Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem – Psalm 122

  Mrs. Charlotte Yeoman was a member of our church in Calgary thirty-five years ago. She has remained such a family friend that Judy and I refused to visit Canada a few weeks ago without driving eight hours out of our way to spend a day with her and her husband. Sister Yeoman is a kind, generous and godly woman, who loves the Lord with all her heart. And she loves the Oldfields. Over the years she has sent countless packages to us – clothing, odds and ends, even postage stamps. And almost from the first year we met, she has been giving me books – all kinds of books. Some of those books have been a blessing, while others were not worth the waste of a match. Earlier this month, once again we were showered with used clothing and a few books. Last week I read one of the books I was given – the subject of which was prophecy. Its author is a well-known pretrib, premillennialist, who wanted to tell me all about one of the Biblical signs which he had recently discovered – proving the nearness of Christ’s second coming. He pastors a mega-church in San Antonio, and he has a TV, speaking and publishing ministry as well. I have to admit to having doubts about the thesis of his book even before opening to the first page. But of course, I fully agree with him on the imminent return of the Saviour. The book began with the author’s second most favorite theme – his support of the nation of Israel. He is one of the...

Glory to God; Glory to God in the Highest – Ephesians 3:14-21

  I ran across an appalling statistic the other day – verification of which is impossible. The author said that of the 1,440 minutes which God gives to us every day, the average Christian returns to him no more than four minutes in prayer and praise. I’m sure that all of you are well above that average, but consider…. A full minute with heads bowed before a meal seems like an eternity. And five minutes before heading out the door means that you might get stuck behind a school bus and not make your appointment. As I told you the other day, I have a small, simple savings account at a local credit union. My account pays a little more than a half percent interest per year, which is better than most banks. That is dreadful, especially when we compare it to what interest banks charge on their loans. But before you rant and rail against the banks, consider that 4 minutes is about a quarter of one percent of the time the Lord gives to us every day. The average “Christian” gives the Lord less interest than most banks give to their customers. As we can see in this scripture, the apostle offers up his prayer and praise to God. We can learn a great deal from the prayers of Paul. In this case, we see in these short verses that he didn’t have a single request for himself. That isn’t to say that in other scriptures he doesn’t pray for himself and ask others to pray for him. But at least here, he doesn’t think of his...

September 25

While in Virginia, Baptist pastor John Leland was a neighbor to James Madison. The two men often talked about the state of the nation and of the Word of God. Leland once wrote, “Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for, is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposed that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence.” Apparently this kind of thinking was driven by the Baptist into the heart of his Protestant friend. It is perhaps surprising that in the same British colony and American state where for years religious liberty could not be found, there it first began to blossom most brightly. The words of the Virginia Declaration of Rights were incorporated into the Federal Bill of Rights and began with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It was on this day in 1789, after only seven or eight days of debate, the final draft of Madison’s amendments to the Constitution were passed by Congress and presented to the states for...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 4:1-4

  Let’s deliberately deviate from Solomon’s direction of thought, still keeping it mind while we move on. He is obviously telling young people to listen to their fathers – or more particularly to him. He may have been directing his thoughts toward his own children, but the Holy Spirit directs it to all children. Just for this evening let’s not think so much about the children and the instruction, but to the father. But first we need to ask, “When do we cease to be children?” In one sense of the word, we never do. We will be the children of our parents until the Lord calls those parents away. And we will always need the instruction of people more wise and experienced than we are. There are some commentators who apply the word “father” in this context to “God the Father. ” We fully understand what they are saying, but it is clear that Solomon is thinking about himself and other human fathers. (As an aside, why do so many Catholic and Protestant priests, insist their people call them “father?” Because it is their doctrine that only THEY can discern, distill and distribute divine knowledge. The Catholic priest wants no other spiritual fathers in the world.) Again, when do we cease to be children? There is a sense in which there is a transition from childhood to adulthood when we become parents. “I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.” But now,...

Thus Saith the Lord – Exodus 4:21-23; 5:1; 7:17; 8:1, 20; 9:1, etc.

  Let me begin this evening by giving you my outline: “Thus saith the Lord” is the Baptist’s Banner. It is the Christian’s Comfort, the Sinner’s Censure, and the Servant’s Summons. “Thus saith the Lord” ends in the Enemy’s Execution, and therefore it must be the Minister’s Message. So there you have it – “Thus saith the Lord.” You have my permission to fall asleep, if you can repeat those five points before you nod off. But if you want to continue on during a very short message, we have to agree about the subject matter. The world contains a lot of things which are touted to be the Word of God. There are the Koran for the Muslim and the Veda of the Hindus. There are the Writings of Confucius and the Lun Lu. Some claim that “Science and Health,” the “Book of Mormon,” and “Desire of the Ages” are scriptures. But we’re not thinking about what MEN think is the Word of God. We not thinking about the Talmud, the “Traditions of the Learned Elders of Zion,” or papal edicts ex-cathedra. Nor am I thinking about all the modern versions and perversions purporting to be the Holy Bible. All the various scriptures and versions of the Bible give Satan opportunity to continue to ask: “Yea, hath God said?” What is the Word of God, and thus what is the “Thus saith the Lord?” There is no doubt in my mind that in the English language it is the Authorized King James Bible. Although I own many versions of the Bible, they are used to collect the dust...

Rahab – Change in Citizenship – Joshua 2:1, 8-15

  Joshua chapter 2 is one of the most captivating passages in all the Word of God. It appeals to the imagination, to the heart, and to the faith of the child of God. It appeals to Christians; to Hollywood script writers; to children; to virtually everyone. There is sin here, but then there is also wisdom, faith, and bountiful grace. I could preach this chapter using the New Testament as my text in stead of Joshua. Paul takes a reference from here and transplants it into Hebrews 11. James takes an illustration from this chapter and puts it into his letter to the scattered saints. I hope you’ll forgive me for my love of the biographies of the Old Testament. I know the doctrine of salvation is more systematically taught in the New Testament. But many of the Old Testament saints are clear pictures of New Testament doctrine. Some of them are types and illustrations of Christ or perhaps New Testament believers. But in the case of Rahab there is no illustration or type; she is the real deal. Rahab is a sinner saved by the grace of God. Generally speaking, she is like every other rescued soul. And then again, there are specifics in her story which make her testimony even more individual. Let’s begin with a historical review. Joshua sent two men across the Jordan river to evaluate the strength and defenses of Canaan. Knowing the prior history of Israel, we can assume that these were carefully chosen men. Joshua selected them; it wasn’t left to the leadership of the tribes to pick their favorites or...

September 17

I have mentioned both Pastor Addison Hall and missionary Lewis Shuck recently. Brother Hall was the father of Henrietta Hall, and this lady married Brother Shuck. On this day in 1835, while still a teenager, Henrietta and her husband stepped on board the deck of a ship bound for China from Boston. She couldn’t have known, but in ten years she would be dead. The ship stopped first in Calcutta and then sailed for Amherst, Burma. There Henrietta visited the grave of Ann Judson, whose life had been such an inspiration to her. From Amherst the Shucks sailed for Singapore. While studying the Malay language in Singapore, the couple’s first baby was born, which they named after Henrietta’s godly father. A month after the baby’s birth, the family set sail for Macao, where they arrived on this day in 1836, exactly a year after leaving Boston. In addition to being a help-meet to her husband in his ministry, Henrietta began her own ministry by taking a Chinese boy into their home, then came another boy and a girl. Henrietta’s heart was on winning Chinese woman to Christ, so eventually she refused to take any more boys, unless they were accompanied by at least one sister. During a period while she was nursing Brother Shuck and baby Lewis through dysentery, Henrietta gave birth to her second son. A year later a delicate little girl was born. During these months Henrietta was becoming weaker and weaker. When in 1841 Hong Kong was ceded to the British, the Shuck family moved noth, with hopes that the better climate would help them all....

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 3:31-35

  When we got to Lloydminster, Saskatchewan last Tuesday, the Yeoman’s put us up in a beautiful hotel. As Judy was taking a shower, I turned on the television and watched an interesting documentary. It was about mud and landslides, beginning with the Oso, Washington slide of 2014. In this landslide, just northeast of Everett, quite a few people lost their lives. And now more money is being funneled toward the study and prediction of landslides. In this case, all the fatalities were in homes and businesses in the valley below the slide. But there were references and videos of homes coming down hillsides in California and other places, as the hills below those houses gave way. That caused me to reflect on some houses we saw just east of Cochrane where we were staying with the Buenaventuras. These were expensive mansions, built on hills facing west with magnificent views of the mountains and fabulous sunsets. In this case these palaces were not just built on hills, but on man-made reinforced hills, with 20 and 30 foot retaining walls behind which were tons of gravel and dirt. They were literally hanging over the original hills. What is the likelihood that those million dollar mansions will some day come crashing down? Doesn’t Solomon speak of those kinds of houses? Well, perhaps he doesn’t, BUT I’d like to use them as illustrations. When Solomon and the Holy Spirit refer to “houses” in this paragraph, it is to people’s families – the house of so-and-so. John Gill suggests that these “houses” include all that the owner holds precious – from children to...

The Church in Colossae – Colossians 1:14-24

I read of a man who was in town on business; it was going to take about ten days. As he was walking his hotel after dinner one evening he noticed a sign which read “Chinese Laundry.” By that time he had plenty of dirty clothes, so he made a note of the address. In the morning he was back with a big bundle of dirty laundry. When he plopped the big bag down, the clerk demanded to know what he was doing. The man said, “Well, I’ve heard that Chinese Laundry’s do excellent work, so I brought my dirty clothes.” Quickly the young lady replied, “But this isn’t Chinese Laundry; we’re a sign shop.” Similarly, there are a lot of establishments out there which have the title “church” in window, but actually they are in some kind of other business. Last Sunday, Judy and I were in a modern North American city of 1.4 million people. Our hosts are reasonably sure that there isn’t a scriptural church anywhere in that city or its environs. But we did attend two congregations, both of which THINK they are churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the morning we visited a Baptist church of moderate size – with about a hundred people in that service. The pastor had a message on “the New Covenant,” using what he said was Hebrews 8. Sadly, I found it hard to recognize because it was in a translation which I couldn’t recognize. But of course, I can’t immediately recognize any of the versions produced in the last 120 years. The bulletin announced that there was...

Habakkuk’s Harpoon – Habakkuk 1:1-17

Paul and Barnabas had traveled to the city of Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they peacefully entered into the synagogue and sat down. After the proscribed reading of the law and prophets, they were asked whether or not they would like to exhort the congregation. Paul took full advantage of the opportunity, giving to them the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He declared the good news that the Messiah, the Saviour had come. He said that forgiveness of sins can be found in Jesus of Nazareth. Remember, this was a Jewish synagogue. Perhaps those people had heard of Jesus. If they had, then they knew He had been rejected by the Jewish leadership and had been crucified by the Romans. But Paul told them that seventy-two hours after His burial, He arose victorious over death – the penultimate end of sin. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, That through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, From which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” That quotation from Acts 13:38 and 39 contains the last words before our text. “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, A work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. . . “ When Paul was led of the Spirit to quote from Habakkuk 1, I think there was a very good...