The Burglar That Escapes Undetected

Back many years ago I took the entrance exam for a large Police Department in Florida (and was later hired). I had to spend the night to be there for the long day of tests & exams so I had driven in the night before and gotten a hotel room. The next morning early I discovered that my truck had been burglarized! My truck was ransacked and tools, stereo and other odds and ends were stolen. The thief had broken in through my camper’s sliding window and breaking the latch. It was clearly the work of an amateur. The really good burglars pride themselves on getting in & out undetected. They leave no evidence, no prints, nothing out of place. They sneak in, steal one or two things that often go unmissed and sneak out with the doors locked just as they found them. Their goal is that the crime will not even be discovered. Have you been burglarized? Let’s put it to the test and see if something monumentally important has been stolen from you that you didn’t even notice was missing! Turn in your Bible to 1st John 5:7 and lets check to see if any of the words that God gave you have been stolen. Your Bible should read “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” If it doesn’t…the words of God have been stolen from your Bible. Some thieves try to tell you those words were ‘made up by men’ in 323 AD and don’t really belong in the Bible, but the fact is this verse was being quoted in writings by students of the Apostles as early as 70 A.D. Let’s look at another one: In Acts 8 the Lord sent the apostle Philip to go meet and teach a fella who wanted to know about Jesus. The fella was completely confused and so Philip met him and told him all about Jesus and showed him some scriptures to prove it. Afterwards the man wanted to be baptized and Philip said something vitally important to him in verse 8:37 “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”. WOW! Talk about a major league important piece of Scripture!! It isn’t at all a surprise to me to see Bibles that have removed this verse completely or cut out the most important part. If I were the great thief and liar called Lucifer I would use every resource at my disposal to create Bibles from which I’ve removed some words here and there…like a good burglar. There are many hundreds of stolen words, words of the Living God, which sneaky burglars & thieves have stolen from all newer versions of the Bible since 1881. However if you want a Bible that has ALL the words God gave get yourself a 1611 King James Bible.

 

 

 

If You’re Looking for a Ship You’ll Find One

The book of Jonah has always been one of my favorite Old Testament books. It is full of ‘life lessons’ from start to finish. Chapter 1:2 tells us that God told Jonah “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” and verse 3 sais “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD”. It would help you tremendously to read the whole book of Jonah, it is only a few chapters. In our text though, Jonah has been shown the will of the Lord. If that wasn’t enough, God told him plainly what He wanted Jonah to do. No doubt many reading this column are thinking “I sure wish God would show me His will for my life” or perhaps “I sure wish God would tell me plainly what He wants me to do”. Well there is good news, HE HAS! If you look closely at the Bible God has plainly told us all exactly what He wants from us and what His will is for us. Let me illustrate: We’ve all had someone hold a flashlight for us while we search for something and half the time it seemed like they were pointing that light at everywhere but where we needed it pointed. In much the same way God’s will is like a beam from a flashlight. He points it where you are supposed to look! Until you look where He’s pointing his words and His will you won’t see what his will is for you. So God told Jonah what to do but Jonah flatly refused to do what God wanted. He decided he absolutely wasn’t going to go where God directed him. So in verse 3 we read that Jonah went looking for a ship to take him anywhere but Nineveh. We pastors see this all the time. When someone is looking for a ship to escape God’s will, you can bet they’ll find one. It doesn’t matter which ship, any old clunker boat will do. Many rebels like Jonah have we pastors seen. Those who refuse to submit their will to God. Those who refuse to submit their heart to God. Those who refuse to surrender the throne of their life to God. Mark this down in your bible. If someone is looking for a ship to get them out of God’s will, they’ll find one. The S.S. DO-AS-I-PLEASE is just waiting for them to pay the fare. It is heartbreaking to see the high price some people have paid for a trip out of God’s will. I’ve seen many pay a fare for a trip they regretted with all their heart.

 

An Unmatched Horror Story

In the Bible in Acts chapter 26 the Apostle Paul is standing before king Agrippa and here he gives an account of himself unto Agrippa. I encourage you to read the chapter, especially verses 1-29 before continuing in this article. Paul’s telling of his story was so plainly honest and stirring that when he finished even king Agrippa exclaimed “…Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian”. “ALMOST”; such a sad word in this case. Several of the men in our church are skilled at hunting and fishing. They have amazingly real-looking bass and deer decorating their walls to commemorate their skills. One in particular has zebra, gazelle, kudu, alligator, buffalo, elk and moose on his walls. Each one looks so real you ‘almost’ expect them to take off running any moment. They look ALMOST alive; as if frozen in time, ready to break free of that stillness and dash away any second. But then reality settles in and you realize ‘no, they will not dash away’. The fantastically real looking ducks won’t explode skyward ever again. The Bass on the wall plaque wouldn’t notice if you put a whole cup of ‘red wiggler worms’ right in his plastic mouth. Why not? Because ALMOST alive is totally dead. ALMOST real is the same as completely fake. When a Doctor tells a waiting family “we ALMOST saved his life”, what he just said is “we completely failed to save his life…he’s dead”. {By the way I know a Doctor who has never yet lost a single patient who came to him}! You’ve heard the old saying “close counts in horseshoe’s and hand-grenades”; let me add that when it comes to being “SAVED” by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8-9] you either ARE or you’re not. There IS NO ALMOST saved. Imagine if you and I took that trophy bass mount down from the wall in my friend’s house and we took it to a pond and laid it there in the water. If we get a few lawn chairs and watch it all day, will it swim away? Will it slowly revive and start flailing? No, of course not. If I tapped your hand and said “hey look…its ALMOST moving”; wouldn’t you put your hand to my forehead to check my temperature? NO!! It isn’t ALMOST moving. It will never do so again short of a complete miracle from God to make it alive again. IF you are wondering what salvation is like – THAT’S IT! It is like the dead being made ALIVE again! It is as if the Lord Jesus Christ told them to roll away the stone from your tomb and called your name and said “COME FORTH” [John 11:43]. Tell me ma’am, are you tired of being ‘almost’ a Christian? Tell me Sir, are you tired of ‘almost’ having a relationship with God? Calvary Baptist Church has the real thing for real people who want a real Christianity. Bring your family and come see what it’s like!

A Happy Face and A Smiling Heart

In recent years scientific studies have confirmed several things that Bible believers have known for thousands of years. That is not to say that such discoveries lend any weight to the inherent truths of Scripture; nor is it surprising to us when science finally discovers something the Bible revealed thousands of years ago. For example, in JAMA International Medicine in 2016 it was ‘presented’ that women who attended any kind of ‘religious’ service more than once a week had a 33% lower death rate than non-religious counterparts of equal circumstance over a 16 year period. Another study found that those who held a religious view and who attended services regularly had a 55% lower death rate than atheists over the 18 year review period. Anyone with a King James Bible could’ve easily predicted those findings based on numerous Scriptures. For example Proverbs 15:15 says “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” Verse 15:13 there says “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” One that is more widely known even among unbelievers is Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Recently I saw a young man in a video playing a piano so beautifully that I was moved in my heart. Then I noticed that on his left arm, which was much shorter than a normal arm, he had just one little finger type growth. On the right hand I saw that there were missing fingers as well, but despite these massive limitations he played more beautifully with what he had than many who have no such limits. In fact he played wondrously and Proverbs 18:14 came to my mind. “Over in Ecclesiastes 7:3 the great king Solomon said that “sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better” and the wise find this to be true. Yet clearly we all know someone who has a happy cheerful and uplifting demeanor. That ‘happy face and outlook’ is as good as the best medicine! It is good to be around those who have it and conversely, it is discouraging to be around those who don’t. It is told that “a preacher driving along at night saw a fellow about to jump from a high bridge stopped his car and jumped out and ran to the fellow shouting wait don’t jump, tell me what the problem is” and after the fellow finished his sad story they both jumped. That’s the way it is! What is my point? Turn things that are out of your control over to the Lord and let him be God. Then brush yourself off, find some verses of comfort in God’s word and pick a hymn to sing!

The Tale of the Dragon

It is a ‘historical puzzle’ to me that so many people are fascinated by the mythological version of dragons. Movies, books, toys, jewelry, clothing, cutlery, why even candles and golden figurines feature dragons! We see them everywhere from tattoos to bumper stickers. What few realize, in my opinion, is why it is that even children’s cartoons constantly focus on presenting dragons as ‘fun, acceptable, enjoyable, friendly and totally cool’. Psychologists know that it is possible that by careful and repetitive exposure to something horrifying – fear of that horror can be overcome. Familiarity is a powerful influence often enough. Turn the monster into a friend and thereby unite them against a common foe. Raise a lamb with a wolf and you’ll have a lamb that trusts a wolf and opposes other sheep. So here we are in 2018 where children and adults alike think big fire breathing fanged dragons with horns are the coolest things on the planet. In this next few articles, God willing, I would like to tell you the biblical account of the real DRAGON. It isn’t the lovable Pete’s dragon some of you remember. It isn’t the Tokyo stomping Godzilla movie dragon either. No those are nothing compared to this. Stephen King and Hollywood haven’t in their wildest dreams imagined such a monstrosity as is coming. The great John, prophet of God, while banished for his Christianity to a remote Island, wrote the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In chapter 5 he begins telling us of horrors unfathomed that are coming. He tells us of terrible and frightening books, vials, seals and of nightmarish beasts that shall rip open the earth and plague man. He tells of four dreadful horsemen that shall be unleashed upon the earth. Famine & Disease, War, Death & Hell, The Peace Taker. And he tells us that just as God is a Trinity and man is a trinity, so too there is an Unholy Trinity. It is referred to by Bible teachers as the Anti-trinity. At its head is the monster, The Dragon {Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the King of Tyrus, the serpent = the anti-God}. Under his headship is another unimaginable creature that looks like a man, but it isn’t a man. It’s a thing called The Beast {the son of perdition, the little horn, the Man of Sin, the Anti-Christ}. Lastly in this unholy trinity is a creature called The False Prophet. In Revelation John tells us this “great red dragon” will have seven heads upon which are seven crowns and on his heads are ten horns. I am thankful to know I shall not see the Dragon in this life but I shall be present at his destruction. However I would warn you as we start this series of articles; the Dragon is very real and many millions will see him and bow before him as if he were God. I fear the “Tale of the Dragon” is the Pinnacle of Horror. Look for Part 2 next week!

One Day

I hate to go to the doctor.  No matter what my ailment is, they always seem to associate it with my weight. I swear it seems the doctors would say even a hangnail is because I’m overweight.  I don’t hate doctors, just their advice.  They’re right of course and even if I disagree or ignore the warnings, excess weight has been proven to cause a myriad of other health problems.  The doctor tells me if you don’t lose weight, there are going to be consequences, but I feel ok.  So I take the approach that one day I’ll get serious about this weight issue and I leave the office and promptly get in line at my favorite fast food restaurant for a burger and fries. With a diet coke of course.  One day becomes a distant goal and I never find myself reaching that day.

Likewise, the Bible has been warning man for years of the consequences of sin.  Romans tells us that we are all sinners, no one is righteous, and all have come short of the glory of God.  It also tells us that the penalty of sin is death.  But, you say, we all die.  Yes, but the death this refers to is spiritual, eternal.  Some don’t like the warning about the decision we have all made.  Again, you say, I haven’t made any decision, what do you mean?  If you are reading this and you have not been born again, if you have not called out in repentance of your sin and confessed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have made a decision.  You have rejected the gift of salvation, received by faith in Jesus and his death on the cross as payment for your sin. God gave each of us the ability to choose.  Will you believe the words of the living God and the testimony about his Son Jesus Christ?  Will you look at yourself and see a sinner in need of a Saviour?  Or will you ignore the warnings like you ignore the doctor’s advice.  Perhaps you have sensed your need, but like the doctor’s advice you have put it off, considering all the changes that will come with a decision for Christ.  Sadly, I have had people tell me, I want to be saved but I don’t want to have to give up this or that. Whatever the thing, it keeps them from trusting Christ because rather than see what they will gain, they can only see what they will give up.    Many times I have seen someone in a church service come under conviction upon hearing the word of God. (Romans  10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.) When the invitation to come and accept Christ was offered, they put it off.  The devil whispers to them “not now, later”. Unfortunately later never comes for many. Just like weight loss is put off, the decision for Christ is put off, and the consequences are eternal.  Be sure that God is just and the penalty for sin is hell and eternal judgment.  Why not make today the “one day” and become a child of God?

Some Verses That Are a Help in Time of Trouble

Over the years as I have faced my Goliaths and my times of rejoicing the sweet Lord has brought to my mind and heart some scripture verses that changed me, matured me, illuminated my way and brightened my path. Sometimes He’s given verses that made me laugh and made me smile. Often in times when I felt so alone He’s called to mind a verse that made me feel His presence so real I thought I could reach out and touch Him. He’s given me verses that warmed my heart. Many times he’s called to my mind scriptures that brought me up out of a horrible pit and at times when I’ve been done wrong by someone. In times of betrayal, in times of cruel accusations, in times of slander and lies. Oh, don’t we all know those?

Over the years there have been many who I have shared some of these verses with, those He’s put in my path. Sitting in hospital lobbies and waiting rooms, at funeral homes, in jails and prisons, on porches. The sad, the broken hearted, the lonely, the weary, the sick, the devastated and those on a deathbed. God has words of comfort, words of wisdom, words of help and assurance and confidence – it seems to me sometimes almost an insult to call them words, for these are filled with power and strength and comfort. Here are just a few that have been very precious to me and a great help to others as well in dark times. I urge you to turn and look at them in the perfect and most ancient of texts [which was retitled 400 years ago “The Authorized Version” called by some ‘the King James’ Bible].

Jeremiah 32:17 and Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Isaiah 41:10 is a great one!

Psalm 86:7 “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.”

All of Psalm 51!

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

Psalm 27:13-14 have helped me often “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait I say on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say, on the Lord”.

Job 13:15, Proverbs 13:15 “Good understanding giveth favour, but the way of transgressors is hard.

Proverbs 11:14, Luke 1:37, Mark 1:15 and the whole book of John.

Revelation 21:4 is a sweet comfort “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Ask God for the one He has for you today, for there are many!!

The Authority and Power of the Word of God

Napoleon once promoted a young soldier from the ranks to Captain. The old war horse had lost control of his steed and the young man had risked his own life to stop it. Napoleon was so impressed that he immediately promoted young soldier to Captain of the guard on the spot. When the young soldier went to head of the ranks the unknowing leader ordered him back to his duties, but the new Captain refused and told him he’d been promoted to Captain. When asked by whose authority he replied “by order of the emperor” and that was that. Nothing more could be nor needed to be said. So powerful was the word of the famous emperor that upon hearing it all questions ceased. Solomon, penman and secondary author of the great book of Ecclesiastes wrote in Chapter 8 vs 4 “Where the word of the King is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Old king Nebuchadnezzar back in Daniel Chapter 4 wrote two particularly interesting things that God permitted to be recorded in His bible – verse 34 “…I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?  Job, oldest book in the bible, permits to hear these ominous words God said to Job in Chapter 38:2 “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge”? And in verse 4 there “Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding?”  I am sure that I am not alone in being thankful that the “great and terrible God” [Neh 1:5] gave me enough sense to regard the words of the “Living God” for what they are! Absolutely inerrant, completely and unquestionably powerful far beyond my ability to comprehend and totally worthy of my devout belief, obedience, submission and fear. I trust in them, have my confidence in them, live by them and count it quite an honor that my precious King of King and Lord of Lords even allowed them to be given to me in my own language over 400 years ago. I don’t know about you friend, but I am one of those old fashioned bible believers who thinks God said what He meant and meant what He said in John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. What does that mean? It means exactly that ‘if any one really is a Christian and really does love the Lord Jesus Christ, he or she WILL keep God’s words’. How can someone who doesn’t even believe they exist perfectly in the bible do so?

The Difference Between Sawdust and Breadcrumbs

I once read that D.L. Moody said “If you go out into your garden and throw down a double handful of sawdust, the birds will take no notice of it; but if you throw down a handful of bread crumbs, they will soon sweep down and pick them up”.  The true child of God can tell the difference between sawdust and bread. Many so-called Christians are living on the world’s sawdust, instead of being nourished by the Bread that cometh down from heaven. Nothing can satisfy the longings of the soul but the words of the living God. I find this illustration more than a little accurate.  Once a person finally surrenders to the call [Isaiah 55:1-7] of God, unto whom by faith they “look and live” [Isaiah 45:2] and so exercise the gift of choice to become one of the sons or daughters of God [John 12:32] and they choose [Joshua 24:15, 2 Peter 3:9] to exercise the privileges of God’s open invitation to believe Him [1 John 5:10] and call out to Him [Mark 1:15] in repentance & faith [Ephesians 2:8-9] they are born again. In hearing and believing the word of faith [Romans 10:14] in their heart and confessing it’s truth [Romans 10:9-10]; they are by faith saved, a new creature in Christ, washed in the blood of the Lamb. These can no longer be satisfied by the world’s ‘sawdust’ but desire rather that “bread of life” [John 6:48]. This alone will satisfy the longings of the new creature in Christ they’ve become [2 Corinthians 5:17]. If then even little birds can tell the difference between sawdust and breadcrumbs do you not wonder how it can be that some ‘so-called’ Christians seem so contented with sawdust? Where is the great longing all true Christians know in their hearts? Where is the desire for fellowship with the brethren? Where is the innate desire for closeness with God above all else? I fear that A.W. Tozer was right in saying “Orthodox Christianity has fallen to its present low estate from lack of spiritual desire. Among the many who profess the Christian faith, scarcely one in a thousand reveals any passionate thirst for God”. “How can God do his work in people who seem to think that Christianity is just another way of getting things from God”. There is as much difference between sawdust and breadcrumbs as there is between real Christianity and this artificial churchianity that seems so prevalent today. One thing is true – as birds can see the difference between the two, Christians who are walking in the spirit can see the difference between a religious production and a gathering of the church.  I have found that “religion” may cause many changes in a man or woman and yet leave them not an inch closer to God on the inside; but real Christianity changes the man inside in so many ways reshaping and reforming him to the image of Christ, changing not just how he acts in public but in literally who and what he is inside. The new man cannot be satisfied with the world’s sawdust.

Those Who Put Their Trust in God…

There was once a time when David was running for his life with his warriors [1st Samuel Ch 24] from the maniacal king Saul. It happened that David hid himself with his men in a cave and Saul, hot on his trail, came right to the place and ended up camped out very close to where David was hiding. It appeared Saul would surely find David and then it would be over. But David prayed and put his trust in God and a great Psalm was written about it. I am sure you may want to write it down or even memorize it for yourself for those times when you need reassurance. Psalms Ch. 57 vs 1 “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be past”. Oh the entire chapter is precious! Verse 7 of this prayer says “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise”. I’ll tell you friend, I have found many times that the great King of Kings and Lord of Lords is not just a God far off, but also one who is near at hand. David said his heart was “fixed” – you know what that means in the Hebrew? It means exactly what the Bible says – it means his heart was fixed on God, on trusting God, on accepting whatever consequences might come, accepting whatever the outcome David had settled his heart to trust God’s goodness and mercy and kindness. My 5 year old grandson trusts me to catch him when he jumps from furniture to me. Sometimes, with new situations, he is very reluctant so I have to force him and then he trusts me in that too. So it is with the Christian and God. Sometimes He must force us to go through something holding His hand. From then on we know that we can trust him in those situations too. The Apostle Paul touched on this trust when he said in Romans 5:3-4 “…tribulation worketh patience and patience, experience; and experience, hope…”. In other words when you go through something hard with God and He helps you through it, you learn that you can trust him with the next difficulty too and it gives you hope that others don’t have. It proves to you that you can trust him not only in ‘these’ things but in ‘those’ things as well. What a blessing to find that God is a merciful and loving God on the bright sunny days but He’s a refuge from the storm on those cold rainy nights as well. In our text from 1st Samuel David was indeed delivered from Saul’s wrath. In fact not only was he delivered from Saul, but moreover – God put Saul’s very life in David’s hands…and David was merciful to Saul, just as God had been merciful to David. You and I should have our hearts “fixed” on serving, trusting and obeying God. When you do, you’ll find yourself a much stronger Christian.

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