The Encourager

The Encourager

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"Goin' to Church" - Tim Ruffin

Saturday, August 21, 2021

“Goin’ to Church”

by Timothy G. Ruffin

 

    The priest’s scarlet sash soaked in blood as bodies and bulls crowd the court.

The scene is tragic, souls are broken, and the sin is real. Day after day, the man is constantly reminded of his sins, his suffering, and his shame. Year by year, as he approaches the altar, the bloody scene is always the same. The Law, with its sacrifices and offerings had so many demands. Could this truly be God’s eternal plan?

     In his exhortation, the Hebrew writer says, no, absolutely not. The Law, was but a shadow of the good things to come, but the true form of these realities is seen in Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:1)—Christ the Creator (Heb. 1:2), Christ the Savior (Heb. 1:3), Christ the Son (Heb. 1:4-5), Christ the King (Heb. 1:6-8). We now, enter not into an Earthly Temple, but into a Heavenly Sanctuary (Hebrews 9 & 10).

We now, come not through the blood of bulls and goats, but through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:4). Now, we no longer have a High Priest with limited access to the presence of God, but One, who has passed through the heavens, and has sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3; 4:14). Now, we no longer 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 (Hebrews 4:15).

With confidence, Sunday after Sunday, as we gather together in Jesus’ name, we are led into the Throne Room of God and we worship; we praise, we glorify, we magnify, and we laud His precious name with Psalms, hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Ephesians 5:19).

    We offer prayers and supplications to God with loud cries and tears (Ephesians 6:18; Hebrews 5:7). We break the bread, we drink of the cup, and we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). Sunday after Sunday as we meet in sweet communion—men, women, and children—red, yellow, black, and white, gather together, holding fast the confession of our hope, considering how we may stir one another up to love and good works, as long as it is called, “today” (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24).

    On the first day of every single week, Christians from all over the world, go to church. Growing up, I never needed an alarm clock. I woke to light. Sunday mornings, I would be dead asleep and my dad would walk into my room, flip on the lights, and all of a sudden, like creation... “There WAS light.” My dad was intimidating, so I would ask my mom, “Where are we goin’, momma?”

“We goin’ to church!”, she would say. My mother would get me and my two brothers, one of whom is special needs, dressed and ready, my dad would fix breakfast, we would all get our Bibles, get in the car, and go to church.

Unless we were on our death beds, (and I’m still not sure that was an exception), we would all be in church; no “if’s”, “and’s”, or “but’s”.

    As a kid, I did not truly understand the concept of “going to church”. I just knew, when I was there, I needed to sit down, shut up, and listen to the Preacher (Perhaps that's why I became one). It wasn’t until I got much older, that I realized the significance of going to church. Going to church, is not about getting dressed, going to a building, and filling up a pew. “Going to church” is all about God.

When we sing, we are praising God. When we pray, we are expressing our faith in God. When we sup, we reflect on the gift of God. When we exhort, we show the love of God. When we give, we share in the work of God. Going to church is not about me, and what I can get, going to church is all about God and what I can give Him. Today, as I think about our current situation, I am so glad that I, and so many of you, have had people in our lives who have inspired and impressed upon us the importance and the value of going to church.

    Now, more than ever, we as a community of God’s people, understand, “church” is not a building. The church is the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33) —the Pillar and the Buttress of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Under this present distress, it thrills my soul to see the love, the respect, the fear, the appreciation, and the adoration that so many of you have for the Lord. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

 

“Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God ~is~ made known to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus, our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.”

Ephesians 3:10-12

Jacob's Love

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Jacob's Love:

by Timothy G. Ruffin

 

As he stood by the well, Jacob’s heart fell—Rachel, the daughter of Laban, was beautiful in form, her appearance was warm, and the second he saw her, true love was born.

They kiss and they cry, it’s an emotional high; Jacob would love her immensely until the day that he died.

… Close the curtains and roll the credits…

Right? Wrong.

This makes for a great love story, but this is not real life.

True love requires work.

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After this beautiful scene, Rachel tells her father about the man of her dreams (Genesis 29:11).

Jacob is welcomed into their home, he works for a month, and at the end of the month, Laban, Rachel’s father, has an offer.

“Should you serve me for nothing? He says, “Tell me what your wages shall be (Genesis 29:15).”

Jacob loved his youngest daughter, Rachel, and so he says,

“I will serve you seven years for your daughter, Rachel (Genesis 29:18).”

To some, this seems excessive, but to Jacob it was well worth it.

Laban says,

“It is better that I give her to you, than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.”

“So,” verse 20 says,

“Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love that he had for her.”, Genesis 29:19-20

How sweet is that?

Good things come to those who wait.

Or, should I say: Good things come to those who love.

Today, I’m not going to write to you about being patient and persistent for the woman that you love, though that goes a long way, however, I want to examine Jacob’s motivation to serve.

Jacob was motivated to serve for seven whole years because of the ceaseless love that he had for Rachel.

In spite of the time, difficulty, and attention required to serve, Jacob’s service seemed as nothing, for he was a man immensely inspired by love.

As we consider our current crisis, as Christians, we understand we must remain faithful to God (Revelation 2:10b), we understand we must stay focused on the prize (Philippians 3:12-16), and we know that we must substitute faith for fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but we also know, such a life is easier spoken than lived.

It’s easy to talk about faith, focus, and courage when everything is swell, but when the silent killer claims thousands and thousands of lives, we are not so well.

The question is: What will it take?

What will it take to stay faithful?

What does it take to stay strong?

How can we endure the trials of life after having suffered ‘o so long?

Like Jacob: Love.

Love the Lord, love others, love yourself, and allow others to love you.

Make yourself vulnerable to love.

It was love that motivated Jacob to work seven arduous years for the woman of his dreams, may love motivate you to stay faithful in this crisis, to Jesus, the King.

If we aspire to live with our heads held high, then love will be our motivation until the day that we die.

Love: Do this and live.

Do this and be comforted.

Do this, and the long and difficult road that is ahead, will only seem like a few short days...

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