Good Raw Material – I Samuel 16:14-19

There is an old, old proverb which says, “What is well begun is half done.”  There is a lot of truth in that thought.  A most important part of the large construction project is making sure that there is a good foundation.  And similarly, even without adding the miraculous grace of God, a good child is more likely to become a decent adult than a troublesome, rebellious child.  Or we might alter that just a little and say that great servants of God come from people who are already good Christians.  David was a great servant of God, despite his obvious flaws. There are things about the chronology of David’s life that don’t make a lot of sense to me.  For example, here we read of David’s apparent introduction to Saul.  But he apparently returns to the obscurity of his father’s house, after being conscripted into the service of the king for a while.  Then in the next chapter we are told about Goliath.  Jesse sends his youngest son – one too young to be in the army – to carry food to his brothers.  When he hears the challenge of the giant, and he says he wants to do his part for the glory of the Lord,  he is introduced to Saul, who doesn’t recognize him.  After the slaughter of the Philistines, Saul asks: “Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”  Why didn’t he reply: “I beg your pardon your majesty, but I’m David who used to play his harp for you”?  His answer almost...

Faithful to God – I Corinthians 15:51-58

This morning we looked at the somewhat unusual idea of the faithfulness of God.   It is unusual only in that we have almost always skipped over those Biblical statements which declare it.  It is strange to our ears, only because it is so much a part of the nature of God that it seems silly to think of God as any less than absolutely faithful in every respect.  This evening let’s think about a corollary to the faithfulness of God – our faithfulness to Him. Bro. E.L. Bynum was preaching for us in Deming, N.M., years ago, just after a trip to England and Wales.  He spoke about visiting Old Grey Friars church in Edinburgh and seeing the grave of “Bobby.”  In 1864 an elder widower died, and the chief mourner that followed the hearse was a dog named “Bobby.”  After the funeral the few mourners went home, all except for Bobby – He refused to leave.  In fact he stayed at that grave site day and night for months, then years; in fact, for over 14 years.  Some of the locals knew the deceased and his dog; so instead of bringing flowers they brought dog food.  When the dog died in 1878, a noble lady saw to it that he was buried next to his master with a marker which read: “Bobby, the faithful dog.”  Some dogs make excellent illustrations of the word “faithfulness.”  Some are faithful even though starved, beaten, or completely neglected.  I’ve known some Christians who were real “dogs.” That God expects us to be faithful to Him is obvious from the scripture.   “Well done...

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 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...

Submission: the Mission – II Samuel 12:15-23

  Paul Azinger had for several years been a successful golfer in the Professional Golfers Association. Then after he won the 1993 PGA Championship he was diagnosed with cancer – Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. (Perhaps the ground’s keepers had been spraying too much Round-up in and around the golf-course.) Since then, for 16 years he has been trying to balance himself between treatments and the work he plays. He says that people often ask him if golf is as important now as it was before he discovered his cancer. He says. “Golf is still important, but whereas it was once his god, Jehovah is now his God.” Golf is now fourth on his list of priorities which begins with the Lord then goes to family and then friends. Zinger says that since he began his treatments he has played some pretty good golf. For example, he was named as the captain of the 2008 Rider’s Cup Team. During that tournament, when he missed a 4 foot putt, his reaction was different from before. He didn’t pull his hair out as if that miss was the end of the world. Neither did he say, “Woe is me; I missed that putt, but at least I’m still alive despite my cancer.” By the way, when his team won the 1993 Rider’s Cup, and they were invited to a reception at the White House, Azinger declined, saying that the didn’t want the accolades of such an immoral president. Today, he still plays every game with a desire to win, but he acknowledges the sovereignty of God and in so doing he considers himself to...

As a Roaring Lion – I Peter 5:6-11

  Have you seen or experienced any Satanic attacks lately? I believe you probably have whether or not you recognized them. That isn’t to say you actually saw Satan or even a demon, but you have been affected by them. And Satan himself is probably so busy that he really doesn’t directly come to tempt or trouble any of us. But he has his minions – his demons. In fact there may be one or two assigned to each of us, or at least to groups of us, like our church. And it isn’t that Satan doesn’t use his other allies – like the world or our own flesh to besiege us. But he is just as diligent today in attacking the Kingdom and people of God as he has ever been. Are you sure that when Brother Silver’s trailer was burglarized and the sound equipment for the Spokane evangelistic meetings was stolen that was not a Satanic attempt to disrupt or discourage those meetings? How can you explain that Sunday morning depression that struck you a few weeks ago, when there wasn’t any real cause for it? Have there been any recent attacks on our church membership or our doctrines? Have we had any visitors who showed interest for a while but then simply disappeared? Can you say for sure it wasn’t Satan who encouraged those people to walk away? If we stopped and asked the Lord to open our eyes, we might see an army of Satanic servants surrounding us and looking for an opportunity to disrupt our service of God. “Put on the whole armour of...

Battle Stations – II Corinthians 10:1-6

  Along with the plain and simple, there are some strange and interesting things in these verses. For example, Paul “beseeches” us – that is certainly not unusual in itself. But we have to look hard to see about what it is he is beseeching us. He doesn’t say, “I beseech you to serve the Lord.” We have to find it by reading between the lines. “I beseech you that you won’t force me to be bold when I return to Corinth.” But it is more than that. Usually, when Paul beseeches us it is about something which is important. And it is usually based upon – founded on – something authoritative and substantial. This time he bases his plea towards us upon the MEEKNESS and GENTLENESS of Christ. When had he ever done this before. This isn’t based upon the authority of Christ; the deity or Christ or the return of Christ. “Based upon the loving and gracious character of our Saviour, I encourage you…” And what is that Paul? What would you like us to do? “I beseech you to fight the good fight of faith.” “To fight the good fight and war a good warfare for Christ.” Based upon the non-military MEEKNESS and GENTLENESS of our Savior, he is urging us to fight. This is strange. Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual conflict. Over and over again, military words are used to describe our daily lives. Paul says, “I see another law in my members WARRING against the law of my mind, and bringing me into CAPTIVITY to the law of sin which...

Reciprocity – Psalm 27:1-5

  In verses 4, 5 and 6 David speaks of “the house of the Lord,” God’s “pavilion” and His “tabernacle.” Are these three things – or places – the same? Most commentators think that they are, and I agree. Well then, does David refer to the same place in his famous 23rd Psalm – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”? I don’t see why we should make one “house of the Lord’ different from the other at least in these Psalms. But what did David mean when he said, I want to “dwell in the HOUSE of the LORD all the days of my life”? The first answer to come to mind, might be to the Tabernacle of Witness or perhaps to the Temple. But the Temple had not yet been built – that came during the reign of David’s son, Solomon. And it might be argued that the Tabernacle was no longer in use since the Ark of the Covenant was in storage. Besides, could David, or anyone else for that matter, literally spend his entire life in the Tabernacle? Was he speaking loosely – actually meaning, “I’ll be at the Tabernacle every week or every other day”? If that is his meaning, then David wasn’t being accurate or honest. He specifically said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord FOR EVER.” No one but the most dedicated priest was there that often, season after season, year after year. I don’t think David wasn’t speaking about the...

Lame Man Leaping – Acts 3:1-10

  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could go to our medical professional, and he could deliver us from the penalty of our sins the way he might set a broken leg? If we could take a newly developed pill which could cure us of the effects of the curse of sin, we might be willing to buy it even if it wasn’t covered by insurance. If radiation or chemotherapy, physical therapy or shock treatments could enable us to walk all the way into Heaven there might be a few more people willing to make that trip. But, of course, this will never happen. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. This is why Christ said, Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Nevertheless, there are a few scriptural cases where physical and spiritual healing went “handin-hand.” Or perhaps a better cliche might be – “They went together like a hand and glove.” There was once a crippled man, who was laid daily at one of the gates of the Jerusalem temple. By the direction and providence of God, Peter and John entered that gate one afternoon and spoke to him. “Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” Judging from the context, that man was not only physically healed but...

Apostolic Evangelism – Acts 3:1-16

  We can’t be sure where exactly the healing of this lame man took place. Jerusalem, yes; the temple, yes. But I have seen dozens of depictions of the temple in Jerusalem, and they are all a little different. Nowhere else in the Bible are we told about the “Beautiful Gate,” so it may have been a nickname used only in that day. But there is a reference in verse 11 to “Solomon’s Porch,” and in verse 8, after the healing, the three men went “into” the temple. So I am thinking that this took place at one of the exterior gates – outside the Court of the Women and outside of Solomon’s porch. One day, at just before 3:00 in the afternoon Peter and John walked toward the “Beautiful Gate.” On that day, one of the greatest of all human events took place. Two Christians behaved like Christians should and one sick, dead, lost man became a child of God. Let’s consider the event itself. This man, because of his malady, had no access to the temple. Because he couldn’t walk and because he couldn’t walk, he was not permitted inside the temple grounds. So metaphorically – symbolically – he had no access to God. He was unable to worship the Lord according to the outline of the Old Testament law. He was spiritually crippled – lost – in reality, he was dead in his trespasses and sin in the sight of God. In fact, he had never been able to walk, even though his legs were correctly formed, despite their weak and thin condition. Apparently there was...

The Temple, the Temple, the Temple of the Lord – Jeremiah 7:1-7

  Wednesday, when we were going over our prayer requests, I mentioned our need of revival. I immediately heard a few “amens” and some other heads were nodded – we need “revival.” “Revival” is a good, old-fashioned religious word, but I’m not sure if it is still in vogue – still fashionable. Are you aware that it is foreign to the Word of God – “Revival” is not to be found in the Bible. We find a few revival’s but not the actual word. And even though the word “revive” is Biblical, it is not at all common. The best known verse with the word comes from the obscure book of Habakkuk 3:2 – “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, REVIVE thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” From the other six verses using this word, we have the Psalmist’s – “Wilt thou not REVIVE us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” THIS is what I meant when I said, “We need revival,” and I hope it was to this you said, “Amen.” But our text this evening, obviously, isn’t coming from Habakkuk or the Psalms. Jeremiah served God during the days of a revival in Israel – but he also served in the years that followed. The blessings of that revival were not as blessed as he hoped – or as we might think. What good was produced was short-lived and then it was twisted into something quite negative. In order to see the full picture, we...

The Mission in Crete – Titus 1:4-5

  I’d like to talk to you about the Lord’s work in Loveland, Colorado. Almost from the beginning, I have thought of that work as a mission of our church. But it is not something which our church has determined to do; it has just been my perception so far. I think that for clarification purposes, we need to vote authorizing our mission work in Colorado. There are already, in Loveland, some of the common characteristics of any mission work. There is the preaching and teaching of the gospel in meetings open to the public. But just as important, the people are personally sharing Christ with their neighbors and co-workers. They have a sincere desire to have a mission and to see it grow into an independent Baptist church, even if some them eventually move to Post Falls. And the Holy Spirit is blessing with souls saved and the Christians there are growing strong in the Lord. These are things we like to hear in reports from any mission – Romania, Siberia, Brazil – wherever. But there are things about Loveland which are not typical in modern missions. For example, it didn’t begin the way that most missions are started these days. When it seemed that the former ministry in Loveland was closing down, the Lord declared it to be otherwise. Even though God didn’t send a missionary to Loveland or Fort Collins, the Holy Spirit has established a missionary-type ministry. I don’t think any observant Christian can suggest that God is finished with the front range of Northern Colorado. And yet, many of the people there have been...

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...

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...

A Worthy Life – Ephesians 4:1-3

  A lot of people would give God permission to make them His children, if it guaranteed an eternal inheritance. Yet many of those same people would refuse God the right to direct that person’s life. But the right of creation creates a number of other rights for the Creator. The Bible teaches that the potter has power over the clay. The right of blessing walks hand in hand with the right of direction. and only ostrich-like professing Christians miss fact that God outlines how He wants us spend our lives. I know from experience that many sermons on Christian living end up with a list of negatives. Sometimes that is necessary – Children need to hear specifics, and I’m afraid we are all children. Sometimes, a simple, “Be good while I’m gone,” just isn’t sufficient. Sometimes it needs to be said, “Don’t spray-paint the dog; don’t glue the pages of sister’s book together, and don’t try to build a camp-fire in the living room.” But, of course, I am being silly – these are a bit extreme, aren’t they? No child is that dumb, is he? Actually, even the children of God are that dumb. What sort of sins have you committed since you were saved? Some of those sins have been more than just dumb. Despite our weaknesses, It shouldn’t be necessary for the Christian to hear only negatives. The power, effects, blessings and testimony of the Christian life are positive. And if our neighbor sees only the negatives in our Christian lives, he is not going to be interested in our Saviour. We need to have...