After a couple of weeks of vacation, I look forward to beginning two new sermon series for the New Year this Sunday at Hillsdale Baptist Church.
In the 10:30 AM worship service I will introduce a new verse-by-verse study of Paul’s Epistle to the churches in Galatia titled, “Freedom That Lasts.”
Unlike the majority of his letters to the early churches, the Epistle of Galatians is short and direct. In Paul’s absence, false teachers had entered the churches in Galatia, not only questioning his authority as an apostle, but attacking the very heart of the Gospel of Christ which he had taught and preached while he was in the churches.
What was the heresy that had disrupted the churches and threatened the Gospel? Judaizers had entered the churches teaching believers that salvation was not only a matter of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death, burial and resurrection; but also required works of righteousness [observing the ordinances of Judaism and obeying the Law] contrary to what Paul had taught when he was among them (Galatians 2:16, 21).
I am also beginning a new series in theBook of Proverbsin our 6:00 PM worship service. The theme of the series is“Heavenly Wisdom for Earthly Problems” (my subtitle is, “Uncommon Common Sense”).
This Sunday’s introductory message is titled, “Common Sense is Dead.”
I am not sure when “Common Sense” died, but I am convinced she was buried in an unmarked grave and an impostor named “Political Correctness” has usurped her place in our society. Common Sense has been expelled from our schools, demonized by politicians and scorned by adherents of godless ideologies promoting progressivism, socialism and liberalism.
Join us Sunday evenings as Hillsdale resurrects Common Sense in our study of Proverbs!
Elihu’s overzealous, arrogant rebuke of Job (Job 32-37) was suddenly answered, not by Job, but by the LORD Himself. We read, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1).
With the wind of a storm raging, God begins to challenge his servant with a series of questions that should silence every man, especially those who dare boast they have knowledge and understanding of God apart from His revelations. Let’s briefly consider the profoundness of the LORD’s questions to Job (38:4-41).
1) Where were you when I (the LORD) laid the foundations of the earth (38:4)? 2) Who do you think has measured and set the boundaries of the earth? (38:5)
We do not know what a man of antiquity like Job could have known about the stars and planets singing together after the foundations of creation were laid (38:6-7); however, we know some details recorded in this chapter were not proved scientifically until the 20th century! For instance, NASA has discovered there are sounds in space!
Consider the sounds of space and the planets (Saturn’s rings, the sounds of Neptune, the sounds of the Earth, and the sound of the Sun). Such wonders give new meaning to Psalm 19:1 where we read, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1).
Unlike evolutionists who propose to know the hidden secrets of nature and relegate the wonder of life to a primordial sea out of which life is supposed to have emerged; Job knew design demands a designer and creation a Creator (38:8-41). The apostle Paul declares the same in the 1st century writing, “For the invisible things of Him [Creator] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
God’s loving invitation for Job to ponder all He had created and sustains continues in Job 39.
The LORD invited Job to consider the wonders of nature and how He, the Creator, has set in order the lives and life cycles of beasts and birds (39:1-4). Six beasts, including the wild unicorn (not the mystical horse, but a one horned species of antelope, 39:9-11), and birds are named as examples of God’s care and providential oversight of His creation (39:12-30).
Appreciating “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1), we agree with the psalmist when he writes, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
Sheilah and I are winding down our last days of vacation before we return to Tampa and pick up the sacred mantle of serving as your pastor. We have enjoyed our days with family (our parents are now in their mid-80’s) and quiet time in the GA mountains. I am especially appreciative of the pastoral staff who has faithfully ministered to you in my absence and been especially tasked with visiting and encouraging families who are experiencing trials. Hillsdale is blessed to have godly, faithful pastors.
While I will miss your fellowship this one last Sunday, you are in for a special blessing as Evangelist Dr. Ron Comfort will be preaching at Hillsdale in both the 10:30am and 6:00pm worship services.
Dr. Comfort is the founder of Ambassador Baptist College, a longtime friend of Hillsdale, and a man whom I greatly admire. He has been greatly used by the LORD and his life and ministry are a testimony of unapologetic faithfulness to the Word of God. We discussed the possibility of Bro. Comfort sharing and preaching his salvation testimony in the morning service and, after reading his biography, you are going to be amazed at God’s work of grace in his life.
I look forward to introducing two new sermon series next Sunday, January 19. In the 10:30 AM service we will begin a study of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (an incredible book that was the catalyst for the Great Reformation). In our 6:00 PM services I plan to begin a new study of the Book of Proverbs titled “Heavenly Wisdom for Earthly Problems” (subtitled: “Uncommon, Common Sense”).
In closing, I am amazed God has blessed me to serve Hillsdale as a shepherd for nearly 35 years (serving as Youth Pastor, October 1985-September 1995 and Senior Pastor, October 1995 to this new decade)! Thank you for your love, faithfulness, and patience as you have allowed me to both grow-up and grow old!
Contrary to Eliphaz’s assertion that the trials Job has suffered are characteristic of the reward of the wicked, Job states the opposite has been his observation (Job 24:2-16).
Job 24:2-4 – “2 Some[i.e. the Wicked] remove the landmarks [property boundaries]; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof[upon what they have stolen].3 They drive away the ass [donkey] of the fatherless [orphan], they take the widow’s ox for a pledge [i.e. a surety; as an insurance guaranteeing repayment]. 4 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together [mistreat the poor and helpless].” Indeed, sometimes the wicked seem to escape punishment!
“Bildad the Shuhite”, one of Job’s “friends”, pretends to speak words of wisdom concerning the person and nature of God in Job 25. Only six verses in length, Bildad devotes the first three verses to God’s dominion and power (25:1-3), followed by verses 4-6 that focus on God’s justice and man’s natural, wretched state (25:4-6).
Job’s response to Bildad’s empty counsel begins in Job 26. After answering his accuser (26:1-4), Job begins a discourse declaring not only the nature of God as Creator, but stating facts about creation that were not fully proved until the emergence of modern science.
Consider the following revelations found in Job 26: 1) The earth hangs on nothing (26:7); 2) God gives and withholds water in the clouds as it pleases Him (26:8-9); 3) God has determined the boundaries of the oceans (26:10, 12a; Proverbs 8:29).
Job’s defense to Bildad’s judgments continues through Job 28.
Professing he had searched his heart and found no sins that would invite God’s judgment, Job is at a loss to understand why God has allowed so great a sorrow to shadow his life. Seeking answers, Job asks,
Job 28:12, 20 – “But where shall wisdom be found?… 20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?”
Friend, knowledge might be obtained for the excessive price of an Ivy League education; however, wisdom is priceless and cannot be purchased (28:15-19)! In the words of Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century English Baptist preacher, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
What is the repository of wisdom and how might it be acquired? The answer: “the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
I am witnessing a generation of pastors, teachers, and evangelists who preach “GRACE” and “LIBERTY” to the neglect of instructing sons and daughters in the precepts of God’s Law and Commandments. I fear…
The failure to teach the statutes and judgments (Law and Commandments) of God has created a void of knowledge and fostered a liberty that has become a license to sin.
January 1, 2020 marks the beginning of both a New Year and decade. The year ahead is untarnished by foolish words or sinful choices. The decade before us is unmarred and promises the possibility of a fresh start on life.
In a practical sense, those observations are true; however, spiritually, we cannot rush into a new year anticipating a new beginning without addressing the sins and failures of the past. The past has a way of “catching up” with us and skeletons of secret sins inevitably emerge from the shadows. The “baggage” of unresolved sins and conflicts will cast a shadow over our lives until we face and address them.
Fortunately, the Word of God has given us God’s answer for past sins and offers us His grace and forgiveness. John writes, “If we confess[acknowledge; declare; admit] our sins[specific sins], he [The Lord] is faithful[to be trusted] and just[righteous; holy and without sin] to forgiveus our sins [offences], and to cleanse [purify; purge] us from all unrighteousness [every wrong, every sin]” (1 John 1:9).
Think of that principle on forgiveness in this way: In the same way a builder cannot begin construction of a new edifice without first clearing away debris and making sure the foundation, you and I cannot enjoy a fresh start without first addressing the sins of our past biblically, confessing them, and seeking forgiveness from the Lord and any against whom we have sinned.
Jesus taught His disciples the same principle in His Sermon on the Mount. Using the illustration of a worshiper who comes to offer a sacrifice in the Temple, but remembers he has sinned against his “brother” [family member, friend, acquaintance], Jesus commanded, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest [you remember; comes to mind] that thy brother hath ought against thee [has been offended by your sin]; 24 Leave there [at the Temple] thy gift [sacrifice] before the altar, and go thy way [go immediately]; first be reconciled [seek peace and reconciliation] to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift [sacrifice]” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Forgiving Because Forgiven
“Life’s cruel thrusts and stinging
wounds cut deep—I can’t forget.
I know not if I can forgive, dear
Lord, they hurt and fret.
But when I think how I have
sinned and oft have wounded Thee,
Repentant, then I too, forgive,
as Thou forgavest me!”
From “Practical Bible Illustrations From Yesterday and Today”
The potential of a fresh new start, unencumbered by sin, is waiting for you and me if we are willing to seek forgiveness and be made whole with the Lord and others. The Lord is waiting and promises, I will forgive and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).
On a personal note, while I cannot promise to post a devotional commentary every day, I hope to post regular devotionals following a chronological Bible reading plan published by Blue Letter Bible. I invite you to set aside “modern translations” and use the King James Version Bible (KJV) which is a “word-for-word” translation that gives you the very words of God, translated from ancient, trusted manuscripts. A “dirty little fact” on modern Bible versions is that men have, under the guise of making the scriptures readable, taken unjustified (sometimes heretical) liberties with the scriptures. I will quote the KJV in my devotionals, while also inserting brackets “” after words to propose an amplified suggestion of a word that I trust will offer clarity for your understanding.
On a personal note: I have been disappointed by many and bewildered by more than a few leaders over the course of my life and ministry. The task of writing this brief summary of a recent chapel announcement from a man I held in high esteem is numbered among my saddest accounts.
Re: November 7, 2019, Chapel Hour
Bob Jones University
In the introduction of his November 7, 2019 chapel message, Dr. Bob Jones III, Chancellor of Bob Jones University (BJU) and former President of the University, publicly praised Dr. Billy Kim, known as the “Billy Graham of Asia”.
Dr. Kim served Evangelist Graham as his translator during his 1973 Crusade in South Korea. Never one to shy away from ecumenical opportunities, Dr. Kim has served as President of Baptist World Alliance (2000-2005) and associated with broad evangelicalism throughout his life.
Dr. Bob Jones III’s public chapel comments (minutes 2:48-6:00) concerning Dr. Kim and his ministry serve as an endorsement of the man and is a dramatic departure from the University’s legacy as a separatist institution and its stance concerning Dr. Kim.
In its history, the chapel pulpit of Bob Jones University served as a platform for calling thousands of students and tens of thousands of graduates to practice personal holiness and ecclesiastical separation.
As a graduate, I remember well the admonitions concerning ecclesiastical compromise heralded by Drs. Bob Jones Jr. and his son, Bob Jones III. The lecterns in the Preacher Boy’s Classes and Bible classes echoed the same universal warning…today’s compromise paves the way to tomorrow’s departure.
The following is a repost of a devotional I wrote for my church family, October 16, 2017. I am publishing it today as a challenge to my peers and friends to take time to review the history of 20th century Bible fundamentalist. Read their writings and sermons. Do not fall victim to progressives who pull a quote out of context to support a position the men they quote would have never taken.
I am today a 63-year-old pastor who had the privilege of standing in the shadows of great fundamentalists who are now with the LORD. Were they perfect men? Of course not; however, the same is true of my generation and the rising millennial generation. The following is a copy of the devotional, posted two years ago.
Deuteronomy is a record of Moses’ final words and exhortations to the people he had shepherd for forty years. We read:
Deuteronomy 1:3 – And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;”
It was important for Moses to rehearse with that generation who they were, from whence they came, and God’s plan for the nation (Deuteronomy 1:8). Much like you might search your ancestral family tree to know your physical lineage, Moses recognized his days were numbered among the people and he wanted them to know not only their physical lineage, but more importantly, their spiritual lineage as God’s chosen people.
The Hebrews who were 19 years old and younger when Israel refused to cross into the Promise Land, were now in their late fifties and Moses feared their children and grandchildren would be tempted to turn back from the challenges of the new land. Knowing many were either too young to remember or not yet born when the people rebelled against God, Moses rehearsed the failure of their forefathers to trust God and cross the Jordan River into the Promise Land (Deuteronomy 1-2). Concerned they lacked an understanding of what faithlessness cost their parents and grandparents, Moses made certain the people appreciated the tragic consequences of disobedience and understood the challenges before them (Deuteronomy 2).
Twentieth century philosopher George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I fear that truth has befallen many Gospel preaching churches, Bible colleges, and fundamental Christian institutions in recent years.
I am old enough to remember well the reminisces and exhortations of Dr. Gilbert Stenholm, Dr. Richard Rupp and Dr. Bob Jones Jr. in “Preacher Boys” during my Bible college years at Bob Jones University. Those men had fought spiritual ecumenical battles, sometimes open warfare, against the progressives of their day who compromised their ministries fellowshipping with men and institutions that denied the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.
Thirty, forty, even fifty years passed since those men waged war for the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith; however, their passion had not abated, nor their determination to pass on to the men of my generation not only knowledge of the past, but a warning and exhortation. I graduated Bob Jones University knowing compromise with those who trifle with the doctrine of sanctification and personal holiness or reject the fundamentals of the Christian faith would eventually be a cancer destroying ministries, churches, Bible colleges, and mission boards.
Sadly, I have lived to witness the failures of venerable Bible fundamental churches, Bible colleges, and Christian institutions led by men either ignorant of the lessons of the past or dismissive of the fundamental spiritual heritage of those institutions.
The result of ignorance or leadership contemptuous of the past is the same; those institutions either close their doors or become a shadow of what they were in their golden years.
Warning: When the leadership of a Bible fundamental church, Bible college, or ministry distances itself from its heritage, it will invariably sacrifice its identity and forget God’s providences.