Thanksgiving at the Beautiful Gate – Acts 3:1-10

  If I asked you, “What is the CHIEF purpose of man?” how would you answer? Many of us raised in Episcopalianism would instantly know the answer from our catechism. The chief purpose of man is to glorify God. I Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” That ALL we DO as Christians should be done for the glory of God is a relatively simple concept. ”Ye have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s.” The idea is simple and obvious, but the practice of this principle may be a bit more difficult. More specifically, I Thessalonians 5:18 speaks about thanksgiving, opening the door to unlimited praise. “In EVERYTHING give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The only things for which we cannot and should not praise the Lord are sinful things. But does this mean we should praise God for only for the GOOD things that happen to us? No, we should be thank for both the good and the unpleasant. For good food and Christian friends as well as for toothaches and surgery. “In EVERYTHING give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Years ago, I became acquainted with an interesting gentleman living down in Georgia. We still have not yet met personally; our only contact in this world was through our church web-page. Bro. Jack Gregory has now passed away, but at the time he was in his 70’s,...

Quality Christianity – II Corinthians 4:17-18

Let’s say that you’ve just been introduced to someone new, and the question of “Christianity” has come up. You want to know whether this person is a genuine child of God or just a name-only Christian. How should we test that person? – Or for that matter, how could that man test US? We should probably start by asking – in whom, or in what, has that man placed his faith for salvation? If he is trusting Mary or the saints to forgive him of his sins, then he isn’t a Biblical Christian. The mother of Jesus needed a Saviour as much as Saul of Tarsus, and neither can save a third person. Then if he is trusting in his church association or his labor for social justice, then he isn’t a true Christian. To be christened, or even immersed, doesn’t wash away sin and create a child of God. We could make a long list of good religious and moral acts which have nothing to do with delivering us from sin and bringing us into the presence of the holy God. Salvation is by the grace of God, evidence of which is repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ alone, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast.” The exhortation we share with the non-Christian is “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” Okay, we...

The God who turns Curses into Blessings – Nehemiah 13:1-9

In order to get to this morning’s lesson, we have to look at two background items. As you know, Nehemiah is one of the Bible’s historical books; it is not poetry or prophesy. Yet despite being history, like Acts, for example – it is filled with the application of solid theology. These nine verses describe Nehemiah’s anger at finding Tobiah residing in an apartment in the Temple. It “grieved him sore,” and after tossing the man out on his ear, he ordered the cleansing of the rooms he had been using. That probably involved the same purification ceremony we considered Wednesday from chapter 12. But that is not my subject for this morning – it only lays in the background. The old fashioned boxer – before modern mixed martial arts – the boxer’s only weapons were his hands. But vitally important to the power of his punch was the stability of his feet. Before we get to the punch of this paragraph, we have to plant both feet properly on a good, solid foundation. Two things lay in the background of this scripture. Verse 1 – “On (the day of the dedication) they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written (in Deuteronomy 23), that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.” This takes us back to the history we...

October 2020

Dear Pastor and Brethren: A Slow Uneventful Month The month of October was a slow month with little activity other than normal services. The two ladies who visited twice, Denise Park and Kelly Swanson, have not returned at all to our services. We have had a more than usual amount of sickness among those who regularly attend. Bro. Alvin Christian was out because of sickness, as well as Sis. Maginnis who is in her eighties. Sis. Connie Gaches was also sick and is in a lot of constant pain because of the broken rod in her back. Her battle with scoliosis against bone thinning and loss is very difficult, and the broken rod in her back is due to the bending of her spine by the active scoliosis. She is taking a medicine that is supposed to strengthen her bones so she can have the operation to remove the broken rod from her back. However, the medicine does not seem to be working very well, because she was supposed to have the operation last year but did not because the medicine had not done its job. Please remember these in prayer when you pray for the Lord’s work here in Stillwater. So far, thank the Lord, we have not had any infections from the Covid virus, although with life in a university town, it is all around us. The Latino Outreach Although Roxanne and I have had almost no translation work in the Payne County court for several months now, we have three Latino men with whom we are working this month. Emmanuel is an illegal Mexican who has...

November 22

On this day (Nov. 22) in 1755 sixteen Baptists, originally from New England, formed the Sandy Creek Baptist church in what is now northern North Carolina. The church immediately called Brother Shubal Sterns to become their under shepherd and leader. With the blessing of God, the congregation quickly grew to more than six hundred. Elder Sterns, not a particularly great orator, but he passionately preached salvation through the free grace of the sovereign God, and hundreds of souls were born again. One of the founding members of Sandy Creek was Daniel Marshall who took the missionary spirit into Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. Soon other believers, like Dutton Lane and Samuel Harriss, began to take up the mantle of the ministry, and the blessings of God spread like wild fire. Morgan Edwards, an historian associated with the Philadelphia Baptist Association, wrote “Sandy Creek is the mother of all the Separate Baptists. From this Zion went forth the word, and great was the company of them who published it. This church, in seventeen years, has spread her branches west as far as the great river Mississippi; southward as far as Georgia; eastward to the sea and Chesapeake Bay, and northward to the waters of the Potomac; it, in seventeen years, is become mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, to forty-two churches, from which sprang 125...

The Importance of Clean Feet – Nehemiah 12:27-47

Just before Jesus’ final earthly Passover, He gathered His disciples together for a catered meal. This was Jesus’ church, just as we believe Calvary Baptist Church is a church of Christ. So, the events of that night relate to us in several ways. Of course, those men had shared hundreds of picnics, fellowship meals and pot lucks, but this was special. This was the Passover, but it was unlike any the disciples had ever had before. There was some special instruction that night – for which the men were still not prepared. There was the Lord’s supper, and then Jesus did something unusual. When the supper was finished, Jesus arose and took off the wonderful seamless robe which He usually wore. He was probably bear-chested; perhaps He was wearing only some underwear. That was probably surprising to the disciples in itself. Had they ever seen Him this way before? As they gaped at him, Jesus took a large towel, wrapping it around his waist. He picked up a bowl and went to the large water pitcher, filling it. Then He began with the man at the end of the table, pouring a little of that water on his feet, rubbing and massaging it over the arch and soles of those feet, washing off dust and dirt, before drying them with the towel. When He had finished with several of the brethren, He came to Simon Peter. “Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou...

Three Veils and a Vail – Hebrews 10:14-22a

Let’s begin this morning with a little quiz. If I gave you a piece of paper and asked you to write Mark 15:38, how would you spell the word “veil”? The verse reads, “And the VEIL of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Would you spell it“veil,” or “vail”? Some might even spell it “vale” or “vaile.” Now, in II Corinthians 3 where Paul was saying that the hearts and minds of Israel were darkened. How would you write verses 15 and 16 – “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the VAIL is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the VAIL shall be taken away.” How do you spell the word “veil” – the lacy face-covering some women used to wear? Are these words “v E i l” or “v A i l ?” Do you know that in the Bible the word is spelled both ways? In addition to that, and I can’t explain why, but the veil of the temple is spelled one way in the Old Testament and the other way in the New. I am going to confine my subject this morning to the New Testament use of the word “veil.” There are two separate Greek words and two different English spellings. And I will say that the translations are consistent – one Greek word is always spelled “V E I L” and the other Greek word is always “V A I L.” I see four lessons contained in these two words, and I’d like to share them with you. Now...

More than eight thousand people attended the funeral service of William Knibb who died of yellow fever on this day (Nov. 15) in 1845. Bro. Knibb served as one of the first Baptist missionaries in Jamaica. When he first reached his field, he was shocked at what he found. In a letter home, he wrote, “The cursed blast of slavery has, like a pestilence, withered almost every moral bloom. I know not how any person can feel a union with such a monster, such a child of hell. For myself, I feel a burning hatred against it, and look upon it as one of the most odious monsters that ever disgraced the earth.” Driven by compassion, he immediately began his work of evangelism among the slaves. But in doing so he incurred the hatred of white planters, civil authorities, British soldiers and the Roman and English clergy. Despite the opposition against him, the Lord began to bless his labors. In addition to his Sunday services, he held Wednesday morning prayer meetings at which there were often more than a thousand slaves in attendance. With such influence, he was thrown in jail, unjustly charged with inciting the slaves to rebellion. After several years, Bro. Knibb returned to England with the hopes of having slavery outlawed. He stirred many Baptist Churches to join him and earned the friendship of such men as William Wilberforce. Eventually success was achieved. Having returned to Jamaica, on July 31, 1838, twenty-five years before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a mahogany coffin, packed with whips, branding irons and other symbols of slavery was lowered into a grave...

The Dedication Service – Nehemiah 12:27-47

I am going to skip over what could potentially be an interesting lesson from chapter 11. I am skipping it because I have enough ignorance and skill to turn make it very un-interesting and tedious. But here is a quick synopsis. Scattered across Nehemiah 11 are hints of the organization of Judah, Jerusalem and the temple services. Verse 9 names Jerusalem’s overseer and his assistant – whatever they were – is that governor???? Verse 19 speaks of the porters and gate-keepers of the city. Verse 3 tells us that there were chief men living in the provinces. How were they chiefs???? And Verse 14 names a few “mighty men of valor” – which may, or may not, indicate some sort of militia. And when it comes to the temple, we have the names of many priests and Levites. Verse 11 says that Seraiah was the ruler of the temple, whatever that office might have entailed. But verse 16 tells us two Levites had the oversight of the OUTWARD business of the temple. Were they in charge over “the brethren who did the work of God’s house” (verse 12) and if so what exactly was that? I have 5 or 6 books whose theme is the temple or the tabernacle and their ministry, but they don’t explain any of this. We are told about people who had the responsibility of singing and thanksgiving – verses 17, 22 and 23. I wish I knew more about Mattaniah whose ministry was to “begin the thanksgiving in prayer” – verse 17. Chapter 12 adds people who had the responsibility of “watching” the gates...

They Willingly Offered Themselves – Nehemiah 11:1-2

As Paul was beginning to bring his Epistle to the Romans to a close, he commented – “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning…” If we were to paraphrase Romans 15:4 we might say “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our INSTRUCTION,” and that certainly would not be incorrect. But the word Paul used was “didaskalia” (did-as-kal-ee’-ah), and it is most often translated “doctrine.” “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our DOCTRINE…” But the verse doesn’t end with that word; it goes on to say, “that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Bible doctrine ought to provide us with a great many blessings, including patience, comfort and hope. It should also supply us with direction, inspiration and encouragement. We aren’t studying the Book of Nehemiah just to kill a little time as we wait for the return of our Redeemer. This study is not for our entertainment – or even to know the Bible a little bit better. We are studying this book “for our instruction” that we might be better equipped to serve our Saviour. You are right, we don’t need to know all the names and places in this chapter. But there are little things – small comments and even single words – which open pathways to instruction which can teach significant doctrine, if we are willing to pay attention and apply. The City of Jerusalem was beginning a new chapter in its life. God’s temple had been rebuilt a few years earlier, and now the city wall had been completed. Those...