07 September 2017

THE DEMISE OF THE BLUSH

When was the last time you saw a person blush? I remember well the last time I saw someone blush. It happened to be following a Bible class conducted in the home of members of the church. After the class ended, we were enjoying eating snacks and enjoying being together. I asked this Christian lady to help me to work in my garden that was located on her property. She mentioned that she had asked some of the ladies present to assist me to do a certain job in my garden. The word she used to define that particular kind of labor was correct; however, when she said the word, it took on an entirely different meaning. When she realized what she had said, she ‘turned as red as a beet’ (which is ancient saying) She was totally embarrassed! You could see the redness beginning in her neck and traveling up to engulf her face. She was embarrassed and she blushed!! That incident occurred back in the 1980s. Would you believe there was a time in the history of God’s chosen people that no one blushed? Read carefully the words found in Jeremiah 6:15: “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says When was the last time you saw a person blush? I remember well the last time I saw someone blush. It happened to be following a Bible class conducted in the home of members of the church. After the class ended, we were enjoying eating snacks and enjoying being together. I asked this Christian lady to help me to work in my garden that was located on her property. She the LORD.” The priests, prophets and and many of the kings of Judah had led the people into idolatry and away from God. They were guilty of every kind of abominations, even to the offering of their sons to be burned in homage to a foreign god. It was a of time of immorality. Their consciences were ‘seared’. Did anyone feel ashamed of their wretched deeds? No! In fact, they did not even know how to blush! There are many of our young people who do not know the meaning of the word ‘blush’, because they have never seen anyone blush. Here is one definition found in the dictionary “A reddening of the face, especially from modesty, embarrassment, or shame.” This is not indictment against all, for there are morally conservative persons who would not be included in the following remarks. Generally speaking, we have been desensitized! The definition of the word is: “To make emotionally insensitive or unresponsive, as by long exposure...” We have come a very long way from the four letter word used in the movie “Gone With the Wind”, that appeared in 1939. Now, we hear swearing and every vulgar and ‘curse’ word imaginable on television and in the movies. We are not bothered by all the gory deaths we see on the silver screen. Children are now ‘sex texting’ and sending nude pictures of themselves to others The swimwear used by many women reveal ninety percent of their bodies to be seen by all. There is no embarrassment, shame, and no one is blushing. However, there is a time when Christians should not blush. In the words of the song, AM I A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS, written by Isaac Watts (1721-24), and that is when we claim Jesus as our Savior. Here are the lyrics found in the first stanza: “Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb, And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?”

17 August 2017

"BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS..." MATTHEW 5:9

One who is 'peaceful', that is, one who is full of peace, may not, in fact, be a "peacemaker". A "peacemaker" denotes something we do and become. It is not just being passive, rather, it is something that is aggressive in nature. There is the understanding that the "peacemaker" makes every effort to reconcile people who are opposing one another. Disciples of Jesus Christ are to "pursue peace with all people." This can be a difficult task but it is rewarding. This world is full of 'peace-breakers'. It is evident in the church, in our community, in our state, in our nation and certainly in the world. There are times when a 'part' may represent the 'whole'; however, it not always the case that such is true. We can become judgemental when we conclude that it does. For example, extreme hate groups in our country are not representative of all the citizens of our great nation. Extremes begat extremes and often the "peacemakers" are found in the middle of the situations. And we must understand that true peace is to be sought without a compromise of truth. The "peacemaker" often receives criticism from both sides who are involved in the issues that separate the parties; nevertheless, the "peacemaker" has no choice but to pursue every effort to reconcile the people who manifest hatred and prejudice toward one another. The Messiah reconciled two groups, Jews and Gentiles and brought peace to those who hated one another by His death on Calvary. We will not always be successful in our efforts to reconcile individuals and groups; but, we should endeavor to do so by our attitudes and our actions. Love is the greatest force that exists in the world. A better world begins with me. Loving my neighbor is the beginning place for the true "peacemakers"

15 June 2017

GODLY FATHERS

One of life’s greatest blessings and challenges for a man is fatherhood. This relationship involves the greatest joys and demands the best one has to give and often will include many sorrows. A godly father loves his wife and is loyal to his marital vows (Ephesians 5:25). He desires the best for his children. A father is industrious. He labors to provide for his family and the needs of others who lack the material things of life (I Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 4:28). The greatest contribution a father can make to his family is leadership in spiritual matters. In every age, the head of the family has been required of God to provide the proper direction regarding religious training. Modern fathers are most likely to leave this responsibility to the wife and mother. However, Paul exhorted: “And you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). It is a tremendous requirement to make sure one’s children are taught of God but the rewards are everlasting. A Christian father may not be able to give very much materially to his children but the legacy of having a father who loved his family and the Lord, surpasses everything else. The greatest inheritance a Christian father can leave is one that is rich in faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ. We should never underestimate the love that a father possesses in his heart for his children. His emotions may not be as noticeable as the mother; yet, the feelings are just as deep. Most fathers would give their lives on behalf of their families. Their hearts are filled with deep gratitude when they witness their children succeeding in life. The Christian father rejoices greatly when his children obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. My father will be remembered for being a fine Christian gentleman. Also, the legacy of having a good name has meant more to me than all the riches of this world. It was the wise man of old who wrote: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1); and, “A good name is better than precious ointment…” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). Godly fathers are rare in this modern society. But, we should always be thankful for the ones who are. Truly, you are blessed indeed if you have/had a Christian father who placed Christ first in his life. His influence in your life and even in the lives of his grandchildren will be felt for many years to come. Say, have you hugged your father recently? DEAR OLD DAD “So often we praise our mothers here and merit all their ways. We so ignore the fact that Dad he, too, deserves some praise. Who strives to earn the daily bread? To keep all healthy—glad? Isn’t he that gets so little praise and that is dear old Dad. To praise our mothers, that is good (this they may deserve) Yet why so slack in praising Dad and keep in reserve? Let’s measure their equalities—give merits, praise, when due. Start pinning laurels on your Dad, He’s done a lot for you.” (Eva Gilbert Shaver) - Raymond Elliott

19 May 2017

SETTING OUR AFFECTIONS ON THINGS ABOVE

“If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). Remember as Christians, we are “pilgrims” in this life (1 Peter 1:1), traveling on our way to heaven where God and His Son reside. Paul instructed Timothy not to be entangled “with affairs of this life” (2 Timothy 2:4). We are not to be isolationists, but to be the “salt of the earth” and the “life of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14). But we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). We are instructed to “pray for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 1:2). Let us not become so enthralled with the unrest in the political arena in our nation and in the world that we fail to trust in God who “rules in the kingdom of men”(Daniel 5:21); and, become complacent in the greatest work in this world, and that is to preach the “gospel to the every creature”, and, to “do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

16 March 2017

HOW LONG WILL I LIVE?

Recently I received a questionnaire from the investment company where I have my IRA. One section dealt with “Investment Time Horizon.” In other words, how many more years do I plan to live and invest in my IRA. The choices ranged from “0-2 years” to “more than 20 years.” First of all, I have not invested any monies in my IRA in several years. I have been doing the opposite. I have been receiving the much needed funds to supplement my Social Security income. Well, I am approaching my 82nd birthday, the Lord willing, in the month of May; so, how many years should I select, if I plan to do any investing in my IRA? By God’s grace, providence and “by reason of strength”, I have surpassed the “four score years” mentioned in Psalm 90:10. My cardiologist , at my last checkup, said, “I will see you next year.” But, he did not give me a guarantee when I asked him if he would. He then said, “Has God ever given you a guarantee?” When you consider the facts, as found in the Word of God, you know that death is no respecter of persons. “The living know that they shall die” (Ecclesiastes 9:5); “It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27); that life “is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Furthermore, death is no respecter of age. During the month of February, 2017, two young men of my acquaintance died, unexpectedly. One friend was only forty-eight years old and a relative of mine died when he was fifty years old. Someone has said, ‘The old must die and the young do die’. Let it be understood, it is not the quantity of life that is important; rather, it is the quality of life that means so much because it affects our eternal destiny. A person who lives for Jesus Christ, will die in Christ and will be blessed eternally (Revelation 14:13). An individual who enjoys longevity of life but lives without God, will die without God in eternity. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (unprepared) (Hebrews 10:31). Are you interested in knowing what selection I chose relative to how long I might live should I decide to invest in my IRA? It is said that a positive attitude contributes to the longevity of one’s life, so, I selected the bracket, (6-10) years, but I did so, knowing that I have no assurance I will live another day. But I have this precious promise from the Lord Jesus Christ: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die, Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26). I do, because I trust in Him. If we know how to live (in Christ), we will know how to die. My heart’s desire is that every believer will “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” and the Lord will add you to His church of which He is the Savior (Acts 2:38, 47; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).

10 March 2017

"CHOICES"

The late country singer, George Jones, recorded the song, “Choices”, which sounds like a confession regarding the bad ones he made in his life and that he was “living and dying” with those choices. The Lord God made man to be a free moral agent, that is, he possesses the ability to make choices in life, either good or bad. That has been true since the time Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden. Before his death, Moses, the great leader of the children of Israel, informed the people the following: “And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal” (Deuteronomy 11:29). God did lead them to the mountains: Mount Gerizim was the mountain of ‘blessing’ and Mount Ebal was the mountain of ‘curse’. Moses commanded six leaders from six tribes to stand on Mount Gerizim to pronounce the ‘blessings’ that would come upon the people ‘if’ they obeyed the commandments of God. He also commanded six leaders from six tribes to stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce the ‘curses’ that would come upon the people if they disobeyed the commandments of God (Deuteronomy 27:11- chapter 28) In Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, Moses said, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.” “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live” (Emphasis, re). The Lord God allowed the Israelites to choose between “life” or “death”. Jesus Christ gave the people of His day a choice that is applicable for all of mankind as long as time shall stand, as recorded in Matthew 7:13, 14: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (ESV). How sad indeed it is, that “many” will choose the “easy” way “that leads to destruction”! And, only a “few” will choose the way that is “hard that leads to life.” On the judgment day when Jesus Christ will sit on the “throne of His glory”, your eternal choice will not be yours, it will be His! You will either hear, “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”; or, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:34, 41). The decision you make presently will determine the direction you will follow in this life, and eventually, your eternal destiny. Please remember, you are “living and dying” with the choices you make in this life. Prayerfully, you will choose ‘life’ in Jesus Christ. If you do, you will “die in the Lord” and will be blessed in the eternal care of our Heavenly Father (Revelation 14:13).

09 March 2017

"Till the Storm Passes By"

On Friday, March 2, 2012, our country was ravaged by an outburst of terrible tornadoes that brought death and destruction in at least 13 states. One tornado in the state of Kentucky stayed on the ground for 95 miles! Two others stayed on the ground for some 40 miles. At least one town was completely destroyed. Some forty plus persons lost their lives in a moment of time when their houses and other buildings fell on them. One infant was found critically injured in a field and later we learned that she died, as well as the rest of her family. Hearts were broken and heads were bowed down with grief and sorrow as people saw the destruction of properties and learned of the loss of lives. You are made to feel so small and insignificant when you consider the onslaught of nature’s forces. My wife and I prepared the best we could by getting into closets when the warning came for our county but even then we did not feel secure. It is only when the clear signal was given did we feel relieved.

In life we all experience storms of various kinds. Sometimes like the tornadoes, they come upon us so suddenly that we are overwhelmed. Please excuse the personal experience but one of the greatest encounters with the storms of life was the death of my ‘baby brother’ who only 35 years of age when he was killed while walking across a four lane highway in the state of Pennsylvania. I received the news by telephone at 1:00 A.M. the following morning. The next day I had the responsibility of identifying his body. I sought refuge under the sheltering wings of my Heavenly Father. And he was the second son of my mother who had been killed, the first in WWII at the age of 19.

I have been with families who have lost loved ones and have witnessed the tremendous grief they suffered; especially do I remember when close friends lost their teenage daughter in an automobile accident. Then there is a friend who has been greatly affected with the ‘Lou Gehrig’ disease. In but a short time she has become almost completely helpless. Individuals as ‘wage earners’ for their families have lost their jobs because of the economical situation in our nation. People like widows who are on a limited income have to make decisions as to whether to fill their much needed medicine or to buy groceries. Almost daily we learn of families who have lost their loved ones in a foreign country as they serve in the military.

There is the constant threat of war between Israel and Iran that would involve our nation, along with others. Even our schools are not safe because of the real threat of some students bent on killing their classmates. Evil is ever present in our society. Slowly, but surely, some of religious rights are being threatened by leaders on different levels of our government. We will all experience ‘storms of life’, especially if we live long enough that will bring us much sorrow and try our faith.

One of the basic reasons why I am thankful for the book of Psalm is because David suffered so much because of the ‘storms of life’. And that brings me to Psalm 57:1 which may have been written in a cave while he was hiding from King Saul who sought to kill him. Read carefully his words: “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.”

As Christians many our hymns bring comfort and solace to our troubled hearts in the time of storms that we experience. In 1958, Mosie Lister wrote both the lyrics and music to this beautiful song.

“Till the Storm Passes By”

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there's no hiding place;
'Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
"Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by."

Many times Satan whispers,
"There is no need to try;
For there's no end of sorrow,
There's no hope by and by";
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I'll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

(Chorus)
'Til the storm passes over,
'Til the thunder sounds no more;
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

Hold me fast, Let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes by.

Postscript ~ You can click here to hear an acapella version of this beautiful hymn.

18 February 2017

"THERE IS A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD"


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 for uncleanness.” The prophet Zechariah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned these words approximately  five hundred years before the coming of Jesus Christ. Because of the immediate context containing prophecies regarding Jesus Christ before and during His crucifixion, we can understand this passage as pertaining to His death. In chapter 9:9, the writer mentions that “Your King is coming you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (NKJV) This was fulfilled as found in Matthew 21:4, 5. In chapter 12:10, we read, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” This prophecy is fulfilled in John 19:37. Again, we find another prophecy regarding Christ in chapter 13:7, “...Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in Matthew 26:31.


The location of the “fountain” in chapter 13:1 was to be in Jerusalem. A fountain is a source of fresh water that is gushing forth for the thirsty souls. However this “fountain” refers to that which flowed from the side of our Savior while he hung on Calvary’s cross. It was a Roman soldier who “pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). His precious blood was shed “for sin and for uncleanness”. When Jesus instructed His disciples to drink of the cup, He said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” In Romans 6:3, 4, the apostle Paul explains that we come in contact with His blood that saves when we are “buried with Him through baptism”.

William Cowper, in 1772, wrote the lyrics of the moving and beautiful hymn, “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood”, based on the words found in Zechariah 13:1. Here is the first stanza of the song:
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
Praise God for His immeasurable love!

16 February 2017

A WORD OF EXHORTATION

In years past, I enjoyed going on dove shoots. There were times when I would carry at least a couple of boxes of shells, along with my Remington 1100 12 gauge shotgun with a improved cylinder. I was ready to harvest my limit of birds; however, there were times when the doves chose not to fly over the field. What a disappointment!

When teachers and preachers take the much needed time to prepare a lesson or a sermon in anticipation of the support of the membership of a congregation and hopefully, some visitors to be present for the class and/or the worship assembly, it is a great disappointment to the teacher and/or preacher when but a few members are present. Especially is this true when a congregation is small in number. The absent of just a few members will be quite evident. Of course the teacher/preacher will be greatly disappointed and discouraged. But consideration should be given first of all as to what our Lord Jesus Christ is thinking.

He knows what is in the heart of all men and women (John 2:24, 25). And He knows the difference when a member could attend the assemblies and don’t; and, the member who desires to attend but can’t because of circumstances beyond his control as in the case of illness. Brethren should get their priorities in order. The Lord should come first in all matters. While attendance for our assemblies is not the whole of Christianity, it is very important and needful. It was our Lord’s “custom” to be present for a worship assembly when he lived on this earth (Read carefully Luke 4:16). Our worship assemblies are meant to be, among other reasons, times to “stir up love and good works” and “exhorting one another” (Hebrews 10:24, 25). On the positive side of matters, I am always personally encouraged to see our aged saints (in spite of their ‘aches and pains’) to be present for our assemblies. I am very thankful for their examples of faithfulness. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9,NKJV).

05 January 2017

"YOU HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE"

The great leader, Moses, had died and the Lord God had chosen the faithful warrior, Joshua, to be the leader of the children of Israel. They were encamped on the east side of the River of Jordan and the time had come for them to cross over the River of Jordan and into the land of ‘milk and honey’, the land of Canaan. God had assured Joshua several times that He would be with him as he was about to enter the promised land (Joshua 1:6-9).
In Joshua 3, the priest, carrying the ark of the covenant, were to lead the people across the River of Jordan and into the land that God had promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Joshua, in  charging the people to follow the priest at a certain distance, said this to the people, “FOR YOU HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE”. The children of Israel were about to enter a land they did not know.
As we enter this new year of 2017, it could also be said of us, “For you have not passed this way before.” We do not know what this new year will bring. It might be weal or woe, sadness or happiness, life or death, success or failure, etc. For the child of God, we should read what God said to Joshua and to know that basically He tells us the same: “Be strong and of good courage”, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6, 9). In Hebrews 13:5, we read, “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.” Because we are children of God, this is the blessed assurance we have in our Lord. Here are some suggestions that will strengthen you as you enter the uncharted course in this new year of 2017:
  1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
  2. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind (Mark 12:30).
  3. Love your brethren and your neighbors (John 13:34, 35; Mark 12:30).
  4. Do good to all men and especially your brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:10).
  5. Attend the assemblies of the church to worship God and to exhort/edify/build up one another in the most holy faith (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
  6. Be steadfast in prayer (Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  7. Increase your knowledge of the Word of God by reading and studying it daily (Psalm 1:1-3;119:97; Matthew 4:4).
I close this article with the words of the apostle Peter as found in 2 Peter 1:10, 11: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these thing you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”