10 December 2010

Gifts You Can Give During the Entire Year

Of course, it is the time of giving. It is Christmas time! People love to give gifts at this season of the year to their loved ones and friends. There is nothing wrong with giving gifts anytime of the year. The spirit of kindness, thoughtfulness and cheerfulness are certainly welcomed during this festive period of the year. It would be wonderful if such expressions were to be found among people the rest of the year. Some gifts that are being given during the Christmas season are very expensive and the number of gifts is too plentiful at times. There are numerous families who get into financial difficulties simply because they go into debt in buying gifts for their family and others. However, there are several gifts that are free that can be and should be given at all times of the year. Here are special gifts you can give to your loved ones, your brothers and sisters in Christ and your friends and neighbors.

THE GIFT OF PRAISE ~ Mark Twain said he could live for two months on one compliment. Critics destroy while encouragers build us up. We need to make it a point to express sincere compliments when we can. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth these words: “Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2).
THE GIFT OF UNDERSTANDING ~ We all desire to be understood and we should have the same desire to be understanding of others, especially during the times of difficulties, trials and failures. Solomon requested of God that He give him “an understanding heart” (1 Kings 3:9, 12).

THE GIFT OF KINDNESS ~ You can’t help but notice how kind people are to one another during this season of the year. Someone opens a door for a complete stranger. You speak to people you do not even know. Christians need to be kind toward others all the time. One of the true characteristics of a child of God is “brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7). Paul exhorts us to “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). In Ephesians 4:32, he writes, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Please notice the word “kind” in this verse. If you remove the “d” from the word “kind” you have ‘kin”. You see, we are all “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26); therefore, we are ‘kin’ and we should be “kind to one another”.
THE GIFT OF YOUR PERSONAL PRESENCE ~ There is no substitute for a visit to see someone in the hospital, the nursing home or persons confined to their own homes. Of course wisdom must be used in deciding whether or not a visit is wise in certain situations. But, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” (James 1:27). On the judgment day, the faithful who will be saved eternally will be Christians who gave and visited (Matthew 25:34-40).

THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE ~ Someone has written that “Gratitude is the mother virtue of all virtues.” The apostle Paul encourages us that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In Romans chapter 1, Paul describes the unbelieving Gentle world as being sinful and idolatrous in their corrupt manner of life. One of the specific sins he mentioned was that they “did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (vs.21). In Luke 17:11-19 we read of Jesus healing the ten lepers. When they were instructed to show themselves to the priests, only one of the ten lepers returned and with a “loud voice glorified God, and he fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And He was a Samaritan”. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Probably the percentage is about the same today; only 1 out of 10 will pause and give God the thanks for all the blessings of life which He gives to us from His bountiful hand of grace.
THE GIFT OF OUR PRAYERS ~ Christians are taught in the Scriptures to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The writer James instructs us to “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (KJV). A hymn that we have sung in our worship assemblies over the years is “For You I Am Praying” and we should practice what we sing!

THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS ~ In the prayer Jesus gave to the disciples as a pattern for their prayers He mentioned that we should forgive those who sin against us. The only comment the Lord made following the prayer can be found in these words: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:9-15). Jesus never asked His disciples to do anything but that he was willing to do in His life. When He was on Calvary’s cross one of the seven sayings he uttered was “Father, forgive them, for they do know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We learn in the teachings of Jesus Christ that we are to forgive our brother as often as he is penitent of his sins (See Matthew 18:21, 22). I read the true story about a teenager who was killed in automobile wreck when a drunken driver hit his car. The dead teenager’s parents, filled with sorrow in the loss of their precious son later visited the person who was responsible for the accident and became his friends. In time they taught him about Jesus Christ and he was immersed into Christ for the remission of his sins. They forgave him as our Heavenly Father forgives us (Ephesians 4:32).

THE GIFT OF A CHRISTIAN EXAMPLE ~ Jesus taught that we are to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). The apostle Paul instructs us to be “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians2:15). We may be the only ‘Bible’ that our neighbors and friends may see. “I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day…” is the consensus of millions of our fellowmen.
THE GIFT OF LOVE ~ This is the greatest gift ever given and it was given by God the Father when He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins (John 3:16). Jesus taught His disciples to love one another: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35). “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend” (John 15:13) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Our love for everyone should be manifested in our desire that all people come to believe in and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Our giving should not be limited to special occasions but we should give these gifts throughout the year. Furthermore, if we have not done so, we need to give our lives to Jesus Christ because He gave His life for us that through the shedding of His precious blood we could have the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7). The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost told the believers to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (ASV, Acts 2:36-38). Have you given your life to Christ?

09 December 2010

He Giveth More Grace

By Annie J. Flint
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
* * * * * * * *
I made effort to find the song HE GIVETH MORE GRACE a cappella style but was unable to do so; however the following link will carry you to the Gaither group and they have a beautiful rendition of this hymn.
Click here to hear the Gaithers sing He Giveth More Grace.

27 October 2010

The Changing of the Seasons: God's Faithfulness

Several years ago Virginia and I were in the extreme northeastern section of the state of Georgia working with a congregation that met in the small community of Tiger near the city of Clayton. It was in the autumn of the year and the color of the foliage was radiant in their assorted colors. While driving along the highway we noticed a large pumpkin patch so we stopped and found one pumpkin that someone had painted a face on it. Autumn is perhaps my favorite season of the year. While spring is alive with beautiful flowers and the budding of the leaves on various trees, autumn produces more color than one might imagine. Yet, I enjoy all the seasons of the year because each one presents evidence that there is a Supreme Architect with infinite wisdom and almighty power who had the power to create and set in motion this amazing universe in which we live, Genesis 1.

It was following the universal deluge and after Noah and his family left the ark that this great man of faith offered burnt offerings that were acceptable unto God that our Creator made this promise (Genesis 8:20:22):
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

So as long as the earth remains we have this precious promise from God that there will be the changing of the seasons of the year. You can depend on God's faithfulness because it is impossible for Him to lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). The Psalmist declared in Psalm 19:1-4:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.”

As believers in God we worship and praise Him and not the beauties He has created for us to enjoy each season of the year.

21 September 2010

Who Am I?

I customarily read the obituaries in the local newspaper and one morning I observed something unusual. A lady who recently died and in mentioning her kindred, the point was clearly made that she was the great, great, great granddaughter of George Washington. It was evident that her family members wanted the fact of this lady’s ancestry known.

It seems that a basic need we have is to know who we are and where we came from. Alex Haley’s deep desire to know his family’s ancestry led him over an extended period of time to do much research and travel. He then wrote the book, “Roots”. We have known individuals who were adopted as children who made every effort to know the identity of their biological parents. While these people loved and appreciated their adopted parents, there was a real longing in their hearts to learn of their family background.

Even in biblical times we learn of the Jews’ great pride in being the offspring of Abraham. They would proudly exclaim that “Abraham is our father” (John 8:39). They seemed always to be involved in tracing their lineage back to the great patriarch. Paul warned Timothy not to give heed to “endless genealogies” (I Timothy 1:4).

The most important family relationship however is not the physical but the spiritual. Most of us cannot gloat in a ‘blue blood’ ancestry. By faith, having been baptized into Christ, we are the children of God (Galatians 3:26, 27). “And if you ye are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). Jesus is our elder brother and we are “joint-heirs” with him (Romans 8:17). It is more important also to know where we are going than to know where we came from. This earthly pilgrimage will soon end and eternity will be before us. The question might be asked, “Where will you be a million years from now?” The child of God possesses confidence through faith that he will be with his Father. However the person who has not been born of “water and the Spirit” cannot manifest that hope (John 3:5). Only eternal darkness, despair and destruction await that individual (Matthew 25:41). We must understand that the end is better than the beginning. If one dies in Christ he will live with the Lord throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity (Revelation 14:13; Matthew 25:34).

The person who is only a pauper in this life but who is rich in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will have laid up treasures in heaven and will inherit the crown of righteousness that is promised to all who have fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith (Matthew 6:20; II Timothy 4:6-8).

The blood of Jesus Christ that washes away our sins is much more important to us than the blood that might be found in our ancestry (Revelation 1:5). The apostle Peter states this truth in I Peter 1:17-19, “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

18 August 2010

Celebrating Our 55th Wedding Anniversary

My, it was a hot summer evening (without AC) on Friday, August 19, 1955 in the church building in Wildwood, Florida when Virginia and I made our vows to “love and cherish one another” and to live together “until death us do part”. ‘They say’ that a group of singers sang some beautiful songs but I don’t think I heard them. I barely remember brother Orvel Boyd saying something about marriage and asking us to repeat the vows that he read. But he must have really ‘tied the knot’ because by God’s grace and Providence we are still living together as husband and wife. And that says a great deal for Virginia. Bless her heart. We were both twenty years old and we had completed our sophomore year at Alabama Christian College and now I was marrying her without any financial security. I was as poor ‘as Job’s turkey’ (and I understand that is really poor). I even had to borrow a car from a friend to make the trip to Wildwood because the old 1948 Plymouth was not mechanically able to make such a long trip from Montgomery. It had to be love for such a lovely lady like Virginia to marry a poor boy like me because it could not have been for money since I had very little and without a promise of additional funds. But the Lord God has blessed us and provided for us over the past fifty-five years. He has given us three sons and a daughter, along with nine grandchildren. And we are still working regularly with a congregation of Jesus Christ. Perhaps our example will be a source of encouragement to young couples and the unmarried men and women who plan to marry and that is, you can have a successful marriage in this modern age when marital infidelity and divorce are rampant by being guided by the true manual for marriage and that is God’s Word.

My lovely bride~

Happiness is loving and feeling loved.
Our Wedding Party
I chased her for over a year,
before she caught me.
We were given a wonderful reception
and a beautiful cake.
Our first home ~
The 1947 trailer was only 28 feet long and 8 feet wide. You talk about close communion! It was so small that I had to go outside to change my mind. One night it was raining and the roof was leaking right over my bed and a rain drop hit me on my knee. I started to write a song with the title: “Rain Drops Falling on My Bed” but I never did. I probably would have made plenty of money if I had written it that night. The ‘front door’ could not be locked which concerned my new bride. The water to the kitchen came through a water hose from the adjacent house and we had to use the bathroom in the Home EC building which was next to our ‘new home’. But God has been good to us and He has blessed us abundantly. We are now rich materially and spiritually. We praise Him and thank Him every day!!

16 June 2010

War Heroes

Recently I read THE PACIFIC, a book written by Hugh Ambrose, the son of the late Stephen E. Ambrose who was the author of BAND OF BROTHERS. The latest novel chronicled the lives of five men and their comrades who were in the U. S. Marine Corps and the Navy during World War II. The battles on the sea and on the land were fought in the Pacific Ocean and the enemy, of course, was the Empire of Japan. The loss of lives on both sides of the war was extremely high. There were battles on some Islands that would be unknown to many of our citizenry like Cape Gloucester and Peleliu. The more familiar ones were Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and Okinawa. During the latter part of the war the Japanese realized that they were on the loosing side so they began to use drastic measures to destroy the American aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships. The Kamikaze were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible (Wikipedia). Thousands of lives were lost and scores of ships were damaged or destroyed.

While visiting with our son in Texas, we drove over to San Antonio to visit the Alamo and other places of interest. We were privileged to spend the night in the historic Menger Hotel which is located just across the street from the Alamo. My wife and I, along with our daughter-in-law, were sitting in the beautiful lobby of the hotel and I was listening to a couple of older men exchanging stories of their experiences while serving on a particular ship in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Both of them wore a cap with the name of the ship on it. The more I listened to these men talk, the more I realized that the book THE PACIFIC was coming to life. I got up and moved over to the couch where one gentleman was sitting so I could hear what they were saying more clearly. They were relating how their ship was being hit by bombers and not fighter planes. One gentleman said that he was the only one who survived in his immediate group while serving in a lower compartment of the ship. The other gentleman related that he was the only survivor of his company at a gun turret when another bomber hit the ship. Their ship sank but they were rescued. They were staying in the hotel where their annual reunion was being held by the surviving members of their ship that sank. One gentleman stated that only six members were still living. The men were in their mid eighties. I introduced myself to them, shook their hands and thanked them for their service to our country during WW II. These men would not consider themselves as ‘heroes’ but they were. They simply would say that ‘they were just doing their job’.

There is another book that I have been reading for years. It is called THE BIBLE. It is actually the Holy Scriptures that came from God Himself who is the Divine Author (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Since the Garden of Eden there has been a different kind of warfare being fought in the heart of every accountable being who has lived on this earth. It is being waged in the hearts of men and women even today. Jesus Christ the Savior and His army are opposing Satan and his forces of darkness. Jesus Christ is the “Captain” of our salvation and He leads His army in this ongoing conflict (Hebrews 2:10). The apostle Paul describes this type of warfare in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” Again in Ephesus 6:10-16: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul then describes the Christian soldier’s armor: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”

There is a ‘wall of faith’ mentioned in Hebrews chapter eleven that list the names of many of the heroes who died while fighting the forces of evil beginning with Abel and including Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and many others. In the second section of the Book of God you find names like John who was called the Baptist, Matthew and the apostles including Paul and Peter. There was Stephen who died in the thick of the battle. There were saints who became martyrs for Christ and righteousness as mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11. Undoubtedly under the oppression of the Roman Empire literally thousands of believers suffered horrible deaths because they would not deny their Lord. Their names, along with scores of believers in Christ over the centuries, have their names recorded in the “Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). This is the highest award, ‘The Medal of Honor’, which the Christian could ever receive.

There have been other faithful men and women in whom The Book of God has come alive, a vast number of those saints have gone on to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:23). There were the pioneer preachers who blazed the trail of Christianity across our nation and their devoted wives who stayed home, reared their children and kept the home fires burning. We have known elders who have committed their lives to the care of the members of a local congregation; deacons who have fulfilled their obligations by serving faithfully in their various roles as servants of the church and Bible teachers who have devoted hours of preparation in order to teach effectively adults and young people the Word of God There are saints who have endured hardships and discouragement over the years yet they have remained faithful to the Lord. And consider the missionaries and their families who often serve the Lord under adverse conditions and do not enjoy the same luxuries of life as other Christians while they live in foreign countries. There are Christian educators who sacrifice much in order to provide an education that includes the teaching of the Bible and opportunities for spiritual growth and Christian fellowship. There are members of the body of Christ who are “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord… (I Corinthians 15:58). Christ truly lives in them (Philippians 1:21). They can say with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And when they come to the end of their journey here on this earth they will also declare: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Heroes, not really, just devoted soldiers of the cross, ‘doing their job’, and carrying the blood stained banner of their King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

07 April 2010

"It Was God's Will" (Part 1)

No doubt it was a horrendous collision when the 18 wheeler crossed the media and crashed into the van that was carrying several members of the same family and a couple of friends who were on their way to a wedding in Iowa . The dead were identified as belonging to the Mennonite religion. These people manifest a loving and forgiving spirit. An individual who is also a Mennonite stated that the accident that killed a total of eleven people was “God’s will”. In the television movie ‘Amish Grace’ which is about the man who entered an Amish school building and killed several children and the forgiving spirit of the Amish people, one of the elders stated that it was “God who determined who would be killed.” My question is, how did these individuals know that it was God who determined that eleven people be killed in that accident on I-65 in the state of Kentucky and the poor children who were killed by a mad man? Was it true that it was “God’s will” simply because these individuals believe and teach that? Did God reveal this knowledge to these individuals? Where in the Bible does it state that it was “God’s will”? And yet many people who believe in God and in His Word often say to grieving loved ones when a tragedy occurs and takes the life of a family member that it was “God’s will”. What does it mean that it was “God’s will” when a tragedy occurs and lives are lost or someone is crippled for life?

Are you saying that it is “God’s will” when a drunk man lost control of his car and ran over a child who was playing in the front yard at home? I knew of a preacher and an elder who had been studying with a family and who were returning home following the class and were killed by a drunken man who hit their car at a high rate of speed. Was this “God’s will” that these two Christian gentleman lose their lives in this manner? I had a personal friend who was on his way to teach a Bible class in a south Alabama city for a Christian College when two drunks in an automobile came over a hill and hit his car and all three were killed instantly. Was this “God’s will”? Are we to blame God for all the accidents, tragedies and atrocities that occur in this life?

Usually it is Bible believing individuals who exclaim that it was “God’s will” when some tragedy occurs and a loved one dies. While their intention is to express sympathy and compassion to the ones hurting, the person expressing this sentiment may not in fact understand what he is saying. The victims involved in the accident might have been good moral people and believers and family members and friends would have the convictions that the deceased ones had gone to be with the Lord. But have you ever considered the view from the family members of the one who caused the accident when several people were killed? Would they say that it was “God’s will” that he was drunk and driving recklessly and hit a child playing in the yard or that he crossed over to the other lane of traffic and hit another vehicle and killed a person or persons? I think not. At this time authorities do not know why the driver of the 18 wheeler hit the van and killed ten innocent people and himself. He may have been intoxicated, high on drugs, he may have had a heart attack or he may have just been overly tired and fell asleep. The driver may have been a God fearing, Bible believing individual. Are you willing to say that it was ‘God’s will’ that he should kill those ten people in that van? Will he be condemned to eternal perdition because it was ‘God’s will’ that he committed such an awful deed? What I am trying to say is that we should be very careful in attributing every act of violence or the tragedies in life to being “God’s will”. In essence we are blaming God for these occurrences and this alone causes people to wonder what kind of God he is that we love and serve. There are scores of individuals who have become atheists or agnostics due to believing that it was “God’s will” when a child or other family members were killed in an accident.

God is sovereign. He is Almighty in power and He can do what He chooses to do in this life. But He created man in His own image and one trait that he placed in mankind was the power of choice. God’s sovereignty and man’s volition operate concurrently. God does not force His will on mankind and in contrast mankind can decide not to comply with the will of his Creator. God also established laws of nature and when they are violated there are consequences to be suffered. Gravity, though unseen by human eyes, is a law of God for the good of mankind. If a man who is drunk falls off a high building he will suffer the consequences because he has violated a law of nature. I knew of a fine Christian lady who tripped and fell into the Little River Canyon in north Alabama . She suffered the same consequence as did the drunken man who fell off the high building. Both died because they violated the law of gravity. Was it God’s will that they both die in this manner? Yes, if you understand that all things that happen in this life occur because of the permissive will of God. And when two vehicles traveling at a rate of speed collide there will be terrible results to occur, even the loss of lives. But that does not mean that tragedies occur because God determines such to take place. God does not force a man to drink alcoholic beverages to the point of becoming drunk. That is man’s choice. God does not will that the same drunken individual drive his automobile over an innocent two year old child and kill her. Neither did He determine (over the free will of man) that the driver of an 18 wheeler truck hit the van that killed ten innocent people but He did permit it to happen. And that is a tremendous difference. He allowed it to happen but to say that He determined it so is a world of difference. (To be continued)

22 March 2010

Whenever I Am Afraid

A few years ago, I heard the late beloved Franklin Camp deliver a moving sermon as one of the speakers on the Faulkner University Lectureship. I believe the theme of the lectureship that year was, “Blessed Assurance”. Brother Camp was referring to various passages of scriptures that had sustained him over the years. He also related that in the month of May, 1981, he learned that he had to have open-heart surgery. He said that he had to wait twelve days before he could have surgery. While lying on a hospital bed for that length of time, he thought of the great seriousness of this type of surgery. He admitted that he was afraid, realizing the seriousness of the kind of surgery. He then thought of Psalms 56 that was written by David during a very trying time in his life. David had to flee from the presence of Saul who sought to kill him and he also had to deal with the Philistines who wanted him dead. In this particular psalm, David is seeking the help of God to deliver him from those who sought his life. In verses 3 and 4, David writes, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” Again, in verses 10 and 11, “In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Brother Camp noted that David was a strong man, having killed a lion and a bear while protecting his sheep and had killed Goliath the giant (I Samuel 17). Yet, David said that he was afraid. Brother Camp said that if David could be afraid, so could he. But, the encouragement is to be found in the statement, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.” Please note that there seemed to have been a progression from verse 3 when David said “I will trust in You” to verse 11 when he declared “In God have put my trust”. As I listened to this great man of God confess his fear along with David’s, I thought to myself, if David and brother Camp could be afraid at times, surely I could also be afraid in certain circumstances.

But, David said that he trusted in God when he was afraid. And, that trust in the Lord will calm the troubled soul. The word trust is mentioned 74 times in the book of Psalm and carries the idea of leaning on and trusting in someone; to have implicit faith and full confidence in another. In Psalm 46:1 we have these beautiful words, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble…” Again David exclaimed, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1). Recently, two of our dear Christian lady friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. The ‘C’ word does not need defining. It is one word that brings fear to our very souls. This passage in Psalm is one that I encourage these ladies and others to read and meditate on and do as David did: “In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word)” (Psalm 56:4, 10). Our Father has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Go to Him in prayer and leave there your every care and He will uphold you with His everlasting arms.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices;
And with my song will I praise Him.”

Psalms 28:7

26 February 2010

Was It a Sign From Heaven?

It was about seven o’clock one morning recently when I looked out the glass door toward the backyard and the utility house and I saw something that I had never seen before since moving into this house in the year of 2004. Shinning brightly on the side of the utility house was a circle with a bright cross in the middle of it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing so I walked hurriedly to my office and got my camera and took some pictures of that scene. I wanted my wife to see what I had seen so she would not think that I was having a hallucination. I thought to myself, people around the world are always ‘seeing’ the face of Jesus in the clouds and even sometimes in pancakes. Of course certain religionists are always seeing the likeness of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in various places and on different substances. So why could I not be the fortunate one this time to have a ‘sign from heaven’ and in this case, a cross. Now I know the cross I saw was not the traditional one on which the Lord was crucified but nevertheless, it was a cross. You can envision that if you turn this cross just a bit, it would be the kind that we believe Jesus was placed on and crucified. The cross that I saw is called Crux Decussata. “Crux Decussata comes from decus, Latin for 'distinction', 'honour', 'glory' and 'grace'.” I must point out that the side of the utility house that had the circle and cross on it was facing west and I was looking east toward the rising of the sun. But was it a sign from heaven?
Man’s nature never changes. We have a strong desire to see in order to believe. When Jesus Christ walked upon this earth, he taught people about the coming of the kingdom of God and performing miracles, there were certain unbelievers who requested that Jesus perform a ‘sign’ for them, seemingly just to satisfy their curiosity. In fact some of His hearers (the Pharisees) had accused Him of performing miracles by the power of Beelzebub and not by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:24-32). They also said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You” (Matthew 12:38). The writer Mark record states it in this manner: “Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him” (8:11). So you can plainly understand that their request was not made in sincerity and from honest hearts. The reply from the Lord came swiftly: “But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39, 40). Jesus spoke in reference to His resurrection from the dead. If the people of His day would not believe in Him because of His miracles and teaching, there remained no further evidence to be given. Jesus knew that even if a dead person returned to the world of the living, such would not necessarily cause faith to be found in the hard hearts of some people. While Jesus lived under the Old Covenant, the Jewish populace was to adhere to the writings of “Moses and the prophets” (Luke 16:27-31).

The apostle John summed up the basic reason (though Jesus often responded because of compassion) for the signs/miracles performed while he was alive. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30, 31). After the resurrection of our Lord, He sent His apostles on a world wide mission to preach the good news of His death for the sins of the world and His resurrection (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15, 16). “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (Mark 16:20). The Hebrew writer had reference to the teaching of the Lord and the apostles and the reason for the miraculous signs in their work: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:3, 4)? The word “confirm” means “to establish the truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of; corroborate; verify.” So the deity of Jesus was established by His signs and wonders; and, the word that the Holy Spirit gave to the apostles was confirmed by miracles. Therefore, there is no longer a necessity for ‘signs from heaven’ or from any other source. Today we do not need any likeness of Jesus, a shroud, pieces of His cross or perhaps His robe. When Thomas saw Jesus following His resurrection, Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). The faith we have comes from the word of God and not from any ‘signs from heaven’ (Romans 10:17). The apostle Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” The Christian’s faith rests upon objective truth found in the inspired word of God, and not by subjective feelings that might arise from seeing ‘signs from heaven’.
Oh, my ‘sign from heaven’ occurred when the rays of the morning sun shined on a window on my house and was reflected then to the utility house. The reason that this had never occurred before was because there had been a Bartlett pear tree shielding the sun rays from doing such but my neighbor had the tree removed several months ago. It is amazing how the reflection of the sun rays on the window pane and frame caused the circle and a cross to appear on my utility house. Maybe the major reason was to say to me that X marks the spot where I need to do some painting just below the window on the utility house.

12 February 2010

Snow, Beautiful Snow

I. Introduction:a. This subject is on the mind of most everyone today (February 12, 2010).
b. It is rare when we do have snow this far south.
c. Remember other occasions
i. Opp, Al. March 14, 1973. (6 – 8”)
ii. Prattville, Al. March 14, 1993 (6”).
iii. As a boy in north Georgia .
d. Snow is the handiwork of God and shows His Almighty power.
i. Psalms 148:8 – “Fire and hail, snow and vapor; Stormy wind, fulfilling his word…”
e. The word SNOW is mentioned 20 times in the Bible. 5 times in the book of Job.

II. THE POWER OF GOD IS MANIFESTED IN THE FIELD OF PHYSICAL SCIENCE.a. God asked 40 questions in Job 38 that are still marvelous today
i. Job 38:22 – “Have you entered the treasury of snow, Or have you seen the treasury of hail…”ii. Suggests the availability of snow and also the importance of the quality of snow. Snow collects nitrates, free ammonia, etc.
b. The source of the snow is God.
i. Job 37:6 – “For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.”
c. Snow could be found in Palestine…In the mountain ranges of Lebanon and Mount Hermon .
d. Also in the city of Jerusalem .
i. Proverbs 31:21 – “She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet.”ii. Proverbs 25:13 – “Like the cold of snow in time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who him for he refreshes the souls of his masters.”

III. SNOW IS CONNECTED WITH THE THOUGHT OF PUNISHMENT.a. Miriam – Numbers 12:9, 10 – “So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.”
b. The end of the wicked.
i. Job 24:19 – “As drought and heat consume the snow waters, so the grave consumes those who have sinned.”
 IV. SNOW CONNECTED WITH DEITY AND ANGELS.a. On the mount of transfiguration.
i. Mark 9:3 – “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”ii. Revelation 1:14 – “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire…”b. Angels
i. Matthew 28:3 – “His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow.”
 V. SNOW CONNECTED WITH THE GUILT OF MAN’S SIN AND HIS INABILITY TO RID HIMSELF OF THE STAIN OF SIN.a. Job 9:30 – “If I wash myself with snow water, and cleanse my hands with soap, Yet You will plunge me into the pit, and my own clothes will abhor me.”
 VI. SNOW CONNECTED WITH THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.a. Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”b. Psalms 51:2, 7 – “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
c. Zechariah 13:1 – “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem , for sin and uncleanness.”d. Matthew 26:28; John 1:29; Ephesians 1:7; I John 1:7.
e. Song: “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”
f. The blood of Christ cleanses us for all eternity
i. Revelation 7:13, 14 – “Then one of the elders answered saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”g. Song:
Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down ev’ry idol, cast out ev’ry foe:
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies,
And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
I give up myself and whatever I know:
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, Thou see-est I patiently wait;
Come now, and within me a new heart create;
To those who have sought Thee,
Thou never saidst No:
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, Yes, Whiter than snow;
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.Our humble abode and our neighborhood~

10 February 2010

Byron's Beloved

He had just completed his freshman year at Alabama Christian College and she had just completed the eleventh grade in the ACC High School. It did not matter with either one of them that Carolyn was only sixteen years old; they were madly in love with one another. Her parents gave their consent for them to marry but they had to ‘sign’ for her in order for them to obtain their marriage license. There was a song during the 50's that went something like –
They tried to tell us we're too young
Too young to really be in love
They say that love's a word
A word we've only heard
But can't begin to know the meaning of
And yet we're not too young to know
This love will last though years may go
And then some day they may recall
We were not too young at all
And yet we're not too young to know
This love will last though years may go
And then some day they may recall
We were not too young at all
Their marriage lasted for over 52 years. Their love had staying power. Byron cared for and provided for his beloved. Carolyn stayed largely in the background. You would likely see her rather than hear her. Byron was just the opposite. You saw and heard him! She was a devoted wife and added to that, she was a preacher’s wife which is most demanding in various ways. She could say, as did Ruth , “Where you go, I will go…” She was a talented individual. She was an artist and she created a series of Bible study material for use at the Grady church where they labored for some 36 years. While Carolyn was of a quiet disposition she had convictions. She was a very sweet Christian lady and a joy to know. She had many friends who loved her dearly. Carolyn was a devoted mother and grandmother. Her sons, Lee and Blaine, and their wives, Layla and Patty, will testify to that truth. She loved to go up to their property on Lake Martin and enjoy the quietness and the beauty of the scenery.Bryon and Carolyn, Roger and Helen, Virginia and I often ate out together, especially on birthdays and wedding anniversaries. We had been friends for over 50 years. In fact, Virginia and I helped to sing at the wedding of Byron and Carolyn back in August of 1957 in the old West End church building in Montgomery. In the picture of the ACC Chorus you will find Carolyn on the first row, Roger and Byron were standing by one another (yes, they had slender faces) on the back row. I was standing on the second row on the end. Virginia had been in the chorus for two years but was now working and Helen was at home caring for a child. Incidentally this picture was taken in the Capitol Heights church building where Byron preached for five years.Byron and Carolyn had been apart for a little over five months. He died on August 24, 2009 and she passed from this life on February 3, 2010. Several artists recorded a love song that was popular many years ago and I think it is suitable for this occasion because we have the blessed assurance that our dear friends are now together in the eternal care of our Heavenly Father.
Together again
My tears have stopped falling
The long lonely nights
Are now at an end
The key to my heart
You hold in your hand
And nothing else matters
We're together again
Together again
The gray skies are gone
You’re back in my arms
Now where you belong
The love that I knew
Is living again
And nothing else matters
We're together again
And nothing else matters
We're together again

30 January 2010


The devastating earthquakes that occur in various countries from time to time and destroy cities and kill thousands of people makes us realize more and more the uncertainty of life. The magnitude of destruction wrought by such force is overwhelming. There is a scripture I want to mention presently that deals with a particular earthquake.

In the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts, the account is given of the conversion of a Philippian jailor and his household. The jailor, a gentile, was a non-believer in the deity of Jesus Christ. The day that Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into prison was perhaps an ordinary one for the jailor. While the day may have started out like any other day for this particular person, it certainly did not end in a common fashion. Something transpired that transformed the life of this Roman citizen and the lives of his loved ones. Something drastically happened. An earthquake occurred in this man’s life. It was a literal tremor, a movement of the earth that the shook the foundation of the building that housed those people in the prison. The jailor was awakened by this event and was about to take his own life because he thought his prisoners had escaped. Paul prevented this tragedy by shouting, “Do thyself no harm; for we are all here!” It was at this time that the jailor sprang forth and asked the most important question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”After hearing and believing the gospel, this man and his family were baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 16:30-34; Mark 16:15, 16). The jailor began the day unsaved but concluded it by being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Something wonderful came out of what seemed to be a truly horrible experience in his life.

Into every life, sometime, somewhere, somehow, ‘earthquakes’ occur. Not necessarily literal, physical movements of the earth, but events that can help to change our lives, if we accept them in a positive manner. These ‘earthquakes’ come in various forms. There was the death of a teenage son that caused his parents to turn to Jesus. A man was operated on and it was discovered that he had cancer. He repented of sins and came back to the Lord. Three months later he died. The person who lost all his material wealth realized for the first time that he had been trusting in the wrong values in life. He sought then the true riches in Christ.

Tragedies and trials can become blessings in disguise if we permit God to work in our lives (Romans 8:28 ). David stated “Before I was afflicted I went astray; But now I observe thy word.” He even declared, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I may learn thy statues” (Psalms 119:67, 71).

The gospel of Christ is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16 ). But, ‘earthquakes’ that come into our lives can and often do motivate people to realize their plight in life without God. It is then that we should seek the salvation that is the Savior.

19 January 2010

"I'm Drinking From My Saucer"

When I was a lad I often saw men pour coffee from their cups into their saucers. The reason being was to permit the coffee to cool because it was boiling hot. I can almost hear them slurping the coffee from their saucers. But the title of this article is based on a religious song that emphasizes the goodness of God. I feel sure that the thought for the song was found in Psalm 23:5 when David wrote, “My cup runs over.” There is an outstanding statement made by the apostle Paul as found in I Corinthians 3:21, “Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come –all are yours.” The fact is you have been made richer than you have ever imagined. I am not necessarily thinking about the physical or material blessings of life, even though we are recipients of multitude of blessings from our Heavenly Father (James 1:17). But if you have given your life in full submission to the will of God and the Lord Jesus Christ as a penitent baptized believer, you are rich toward God. A child of God is “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). We have been made “alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). We are a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:5, 9). Jesus Christ has made us to be “a kingdom” (Revelation 1:5). No wonder we are “drinking from my saucer ‘cause my cup has overflowed.” The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Listed below are just a few of the spiritual blessings we possess and enjoy in Christ.

1. We have been saved by the grace of God through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:5, “by grace you have been saved”. Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

2. The blood of Christ continues to cleanse the faithful children of God. I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

3. We are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:26, 27, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

4. We are members of the body of Christ which is His church. Colossians 1:18, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all thing He may have the preeminence.” I Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
5. We have a peace of mind that surpasses understanding. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

6. We have the promise that God will be our provider and protector. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Hebrews 13:5, 6, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

7. We have the hope of eternal life. Romans 8:24, 25, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” I John 5:11, 12, 13, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

8. We have the promise that God will hear and answer our prayers. I John 5:14, 15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

9. He will grant us strength to face the many trials, tribulations and temptations in this life. Romans 5:3, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Afflictions in life can actually contribute to our spiritual growth in Christ. Psalms 119:67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.” Psalms 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

10. For Christians, death is our passage way from this world to life everlasting. To the unsaved death is the beginning of eternal suffering but the child of God knows that it is the beginning of eternal bliss with God, Jesus Christ and the redeemed of all the ages. Philippians 1:21, 23, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Revelation 14:13, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”

It is because the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life on Calvary that we have become rich in Him and possess the manifold spiritual blessings that God has given to us. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” My, my cup is really running over and I indeed have to drink from my saucer!!