The Forty Days of Elijah – I Kings 19:1-15a

  Elijah was one of the truly great men of God. No one should try to deny this. At the end of his life “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into Heaven, and Elisha saw it.” Then about 920 years later there he was with Moses meeting with Christ Jesus at the transfiguration. Both James and Paul speak well of him. However – James does point out “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are.” And that is why I’ve chosen him for inclusion in this series. In the chapter before our text – I Kings 18 – we have one of the great spiritual victories in ancient history. At the command of God Elijah went to Mt. Carmel and confronted 450 prophets of the false god Baal. There ensued a battle between Jehovah and the ambassadors of Satan with Elijah as the Lord’s sole soldier. Before the eyes of a large number of Israelites, Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume an impossibly wet sacrifice. There may have been a battle between God and Baal, but it wasn’t a fair fight. Baal may be called “a god” but he was nothing but empty air, while Jehovah clearly demonstrated His Almighty power. The people were forced by the circumstances of the victory to cry out, “The LORD (Jehovah), he is God, the LORD, he is God.” Elijah then commanded the execution of those false prophets, and the people carried out his order. Wicked King Ahab cowered and was put in his place. But his more wicked wife, Jezebel, who was made of tougher stuff, shot...

The Forty Years of Moses – Acts 7:17-36

  According to some people’s numerology the Biblical number 40 refers to testing, trial or probation. 40 comes up 146 times in the Bible, and many of those references do point to testings and trials. For example, the twelve spies reconnoitered Canaan for forty days, while Israel chewed their collective fingernails. Moses was forty days at the top of Sinai – twice – while Israel was down below cowering in terror. Elijah went forty days without food or water at Mount Horeb – I am considering that as another message in this series. Christ went without food for forty days during which time Satan tempted Him. But then He also appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, encouraging them for forty days. And Jonah preached repentance to Nineveh for forty days. Interestingly, the life of Moses was divided into three equal parts – all forty years in length. I trust that most of you have a basic grasp of Moses’ biography, but let me refresh your memory. While Israel was in Egypt God was blessing them to the point of making the local government nervous. A law was passed that all new-born Israelite boys were to be slain. But when one of the daughters of Levi bore a son, she felt convinced it was God’s will that the child be saved, so she kept him hidden for three months and then set him out in a place where the daughter of Pharaoh might find him. In the providence of God, the plan worked perfectly, and the baby was taken into the royal palace. Not only that, the baby’s mother...

The Ninety Days of Mary – Luke 1:26-39

  There are several instances where the Bible describes important or significant periods of time. Once in a while, because of special circumstances there are universal lessons in them. Last week we considered the seven days after Noah’s entrance into the ark before the rains came. We could also look at the forty days in which it rained, and the year which followed – but I have no plans at this time to do that. The Bible speaks of seven days here and five days there; thirty days and forty days. And we will look at a few of these over the next several weeks. This evening I’d like to try to put us into a very special ninety days in the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I thought about preaching it this morning, but for the most part this isn’t very evangelical. These lessons for the most part belong to the elect – Mary, Zachariah, Elisabeth and you. Using our imaginations and the scriptures, let’s try to understand what may have been in the heart of Mary before the birth of her first baby. But first, a part of her story includes 180 days in the lives of Zachariah and Elisabeth. Zachariah was one of the priests of the Lord, periodically working in the temple. When not in Jerusalem, he served God in the hill country around Hebron, Judah. Both he and his wife were in their sixties, as I am told was the common meaning of “I am an old man.” He also said, “my wife (is) well stricken in years.” Both were godly people...

Lord, Increase our Faith – Matthew 17:18-20; Luke 17:5-6

  Let’s say you have an acquaintance who is willing to talk to you about the Bible and the Lord. He was raised Roman Catholic, or Mormon, Episcopalian or any number of other “Christian” religion. As you talk to him, you easily recognize that his faith is faulty. He may believe he is a Christian because of his baptism, or his church membership, or his victory over some past sin. If he doesn’t realize that nothing but faith in Christ delivers from God’s wrath, then he is a lost man. If he doesn’t know that faith in Christ is more than signing on some religious dotted line, then he is not saved. Christ is the Saviour, and He never uses human means or religious tools to complete redemption. For example, faith in one’s immersion in the name of the Triune God is a false faith. A person cannot eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ and be delivered from the judgment which we deserve. Sorrow over past sin – in the name of “repentance” – and victory over recent temptations are not salvation either. The Lord may use tools to bring sinners to the cross, but there is no salvation in any tool. How accurate is it to say that false faith is just another form of unbelief? A improper faith – a false faith – is not recognized by the Lord as faith at all. That person remains an unbeliever if his belief doesn’t rest in God’s provision. Therefore, the man who trusts his baptism to save him is in reality an “unbeliever.” That might not...

The Seven Days of Noah – Genesis 6:5-13; 7:1-10

  Was there or was there not a world-wide flood about 6,000 years ago? This is one of those watershed questions which have divided people for two centuries now. Religions divide over the answers to this question, and so do eminent scientists. Sociologists categorize societies based on this question. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some psychologists define people’s mental state by their answers to this question. But even if psychiatry determines that I am insane, it will not change my answer – Of course there was a world-wide flood in the not too distant past, because the Bible declares it. If the Bible says it, that settles it whether or not the world believes it. The early chapters of Genesis are easily understood, if someone has a heart to believe them. And yet there are some really difficult questions, and there are verses difficult to explain. I wish that I could tell you that I am going to answer all your questions about the scriptures we have just read, but I am not that foolish. But hopefully, I will be able to suggest a few things which the Holy Spirit might use to speak to those of you who have been regenerated. The heart of the unbeliever is not going to assent to anything I have to say this morning. Except in the case where that same Holy Spirit is already working to awaken that unbelieving heart. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The more things change,...

What Seek Ye? – John 1:35-39

  These words are only the third recorded utterance of the Lord Jesus. The first came from a 12-year-old boy: “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Oh, how I wish that all 12-year-olds would say – and mean – such words. If I had said those words when I was 12-years-old where might I have been at 20 or 25? Then again, I wish 30-year-olds, and 40-year-olds, 50s and 70-year-olds were this diligent and spiritual. The second thing which the Lord said was in regard to His baptism. “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulril all righteousness.” This was Jesus’ third recorded sentence. I am certain that there were many, many other things which Jesus said, and many of them would be very interesting. But there hasn’t been very much recorded for us to examine today. But this was. And if it was important enough to be recorded in the pages of the Word of God, then it is important enough to study. Why did the Lord ask? What was the recorded answer? Is He also asking me? How do I answer? Think about the people to whom the Lord was speaking. One was Andrew as we see in verse 40. Andrew was one most diligent disciples of John the Baptist. But after he started following Christ, he couldn’t compare with some of the others. He was just one of the disciples – one of the disciples like us perhaps. He was not there on the Mount of Transfiguration with John, James and Peter. In the Garden of...

Wherefore We Labour – II Corinthians 5:9-16

  When Missionary Johnson was here a couple weeks ago, he spoke about his intended work in Thailand before preaching during the morning service. Years ago, I was in his shoes, preaching in different churches every Sunday, and often driving between cities the rest of the time. And just to be honest, there was little time for Bible study and sermon preparation. But I can’t imagine living in an RV with 5 kids for months and months on end. For me, under far less strenuous circumstances, I ended up preaching the same message many times. The other day, I was looking through my catalogue of sermons and found a message designated MIS-001. This was the outline that I preached several dozen times back in the early 70’s. I have decided to share it with you because it is as appropriate today as was appropriate back then. But hopefully, I won’t be as stilted and robotic as I was a few times during that period of deputation. Why we do what we do as a church? What should we do in the future and what would we like to accomplish? What is our motivation for our service of the Lord? There are probably several answers to those questions. Let’s consider some of Paul’s answers. What the Apostle is outlining here are some of the things which motivated him as a missionary. Often we don’t care about, or trust, what people say about motives. Usually we’d rather to deal with the effects of people’s actions and not their cause. Take salvation as an example: Some people come to Christ out of...

Mission’s Four Principles – Acts 13:1-5; 14:23-28

  Our church has supported the work of missions from its inception. Even when we had very little money, we helped to keep a few missionaries on their respective fields. For decades now, we have taken a tenth of our general offerings and put that money into missions. In a sense our church, as a body, has given its collective tithes and offerings to missions. And then the Lord enabled us to sponsor 1, 2 and then 3 missionaries – members of this assembly. We have been blessed sufficiently to send large offerings to missionaries whom we don’t support monthly. All of this looks good on paper and makes us feel good about ourselves. But the truth is – for some it may be nothing more than ointment on guilty consciences. It is easy to substitute our support of missions for our own lack of evangelism at home. And the church’s tithe to missions even takes our personal support of that ministry out of our hands and out of our minds. Last week’s rare visit of a visiting missionary, should have re-ignited our interest in this kind of ministry. And with the addition of our Colorado members, we have been put into the work of missions even more directly. On the foundation of the instruction we received last week, I’d like to build a little four-sided tabernacle. This message today has a double thrust. First, it contains general instruction to on nature and principles of missions. But I would like you to open your eyes to a potential future missionary endeavor. Ours is one of the very few sovereign...

Eschatological Absolutes – Jacob’s Trouble – Matthew 24:15-31; Jeremiah 30:1-11

  From time to time, you will hear me use the term “Jacob’s Trouble.” I believe that this is one of the Eschatological Absolutes – one of the assured events of the future. When I use that term, I am using it as a synonym for the seven year “Tribulation” spoken of by Daniel, and which is expounded here, and in Revelation as well as in other scriptures. The term is used only once in the Bible, and that is in Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” Despite...

The Conclusion of the Whole Matter – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

  The old saint of God lays comfortably dying – in his own bed at home. Around him are gathered his three children and seven grand-children. Everyone knows that he will not be long in this life. The sliver cord will soon be loosed and the golden bowl shows signs of cracking open. “He goeth to his long home, and (soon) the mourners (will) go about the streets.” He has just enough air in his old lungs for one more plea. He says, “Children, if there is one special thing that I can leave with you it is this: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Repent before God and take up thy cross to follow Him in obedience and faith. Set your affection on things above not on things on the earth. For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” In a sense, Solomon, too, has come to the end of his life – or at least to the end of this book. He may not have the opportunity to ever counsel his children again. He says, “This is the conclusion of the whole matter…. this is the whole duty of man.” Don’t these words come to us as a kind of surprise, considering all that has preceded it? Not many of the books of the Bible reach conclusions like this. So I suppose Ecclesiastes is comparable to the Book of Revelation or to Job in this sort of way. But Revelation is different; it makes sense, beginning with a revelation...

Books, Goads and Nails – Ecclesiastes 12:8-12

  This is the penultimate message in our study of Ecclesiastes; we have but one more. We are told, “of making many books there is no end,” and that is equally true of the making of sermons. But with “much study is a weariness of the flesh.” This makes variety important – variety not only in subjects and scriptures, but in teachers as well. What a blessing it is to all of us to have Bro. Fulton minister to us from time to time. Although it might have seemed endless, we have only scratched the surface in this series. For example, we could make at least two more messages out of the text we just read. But tonight we will just focus on the wise words of goads and nails. And are no wiser words than verses 13 and 14 – “Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment.” Let’s begin with this question: why is there such sin in this world? It is because there is no fear of God before men’s eyes. Mankind has been trying its very best to forget that God shall bring every work into judgment. But if there were only two verses in all of God’s Word … If God only revealed two things to the souls of men – and these were they… if these were fully understood and respected… we would have another garden of Eden on this planet. But because these are neglected, we have a world of vanity and vexation – Solomon’s recurring theme. For...

Sound Doctrine 101 – Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:7

  Just about a year ago I preached from the first half of chapter 12. The title of the message was “Our Long Home” – referring to the grave – death. And then this morning I referred to this scripture again. So avoid too much reiteration, I’m going to simply add those verses to our text from chapter 11. I won’t be preaching from them next week. I am calling this message “Sound Doctrine 101” – which brings it pretty close to our theme this morning. In the college catalogue, the first course in most series is numbered “101.” “English 101” is the freshman English Course; and “Biology 101” is pretty elementary. In fact, the “101” series may even be remedial these days, because so many enter college without a good foundational education in much of anything. Did I tell you about the email I received about a sign supposedly over a Wal-mart express line? At most stores there are check-out lines called “Express lanes” where the number of goods purchased is supposed to be limited. At this particular store, the sign was illustrated with three hands and the fingers extended. Below the illustration were the words, “Fifteen is this many.” That would be “Wal-mart Shopping 101” for the mostly illiterate people of these United States. Here in this text, Solomon thinks about some pretty simple, but foundational segments of Biblical theology. These things are a part of “the milk of the word” to which Paul refers later on. These are easily seen and learned by young people and thinking children. These are essential truths which adults need to...

How Sweet is the Light – Ecclesiastes 11:7-8

  On one of the family vacations to the Black Hills when I was 8 years old, we paid our money to join a group of tourists entering a deep-shaft gold mine. We used flashlights to look at gold-laden ore, examining star-like twinkles in the hard rock walls. At some point our guide led us to a box where we could pick up one small rock embedded with those twinkles to take home. Apparently the gold in those rocks was not as valuable as the money we paid to enter the mine. As we proceeded deeper down into the shaft, we felt the temperature getting warmer. The path was lined with electric lights, so we were safe, but we all held small flashlights as well. At the nadir, the lowest point in our tour, we all stopped, and the guide asked us to turn off our flashlights. He told us to grab the hand of our neighbor, and then he asked permission to turn off the electric lights. We were warned that for most of us, we were going to experience something brand new. Did we want to go through with it? Of course, we all did. When he turned out the lights, it was indeed an experience I had yet to imagine. For a few moments, which seemed like many minutes, we were in the complete, total absence of light. It was not only a darkness that my eyes had never experienced, but I seemed to be able to actually feel the darkness. It was good that I held the hand of my sister and one of my...

Incentive to Service – Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

  We’ve been looking at this book for several months now. I hope we’ve not been into it for so long you’ve forgotten how gloomy Solomon was at the beginning. At first everything he touched seemed to crumble to dust. “Laughter is vanity, work is vanity, rest is vanity – even faith is vanity.” Do you know how often he has said, “All is vanity?” Thus far it has been four times, and he is not finished. ” I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” But now listen to the man of God, the preacher, the prophet of the Lord. Now he is telling us to stick our necks out for God. He says that Jehovah is sovereign and every act of service shall be rewarded. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” These aren’t the words of some young preacher who is just repeating what he has heard. Solomon has learned from first-hand experience about some of the disappointments of life. Yet, the moment he looked “unto the hills from whence cometh his help” his attitude changed. Think about what is suggested behind these confusing words. What is this bread that ought to be scattered? For a long time this verse made no sense to me whatsoever. Do you know what happens to thin sliced, white enriched bread when it is wet? Some of you don’t because its been years since you’ve seen white enriched store-bought bread. But have you ever fed the ducks at the park?...

The Words of the Fool – Ecclesiastes 10:10-20

  The last half of this chapter isn’t organized and put into a nice clean outline; there isn’t a plan or objective. Here, the penman of the Proverbs gives to us a few more examples of his divinely-given wisdom. And in this case several times in these verses he speaks about speaking. Several times he refers to the words of the fool. Solomon has described and condemned the fool often enough in these two books that no one should want to be called “a fool.” And since wisdom is so closely tied to the Lord, it should be obvious that to be “a fool” is to be alien to the things of God. But still, even the wisest of men, Solomon included, sometimes say and do foolish of things. Both you and I have been guilty of foolish speaking and foolish actions. And this means that consideration of these scriptural warnings is always appropriate, even when they are elemental and obvious. Before considering the words of the wise we see the Words of the FOOL. Verse 11 says – “Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.” After my family moved to Omaha, Nebraska from Calgary, Alberta, my dad found that the nearest mountains were in western South Dakota. My parents desperately needed to see trees and something approaching mountains. So for several summers, we spent two weeks camping in the Black Hills beyond Rapid City. There were lots of things for young kids to enjoy from fishing to touring gold mines and visiting Deadwood. And I clearly remember visiting a place called the...