One Mother’s Most Memorable Day – Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30

  Modern Mother’s Day was first observed in 1908 at the request of Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia. It was not the affair that it is today. Anna asked her Methodist pastor to hold a service in memory of the deceased mothers of their church. It happened to be the anniversary of the death of her own mother. Seven years later, 1914 by Presidential Proclamation, Woodrow Wilson set the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. By the way, Congress refused to make it a national holiday, with some witty congressman saying, “If we have a Mother’s Day, then eventually we’d have to have a Mother-in-law Day.” Mrs. Jarvis detested the eventual commercialization of the day – all the cards and gifts. She wanted it to be a day of thanksgiving to God for mothers, not thanksgiving to mothers for God or anything else. Anyway, you won’t find a reference to Mother’s Day in your King James Bible. Never-the-less, I often like to take the opportunity afforded by this day to consider the women of the Bible. And today, let us learn from an incident in the life of this unnamed Canaanite mother. This woman received a very precious gift – unforgettable gift. It is unlikely that you ladies remember what gifts received ten years ago or even two years ago. Unless, of course, you got the same thing that you get every year. As far as I know, no one got keys to new car or tickets for a world cruise. But the woman of our text received one of the greatest gifts ever given. It didn’t...

The Sociable Saviour – John 2:1-11

  This morning I want to return to a text from which I preached only 2½ years ago. That was a textual message presented with the intention of bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. We looked at Christ’s creative power, His sympathetic heart, and His undeniable glory. That was not the way I worded my outline, but it should have been – it’s an improvement. In asking the Lord for a message to share with you today, my mind came back to this scripture but from a different angle. In 2017 my desire was to uplift the deity of the Lord Jesus. But today I’d like to emphasize one aspect of His humanity. Of course, it is impossible to look at Jesus and not to see in His DIVINE glory, but this morning, I’d like us to think more about His sociability. And my reason? With Jesus that day were at least five of His disciples – people like you and me. We are social creatures, but as Christians we have spiritual responsibilities toward our social contacts. I’d first like to expound this paragraph verse by verse. And then I’ll try to go through it a second time trying to make more of a application to us as Christians. Paraphrasing verse 11 – This was the first of Jesus’ miracles. Please notice that Christ’s first miracle took place in a social setting, not a religious one. This was not in a church service; there was no preaching; the Lord was not directly in charge. Many, if not most, of Jesus’ miracles took place in non-religious settings. This particular...

Four Failures before Success – II Kings 4:8-37

  I trust that no one has any doubt whether or not I believe God that raised this little boy from death into life. There is no question but that He did. It took place exactly as it is described here, even though we don’t have some of the smaller details. That being true, what took place in the lives of those people nearly 3,000 years ago, doesn’t have much direct affect on any of us. None of us are better people because that un-named little boy was given his life back. As far as we know, he didn’t become a great prophet of God, penning scriptures which reveal any of the mysteries of God, and he didn’t join David as a great poet of the Lord. He didn’t cure cancer; He didn’t invent the airplane or automobile. Yes, in him, we can see the power of God over one of our greatest physical enemies – death. And yes, it should give us faith to trust the Lord to heal our diseases and infirmities. But as there have been millions of deaths in these last three millennia, there is no guarantee that our beloved children or parents will be raised before the Lord’s return as he was. For the sake of our message today, I would like to spiritualize these historical events – to allegorize them. I would like to use them to illustrate another very important and real event – Re-generation, second birth. I would like you to think of this little boy as SPIRITUALLY dead – for that was as much his condition as was his physical...

Two Graves – Matthew 14:3-12; 28:1-8

  On this one day of the year, most of Christendom celebrates the RESURRECTION of Christ. I hope that many of those people also take time to remember the death and burial of the Lord as well. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ go together – they are a matched set. But they aren’t the little knick-knacks many people make them out to be – toys pulled out once a year. As I say, each of the three – The death, burial and resurrection – link together. Without the second member of the set, there wouldn’t have been a third. And without the third part, the first member would have been proven to be null and void. “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and … he was buried, and … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Furthermore, He was “declared to be the Son of God” and our Saviour, BY “His resurrection from the dead” – Romans 1:4. I suppose that most professing Christians can describe to some extent Jesus’ death and burial. They can tell you a bit about the cross and the borrowed tomb of Joseph. They know a little about the death and burial of Christ. But what about the burial of the man of whom we read in our opening scripture – John the Baptist? I am not implying that John’s death and burial are as important as that of the Lord Jesus, but I’m going to try to make a point. Not more than one in ten professing Christians can tell you about the burial of...

The Preaching of the Cross – I Corinthians 1:17-24

  There have been two periods in my life when I was regularly involved in a radio ministry. The most recent was in Deming, NM, where I had a 15 minute live broadcast on the small local station. It was early each Sunday morning, and I brought a brief devotional or gospel message. It was nothing but me, my Bible and a huge microphone. Prior to that, my first exposure to the radio was in Calgary. Once a week Ken Johnson and I would sit in front of a big reel-to-reel tape recorder. We began with some recorded music sung by members of our church, and then one of us would preach. That 30 minute tape was then sent to a Christian radio station out of Three Hills, AB. Following the hymn and before the message, the man who wasn’t to preach that day would say in his most authoritative voice, “For the preaching the cross is to them that perish foolishness.” Why did Bro. Johnson choose to begin our broadcast with I Corinthians 1:18? Because that is at the core of the Christian ministry. Paul, the Apostle, tells us here that Christ sent him “to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” For it “pleased God by the foolishness of (gospel) preaching to save them that believe.” God’s servants “preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” I have several purposes in addressing these verses today. The first is somewhat selfish – to remind me of my responsibility as a...

An Eternal and Heavenly Record – I John 5:7-12

  Of the 350 million people in this country, there are probably 200 million sports fans. But under that large category there are thousands of subdivisions, and then there are degrees within those subdivisions. Some fans are rabid and radical, while others have a fleeting and passing interest. One person prefers baseball, at least today, while others can’t wait for football season. And then there are the fans of the peripheral sports. Did you know there is a World Axe Throwing League? You can sometimes find Corn Hole competitions on ESPN, and there is a world champion dart thrower. Billions of people who might never pay attention to any specific sports, will take time to follow the various competitions of the Olympic Games. The Olympics bring together people from around the world to compete in more than a hundred events. If you have ever spent time watching, you will have heard the words “Olympic” and “World Record.” The fastest runner in the world may hold the “World Record” for the hundred meter sprint. But he may not have competed in the last Olympics and someone else holds the “Olympic record.” The average swimmer, runner, or decathlete wants to have both the “World” and the “Olympic records.” But each one knows, that he will hold that record for only a short time, because someone faster or stronger will come along some day to beat his record. So every athlete knows and expects the World and Olympic records to fall. But there is one record which can never fail or fall. We have reference to it here in this scripture. “And...

The Incalculable Blessing of Mercy – I Peter 2:9-10

  Over the years, one of the joys of Family Camp has been the arrival of an annual meteor shower. Several times, Judy and I walked to the top of the hill above camp, laid down on our backs, turned off our flash lights and watched the streaks of light flashing across the sky. It was exciting, at least to us, because we see them so infrequently. We might liken those shooting stars to the joys which come and go during our earthly lives. There are things which come along, making life sweet and happy for a time – but they don’t last. The joy of a new baby in the family is not the same as the joy of his graduation or marriage. The pleasure of a completed project has to be replaced with that of a new project. They flash across our sky, sometimes looming large, and then they are gone. But the joys which the children of God may have, begin at a specific moment determined by our sovereign God, and then they go on and on as infinitely as the eternal God Himself. The blessings of being one of “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people… called … out of darkness into his marvellous light” are not meteoric. They are more like the consistency of the sun. The pragmatist might point out that even the sun will burn out – or more likely, be doused by God. But what will happen then? That faithful, burning orb will be replaced by something even more perfect – the Lord Himself. Peter, our...

The Blessing of Light – I Peter 2:9-10

  No matter what the world throws at us, to be a Christian, and to live the life of a Christian, far surpasses any earthly opportunity or possibility. Those Christians being slaughtered by Muslims in Africa and Asia may live short, painful and fearful lives, but they are infinitely better off, even in their suffering, than those who are persecuting them. We have wealth unbounded in this country, but when it is stripped away to nothing, if our perspective is right, we should still be rejoicing to die as children of God. ‘Tis a far, far better life we live than we had before our salvation; it is a far, far better place we go to than we have ever known in this world. And Peter rejoices to remind us of some of these things. Adding to his list, Peter tells us that one of the great blessings of being a Christian is dwelling in God’s light. He has already told us that God’s saints are royal priests – implying that we are related to the mysterious king/priest of Salem, Melchisedec. In the priestly robes supplied by the Lord Jesus we can enter behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. Dressed in the righteousness of Christ, we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” In other words, we have no need of any kind of human priests, because, through grace, we have been made priests ourselves. Furthermore, we have been chosen and invited to become a part of God’s regenerated family, His new...

The Blessing of the Peculiar People – I Peter 2:9-10

  In my last 2 messages, I have been trying to consider some of the blessed privileges we have as Christians. Peter first mentions unbelievers – the “disobedient” – and then compares them to God’s people. “But YE are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” One of our great privileges is that we have been made priests after the order of Christ our Melchisedec. Which means that we don’t need other priests of any kind – Catholic, Jewish, or whatever. We may come “boldly to the throne of grace to may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We may open the scriptures to hear the voice of God without the necessary intervention of any other man. We can offer the sweet incense of prayer – and even the thank offerings of our grateful hearts. The only priest above us is our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who has passed into the heavens, making intercession for us.” Another of the blessings to which Peter refers is that we are part of a ROYAL priesthood. Not only are we priests under Christ, but we are kingly priests as is He. Whereas we grew up slaves to the world, the flesh and the devil, we have, in Christ, been given authority over our hearts...

The Blessings of the Priesthood – I Peter 2:1-10

  There are two kinds of people in this world. You could describe them as “the dead” and “the living” – those spiritually quickened and those dead in their trespasses and sins. If we wanted, we could spend the next ten minutes applying different labels to those two groups. And that could be profitable – time well spent. Peter hints of those two kinds of people in this scripture. He says, “Christ Jesus is Sion’s chief corner-stone.” To some people – to you believers – He is precious. But to the disobedient – those who are unbelievers – He is a rock of offense, a stumbling block. You saints were once NOT the people of God, but now you ARE, because He has showered His mercy upon you. More than fifty years ago, the Saviour graciously placed me among God’s people. And I can say with all honesty, that I have been blessed throughout my life. The only changes in my life that I would make, if I could, would all be relatively minor. Today, I would rather be what and who I am than to possess the wealth of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. I am satisfied to be on my way to Heaven and not to be headed toward the White House or Buckingham Palace. I prefer to have my name known in heaven, than to be on the lips of all the evening newscasters. Having said that, I will point out that it is easy to say such things, because it appears to be impossible for me to ever become that rich, that powerful or that...

Providence as Illustrated in Philemon – Philemon 1-25

  How much of a roll does God play in the affairs of men? That is a theological “hot potato,” and it has been for centuries. It may be the single most divisive subject among today’s Baptists. This church has lost members because they couldn’t see what I think is impossible to miss. And I’ve lost members from other churches I’ve pastored. Sometimes we can talk peaceably about the subject, but then when one of the few buzz words are mentioned the sky seems to fall. So I’m going to try to refrain from using those words this morning – not that this eliminates the problem. There are people in this world who call themselves “atheists.” – in the opposite camp are the “theists.” Together, they are like the Israelites and the Philistines squaring off across the Valley of Elah. Some believe in God while others think that any deity is a myth and a crutch for the weak-minded. Sadly, not all theists believe in the same kind of god. It seems that some people’s god’s are weaker than others’. There are professing Christians who might speak of God, calling Him “Elohim,” “Jehovah” and even “Christ Jesus,” but they do not ascribe to him the same kind of God-hood that we do. For example, there are professing Christians who do not believe in a miracle-working god. And there are professing Christians who believe that god learns things as they take place, just the same way that we do. There are professing Christians whose god needs human help in order to save people. But is a god who is not...

Salvation as Illustrated in Philemon – Philemon 1-25

  With this message I’d like to start a brief series of lessons on this unique and interesting epistle of Paul. From the outset, it’s appropriate to ask: “Why is this letter included in the cannon of the scriptures?” It is the only letter of Paul which is not addressed to any of his churches or to any of the preachers or ministers of the day. There are a few general epistles which are not addressed to anyone in particular, but this is very particular. Why did the Holy Spirit lead the early churches to consider this letter to be inspired and important? Was it because Philemon was someone especially important? Not as far as we know. His name is found no where else but in this epistle, as is the female name “Apphia.” Since those two names are tied together in the greeting of the letter, it is logical to assume they were husband and wife. And because “Archippus” is also included it might be assumed that this is the couple’s son. They would all be familiar with and directly connected to the other major person in the letter. It is Archippus who helps us to identify the family and their place of residence. That name is mentioned only in one other New Testament scripture – Colossians 4:17. There Paul concludes his letter to the church in Colosse with the words “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” Apparently Archippus was one of the ministers in that church on the western side of Asia Minor. Coupled...

Who is the King of Glory – Psalm 24

  The Christian life involves a continual struggle for balance. Just think about that for a moment. Christians are both fleshly and spiritual beings, and our carnality wants to be dominant. But we can’t let that happen. To put it another way, we live in the world, but we are exhorted to “set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” There must be a balance. Our study of I Thessalonians reminds us that many tend to emphasize scriptural doctrine, and yet Paul praises those saints – NOT for their theological exactitude – but for their love and faith. He never mentions the word “doctrine” in either of those epistles. He doesn’t bring up any serious doctrinal subjects until the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians. But by then he has spent verse after verse praising those saints for their faith, love and hope in Christ. Apparently doctrine should not be the Christian’s primary focus. But it is still very important, so there needs to be a balance. Another area where we often fail to find scriptural equilibrium is between worship and service. We praise Mary, the sister Lazarus, for her worship of Christ and point our fingers at Martha for her busy Christian activity, but we are more like Martha ourselves. Despite the fact that our service is less than ideal, we are not as worshipful as we picture ourselves. We are far less worshipful than our God wants us to be. “One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Wednesday I began thinking about...

The Four Days and the Ten Days of the Passover – Exodus 12:1-7

  Out of all the Old Testament Hebrew festivals, sacrifices and rites, Christians are usually more familiar with the Passover than any other. In I Corinthians 5:7 Paul declared to a congregation made up mostly of Gentiles– non-Jews – “Christ OUR passover is sacrificed for us.” Even without his arguments in the Book of Hebrews, he tells us that this special sacrifice has much to teach us about our salvation. “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” When John the Baptist pointed to the Lord Jesus saying. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” he may not have been thinking specifically about the Passover, but it is impossible to assert that he was not at least including it. Alfred Edersheim was a converted Jew who, based on his knowledge of Jewish customs and history, wrote several important books. Among them were “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” and “The Temple: its Ministry and Services.” In that second book he looks at all the temple services, and takes the reader back to their origins. In chapter 11, he says, “There are peculiarities about the Passover which make it as the most important, and indeed takes it out of the rank of the other festivals.” It was the first of the festivals during which eventually all the men of Israel were to appear at the temple. Second, it is closely tied to a very important event in Israel’s history – the exodus from Egypt. And third, it is important as a type – an illustration of eternal spiritual significance – salvation. With points...

The Four Days of Lazarus – John 11

  This is one of the great, great events in the lives of those who surrounded the Lord Jesus. I have preached from this chapter three times, as far as I know. One message was entitled “The Gospel according to Lazarus,” and was exactly that – a gospel message. One lesson was a part of the series which examined the subject of pain. And a third sermon looked at Christ – our Brother, our God and our Life. This morning, I’ll try to add another perspective to our understanding of what took place here. But that doesn’t mean we’ll answer all our questions – either yours or mine. If you ever find someone who has all the answers about John 11, turn away and look for another teacher. For example, why is there no reference to the father or mother of Mary, Martha and Lazarus? An educated guess would be that they both had passed away – and a guess is all that it is. Well then, why were none of the children married? And how old were they? Some say that the parentless family was too impoverished to afford dowries for the girls. But chapter 12 tells us that was not the case because Mary had a huge quantity of spikenard to give to the Saviour which could have been used as a marriage dowry. Three hundred penney-worth was equivalent to nearly a year’s salary. So why weren’t these young women married? Were they widows who have returned to live in their brother’s house? Were they too old to remarry? And does this have anything to do with...