For 93 miles it flows through southern Appalachia. From a peaceful stream to turbid rapids the river makes its way through the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee. This river is renowned for its white water rafting and also for its trout fishing. The Toccoa River makes its way through Georgia until it comes to a little town called McCaysville. When the river crosses under a bridge into Tennessee it is then called the Ocoee River. None of the locals I talked to know why the people back then decided to call this river by different names.
Two names, one river is an interesting thought in the spiritual realm as well. As we look across the landscape of
biblical Christianity we discover various names by which groups of believers identify themselves. Some use
denominational labels, while some use more generic names to let people know who they are. Names are helpful to find a group of Christians who believe like you believe and worship the Lord in the way you find most honoring to Him. However, we must always remember though there are many names there is still just one Savior, one cross, one salvation and one church. Anyone who has placed their faith in the finished work of Christ has
plunged into that wonderful river of life. The river of genuine Christianity flows through all states and countries.
It makes its way through the stream of humanity that contains various cultures, languages, and races. It flows to the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated. Jesus spoke about this river to a woman at a well. He invited her to take of the living water that He was offering (John 4:10).
Names are valuable as far as they go. But the most important question anyone can ask is: “Am I in the river?” Have you taken the plunge into that life-giving stream? Have you repented of your sins and trusted Christ as your Savior? Whatever names may be on the outside of our buildings the most important thing is to be a part of that One River.
My wife told me a story that was hard to believe. She was sitting and waiting at the dentist recently and overheard a conversation. A man in a well-dressed suit was engaged in conversation with the man sitting next to him. The other man admired the well-dressed man’s watch. He said that such a watch must have cost more than $500. The man said that in reality it cost more than that. The admirer then said he had always wanted a watch like that but had not been able to afford it. At that moment the man in the suit took off the watch and said: “Here, it’s yours”. The recipient could not believe the gift and said, “Are you sure”. He then continued to thank his benefactor for this unbelievable gift; no one has ever given me anything like this. He marveled over his good fortune and his amazing gift until it came time for them to go their separate ways.
As my wife related what she witnessed at the dentist, it reminded me of something Jesus told us to do. He said: “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who want to borrow from you do not
turn away” (Matthew 5:40-42). How often have we just gave something to someone who needed it much more
than we did? Have we given of our money, our goods, our service, and our time to those we meet that are in
need? Jesus told us why we should be open to such kind of living. He said in v45 of Matthew 5: “that you may
be sons of your Father in heaven”. When we give it away, our actions resemble our Savior and we become more
like our Father in heaven.
Jesus not only taught us to give it away, He demonstrated it on the cross by giving His very life. His death purchased eternal life for us, a gift much more valuable than anything we could ever imagine. May we live a life of perpetual gratitude, and may we also learn to give it away.
As customary, my wife and I made our usual run to a fast food restaurant after our evening church service. We
received our order and headed home to relax and enjoy some down time as a family eating our meal. I picked up one of the hamburgers that I had ordered and took a bite out of it and thought that it was a little more tasteless than usual. After I ate half of my sandwich I opened the bun to discover they had put the condiments on it and even included a small slice of cheese, but there was no hamburger patty on my sandwich at
all. They had forgotten the most important ingredient. My wife encouraged me to take it back but it just wasn’t worth the drive.
Paul was instructing Timothy in how to minister to the church that God had allowed him to shepherd. He warned Timothy about the danger of false teachers who would come and try to deceive the flock
of God. He then told them that his main responsibility in the church was to be sure that the Word of God was
carefully and faithfully preached. He told him in 1 Timothy 4:6: “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have
carefully followed”. Timothy was to nourish the flock in the words of faith and good doctrine. I wonder, what are you looking for when you attend church? Good fellowship, exciting programs, and uplifting music are wonderful. Adequate parking and comfortable surroundings are also important. But I can’t help but feel that the Apostle Paul teaches us that the main ingredient of our gatherings at church should be the solid meat of the Word of God.
As we gather together with God’s people in church we should refuse to be content with a warm bun even if it has all the condiments. We should boldly ask of every church that we attend, “where’s the beef”.
History is littered with the debris of broken promises. Those promises may have been made with the best of intentions by politicians, newly wedded couples, or overindulgent parents. However, human promises sometimes come up short of being kept. Do you remember the painful stab caused by a broken promise in your own life? Perhaps a spouse who took a vow to keep themselves to you only, deserted you for someone else. Maybe it was a boss who told you that you were next in line for a promotion but he gave the job to someone else. It could have been someone who sincerely promised to repay you a sum of money, but has never come through on their obligation. Promises, promises are easily made but many times are not kept.
I am so glad that our God always keeps His promises. We are surrounded with multitudes of wonderful promises found in God’s precious Word. He has given us the promise and assurance of salvation in Rom. 10:13 when He said: “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. He gives us the promise of His presence in our daily life. Matt. 28:20 records it: “And lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age”. We also have the promise of the forgiveness of our sins (1 Jn. 1:7,9) and the promise of one day spending eternity with Christ (Jn. 10:28;14:2,3). The apostle Peter tells us that those who have faith in Jesus Christ have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness as well as exceedingly great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:3,4).
Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 1:20 that all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. We never have to worry if our Heavenly Father will come through on the things He has told us as God cannot lie. We can count on, rely on, and even stand on the promises of God.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation