Unsearchable Riches – Ephesians 3:1-12

The year is 1859; the place is somewhere in the wilds of Northern California. An old, solitary prospector is leading his equally-old donkey through some unchartered wilderness. The man has a dream, a rifle, a pick and a shovel, and a pot for boiling his coffee – but very little else. As he walks deep into a box canyon, his well-trained eye sees a little color emanating from a protruding rock face. Taking his pick, he chops at it for a few minutes, concluding that it is, indeed, a tiny vein of gold. After unloading and hobbling his animal, he begins to investigate his find a little more closely. After a few days of hard work he finds that the tiny vein of gold leads to a bigger artery. Then after weeks of back-breaking work he realizes that he has a claim to the richest gold strike in human history. With each swing of the pick more gold is revealed, and the seam seems to grow, going on for ever. There is silver, too, and other minerals with which he is unfamiliar. Almost overnight this once poor prospector has become one of the richest men in the world. And the fact is, he has no idea exactly how much gold there is in this mountain and how rich he has become. Unlike every other gold strike ever made, this vein goes on for ever – it is totally unsearchable. In this letter the Apostle Paul praises God for permitting him to be a minister of the gospel. He has been called to preach the “mystery of Christ” – the...

March 8

Joseph Islands was born a Creek Indian. He grew up in Alabama – a wild and sinful man. One night in 1842 during a drunken brawl a good friend of his was killed. The next day Joseph went to the grave site and found a Christian black man, affectionately named “Old Billy,” digging the grave. Seeing the distress on Joseph’s face, Old Billy shared with him the comfort of the gospel. The Holy Spirit began working with conviction and later in the black man’s cabin, Joseph Islands was born again. The Creek nation had earlier imposed a strict law against the introduction of Christianity among their people. Anyone engaged in evangelism was to be whipped with 39 lashes. Under this law, Joseph and Old Billy began meeting in semi-secret. Over time, more and more of their friends heard about their faith and joined them in Bible study, until the number reached about 40 souls. Eventually the authorities were alerted, and plans were laid to find the Christians and to punish them. On one occasion a spy hid behind some trees in order to follow Bro. Islands to their meeting, but when the Christian man reached the woods he stopped and began to openly pray. He asked for God’s blessings on the tribal leaders, for the police, for his Christian friends, and for several specific individuals, including the man who was overhearing these devotions. A sense of guilt overcame him, and when he finally discovered the place of the Christians’ worship, he presented himself, asking for more of the gospel. He was soon led to Christ. Ultimately the believers were...

The Cry of the Raven – Psalms 147:7-11

I checked my records and discovered that we began our study of Proverbs in April 2017. After 2 months short of 3 years we have completed a brief survey of that great book, skimming its surface. I hope that it has been as helpful, and as much a blessing, to you as it has been to me. In 2 weeks time, while I am at the conference in Canada, Bro. Fulton will begin a new series. We will let the Lord determine its length, but it probably won’t be as long as Proverbs. But in the mean time, since this is our Prayer Meeting, I’d like to bring you a few thoughts about prayer. Several months ago I was reading a rather unusual book by C.H. Spurgeon. Nearly everything of his that I have read, before this book, has either been short devotions, as in Morning and Evening or Faith’s Checkbook, or it has been a compilation of sermons on particular subjects. But this book was specifically written as a lengthy book – a study of Prayer and Spiritual Warfare. One chapter caught my attention, and I jotted its theme down in my notebook for future consideration. And the future is now. The thought was originally the Lord’s; Spurgeon highlighted it; but this message is Oldfield’s. God CARES about RAVENS, He EMPLOYS ravens, and He HEARS the prayers of ravens. Including in this scripture, these birds are mentioned 10 times – 90% of the time in the Old Testament. In the one New Testament verse, the Lord Jesus says, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which...

March 1

Most American colonies, states and districts did not begin their existence practicing religious liberty. Two exceptions were the colonies of Rhode Island and New Jersey. Later Texas would join that list. Texas was originally a part of Mexico under the 1824 Mexican Democratic Constitution. But political turmoil and Catholic domination from the south made life in Texas miserable and various factions fought for control, including the forces of Santa Anna who attempted to set up a dictatorship. On November 3, 1835 a meeting was held by American settlers seeking independence, but the motion was voted down and the colonists, calling themselves Texans, determined to remain loyal to Mexico. But government troops, Santa Anna’s men and some Texans continued to clash until it was recognized that the only road to peace was through total independence which included freedom to choose, freedom to vote, and freedom of worship. In Mexico the only religion not forbidden by law was Roman Catholicism. Also, there were as yet no schools, so there were very few places for large groups to meet. On this day (March 1) in 1836 in Washington, Texas, a group of American settlers met in the blacksmith shop of N. T. Byars. All his equipment was pushed aside, benches were brought in and government business began. That meeting became the first Texas convention. Judge Richard Ellis, who had become a farmer after emigrating from Virginia, was chosen to preside over the session. The following day Texas independence was declared, a new government was begun, and Samuel Houston was selected to lead the Texan army. At that time, Santa Anna was massing...

The Virtuous Christian Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31

Last Wednesday we spent a few minutes in an exposition of this paragraph. I gave our thoughts the very obvious title – “The Virtuous Woman.” I also said that we’d come back here this evening. You may have thought that we’d take 3 or 4 verses and lay into them more fully, but that was not my intention. What I’d like to do is go back over all 22 verses with a different pair of glasses. You might be tempted to say, I’ve taken my glasses off entirely. Let’s allegorize these verses, making them apply to something the writer never intended – a virtual wife. Some Old Testament prophet might have preached that this virtuous woman was the wife of God – Israel. And then someone today might take these words and apply them to the Lord’s church – the Bride of Christ. But me? I’d like to re-read these verses with the thought that you and I, as individuals, are this woman. Let’s give these thoughts the title “The Virtuous Christian Woman” and apply it to men as well as women. I’ll have to stretch some of these verses almost to the breaking point, but I believe that each point will be scriptural in and of themselves. The virtuous Christian woman. “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” The Hebrew word “virtuous” is rooted in “strength,” so let’s apply this to a spiritually strong Christian person. But how many truly strong saints are there in these days of laxity and compromise? When we get to the end of this chapter tonight, how...

On the Wings of a Dove – Psalm 55:1-7

The world of popular music has changed just a bit since I was a child. I grew up with Broadway show music and big bands – that was what my parents liked. Then I began to listen to classical music – Beethoven; Tchaikovsky; Mendelson and Rimsky-Korsakov. But many people back in the 50’s, when I was a kid, listened to what is now called “Classic country.” And what might surprise the kids of today, some of the popular songs of that era were highly religious. Yesterday, Judy had on one of her TV radio stations – an “Elevator Music Station.” Lo and behold, they played an instrumental version of “Three Bells” or “Three Chapel Bells.” It reached #1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country and Western” chart in about 1960. “There’s a village hidden deep in the valley; Among the pine trees half forlorn. And there on a sunny morning; Little Jimmy Brown was born (Bung, bung, bung, bung). All the chapel bells were ringing; In the little valley town. And the song that they were singing; Was for baby Jimmy Brown. Then the little congregation; Prayed for guidance from above. Lead us not into temptation; Bless this hour of meditation; Guide him with eternal love.” s I was first thinking about this message, another song came to mind. “Wings of a Dove” was a country song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958. Two years later, when it was recorded by Ferlin Husky, it became #1 on the country charts for 10 non-consecutive weeks. Then it crossed over to the pop charts, peaking at #12 – twenty years later. Do any...

Intercession Exposition – Hebrews 7:14-28

When I make the statement, “I like classical music,” what do you think I am saying? Some might think, “Oh, Bro Oldfield likes opera.” Actually, there is very little opera that I like, because most of it is sung in foreign languages. I haven’t learned to understand it. The only exceptions are when the melody is so outstanding that the words are not important. Others might answer my statement: “Our pastor likes Strauss and Vienese waltz music.” Again, the syrupy sweetness of Strauss upsets my emotional stomach after a few minutes. To me, it’s like too many pieces of thick fudge or a third Nanaimo bar. Someone else says, “The preacher likes Stravinsky and the modern classical composers,” but I don’t like most of their discordant stuff. The point is, everybody has a different idea about classical music. And it’s sad to say that most people condemn it before they ever examine it in all its various phases. There is a story about the 19th century Baptist preacher, John Broadus. Contrary to his own preference he was induced to hear a world-famous singer at a fancy concert hall. The man sang song after song – from opera – from European composers in French, Spanish and Italian. And with every song, Broadus’ opinion of the man was sinking lower and lower and lower. “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” Or conversely, who can really enjoy it? But then at the end of the concert the soloist sang a beautiful rendition of the old folk song “Home, sweet Home.” It so moved Broadus...

February 23

James Smith Coleman was born on this day (February 23) in 1827. He was saved by grace when he was eleven-years-old, after which he joined the Beaver Dam Baptist Church in Kentucky. When he reached adulthood he was elected county sheriff, but one evening after attending a revival meeting, the Holy Spirit convicted him to leave his post and to become a gospel preacher. His church agreed and when Coleman began preaching, the power of God followed him everywhere. Bro. Coleman was gifted with a clear and quick mind and an orator’s tongue. He was often asked to participate in debates with other preachers over doctrine, and often he consented. On one occasion he was asked to debate the subject of believer’s baptism with a Methodist named William Caskey. As the debate developed Caskey declared that when the Bible states that complete households were baptized it must have included infants and so babies are Biblical candidates for baptism. In his rebuttal Bro. Coleman stated: “I am surprised at Brother Caskey’s limited information concerning Lydia’s household. He has inferred that Lydia had children under the age of accountability, and that, therefore these children were baptized. I am surprised, Sir, that you do not know that Lydia was a widow, and a traveling cloth merchant, and that she never had but one child, and that was a daughter, who married a red-headed, one-eyed shoemaker, and had moved off to Damascus, and had not been at home for years, and that her household at that time consisted of herself and servants who assisted her in her business. I am surprised, Sir, that...

The Virtuous Woman – Proverbs 31:10-31

After a couple of years we come to the last verses of the Book of Proverbs. These are not actually proverbs but a poetical treatise on the beauty and characteristics of a good wife. And most likely it was patterned on some actual person’s wife. Solomon’s? Probably not. It is unlikely that Solomon’s wives were anything like the ordinary wives in Israel – or in Post Falls. But we don’t know the writer or the subject, and maybe it is a good thing that we have no names. In my mind I began looking for a nice 3 point message for this scripture to be ended with a poem. I came up with only two points, but I did find a poem – a piece of Hebrew poetry. Tonight I’m only going to give you point number 1, leaving the second for next Wednesday. I know people who do not like my use – or anyone’s use – of the original languages. Some say that God has preserved His word perfectly in English and when anyone refers to Greek and Hebrew they are inserting the intellect of man into God’s Word. The truth is just the opposite; in referring to the original language we are seeking out the Spirit’s intent. And there is sometimes genuine beauty lost in the translation from Hebrew into English. For example, in these verses each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet – in order. It would be as if verse 10 begins with the letter “a,” 11 with “b,” 12 with “c” and so on. If some expert in Hebrew doesn’t...

The Friendship of Jesus – John 15:9-17

Let’s start with an hypothetical. An acquaintance of yours knows that you are a Christian. You have spoken to this person about Christ a time or two, but there hasn’t been much response. Then one day he comes to you with a troubled face, telling you that he has a spiritual question. At this you get a little excited. “What is it?” And the reply is: “What must I do to be a friend of Jesus?” “A friend of Jesus?” How do you experts in Biblical evangelism feel about “becoming a friend of Jesus?” To be honest I have had a bit of a problem with the idea in the past. And from time to time I’ve even pointed out the word “friend” in some of our hymns. In this case, maybe you think – What audacity! You say to yourself, “I don’t hear anything in this that hints of repentance – or even conviction for sin.” What temerity to think that some wretched sinner can come along and decide to become “a friend of Jesus.” It sounds like all this person wants is what he might get from our Saviour. He might also say, “I would like to be a friend of Bill Gates or Donald Trump.” Who does this guy think he is? Perhaps we should ask the person what he means by “friendship with Jesus.” What is it to you to be anyone’s friend? What is your definition of friendship in general? The dictionary defines a “friend” as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” Does this inquirer...