On the Wings of a Dove – Psalm 55:1-7

The world of popular music has changed just a bit since I was a child. I grew up with Broadway show music and big bands – that was what my parents liked. Then I began to listen to classical music – Beethoven; Tchaikovsky; Mendelson and Rimsky-Korsakov. But many people back in the 50’s, when I was a kid, listened to what is now called “Classic country.” And what might surprise the kids of today, some of the popular songs of that era were highly religious. Yesterday, Judy had on one of her TV radio stations – an “Elevator Music Station.” Lo and behold, they played an instrumental version of “Three Bells” or “Three Chapel Bells.” It reached #1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country and Western” chart in about 1960. “There’s a village hidden deep in the valley; Among the pine trees half forlorn. And there on a sunny morning; Little Jimmy Brown was born (Bung, bung, bung, bung). All the chapel bells were ringing; In the little valley town. And the song that they were singing; Was for baby Jimmy Brown. Then the little congregation; Prayed for guidance from above. Lead us not into temptation; Bless this hour of meditation; Guide him with eternal love.” s I was first thinking about this message, another song came to mind. “Wings of a Dove” was a country song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958. Two years later, when it was recorded by Ferlin Husky, it became #1 on the country charts for 10 non-consecutive weeks. Then it crossed over to the pop charts, peaking at #12 – twenty years later. Do any...

Intercession Exposition – Hebrews 7:14-28

When I make the statement, “I like classical music,” what do you think I am saying? Some might think, “Oh, Bro Oldfield likes opera.” Actually, there is very little opera that I like, because most of it is sung in foreign languages. I haven’t learned to understand it. The only exceptions are when the melody is so outstanding that the words are not important. Others might answer my statement: “Our pastor likes Strauss and Vienese waltz music.” Again, the syrupy sweetness of Strauss upsets my emotional stomach after a few minutes. To me, it’s like too many pieces of thick fudge or a third Nanaimo bar. Someone else says, “The preacher likes Stravinsky and the modern classical composers,” but I don’t like most of their discordant stuff. The point is, everybody has a different idea about classical music. And it’s sad to say that most people condemn it before they ever examine it in all its various phases. There is a story about the 19th century Baptist preacher, John Broadus. Contrary to his own preference he was induced to hear a world-famous singer at a fancy concert hall. The man sang song after song – from opera – from European composers in French, Spanish and Italian. And with every song, Broadus’ opinion of the man was sinking lower and lower and lower. “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” Or conversely, who can really enjoy it? But then at the end of the concert the soloist sang a beautiful rendition of the old folk song “Home, sweet Home.” It so moved Broadus...

February 23

James Smith Coleman was born on this day (February 23) in 1827. He was saved by grace when he was eleven-years-old, after which he joined the Beaver Dam Baptist Church in Kentucky. When he reached adulthood he was elected county sheriff, but one evening after attending a revival meeting, the Holy Spirit convicted him to leave his post and to become a gospel preacher. His church agreed and when Coleman began preaching, the power of God followed him everywhere. Bro. Coleman was gifted with a clear and quick mind and an orator’s tongue. He was often asked to participate in debates with other preachers over doctrine, and often he consented. On one occasion he was asked to debate the subject of believer’s baptism with a Methodist named William Caskey. As the debate developed Caskey declared that when the Bible states that complete households were baptized it must have included infants and so babies are Biblical candidates for baptism. In his rebuttal Bro. Coleman stated: “I am surprised at Brother Caskey’s limited information concerning Lydia’s household. He has inferred that Lydia had children under the age of accountability, and that, therefore these children were baptized. I am surprised, Sir, that you do not know that Lydia was a widow, and a traveling cloth merchant, and that she never had but one child, and that was a daughter, who married a red-headed, one-eyed shoemaker, and had moved off to Damascus, and had not been at home for years, and that her household at that time consisted of herself and servants who assisted her in her business. I am surprised, Sir, that...

The Virtuous Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31

After a couple of years we come to the last verses of the Book of Proverbs. These are not actually proverbs but a poetical treatise on the beauty and characteristics of a good wife. And most likely it was patterned on some actual person’s wife. Solomon’s? Probably not. It is unlikely that Solomon’s wives were anything like the ordinary wives in Israel – or in Post Falls. But we don’t know the writer or the subject, and maybe it is a good thing that we have no names. In my mind I began looking for a nice 3 point message for this scripture to be ended with a poem. I came up with only two points, but I did find a poem – a piece of Hebrew poetry. Tonight I’m only going to give you point number 1, leaving the second for next Wednesday. I know people who do not like my use – or anyone’s use – of the original languages. Some say that God has preserved His word perfectly in English and when anyone refers to Greek and Hebrew they are inserting the intellect of man into God’s Word. The truth is just the opposite; in referring to the original language we are seeking out the Spirit’s intent. And there is sometimes genuine beauty lost in the translation from Hebrew into English. For example, in these verses each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet – in order. It would be as if verse 10 begins with the letter “a,” 11 with “b,” 12 with “c” and so on. If some expert in Hebrew doesn’t...

The Friendship of Jesus – John 15:9-17

Let’s start with an hypothetical. An acquaintance of yours knows that you are a Christian. You have spoken to this person about Christ a time or two, but there hasn’t been much response. Then one day he comes to you with a troubled face, telling you that he has a spiritual question. At this you get a little excited. “What is it?” And the reply is: “What must I do to be a friend of Jesus?” “A friend of Jesus?” How do you experts in Biblical evangelism feel about “becoming a friend of Jesus?” To be honest I have had a bit of a problem with the idea in the past. And from time to time I’ve even pointed out the word “friend” in some of our hymns. In this case, maybe you think – What audacity! You say to yourself, “I don’t hear anything in this that hints of repentance – or even conviction for sin.” What temerity to think that some wretched sinner can come along and decide to become “a friend of Jesus.” It sounds like all this person wants is what he might get from our Saviour. He might also say, “I would like to be a friend of Bill Gates or Donald Trump.” Who does this guy think he is? Perhaps we should ask the person what he means by “friendship with Jesus.” What is it to you to be anyone’s friend? What is your definition of friendship in general? The dictionary defines a “friend” as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” Does this inquirer...

February 16

The first record of what became the first Baptist church in the city of Boston reads: “The 28th of the third month, 1665, in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the church of Christ, commonly, though falsely, called Anabaptists, were gathered together, and entered into fellowship and communion with each other; engaged to walk together in all the appointments of our Lord and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, as far as he should be pleased to make known his mind and will unto them by his word and Spirit….” This document than named about fifteen men and women. In signing their names those saints lost their rights as citizens of Massachusetts; they lost the right to vote; they were fined, sometimes imprisoned and even threatened with banishment. Under those conditions, the congregation moved to Noodle Island in Boston’s harbor before moving again into Boston proper. On this day (February 15) in 1679 the Baptist Church of Boston opened the doors to its own building for the first time. The structure was so plain and unassuming the city authorities didn’t at first realize its purpose. A few months later the General Court passed a law forbidding the use of any building, even homes, for public worship without the consent of the Court or a town meeting. The penalty could be as high as forfeiture of the house and its land. The Baptists then quit their building and started meeting outdoors. When King Charles II granted limited religious freedom, Massachusetts refused to obey and charged the Baptists when they again attempted to use their own building. On March 8, 1680, the City Marshal nailed the...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 31:1-9

Let’s entitle this message: “Lemuel and His Mom.” This is very different from the usual devotions we have been pulling from Proverbs thus far. In fact, there are no proverbs at all in these verses. And like the last chapter, these are not from the lips of Solomon – they originate with someone’s mother. “The words of king LEMUEL, the prophecy that his mother taught him.” Once again, we see that the word “prophecy” must not be confined to foretelling future events. The word often refers to the forth-telling of God’s Word through the ministry of His servants. Sometimes that means looking into the future and sometimes it simply means looking at the Lord. Our first job tonight is to reach some conclusion about these people – Lemuel and his mother. This is the only place in God’s Word where “Lemuel” is mentioned, so we have no help in identifying him. But we are clearly told that he was a king, so that limits the number of possibilities. Some commentators think that it was good King Hezekiah, with the only explanation being that his mother was the daughter of Zechariah – II Chronicles 29:1. Was this that Zechariah – the prophet? If so then that might explain where Hezekiah got some of his good genes. But there is no Biblical reason to make those jumps – Hezekiah, Lemuel, Abijah and Zechariah the prophet. Some people say that Lemuel was a heathen king – perhaps a Chaldean. Their argument is that some of the words in this “prophecy” have a Chaldean background. That is hardly conclusive evidence of anything, as...

Hope Maketh Not Ashamed – Romans 5:1-8

I am currently reading a book entitled “Creating Christian Indians.” It was written by Bonnie Sue Lewis and was published 18 years ago by the University of Oklahoma. It describes the work of Presbyterian missionaries primarily among the Dakota Sioux and our own Nez Perce Indians from about 1830 to 1930. I can see perhaps a couple of messages, or at a few least illustrations, coming out of what I am reading. One of the things I’ve learned is that in some ways the Holy Spirit prepared those people for the gospel. Although not stated in the book, their ancient religion flowed down from a corrupted form of the faith of Noah and his family. Some indigenous tribes remained closer to the truth than others, and the Nez Perce seem to have been one of those. For example, they have always believed in a creator, and they knew they needed to please him. The plateau Indians of Oregon and Idaho recognized the need for some sort of holiness. And like Abraham, they sought for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” They wanted peace with their God, and they yearned for eternal life in a good state. Some of them had their own kind of scriptures with dreams and revelations. But their dreams never materialized, their scriptures lied to them, and their shamans deceived them. Then along came men and women with another holy book with similar promises and stories about a similar kind of tribal people – often persecuted like themselves and yet blessed by God. As white settlers moved into their lands, the...

February 9

Henry Havelock was not a pastor or missionary, but in the midst of doing other things he did represent his Saviour. Henry was born in 1795. His mother regularly gathered her six children together to read the Bible and pray, so he grew up with serious considerations for his soul. But those were the days of Napoleon and the War of 1812, and young Henry grew up wanting to become a soldier. A month after the Battle of Waterloo, Henry enlisted, after which he was sent to India as a second lieutenant in a rifle brigade. During his voyage to India, another lieutenant presented the gospel to him, and Henry came to the full assurance of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1823, during the first British war with Burma, he was stationed in Rangoon. While there he visited the Shway Dagong Pagoda which he found filled with both worshipers and tourists. Surrounded by statues of Buddha, he was moved in much the same way as Paul while in Athens, and he began to publically declare Christ. Following that, over time, he gathered approximately a hundred Christian soldiers around him, and they earned the nickname “Havelock’s saints.” Henry and his men became one of the best fighting forces in the region, risking their lives on many occasions. On one occasion during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 he led 2,500 men against 50,000 Sepoy troops, successfully saving the lives of a large group of English women and children. For this and other acts of bravery he was promoted over and over again, and eventually a statue was erected to...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30:24-28

As I said last week, our proverbist, is now in the midst of giving us groups of related thoughts. And just as we have skipped over many of Solomon’s proverbs, we won’t look at all of these. Our verses tonight bring me back to my childhood, when I loved collecting creepy-crawly things. Job once said, “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.” Tell us what Job? They teach us about their Creator, and they teach us about our responsibilities as God’s children. Let’s consider what Agur says about these creatures, and then we’ll transition to a very easy spiritual application. Exposition: Verse 24 – “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise.” In this case,“wisdom” is not referring directly to our salvation or to our Saviour who gives us salvation. These four little creatures are wise in earthly areas – areas where the Lord intended them to be wise. There is a tendency, growing out of our pride, to think that since we are wiser in some area than another person, we are more wise – or better – than that person in a general sense. But that just may not be the case, and there is always someone wiser in some things than we are. Someone knows more about auto mechanics, or accounting, or astrophysics than you do. Some time ago I sent Judy a link to a news video of an elderly man suffering from cerebral palsy. For 60 years or more he had been suffering from...