June 25

I don’t usually use 20th century material in these historical notes, but I’m going to make an exception today.     On this day in 1928, Nikita Isaevitch Voronin made the following public statement: “During the sixty years of its existence in Russia our brotherhood (The Baptist Union of the U.S.S.R.)  has achieved wonderful results with which can be compared the achievements of no other religious movement.  We can boldly state, that already in 1905… among the so-called sects in Russia, the Baptists were the foremost in point of numbers, the firmest in defense of the purity of their teaching, the bravest during the heavy recession of the Tzarist regime and the most ardent in zeal of spirit and soul in the great work! And that is what we are now!”     That declaration was made before the Toronto meeting of the Baptist World Alliance.  Voronin was a Baptist Communist, and the BWA was one of the most liberal religious organizations in the world.  Voronin’s words echo the “we Russians are better than everyone else” which was common among the Communists for  more than 75...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 3:5-6

Several of us here tonight have poor eyesight – some would even say “bad eyesight.” So even though I will be using myself as an example, you know that I could be using some of you. My eyesight is bad. My lens prescription is up there in the hundreds – 750 and 850 whatever that means. Also, I have had some retinal problems and the vitreous fluid inside my eyes are filled with floaters which I have to either try to look around or try to ignore. Then too, there is at least one early-stage cataract which tends to blur or fog everything. The first thing I have to do every morning is reach for my glasses. If they somehow got bumped or moved during the night, I have problems, because I can’t see well-enough to find my glasses. A few years ago, I was working in some bushes at dad’s house and a branch knocked off my glasses. I had to almost crawl back to the house, and call for Judy to come find my spectacles. Without my glasses I can see shapes if they are large enough, and I can see colors. But without my glasses, objects must be closer than 4 inches before they become clear. Please understand that I am not complaining; I’m stating facts, which I would like to use as an illustration. In the two verses before us, Solomon exhorts us to two things: Trust in the Lord and in all our ways to acknowledge Him. He also qualifies or limits that trust, and he explains one of the great blessings of acknowledging...

Elisha’s Inheritance – II Kings 2:1-13a

Every once in a while Judy will say to me on a Sunday afternoon that she had a difficult time teaching her class that morning. She will tell me that one or two of the kids think they know all about the subject for that day. Sometimes they think that they know more than the teacher. They learned all about Elijah by way of Veggie Tales or some story through Adventures in Odyssey. It’s like some adults who know all about the exodus because they once saw a Charlton Heston movie. And you know all about Elijah and Elisha because you’ve been a Christian for twenty years. I once thought I knew these two until I opened up my ears for one more message and I heard things which I’d never considered before. Maybe this will be a message like that for you, if you’ve got ears to hear. You know, of course, that these two with similar names were a very colorful pair. And you know they were the first major miracle workers in the Bible. Noah and Abraham were not blessed as the means to spectacular miracles. Moses was used to do some mighty things, but he isn’t known so much for his miracles. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel are known for their prophecies, but they didn’t raise the dead or heal. Elijah and Elisha were the first two human vessels to carry God’s miraculous power. And they were the last two – until the days of the Lord Jesus. God has given the ability to change the laws of nature to a very few select individuals. Now,...

King of the Resurrection – Revelation 1:10-18

What is the #1 intellectual stumbling block to evangelism today? Of course the first hindrance to evangelism is the average Christian’s lack of interest in evangelism. But what is the first argument heard when someone is trying to speak about Christ? I suppose it depends on the society in which you are working. In the Pantanal marshes of Brazil it would be one problem, but in Montreal it would be another. In some areas, the #1 hindrance to the gospel might be the Book of Mormon. In another it would be the doctrine of the deity of Christ or perhaps atheism. Evolution is certainly a hindrance to evangelism, as is the New Age movement and Christian hypocrisy. Another in our day is the proliferation of false and corrupt Bibles – “Yea, hath God really said?” Among the Jews, in the first years of Christianity, the chief stumbling block was Jesus’ resurrection. The Book of Acts contains twelve public sermons by the apostles with a total of 159 verses. I have read that 92 of those verses (60%) touch on the resurrection in one fashion or another. The gist of those sermons is that Christ’s resurrection is a fact. And walking hand-in-hand with the resurrection of CHRIST is the resurrection of Christ’s DISCIPLES. Peter and John were thrown in jail for preaching Jesus’ resurrection – and our resurrection in Acts 4. “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Peter and...

June 18

On this day in 1781, the Severns Valley Baptist Church was founded in what is now Elizabethtown, Kentucky, south of Louisville. It may have been the first Baptist church in Kentucky. At the time, the area was dense and unexplored forest, inhabited by only a few pioneering families. If we could go back to visit one of their services, we’d find the men dressed in leather leggings, moccasins, carrying hats made of various animal skins. And in their hands or resting close by would be their Kentucky long rifles and a tomahawk. There would be a guard at the door watching for Indians. John Gerrard was the first pastor at Severns Valley. We don’t know a great deal about this man, but we do know that after serving the church for about a year, he went out to hunt food for his family, and we know he never returned. The forests were filled with game, but also with natives who didn’t want the White men living there. The body of Pastor Gerrard was never found, and it was believed that he was murdered. J.H. Spencer, author of an interesting history of the early Baptists of Kentucky, wrote, “Like John the Baptist, he came preaching in the wilderness, and like Moses, no man knoweth of his sepulcher until this...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 3:1-4

It no longer surprises me, but it always excites me, when God blends or links things together in my ministry. When the hymns selected by another person illustrate my message – as several did Sunday morning. Or as in this case, when the message Sunday night meshes with the next scripture in an ongoing series. A part of my theme Sunday was that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Here Solomon, as led by the Holy Spirit tells us how that we, like Jesus, can “find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” – verse 4. As Solomon exhorts his son, the Lord exhorts all of His children – we who have been adopted into His family… “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments.” As I say, Solomon was led of the Holy Spirit when he wrote these words. Jehovah through the Spirit says to us all, “Children, forget not my law and my commandments.” But let’s lay that aside for the moment and remember that we all live under our own system of laws. You might never steal; you are never tempted to shop-lift – ah, but you might lie when circumstances demand, as we see in the life of Peter. You would never consider adultery or fornication, but to lust or internally covet is another matter. You would never blaspheme, but to ignore or make light of the preaching of the Word, you might. We all have our own standards and laws, but Solomon was speaking of GOD’S laws and...

Well-Rounded Growth – Luke 2:41-52

“How much do you know?” If you stop and think about it, that is an interesting question – “How much do you know?” You’d probably like me to qualify that question – “How much do you know about …. the Bible?” “How much do you know about American politics;” “How much do you know about Christ.” But this isn’t my question. What I’m asking is: “How much of your brain has been trained and taught to know stuff.” If there was a way of measuring how much data has been stored on your mental hard drive, how much useable space compared to used space. And here is a related question: “How did you learn the things that you have learned?” Did it come through genetics, deliberate memorization, reading, television, day-to-day experience or was it something else? Nearly all of us are teachers – while still being students, we are teachers of others. Parents are teachers; preachers are teachers; older siblings in a family are teachers; friends can be teachers. And as teachers, we have access to a variety of teaching tools. Four times a week, I get up here and share a message from the Bible. Usually it has been a blessing to me to prepare, but it will NEVER be the same blessing to you. Research has shown that our words – yours and mine – account for only 7% of everything we communicate to others. And just because something is communicated, that doesn’t mean that the other person has received it. More of our learning is received visually, either through watching others or reading. This means that...

Scared to Death – Matthew 14:22-33

It might be fun some day to explore the question: “What is has been the most terrifying event in your life?” There aren’t too many lions around here, but perhaps it was a dog attack or a visiting bear at camp. It might have been the threatening of a rattlesnake, or perhaps a nearby lightning strike. When missionary Mike Meredith was coming to visit us a few years ago, he and his family were driving through the mountains to reach us, a rock crashed onto the hood and into the windshield of their car. Perhaps it was something like that in your life. Consider the Apostle Peter – from what you know, when might he have been the most frightened? Was it when he felt trapped in the courtyard of the high priest after Jesus’ arrest. It might have been on that trip across the Sea of Galilee when a storm struck and threatened to swamp the boat. OR it might have been at one or two points in this scripture. Is it possible that Peter did not know how to swim? Surprisingly, that is very common in sailors. I have preached from these verses many times – all with different purposes. Once the subject was faith, and three times the message dealt with various aspects of the Christian life. One of my messages was preached on the first Sunday of the year. There has been one message about Christ and another on the nature of God the Father. But the other day I was struck the Peter’s simple words in verse 30, and it sent me in a...

June 11

  Hervey Jenks was born into a respectable, religious family, but his godly parents were not able to convince their son of his need of Christ. He entered Brown University, the Baptist’s premier school at the time, with the intention of becoming a lawyer. While teaching school in the neighboring community of Rehoboth to pay for his classes, he was suddenly awakened to the eternal need of his soul. The darkness which pervaded his heart for some time was soon replaced by a most joyful confidence in salvation through the merits of Christ. He was baptized and joined the First Baptist Church of Providence in June 1810, and a year later, on this day, he was ordained. Brother Jenks married and became pastor of his wife’s home church in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, while also pastoring another church in Hudson, New York, traveling back and forth on horseback. Both congregations flourished with souls saved and the members actively serving their Saviour. Soon other churches were showing interest in the young man, but God had different plans. Brother Jenks began to show symptoms which were later diagnosed as typhus. In a few months the disease took his life, dying at the very young age of 28. In the will of God, the beginning of a productive ministry for Christ was cut short, but what effect did his actual passing have on the lives of others? The Lord may use us in different ways. Are we...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 2:10-22

If we wanted to read these verses from only a logical & secular point of view, they would make perfect sense. It is not smart to fall into the hands of the drug dealer, who sells or experiments in out of the body ecstasies. And the young fool who falls victim to the prostitute, does not consider that her house inclineth unto death. The evil man and the strange woman are usually dealing additional problems, all of which would destroy their young prey. But if we take the “wisdom” of verse 10 to the purpose intended by the Holy Spirit, we are forced to look at the evil man and the strange woman from a more spiritual perspective. If we understand that “wisdom” is a personification of the person of Christ, then these verses become an illustration of the effects of the gospel. Sure the physical effects are the same in the preservation of the saint of God possessed by this “wisdom.” But there are eternal and spiritual effects as well. “For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” Perhaps this scripture would be more appropriate for a Sunday morning gospel message than a devotional for prayer meeting, but the Lord is in control of every church service. Let’s begin again with the entrance of wisdom. “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul.” When the Math teacher tries to help us understand algebra or trigonometry, what part...