Author: Pastor Malcolm Harrison (page 1 of 3)

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.

When Things Are Out of Control…

Yes, this Sunday is “Resurrection Sunday” and yes, I want to write a lengthy article elaborating on the dates, history, scriptures, events and evidence behind the resurrection; but I do not have peace about it. I feel an urgency in writing rather what I sense the Lord would have me to write – and that is: there are those reading this who, right this moment, are desperate and discouraged and in a ‘deep dark pit’. Some are even thinking of “putting an end to it all”! God would have me say to you “NO”! Wait! Things will change soon.

I want to urge you to turn in a King James Bible to Isaiah 41 verse 10 and read these words carefully “Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness”. Now just slow down and take a few moments and read that nice and slow and let it sink in. “Fear thou not….for I am with thee” Maybe you’re thinking ‘well pastor I don’t feel God’s presence in my life right now’! Friend, let’s be thankful that you can still sense when you’re not close to God nor He to you. May I suggest that even though you don’t feel the presence of your heart – it’s there! Maybe you can’t sense your soul’s presence but let me assure you, it is there!

Can I tell you something else? It is very special to God! You are very special to Him, have no doubt of it. God, who holds your life in the palm of His hand, loves you far more than you can imagine. In fact He loves you more than anyone else ever has or ever will. Maybe you’re thinking ‘no not me, I’ve done terrible things, I’ve made a mess of my life’. Well you and I have a lot in common then, because we’ve both done terrible things and made a mess. Perhaps things look completely out of control right now in your life? Perhaps things really are terrible and perhaps there is no one who can help you. Want some good news for a change? Sometimes God lets us get into a deep dark pit where no one can help…where there is no hope! Why? Because when we realize that no one can help us then we turn to God and when He helps us we know it was no one else but God that helped us. That’s when we realize that when everyone else has abandoned us, God still loves us and He’s still with us.

If you would let me I would like to meet with you and tell you many wonderful things the Great “I AM” has to say to you. You’ll find, as many millions have found, that He is full of compassion and mercy, quick to forgive and slow to wrath. I can tell you that there is room for only one on the throne in your life – God will not share the throne or the crown with you.

When Christians Talk Like Lost People…

Although I use it to some degree, I personally hate Nose-book {Facebook}. One of the reasons is that I find myself constantly being disappointed by some of the things professing Christians write and ‘share’; among them, profanity. Profanity is a very filthy and sinful thing which Christians have no business being part of or using. Psalm 59:12 says “For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak”. James 3:10 adds “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be”.

Lend me your imagination for a moment. When our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed he was taken to a mock trial at a synagogue and the disciple (which means follower) Peter, followed along and blended into the gathering crowd. However, as Jesus had prophesied earlier in the evening, Peter was confronted and denied that he was a follower of Jesus. The third person to accuse Peter of being a disciple was a young woman who had spotted him in the crowd and recognized him as a follower of Jesus. Afraid for his life, Peter denied it just as he had denied it twice earlier that night. However she persisted so Peter, desperate to save his own life, began to curse and swear [Matthew 26:74] to ‘prove’ that he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Let me stress that! In order to prove that he WAS NOT a follower of Jesus, Peter laced his denial with curse words. Why did he do that preacher? Simple, because he knew what any serious Christian knows in their heart today; that profanity, cursing or swearing is part of the fallen world…it’s the way a lost man talks. It has no place in the Christians mouth.

Nonetheless Christians saturate themselves with profanity – they watch movies and television and read books filled with profanity which then gets into their hearts and soon comes out of their mouths. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”. It is as if they think nothing of the impact it is making on themselves and on their children. It’s almost like they don’t even care. Not only their children, but it seems as if some Christians don’t care what other believers will think or how their cursing will reflect upon Christ Jesus.

As for me, I don’t want to hear it! I don’t want my ears used like trash cans. Some say well preacher people have the right to cuss if they want to. I know, but does that mean that my right to not hear it goes out the window? I read once that a psychologist had coined the phrase “profanity is what happens when a shallow mind is trying to express itself”. Should children be subjected to the cursing of adults and thereby have their own heart defiled? I am old enough to remember when teachers made children wash their mouth out with soap (which they should still do), but the sad thing is if their heart was washed the mouth wouldn’t be a problem!

The Fatted Calf Needs a Bigger Stall!

In Luke chapter fifteen we have one of the greatest known accounts of God’s love in the New Testament. The famous story that is known as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. If you don’t know the story, I urge you to read it before you go any further here.

In the story a foolish son has taken his inheritance, made a terrible decision to go far away, and it had cost him all he had. Shamed, starved, impoverished, humiliated and with a broken spirit he had finally woken up to reality and decided to go home and ask his father’s mercy. When he arrived home, instead of the harsh rebuke he deserved and expected, his father fell on him, loved him, kissed him and welcomed him back. He ordered his servants to kill and cook the “fatted calf” (a tender calf kept stalled and fattened up; readied for a celebration in case his son returned).

It is this fatted calf I want to direct your attention to this week. I wonder how long the father must’ve waited and hoped and looked longingly up the road as he dreamt of his son’s return. How long had the calf languished in the barn just getting fatter and fatter? I don’t know, but I do know that is where many prodigal sons and daughters are as you read this. Afar off in sin, humiliated and shamed and crushed under the weight of this sin-sick world. All that remains is that they should “come to themselves” as this son did. That they should finally admit their terrible decisions had been costly and moreover that they should finally set out for home and a father’s love. Many such sons and daughters have we met out in life. Ruined, shamed, defiled by either themselves or their ‘so-called friends’ and sent into life’s pig’s pen.
Many longing fathers and brokenhearted mothers have we met who watch and wait, who glance hopefully at a silent phone and listen daily for the knock at the door announcing a wayward child’s return. Are there not many such sons’ and daughters’ overdue now? Ah for some the calf has been fattened so long he needs a bigger stall! How much longer will they sit in the pig’s pen chained there by their own stubborn pride? What will it take to rouse them? Our great Father too has many such sons and daughters who have taken their inheritance of eternal life and gone on their own journey out of his will. But even sitting out there out of church and out of his will they are no less sons.
Come home I say!! If as a preacher I could take you a letter from our Father I can tell you what it would say! “COME HOME SON”! COME HOME DAUGHTER! Make our Father wait no longer. If you’re one of those prodigals who is ready to come home I invite you to come and celebrate your return at Calvary Baptist Church! We’ll celebrate your return as many of us have celebrated our own homecoming.

How Long Will It Be Until Time to Forgive?…

When Jesus was sent from God the Father into the virgin womb of Mary during her engagement to Joseph, such a thing had never happened before. Who could blame him for contemplating divorcing her secretly? What a relief must’ve been the visit and explanation by the “angel of the Lord” [Matthew 1:20] assuring him of the truth.

Fast forward 30 years to John chapter 8 where we read of a conversation between the Lord Jesus and a bunch of religious idiots. Throughout the chapter Jesus has demonstrated his great mercy and spoken repeatedly of His Father [John 8:18, 19, 28 and 38 for example]. Ultimately, He condemned these Pharisees and told them plainly [verse 38] “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen of your father”.
Offended by the truth, they resorted to a 30 year old accusation. They said [verse 41] “we be not born of fornication…” {as though to say “like you were”}. Wow, it has been 30 years and yet they still haven’t “dropped their rocks” [John 8:7] as to His mother’s (alleged) fornication {as they see it}. They’re still punishing Him for being, they think, the offspring of some cur dog Mary slept with while she was engaged to Joseph. Imagine it! Thirty years have lapsed and they still won’t forgive. I wonder how many times he’d heard that trash growing up. I wonder how many times Joseph must have heard it? How many snide comments and looks did sweet Mary endure during those 30 years? Isn’t it sad?!

Some people never find the heart to forgive. There are so many verses dealing with this subject in the Bible. It is better to cover a transgression…if ye forgive not men their trespasses… on and on and on the list goes. But no…some people never forgive anyone anything. Oh they forgive themselves their own transgressions…but they’ll punish you for yours until they’re in the grave. It’s so sad to see such bitter and hateful accusing. Why, here is the very sinless lamb of Almighty God being insulted and accused of sin by the most murderous conniving treacherous lot in the whole Bible.

I say #1. How Long Are We Going To Punish Someone For Sin? How many lashes and for how many years do we beat a man with the whip? Yes, sin is wrong and yes, there is accountability and consequences, but reconciliation is our goal.
#2 When Do We Move On and Forgive? Remember our Lord’s words earlier in the chapter: Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? Neither do I condemn thee…
And Lastly #3 Who Among Us Is Without Sin? How quick we are to gather a pile of stones. Jesus told those Pharisees that he who was without sin should cast the first stone. None of us is without sin and none of us is blameless. Start this New Year off by granting forgiveness, deserved or no, for that is what the Lord gave us! Underserved Mercy and Forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ.

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