Blood Bath!

March 30, 2016

I John 1:5-7

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Blood Bath! The term conjures up horrible pictures of a massacre!  That’s bad!  I have always had a gentle nature and have never liked to fight.  I do not watch violent movies or TV shows, or allow such literature to entertain me.  I try to live by the principle Paul put forth in Philippians 4:8:

      Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
      whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are
      lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if
      there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.

In short, I try to only allow good things to enter and stay in my mind!  I know I can’t always stop wrong thoughts from coming, but – as a wise minister once told his son – “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from landing in your hair!”  Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:34, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  If I want good to come out of my heart (my life) then I will try to allow only good in!

But back to our theme – Blood Bath!  In this case it is very good!  And we, as Christians, need to understand it!  The Scripture is I John 1:5 through 7:

      This is the message which we have heard from Him [Jesus Christ], and
      declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we
      say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and
      do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light,
      we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His
      Son cleanses us from all sin.

That last part of the last sentence – “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin,” is the Blood Bath of which we must learn.  Notice that the word cleanses is in the present tense.  The present tense in the Greek gives this meaning – as explained in A Popular Commentary on the New Testament:  “…it is the present tense, however; and simply preached a perpetual removal of all sin as pollution in the light of God.” A good translation is, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son keeps on cleansing us from all sin!

A perpetual removal…!  Why do we need a perpetual removal of our sin?  It is because of what John writes to believers in the next verse, I John 1:8:  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  This side of heaven we still sin!  Although we have been given a new godly nature (see Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17), we still have the old sinful nature upon which we too often rely! (See Galatians 5:16, 17).  We follow our own way instead of God’s (see Luke 22:42).  We are told we will be sinless when we get to heaven in I John 3:2:

      Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed
      what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like
      Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

It is God’s purpose to make His children into the image of His Son! (See Romans 8:29).  Throughout this earthly life it is a process – as Paul describes it in II Corinthians 3:18:  “…we…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  Glory to glory to glory to glory! – a process until we see Him…face to face…” (I Corinthians 13:12).  Then, when “…we shall see Him as He is…we shall be [completely] like Him…!  Until then we sin!  Until then we need the constant cleansing of His blood!  Until then, we need to be under a divine Blood Bath!

Jesus, in the upper room, showed His disciples a practical object lesson of this truth in John 13:4 through 10:

      [He] rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and
      girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to
      wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He
      was girded.  Then He came to Simon Peter.  And Peter said to Him,
      “Lord, are You washing my feet?”  Jesus answered and said to him,
      “What I am doing You do not understand now, but you will know after
      this.”  Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”  Jesus an-
      swered and said to him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with
      Me.”  Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my
      hands and my head.!”  Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only
      to wash his feet, but is completely clean….”

We are washed completely by His blood when by faith we first come to Jesus! (See Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 103:12; Ephesians 1:6).  But, just like the New Testament person who washed in the public baths, and then walked home, getting only his feet dirty again, we ‘get our feet dirty’ as we walk through life!  That’s why we need the constant cleansing of His blood – a constant Blood Bath!

So thank God that…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us [keeps on cleansing us] from all sin.”  That ongoing action makes us perpetually acceptable to the Father!  Praise His holy name!

A Hug From God!

March 28, 2016

Deuteronomy 33:25, 27

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I featured this Scripture, Deuteronomy 33:25 through 27 in a four-blog series called Facing The Future (see December 30, 2015 through January 6, 2016).  In this blog I am using just a part of verses 25 and 27:  “…as your days, so shall your strength be….The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

I have a dear friend who has just been diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.  If anyone needs A Hug From God, she needs it, and so does her husband!  This is just the Scripture for them to rest upon!  We have been praying for her healing – first that they would find nothing of concern from analyzing the biopsy, now that God would touch her body as only He can, and heal her completely!  I believe in divine healing.  I practice anointing the sick (see James 5:13-16), laying on of hands for healing (see Mark 16:18), and praying for the sick one’s complete recovery (see Mark 11:23, 24).  And I have seen God work miracles of healing as a result!

But I also confess I do not fully understand why some are healed and some are not.  Is it lack of faith – theirs or mine?  I am encouraged by the account of Jesus healing the demonic boy in Mark 9:14 through 29.  Here is what happened in verses 22 through 24 (Good News Bible):

      The boy’s father told Jesus, “Many times the evil spirit has tried to kill
      him by throwing him in the fire and into water.  Have pity on us and
      help us, if you possibly can!”  “Yes,” said Jesus, “if you yourself can! 
      Everything is possible for the person who has faith.”  The father at once
      cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”

…or as the father’s response in verse 24 is translated in NKJV, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  In other words, “Lord, I believe, but I’ve got a lot of doubts! Help me!”  And in spite of his shaky faith, Jesus honored what faith the father had and healed his boy! (See verses 25-27).  That’s like me!  Too often I have ‘shaky faith’!  But God still honors faith, even if it shaky!

So I am using my faith and understanding of it all, and praying for the complete healing of my friend.  In the meantime, she and her husband need A Hug From God – that everything is under His control, and that she is going to be alright!  That’s where Deuteronomy 33:25 and 27 come in:

•      “…as your days, so shall your strength be….” – God will give us the strength to match our days – to match the trial that we are currently facing, and to get through that trial victoriously!

•      “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” – This is the Hug From God!

Read Hebrews 11 – The Hall of Heros of the faith – examples from the saints of the Old Testament.  Some were miraculously delivered, some were not!  But all were given the faith needed to go through the trials that they were facing!  All of them were held in the everlasting arms of God!  All of them received A Hug From God!

It says in Hebrews 4:13, “…there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  He knows us completely!  In Psalm 139:1 through 5 the psalmist writes:

      O LORD, You have searched me, and known me.  You know my sitting
      down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You com-
      prehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my
      ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You
      know it altogether.  You have hedged me behind and before, and laid
      Your hand upon me.

And it is written in Psalm 103:14 (God’s Word to the Nations):  “He certainly knows what we are made of.  He bears in mind that we are dust.

And knowing us completely, God knows what we need!  He had the Apostle Paul write this in Philippians 4:19:  “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

There are times when I approach my wonderful wife and tell her, “I am in desperate need of a hug!”  She stops what she is doing and gives me that big hug!  I go on my way happy! God knows our needs!  Sometimes – a lot of times, especially when we are facing severe trials – we are in desperate need of A Hug From God!  And He is always there to give it!  For…underneath are the everlasting arms.

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

March 25, 2016

John 5:24

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The month of March reminds me of that old saying about this month’s weather:  “In like a lion, out like a lamb!”  Since the month encompasses the last of winter, the weather frequently comes roaring in!  But on March 21 Spring returns.  And we often see the outgoing weather more pleasant and gentle, like a lamb!

I see a spiritual application in this old weather saying.  Consider what Jesus tells us in John 5:24:

      Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes in Him
      who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but
      has passed from death into life.

I chose this Scripture because it shows perhaps as well as any other the instantaneous change that occurs in an individual’s life when they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior!  Here is how that change is described in The Sermon Bible Commentary:

      This life which Christ offers to every man is a present possession; it is a
      fact.  The moment that you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you live,
      and there is no more death….The elements of death are taken away.  You
      did die with Christ upon the Cross, as a member of His mystical body.  Now
      you essentially live with Christ; therefore, there is no more death for ever
      and ever.

We come into this Christian lifelike a lion”!  How so?  In I Peter 5:8 it tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  Satan’s nature and purpose, according to John 10:10, is…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  That’s who he is and what he does!  Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.”  And it is not just the scribes and Pharisees that are fathered by the devil!  We all are, for we all carry his sin nature! (See Romans 3:10, 23; 5:12).  Such a nature is more often than not gentled by the moral and social standards of our upbringing, but it is not eradicated by moral and social standards!  Our condition is only changed by receiving a new nature when we come to Christ (see II Corinthians 5:17); and when we then nourish and depend on the Holy Spirit’s leading of that new nature!  As it says in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (See also Colossians 3:8-10).

How do we go out like a lamb?  When John the Baptist, in John 1:29, “…saw Jesus coming toward him…[he] said, ‘Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  And Jesus is referred to asthe Lamb 27 times in the book of Revelation!  When we come to Christ and accept Him into our heart and life as our Savior, when we are born again, as Jesus described salvation to Nicodemus in John 3:3 through 8, He imparts to us His very nature – the nature of the Lamb of God!

Now let’s go back to our featured Scripture, John 5:24:  The moment we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – that He is the only Savior, and that I am the needy sinner – the following changes instantaneously take place:

•      We go from spiritual death to eternal life! (See John 11:25, 26; I John 5:11-13).

•      We go from being ‘Godless’ to having God the Holy Spirit living in us! (See Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 2:12, 13).

•      We are no longer on our way to hell, but destined for heaven! (See Matthew 25:46; John 3:15, 16, 36; Colossians 1:5; I Peter 1:4).

•      We receive a new heart, sensitive to God! (See Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26; I Corinthians 2:14-16).

•      We change residences – from Satan’s kingdom to God’s! (See Colossians 1:12-14).

There is so much more that occurs the moment we open our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ.  The above is but a sampling!  So be sure you are like the month of March!  Come to the Savior, and you willcome in like a lion, and go out like the Lamb!

Spiritual Dominoes – IV

March 23, 2016

II Timothy 2:1-3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

One more time consider II Timothy 2:1 through 3, and the five generations of believers this Scripture implies:  Stephen, Paul, Timothy, those whom Timothy taught, and those whom they in turn would teach.

      You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And
      the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit
      these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  You therefore
      endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

It’s called Spiritual Dominoes, because one Christian affects the life of another, and that one affects the next generation of believers, and so on.  It is like a string of dominoes lined up.  You push the first one over, and it topples into the second, and so on – until all the dominoes in that string are toppled!  The string of Spiritual Dominoes we have been investigating started with Edward Kimball, the English Sunday school teacher who led Dwight L. Moody to Christ. Moody in turn affected F. B. Meyer, who ministered to J. Wilbur Chapman. Chapman trained Billy Sunday as an evangelist who recommended Mordecai Ham to preach a crusade Sunday could not fill.  And at that crusade Billy Graham was saved!  But there is one more Domino in this Spiritual string…

•      Franklin Graham – William Franklin Graham III is president and CEO of both Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse – an international relief and evangelism ministry.

Born in 1952, the fourth child of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he rebelled at the idea of trying to live up to his father’s reputation.  In his autobiography, Rebel With A Cause, Franklin writes of teenage years drinking, smoking, and trying to elude police in a car chase.  At age 22 – after joy-riding around Europe with a fifth of scotch in the hand that was not on the steering wheel of his Land Rover – he found himself in a hotel room in Jerusalem reading the Gospel of John.  As he tells the story in his autobiography:  “When I came to the third chapter, I read not just that Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, but I also grasped that Franklin Graham had to be born again as well.

Franklin returned home with a new understanding from receiving Christ as his Savior.  The founder of Samaritan’s Purse, Bob Pierce, took Graham on a six-week mission to Asia, where he witnessed poverty and hardship he had never before seen.  When Pierce died in 1978, twenty-seven-year-old Franklin became president and CEO of this relief organization.  Said Graham,

      I’m going to travel the gutters and the ditches of the world, and I’m going to help
      people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  My father can go to the big stadiums,
      but I’ll just go to the highways and the byways. (
      Programs/ people/shows/graham/profile.html).

Franlin did not want to fill his famous father’s shoes.  Not being an evangelistic preacher was part of this desire.  But in 1989 Graham preached his first crusade in Juneau, Alaska at the urging of John Wesley White, an associate evangelist with Billy Graham.  Since then he has conducted almost 200 Franklin Graham Festivals, preaching to over seven million people, according to a BGEA release.

In 2000, Franklin was named CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and president of the organization a year later.  As president and CEO of BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse, Graham continues his father’s legacy of preaching, but also brings relief to millions suffering hardship all around the world.  As he states in his 1995 autobiography – and uses as a subtitle – he was Finally comfortable being Graham!

What is the point of these last four blogs called Spiritual Dominoes?  When you consider that this particular string of Dominoes started over 160 years ago when a humble English Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball led his uncouth student to the Lord in the stock room of a Boston shoe store.  Look again at the string of Spiritual Dominoes named at the beginning of this blog.  Can you then see how touching a single life for the Lord Jesus Christ might end up saving millions of souls?!!  It happened to Edward Kimball!  When it is all said and done, Mr. Kimball will have great rewards in heaven!  For he will be credited in part for every one of those millions who have responded to the gospel message of this string of powerful pastors and evangelists!

By the way, it isn’t done yet! Will Graham – William Franklin Graham IV, the eldest son of Franklin Graham – has, since 2006, held ‘Celebrations’ in six continents around the world – giving the gospel to multitudes of people!

So be faithful in sharing Jesus Christ with whom God leads you to!  Who knows?  You may be starting a string of Spiritual Dominoes that will lead millions more to the Lord!

Spiritual Dominoes – III

March 21, 2016

Billy Graham bw photo, April 11, 1966.jpg

II Timothy 2:1-3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Spiritual Dominoes – the line of Christian influence from one generation of believers to the next – is suggested in II Timothy 2:1 through 3:

      You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And
      the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit
      these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  You therefore
      endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

As stated in the last blog, there are five generations of believers implied in this scripture:  Stephen (whose dying testimony influenced Saul, who became…); Paul the Apostle; Timothy; those whom Timothy taught; and those whom they would then teach.  This string of Spiritual Dominoes went on for many other generations!

We have been examining another string of Spiritual Dominoes, starting with…

•      Edward Kimball – the Sunday school teacher who in 1855 led to the Lord…

•      Dwight L. Moody – the renown evangelist of the last half of the 19th century who influenced…

•      F. B. Meyers – a successful English pastor who inspired a young man named…

•      J. Wilbur Chapman – a powerful evangelist who hired and trained…

•      Billy Sunday – the fireball evangelist of the early 1900’s who, when he could not fulfill a requested campaign, recommended…

•      Mordecai Ham – who in 1934 preached a revival in Charlotte, North Carolina where salvation came to…

•      Billy GrahamWilliam Franklin Graham, Jr. came forward to receive Christ as his Savior on November 1, 1934.  Six days later he turned 16.  After high school he furthered his Christian education at Bob Jones University and Florida Bible Institute.  While still a student there, he preached his first sermon – just eight minutes long – on Easter Sunday, 1937, at Bostwick Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida.  Ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1939, he continued his education at Wheaton College, Illinios where he met and then married Ruth Bell in 1943.  Five children – all in Christian ministry – resulted from their marriage.  Also at Wheaton, and after a mighty struggle, Graham settled the question of the infallibility of God’s Word – a decision that affected the rest of his ministry.

Graham pastored the Village Church in Western Springs, Illinois until 1945.  He then began preaching for Youth for Christ in both the United States and Europe until 1948.  He also served as president of Northwestern Schools – three Minnesota evangelical colleges – the youngest college president in the country, at age 29!  At Grand Rapids, Michigan, Billy preached his first city-wide crusade in 1947.  But his fame skyrocketed at the Los Angeles campaign in the fall of 1949.  William Randolf Hearst, after hearing of the conversion of cowboy singer Stuart Hamblen at Graham’s crusade, sent a two-word telegram to his newspaper editors, “Puff Graham.”  The crusade was extended from three to eight weeks because of the crowds.  By the time this one crusade was over, Graham had preached to 350,000 people, and 3,000 had made decisions to become Christians.

Billy Graham has gone on to be the most widely recognized evangelist in history!  He has authored 33 books, many of which were top sellers.  His Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sponsored a radio program – The Hour of Decision; publications – Decision Magazine, Christianity Today; a movie production company which has produced over 130 films – World Wide Pictures; and has coordinated numerous crusades around the globe!  It is estimated that through broadcasts and crusades, over 2.2 billion people have heard Billy Graham’s voice bring the gospel to them!  As a result of the crusades alone, Graham’s staff reports that more than 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation to receive Jesus as Savior.

Billy Graham has been the most effective evangelist ever – especially with the aid by modern technology.  And to think it started 160 years ago with an unknown English Sunday school teacher who was trying to be faithful to the Lord, Edward Kimball!  But it does not end with Billy Graham.  There is still one more Spiritual Domino in this string that we are considering.  We will look at this Domino in our Wednesday blog.

Spiritual Dominoes – II

March 18, 2016

Image result for dominoes game

II Timothy 2:1-3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Our scripture is II Timothy 2:1 through 3:

      You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And
      the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit
      these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  You therefore
      endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

II Timothy was written at the end of Paul’s life “…to Timothy, my true son in the faith…” (I Timothy 1:2).  From this phrase we understand that the Apostle led the young man to faith in Jesus, probably on his and Barnabas’ first missionary journey (see Acts 14:1-26).  About 20 years had passed, and Timothy had grown in his Christian faith and was assigned by Paul to pastor the church at Ephesus.  So the old apostle – knowing his life was about to end by decree of Emperor Nero – encouraged Timothy to continue the string of Spiritual Dominoes in which he and Paul were part.  Paul was apparently touched by Stephen’s witness in Acts 6:8 through 7:60.  He then influenced Timothy, who in turn was to “…commit [Christian teachings]…to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  So there are five Spiritual Dominoes implied in these verses from II Timothy 2, and the string continued with many more faithful witnesses!

We have looked at another string of Spiritual Dominoes that started with Edward Kimball, the Sunday school teacher who led 18 year old Dwight L. Moody to Christ.  Moody then inspired F. B. Meyer, who in turn led J. Wilbur Chapman to the Savior.  Moody also helped Chapman come to assurance concerning his salvation.  But there are four more Dominoes in this Spiritual string…

•      Billy Sunday – J. Wilbur Chapman, whom Moody once called the “greatest evangelist in the country,” hired an advance man in 1893 to help set up his crusades.  Billy Sunday was a baseball player with three major league teams in his career – the Chicago White Stockings, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and the Philadelphia Athletics.  Converted at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago seven years before Chapman hired him, Sunday increasingly felt God’s call on him to preach.  Chapman, who was educated and refined, coached the rough and tumble Sunday in his theology and preaching.  And when in 1896 Chapman again returned to the pastorate, Billy Sunday struck out on his own.

Over the next almost 40 years, William Ashley Sunday became the most famous and effective evangelist up to that time!  It is estimated that he preached to over 100 million people with a million and a quarterhitting the sawdust trail,” as the fiery evangelist called coming forward in the tents and tabernacles where he ministered which had sawdust-strewn floors.  His style was unlike anything ever seen!

      Sunday gyrated, stood on the pulpit, ran from one end of the platform to the
      other, and dove across the stage, pretending to slide into home plate.  Some-
      times he even smashed chairs to emphasize his points.  His sermon notes had
      to be printed in large letters so that he could catch a glimpse of them as he
      raced by the pulpit. (Wikipedia article on “Billy Sunday”).

•      Mordecai Ham – In 1934 Billy Sunday was invited by a group of Christian business men to hold a second campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina.  But Sunday wasn’t available, so he recommended they call Mordecai Ham.  Ham came and began the revival meetings in October of that year.

Despite racist and anti-Semitic leanings, Kentucky-born Mordecai Fowler Ham, Jr. became a nationally known and effective evangelist from 1900 through 1941.  To begin his crusades, he would go after the worst, most hardened sinner in town.  The following is from a website,

      A typical story is that of Ham seeking out the most notorious sinner in a Southern
      town.  Ham was directed to a certain cornfield.  The infidel saw the feared preacher
      approaching and went into hiding.  The evangelist began to hunt his prey and, hear-
      ing suspicious sounds under a cornshock, hauled him out.  “What are you going to
      do with me?” the atheist quavered.  Ham retorted, “I’m going to ask God to kill you! 
      You don’t believe God exists.  If there is no God, then my prayers can’t hurt you. 
      But if there is a God, you deserve to die because you are making atheists out of
      your children and grandchildren.”  As the infidel begged him not to pray that way,
      Ham said, “Very well then, I shall ask God to save you.”  He was saved, and before
      the meeting was over, all of that infidel’s family was baptized – forty of them!

In 1936 Ham started regularly preaching over the radio, establishing the “Kentucky Home Evangelistic Network” in 1941.  Through his 25 year radio ministry, Ham reached many millions, especially across the south.  The number of people saved through Ham’s radio ministry is unknown.  But the official count of his crusade conversions stands at 303,387.  One conversion stands out!  On November 1st, during the 1934 Charlotte, North Carolina crusade, Just six days short of his 16th birthday, Billy Graham came forward to receive Christ as his Savior!

We will continue with Spiritual Dominoes next Monday by examining the next Domino in this amazing string that started with an unknown Sunday school teacher more than 160 years ago!

Spiritual Dominoes – I

March 16, 2016

II Timothy 2:1-3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The Apostle Paul had labored tirelessly to further the good news of his Savior and Lord ever since he met Jesus on the Damascus Road (see Acts 9:1-6).  Now, at the end of his life, Paul writes a final letter to his spiritual son Timothy, encouraging the young pastor of the Church of Ephesus to remain true to God, to fight the good fight of faith, and to pass that faith on to others.  In II Timothy 2:1 through 3, the apostle gives the following practical advice to his protege:

      You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And
      the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit
      these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  You therefore
      endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I have been researching something I recently heard in a sermon – a fascinating string of eight Christians whose faithfulness influenced others, and who in turn touched the lives of millions!  Much of the following information is from a book entitled, A Nobody Named Kimball by C. Sumner Wemp; and a number of websites brought up from Google searches on the names of the following people in this featured Spiritual Dominoes string.

•      Edward D. Kimball – In 1855 (six years before the Civil War began), a humble Sunday school teacher in Boston obeyed God’s leading to stop in at a shoe store to see an 18-year-old boy who was a clerk there.  The lad didn’t know Christ and had little interest in spiritual matters.  But he did attend Edward D. Kimball’s class on Sunday mornings – encouraged to go by his uncle.  Kimball told the young man he wanted to talk to him, so they went into the stockroom where the Sunday school teacher led his student to Christ.  That moment changed the life of Dwight Lyman Moody!

•      Dwight L. Moody – Moody went on to become a famous and effective evangelist during the last half of the nineteenth century.  And it is estimated that he preached the gospel to over 100 million people over a forty year ministry of evangelism, and a million or more were converted to Christ!
He also established what would later become Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, and Moody Memorial Church, Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Press in Chicago.

•      F. B. Meyer – While ministering in the British Isles in the early 1870’s, Moody met Frederic Brotherton Meyer, a young Baptist minister who pastored in York.  Meyer’s congregation wanted Mr. Moody to preach in their church, so Meyer reluctantly agreed.  The young English minister rarely mentioned Jesus in his sermons and teaching, but Moody’s preaching was all about the Savior.  He also looked down on the evangelist because, while he had his doctorate, Moody only had a fifth grade education, was uncouth, and dressed a bit shabbily.  But the rough evangelist got results – hundreds of lives changed for Jesus – while the Reverend Doctor Meyer saw little happen of spiritual import.  Eventually the rough and tumble evangelist won over the refined minister.  And for many years thereafter F. B. Meyer preached powerfully in evangelical churches in England where he was pastor.  His preaching and writing (over 75 books) influenced many as he crusaded against immorality, especially prostitution and drunkenness.

•      J. Wilber Chapman – Chapman was first introduced to Christ as his Savior at age 17 by his Sunday school teacher, Mrs, Binkley.  He later wrote, “I do not know if this was the day of my conversion, but I do know it was the day of my acknowledgment of Christ.”  While preparing for the ministry at Wake Forest College, he attended an 1878 Moody crusade in Chicago.  Being unsure of his salvation, he responded to the evangelist’s invitation.  Moody dealt with Chapman personally, and using John 5:24, the great man gave Chapman the assurance of his salvation he desperately needed.  What is written in John 5:24?  These words from the lips of Jesus Himself:  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

By age 27, Chapman had married, and he and his wife Irene had a little girl.  A month later the young wife and mother died.  Two years after that, in the summer of 1888, he heard F. B. Meyer speak at a Northfield, Massachusetts conference.  Said Meyer, “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?”  “That remark changed my whole ministry; it seemed like a new star in the sky of my life,” Chapman later wrote.  He went on to pastor Bethany Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia – a large church that boasted the largest Sunday school in the world.  Two years later, in 1892, he submitted his resignation to become a full-time evangelist.  He became a close friend and associate of Dwight Moody, who called J. Wilbur Chapman the “greatest evangelist in the country.

So far we have seen four successive Spiritual Dominoes lined up to influence the next one in line.  We have four more to cover, and we will continue in the next blog on Friday.

The Third Generation Problem

March 14, 2016

Judges 10:6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

      Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD,
      and served Baals and Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon,
      the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of
      the Philistines.  And they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.

This Scripture, from Judges 10:6, is talking about the third generation if Israelites since God had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt.

The first generation were those who saw the mighty works of God:

•      The ten plagues the LORD sent against the Egyptians and their gods (see Exodus 7:14-12:30).

•      The parting of the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army drowning in it (see Exodus 14:13-31).

•      The LORD’s protection and leading by the pillar of fire or cloud (see Exodus 13:21, 22).

•      God’s provision of their needs, especially manna (see Exodus 16:4, 31; Nehemiah 9:21).

                                             …and a lot more!

But the first generation – although they knew God – rebelled at Kadesh Barnea.  God told them they would wander 40 years in the wilderness and not enter the Promised Land until all that generation died – except Joshua and Caleb (see Numbers 14:22-30, 38).

The second generation also experienced some of the LORD’s mighty works.

•      The miraculous crossing of the Jordan River (see Joshua 3:1-17).

•      The walls of Jericho falling down (see Joshua 6:1-20).

•      The defeat of Canaan’s kings and strong armies (see Joshua chapters 10-12).

But it seems that the second generation was not as devoted to God as they should have been.  In a way, they knew God through His works.  But they knew about God – the miracles and wonders God did concerning the Exodus, told them by the first generation – more than they knew God!

It tells us about this second generation in Judges 2:7:

      So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of
      the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the
      LORD which He had done for Israel.

The third generation is spoken about in Judges 2:10, just three verses later:  “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

•      They “…did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

•      They “…did evil in the sight of the LORD…and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them; and they bowed down to them…” (Judges 2:11, 12).

                      …and it was generally downhill for the nation after that!

What lesson can we learn from all this?  Early in my Christian life, I had a pastor who would say, “The Church is only one generation away from apostasy!”  What did he mean?  In 50 years of being a Christian, and 44 years as a pastor, I have found that generally first generation Christians are stronger and more dedicated in the faith than second or third generation Christians!  I am a first generation Christian.  I was the first Christian in my family for generations, as far as I know.  Before I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and life, you might say, I lived like hell – rebelling, drinking, running around and getting into trouble!  When I got saved, I knew I had been saved from a lot of sin!  And the quality of life I found with the Lord was so much better as I walked closely with Him and in His Word.

But the second and third generations of first generation Christians, growing up in a Christian home and in a church, can too often take the Christian faith and life for granted.  In too many cases, they see themselves as ‘good’ because they have always been bounded and restrained by God’s standards.  Christianity, then, can become just a thing that you do.  And these ones may never come to a saving knowledge of Christ themselves!  If that happens, the next generation will be lost also!

Dear people, we need to be sure we are not relying on the faith and dedication of our parents or grandparents to be right before God ourselves!  As someone once said, “God has no grandchildren!”  And we need to faithfully live out our Christian commitment before our loved ones!  We also need to intercede with the Father for our children and grandchildren – that they will come to truly understand they are sinners and desperately need the Savior themselves!  And then keep praying for them, that they will walk in the faith as they follow Lord Jesus!

Only in this way can we avoid what the Israelites experienced – the Third Generation Problem!

Drive A Stake!

March 11, 2016

I John 5:9, 11-13

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Bible teacher and author James McCarthy shares this story. He and his new bride attended a Bible conference a month after they were married.

      The speaker reviewed the gospel and encouraged all present that if they had
      any doubts as to whether or not they were right with God to deal with it right
      then and there. He spoke about the benefits of trusting Jesus as Lord and
      Savior in a formal manner and told of a farmer who for years had struggled
      with doubts as to whether or not he was truly saved. This farmer knew what
      the Bible said about salvation and the promises God made to anyone who
      believed in Jesus for salvation. Nevertheless, over and over he would profess
      faith in Christ, worried that God hadn’t heard him or that he hadn’t done it
      correctly. Recognizing that his struggle was a spiritual one, he carved the
      date into a wooden stake and drove it into the ground behind his house. He
      knelt beside it and placed his trust in Christ one last time. Thereafter, when-
      ever troubled about his salvation, he would walk outside, point at the stake,
      and tell Satan, “Right there on that date I trusted Christ.” His doubts soon

Such doubts about salvation are a common occurrence, especially for Christians young in the faith. I had the same doubts the first few years of my faith journey. I accepted Jesus into my heart and life when I was 19. I did not know the ‘correct’ way to do it, because I did not grow up in Christian home, and didn’t have much of a church background. I only knew three things:

                       Jesus is real! Jesus is alive! And Jesus loves me!

And I fell head over heels in love with Him! Looking back – and after I understood God’s plan of salvation as put forth plainly in the Bible – that was my salvation experience!

But I struggled with doubts those early years. I finally came to realize and believe what the Bible plainly tells us in John 5:9 and 11 through 13:

      If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater….And this
      is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His
      Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God
      does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the
      name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life….

And, much like the farmer, I drove a stake of belief that God meant what He said! Now, it was not a physical stake with the date I accepted Christ carved into it. I don’t even remember the exact date. It was sometime in the summer or fall of 1965, at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Is there any clearer statement than what John wrote in the fifth chapter of his first epistle? And he kept it so simple that even those worriers who are often given to doubt can Drive A Stake and lay this issue to rest! Look again at verse 13: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life….” Here are a couple of observation concerning what John is saying about believing:

•      “…the Son of God…” – Jesus is the Son of God, God the Son – co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit – God, Three in One, the Trinity! This is important because Jesus said in John 8:24 (International Standard Version), “…unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” He is telling us that, according to Exodus 3:14, He is the very God of the Old Testament – of all ages!

•      “…in…the Son of God…” – The meaning is “into…the Son of God…” It is so much more than just a nodding acquaintance. It is putting our faith – our very life – into Jesus Christ!

•      “… in the name of the Son of God…” – The name of a person in Bible times often referred to the character of that person – who that person was. The name and title of the Lord – Jesus Christ means “Jehovah saves by His chosen and anointed One! The name of Jesus refers to the total person of Jesus!

There are only two options put forth in this Scripture – both in verse 12. And there is no middle ground!

•      “He who has the Son has [eternal] life…” – as a present possession the moment you receive Him as your Savior! (See John 5:24; Colossians 1:13, 14).

•      “…he who does not have the Son of God does not have [eternal] life.What you have without Jesus as your Savior is a wasted life now and eternal hell! (See John 10:10; Revelation 20:15).

So receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior! Then Drive A Stake with the date carved on it! Each time the devil tries to make you doubt your salvation, point to that stake as proof of the fact that you have the Son of God in your heart, and eternal life in Him!

Wet Cement

March 9, 2016

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I built a retaining wall in our back yard.  There is a steep slope behind the house that goes up to the edge of the road that brings one down the mountain and into our little village.  The year before I built the wall, the hill had slipped, dropping six feet right at the edge of the road and kicking out earth and rocks into our small back yard.  The debris was actually piled right up against the back of our garage!  I had an excavator dig out a thousand tons of dirt in preparation for the wall.  Then I poured a foot-thick footer, five feet wide.  On that footer I built the retaining wall – 168 feet long and up to seven feet high – using 100 tons of semi-cut sandstone I gleaned from an old stone house that been torn down.  The stones weighed up to 300 pounds each! But most were a lot smaller.  The wall is held together with rebar and 50 tons of mortar!  It is five feet wide at the bottom and slopes up in the back to the top, with 250 tons of limestone backfill.  That way the pressure is more down than out.  Two of us, working eight hours a day, six days a week, finished the wall in two and a half months!  When it was finished, I had one stone inscribed with “The Great Wall of Van Meter!

As I would complete a day’s stonework – about two-plus feet a day – I would wait until the mortar dried some, and then take a short piece of rebar and dig out some cement between the stones on the front of the wall.  That makes the stonework of the finished product stand out.  But one day I forgot to etch out the mortar.  By late evening, the cement had almost dried.  I worked for more than two hours on the two feet of wall we had laid that day, digging into the mortar with rebar and hammer to get the effect I wanted!  It would have been so much easier if I had done my work when the cement was not so set and dry!

This reminds me of what it says in Proverbs 22:6:  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  It is a lot easier to impress good life values into another human being when they are young – when they are easily molded – when the Cement is Wet!

I know.  I learned my life values when I was young.  The problem is that they were not very good life values!  My father left the family when I was ten years old.  Although I can’t remember the feelings of devastation (I pushed them far down inside because they were so painful), I know I had them.  I experienced loss – of my father, of family coherency, of our dairy farm – since my mother had to sell out the next spring, of many of my roots!  I started medicating myself with alcohol when I was twelve, and by the time I was fifteen, I was an alcoholic!  I ran with the wrong crowd, got into trouble, did poorly in school, and impressed upon the Wet Cement of my life a multitude of negative values.  That cement hardened with those impressions firmly in place!  It took many years – sometimes of very hard work – to dig out that cement and impress new Christian values in their place!  I am still working on it!  Praise God He is very patient!

I have nine grandchildren and one great-grandson – the child of my eldest granddaughter.  Seven plus the one live nearby, and besides my 26 year old granddaughter, they are all boys, ranging in age from eight months to nine years.  There is plenty of Wet Cement to work on! And work is needed!

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 (Good News Bible), “Sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and his sin brought death with it.  As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.”  Every mother’s child has a sin nature from conception!  And every boy or girl born into this old world naturally has a penchant to sin!  You don’t have to teach a child to do wrong. They learn that early on and often all by themselves!  One of the first words a child seems to learn is “No!”  It takes constant effort and godly patience toTrain up a child in the way he should go….”  But the more consistently it is done, and from a young age, then the result will be more often manifested,…and when he is old he will not depart from it.

What is the way he should go?  Proverbs has this answer also.  Here are a few of the Gems for Living found in this marvelous book of the Bible:

•      Proverbs 3:5, 6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

•      Proverbs 3:9, 10 – “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

•      Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

•      Proverbs 16:7 – “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

•      Proverbs 28:13 – “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

There are a lot more Gems in the book of Proverbs.  Why don’t you mine some yourself?  And then impress what you learn into your children and grandchildren.  Do it in their Wet Cement while they are young and impressionable!