But Satan Hindered Us – I Thessalonians 2:13-20

As your pastor and the primary preacher/teacher here for 29 years – one of my fears is“tediousness.” For example, I often preach the gospel, but there are only so many ways in which it can be done, and I work hard not to say the same things in the same way all the time. I fear becoming “tedious.” “Tedious” is a Biblical word, but it is used only once. It came from the lips of the lawyer Tertullus as he began to accuse Paul before the Roman governor, Felix. He said, “Notwithstanding, that I be not further TEDIOUS unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a FEW words.” To be “tedious” is to be “wearisome; tiresome from continuance; a slowness in coming to a conclusion.” And for an example, Webster very appropriately says, “a minister (may be) tedious in his sermon. We say also, a discourse is tedious when it wearies by its length or dullness.” In preaching the gospel, a well-intended message may become “tedious” when it is too technical, or too long or so boring that its good intent is ruined. What has that got to do with our text? Is this message already becoming “tedious?” Hang in there for a few minutes before you make up your mind. Paul had a special affection for the brethren in Thessalonica. We don’t know the key to that affinity, but it may have been due to their instant love and service for Christ. “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of...

Expectations – Romans 8:16-23

I’d like to talk to you tonight about “Expectations.” I almost preached this message last Sunday evening, but the Lord led me instead to “Patient Urgency.” And then this week this almost devolved into merely the introduction to a different message. If I go ahead with that third message, I suppose that this will still be its introduction. I came close to preaching about “expectations” the first Sunday of the year – because I thought it would make a good subject under those circumstances. And yet….. I wonder how many people are like me? To how many people is the New Year not particularly important? To me, it’s basically only another day. Of my 70 years, I have stayed awake to welcome the new year maybe twenty times. And most of those New Years Eves were spent at church in fellowship with you – and sometimes in prayer. In the transition from one year to the next, or one decade or one century to the next, I haven’t really spent much time thinking about that coming year, decade or century. Am I unique? Is it unusual not to be thinking about all the possibilities of the upcoming year? The opportunities? I am not a worrier; that may be one reason I don’t look ahead. But perhaps I have other issues or problems that some psychiatrist would relish to study. But tonight, for some reason, the Lord has lead me toward something new – thoughts about the future. Tonight, let’s do spend some time thinking about what might be next. Let’s try to consider what might take place in the...

Patient Urgency – Acts 1:1-11

Have you ever known a married couple who were opposites or were very different from each other? She was 6’2,” and he was barely 5′ tall. He was extremely handsome while she was as plain as a wooden post. She loved her Bible, while he preferred his hand guns. Perhaps you’ve known people who had other very different personalities. He was outgoing and friendly, but she was painfully shy. Or she was an optimist, while he was a constant pessimist. Have you known couples like these who, despite the differences between them, made their marriages work well? They had learned to make their diversities complimentary not adversarial. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean; And so betwixt them both, They lick’d the platter clean.” This evening I’d like to bring together two very different words – two different approaches to life. They aren’t exactly contradictory, and what I hope to show is that we shouldn’t develop one to the neglect of the other. But usually, if we consider either one, it would not be in the light of the other. I’d like to tie together “urgency” and “patience.” Hopefully you’ll be able to think of ways they might be complimentary – supplying strength to one another. But before we get to that point, we need to consider them separately. We have started with a missions text which could be developed into a satisfactory New Year’s message. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” “But ye shall receive power, after that...

Silence in Heaven – Revelation 8:1-5

I believe in God’s sovereignty and His predestination of events – both human and divine. Amen? Do you believe that God has predestinated ALL things? Not so many “amens” for that statement? Most Christians are agreed that the Lord has predetermined the really big things. For example, Jehovah decreed and determined to create the universe. With the measurements of men, how long before creation did the Lord determine to create? The question is foolish, but the fact remains, the Lord intended to create before He actually did so. And the Lord decreed before the creation of the world that Adam would sin, and He also chose to save some of Adam’s descendants. The method of that salvation was decreed as well. The incarnation of God’s Son was not an afterthought, taken up when Israel failed to glorify the Lord. In other words, it was foreordained that Christ be crucified; His death was not a horrible mix-up of plans. Christ “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” Additionally, “he hath chosen us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” God’s foreknowledge and predestination involves your salvation if you are indeed a child of God. But are you willing to say that God’s predestination extends down to the death of a sparrow or the descent of a particular hail stone or even a snow flake? If we are willing to make that statement or even to think that thought, dare we go any farther in applying it?...

What Do Ye More than Others – Matthew 5:43-48

  One of the problems, if not one of the actual tragedies of modern Christianity, is that sanctification and justification are taught as one and the same thing. “Justification” is one of the words that we use to talk about our salvation. Justification is the act of God whereby sinners are declared to be righteous. It involves the imputation of our sins to the Saviour and then His righteousness imputed to us. Christ Jesus “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” “By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” And “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Sanctification” is also one of the aspects of salvation; by it saved sinners are set apart unto the Lord. But one of the differences between these two things is that sanctification comes as a result of justification. God is just in setting us apart unto Himself, only because He has already declared us to be righteous. Another difference between sanctification and justification is a matter of verb tense. Justification is basically something which is done once by God and it can never be done again. Sanctification, on the other hand, is something complete and fully accomplished in the decree of God, but it has on-going, practical significance – our sanctification will never be complete as long as we remain in this flesh. Furthermore this aspect of sanctification is something in which we as saints participate. Sanctification in one sense is a completed act of God, whereby...

Men Who Didn’t Run – II Samuel 23:8-17

  We ought to be appalled when we consider the heroes of the early 21st Century. With only a few exceptions in a few exceptional people – American heros are unworthy of recognition, let alone respect or adoration. And history proves: as people’s heroes go so goes their nation. When a people’s sights and goals are high those people tend to rise. But when they are pleased with mediocrity or wickedness, then that nation falls. Some people are admired, if not actually worshiped, because of their outward beauty. As I have often said, beauty is overrated. And even standards of beauty aren’t what they used to be. They change like the seasons. Some models and actors are among our most admired people, when some of them don’t have brains enough to tie their shoes, comb their hair or trim their beards. Perhaps I’m biased, but I think that there is a difference between having a beard and simply being too lazy to shave. Some people idolize other people because of their great physical strength. Sports stars, Olympic champions, TV wrestlers and fighters. The more pain they inflict on others, the more they rise in the estimation of their mindless minions. It doesn’t matter if they cheat at their sport and draw their strength from chemistry. And it doesn’t matter what they do outside of the spot-light, so long as they perform while they are in it. But many of these people have the morals of guppies. They are paid astronomical salaries and people follow them like puppies chasing a meat wagon. And then there are some who perform other...

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...