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...

Hedges and Hurt – Ecclesiastes 10:1-9

  For some time now, we have been looking at two books – both of which come from the pen of Solomon. It wasn’t intentional on my part, and we were into Ecclesiastes for a few weeks before I realized it. We must remember the penman is not important, because the true author is God, the Holy Spirit. But it is also true that the Spirit used the personalities of each of His amanuenses – His secretaries. The upbringing of Paul, or Daniel, or Moses are a part of the ingredients in our study of their writings. Problems arise when we focus on the penmen, forgetting what the inspiration of the scriptures entailed. “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” So the writer of this book was Solomon. His wisdom and general intellect are as proverbial as his Proverbs. From other scriptures we see that he had a scientific mind. Sometimes he used that mind in the search for meaning of life. He had the money, time and other connections to explore philosophy. He also was proven to be an intelligent scientist of the more physical sort. We are told that Solomon created a royal zoo, bringing animals from various corners of the world. This importation of plants and animals was as much for scientific reasons as it was for their beauty and Solomon’s pleasure. With these things in mind, once again, I note that Solomon knew whereof he spoke. He had at times sown to his flesh and from...

Folly Unfolded – Ecclesiastes 10:1-3

  In creative writing classes, teachers tell their students to write about things which they know personally. There comes the time that we must research things and report on them. But for the sake of a good story, personal experience is the best source of information. It makes for a more entertainment, but beyond story-telling, personal experience is more insightful and therefore more practical. And in that light have you noticed how often Solomon refers to “wisdom” and “folly”? Those are themes bouncing all over the book of Proverbs, like ping-pong ball. And if I counted correctly we find “wisdom versus folly” about two dozen times in this book as well. Solomon knows the subject well; he knows BOTH subjects very well. God gave him a special gift of wisdom in all its important forms – secular and spiritual. And yet his native depravity took him into foolishness and sin to a degree to which only a wealthy king could fall. Yes, he knew both wisdom and folly, and he could therefore address both of them well. I read of a famous man, who was the guest speaker at a luncheon. His wife was with him – along with several important dignitaries – all at the head table. One of the men sitting next to the podium, happened to notice that on this socks was the monogram “TGIF.” His first thought was the phrase about the joy of coming to Friday and the end of the work week. But why was it on his socks? The man’s speech was brilliant and witty, with everyone having a very good time,...

Dead Lions and Living Dogs – Ecclesiastes 9:1-12

  Have you ever gone to the grocery store and gotten behind a family of six pushing two full grocery carts? There you are with your small basket hoping you’ve added things correctly so you’ve got enough cash. Finally the big family in front of you reaches the check out and the total is $350.00. Everyone in that family looks healthy, despite their boxes of candy and cigarettes – and the beer cartons. Then with Dad smiling, the wife reaches into her purse and pays for all their stuff with food stamps. You and your family are trying to eke out an existence, living on what income you can bring home. And here is a perfectly healthy family living high on the hog at tax-payers expense. It just doesn’t seem right. And here are two men running for public office – or maybe they are women. One doesn’t have the budget of the other, but he has high ideals and well-known morals. He has ideas that sound great, and it appears he will benefit his constituency. While the other candidate, the incumbent, appears to be corrupt but with plenty of money and power. Which one is more likely to be elected to a fourteenth term in office? And here are four people, all 50 years old and coming from different backgrounds and life-styles. Only one them lives be 100, and it just happens be one who chews Copenhagen and drinks Jack Daniels. Something isn’t right. Philosophers have been struggling with notions like this for centuries. And these situations have thrown great and wise men down for the count. Don’t...

Dead Dogs and Living Lions – Ecclesiastes 9

  Have you ever gone to the grocery store and gotten behind a family of six pushing two full grocery carts? There you are with your small basket hoping you’ve added things correctly so you’ve got enough cash. Finally the big family in front of you reaches the check out and the total is $350.00. Everyone in that family looks healthy, despite their boxes of candy and cigarettes – and the beer cartons. Then with Dad smiling, the wife reaches into her purse and pays for all their stuff with food stamps. You and your family are trying to eke out an existence, living on what income you can bring home. And here is a perfectly healthy family living high on the hog at tax-payers expense. It just doesn’t seem right.   And here are two men running for public office – or maybe they are women. One doesn’t have the budget of the other, but he has high ideals and well-known morals. He has ideas that sound great, and it appears he will benefit his constituency. While the other candidate, the incumbent, appears to be corrupt but with plenty of money and power. Which one is more likely to be elected to a fourteenth term in office? And here are four people, all 50 years old and coming from different backgrounds and life-styles. Only one them lives be 100, and it just happens be one who chews Copenhagen and drinks Jack Daniels. Something isn’t right. Philosophers have been struggling with notions like this for centuries. And these situations have thrown great and wise men down for the count....

The Battle in Corinth – II Corinthians 10:1-7

  When was last time you asked yourself: “What is my purpose in coming to church this morning? What do I hope to experience or gain? What will my presence add to the service? Will I be a blessing to someone? Will I be blessed?” A related question might be: “What is the objective that our church has for meeting together this morning?” There may be as many answers as there are religious high places calling themselves “houses of God.” There aren’t nearly as many excuses that people offer have tor NOT going to church. But there are still dozens for actually attending. In churches like ours perhaps one of the foremost true explanations might be habit. “I’ve spent my Sunday mornings listening to the Bible for so many years, I can’t picture myself anywhere else.” In another church, some people attend hoping to make business contacts or looking for a mate. Some churches appear to be filled with people attempting to show off in one fashion or another. Some people attend with a desire to find things to criticize and to find targets to shoot. Pride is one reason to go to church and so is a need to unload burdens and find comfort. The list could go on and on, and some of them aren’t really that bad. And specific reasons vary each week – one thing stands out one week, but not the next. Oldfield is preaching “live and in person” this Sunday; let’s see if he’s really as heavy as he looks on TV. Let’s considered II Corinthians 10 as a reason to attend this...

The Christian’s Responsibility to the King – Ecclesiastes 8:1-7

  Our text this afternoon lends itself to a short lesson on the Christian’s responsibility toward government. You may think that you know this subject better than the preacher, and you may be right. You may say that you know this subject, and this kind of sermon is superfluous. But I guarantee that you don’t know this subject better than the Lord does. I saw a wise statement the other day which may or may not apply to this message. Our preaching is necessary because of the inherent gap between what men know or believe and what they practice. Now, I wouldn’t give you a wooden nickle for Donald Trump’s opinion on the subject. He may or may not know a lot about government, laws and his own opinions about Christianity and government. But as far as I’m concerned he knows next to nothing about the Bible. And the Bible is our guide for faith and practice. To ask the average politician about spiritual things is like asking wolves about sheep. They only know that those sheep are fun to chase, and they taste good. But this afternoon we hear a man who was both an unusual politician and a child of God. I’m not talking about myself, but about Solomon. And standing behind him is the author of both government and Christianity – the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we have other experts in the Apostle to the Gentiles and the Apostle Peter. So between these four I think that we can get a general idea about our civic responsibilities. But people often think that what the Bible says...

The Death of Buddy Holly – Ezekiel 18:24-32

  Many of you won’t recognize the name in the title to this message. You are too young to know “Buddy Holly” and your music tastes have never run down the same path. That is all right, because for the sake of an introduction to this message, I’m going to enlighten you. Although it is debated, according to some people, Buddy Holly is the father of rock-and-roll music. But it is not in his music that I’m particularly interested this morning – rather it is in his death.   Charles Hardin Holley, eventually known as “Buddy” was born in 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. That was 9 months after my former pastor, Charles Ken Johnson, was born – also in Lubbock, Texas. In 1936 the population of Lubbock was about 25,000 – roughly the size of our own city at the moment. For 12 years Ken Johnson went to school with Buddy Holley – they knew each other quite well. Also, the Johnson family and the Holleys both attended the Tabernacle Baptist Church. Brother Johnson often told me that Buddy Holley made a profession of faith in Christ as a child. Wikipedia declares that he was a member of the Tabernacle Baptist church. And I have been told that Buddy Holley even professed a call into the gospel ministry. While in high school, Buddy and some friends formed a small musical band. Buddy played the lead guitar and sang – the others played back-up guitar, drums and bass. After Elvis Presley visited Lubbock in 1955, Buddy and his friends grew more interested in their music. Two years later they recorded...