Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jacob’s Ladder

 Genesis 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

     All of us inevitably go through periods of loneliness. Perhaps the circumstances of life (job, school, etc.) necessitate a move from all that you hold dear. Sometimes we are separated from those we love because of broken relationships or even physical death.  Whatever the case, the uncertainty of such situations can be extremely discouraging.

     This was the situation that Jacob faced in Genesis 28. Granted, much of his difficulty stemmed from misdeeds in the past. He was leaving hearth and home due to a bitter relationship with his brother Esau. The threat of death was eminent and he was being sent to a strange land to seek out a wife that he had not yet met. To say that Jacob’s life was full of uncertainty is a gross understatement.

     What a blessing to see that the Lord provides a wonderful vision of encouragement during this dark time.  It was while he laid his head on a stone of pillows that God blessed him with the vision of a ladder that reached to Heaven with angels going up and down. The Lord stood at the top and spoke words of encouragement and reassurance to this young man whose life was in shambles.

Genesis 28:13 -15 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

     God reaffirmed the promise that was given to Jacob’s father and grandfather! He would always be with Jacob and would see to his needs throughout his life’s journey. What an encouragement indeed! The ladder was a symbol of God’s constant care and provision for His people.  We have constant, uninterrupted access to God! There were angels ascending the ladder. In like manner, our petitions are carried up to God via prayer.  In those times of great loneliness and uncertainty what a blessing to know that we have one who hears our prayers. Paul elaborates on this function of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

     In the darkest hours of life when all that we can do is groan because of the hopelessness of our situation, the Spirit lifts these feeble petitions to our Heavenly Father. Likewise, the angels descending Jacob’s ladder points us towards God’s involvement in our everyday lives. He not only hears our prayers, but acts on our behalf. This was the crux of God’s encouragement to Jacob. My friends, God is not some distant observer of the happenings on Earth. He is involved. He gives us grace sufficient for the trials of life. He keeps the promises contained in His word and strengthens us for the trials ahead. The example of Jacob also reassures us of God’s mercy even during the times that we suffer because of our actions. He is indeed a God of ALL mercy and grace. May we recognize His constant presence in our lives and be comforted/strengthened by these thoughts!


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Godly Relationships

Romans 15:24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.

     One of the unfortunate consequences of the technological age in which we live is the  impersonalization of our society. While computers, the Internet, social media, etc. have allowed us to connect with the world like never before, I fear that many of us are forgetting the value of building meaningful, personal relationships with those that we come into contact with in our everyday lives.

     The Apostle Paul emphasizes importance of godly relationships with fellow believers in the closing chapters of The Book of Romans. Paul loved God's children. He was not merely content to correspond with them via written letters, but wanted to be in their presence. This mutual, personal fellowship was a hallmark of the early church.

     Do you desire to foster godly relationships in your church or are you content to just show up on Sunday mornings and limit your involvement to superficial interactions with your fellow believers? If you choose the latter, then you will miss out on a wonderful resource afforded to those that are a part of the visible body of Christ: mutual encouragement, accountability and prayers. These are all areas that Paul addresses in Romans 13.

     Poet John Donne wrote that no man is an island entire of itself. This is especially true of God's children. We are all a vital part of the body of Christ and depend upon one another. Among other rich illustrations regarding our relationship with fellow believers in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

    This world is rife with trials and tribulations. What a blessing to know that God has given us dear friends in Christ to help us along life's journey! They suffer when we suffer. They rejoice in times of blessing. If you have distanced yourself from other believers I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and join company with those of the like-precious faith. You will be glad that you did.


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church

Monday, February 18, 2013

Become As Little Children

Matthew 18:3 Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Just a casual look at the Bible reveals that God’s ways stand in stark contrast to that of the world.  This is clearly evident  in Jesus’ admonition to the disciples in Matthew 18. The popular teaching of our day encourages self-reliance and the ‘bootstrap’ mentality to navigate the difficulties of life. If someone hinders us, we just knock ’em out of the way.

This was the attitude of Jesus’ disciples and sadly, much of Christianity today. Throughout His public ministry, those closest to Jesus were engaged in an ongoing debate about who is the greatest. Can you imagine the friction that such a debate generated? At one point two of his closest disciples, James and John, even had their mother approach the Savior in regards to this debate (Matthew 20:21)! Not much has changed as we observe the personality conflicts and power struggles that occur under the banner of modern Christianity.

While temporal success might occur as one tries to navigate the world of business, economic and personal growth, meaningful change and positive growth in our walk with the Lord will not occur unless we become as little children. What specifically does Jesus mean when he makes this statement about us becoming as little children? Consider the following:

  1. Most children are easily teachable. Experts in child development claim that the ages of 0 to 5 are the most important years as far as learning. Children are like little sponges. They absorb a large amount of information in this short timeframe. 
  2. Children are generally open to correction. When a mistake is made, a little child can be quickly re-directed by a parent or other adult. This openness to reproof and instruction makes early childhood an opportune time to teach right from wrong .
  3. Children are forgiving. If a child has a disagreement with another, no matter how contentious, they generally forgive one another quickly and fellowship resumes. Their memory is much shorter than that of an adult.

We would do well to integrate these characteristics in our own lives, which is the main point of Jesus’ statement. Instead of chasing personal success and notoriety, we should strive to be teachable and open to gospel conversion. This is crucial in every aspect of our discipleship. There is much to learn and much room for growth in our walk with the Lord, if we would simply humble ourselves when presented with Biblical teaching.

Nobody likes to be corrected, but this is also a necessary component of Christian service. None are perfect.  Conversion is an ongoing process. The journey of life and subsequent ‘pressing towards the mark’ (Philippians 3:14) necessitate a childlike submission to constant correction and Biblical re-direction. Even though we might be adults, this does not automatically translate into wisdom and perfect knowledge. Such does not occur this side of Heaven!

Finally, we must recognize that others are not perfect either. If we are around one another for any extended period of time, contention will occur. This is true of all of our relationships. This is why child-like forgiveness is crucial. Though we might disagree occasionally, we are not to harbor animosity for an extended period of time. Jesus teaches that we are to address the issue and move on. An unforgiving spirit will indeed hinder our growth in the kingdom of Heaven.

What a simple, yet profound statement given by our Savior. Lord help us to take the spotlight off of us and shine it towards Him through our humility and dedication to loving others as He has loved us!


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church