And They Mocked Him – Mark 15:22-38

  A few years ago, in Manila, Philippines, a devout Roman Catholic named “Mendosa” was “crucified.” He had been fasting and praying for more than a week, constantly encouraged by his priest. On what is commonly called “Good Friday,” he was stripped down to a loin-cloth, after which he lay upon a freshly painted white cross. Two men from his church tied his wrists to the arms of that clean, white, almost sterile cross. A third man tied his ankles to the post just above a foot-rest where his feet were propped. The men lifted the cross to an upright position with Mendosa still tied to it. Carefully they let it slowly slip into a perfectly prepared slot in a large piece of concrete. Some of Mendosa’s relatives and friends were silently weeping, while hundreds of others looked on praying and expressing words of encouragement. There was a doctor standing by, just in case he was needed, but it was unlikely that things would be taken that far. There was no one there laughing at him, no one mocking him, no one spitting or throwing things. Besides a few photographers, Mendosa had nothing but support surrounding him. The sun was hot that April afternoon, and very quickly he man began to wilt under its gaze. In his weakening condition it didn’t look like he would be up there more than an hour at most. Quickly his coaches threw in the towel on his behalf. When the ordeal was over, there was congratulations and praise for his devotion and bravery. Over the years this scene has been repeated hundreds of...

The God of Wrath and Glory – Psalm 145:1

  This message was ignited by an article in the “Institution of Creation Research” magazine “Acts and Facts.” It was written by Brian Thomas, who has a PhD in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool. That article was entitled “Was the Global Flood Too Extreme?” The title of my message is “The God of Wrath and Glory.” David’s 145 Psalm slaps the face of many critics of our God and our faith. Have you ever had someone try to turn away your Christian witness by pontificating – “The God of the Old Testament was a mean and crazy old ‘blankity blank.’ I could never worship a God like the God of Israel.” He might say he hates all the Old Testament accounts of the destruction of cities and entire nations. Some try to add that Jesus contracted the God of the Jews, with His love and cheek turning. He might say that he has no interest in what the Bible has to say, because of what he THINKS it says. But I want you to notice the way in which David, here, praises His Israelite God. “I will extol thee, MY GOD, O KING; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.” David acknowledges Jehovah to be king – the one with all authority – sovereign. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is UNSEARCHABLE.” God’s greatness and power are not only practical but beyond man’s ability to understand. Many of the reasons for what God does are inscrutable. And no Bible-rejecting intellectual is going to understand why God does what He...

I Find no Fault in Him – John 19:6

  Knowing basically what I’d find I looked up the word “tolerance” in my biggest dictionary. It had six definitions, and three of those were a bit more fine-tuned into sub-definitions. It also listed about two dozen synonyms – including words like “indulgence“ and “acceptance.” But, you know, I didn’t find a definition that said: “Tolerance is the quality of being soft and fuzzy.” What’s wrong with being soft and fuzzy? Could it be that there isn’t much tolerance when it comes to definitions about “tolerance?” If I sent a letter to the editor of our newspaper which said that homosexuality is sinfully deviant behavior, or if I paid for piece which said that abortion was murder, or if I publicly said that Mormonism is a cult and should not be considered a part of Christianity, there would be a dozen letters to the editor vociferously condemning me as being “intolerant.” But the fact is, according to the Bible, those three things are absolutely true. “Intolerance is not an issue when it comes to the matter of truth. A growing number of people in the United States today are absolutely intolerant toward intolerance. “Intolerance“ is one of the bats with which honest people are beaten up these days. But just as the dictionary is intolerant toward false definitions, truth is truth, error is error and heresy must be clearly condemned as heresy. And even though the Lord Jesus was gracious towards erring sinners and heretics, He didn’t redefine sin in order to make it something less than sinful. When a machinist is manufacturing a delicate piece of equipment with...

The Blood of the Red Heifer – Numbers 19:1-22

  I was reading Spurgeon the other day when I ran across these words. “It is a marvel that any man should be a Christian at all…” When we come to understand the depth of our wickedness – our sinfulness – it is incredible that God should save us. And that anyone should think that we can save ourselves or contribute to our salvation is asinine. Spurgeon went on “It is a marvel… and a greater wonder that (any man) should continue (to be saved). Consider the weakness of the flesh, the strength of inward corruption, the fury of Satanic temptation, the seductions of wealth and the pride of life, the world and the fashion thereof: all these things are against us, and yet behold, greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us, and defying sin, and Satan, and death, and hell, the righteous (remain righteous in God’s sight).” Spurgeon understood the doctrine, but he also understood the weakness of his own heart. That God should continue to love us after saving us despite our ongoing sins and unbelief is astounding Spurgeon has not been alone in this mental and spiritual agitation. And that is despite the fact that the Bible is crystal clear on the matter. Hebrews 7:25 – “Wherefore he (Christ) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” I Peter 1:5 – “We are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last day.” John 5:24...

Wherefore Comfort Yourselves – I Thessalonians 5:9-11

  Despite all our technological gadgets, our toys, the entertainment industry, including sports, and an army of psychiatrists with all their drugs, we live in the midst of millions of very sad people. Despite all the casinos, comedians and carnivals, death still steals away people’s loved ones, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. As science eliminates or limits one disease or problem, two more come along to make people miserable. While 1% of the population rejoices because their team won the championship, the rest are depressed because their team didn’t. Divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, the nightly news and the jail population explosion tell us that there are a great many unhappy people in the world. And, if we’d admit it, from time to time we join them. In that light, please notice that this scripture concludes with – “Wherefore comfort yourselves together.” I realize that I preached from this scripture not too many months ago, but my purpose then was different from what it is this morning. I am most interested in that exhortation, Wherefore comfort yourselves.” How often do we hear that sort of thing from the Word of God? Doesn’t its frequency reiterate that there is a great need? Over and over again, it comes to us in different ways and formats. We find it is in the last verse of the preceding chapter – “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” And it arises again three verses from now – “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” The...

The Profit of Godliness – I Timothy 4:8

  Have you ever noticed how many maritime songs are in our hymnals? I googled the question and the list given to me had 156 nautical hymns, some of which we still sing. “Let the Lower Lights be Burning,” “Pilot Me,” “Sail on.” “Throw out the Life-Line,” “Peace be Still,” “We have an anchor,” The Haven of Rest.” There seem to me to be two reasons for all these hymns. First, it used to be life and local economies were directly tied to the sea. It used to be that nearly everyone lived close to the water, and much of their food was drawn from it. When they weren’t eating fish, their businesses supported the fishing industry. This is still true in many places, Over and over again during the last two weeks, we heard how important salmon are to S.E. Alaska. Everything is linked one way or other to those fish returning to their home creeks. After a very dry winter, if there isn’t rain soon, the rivers will not be full enough for the fish to swim upstream. This would hurt and might destroy the fisheries, which would hurt everything. Stores would suffer, bears would come looking for food, alcohol consumption would go up, even tourism. There is a second reason for all those nautical hymns – To those who understand them, they are good way to describe life – the Christian life in particular. We are like sailing vessels, trying to reach the safe harbor, but there are all kinds of obstacles and difficulties. Life is like a ship approaching a port which is surrounded by...

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...