January 26

Britain’s “Act of Toleration,” enacted in 1689, ended a period of severe persecution against the Baptists in that country, but it did not provide all that Christ’s churches taught or deserved. While it was no longer compulsory to attend the services of the Church of England, the ministers of dissenting churches still had to sign the 39 articles of the Church of England with some exceptions such as the 27th on infant baptism. And all meeting Baptist houses had to be registered with the local government and pay a fee of sixpence. Prior to the Act some of England’s best-known Baptists had suffered persecution and loss. Thomas Collier in Western England, and Hanserd Knollys the great writer, were persecuted. William Kiffin was personal friend of the King, but his grandsons, Benjamin and William Hewling, were martyred. Benjamin Keach was imprisoned, pilloried and fined. John Bunyan, spent twelve years in the Bedford jail. Baptist preachers and church members were beaten, fined and incarcerated. Their church and personal property was often confiscated or destroyed. Their meeting houses were damaged or leveled with no compensation. John Eccles was pastor of the congregation at Bromisgrove, Worcester. He preached the gospel there and in Coventry for 50 years. But he was arrested and placed in the dungeon at Worcester. Only when a member of Parliament paid a £1,000 bond was he released. It is the anniversary of Eccles death that marks this day in Baptist history. It is interesting that many of God’s greatest British servants suffered persecution. History records that when that persecution was relaxed, God’s people also relaxed – spiritually. The opposition...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30:11-17

I like certain kinds of old things. I don’t understand antique furniture enough to enjoy them or to have them. A piece of antique china may appeal to my eye once in a while, but I usually feel no need to buy it. A well-cared for 150 year old postage stamp is a beautiful thing, and I am delighted to own many of them. And a 150 year old envelope written by a future President of the United States is particularly special to me. Yesterday Judy got a box from one of her brothers containing an old, old book filled with 19th century photos of family members and others. I am excited to spend some time in there. But these things are all relatively recent compared to the Word of God. We need to remind ourselves that the letter of Paul to the Ephesian church was written 2,000 years ago. It is more than ten times as old as the oldest stamp, envelope or document in my collection. And this chapter from Proverbs was written about a thousand years before Paul wrote his letters. But the Bible is not like any ordinary book or human document. It is timeless. And a case in point are these verses from chapter 30. Agur says, “There is a generation” which does this and that, probably referring to young people he knew. But we could say the same thing about young people we know today – teenagers and pre-teens. The Bible was authored by the timeless Holy Spirit. By “timeless” I mean, the Spirit of God, doesn’t pass through time; He isn’t governed...

But Satan Hindered Us – I Thessalonians 2:13-20

As your pastor and the primary preacher/teacher here for 29 years – one of my fears is“tediousness.” For example, I often preach the gospel, but there are only so many ways in which it can be done, and I work hard not to say the same things in the same way all the time. I fear becoming “tedious.” “Tedious” is a Biblical word, but it is used only once. It came from the lips of the lawyer Tertullus as he began to accuse Paul before the Roman governor, Felix. He said, “Notwithstanding, that I be not further TEDIOUS unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a FEW words.” To be “tedious” is to be “wearisome; tiresome from continuance; a slowness in coming to a conclusion.” And for an example, Webster very appropriately says, “a minister (may be) tedious in his sermon. We say also, a discourse is tedious when it wearies by its length or dullness.” In preaching the gospel, a well-intended message may become “tedious” when it is too technical, or too long or so boring that its good intent is ruined. What has that got to do with our text? Is this message already becoming “tedious?” Hang in there for a few minutes before you make up your mind. Paul had a special affection for the brethren in Thessalonica. We don’t know the key to that affinity, but it may have been due to their instant love and service for Christ. “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of...

January 19

Our subject this morning was a man with a very unique and interesting name; it is theological and prophetical. His family name was Noel, which you probably know means “Birth of God.” This man was born in England in 1799 and was raised in the Church of England. The Noels were a part of the aristocracy of the day, so this young man had the best education available and his mind was worthy of the challenge. He graduated with distinction from Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he became an Anglican prelate. At the age of 27, he was one of the most popular preachers in London and served as one of the chaplains to Queen Victoria. As an honest and intelligent man, his study of the Bible lead him in a direction away from the Church of England. He wrote a booklet entitled “The Union of Church and State” which was negative to the subject. And then he was truly baptized on August 9, 1849 in the John Street (Baptist) Chapel. I said that he had an interesting name. For some unknown reason his parents gave him the prophetic name of “Baptist.” Our subject is Baptist W. Noel. And incidentally, the man who immersed him had an equally appropriate name. The pastor, or under-shepherd, of the John Street Chapel was named “Shepherd.” Baptist Noel, the former non-baptist, was baptized by Pastor Shepherd or Shepherd Shepherd. After his immersion, Bro. Noel was asked to speak. In his message he assured his audience, which included many who were not Baptists, that he had thoroughly studied the subject in the Bible and...

January 19

Our subject this morning was a man with a very unique and interesting name; it is theological and prophetical. His family name was Noel, which you probably know means “Birth of God.” This man was born in England in 1799 and was raised in the Church of England. The Noels were a part of the aristocracy of the day, so this young man had the best education available and his mind was worthy of the challenge. He graduated with distinction from Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he became an Anglican prelate. At the age of 27, he was one of the most popular preachers in London and served as one of the chaplains to Queen Victoria. As an honest and intelligent man, his study of the Bible lead him in a direction away from the Church of England. He wrote a booklet entitled “The Union of Church and State” which was negative to the subject. And then he was truly baptized on August 9, 1849 in the John Street (Baptist) Chapel. I said that he had an interesting name. For some unknown reason his parents gave him the prophetic name of “Baptist.” Our subject is Baptist W. Noel. And incidentally, the man who immersed him had an equally appropriate name. The pastor, or under-shepherd, of the John Street Chapel was named “Shepherd.” Baptist Noel, the former non-baptist, was baptized by Pastor Shepherd or Shepherd Shepherd. After his immersion, Bro. Noel was asked to speak. In his message he assured his audience, which included many who were not Baptists, that he had thoroughly studied the subject in the Bible and...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30:7-9

I have just finished a good size book written by C.H. Spurgeon, a third of which are prayers to God. I don’t know if these were written for the book; if they were private prayers; or if they were public prayers which had been recorded by stenographers. I have had another little book called “The Pastor in Prayer,” which contains 24 of prayers. These were publically offered to the Lord in the morning services of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some them are more than 10 minutes long. And I have to admit that I don’t enjoy reading them, because they convict me so severely. I believe that in the three verses we’ve just read, we have an example from the prayer life of Agur. It isn’t from the heart of Solomon, because at least one of the circumstances wouldn’t apply to the king. Why is this recorded here? Because Solomon appreciated the value of this prayer and what it might give to his children and subjects. This is a lesson from the Holy Spirit – who is the regulator of Godly prayer. “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” What can we learn by considering Agur’s prayer? Going back to Sunday evening, we learn to pray as if we are dying. “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die.” First, don’t be distracted by the verb “required of thee.” In prayer, we had better not think that we can...

Expectations – Romans 8:16-23

I’d like to talk to you tonight about “Expectations.” I almost preached this message last Sunday evening, but the Lord led me instead to “Patient Urgency.” And then this week this almost devolved into merely the introduction to a different message. If I go ahead with that third message, I suppose that this will still be its introduction. I came close to preaching about “expectations” the first Sunday of the year – because I thought it would make a good subject under those circumstances. And yet….. I wonder how many people are like me? To how many people is the New Year not particularly important? To me, it’s basically only another day. Of my 70 years, I have stayed awake to welcome the new year maybe twenty times. And most of those New Years Eves were spent at church in fellowship with you – and sometimes in prayer. In the transition from one year to the next, or one decade or one century to the next, I haven’t really spent much time thinking about that coming year, decade or century. Am I unique? Is it unusual not to be thinking about all the possibilities of the upcoming year? The opportunities? I am not a worrier; that may be one reason I don’t look ahead. But perhaps I have other issues or problems that some psychiatrist would relish to study. But tonight, for some reason, the Lord has lead me toward something new – thoughts about the future. Tonight, let’s do spend some time thinking about what might be next. Let’s try to consider what might take place in the...

January 12

Samuel Harriss was born on this day in 1724. He was born again 36 years later. Before his conversion Harriss served his community as sheriff, justice of the peace, colonel in the militia, and Captain of Fort Mayo. In the family’s Episcopal religion he was for a time a church warden. His family had political power and social prominence, but that all changed for Samuel. One day, while on assignment and dressed in his military uniform, he stopped at the home of two brothers named Murphy. Somewhat hiding and sitting behind a loom, he heard one of the brothers preach the gospel. Later he testified that “the arrow of the Almighty stuck fast,” and he was born again. He became so excited and joyful he left the house shouting “Glory, glory, glory,” even forgetting to take with him his sword. Daniel Marshall baptized Samuel Harriss, and soon after he began preaching Christ anywhere between the James and Rappahannock rivers, and periodically as far away as the Shenandoah Valley. He was ordained in 1769 when he was 45, but he had already started to experience the wrath of the wicked one. Four years earlier he was driven out of Culpepper County, Virginia, by a ferocious mob, but still he wanted to serve his Saviour. In Orange County he was pulled from the pulpit by his hair. On another occasion he was knocked down under a rain of punches. In the town of Hillsborough he was given permission to preach in the local jail, but once he was inside, the sheriff locked the doors and kept him there for some time....

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 30-1-6

  There is a bit of mystery in these verses. For example, who are these people, and what should we make of their names? Every thing in the Bible has been placed there by the Holy Spirit for a reason, but sometimes determining that reason is difficult. There are no other references to Agur and Ucal, so the Lord is not leading us to specific events, and we can’t learn anything more about them from other scriptures. Ithiel is a name mentioned in Nehemiah, but because of the years, that was obviously not the same man. What if we said, these are not real people and we should look for lessons only in the meaning of their names. What if they are allegories? Agur is described as the son of Jakeh, and as a word “Jakeh” has its root in the idea of obedience. Could we say that Agur was who he was out of obedience to some divine commission? Agur was a child of obedience. It would be marvelous if on each of our tombstones there were the words, “A child of obedience.” Ucal literally means “eat,” “devour” or perhaps “devourer.” Was he known to devour, or soak up, everything that Agur ever told him? Was he a good student? There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But is that God’s lesson for us? Ithiel is a really interesting name and creates confusion, because it means “God has arrived,” and thus it is related to “Immanuel” – “God with us.” Are we to look at Ithiel as the preincarnate Christ, and if so for what purpose? He is...

Patient Urgency – Acts 1:1-11

Have you ever known a married couple who were opposites or were very different from each other? She was 6’2,” and he was barely 5′ tall. He was extremely handsome while she was as plain as a wooden post. She loved her Bible, while he preferred his hand guns. Perhaps you’ve known people who had other very different personalities. He was outgoing and friendly, but she was painfully shy. Or she was an optimist, while he was a constant pessimist. Have you known couples like these who, despite the differences between them, made their marriages work well? They had learned to make their diversities complimentary not adversarial. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean; And so betwixt them both, They lick’d the platter clean.” This evening I’d like to bring together two very different words – two different approaches to life. They aren’t exactly contradictory, and what I hope to show is that we shouldn’t develop one to the neglect of the other. But usually, if we consider either one, it would not be in the light of the other. I’d like to tie together “urgency” and “patience.” Hopefully you’ll be able to think of ways they might be complimentary – supplying strength to one another. But before we get to that point, we need to consider them separately. We have started with a missions text which could be developed into a satisfactory New Year’s message. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” “But ye shall receive power, after that...