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