 30-33). Once they did these things, their names were placed in the book of life. There wasn’t another way (Philippians 3:16).
  • It is a book of joy. Those whose names are written in heaven experience a joy that words can’t describe (Luke 10:20). There is no better feeling than knowing you are right with God and your name is in His book!
  • It is a book where names can be removed. Contrary to what many believe, the Bible does not promote the doctrine of “once saved always saved.” A person can become saved, but later lose their salvation. When that happens their names are blotted (erased) out of the book of life (Exodus 32:32-33; Revelation 3:5; 22:18-19). Once your name is written in the book, you must continue being faithful to God to keep it there. Whenever you sin you need to repent, confess your sin, and ask God to forgive you (1 John 1:8-10).
  • It is a Judgment Day book. Those who lived under the Old Covenant will be judged by that standard. We on the other hand will be judged by the New Covenant, the covenant that Jesus instituted when He died on the cross (John 1:17; 12:48). These are the books that John is likely referring to in Revelation 20:11-14. The other book mentioned in this section is the book of life (Revelation 20:15). Those whose names are not in it will not experience joy on the Judgment Day, but sorrow and grief because they will be thrown into the lake of fire forever. This is why it is vital to get your name in the book of life and keep it there!

God wants every person to be saved and have their names placed in the book of life (1 Timothy 2:4). But it is not enough for God to desire our salvation. We also must desire it. We must obey what God has said to get our names in His book.

Examine yourself right now. Is your name in the book of life?

– Shawn Jeffries

An Extra Day

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Leap Day! Leap Year! An extra day! What would you do with an extra day?

Joshua’s prayer for an extra day is an amazing Bible account.

The prayer was a dynamic mixture of God’s determined will and mankind’s bold request. The result was a miracle.

“Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies…So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel,” Joshua 10:12-14.

The Lord fought for Israel and protected her against her enemies, the Amorites. The Lord was with Joshua and the troops, He even rained hail down on the enemies (Joshua 10:11). The hail killed more Amorites than the sword!

That day was special. There has been no day like it. But what was more special than the sun stilled was the prayer prayed! There has never been another day where the Lord heeded the voice of a man like that.

Joshua wanted more time, an extra day, to fulfill the Lord’s determined will. The Lord fought for Israel and Joshua fought for the Lord. It’s exciting to see that when the Lord reveals His will, and His people are eager to obey, the only thing yet required is the time to do it. And God supplies the time!

For New Testament Christians, the apostles teach us to consider each day as time God has given to serve Him. Time is a valuable and limited resource. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” Ephesians 5:15-17.

It’s safe to say that Joshua understood what the will of the Lord was in his day (Joshua 10:8).

So, it’s not beyond Christians to understand what the will of the Lord is either. The Scriptures teach us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What remains for us to attain is an attitude of faith like Joshua. An attitude that says, “I will spend today serving God. I will not procrastinate but I will ask God to give me all the time necessary to accomplish His will. And if I get another day – even an extra day – I will use it in the same way: for the glory of God.”

Make the most of your leap day, make the most of every day!

By Andrew Roberts

The Destructive Path of a King

One of the most fascinating kings to read about in history is King Henry the Eighth. He was the Tudor monarch who ruled England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Aside from his SIX marriages, Henry is probably best known for his role in separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically, it was his marital issues that played a huge role in that separation.

Here is how the story goes: Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon. His great goal and desire in life was that Catherine provide him a male heir to the throne. That desire came to be because of personal pride and the belief that a daughter would not be able to consolidate the power of the Tudor dynasty. But Catherine bore him no male heir. Henry then argued with Pope Clement VII that his marriage was to be dissolved. The pope would not grant Henry’s request.

After much dispute, Henry broke England off from the Catholic Church and established himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Now he could easily manipulate the divorce he wanted from Catherine.

Many scholars today believe that Henry already had another bride waiting in the wings. Her name was Anne Boleyn. History also confirms that while Henry was still married to Catherine that he was having an affair with Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister. What a mess!

Henry’s drama-filled life has had a long effect on the religion of England and America. There are Episcopal churches both in Columbia and Spring Hill today, in part, because nearly 500 years ago the King of England wanted a divorce. The Episcopal Church was organized after the American Revolution when it separated from the Church of England because its clergy were required to swear allegiance to England.

And if you thought Henry was content when he divorced Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn, think again. After marrying Anne it wouldn’t be long before Henry would have her beheaded! After Anne’s death, Henry was married FOUR more times (bringing his total number of wives to SIX). In fact, wives 5 and 6 were both named Catherine (just as his first wife was).

Henry the Eighth was so like many men throughout the course of history. He had no respect for God’s laws for marriage (Matthew 19:1-12). He also had no respect for the Lord’s true and only lawful church that He established and purchased with His own blood (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28). Unfortunately, so many men today continue to follow in his footsteps!

What is the lesson for us? We need to always strive to respect and honor the holy things that God has made. We need to understand that God is awesome and full of wisdom. Everything He created is good, sacred, and for our benefit. If you are married, thank God through prayer for your spouse and honor their sacred relationship by being faithful and true to your spouse (Hebrews 13:4). Keep your vows because God HATEs divorce (Malachi 2:16). Also, if you are a member of the one true church built by the Lord Himself, honor that commitment by being faithful to God’s word and always standing up for what is right (Ephesians 5:22-30; 1 Timothy 3:15). Avoid the error of denominationalism at all cost (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4)!

Men like Henry are partly to blame for the mess we see in the religious world today. Let us learn from His example and strive to do better.

– Shawn Jeffries

 

A Good Day To Pray For The President

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An election year often produces more buzz over the next President than concern over the current President. Yet, the office of President produces the potential to make landmark, life altering, decisions every day. They don’t get weekends off and the buck stops with them. For instance, with the passing of Justice Scalia, President Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court will impact the nation for years to come.

This is a good day to pray for the President. But it is always a good day to pray for the President.

Whoever the President, whatever his party, however long he holds the office; it is the duty of saints to pray for him. Indeed, 2 Timothy 2:1-4 encourages saints to pray broadly for leaders and kings among men. Let’s remember that our brotherhood, Christ’s kingdom, crosses all national boundaries because the Lord Jesus rules in the hearts of men. In other words, there are Christians praying for their rulers in Democracies, Dictatorships, Monarchies, Communist States, and even Islamic States – all at the same time.

Whatever could all Christians ask that all national leaders could influence? Again, 2 Timothy 2:1-4 offers the answer:

  • Peace – “that we may all lead a quiet and peaceable life…”
  • Godliness – “…in all godliness…”
  • Dignity – “…and reverence…”
  • Salvation – “who desires all men to be saved…”
  • Proclamation of the gospel – “…and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

George Washington set a positive precedent by encouraging people to pray.

“It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.” – George Washington, 1st President of the United States of America

Abraham Lincoln confessed that his work was too taxing not to pray for himself.

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America

National calls for prayer still come from our leaders, but often in the aftermath of some sort of tragedy. That’s not a criticism but an observation. Where else can we turn in dark hours? Yet, I can’t help but wonder, if our leaders entreated our prayers daily and we responded with daily prayer for them (and our neighbors) if some tragedies couldn’t be avoided altogether?

Today let’s not limit our prayers to thanksgivings for Washington and Lincoln. Let’s make supplications and intercessions for the President of the hour and the leaders of the world. The Bible teaches us what to say. And let’s remember to pray for them all again, tomorrow.

By Andrew Roberts