May 19

On this day  in 1662 the “Act of Uniformity” received royal assent, after being passed by the Anglican-dominated British Parliament. It required that every minister in England had to receive episcopal ordination, and before August 24 of that year they must publically give their “unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything contained and prescribed in and by… the Book of Common Prayer.” Of course the Baptists in England rejected the concept of a church or religion established by the government, so they were not surprised by the new round of persecution against them. But it is estimated that a total of 1,760 other ministers were ejected from their churches, many of whom had taken a stand against paedobaptism – the baptism of infants. One of the positive consequences of the Act was to force those dismissed preachers to more fully consider their doctrines, and many went further into becoming Baptists. Another result was that there was then a clear distinction between the established church and the dissenters; a line had been drawn in the sand by the government. Despite the spotty persecution against the brethren, it made many new men more bold in their witness for the truth....

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 22:1

  Every once in a while the Bible presents us with a hypothetical. With “such and such” as a hypothesis, we are presented with various options. These hypotheticals are not always in the form of a question. We have one here in verse 1. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” If you COULD choose between great riches in silver and gold or a good name, which would you select? The fact is, we may never have the opportunity for lots of silver and gold, so this is hypothetical. But the situation does raise interesting possibilities, and it may expose weaknesses in a person’s heart.   “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Consider the great riches. Solomon was quite specific – silver and gold riches. He’s not talking about the wealth of wisdom, or the riches of a happy healthy family. This is not about the blessing of a peaceful life or the wealth of a good friendship. The choice is between money and a good name – a good reputation. Okay then, how do some people gather great riches? One answer is – Hard work. The Bible praises the man who has a good idea and works hard to develop that idea into something which blesses his neighbors. Hard work is highly praised by Solomon and others. But, of course, it has no place in the realm of salvation. Salvation is by the grace of God without the input of any human effort...

Paul’s Special Prayer Request – I Thessalonians 5:17

  It can be safely said that no Christian has a prayer life as deep, as spiritual and as thorough as it ought to be. Paul exhorted his friends in Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” because they were not. But he probably wrote those words without embarrassment, because “without ceasing” may have characterized his own prayer life. I think “pray without ceasing” means to begin each day in prayer and end each day in thanksgiving. And in between time, even though we have a thousand things to do, we should carry out each task with an attitude of prayer. In other words, the Lord should be very near our every thought – our every deed. There should be a very tiny step between where we are and where the Lord is. Every place we go should become the Lord’s tabernacle. And in our hearts, if not our hands, there should be a censer filled the odor of godly prayer. But incessant prayer; importunate prayer; selfless prayer; holy prayer is not my subject this evening. I’d like us to consider a very special prayer request which Paul laid out before his friends. There are occasions when we all have special needs, and sometimes we ask our brethren to pray for us. Eight verses after Paul said, “Pray without ceasing,” he said, “Brethren, pray for US“ – “Pray for Timothy, for Silas and for me.” There is no Christian who does not need, or who could not use, the prayers of his brethren. None of us are smart enough, strong enough, spiritual enough not to need more of the blessing of...

One Mother’s Most Memorable Day – Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30

  Modern Mother’s Day was first observed in 1908 at the request of Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia. It was not the affair that it is today. Anna asked her Methodist pastor to hold a service in memory of the deceased mothers of their church. It happened to be the anniversary of the death of her own mother. Seven years later, 1914 by Presidential Proclamation, Woodrow Wilson set the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. By the way, Congress refused to make it a national holiday, with some witty congressman saying, “If we have a Mother’s Day, then eventually we’d have to have a Mother-in-law Day.” Mrs. Jarvis detested the eventual commercialization of the day – all the cards and gifts. She wanted it to be a day of thanksgiving to God for mothers, not thanksgiving to mothers for God or anything else. Anyway, you won’t find a reference to Mother’s Day in your King James Bible. Never-the-less, I often like to take the opportunity afforded by this day to consider the women of the Bible. And today, let us learn from an incident in the life of this unnamed Canaanite mother. This woman received a very precious gift – unforgettable gift. It is unlikely that you ladies remember what gifts received ten years ago or even two years ago. Unless, of course, you got the same thing that you get every year. As far as I know, no one got keys to new car or tickets for a world cruise. But the woman of our text received one of the greatest gifts ever given. It didn’t...

May 12

If there ever was ever a “Bible belt” in Canada it was in the Maritimes, but unfortunately it lasted for only a short time. I understand that there are former Baptist churches empty all over the eastern provinces today. One of the men of God working in the area was Baptist missionary Israel Potter. He wrote the following letter to Thomas Baldwin, pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Boston. “Clements, Annapolis county, Nova Scotia, May 12, 1810. Dear and Rev. Sir, In the beginning of March last, a most powerful reformation began in the lower part of this town, which seemed to pervade the minds of old and young, and many, we hope, were brought to the knowledge of the truth. About ten days after, the good work made its appearance in the middle of the town. The people assembled from every quarter, and it seemed that it might be truly said, that God was passing through the place in a very powerful manner. The glorious work has since spread through every part of the town, and some of all ages have been made to bow to the mild sceptre of the Redeemer. The ordinance of baptism has been administered for five Sabbaths successively. Forty-five have been admitted to the sacred rite, and a church has been constituted upon the Gospel plan, consisting of sixty five members, to which we expect further additions. If I should say that two hundred have been hopefully converted to the Lord in this town since the reformation commenced, I think I should not exceed the truth. The good work is still spreading...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:30-31

  Two or three months ago we looked at Proverbs 19:21 – “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” I approached the verse in a general sort of way; a way which is absolutely true. In other words a 20-year-old man may determine to save enough money for retirement by the time he is 40. He may work hard, save and invest, but he has no guarantee of a good economy – or of his own health. Or he may cheat, steal and defraud others, but again no matter how hard he tries, even with Satan’s assistance, if wealth is not the will of the Lord for that man, he will never have wealth. There can never be any real success – long term success – without the will of the Lord. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”’ That verse might be applied in a multitude of different ways – to win the love of a certain girl; to play the oboe at Carnegie Hall; to climb Mt. Everest. But a more specific application is suggested in Proverbs 21:30 – “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Again, no plan of man can stand if the Lord is against it. But this is never more true or certain than when man directly attacks the King of Heaven and Earth – when man tries to stand “AGAINST the Lord.” Here is the fact: “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel (nor cavalry that can...

Abram, the Warrior of God – Genesis 14:1-25

  Brother Fulton and I were chatting the other day, when he mentioned that he had enjoyed teaching through a passage full of genealogies. We agreed that if God put something into His Word it must be there for a reason. My Bible has about 1,300 pages, but it could be infinitely longer. The Holy Spirit has done some editing for us. Can you imagine what the Lord could have recorded in His Word, but hasn’t? The Book of John concludes with the words, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” And still we have many chapters of nothing but name after name. There must be a reason. I was reading the book “Chats from a Minister’s Library” by Wilbur M. Smith, and this chapter was brought up. It was a fascinating article describing how the four kings of from Mesopotamia swept around and then attacked the five kings of the Jordan valley from the south. It wasn’t so much the military strategy which peeked my interest. I was struck with a couple of other things, but I am not sure that I will be able to verbalize my cogitations. Here we are a quarter of the way into one of the most important books in the Bible and we are confronted with ten verses of ancient, useless names and information. Who cares who was king of Shinar four thousand years ago? And where is Shinar anyway? Why do we...

The Sociable Saviour – John 2:1-11

  This morning I want to return to a text from which I preached only 2½ years ago. That was a textual message presented with the intention of bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. We looked at Christ’s creative power, His sympathetic heart, and His undeniable glory. That was not the way I worded my outline, but it should have been – it’s an improvement. In asking the Lord for a message to share with you today, my mind came back to this scripture but from a different angle. In 2017 my desire was to uplift the deity of the Lord Jesus. But today I’d like to emphasize one aspect of His humanity. Of course, it is impossible to look at Jesus and not to see in His DIVINE glory, but this morning, I’d like us to think more about His sociability. And my reason? With Jesus that day were at least five of His disciples – people like you and me. We are social creatures, but as Christians we have spiritual responsibilities toward our social contacts. I’d first like to expound this paragraph verse by verse. And then I’ll try to go through it a second time trying to make more of a application to us as Christians. Paraphrasing verse 11 – This was the first of Jesus’ miracles. Please notice that Christ’s first miracle took place in a social setting, not a religious one. This was not in a church service; there was no preaching; the Lord was not directly in charge. Many, if not most, of Jesus’ miracles took place in non-religious settings. This particular...

May 5

Many religionists are content in gathering only two or three times a year. Some of the more faithful try to come together at least once every week. The true children of God, however, love their Lord enough to want to worship and learn of Him more frequently than once every seven days. In so doing they often draw the attention and wrath of God’s enemies. The Baptists in Virginia had been put down and persecuted for years. Attacks upon them had come in many ways, including legislation, incarceration, disruption of their worship services and physical assault. Individual churches and groups of churches petitioned the House of Burgesses on several occasions, usually to no effect. But up to and during the time of the War for Independence some progress toward religious freedom began to slowly emerge. On this day (May 5) in 1774 there was yet another petition brought before the Virginia government. This time there was a new and interesting theme involved. The records states: “A petition of sundry persons of the community of Christians called Baptists … was presented to the House and read, setting forth that the toleration proposed by the bill ordered at the last session of the General Assembly … not admitting public worship, except in the daytime, is inconsistent with the laws of England, as well as the practice and usage of the primitive churches, and even of the English church itself; that the night season may sometimes be better spared by the petitioners from the necessary duties of their callings; and that they wish for no indulgences which may disturb the peace of...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:18

  A well-taught Christian might be surprised by Solomon’s declaration in verse 18. “The WICKED shall be a ransom for the RIGHTEOUS; and the transgressor for the upright.” When the Christian reads the word “ransom” he might automatically think of several New Testament scriptures which speak of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. He might instantly think of the holy and perfect Saviour giving His life as a ransom for our salvation. But this is quite the opposite. There is a parallel with this verse, but there is also an enormous difference. Let’s compare this verse with Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45. The Lord Jesus Christ gave His life as a ransom for the soul of His elect. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” “For even the Son of man came … to give his life a ransom for many.” I Timothy 2:6 adds that Christ Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all…” That is “all” in the sense of “all those He intended to save.” Imagine that early one morning, we look at our phone and a headline declares that a child has been kidnaped. Some wretched people have snatched the baby of a wealthy family and are holding that child for ransom. Because of the risk involved and society’s condemnation of such a cowardly crime, the kidnapers are demanding an enormous amount of money – a million dollars. They care nothing about the child; that little girl is only a tool – a means to their end – extorted wealth. In...