The Office of Deacon (#1 Background) – Acts 6:1-7

This evening I would like to begin a lesson on the Office of Deacon. It will take more than one message, so it might be better to call this a series. And I’ll be up-front with you. There may be a need to have a few ordained deacons in our church. This lesson is a step toward a decision one way or another. Let me start just a little backhandedly. Will you agree with me that the Philippians is a wonderful book, full of great instruction and blessing? Paul says, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” There is a principle for any Christian to follow. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” There is another. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” “Brethren, I count not myself to apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reading forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” “Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace...

Words Matter – Psalm 119:89

I hope you are all aware of the praise, and importance, which the Holy Spirit places upon His word. “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…” “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” These, and dozens of other scriptures, praise and promote God’s word as a UNIT – as a “book” if you like. The people in Berea “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received THE WORD with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Scriptures – are referred to in these scriptures as “THE Word of God” – singular. But tonight, I’d like to remind you that “the Word of God” is made up of the “words of God.” Just as often as it does of the “the WORD of God,” the Bible speaks of “the WORDS of God” in their variety and multitudes. And as stupid as my statement sounds – they are as equally inspired and important as the entire Bible. For example, elsewhere here in Psalm 119 David says, “Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy WORDS. “How sweet are thy WORDS unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “The entrance of thy WORDS giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”...

Prophet, Priest and King – I Peter 2:1-10

If I had told you tonight’s title before I read our scripture, you might have jumped to the wrong conclusion. Our title is “Prophet, Priest and King,” which I hope would have made you picture our Saviour. But if you stop and think, there is a sense in which we are miniature reflections of Christ even in these things. We are to represent him as ministers of His word; prophets in the sense of people sharing His revelation. And then as the Book of Revelation tells us several times, Christ “hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” This evening I’d like to spend just a few minutes thinking about our roles as priests unto our God. The Bible contains a great deal of information about the Old Testament priests of Israel, and we have much to learn about ourselves from those references, but we aren’t going to go there. Also, especially the Book of Hebrews, there is information about Christ Jesus, our great High Priest. But as to our own priesthood I could think of only five references. And it’s to those references I’d like briefly to draw your attention. Let us start with I Peter 2. After exhorting his readers – primarily new believers – to forsake their old habits… Peter encouraged them to feast on and fill themselves with God’s word that they might spiritually grow. He was assuming they had been born again and had tasted of the Lord’s grace. Then speaking of the Lord, he mentioned that Christ had been rejected by the world, but to...

Aquila and Priscilla – Acts 18:1-3, 24-26

How often does Paul say, “Be ye followers of me?” – “Be ye followers of me even as I am of Christ”? Doesn’t he often say things like – “I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ENSAMPLE.” I find it quite curious that the words “example” and “ensample” are not to be found in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament they are found all over the place. “Now all these things happened unto them for ENSAMPLES: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” “So that ye were ENSAMPLES to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ENSAMPLES to the flock.” “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an EXAMPLE of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. These are just some of the examples of the use of the word “example” in the New Testament. What was Paul’s purpose in giving us Hebrews 11, mentioning all those godly people? Examples? A good example can be as contagious as someone’s bad behavior. Aquila and Priscilla were two people who followed Paul’s example, becoming examples themselves. In fact, as couples go there may not be many higher examples in the Word of God. There were certainly problems with, and between, Adam and Eve. Look at the home life of Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon – they were near disasters. There were problems between...

Whence Cometh Joy? – Luke 2:8-11

With this text, you might think I’ve lost either my mind, or my calendar, but my calendar is still on the wall behind my computer. What I’d like us to consider this evening is the joy of which the angel spoke the night of the Saviour’s birth. “The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Our theme for this evening is the SOURCE of joy. I know there is a difference between joy and happiness, but out of necessity, I’ll be touching on both. Years ago I read a little bulletin insert about the source of HAPPINESS: It said: Happiness not found in unbelief – Voltaire, the atheist, when dying, said, “I wish I had never born.” It is not found in money: Jay Gould, the railroad speculator who died in 1892 and was worth $71 billion in today’s money, called himself “a miserable devil.” Happiness isn’t found in pleasure: immoral Lord Byron who was described by one woman as “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” said of himself “My life is one of grief.” And it is not to be found in power – Napoleon said, “I have founded empires, but I’ve FOUND only sorrow.” Shelly texted Monday saying that the man who founded North Idaho Dermatology, took his own life. Why? You are aware that we live in world searching frantically something called “happiness.” It has been falsely declared to be one of...

May 9

Would you say that a person could be both a Christian and a Democrat? Should a Christian have fellowship with a believer who is a member of another political party? If you were an American patriot in 1776, could you have Christian fellowship with a Tory – a British loyalist? Morgan Edwards, who was born on this day in 1772, was one of the most important Baptist leaders of his day. He was a highly educated graduate of Bristol College, the first Baptist school in England. In 1761 he emigrated to America and became the pastor of the Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He was a leader in the Philadelphia Baptist Association. He was a principle in the establishment of Rhode Island College. One of the first men to record the history of Baptists in the United States was Morgan Edwards, publishing “Materials Toward a History of the Baptists.” It is often stated, in these days when history is being redefined, that the doctrine of the pre-tribulational rapture did not exist until the days of John Darby, who died in 1882. That lie is destroyed by Morgan Edwards. While a student at Bristol in about 1740, he published a 56 page essay stating it was his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ would return to receive His own people prior to the Tribulation which would be prior to the Lord’s Millennial reign. But Morgan Edwards was one of perhaps two Baptist leaders who did not support the Revolutionary War. He was never arrested, but during the war his travel was restricted to the Philadelphia area. About that time, he resigned...

Love Gone Bad – Romans 1:28-32; Colossians 3:1-5

There are two adjectives used in these scriptures used to describe love: “inordinate” and “unnatural.” As much as the world wants to tell us that love is the panacea for all our problems, it isn’t. In fact, love can be the cause of a great many of our problems. Colossians 3:5 tells the child of God to kill, murder, or otherwise “mortify” his inordinate affections. That word “inordinate” is the Greek word “pathos,” and it is found three times in our Bibles. Once it is translated simply “affection,” then here it is “inordinate affection” and once it is “lust.” Obviously, not all “affection” is good. Many people have great affection things which are actually poison – like alcohol and drugs. “Inordinate affection” must be killed, because it is in a war against us, with a desire to kill us. It is a virus, a cancer which is bent upon destruction. Remember I Peter 2:11 – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly LUSTS, which war against the soul.” Then Romans 1:31 speaks of people “without natural affection” and it is clearly defined in the context. There is a great deal of affection which is contrary to God’s original intent for us. Although it is not automatic, love is a natural thing; it is normal for people to love. And almost everybody loves something. Hopefully it is a good person, or, even better, the Lord. But sadly, that natural love is often placed on unnatural things. And then in that case that natural love becomes “inordinate” and “unnatural.” For example, it is possible to love...

Sharing Christ with the Unbeliever – Isaiah 43:1-11

Your neighbor – the one who has lived beside you for fifteen years has moved away, and now you have new neighbors. Of course you immediately introduce yourself and share with them some home-baked cookies. But when you invite them to church, you are surprised – shocked – to learn they are practicing Muslims. They seem cool towards you – cold – so you find an excuse to excuse yourself, and you go home. But the Lord begins to burden you about those people. Surprising even yourself, your heart begins to yearn for their salvation. What can you do to bring those people to the Lord? I am not going to share with you any magic formulas for you to follow. Over the centuries, Baptists have used many different means to share the gospel with people. Some of them have had their place and have been used by God, while some of them haven’t. We have had our colporteurs – people dedicated to traveling about sharing Bibles, good books and gospel tracts with people who could read but who didn’t necessarily have much material to read. Medieval Anabaptists were very successful in sharing Christ in this way. There have been periods in Christian history when large evangelistic meetings were used by God. Large halls were secured and money was spent on various forms of advertizing. In the days before television and Netflix, people looked for entertainment, and a well-known evangelist could provide that entertainment – even for the glory of the Lord. Despite what some people think they see in the scripture, door-to-door, cold-calling, has been a RECENT improvisation...

What Paul Didn’t Say – Galatians 2:20

The well-known Greek expert A.W. Robertson says of this verse – “One of Paul’s greatest mystical sayings.” I’m not sure what he means by the word “mystical,” but I have to agree that this is a wonderful statement. I hope you have it memorized and can quote it to yourself when you need it. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I have preached from this verse two or three times, and I have read dozens of other messages. One common outline is to point the apparent contradictions – which aren’t contradictions at all. “I have been crucified, NEVERTHELESS I live.” “I live, YET NOT I, but Christ liveth in me.” These statements make no sense to the unbeliever. But to Paul they were clear, because as he said, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Paul understood, through the Spirit, that his life was hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). I hope that is something you understand to some degree as well. Then he concluded his thought – “I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Perhaps the greatest conundrum of the verse is in this last clause. The Son of God “loved me, and gave himself for me.” “Why should He love me so? Why should He love me so? Why should my Savior to Calvary...

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...