Category: G

God’s Stamp of Approval

There are many texts we could turn to in considering the topic of “God’s Stamp of Approval” but for sake of space & time let me just draw your attention to a few.  The thought on my heart for this message is a difficult one but a simple one and it is simply this: The Christian has to be very careful about putting God’s stamp of approval on things God doesn’t approve and in so doing lend peace to someone about doing something God would never give them peace about doing.

Many texts come to mind but just take for example the whole chapter of Genesis 34:1-34 (which see). In that sad text we find the account of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, who was a ‘young damsel’. We’re not told how old she was but the context suggests somewhere in her early to mid teens. Jacob gave her permission to go out wandering around to “see the daughters of the land” {apparently she wanted to go make some friends with other girls her age} and there’s nothing wrong with that. Where the problem comes in is that Jacob permitted her to go wandering alone [unguarded, unprotected, ungoverned and unaccompanied]. Huge Mistake!! While she’s “out hanging out” she gets spotted by a young thug named Shechem who decides that since she’s pretty, young and alone she must be ‘available’ and he rapes her. *Let me say here, and I know some will disagree with me, NO she most certainly didn’t ‘deserve’ it and NO I don’t care what she was wearing she didn’t “ask for it”. The story goes downhill from there and a lot of people die before it’s over but the point is – God would never have given approval for her to be out wandering around town without a chaperon, but Jacob gave her permission to do so and in effect “put God’s stamp of approval” on permitting unsupervised, ungoverned and unchecked teens to be roaming around. Many parents today would say “oh that’s crazy…what’s wrong with letting teenagers have a little fun”? Nothing, as long as they’re supervised by ‘responsible’ adults. Sure a lot of parents disagree with that kind of “old school” thinking, but considering the triple digit increases in crime involving teens, the unwed teen pregnancy rate which has skyrocketed since the 50’s and gone beyond static’s ability to keep up with since the 90’s, the juvenile delinquency and crime rates in America going so fast we can’t build enough prisons to keep pace and unquestionable fact you’re left with is – “Freedom for an supervised teenager is like handing a ticking bomb to a 10 year old”.  It’s 90% or better not a matter of IF they’ll make a mess of their life but rather “how severe and how long till they do”. You say “well I don’t agree”; neither did the parents of Natalie Holloway BEFORE they let their daughter go on the Aruba party trip but you can bet your next paycheck if they could go back to the moment they said “yes” you wouldn’t know her name and she’d never have been allowed to go to Aruba.

What’s my point? Its that Jacob put “God’s Stamp of Approval” on something God would never have allowed. I see parents do this all the time. Let me assure you as a veteran Police Officer & Investigator; 95% of molested children wouldn’t have been if their parents had NOT let them spend the night with a “friend” and in many cases “a relative”. Its Christian parents allowing their sons and daughters to “mingle” with non-Christians. to be on this side of that foolish decision. e result was a raped & defiled young woman who was never the same again. Certainly there is a lot of preaching in that text – but the point I’m trying to get across is that Christian’s have a responsibility to obey God and follow his ordained decrees for living life in general.

You see whether we as Christians like it or not, the simple fact is that we represent God by our manner of living and in a very real sense we are witnessing every day either in a good way or a bad way. Anyone who knows you are a “Christian” or at least thinks you are (there’s a sermon in itself) forms an opinion of God, Christians and church going people as a whole based on what they see of your life. Perhaps that’s fair and perhaps its not but either way its certainly a truth. Be it at church, at work or just out in public the fact is you never know who’s watching you, listening to you and making perhaps making decisions {be they little ones or big ones} based on what they hear you say, on what you do or don’t do and “case in point” what you approve of or don’t approve of.  Probably if you’ve got a few years under your belt as a Christian you’ve experienced this first hand.

A God of Second Chances

Jonah 2:10-3:1 tells us that while Jonah was inside the whale’s belly God spoke to it and at His word the whale beached itself and vomited Jonah out on the sand. Then, the word of the Lord came to Jonah, watch this – “the second time…”. That ought to be enough to make the crustiest old dignified Baptist run and shout Hallelujah Glory! I personally wish Jonah had got it right the first time around. I wish he’d have taken just a moment to think to himself “self, we don’t deserve one of the wonderful things God has done in our life so let’s honor Him by going and doing what He asked us to do”. But he didn’t do that.

If you and I would be plain and honest with the great and terrible God with whom we have to do, we’d admit that like Jonah, we don’t deserve one thing He’s done in our life either. But Jonah didn’t think about it. He made a terrible mistake and did exactly the opposite of what God said. In our younger years we tend to think Jonah was quite a scoundrel for acting like that. But as we get a little deeper in our Bible we start seeing our own life in the mirror of God’s word and we admit that we’re the scoundrel amen?! Maybe you’re thinking ‘well pastor, since Jonah blew it, why did God even record Jonah’s story in the Bible?’ So you could see that God is a merciful God of second chances. Even when we don’t deserve it. So you could see that even if you blow it God, who is rich in mercy, still loves you! Oh let’s take a look at Adam and Eve…they blew it bad and it cost them a high price but look close and see that God still used them, still loved them and gave them his mercy again. Who all can we see in the Bible who got a second chance? I would tell you Adam did! Eve did! Job did! Moses did! Noah did! Rahab the harlot did! Peter did! Paul did! On and on and on the list goes and my name is on it just like yours is! Abraham lied but God still used him! Job questioned his torment but God still used him. Sampson got sideways over ungodly women but God still used him after he repented. Lot moved to wicked Sodom but God still loved him and called him righteous! David committed adultery and murder and he paid dearly for it but God still loved him and gave him a second chance! John Mark turned his back on the ministry for a time and went home. Peter said Lord, I’ll follow you even to death if it comes to it and the Lord looked at him and said ‘Peter you won’t make it to breakfast before you deny you even know me’. Still though even after that Jesus loved Peter and gave him a second chance!

Maybe you’ve blown it and you’re out of church and out of God’s will. Maybe you’re in a mess. Maybe something has been missing from your life so long you think its just how you are…no, what that is sir, is the absence of your walk with God. Its your soul longing for a relationship with Him. Can I tell you from the Bible – our God is a God of second chances and His love is as strong for you right now as it was when he laid you in your mother’s womb. We’re a church that welcomes folks who need a second chance! 

God’s Word Doesn’t Return Unto Him Void

Isaiah 55:11 presents an oft quoted verse that contains an oft overlooked and ominous truth. It says “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but is shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it”. Take the Bible in hand with me and let’s consider FIVE things God’s word does: 1. It CONVICTS: God’s word convicts all who truly hear it, first of their sin and second of their standing and state before God. Remember this phrase “No Conviction = No Conversion”; it means that if there hasn’t been conviction of sin – there has not been conversion from sin. An essential element of any conversion is conviction by the Holy Spirit by the word of God (Romans 10:17 proves this irrefutable truth “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”). 2. It CONVERTS: If the hearer will permit the word of God to do its convicting work and will submit to that convicting, the word of God will bring him to a place of repentance and faith and can work its converting work. Remember this phrase “No Repentance = No Regeneration”. Jesus came preaching and saying “…I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”; not surprisingly this is removed from counterfeit bibles in Mark 2:17. 3. It CONDEMNS: When God’s word is refused, rejected or denied, it takes an ominous turn and condemns the hearer. “Repent or Perish”! Contrary to the modern ‘tip toe through the tulips’ approach of many of today’s preachers, God has much to say to those who reject his word, and all of it condemning! A man once told me, after I had invited him to church, he’d not submit and ask God for forgiveness after all these years of self-indulgence. Three days later and quite unexpectedly he was dead and I was again reminded “God is not mocked…” 4. It CONFIRMS: According to 2 Corinthians 5:7, this conversion, accompanied by the new birth, produces a “new creature in Christ”, also referred to as “the new man”. The truths of scripture confirm in my heart that God is my father and that I am His son. The truths of scripture have become real and living words in my life and heart. A Christian cannot help but to see things in a new light and the more he or she reads the bible the more evident, the more manifest, indeed the more irrefutable the scriptures show themselves to be. 5. It CONFORMS: Since I surrendered my heart to the scriptures they have been working within me, conforming my attitudes, my emotions, my thinking, my understanding, my values, my views indeed my life to fit the bible. The old saying “we don’t change the bible, the bible changes us” is far more than just a quaint phrase. Calvary Baptist Church isn’t the place for Pharisees and Judges but for those who want to meet God!

God’s Fences

CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH

TRUST THE BIBLE

“God’s Fences”

    Pastor Malcolm Harrison

 

 

Against my better judgment many years ago I let one of my son’s talk me into letting him have a puppy. We had a large back yard with a privacy fence and my son assured me he’d tend to the dog’s needs, and like many dads, I fell for it hook, line and sinker! “Max” as ‘it’ was eventually named, was a pathetic excuse for a dog. It was some kind of multi-mix mutt which I strongly suspected of having been conceived in a lab or some sinister experiment. It was spotted like a Dalmatian, built like a Dachshund and had the face of a lab; a good example of a female dog that spends time ‘outside the fence’. Nonetheless we all became fond of the mongrel and had many laughs at his expense. Max had a problem though; he was constantly digging under the fence and roaming the neighborhood vandalizing trashcans and stirring up trouble; just the kind of behavior one can reasonably expect from a suspicious looking spotted dog. The children would often have to roam the neighborhood calling out and trying to find him and then they’d chase, bait, beg, threaten or carry him back to the yard again. Over just a few years we’d filled in more “under the fence” holes than we could count. Bricks, tires, blocks, posts, debris…it didn’t matter; Max would just dig a new one. I ordered my sons to hide and scare Max back in when they caught him at it – it didn’t work. I even resorted to beatings, within reason, to drive him back into the yard – it didn’t work. Sure enough one day Max was standing in the road and was hit by a speeding car. To put it gently – it was bad. Cuts, rips, deep gashes, many teeth knocked out, hide peeled, bleeding profusely, Max was hurt bad. My daughter was screaming, Max was bellowing but it was far too late then the damage was done. I should have put him out of his misery but I didn’t have the heart and the children begged me not to. So, bleeding and hurt bad, they carried him home and for several weeks we doctored, wrapped, bandaged, fed him soup and waited. Slowly he recovered and after his release into the yard, never dug another hole or tried to get out again. Ecclesiastes 10:8 says “He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him”. Sadly many Christians I’ve seen are just like that dog…always digging under the fence and roaming around in worldliness & carnality. Always looking over their shoulder back to the “flesh pots” of Egypt…always looking for a way to “get away with sin” in their lives. Filthy worldly music, filthy movies full of cursing, nudity, promiscuity, unequal yokes {wrong friends, wrong associations, wrong relationships, wrong marriage}; some “Christians” are always more interested in the things God is trying to keep out of their lives than what He’s trying to put into their lives. There are some Christians I know who are always “digging under the fence” God has put around them. Max had it made inside that fence, we gave him everything a dog could want but it was never ‘enough’. So it is with a Christian living inside the boundaries of the walls God has placed around you. Inside God’s will you find shelter, love, providence, mercy, grace, blessings, purpose, closeness and companionship and fellowship. Out side God’s will awaits heartbreak, divorce, pain, suffering, struggle, hardship and difficulty [Prov 13:15]. What Max couldn’t understand was, the fence wasn’t there to keep him from having fun, it was there to keep the world away from him! What some Christians can’t seem to get is that God hasn’t walled you inside the Bible to keep you from enjoying life, he’s walled you about with the scriptures to keep the world out of your life! The walls are for your protection. Our house has doors with locks. They’re not to keep me in, but to keep the world out! They keep me safe & protected. The Bible’s limitations on Christian living are not against you – they’re FOR YOU! Praise God! Sadly, I see more and more young people {even some adults} many from good Christian homes setting their eyes on things outside the fence of God’s will. They choose foolish idols, foolish influences, foolish relationships and foolish friendships, things that bring heartache, addiction, pain, suffering, shame and failure…sooner or later, they get hit by one of those ‘cars’ on life’s highway. Some survive…some don’t. Don’t believe that? Visit an abortion clinic, a prison, a jail, a rehab center. Weekly I speak with “Christians” who ‘dig under the fence and get out of God’s will’. He’s called, begged, chastised and rebuked but still…some won’t learn and won’t listen. I could tell you true accounts by the dozen of Christians who “got run over” by a car they never saw and they are still suffering from the wounds of a terribly painful lesson about ‘digging under God’s fences”. Stay in!!! Come visit with us at Calvary Baptist Church at 703 Gillespie Rd in Palestine, Texas 903-729-5924