Category: W (page 1 of 2)

What 30 Pieces of Silver Won’t Buy

In Matthew 26:14-15 God tells us about Judas’ conversation with the ‘chief priests’ and of how they negotiated the betrayal and the payment amount. “And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” [Mk 14:10, Lk 22-3-6]. Thirty pieces of silver! I don’t think any of us really grasp the magnitude of that outrage. Can you imagine negotiating with the cruel priests the betrayal of the sweet Son of the living God for any price, let alone 30 pieces of silver?! Not only that, but Judas didn’t even get to keep the money! In fact, he only had it a few measly hours before he tried to rid himself of those 30 pieces of silver [Matthew 27:3-5].  At some point during the night and early hours of the following day Judas came to some realization that he’d been nothing more than a willing and convenient fool whom the devil, the priests and the elders, had used to accomplish what they wanted all along, to betray Christ. He was remorseful and overwhelmed by the mistake but by then it was too little, too late as they say. He even went back to the temple to try to undo the damage. He confronted the elders and chief priests who’d paid him to betray the Lord of Lords. Imagine him there in the doorway of the temple with his repentant tears running down his cheeks and beard saying, “I have sinned…I have betrayed the innocent blood”!  “Well” said the priests, “that’s your problem not ours, deal with it”. The Bible {ta’ biblia or the books} says Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver to the floor and then went out and hung himself.  I won’t defend or support Judas, how can I? He betrayed God’s Son. But just between you and me I’d have to admit ‘so have I’. I have many times betrayed my sweet King and Lord by my choices, my actions, my words, my choosing the world over the Lord. I’d have to say that I sometimes ask absent mindedly “Judas, what did you get for your 30 pieces of silver”? I wonder if he might not ask in turn, “what did you get for yours”?  I have wondered and I wonder even now, what might have been if I could have been there that fateful night and sat beside Judas at the table? If I could have leaned over whispered to him “are you sure you want to betray the Lamb of God”? I wonder what my life and walk and testimony might have been; what heartbreaks and shame might I have been spared if only someone had warned me “you are about to break God’s heart and betray the Precious Lord and instead of getting paid by this world for it you’re going to pay a horrible price”.  So, here is my question for you. Are you negotiating with this world for your 30 pieces of silver? Are you already on your way to see the priests and elders at the temple? Can I just warn you 1. The world never pays what it promises. 2. Even if it did, you’d regret it with all your heart. Let us put our betrayals behind us as Peter did and let’s get serious about the cross while there is yet time. Calvary Baptist Church across from Pizza Hut on the loop 903-729-5924. 

The Wrath of Man

There are as yet many unopened lessons God presents us in the book of Jonah and I heartily encourage you to consider a careful reading of the whole book at your earliest opportunity. For sake of time let us conclude this little Jonah series with just one final study from Jonah chapter 4. I want to call your attention to ‘The Wrath of Man”. [James 1:20] tells us “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”. Probably some of you Bible veterans remember that the preceding verse tells us “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” to be “slow to speak”. God didn’t say we couldn’t get angry and in fact there are some things that ‘should’ make us angry! What we see here though is that God warned us to very careful about our anger – because anger unchecked can quickly fan itself into ‘wrath’ and the wrath of man doesn’t lead to godly behavior or godly decisions. As such we are directed “Be ye angry and sin not” [Ephesians 4:26] “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath”. Now with those wonderful counselors from the word of God lets go back into Jonah and see if they hold true. *Perhaps you may remember that last week we saw that Jonah went preaching to Nineveh that God was about ‘overthrow’ them all for their own choices and wickedness? So, the King ordered everyone, man and beast, to “turn from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands”. Which resulted in God turning away His wrath and condemnation. As we open Jonah 4:1 we find that God’s pardon and mercy ‘displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was “very angry”.  Again, God’s tender mercy and gentleness has been revealed and instead of rejoicing that these pagan gentiles have responded rightly to the preaching, Jonah is outraged? Yes, they deserve wrath! Yes, they deserve Judgment! Yes, they deserve to be destroyed! But then don’t we all?! Have we not all failed to obey? But God is gentle and gracious, merciful and slow to anger and of great kindness! Praise His Holy name when a sinner will truly repent and call out for mercy the Great God of Jonah is ready to forgive! I wish our Bible recorded a different Jonah! I wish we were reading of a Jonah who rejoiced to see God’s tender mercy and kindness extended to these fellow failures. I wish we were reading of how Jonah ran among them and embraced them and rejoiced and celebrated God’s tender mercies with them. But no. Where I would prefer to read about an obedient Jonah in chapter one, I find a rebel like myself. Where I would prefer to read about a merciful Jonah in chapter two, I find a stubborn and selfish Jonah that reminds me of me. Where I would prefer to read about a Jonah who learned his lesson about grace and forgiveness in chapter four, I read of a selfish Jonah who cares more for his own comforts than for souls. Jonah is easy to condemn, isn’t he? But then, have you obeyed God’s command to tell others who are lost and condemned the gospel? Perhaps you’d better reserve condemnation of Jonah and focus on being more obedient yourself? Pastor Harrison and those at Calvary Baptist Church in Palestine hope to see you soon!

Why Hast Thou Done This?

Last week we looked into Jonah’s refusal to obey God and his finding of a ship to escape the will of God. This week let me call your attention to Jonah chapter 1 verses 4 through 10. In his rebellion to God’s will Jonah found a ship, paid the fare, found a good spot and went to sleep. [In like manner many Christians have done so; abandoned their post, found a comfy spot in the world and gone to sleep]. In verse 4 and 5 God sent a terrible storm. In verse 6 through 9 the mariners feared for their lives and struggled to determine why this storm was upon them. [There is a massive doctrinal and life lesson there too] can you see it? In verse 8 and 9 (with 11 considered) they confront Jonah and he confesses who he is and why the storm has befallen them. In verse 10 after Jonah tells these seasoned veteran shipmasters why they face the destruction of their ship and their lives, they were terrified and they demanded to know “Why Hast Thou Done This”?

Let me borrow your imagination for a few moments. The sky is black with storm clouds, the wind howls, the peels of lightening flash and the thunder is deafening. It rips the sails to shreds and breaks beams! You must shout to be heard by the man standing next to you. The ship reels and bucks and groans under the strain as the waves crash down on the deck. It plunges down into the troughs and then up on the next wave. Crates, ropes and tackle shatter against the railing. The men, white with panic, stagger and struggle to find something to hold onto. Some have seen the huge fish circling the ship. They fear the ship will be destroyed and they will all perish. Amidst this scene they shout their accusatory question at Jonah “WHY HAST THOU DONE THIS”?!

Why have you turned your back on God? Why have you abandoned what He told you to do? Why did you say “I surrender all to thee” when you had no intention to do so?! For the rebelling Christian alone many hard life lessons are stuffed into these few verses. Questions like: ‘Why did you tell God you would do His will and then turn your back on it’? ‘Has your storm arrived yet?’ Are you already in the belly of hell? Jonah 2:2. Can I point out that God sends storms only to turn those He loves back. He sends a storm because all else has failed to get our attention! When the mariners obeyed God that storm stopped. Can I point out that God has some storms beyond our wildest dreams if that’s what it takes to break our pride. We’re out of time and space for this week but let me urge you to study your Bible and see what God might show you.

When God Provides Cornbread

After Elijah killed the false prophets of Ba-al [1st Kings 18:40] we find him running for his life in the next chapter [see 1st Kings 19:3-4]. The notorious blow-hard queen Jezebel was all in a tizzy over Elijah killing her 400 dancing monkeys at the first annual Ba-al worship concert and she’d threatened to kill him within 24 hrs. This scripture baffled me for a long time in years past. I questioned Elijah’s stamina and judged him harshly for running. How in the world, I wondered, could the great Elijah possibly be afraid of a mop-head like Jezebel? Run from her, surely you can’t be serious? In fact I wondered why Elijah didn’t invite her to bring her “Ba-al worshippers against God” sign and come on down to Mt. Carmel so he could straighten her out like he had her false prophets. I’ve many times wondered why he feared her. But let’s go on.

As we take up his story, it was just a few days ago that the miraculous “fire of the Lord” fell upon the altar of God in Mt. Carmel. It was such a dramatic demonstration of the power and majesty of the Living God that Elijah must’ve thought ‘surely this will turn the world back to the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses!’ None could deny it. Yet, within hours many of the infuriated Jews and Gentiles had again thrown down the altar of God and were after Elijah! How could it be? From this great miracle where people had shouted “The Lord, He is God” [Ch 18:39] had degenerated into an angry mob! {That should sound familiar to those who study their Bibles}.

It is no surprise to me personally that we find Elijah in chapter 19:3-4 discouraged, depressed and exasperated. Like many who suffer from depression he’s sought solitude. Exhausted from running, he’s laid under a tree alone and gone to sleep. Yet God, who loves us and watches over “his children”, who never leaves us nor forsakes us, has seen every step Elijah has taken and watched him fall asleep. In His tender pity and mercy He sent an angel to build a fire and cook a little “cake” for Elijah [the country preacher commentary, by which I mean mine, says “cake” in the Hebrew means cornbread]. Now the Lord could have simply dropped a bag of manna from heaven beside Elijah. He could have just given Elijah the strength of Sampson or the courage of Gabriel and strengthened him and sent him home. But no, our God sent His angel to cook this discouraged weary servant a “cake” {cornbread and maybe some coffee too}; in fact verse 7 says he did it twice! Psalm 34:7 says “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them”. I urge you to read verse 6 and then read Psalm 27:13-14 too. The point is, look at our God’s tender handling of His servant during this darkest hour of Elijah’s life. Look how gentle and providential He was! When my children were small I often sat beside them as they slept and softly rubbed their head. I won’t be one bit surprised to one day learn that God does that to us during hard times. I know beyond all doubt that in my deepest pits my tender Lord whispered “trust me”.

When the Real Horsemen are Released

In Alan Dean Foster’s bestselling western novel “Pale Rider” the main character {a role later played 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 music there is 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…”

But instead of getting our doctrine from Hollywood let’s look at what the Bible has to say about the real PALE rider. “The Four Horsemen” of the Revelation is far more frightening than you might think. 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 Jesus Christ [I Cor 15:1-4] –You Won’t Be Here when the Divine Seals are broken and the Angelic Horsemen are released. Look at Revelation 6 where we will find the period known as ‘The Tribulation’ or “The Time of Jacob’s trouble” [Jeremiah 30:7]. The FIRST SEAL is broken and the FIRST ANGEL horseman is released. He is ‘The Conqueror’ upon his WHITE horse. His ministry is terrible! Government and Nations of the world will collapse and be ripped to shreds. He will turn them against each other and against Israel.

The SECOND ANGEL horseman will combine his terrible power with that of the first – WAR rides the RED horse. The planet will be devastated. Peace will be taken from all the earth. On a global scale no one senses peace but rather a sense of impending doom and battle. He will cause man to turn on man and nation to turn on nation. It will be savage and brutal war unending until the “anti-Christ comes with his false promise of peace”. It will be horrible when the White horse conqueror and the Red rider of WAR is released.

Now “come and see” the third seal broken and the THIRD ANGEL Horseman comes thundering out of heaven riding a BLACK horse and with his balances in his hand [Revelation 6:5]. The BLACK horse rider is empowered to bring global economic ruin. Food, fuel, electricity, hospitals and all things that require economy will be brought to collapse. The ensuing panic and plagues will be unimaginable. Hunger and violence and homelessness and mob rule will grip the planet under the BLACK horse rider.
These three ANGEL Horseman will leave the earth a smoking war-torn battlefield. Now try to hear with your imagination as the fourth beast says “Come and see” and here let me urge you to read Revelation 6:8 in its entirety…and behold, a PALE HORSE and his name that sat on him was Death…and these FOUR angelic horseman will have power to kill with plague, wild animals, starvation and war! I just cannot imagine this scene and frankly I don’t want to. It will be merciless. I don’t know about you but I am glad I won’t have to see the suffering these Horsemen bring …because I’ll be with my Lord at the marriage supper.

When it Seems You’re All Alone

One of the saddest things I suppose we Christians can experience is the feeling that God is far from us! Sin can bring about this feeling of abandonment and hopelessness. *There is a huge difference between spiritual {judicial} forgiveness and parental forgiveness. In fact in Psalms 22:11 the great king David cried out “Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help”. I agree with him – I notice that sometimes God allows a bad situation to get so bad that I am faced with the irrefutable realization that there is not a soul on earth who could have helped me deal with what I was facing. At such times, when God does finally step in, it has gotten so bad that I must acknowledge that He alone could have helped. I think when David said “…for there is none to help”, it was because he had reached that place where God alone could help. Have you ever felt that way?

Look at these similar places in David’s life where he cried out to God in desperation: Psalm 22:19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Again in Psalm 27:9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. David, you may remember, made some huge blunders in his spiritual life and committed some atrocious sins [2 Samuel chapter 11 onward]: Lust, Adultery and Murder yet he repented of his sins [Psalm 51]. I always find it humorous to hear someone say that they have finally reached a place where they don’t commit sin {John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, popularized the teaching of Christian perfection in his 1777 book “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection”}. I am glad for our sakes that God recorded David’s sin, confession and repentance in the Bible! We find David again crying out in Psalm 35:22 “This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.” If that isn’t enough to convince you that even David wasn’t perfect, take a look at Psalm 38:21 “Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me” and Psalm 71:12 “O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help”.

As you were reading David’s great psalms / prayers beseeching God to not leave him alone and without hope, I trust you noticed that any one of these prayers might be great to memorize for your own dark hours. Over the many years thousands like yourself have cried out to God and cited these prayers of David or words very similar! This feeling of being alone in deep despair and hopelessness is not new to us and in fact if you’ll turn in your Bible to Matthew chapter 28 verse 46 you’ll find our Lord Jesus Christ praying “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? Jesus was forsaken in your place that through his sacrifice you might have the fellowship He has with the Father and never be forsaken again! Glorious work of Calvary!

Why the Prisoners Didn’t Run

This past Sunday evening at Calvary Baptist Church we took another look at Acts chapter 16 and verses 25-28 where we read: “And at midnight Paul and Silas [prayed], and [sang praises] unto God: and the prisoners “heard them”. And suddenly there was a great earthquake {See Rev ch 16}, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately [ALL the doors ~ not some, not the elect, not the predestinated, not John Calvin’s perverted version of ‘all’, which he thought meant ‘some’] were opened and every one’s [which John Calvin decided only meant ‘some’] bonds were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, do thyself no harm: for we are ALL here”. 
Hey I don’t know about you, but if I got arrested on some made up junk charges, slapped into a filthy rat and lice infested prison for months, with years to serve ahead of me and all the sudden my chains fell off, my door opened; I’d leave a cloud of dust and hair like those old speedy Gonzales cartoons! But not one of these prisoners ran?! Not one took the opportunity to flee ? WHY NOT?
I imagine myself there as a prisoner and ask myself “why wouldn’t I run?” and here are my answers: #1. THEY PRAY! Oh how they do pray! By the time my chains fall off I’ve been listening to these men of God pray their sweet soul stirring prayers. I have listened and the tears have run down my dusty cheeks and I have prayed along with Paul and Silas in their cell down the corridor. I imagine I can hear them praying. They have moved my heart miles closer to God and as I have listened to them pray I have thrown myself into the arms of God and begged for His tender mercy and forgiveness!
#2 THEY SING! I imagine if I were there, all afternoon I’ve listened from my cell as these men SANG HYMNS unto God! They’ve taken me back in time to the days when I heard my old feeble grandfather sing the old hymns to God. The songs have stirred my heart and I’ve sung along in the dark of my cell. I’ve sobbed the words of those old hymns! How could I run from this heavenly music of the soul? 
#3. THEY PRAISE GOD! They are locked up, beaten and bleeding and yet I hear them praise God?! Oh how they remind me how good God has been to me and how rebellious I have been to Him. They make me want to praise him too! I think of all the many times God has helped me, held me up and held my hand in dark hours; how He has loved me and been faithful to me despite my being unfaithful to Him! These men praise God despite their suffering! It is no wonder people run from some churches. The prayers are rote & dead, the singing is obligatory and dead, the praise is all but a rock concert. Here at Calvary we pray, we sing from the old hymn books, we praise the living God and we feel His presence!

What Time is It At Your House?

I cannot imagine what it was like for Solomon; the smartest & wisest man who ever lived. To help him govern, Solomon once asked the Lord for such wisdom to help him make decisions regarding the people [1st Kings 3:7-14] and God gave Solomon wisdom in abundance. We are permitted a brief glimpse of this wisdom on the pages of Ecclesiastes. Turn with me in your AV1611 Bible to Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 and read this chapter full of wisdom. Your time would not be wasted to just chew on each of these 22 verses one at a time, but let me call your attention this week to verse 6. To everything there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven… “A time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away;” For some, it is long past the time when they should be getting 1. Serious About Their Future! 2. Their marriage, 3. Their spouse, 4. Their children, 5. Their walk with the Lord. Is it not long past time to “GET” into God’s word and “GET” it into our hearts? Notice also a time to LOSE: The more you think about it the more you realize the truth of it. Some things I’ve had to LOSE in life, although they seemed painful at the time, have worked out rather for the best. For example I’ve lost some friends who weren’t friends, I’ve lost some words that weren’t appropriate for a Christian tongue, I’ve lost some thoughts that weren’t consistent with a Christian mind. Are there some things you need to lose? Perhaps some arguments with God? Perhaps some arguments with a husband or loved one. Ah notice next a time to KEEP. I always wonder why so many younger generations abandon the things they should keep and take up new and untrustworthy things they shouldn’t? But wisdom and life have shown me much and I am keeping some things to the end! My old Bible! My old hymnal! My old fashioned spirit-filled, loud preaching, Bible believing church! I am going to keep my ‘yes ma’am and no sir’, my no hat at the table and I am keeping my Christianity loud, proud and if you don’t that’s your loss! Last see that there is a time to CAST AWAY: Some things need to be not only dropped, they need to be hurled as far as we can throw them! As a servant of the Living God I’d tell you quick you need to CAST AWAY un-forgiveness, hard-heartedness, hypocrisy, unfaithfulness, insincerity and most of all cast away pride. Pride is dangerous and venomous. This is a good time for us all to ask ourselves as we begin a new ‘SEASON’ of life – What do I need to GET, what do I need to LOSE, what do I need to KEEP and what do I need to CAST AWAY! I am certain that if you will be honest with yourself you’ll see some things that fall in all four categories. So as we begin this New Year let me ask you ‘What time is it at your house’? Lastly let me assure you, it is long past time for you to honor God’s command to gather with the church! 

Who is Waiting for You?

Sunday morning we were taken back to Mark chapter 5 vs 1-20 for the morning sermon. There of course we read about the devil possessed man who, seeing Jesus step out of a boat on the shores of the Gadarenes, ran to him. This man, we read, had been a long time naked in the mountains and in the tombs cutting himself with rocks as he wailed, moaned and cried. We read that he had many times been captured and taken home but soon had torn off chains and fetters and escaped again. It is humorous and sad to hear the members of cults claim that Jesus is not God {just as is the Holy Ghost} and part of the Trinity of God {One God in three persons}. Here in this text even the devils, having seen him with spiritual eyes for endless eons, know exactly who Jesus is and they fear him [vs 7] (See Matthew 8 vs 28-29) [Not surprisingly the New American Standard version removes “Jesus” from the text in vs 29 there].

As you read on in Mark we learn that the men of the place were quick to ask Jesus to leave and that the man he’d healed asked if he could go with him but Jesus told him to stay there and tell folks what God had done for him. With that in mind let’s imagine what it might have been like for his wife and children when he arrived home cured! Can you imagine the shouts of joy? Can you see his children piled on him in the doorway when they realize Daddy has come home a new man! How long have they prayed and waited and hoped that God might help their daddy? How long has his wife begged God to have mercy on her poor husband? Perhaps you are thinking “well pastor Harrison the Bible doesn’t even say he had a wife”. I know, I’m just asking you to use your imagination and explore it a little…Perhaps he had no wife, but let us imagine his dear parent’s reactions when they see their son come walking up the road home (not bleeding, not naked, not crying and wailing, not being dragged by men who’ve caught him again Mark 5:4). No, this time he is walking…dressed…with a smile on his face praising the great King!

Can you imagine the tears running down his mother’s face as she realizes God has taken her son from the hand of the Devil and given him back to her?! How long have they waited for this day? I wonder friends, who is waiting for you to get saved? Who has knelt by their bed for years and begged God to save you? Well #1 I think God has been waiting for you to get saved! #2 I think Heaven and loved ones there are waiting for you to get saved! #3 I think your family is waiting for you to get saved! Maybe a wife / husband is waiting! Maybe parents are waiting! Maybe your children are waiting! #4 All those whom you’ll touch for God are waiting for you! How many others did this man tell about that fateful day when the Son of the Living God and center of the universe stepped out of a boat and changed his life forever? Come as you are but don’t expect Jesus to leave you the same! 

Where Would You be Now?

In Genesis 31 we find a man named Jacob in the middle of a confrontation with his uncle Laban. Jacob had worked for a long time for Laban and throughout that time Laban has taken advantage and made great profits at Jacob’s expense. During this confrontation, Jacob is rebuking Laban and rightly so. Laban has been stacking the deck so to speak for years and years. He’s really done Jacob wrong. So in the midst of pointing out how poorly Laban has treated him, Jacob says [vs 39-42] ‘you know you have really been unfair to me and the truth is that if God hadn’t helped and been with me during these years I am sure you’d have robbed me of my rightful earnings and thrown me out in the street’. Take a look at the way the scripture has it in verse 42 “Except the God of my father … had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away empty…” In other words, Jacob said that he was sure that if it had not been for God’s help and mercy and protection, things would have gone much different than they did.

How true that is in my own life! As I look back through the years now at the times I’ve seen, places I’ve been, chances and choices both good and bad I can see God’s hand all over it guiding and leading and steering. There have been deep pits on the left hand and on the right that I could have easily fallen into, but God has been with me and I can see that as plain as day. How about you Sir / Ma’am? Had it not been for God perhaps that great job you had all those years would not have been yours? Had it not been for God perhaps that Godly husband that has loved you all these years would not have seen you? Perhaps sir, had it not been for God’s providence that precious wife would not have accepted your proposal. Had it not been for God perhaps you would have died in that wreck you walked away from? Where would you be if not for God going through this life with you? Perhaps instead of being in a church listening to the preaching of the truth you might be sitting in a jail cell with a ruined life? Perhaps you would be sitting in a bar with some adulterer? What a different life you might be living today IF GOD had not been with you. You could be lost and on your way to a horror beyond imagination!

I wonder my friend, as you look at your life, – can you say “God is with me and I can see his hand leading in my life?”, or is it rather that you know in your heart that you are not His child? If you are saved it is certain that He has tried to lead you in a right path. If you are not His child it is certain that He has tried, perhaps over and over, to call you to Himself [John 14:6]. Perhaps you not sure? You can be! 

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