Men and Brethren, Say On – Acts 13:14-44

I trust everyone is aware that we are having a service on Friday night which includes a visiting speaker. We have extended a invitation to Bro. Scott Silvers to come and preach for us. And of course, he will be with us Friday and then again on Sunday. Bro. Austin will also be speaking Friday, and after leading the singing, I will sit back and enjoy. But I thought that perhaps this evening I might be able to participate with a preparatory message. We have read this entire passage, because I want you to understand from where I am coming. But now let me paraphrase the first part of our text to show you where I am going. Look again at verse 14 – “When the Silvers family departed from Oklahoma, they came to Post Falls in Idaho, and went into the Lord’s church, and sat down. And after a couple hymns and a message from God’s word by Bro. Fulton, the pastor of the church invited Bro. Silvers to the pulpit saying, unto him, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then he stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Lord, and ye that fear God, listen up.” Paul and Barnabas were only months into their first missionary journey. When they first reached Salamis, Cyprus, they preached the word in the synagogues of the Jews. Later in the capital city of Paphos, they had do deal with a false prophet named Elymas before they could share the gospel with the governor, Sergius Paulus. After that they traveled north to Perga...

Sojourners of the Dispersion – I Peter 1:1

Something to always remember is that the entire Bible is meant for all of us. Even though it speaks about people from a different time and culture, the lessons are still for us today. Even though many promises may be meant for specific people, we can still learn from them. And even though some prophesies are meant for future generations, we have the obligation to believe them and pass them on to those specific generations. Shouldn’t we try to understand what Peter was saying to the residents of Asia, even though we live here? If this wasn’t the case, then it might argued that we shouldn’t bother with any of the Word of God. The fact is – the Bible is the eternal Word of God – and the people of God should listen carefully to everything that Jehovah has to say. So even though Peter mentions places most Christians couldn’t find on a map, his letters are meant for us. Notice that Peter’s readers were described in exactly the same way we are described. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” …. Another thing Peter says about his readers is – they are “strangers scattered.” No matter where and when Christians might live in this world, they are “scattered strangers.” But these words “strangers scattered” had some special meaning to the Jews of Peter’s day. Away back in Psalm 147:2 the Septuagint uses the same Greek words to translate “outcasts of Israel.” It was a title used of the Jews in...

Characteristics of True Heroism – Daniel 3:8-18

This evening lets look at a theme which is complimentary to our lesson last week. Let’s consider the background to the so-called three “Hebrew children” visit to the “burning fiery furnace.” Christian adults need to do this sort of thing from time to time, because we all can get quite sentimental about these classic Sunday School Bible stories. As kids we heard them, perhaps taught by teachers who weren’t well prepared. Or the first time we heard them, we were very young, so we got the pared down version. And as a result we learned the stories slightly askew. For example, most Christians don’t know these men by their real names – their “Christian” names. Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego were applied to them by their captors. Among themselves they probably never used those names – they may have been disgusted by them. They were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah to Daniel. We ought to know them by names which glorify the Lord, not the idols of the Babylonians. And here is something else: A moment ago, I facetiously used a term often ascribed to these three but which is totally in appropriate. I called them the three “Hebrew children,” because that is so commonly used. For those of you whose Bibles have Bishop Ussher’s dates at the beginning of each chapter, you’ll see that when Daniel and his friends were elevated to their high positions, the year was said to be 603 B.C., just three or four years after the first fall of Jerusalem. But the year Ussher ascribes to chapter 3 is 580 B.C. If my math is correct,...

Faith while in the Lions’ Den – Daniel 6:1-28

Do you ever feel like you’re in a lion’s den? I mean, it’s dark, and you can’t see more than a step ahead, despite your flash light. But you hear the ominous of some kind of creature near you. And then as the beam flits around in front of you, the teeth of various problems flash back at you. Health problems, financial problems, political problems, family problems – sin problems. As a Christian, you know the Lord is with you in that lion’s den, but it’s still really frightening. The problem, although to varying degrees, is the same with all of us. How do we face the problems of life? We are prone to defend or attack in the flesh – maybe yelling at the lions, trying to scare them off, or threatening to use the flash light in our hands like a club. But look at this scripture. Daniel didn’t have a club or stick; he didn’t have bear spray, friends or any other weapons. All he had was the Lord, and his trust was in Him. This chapter gives us the opportunity for a study of faith – in several ways – far more ways than we have time. It involves the faith of three different people or groups. We can see genuine faith, weak faith, false faith and practical faith. And we faith under stress, false faith, borrowed and therefore useless faith, and secular useless faith. Let’s begin at the most unlikely spot – verse 4 – “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none...

The Whole Earth is Full of God’s Glory – Isaiah 6:1-3

I realize that we looked at this scripture just a few weeks ago, but I’d like to consider it again. Actually, according to my records, this is the 5th or 6th time that I’ve used this as my text for a message. It is not only fascinating, but it contains important revelation and instruction. In our last message from Isaiah 6 we looked at the “Language of Heaven.” And if you’ll remember, I didn’t say exactly what it would be – English, Greek, Hebrew or whatever. I concluded by saying that the language of heaven is WORSHIP, because just about every time we hear of any voice in Heaven besides God’s, it is expressing praise and adoration to our Saviour/God. For example there is Revelation 19:1 – “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments… And again they said, Alleluia… And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” And in our scripture for this evening, we hear the voices of Seraphim crying back and forth to each other,...

Whatsoever Ye Do – Ephesians 6:1-11

One of our faults and failures as 21st century Christians is our propensity to compartmentalize things. Or as my pastor used to say, our “proclivity” – our “proclivity” to pigeonhole various aspects of our lives. A “proclivity” is a choice to do something regularly; an inclination or predisposition toward something. We have a “proclivity” to put work into one box, our families into another, our religion into a nice fancy box, and perhaps a few sins into another perhaps with a lock on it, while we keep the key in our pockets. For some people, especially those with high stress jobs, compartmentalizing is the only way to cope. The trauma nurse, the homicide detective, the navy seal – these people may have to leave such things in their lockers before putting on their street clothes and going home. But there is a sense in which compartmentalizing is not a Biblical practice – it is not Christian. I am not sure that I will be able to verbalize what’s in my heart right now. Perhaps it’s because I’m not very successful at doing what the I think the Lord is teaching me. But maybe together, and with the Spirit’s help, we can begin at least to see the Christian ideal. Everything we do, think and are, should be enriched and bound together in the realization that we are in God our Saviour. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Before we consider our text in Ephesians, let me throw some scriptures at you and see if they stick. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice evermore. Pray without...

The Saint and His God – Psalm 90 1-17

I am currently reading a book which explains some of the differences between Islam and Christianity. It was written by a couple of converted Muslims, who travel across America, teaching about ways in which to witness to those who worship Allah. One of the things the authors point out is that Allah is not a “personable God” as is Jehovah. Muslims can’t “know” God the way in we can. They don’t speak of God as a friend or friendly. They aren’t “loved” by Allah, and they don’t love Him as we love our God. They write, “No devout Musilm can call the God of Muhammad ‘Father,’ for this would compromise divine transcendence.” I don’t know how Muslims explain Ps. 90, because Moses expresses a very personal relationship with God. And by the way, Islam accepts the Psalms, much of the Old Testament and even the Gospels as the Word of God, before, as they say, the Jews and Christians corrupted them with lies. Psalm 90 reveals some of the relationship between God and mankind. Let’s have a simple Bible study this evening, before we go to prayer. There is no three point outline. There is no objective to which I am trying teach. This Psalm, with several important verses, is a blessing to me, and I hope that it will be to you. It expresses a very special connection – a bond – between God and us, through Moses and Israel. As I look at these verse and intellectually squint just a little, it appears to be like a hammock. Verses 1 and 17 appear to be hooked to...

The Language of Heaven – Isaiah 6:1-8

When we get to Heaven; after appearing before the bema – the judgment seat of Christ…. After we settled in to our God-designed mansions… As we get to know our neighbors, and we begin our Heavenly duties… How will we communicate with those around us. With Abraham and David? Paul and Barnabas? When we meet fellow saints who had lived in the Philippines or Korea, how will we talk with them? Will we demand that they learn English? As God’s cherubim come to us with commands or blessings, with what language will we greet them? My question is: what will be the language of Heaven? It’s not an important question; it’s not something to worry about and for which we should be prepared. It’s just a question out of my curiosity. But I do plan to bring this question to a very serious conclusion, so I hope you hang in there with me. I am absolutely convinced, based on scripture that I know what language we will use in Heaven. I have just finished reading (and skimming) over two completely opposite books. One was pro-Hebrew to the 10th degree, trying to make me look at the New Testament through Jewish eyes. And the other was anti-Zionist to the 13th degree, condemning just about everything Jewish since Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity. Neither one of these books addressed my question, but I guarantee that the author of the first book would say that in Heaven everyone will speak Hebrew. And I am certain that the authors of the second book hate modern Israel so much they would refuse to speak...

The Burning Bush – Exodus 3:1-10

I assume you all know how the Lord revealed Himself to Moses through the burning bush. My wife, like so many other Sunday School teachers, has flannel graph illustrations, which I have no doubt she has shared with many of our children. And there are references to this event scattered across the Word of God. In Deuteronomy 33 Moses makes a passing reference to the blessings of the One who dwelt in the bush. The Lord Jesus in teaching the unbelieving Sadducees about resurrection spoke about the burning bush. Luke 20:37 – “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the BUSH, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” How is the bush a part of a lesson on resurrection? Admittedly, in a round about way. But He who could keep a dry old bramble bush from turning into ash while burning, can certainly raise the dead body of a man from the grave – or from dust and ashes. That burning bush was important enough to come up again in Stephen’s short history of Israel – Acts 7:30 – “And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a FLAME of FIRE in a BUSH. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, Saying, I am...

What is Man’s Ultimate Purpose? – Genesis 1:26-31

As I was thinking about a possible message from I Cor.15, I wondered if perhaps some background might be in order. And then my mind wandered back to a chapter in the book I am currently reading – “The Essential Tozer Collection.” A.W. Tozer was a minister of the “Christian and Missionary Alliance” denomination – a denomination which no longer exists and many of you have never known. Tozer died in 1963. Over the years I have appreciated many of the things he has written. But as a Protestant, he was far from doctrinal perfection. And he loved to impress people by quoting men, whose names I hesitate to even mention. So he doesn’t have my energetic endorsement. But you will read some of his more accurate, pithy and thought-provoking statements in the bulletin from time to time. In one chapter of his book he talks about God’s purpose in creating our first grandparents. Why am I bringing this up? My reason is honesty. I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism – of which there is very little chance. Let’s begin this evening with a question: “What is Man’s Ultimate Purpose?” What was God’s purpose in creating Adam? Tozer says that God always has a purpose for everything He has ever done, and I agree. Jehovah is not like the little kid, who when his mother asks why he did such and such, he just shrugs and says, “I duh know.” God had a huge purpose – an eternal purpose in creating Adam and Eve. For centuries, preachers have been saying things like: “Man was created to worship,...

Strength for the Task at Hand – II Timothy 2:1

After Jesus’ upper room supper with His disciples, they sang a hymn and went out toward the mount of Olives. “And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.” Peter and the others were ready and willing to run the race which the Lord had set before them. They professed to be ready to wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” But when the bell rang and the match began, Peter couldn’t even defend himself against the assault of a little girl. And as for the others, most of them had already left the arena. “As Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them...

God’s Exclamation Mark – Revelation 3:13-14

It’s been a couple of weeks now, so I am hoping you are familiar with Emmanuel Cleaver’s prayer at the opening of the 117th session of Congress. It was all over social media, evoking comments from all kinds of people, including President Trump. Cleaver, the former mayor of Kansas City, is a Democratic representative in Congress and a Methodist minister – which says something about Democrats, Methodists and Congress. During his prayer he asked for divine help so that Congress would not do anything unworthy of the office, and of course seconds later Cleaver brought shame upon that “august body,” as he called it, and upon the nation of the United States, at least as far as I am concerned. As I watched I his prayer, it became obvious that he was reading something he had previously written. So this was no slip of the tongue under the bright lights of Congress and the media. He knew exactly what he was doing. As his prayer was winding down, this Methodist minister referred to the “monotheistic god who is known by so many different names and faces” – but he didn’t mention “Jehovah” or “Jesus Christ.” And then he concluded by infamously saying, “Amen and awoman.” Later Cleaver said that he couldn’t believe that this words were causing such a fuss. He said that it was just a pun, pointing to the large number of women who are now in Congress. It was a sort of joke. Now, I have to admit to having a Canadian sense of humor, and I don’t mind employing it now and then. But there...

The Christian Wrestler – Ephesians 6:10-18

I’m going to piggy-back this devotional onto Brother Fulton’s lessons about running the Christian race. This scripture refers to wrestling. It doesn’t happen very often these days in the highly technical world of Olympic Sports, but it used to be that really good athletes competed in more than one sport – not just different events, but different sports. For example, a really good swimmer or runner today might enter several related races – 200 meters, 400 meters and a relay or two. But as far as I know no marathoner also entered the boxing or wrestling arena. However, when it comes to allegories of the Christian life, we get to do that. Bro. Austin’s lessons from Hebrews 12, about running with patience the race that is set before us, have been a great blessing. Was Austin using the words of Paul in the Book of Hebrews and that allegory about running? Were those Paul’s thoughts as directed by the Holy Spirit or did someone else write Hebrews? The Bible doesn’t tell us, and there are arguments both pro and con. But if we assume that Paul brought up the subject of running the race, and also about wrestling and even boxing, one might wonder if he was a nominal sports fan. Do you question my reference to boxing? Didn’t Austin refer once or twice to I Corinthians 9:24? “Know ye not that they which RUN in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to...

Penniless Preachers – Nehemiah 13:10-13

The title of this lesson is “Penniless Preachers.” Twenty years ago I would have had a hard time preaching this message because of the connection it would have exposed between you and me. It might have appeared to be self-serving, worldly or even downright greedy on my part. Not only didn’t I have any money, but the church didn’t either, because none of you were particularly rich, and there weren’t very many of us. But today, things are much different. This is not about you, and it isn’t about me. It is about other churches across this country and around the world. It is always easier to preach about other people and their sins than it is about us and our sins. When Nehemiah originally left Persia, he told King Artaxerxes he would be gone only a certain length of time. After the completion of the wall and certain other things, he was obligated to return to Sushan the palace and to make a report to his boss. But obviously, by that time Nehemiah’s former position as cupbearer had been filled by another, so he wasn’t returning to his old job. Artaxerxes apparently didn’t have need of his services any longer. So permission was granted for him to return to Jerusalem as governor – perhaps as a permanent position. We aren’t told how long Nehemiah was away, but it was probably more than a year and perhaps longer. Upon his return, just as he had the first time, Nehemiah made an inspection of the city. But this time, he was not looking so much at the physical condition of...

Thanksgiving at the Beautiful Gate – Acts 3:1-10

  If I asked you, “What is the CHIEF purpose of man?” how would you answer? Many of us raised in Episcopalianism would instantly know the answer from our catechism. The chief purpose of man is to glorify God. I Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” That ALL we DO as Christians should be done for the glory of God is a relatively simple concept. ”Ye have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s.” The idea is simple and obvious, but the practice of this principle may be a bit more difficult. More specifically, I Thessalonians 5:18 speaks about thanksgiving, opening the door to unlimited praise. “In EVERYTHING give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The only things for which we cannot and should not praise the Lord are sinful things. But does this mean we should praise God for only for the GOOD things that happen to us? No, we should be thank for both the good and the unpleasant. For good food and Christian friends as well as for toothaches and surgery. “In EVERYTHING give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Years ago, I became acquainted with an interesting gentleman living down in Georgia. We still have not yet met personally; our only contact in this world was through our church web-page. Bro. Jack Gregory has now passed away, but at the time he was in his 70’s,...