Gideon’s Sword – Judges 7:9-22

This afternoon I’d like to take a favorite children’s story and try to look at it from an adult’s perspective.  Most kids raised in Sunday School know the story of Gideon.  They know that he was a timid man, living in trying times, risking his life just to keep his family alive.  An enemy had occupied Israel, terrorizing the people and making day-to-day life extremely dangerous.  One day, while Gideon was trying to thresh out a little wheat, while hiding from the enemy, the angel of the Lord visited, ordering him to prepare a small offering – and then God raise up miraculous fire to consumed it.  Emboldened by this, Gideon proceeded to destroy one of the local altars dedicated to idolatry.  Following that, at the command of God, he called for an Israelite army to drive out the idolatrous Midianites. Many kids know the story of Gideon testing the will of God with the woolen fleece.  “Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.”  The Lord patiently and graciously gave the man His answer.  “And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.”  Then just to make sure, Gideon asked God to reverse the miracle the next night.  “And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the...

The Central Point of Christianity – I Corinthians 1:17-24

We haven’t done this before, but I’d like you to go back to the scripture we read earlier in our service.  It’s not that I’ve slipped a mental cog, or I have had a problem with the earlier reading.  It’s that I’d like you to realize there is more than one way to read the scriptures.  We can sincerely and honestly read the words, or we can more slowly read the intent of those words. I believe that in I Corinthians 1 Paul points to the core of Christianity – its essence, its central point.  If we don’t understand Paul’s theme; if we don’t realize the importance of his subject, then no matter what we might profess about our religion, we are not Christians.  The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ is single most important event in history, in eternity and potentially, in your life. Let’s re-read our scripture and let Paul’s intent sink in – which of course is the intent of the Holy Spirit.  “For Christ sent me not to baptize,”  Paul’s commission from God was not to administer the external details of religion – no matter how good and important they might be.  It might be argued that baptism is a part of our overall commission, but it was not the key element in Paul’s.  “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:”   Paul was a preacher – he was called to the noble ministry of authoritatively declaring the gospel.  Yes, he was a teacher, and yes, he wrote important letters, but first and foremost he was a preacher of the gospel. ...

September 2019

Dear Pastor and Brethren: Six New Visitors! The Cody and Jeanette Sworb family with baby and her daughter, Erica, visited with us one Sunday, and two OSU students, Ashton Mainord and Kaleb Vance visited with us on another Sunday. We have not had very many OSU (Oklahoma State University) students visit with us so they were a pleasant surprise. They had visited the big Southern Baptist churches here in the area but didn’t feel comfortable in them because of their size. They came from a small Southern Baptist church in Norman, Ok., and said that they were looking for a small church so that they could get to know the people. We were as friendly with them as we could be, but they haven’t been back, nor has the Sworb family. All of them heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in my messages, I assure you! LaShonda and her two sons returned one Sunday, and we were happy to see them in our service. She is looking for a better job now that she has her new bachelors’ degree. Hispanic Outreach Roxanne and I had the opportunity to deal with 26 Latinos and one American girl in our attempt to reach other people with the gospel. Each one of these people have their own story to tell. All but the American girl were involved one way or another in an ICE raid on two local restaurants here in the city of Stillwater. All of them were here working quietly, but illegally, in those restaurants and immigration agents showed up one morning and arrested them all and took...

October 20

Adam Burwell Brown was born on this day (October 20) in 1821. He was raised in Virginia and first educated by the Episcopalians. It was expected that he would become a priest of that denomination, but upon studying the Word of God, he became a Baptist. He attended Washington College and the University of Virginia. John A. Broadus, a fellow student of his later wrote, “Before the middle of the session it was apparent to me that he (Brown) was the foremost man of the class.” After completing school Brother Brown became engaged in mission work in Western Virginia and West Virginia. But then the War broke out. He joined the Southern forces and became a missionary chaplain. He loved evangelism and worked to start and strengthen churches wherever he could even during the conflict. When the war ended, he found that the churches and missions he had previously served had been decimated of their members and finances. To supplement his income and to feed his wife and family he farmed and taught school. At one point his wife had sacrificially saved a few dollars for her Pastor/husband to buy a vest. She surprised him with some cash just before he left for a fellowship meeting, instructing him to buy the needed vest before returning home. But during the meeting A. M. Poindexter made an impassioned plea for missionary support for foreign missions. Bro. Brown rose and said before a number of more wealthy men, “Here is money my wife gave me to buy a vest, but the vest may go, and I will do without, and foreign missions...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 26:18-19

  Verses 18 and 19 highlight something which has been, and probably still is, a problem in my life. It might be a problem with some of you to a lesser degree, and for some it is no problem at all. But let me say right off the bat, my problem may not be what you think it is. Briefly consulting with my short list of commentaries, it appeared they were all agreed to the meaning of these two verses, but I will reach beyond them a little later. Those commentaries condemn the person who lies or deceives. I hope that no one has any problem understanding or agreeing with this principle. “As a MAD man … So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour…” In this case the “mad man” is not angry – he is insane. I am told that the Hebrew word “mad man” is rooted in the idea of “burning” or even “rabid.” The man who deceives his neighbor, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is like a rabid dog. And that rabid animal, or the man he has infected, will die. “All liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” – Revelation 21:8. “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape” – Proverb 19:5. The rabid man or dog spreads a virus which is fatal unless treated. Not only will the mad man die, but so will those he infects, unless they come to see the truth in the matter. More often than a reference to “rabies,” the...

Playing with Fire – Acts 15:5-11

  There is an infamous cult of quasi-Christians living in the hills of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Every once in a while they pull out their stash of rattlesnakes and play with them in their church services. They carry them; they stroke them; they even hold them up to their faces, taunting and teasing them. These people believe that the promises of Mark 16 apply to them: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” Sometimes these people have been bitten by their rattlers, and sometimes they have recovered. The bite of a rattlesnake is not necessarily fatal to some people even without the promise of God. But some of these cultists have died from the poison of their snakes. And I’m sure that the explanation would include something about a lack of faith on the part of deceased. I don’t know how you define snake-handling, but I call it “playing with fire,” and I don’t recommend it. I don’t believe that Mark 16 is giving anyone the authority to tempt those snakes to bite. Nor does that scripture give anyone the authority to tempt the Lord to heal the person once he’s bitten. And that is perhaps a good definition for the old adage “playing with fire.” It is playing with fire to try to blackmail Jehovah into doing things for sinners like us. We are going to come back to this in a few minutes,...

October 13

Julius Kobner was the son of a Danish Jewish Rabbi. Following his training as an engraver he traveled from place to place plying his trade. While visiting in Hamburg, Germany he met the Baptist Johann Oncken when he came under conviction and was converted to Jesus Christ. In May, 1836 he was immersed. Soon he too was preaching the gospel – primarily among the Germans. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Lord began stirring the hearts of some in Denmark. A young Protestant minister in Copenhagen was brought by the Holy Spirit to understand salvation by grace. In Jutland the Lord stirred the hearts of several people. On the Island of Funen a poor shoemaker became a faithful witness for his Saviour, leading many to salvation by grace. In 1839 Kobner heard what the Lord was doing in his homeland and decided to see it first hand, meeting a number of believers in Copenhagen. After returning to Germany he talked with Oncken, and the two men returned to baptize eleven believers and forming them into the first Baptist church in Denmark. One of the new believers became their teacher. A year later Oncken and Kobner returned and baptized ten more. Despite persecution the little Baptist congregation grew, scattering the seed of the Gospel. A group of believers started gathering in Jutland where the persecution was even more severe, and several of God’s saints were jailed. English Baptists sent a delegation to plead with the King of Denmark for leniency, but there was little respite. Then finally, in 1849 a new Danish constitution was secured, providing for religious...

Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 26:13-16

  Most of Proverbs, following the early chapters, have been individual statements – a collection of proverbs. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” This is the style we find throughout most of the Proverbs – quick, pithy, individual pairs of thoughts. When we came to chapter 26 last week I was surprised to find a single theme linking together 12 verses. But then again I wasn’t surprised, because the Lord knew I needed that subject – “The fool and his ways.” Yesterday as I opened my Bible, asking the Lord for a devotion for this evening, I thought I had our subject in the next verse – “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.” I immediately thought that the Lord wanted us to consider the subject of excuses. But then, I noticed the continuation of the subject of the slothful man in the next few verses. “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.” The excuses of the...

The Leaven of the Pharisees – Matthew 23:1-33

  A church full of Pharisees could be a remarkable institution. Think about it. If every member was a true Pharisee, then every member would be in attendance at every service. They would all be on time and in their seats at precisely the top of the hour. It wouldn’t be necessary for the song leader to silence the casual conversation; everyone would be quiet and ready to hear the number of the opening hymn. And probably the only hymns to be sung would be doctrinally perfect – the Psalms of David. Every adult member would know his Bible well enough that the preacher wouldn’t have to fill in the details of the parables, the histories, and the Gospels or Acts. And their Bibles….. the members would all have the biggest King James Bibles their arms could carry. They might even have the English words in one column with the original Greek and Hebrew running parallel to it. Of course, every member would tithe. So there wouldn’t ever be any problem in paying the church bills or taking on new projects, because each of the church financial accounts would be full. That would be especially true of the missions account, because of the difficulty in finding the perfect missionary to support. But the offerings might be hard on the treasurer, because the box would be filled with as many pennies as quarters and dollars, and probably not a single check would be written to a nice round number. Everyone would tithe to the exact 10.00%. All would be dressed in their finest clothes; there wouldn’t be a t-shirt or...

The Fixed Heart – Psalm 57:1-11 (7)

  Some of you young people probably won’t appreciate the name “Christian Barnard.” And perhaps some of you adults might have forgotten the name as well. Christian Barnard was the son of a Christian minister in the country of South Africa about a century ago. But he didn’t follow his father into the ministry or as a missionary, or as a writer of Christian books. For a while Barnard was the world’s most famous cardiologist – heart surgeon. Fifty-five-year-old Louis Washkansky was dying of heart disease. And then Denise Ann Darval was killed in an auto accident. On December 3, 1967, Dr. Barnard took the heart of Denise and put it into the chest of Mr. Washkansky. It was the world’s first heart transplant – over fifty years ago. It came in a day when open heart surgery and by-passes were experimental and highly dangerous. Following that surgery, for nearly three weeks the eyes of the world were on Louis Washkansky, before he finally died of pneumonia. But those 18 days were a medical miracle and entered the annals of history. Today, probably all of us know people who have had open heart surgery or had an artery by-pass. It is so common today that a few months later we hardly talk about it. We have heard about stints – little gizmos used to keep arteries open and blood flowing. And then there is the pace-maker, a technological marvel planted in people’s chests with wires to the heart. This machine is designed to make sure that the heart beats at the rate prescribed by the doctors. At any time,...