Category: H

Having Loved This Present World

Last week we waded a few steps into 2 Timothy chapter 4, let me ask you to turn there again this week and let’s read verse 9 -11. Here Paul continues his final directions to his friends and brethren and especially his fellow pastors and then tells them of a great shame and failure on the part of Demas. Verse 10 “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world”! Part of me finds this sad and disappointing. Did Demas drop the news of this betrayal on Paul during visitors hours at the prison? Did he even have the guts to tell Paul why he was abandoning God and the church? I have seen professing Christians use all sorts of fabricated excuses to forsake the Lord when it was nothing more than that they “loved this present world”. During the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ {some call it the civil war} the ‘after action reports’ recorded *Killed *Taken Prisoner and *Missing and sometimes the number of *Missing was staggering – it reflected those who snuck away in the night and those traitors who defected to the opposite side. I would ask you which column you’d list Demas in? Was he taken prisoner by the devil? Was he a traitor who forsook his General and his comrades? Part of me finds Demas a source of disappointment and I am sad for him. However, part of me finds Demas a sad example for other Christians. How many were shocked to hear Demas forsook the Lord? How many young people began to question their own faith after hearing that Demas had quit on God? Did Demas have a wife and children in church? If so, how did this affect their walk with the Lord? I have heard many say, “well preacher, it is my business and it isn’t hurting anyone”. I wish that were true, but it isn’t – Romans 14:7 says ‘For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself’. Our walk and witness and life touches and impacts others. We are not told what, specifically, lured Demas away, Paul just says Demas loved “this present world”.  What it the fishing boat? Was it the deer stand? Was it soccer, band, football or baseball practice? Who knows! One thing is certain, “This present world” is still luring Christians out and pulling lost people further away from God. I’d venture a guess that you have seen and know a Demas right now. I regret to say that you are probably going to see someone else forsake the Lord and return to the world. Lastly notice that Paul didn’t say “I always knew Demas was going to turn his back on the Lord”. No in fact I think Paul felt pity for Demas. The price of returning to the world is sometimes very high. So, let me urge you who are strong in the Lord to watch for an opportunity to reach out to the Demas’s you know. Try to help them to “free themselves from the snare of the devil” [2nd Timothy 24-26].  If Demas ever got it right and came back, we’re not told. But I have seen some who fell out come limping back! As the old saying goes “it’s better to go limping into heaven than to go skipping into hell”. Praise God for second chances! If you’re out and away from God, let me remind you that God welcomes prodigals’ home with rejoicing! Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop! 903-729-5924. 

Hung on Your Own Gallows

Ezekiel Chapter 33 speaks of the uselessness of a ‘watchman’ who, seeing the enemy coming, doesn’t blow the trumpet and warn the people. Verse 6 says that if they perish, it’ll be for their own sins, but their blood will be required at the watchman’s hand. As such let me challenge us Christians to remember that we are the watchmen in our country, our jobs, our schools and our homes. Let us take up the trumpet [Ezekiel 33:2] and give warning. You may be thinking “well preacher, no one is listening to my warnings”. I know, it probably seems that way; nonetheless Ezekiel 33 says for us to give the warning and if people decide to ignore it – so be it, that’s on them. So this week lets look at another good warning. Turn in your Bible to the little book of Esther. I urge you to read the whole thing, its pretty short and very entertaining and this article won’t make much sense if you haven’t read Esther. In the book we find a fellow named Haman who is about as useless as screen doors on a submarine. He’s like the idiot the boss put in charge of things and it went to his head. One of the things this guy required was that if he came by you had to bow and show him reverence.  But there was a Jewish fella named Mordecai and old Mordecai would’ve made a good Texan; he loves God and he won’t bow to no man especially a ‘hair in the biscuit’ like Haman. This of course makes Haman furious and he starts plotting to kill all the Jews and especially Mordecai. He even asked his wife and friends, none of whom are exactly intellectual giants, how to kill Mordecai and get the most enjoyment out of it. They all suggested a Gallows built in the living room of Haman’s house. Haman liked the idea and had a big Gallows built right in his living room. Long story short, things don’t work out to well for our arch-villain Haman and he’ll end up swinging from a rope on “his own Gallows” but all ten of his sons as well will be hanged on that Gallows. By now those of you who have a ‘meditative and reflective mind’ have surely seen numerous “life-lessons” and Biblical truths you can use to help people see. I would be interested to hear what you saw in how the devil used Haman’s own wife and his own friends against him.  I also notice that often the parents will build the gallows on which their children will hang. By their own example they teach their children to hate God and all things decent and good.  Did you find it rewarding to see Esther have the boldness to do right regardless of consequences? Did you notice that Mordecai prays about his actions and urges Esther to pray about her actions as well, but Haman makes his decisions by sheer ego and vanity?  Remember the old axiom “it is better to sleep on a decision before hand than to cry over it later”. There is too much to point out but I hope you saw that people like Haman often get hung on their own gallows. Isn’t it long past time for you to bring your heart to Calvary? Come worship with us at Calvary Baptist Church in Palestine. Call for directions and service times 903-729-5924 across from Pizza Hut on the Loop.

The Horsemen Are Prepared

By Pastor Malcolm Harrison

In Alan Dean Foster’s bestselling western novel “Pale Rider” the main character {a role later reprised by actor and director Clint Eastwood} is portrayed as gun slinging whiskey drinking preacher ‘Gabriel’ who mysteriously comes to the rescue of poor downtrodden gold claim miners who are oppressed by a gold greedy land baron. Set with ominous background music and winter sky backdrop there is even a scene where someone reads part of Revelation 6:8 “And I looked, and behold a pale horse; and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him…”.  As if this wasn’t ridiculous enough, Clint Eastwood directed this tragic Biblical blunder on the “big screen” in the 1985 “Pale Rider”.  Apparently Foster hadn’t read too much of Revelation chapter 6 so let me set the record straight on “The Four Horsemen” of the Revelation. First things first, get this settled in your head: If you are really a “born again” [John 2:3] “saved” [Acts 16] “believer” [John 1:12] of the gospel of the risen Lord Jesu Christ [I Cor 15:1-4] – In other words if you are really saved, baptized by faith on the inside in the blood of the Lamb of God – watch this – You Won’t Be Here when the Horsemen are released on their terrible mission. What mission? Turn in the Bible to Revelation chapter 6 {which gives us a Panoramic view of the period known as ‘The Tribulation’ or “The Time of Jacob’s” [Jeremiah 30:7] pictured in ‘Daniel’s Furnace of Fire’. So here we are in “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” chapter 6, which is interestingly AFTER the church {the bride of Christ according to Paul in Ephesians 5} has been removed / taken / in what many call “the Rapture” and make no mistake friend – that IS A FACT.  if yere Jews by the way} and they were all mystified and confused that Jesus {the Messiah or Mashiach or Hamashiach in Hebrew} was getting more famous and baptizing more converts than John [John 3:26]. So John reminded them that they’d heard him say plainly “I am not the Christ” [Christ is simply Greek for Messiah].  Then John says in verse 2jo“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.”  This and many other verses identify Jesus as “The Bridegroom”. Ephesians 5:25-32 tell us who the bride is! She is the church! Who is the church? Well if you’re a born again washed in the blood saved person – you are part of the church! So there’s John saying “I am not the bridegroom…he’s coming after me…I am just supposed to get things ready for the marriage”! So we find as Jesus comes into his ministry John’s ministry begins to diminish and conclude. Now watch this and see if you don’t get goosebumps and a blessing from it!!  In Jewish marriages the groom entered into a BETROTHAL period with his bride…but the date was a surprise. It was kept secret from all but the anize a ‘contemporary Christian music concert’. God didn’t send Jonah to Nineveh to set up a roadside healing tent or a prophecy banquet at the Inn. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to do what many churches are NOT DOING – God sent him TO PREACH!  Why is it in these days that we find so many who are against what God is for? Why it is that God chose ‘the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe’? [1st Corinthians 1:21]  Why is it that God sent the apostle Paul to say “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” [1st Corinthians 1:18]? I’ll refer you to 1st & 2nd Timothy for the answer. He said to Jonah, not only do I want you to go and preach, but I want you to preach unto it “…the preaching that I bid thee”. Those of us who still ask that old question “…is there any word from the Lord?” are finding it harder and harder to find those little country churches where a ‘Fire & Brimstone” Jeremiah will lift up his voice like a trumpet [Isaiah 58:1] and shout “…there is”. There is all the world of difference between this man-made theological theorizing and ‘that preaching’ that God bids His servants to preach! Nineveh had collapsed into the same idolatrous sin that America has adopted. It was filled with decadence and moral decay. It was wicked. The only thing that will turn a wicked people from their wicked ways is preaching. As such God sent no Biblically ignorant Christian celebrity. He called on no winking smiling televangelists to deliver a message of a more prosperous personal journey…NO! A.W. Tozer once said “If I see clearly, the cross of popular religion is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it”.  So God sent Jonah with eight simple words.

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!

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.