THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT  (Part 3)     March 5, 2017     

Introduction

1.  Though nine individual “fruits” are mentioned as the product of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, together, they are the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit.  Just as the differences between them may, at times, seem slight, they all reflect the holiness in which we, each of us, should walk daily.

2.  To date we have explored seven of them as listed by the Apostle Paul.  There is almost unanimous agreement by translators that they should be referred to as listed: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.

3. Today, let us delve into the riches of God’s Word as we deal with the final two of these fruits from verse 23: gentleness and self-control.

4.  Just as fruit that is only artificial, does not truly represent natural fruit, so the believer may not “work these up” in his life.  They occur “naturally” in the testimony of the believer and are genuine, not contrived or even earned.  They are born of the Holy Spirit and developed in the believer  so that the lost world of men may see the Lord Jesus’ likeness in us.

H. Gentleness “prao’tes’

1.  “Praotes” is translated in the KJV as “meekness.”  Most modern translators, it seems, prefer “gentleness” instead of meekness (including the NKJV), probably because one synonym of “meekess” is “mildness.”

Sometimes one will hear a Bible preacher say, “Jesus was meek, but He certainly was not mild.”  Most Christians would probably agree with that.  Perhaps, “gentleness” is the better word for this particular fruit of God’s Spirit.

2.   It was a spring day in 1957 at Cedarville College and I was between classes.  I pulled out of the parking lot and drove the short distance downtown and parked.  The loan office was just a few doors away. 

My friend and classmate in school had a young family and needed a loan of $75 to stay in school.  The loan company would loan it to him if he had a co-signer to cover their loss in case he defaulted.  Dave (a pseudonym) knew I had a job and asked me if I would stop down to the loan company and co-sign his loan.” Ken, I’ll pay it off. It’s only about $7.50 a month for a year or a little more.” I readily agreed.  Dave was from New York and had a young family like ours.

That was the least I could do, I thought.  Dave and his family attended Emmanuel Baptist Church where I was Sunday school superintendent.

3.  Some weeks later, the day came when  word spread that Dave had moved out of his apartment in the middle of the night, and had dropped out of school and had gone back to New York.

4.  I began to think about the loan: “Let’s see, I make $0.75 an hour and get home with just under $30.00 a week.  Our groceries are about $9-10.  Then there’s the rent of $65 a month, and gasoline and the school bill… and our tithe. Oh boy!”

5.  The loan company sent me a letter.  So, I tried to work out a payment.

6.  That week, the school office notified me that Dr. Jeremiah, the president, wanted to see me.  After my last class I came to his office.  He had me come in and take a seat.  He was at his desk. “Mr. Pierpont, I understand that you owe the loan company downtown some money as a co-signer for a loan on a student who has dropped out.”

“Yes, sir, I did sign for him.  And I’m going to do everything I can to see that they get their money.”

Dr. Jeremiah opened his Bible and looked at me.  “I want to read you Proverbs 11:15.  Do you know what it says?”

“No, Sir.  I don’t think I do.”

Then he read these words: “He that is surety for a stranger will smart for it.”  Did you know Dave very well.?  You didn’t did you?

“No, Sir.  But he needed the money,” I said.  Then, trying to sound brave I said: “But I still think should have helped him.”

President Jeremiah gave me a kindly look and smiled.  “I see.  Well, an anonymous donor has paid this loan off for you.  I called you in to tell you that.”

I was stunned and rose and thanked him over and again.

Dr. Jeremiah could tell that I was a brash young man.  He probably wondered if I had learned anything.  He could have lectured me on my lack of judgment.  Instead, he gave me a smile and a gentle hand shake and allowed me to go on my way. 

Only later did I realize that, in all probability, the president himself, may very well have been that donor.    God had put a gentle spirit in this good man’s heart to help a very unwise young preacher boy!  Little Cedarville didn’t pay the faculty very well.

7.  No one who ever came to earth could have improved upon the gentle spirit of our blessed Saviour.

Here is an axiom:  When you truly love someone, you do not set out to hurt them.

On this occasion toward the latter part of our Lord’s ministry, He was coming to Bethany, the home of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus.  Bible students believe this family was reasonably well off and would have been accustomed to receive guests, perhaps on a regular basis.

A brief passage in Luke 10:38-42 provides a look into the situation in their home.  Our Lord was accustomed to the ample provision this family of siblings provided for Him from time to time.

On this occasion the brother, Lazarus, may not have been present for he is not named. Nevertheless, there was work to be done.  Martha, in particular worked hard and  was probably ‘in charge of the household” [Fahling p. 434].  There was “a stir in this house upon the arrival of Jesus… and Martha, being a very kind hostess, was exceedingly busy… in her efforts to provide entertainment that would be both worthy of Jesus and to credit her house” [Fahling, loc. cit].

As Martha moved quickly and tirelessly about the house, deeply involved in providing pleasing comforts for the Lord Jesus, she soon noticed something that disturbed her greatly.  Her sister, Mary, apparently disregarding the work that needed to be done, was attentively sitting at our Lord’s feet, taking in His every word.  “Didn’t she realize these preparations took time and effort to provide.?”

After a time , Martha became more and more agitated as she saw that Mary was leaving all the work to her.  For that matter, she thought,  “Why didn’t  Jesus notice that?”  She would have to say something.

Trying to measure her words to the Master, she finally blurted out to the Lord Jesus: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister did leave me to serve alone?  bid her therefore that she help me” [Lk. 10:40, ASV, 1901].

Didn’t she know she was talking to the Lord? Mary was certainly eligible for a justifiable tongue-lashing , but how dare she imply that the Lord Jesus was remiss, Himself, in not urging that busy Martha receive her sister’s help  this work, let alone her sister.  Would the Lord Jesus reprimand angry Martha?

No doubt, Martha thought, they were both at fault!  “I’m way too busy!”

How often, as believers “We have missed the forest for the trees!”  In the rush and bustle of the workaday world, we haven’t even noticed that God is working in our lives.  It was surely true that day!

Our Saviour looked on. And we can be sure that no rebuke ever sounded so gentle in its reproof:  “Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”(Luke 10:41-42).

And, it is easy to see why this Bible narrative ends right there.  We must be kind.  We must be gentle.  Our Lord knows that.  He was both that day.  But, there is one more truth He taught that day:  Sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning of Him is, by far, more important than the best of service for Him that our mere flesh can provide! His gentle reminder is just what Martha, and we, need!

I.  Self-control  “egkra’teia”

1.  The uniformly used word in modern English for “egkra’teia” is self-control.  Our KJV here, in the use of “temperance,” is not especially helpful because this word, at least currently,  primarily refers to “moderation in indulgence” [Webster’s Collegiate Dict.] and mostly is used in connection with use of alcohol, at least in the minds of many.

2.  On the other hand, the name self-control seems to imply that this is an exception to our insistence that these fruits are not the product of work or worth on the part of the Christian, something they have earned by striving.

3.  So, one might ask, what then would accomplish self-control?  Just this.  Since all nine of these concepts the Bible calls “fruit” are produced by the Holy Spirit, I insist that He must be seen as the author and empowerment for any and all of them.

4.  Egkra’teia is seldom used in the Word of God.  Paul wrote to Titus and gave the qualifications for the office of elder (bishop, overseer, pastor).  He said the elder must be “egrateia” – self-controlled. 

5. Paul may have been thinking of this important quality when he wrote and likened the Christian life to running in an athletic competition.  He said, “  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control (egkrateuetai) in all things” ( I Corinthians 9:25, NASB).

6. Then he closes the chapter with v. 27: “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27, NASB).

7.  It is here that we need to insert verse 24 of our text chapter.   Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Again, we see that receipt and display of the fruit of the Spirit is not a matter of labor and perspiration.  It is a matter of identity with Christ and victory in the Christian life.  It is asking God to “keep my body under control so that I may better serve Him.”

8.  Two stories will help us wrap up this nine-fold study.

9. At about age nine, according to my dad, he began smoking. That began a nearly lifelong habit.  While I was a very young boy, maybe five years old, my mother and I had our own private “cigarette factory.”  We used Buglar Smoking Tobacco  to create cigarettes for my dad as he labored as a machinist in an Owens-Corning Fiberglas shopin our hometown.  We rolled them out at the rate of about 1 and 1/2 packages a day.

After my dad found Christ and desired to live for Him, his smoking became, for him, an important matter.  He was a farmer and continued working in the factory shop. He said to me, from time to time, “I smoke, but I can quit anytime I want to.” (Have you ever heard that from a smoker?)

I was in college at Cedarville and Dad and my mother would come to our apartment, from time to time, on weekends,  bringing us groceries and encouragement as they were able.  Melony, our first child, was a toddler.

One  Sunday afternoon they had come to help us, Dad was sitting on the couch and he and I were talking. Melony became fascinated with the little orange-looking part of the white thing in his mouth– and the smoke!   She crawled up on the couch and reached up for it.

Dad got up quickly, holding his hand away. and walked to the corner of the room. When he turned around,  he had tears in his eyes, and simply said, “It’s hard!” 

In my heart, I thought, “Praise the Lord, now we’re getting someplace!”

  One morning, not long after, he came down for work and said to my mother, as he was leaving, “Honey, pray for me today I left my cigarettes upstairs!” 

The moment Dad was out of sight, Mother raced upstairs and picked up all the packages of cigarettes, the trays, the cartons and the lighters.  She hurried out to the burn barrel and destroyed them all.

A few weeks later, here is what Dad told me, after 39 years of smoking: “Ken, a week  after I quit, the smell of cigarette smoke nauseated me.”  Then he went on to say, “I just got tired of telling people about Jesus and blowing cigarette smoke in their faces.”

On his own, Dad was helpless under the addiction of nicotine.  But, Dad’s love for the Lord, his concern for others, and his dependence upon God gave him the self discipline to win.  He never smoked again.

10. A young man, barely into adulthood, was a prisoner in a foreign land.  He had been sold into slavery by loved ones he trusted who betrayed him. After a time of captivity, his upstanding ability and trustworthiness was brought to the attention of his master. 

As time went on, more and more, he gained the confidence of those in authority over him.  He was made the manager for his master over all his possessions.  They were many for the governor was an important military officer.

Finally the officer assigned him to most sensitive duty of all: the full operation of his master’s everyday operations and servants. This included access to the soldier’s private quarters.

As the youth was making his rounds one day, passing through the living quarters,  he was shocked to see that the attractive wife of his master was  approaching in a most amorous way.  Gesturing to him, incredibly,  she said: “Come to bed with me!”

Here is a handsome young man, in the prime of life.  He is far from home.  No one will ever know that he has accepted the forbidden fruit of immorality, “just this once,” so to speak!  What will he do?

Many seamy stories, not very different from  this one, have over the years  been written for the sublimated pleasure of observers who are drawn into wicked modern television, big screen and pornographic literature.  But, few such stories end like this one.

The youth quickly explained  that to accept this woman’s advances would be to betray his master, who had, he said, withheld only one thing in the world he had that others did not- his wife!  Then he ended the conversation with these words and hurried out: “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”

If you know the rest of the story, the sin-laden woman was not satisfied with this honorable response that, in her lost condition, she could never have understood.  Finally, at the end of her insistent advances, it led to her outrageous claim of attempted rape and Joseph was summarily hauled off to jail!  But, God saw and blessed the obedience of this gallant Christian youth.  This honorable but awful story is, of course, recorded in the 39th chapter of Genesis.

Where did the ability come from that gave Joseph such stalwart character? Was it pride?  Was it fear of being caught?  Many simplistic answers could be speculated upon.  Let me give you the true one:  “The key to victory over sin is the expulsive power of a higher affection.” Joseph loved God!

The greatest need of every man, woman and child is defined by a single word: “affection!”  This wicked woman offered what she might have called “great affection” for the attention of young Joseph.

The difference was that Joseph loved morality  and holiness more than he was willing to trade for the satisfaction of “sin for a season.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the rich provision God has made, through His blessed Holy Spirit to provide for each of us who love Him.  It is called “self-control.”

Oh, Sweet Lord, give me and all who hear me, victory over things and circumstances and temptations and the wiles of the devil so that with honor and joy and truthfulness I may stand, pride be-gone, that others may know there is a God in Heaven who will help them.

Conclusion

1. There you have it, dear ones.  Nine beautiful metaphors for the work of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control  May we covet them.  May we place ourselves every day in the position to receive your best blessing upon our lives for that day, for the work to which you have called us all: a faith that cannot be gainsaid, that cannot be corrupted, a faith that is empowered through these manifestations of victory in Jesus Christ our Lord.   

Armed with these blessed truths, we remember the insightful words of our dear

Saviour:  “… be wise as serpents and harmless as doves”  (Mt. 10:16). Oh, my dear ones, may God give us this precious fruit  in wisdom and harmlessness.  Amen.

                                 

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part 2) February 26, 2017

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT  (Part 2)         Galatians 5:22-23             HOL-29

Introduction

1.  Our goal in this second segment [message] on the nine fruits of the Spirit is to explore three, beyond the first four examined in Part 1 of this series of the  nine as listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  In the final presentation we plan to work with the last two mentioned.

2.  Remember that we have approached them using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as our primary text because it is simpler and uses clear modern English.

3.  The chart you received, in part one,  which I list in the printed page as “Appendix A”, shows virtually the same words to describe each fruit in nearly all  of the four most dependable modern translations.  For clarity’s sake, let me list them again: New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV) and New Kings James Version (NKJV).

4. My basic commitment as a preacher is to tie all my preaching to the King James Version, though it was translated four-hundred years ago.  Here is why:

    (1)  The KJV is trusted and loved, yet today, by millions of believers.

    (2)  Many of the tools [study guides, lexicons, concordances, and commentaries]      

          key on the KJV.

    (3)  Much of what is memorized by believers, even younger ones, is from KJV.

    (4)  When my ministry began in 1959, none of the four favorites today existed.

5.  The word “fruit”- “karpos,” is used 66 times in the Scriptures.  It is a primary word, easily understood- “the product of plant life,” but here likened to the believer’s life.

As we learned last time it does not describe anything we do.  It is a metaphor for  what God produces in the life of the believer as the Apostle Paul uses it in our text in Galatians chap. 5.

Only God can produce fruit in anything, that includes the human heart.

We now turn our attention to  three of the final  five “kindness, goodness, and  faithfulness.”

E. Kindness – “chrestotes”

1. “Chrestotes” is used just 10 times in the Greek New Testament. 

2. Of the Lord Jesus’ coming into the world and reaching down to save us- listen to Titus 3 beginning at verse 2, where Paul is counseling the young preacher, Titus.

Paul said:

“to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3  For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Notice:  “when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared…”

3.  When Jesus Christ comes into a life, He makes an eternal  difference!

4.  Had you been an invisible presence, sitting around our family’s kitchen table when I was growing up, you would never have expected that we would become a family of many believers.

Oh, we were religious.  We “said the blessing” before we ate.  We went to church every Sunday.

We were law-abiding citizens.  The only alcohol consumed in our house was from the occasional flask of whiskey an uncle might bring in and sneak in a few “nips”

while he was there.  But the profane speech of the adults, especially the men, and the billows of cigarette smoke poisoned the air, always.

We criticized innocent people.  Our speech was full of racial slurs.  We passed unfounded rumors and chose up sides against people we really hardly knew, except that we had something against them from our prejudiced hearts.

As soon as I knew I was a real  believer, and that God was at work in my sinner-man heart,  I wondered how I could reach our family that was so far from God.

5.  One member of our family, who lived in our house- actually we lived in her house-

was my grandmother  Sasser, my maternal grandmother. In many ways she was different from the rest of us.

6.  Grandma never swore.  I don’t remember a critical spirit coming out in her speech.  Oh, she got aggravated with my brother and sister sometimes.  They played childish pranks and did other “dumb stuff.”  I never did of course!  (Right!)

7.   But the quality I remember best, with 13 childhood years with her as my second mother under my belt, is a little thing called “kindness.”

8.  In spite of the lost condition of most in our family, our back door was always open for everyone to flock to “Grandma’s house.”  The pantry was full of delicious fruit pies, baked at her hand–always there.  She kept close track on those traveling and would announce if someone was late getting in: “I was worried sick about you.”

9.  It shouldn’t surprise you that Grandma was the only one in the family I ever saw with a Bible.  She had to quit school in the 4th grade because her mother died and she had to take over as “the lady of the house” at the tender age of ten!

10.  Her last two days upon earth were spent on the living room couch- too difficult for her to climb the stairs where the bedrooms were.  The day she slipped away, on the mantle at the foot of the couch, was Salmon’s  “Head of Christ” portrayal.  She had asked my mother to place the famous portrayal of Christ there as she was dying.

11.  Have you given any thought as to how your faith will carry you at the last?  Any of us may be there before we know it.  Do the things around you, in your home speak of Christ? 

12.  Grandma’s kindness was legendary and on unending display all the years I knew her.  I doubt if she ever realized it!  We enjoyed the fruit of kindness in her life, long before we ever knew it’s  author!

13.  The final Christmas she lived, I came home on leave from my Navy Station.  Her gift to me was a Bible [this one I hold up before you].

14.  The Holy Spirit fruit of kindness, how sorely the whole world needs it in large doses.l

F. Goodness – “agathosune”

1.   Agathosune, standing for “goodness”  is used just four time in the  Greek New Testament, all at the hand of the Apostle Paul.

2.   The Thayer Greek Lexicon says agathosune “represents the kindlier element in the ideal character.” 

It is placed in contradistinction  to the word “dikaiosuna,” a big Bible word– translated as “righteousness” no less than 94 times.

In other words, we have on the one hand God’s righteous demands, again and again and again and again, in Scripture:

II Tm. 3:16: 16  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  17  that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

God’s perfection demands righteousness.  Problem is, we are born sinners and practicing sinners.  It is so for every mere  human ever born on the planet.

3. Take for example how this story from our Lord’s earthly ministry demonstrates the difference between “God’s righteous demands” and His mercy in the form of “goodness.”  It is recorded in John chapter 8, verse 1.

4.  It is morning in Jerusalem near Herod’s Temple, called such because this vain ruler  spent lavishly to enhance this structure erected by the returned remnant from Babylon four hundred years earlier.  The Jews loved the Temple but they hated this Gentile intruder, King Herod.

But gathered this early hour was a cadre of Pharisees who came to interrupt the Lord Jesus who was teaching there in a part of the Temple.  We can be sure their early rising was motivated by their hatred of Him and they had a plan . Here is what they said: 

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.”  Their cry of outrage fell upon the scene.  One can almost see the smirks and sublimated smiles on the faces of these religious hypocrites.

Now our Saviour is on the “defensive,” so thought these religionists, whose prejudice had blinded them to Christ’s ministry. The truth is,  they reminded the Lord Jesus of just half of a verse of Scripture.

They  were referring to Leviticus 20:10″

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Question is: Where was the man?

And, the Mosaic Law called for witnesses.  How could there have been witnesses to an act that would have demanded the utmost  privacy?

The pompous religious sharks must have their pound of flesh: “Now, in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?”

But the Scriptures say here in John 8, verse 6: This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he heard them not” (John 8:6, KJV).

Note: There has been much speculation as to what our Lord  wrote, that day.  Did He write the name of man who had trapped the sinner woman?  Did He write of the sins of the accusers?  Was He merely showing intentional  distraction and making meaningless marks in the dirt?  This is the only place in Scripture that refers to Christ as writing anything.  What did He write?  No ones knows.  If what He wrote was important for us to know the Holy Spirit would have had John record it.

These vultures were not about to abandon their trickery.  When they continued asking Him, our Saviour stood up, looked at them and gave the classic response we probably all know:  “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (verse 7).

The words dropped on the consciences of the woman’s accusers like paving blocks. They were stunned.  In shame and silence her tormenters glanced at each other and then silently began to follow the eldest among them out and away, taken aback in disgrace at the pungent words of the Lord Jesus who had again stooped down to write.

As our Saviour arose and looked around, seeing the men gone, He could have launched into a stern lecture on morality to this fallen lady.  He could have blistered her with an announcement of God’s righteousness, citing many Scriptures of which He was the Heavenly author. He knew she was a fallen woman. But history paints a truth every one of us needs to remember when we are tempted to pass judgment upon one who has failed!

“And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” [John 8:10]

And her grateful soft voice, barely above a whisper replies: “Oudeis kurie!” [No one Lord]

And then these words from the sinless Son of God:  “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more” (v. 10b).

4.  If you return to verse 4 of our illustration in John chapter eight, you will note that the Pharisees interrupted our Lord’s teaching that early morning and addressed Him thusly: “Teacher.”  But, this dear woman sees in our Lord His true identity. He is “kurie” – “Lord.”

Elsewhere in Scripture (I Corinthians 12:3) significant light is thrown upon her use of “kurie”: ”and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

Oh, the goodness of God! What a remarkable example.  I have no doubt this sinful lady came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus that bittersweet day in her life, so long ago.

5.  Friend, you may be deeply ashamed of something in your past.  I know I am.  But the goodness of Christ can reach down and forgive you just as it did that day Christ taught at the Temple.  Don’t wait to come to Him.

6.  Romans 2:4, using “chrestotes” (our word for “kindness”) says, in our KJV:
“…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.”  How very good God is!

Note: Some of this fruit of the blessed Holy Spirit, seems to overlap in its meaning. For example, “goodness” seems to have the same characteristics as “kindness.”  We don’t need to examine them with a microscope. We just need to learn to live in such a way that God produces them in our lives.  In a way, their names are immaterial!

G.  Faithfulness “pistis” 

1.  And now the seventh of this wonderful menu of Holy Spirit appointed fruits,

“pistis”

2.  Of all we have worked on in this powerful passage, “pistis” is the biggest word of them all.  It is used no less than 242 times in the Greek New Testament.  Mostly it is translated “faith.”  But four times, including  here in Galatians 5:22, it is translated “faithfulness.”

3.  Romans 3:3 shows the wisdom in referring to “pistis” in some cases, rather than simply “faith”  but rather as  “faithfulness.” 3  “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify  the faithfulness of God, will it?” 

4.  We get some help as to “faithfulness” from Webster: a synonym of “faithfulness” is listed as “stedfast- a steady unwavering course in love and allegiance.”

5.  The year was 1971. It was Christmas time.  Larry and Vickie were the daughter and son-in-law of my friend in ministry, Rev. Carl Stephenson.  He had preceded me in a ministry near Bellefontaine, Ohio, a place called Logansville.

Now he was pastor of County Line Baptist Church in Dayton.  Vickie, the Stephenson’s daughter, had married Larry while Carl, her dad,  pastored at Logansville. 

We were developing a new church a few miles north of Logansville in Lakeview.  Our new building was complete.  It was time for our service of dedication.  Everyone was in high spirits. 

I stopped at the mobile home where Larry and Vickie lived with their infant daughter.  “Hey, you guys. Vickie, your dad is going to be our dedication speaker. Now that you have moved to Lakeview, can you come and be with us at our new church?”   We talked for a bit and they assured me they would be coming.  Of course, our fond hope was to get them to begin attending and to stay with us.  They were busy young people, Christians, but had not identified with any church as yet.   I left, confident they would be with us and happy to be working with this dear young family.

The following week, the day before Christmas Eve, Larry and Vickie had been with her folks in Dayton and had done Christmas shopping on the way home.  Nestled among the gifts they had purchased and her folks knew about, there in the back of their car was their tiny little baby girl, stowed away.

The two-hour drive back toward Logansville and then on to Lakeview required a late Friday night drive.  Their Olds Cutlass hard top purred along following State route 47 that snakes its way northeast, away from the Dayton area,  through Logansville and then on to Bellefontaine.  There they would pick up U.S. 33 and run  the final few miles to Lakeview and home.

It was just after midnight this dark December night that these happy young people reached the intersection with the county route  that intersects Ohio 47 just a few miles west of Logansville.  They had driven it numerous times.  The pavement was dry and no winter snow was anywhere to be seen.

Larry at the wheel and his young wife at his side could not have known that there was a drunken young man, driving a full-size Chevrolet, careening along,  without headlights, it is believed,  roaring at breakneck  speed, following that county route south, only a mile or so away.

One moment these dear young people were warm and safe and happy.  When the young man, our across-the-street neighbor it turns out, reached that corner it is thought he was driving about 70 miles per hour.  There were no skid marks on the pavement to indicate the driver had even taken his foot off the accelerator!

In a flash the Chevrolet hit the Olds Cutlass on Larry’s side.  The impact collapsed the Olds to half its size in the center.  Larry and Vickie were mangled to death in an instant.

The young Chevy driver was not badly hurt, somehow.  And the first passersby stopped at this grisly scene.  When emergency workers arrived on the scene they realized those passersby had left shortly before with valuables and gifts Larry and Vickie had with them.  Their sweet daughter was found crying, still on the back seat, but very much alive!

Two days later, I visited the home of the driver whose drunken driving had killed these precious young people.  He was terse and unresponsive to my witness of Christ.

Later that week, the funeral wake was held at the funeral home in Bellefontaine.  Jane and I made our way there  to meet with her folks, along with loved ones in our church, all with heavy hearts.  We were shattered at this terrible turn of events.

I rummaged my mind as we entered, wondering what I might say or do to comfort the Stevensons.  The depth of human suffering was theirs, that evening,  as we all knew, beyond words.

There standing on adjacent biers were the caskets of Larry and Vickie.  Before them, greeting those who had come were Carl and his precious wife, Vickie’s mother.

To my amazement and everlasting thanks, I beheld this godly pastor and his wife in a state of serenity like none I have ever seen, before or since!  I cried and they comforted me!

After some moments of tears and warm fellowship,  they reminded us that they were now the parents of their tiny granddaughter. 

It was about three years later that our son, Kevin, along with several other young people and adults accompanied us one Sunday afternoon to County Line Baptist Church in Dayton.  Carl had graciously permitted us to use their baptistry to see our class of new believers follow the Lord in baptism. 

Those of lesser faith might easily have quit the ministry, might even have walked away from their faith at the horrendous tragedy that had earlier befallen them.  Not the Stevensons. 

I must say that this lesson in stedfastness under the greatest of pain is probably the finest such  lesson I have ever beheld.  It is a thing called “faithfulness.”

Do you possess a faithfulness to God no matter what may happen in your family?

Clearly Carl and his wife believed their children were saved and with the Lord.  Oh, you say, too bad  they had not come to be part of your church before their accident.  Yes, and there is never a week in this church I do not think how different things would be if only more of our people were truly faithful to the Lord!

Sweet Jesus, help me to develop a faithfulness to You that  no one could or would gainsay.  But, just as important, may my life bring forth the fruit of faithfulness that will attract others to You.  May your Holy Spirit use me to live in such a way that faithfulness to You is my second nature.

Conclusion

1. We have tried to cast some light, again this morning on three of the fruit of the Holy Spirit God wants so much to cultivate in every Christian life. Next time we will look closely at the remaining two listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

2. If you have ever had an apple tree in your yard, you know the fruitbearing is not always the same.  When I was a boy we had an apple tree in our back yard.  It produced what was called “Transparents.”  Trouble is, it bore fruit only biannually.

3. One thing I never saw any of the adults doing was to lean a ladder up into the tree  on an off-year,  and then, with string and ripe apples, begin to tie mature apples on the tree.

4. I can almost hear you say, “Well, of course not.  Apples have to grow naturally.

They are produced from their own kind.”

5. Have you ever wondered what the basic problems of our world really are?

6.  In July, 2009, Decision Magazine printed an article by Rev. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  It was called “The Culture of Offendedness.

The article cataloged instance after instance in which people were offended by the most minor of incidents.  In a way, if you believe something or do something, it seems these days that immediately someone pops up, claiming to be offended.

“Hit the streets.  Start a protest.  Get revenge– I am offended!”

7. Believers, committed to following Christ and making Him known will always be offensive to some.  Galatians 5:11 speaks of offense:   And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

8. Paul is speaking of standing up for the truths of the gospel- the Cross of Christ here.  If we avoid the truth, we will not offend them with Christ’s claim upon them and the salvation He alone can provide.  Perish the thought.  The offense of the cross will come because it will offend some, though winning them is our goal.

9. Let us be sure that is  all  that offends those to whom we witness.  Not my personal offense, whatever that might be.  That is where bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit comes in.  It is another way of looking for and reminding God often that  sincerely “I want to be like Jesus.”

10. Thomas Obadiah Chisholm wrote these words to a compelling old hymn:

  

“I have one deep, supreme desire, That I may be like Jesus.

   To this I fervently aspire. That I may be like Jesus.

I want my heart His throne to be, So that a watching world may see

   His likeness shining forth in me.  I want to be like Jesus.

Oh, perfect life of Christ, my Lord!  I want to be like Jesus.

   My recompense and my reward, That I may be like Jesus.

His Spirit fill my hungering soul, His power all my life control;

  My deepest prayer, my highest goal.  That I may be like Jesus.

(Music by: David Livingstone Ives, #400 The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration)

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part 1) Sunday, February 19, 2017

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part 1)             Galatians 5:22-23          HOL-29

Introduction

1. The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit is a critically important teaching of which every believer should have a solid working knowledge.

2. To be factual and appreciative of these nine blessed truths, they should be presented in concert with what comes before in the Scriptures; Galatians chapter 5.

3. Let us direct our attention, first, to some   bad news  Paul here presents to us as a backdrop to the wonderful news of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

I. THE WORKS OF THE FLESH

1. No less than fifteen terrible “works of the flesh” are presented by the Apostle Paul in verses 19-21.  All of these are the antithesis, the very opposite of Holy Spirit fruit.

They are the makings of the world’s problems as I speak.

2. But, more than that, the fifteen “works of the flesh” tell the story as to whether or not one is a believer, or someone still in the lost condition.

3.. Listen carefully as I relate this “litany of the lost” from the New American Standard Translation, the most literal of all the modern translations:

Galatians 5:19-21, NASB

19  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20  idolatry, sorcery, enmities [hatreds], strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions [unbridled quarrels], factions [being a party in a group working against what is right],21  envying, drunkenness, carousing [drinking alcohol deeply or freely], and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

4.  On the authority of God’s Word, if there is anyone here for whom one or more of the above-mentioned “works of the flesh,” are common practice over which you are not troubled, you have the answer as to whether you are a Christian.

5.  Hear again the word of God from the pen of the Apostle Paul: “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

6.  Listen to Ephesians chapter two where Paul begins this way:

Ephesians 2:1-3, NASB:

2:1  And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

7.  So, I draw a very simple but terribly appropriate conclusion: if the description  of the “works of the flesh,” as God’s Word has just described them, fits you, the rest of the message does not apply to you because it is for believers and you are still in the lost condition.

II.  CHARTING THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

1.  You have below,  a simple chart of the Fruit of the Spirit as the Scriptures give them.  A glance at it will help you identify clearly each from both the 400- hundred-year-old King James Bible and the agreement of the best of the modern language English versions.  To the left I have begun with the Greek words transliterated into English, then the King James Version (KJV), finally the combined New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

Greek word                            KJV                   NASB / NIV/ ESV  (All the same)*

1) agapa                                love                    love

2) chara                                 joy                      joy

3) eirene                                peace                  peace

           

4) makrothymia                      longsuffering        patience

5) chrestotes                          gentleness            kindness

6) agathosune                        goodness              goodness

7) pistis                                  faith                    faithfulness

8) prautes                               meekness            gentleness

9) egkrateia                             temperance          self-control

*New King James translation-identical to all these except  it refers to “patience” as “longsuffering”

III.  THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IN LIFE

A. Love – “agapa”

1. There are three Greek words for love:  “eros.”  This is erotic love.  The word that stands singularly for sexual desire.  One of the he Greek idolatrous gods was given the name Eros.  It is never used in the Word of God.

The Bible is clear that romantic love in the proper setting of the married state is a beautiful thing.  But, it is  always a part of holiness and respectful conduct.

2. The word “philos”, is the love of friendship, used 29 times as such in the New Testament.  Often referred to as “brotherly love.” 

The Lord Jesus referred to Himself in Mt. 11:19 as thought of as a “friend to tax-collectors and sinners.”  “Friend” translates from “philos” here.

3. The all-important Greek word the New Testament has for love is “agapa.

It is translated over 115 times in the KJV Bible as “love,” but 29 times as “charity.”

It is the primary word for love, in its highest form, “divine love,” if you will. It includes the love between married people in its purest form.

4.  When the Holy Spirit is present in a man, woman or child, He will produce a likeness to God in that person as the Christian yields to God and learns and obeys His Word.  This we call the “fruit of the Spirit.”

5. “Enmities,” as we learned earlier or “hatreds” are works of the old nature, the spirit of the lost man.  Love, divine love, is the opposite.

6.  If every Christian were to memorize the 13th chapter of I Corinthians it would revolutionize our thinking as we put it into practice.  The force of the passage is lost to some degree in the KJV because it uses “charity” instead of love.  Charity,  in our culture,  takes us away from the gut-level love of God we all need and need to put into practice. I recommend it be memorized from the NIV. Beautiful!

7. Example: The greatest example of  God’s form of love, that I am aware of in the world today, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the lives of Christians,  is the field hospital in Iraq that believers are operating just a few miles from the awful fighting going on in the city of Mosul.

Mosul was under control of ISIS, the radical Moslem slayers of Christians and everyone else not dedicated to taking over the world by force.  They held it and enslaved the population for over two years.

As western fighters, led by American special forces,  take back Mosul, many become casualties in the fighting.  Hundreds of lives have been saved by the medical personnel manning the tent-hospital.

The medical staff lives under harsh conditions. Even worse, they are in grave danger.  To the south are ISIS fighters performing terrorist attacks in Baghdad every day that slaughter many people.  To the north, just a few miles, pitched battles take place to regain Mosul. 

If military positions are overrun, as they were a few years ago, ISIS terrorists will overwhelm these precious believers and their tent hospital.  Yet they minister in Jesus’ name and with great bravery.

There is a special unit in their hospital that tends the wounds of captured ISIS fighters.  They are closely guarded.  One of them was overheard to remark to another, “Why are we fighting these people? They are very kind.”

Satan’s lies and devices are the stock in trade of the ISIS.  Holy Spirit love is the portion of the Samaritan’s Purse Christian doctors and nurses and technicians.

Is Holy Spirit love at work in your life?  That unselfishness that drives you to show care and concern and sacrifice and respect for everyone around you, is it yours?

B.  Joy- “chara,” – “delight”

1.  From another message I developed years ago, I quote regarding “joy.”

“We may be mistakenly led to believe joy and happiness are synonyms- not so.

  There is a Greek word for happiness: makairos, used about 50 times meaning happy or ‘blessed.’  But the biblical word is not what we in our western culture usually term happiness.  Western ‘happiness’ is more akin to ‘the American dream,’ which means, I think, settling down, owning a home, raising your children, getting them orthodontic fixtures and a ticket to college so they can do the same for their children.  To me this is a selfish view.”

2.  There was a beautiful seventeen-year-old young woman who, in the prime of her life years ago, was on a family outing.  The young people were swimming.  Nearby was a high bluff overlooking a large body of water that seemed it awaited a party of excited young people.

The young woman stepped to the edge of the bluff.  She set herself and made a clean and straight dive into the blue water.  Her family and friends looked on in approval.

In a few moments she would come up and swim in triumph to the bank, ready to follow others in who were waiting her return.  Problem was, she did not surface.  Seconds ticked away, and anxious eyes plied to water to watch her break the surface.  She did not.

Swimmers quickly ran down the bank and swam to the point of her entry into the water.  There at the bottom lay her prostrate body.  Strong arms pulled her to the surface and then to the shore. 

You see, she had no way of knowing the shallowness of the water at the point of her dive.  This precious young girl was a healthy teen, in the midst of others, also in the prime of life, when she made her dive.  No one knew at that moment that she would never walk or flail her arms again.

Joni Erickson was now a seventeen-year-old, helpless, quadriplegic.

Two days ago I heard her on Christian radio.  Her heart and life are full of joy.  That truth cannot be bought with money.  It cannot be trained into a sick or even a well person.  Only God’s Holy Spirit has given her victory in the face of a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. Her heartbreaking loss, God has turned in her life to a ministry to many, many thousands.  Her accident was many years ago.  Today she is a much-listened to and powerful witness for Christ.

3.  When money and health and friends and property and comfort go, and happiness even, there can still be joy.

Two men languished in a filthy, stinking jail cell.  They had been badly mistreated by their captors.  Their hands and feet were immobilized in heavy wooden stocks.  Curious insects traversed their lacerated backs.  The two men looked at each other and began singing!   Did you say “cursing?”  No, that is what the world does.  That is all the old nature is capable of. They sang and prayed to their God.

That singing and praying these two believers did won a whole family to Christ that very night.  All because two men named Paul and Silas prayed and sang in the face of dreary confinement in Philippi, the first European city in the history of the world to receive a Christian witness.

4. Make no mistake about it, dear ones, we can be joyful in Christ when the circumstances point to even terrible uncertainty as they did that night.  As we walk with the Lord every day, there will be many occasions when joy in our hearts will come to the surface.  Many of them will be as a direct answer to prayer.  Thank you, mighty Lord Jesus Christ.

C. Peace – “eirana”                  

1.  Eirana is translated 82 times as “peace” in our English Bibles.

2. The Lord Jesus said: John 14:27, KJV

27  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto  you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”

3.  That isn’t the way the world is.  Take a look at any matter from politics to health to medicine to law and all the rest.  Someone is sure to be in the streets in protest.

Somewhere in America a fight is breaking out.  A person is shot. An innocent person is set upon by a mob of unruly malcontents.  Murder is an every day occurrence in our major cities- many murders!

Law firms promise major dollars to anyone with the possibility of succeeding in a law suit.  “We will fight for you!  Everyone is afraid of us!  You deserve to win!”

4. The Bible describes this melting pot of the disturbed, the angry and the revenge-laden.

Isaiah 57:20-21:  But the wicked are like the troubled  sea, when it cannot rest , whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21  “There is no peace,” saith my God, “to the wicked.”

5.  A man, well into years, sat one afternoon in the doorway of his hog barn.  He had bought the 110 acre farm as a man in his fifties.  He worked in a factory as a machinist.  The farm work was hard.  He loved it but he had a major problem.

Something was wrong with the hogs.  In case after case, they caught some disease and died.  The farmer tried and tried, treated them and still they died.  He was discouraged.  He was a Christian and was pastor of a country church.  He carried quite a load.  “What is wrong, Lord?  Why all these problems?”

As he sat in the doorway of the old hog barn, his feet rested near the soft soil just outside.   He wondered what to do. 

Suddenly, he heard a hard “thump” from the side of his old wooden barn.  Curious, he got up, slipping down to the earth and turned to his right, walking in the direction of the unusual noise.

After a few steps he looked down at the ground  under the  closed window in the middle of the barn,  that matched one just like it on the other side.  There, one wing still extended, was the body of a small English sparrow.  The little bird had mistaken the transparency the matching windows provided, for a clear flying space. 

The farmer thoughtfully stroked his chin for a few moments.    Then, he looked up to heaven and softly muttered a few words, “Thank you, Lord.”   He turned and made his way up the lane to the house.  He would tell his wife what happened. She would remember Matthew 10:29, and the sparrows,  the same as he had.  Things would be all right, he thought.  And they were.

God has the same peace for you in your time of trial if you watch Him provide it.  He did that for my dad.  He’ll do it for you too!  He might not knock down a sparrow to remind you, but He is with you just the same. Peace is alive in the hearts of the righteous.

6.  Song writer, Shirley Caesar’s testimony of Holy Spirit peace is so appropriate:

     “There is peace in the midst of my storm-tossed life.  I’ve an anchor, I’ve a rock to cast my faith upon.  Jesus Christ is  my vessel, so I’ll fear not alarm.  He gives me peace in the midst of my storm.”   Is that true of you my friend.  Do you have Holy Spirit -authored peace in your life?

Note: Before we leave Ms. Caesar’s work, listen again to a tiny but significant phrase she wrote: “…Jesus Christ is my vessel…”  You see, that is good theology for to be filled with and used by God’s Spirit we must be “in Christ,”  saved by Him and living in firm identity with Him.

If the name of Christ, in public, is embarrassing to you, one thing sure, you are in no position to see the fruit of peace growing in your life!

D. Patience –  “makrothymia”                             

1. “Makrothymia is translated all 14 times it appears in the New Testament as “patience.”  The King James Bible has “long-suffering.”  The New King James also uses “longsuffering.”

2.   But, patience is a virtue hard to come by.  Romans 5:3 says, “…tribulation works patience.”  Usually something unexpected and unwelcome comes to tutor the recipient in the gift of patience!  Ugh!

3.  A young seminary student, in his first year (referred to as “Juniors” in graduate school language), was enrolled in a Greek grammar course.  One day, he raised his hand and boldly spoke up concerning a procedure the teacher was using to teach.  It called into question the professor’s method of instruction.

At this outburst, what could have been the professor’s options?  Well, he could have given a sarcastic belittling remark in response. He could have, as we say, “put him in his place.” He could have held the student over for a tongue-lashing after class.  He could have reported the incident to the Dean of the Seminary.  Any of these were deserved.  So, what happened?

The professor was an elderly man with a doctorate, much respected for his wisdom and godly life.  At the rebuke he looked up and smiled slightly and then returned to his lecture.  Looking back on the incident there were at least three important points the student had overlooked.

First and foremost, the student had broken the Scriptures which clearly forbid “rebuking an elder.” (I Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder but treat him as a father…”). 

Second, the professor was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, where the famed Kenneth Wuest had taught.  Dr. Quincer, the professor had probably studied under him.

Third, the seminary boy was not an “A” student by any means and certainly had nothing by which to teach the professor.

So, where does patience come into play in this illustration?  Just this.  Four years passed and this seminary student was now a graduate up for ordination at his home church in Grand Rapids.  Dr. Quincer, the Greek professor, was one who came to the ordination service the night of August 12, 1964 and laid hands, along with others, on the upstart student who had embarrassed him in front of his class four years before.

I can still make out Dr. Sheldon Quincer’s signature of approval and encouragement  on my Ordination Certificate. Truly patience is a great virtue, a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in a believer who is walking with the Lord.

Conclusion

1. Thus far we have worked our way through four of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The remaining five await attention another day.

2. Suffice it to say this:  Holy Spirit fruit is produced not by working hard or paying money or being religious or showing piety or impressing people or joining a group or improving one’s skills, or taking a class, or even joining a church.  It does not come automatically with salvation or baptism or deep study. 

3. There is one way and one way only for any and every Christian to realize the fruit of the Spirit in your life.  It must grow there.  It is an outcome.  It is a result.  It is a gift from God.  It is a product of God.  It is to be a major part of the testimony of every believer who wants God’s best.

4. It is safe to say that anyone “claiming” the fruit of the Spirit, any of the nine here in Galatians 5:22-23 (and there are more just as the verse itself admits : “…against such things, there is no law.” ) yes, anyone claiming to possess them probably does not have them in his and her life.  But, clearly these nine fruits are recognizable and ought to be cultivated in every believer’s life.  There must be many more for the blessed Holy Spirit is God.  And God is infinite. 

5. These fruits must appear in my life and yours if we are to be what God wants us to be as individuals and in our church collectively.  They are a major part of the filling of the Spirit.  And we are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). They are part and parcel of our testimony.  They are the real thing of the Christian life!

Prayer:  You can pray this prayer: Oh, Holy Spirit make me a clean vessel to receive your Holy Spirit’s gifts, His life, His power and His blessing.  I surrender to You today, blessed Holy Spirit of God.  Cleanse me and use me!

                    

If I harbor any sin in my life, sweet Spirit I know You will not fill me with Yourself. I turn away, I confess every wrong thing, every sin.  I turn to You for blessing and power.  Amen.

  Pastor K. F. Pierpont (kfpierpont@nullgmail.com)

MAMA, ARE YOU SAVED?

Introduction: II Timothy 1:1-5 

Our text shows that Paul prayed for his young helper, Timothy, young Jewish boy whose mama was a good Christian believer, but his father was not (Ac. 16:1). Timothy became a real help to Paul, later he lived and served as a pastor or assistant to the Apostle in Ephesus. He had been brought up to know the Lord for he had a good Mama.

Today is Mother’s Day so I want to brag about mothers. Millions of ladies are good mothers, even before Christ comes into their lives. 

Mamas take mothering naturally. They start early. When a little girl gets a doll for a present she picks it up tenderly in her arms and immediately cuddles it very near her. She even coos and woos the pretend little baby. She is so gentle and kind to her new pride and joy– her doll baby.

Not boys. When boys pick up a doll baby it is usually to hide it from their sister. They grab the little thing by an arm or a leg and sling it into a corner. Then they unceremoniously pitch some big ol’ object over it to hide it. 

Have you noticed, boys and girls are different from each other?

I. MANY LADIES ARE GOOD MOTHERS EVEN WHEN THEY ARE NOT SAVED! 

I am sure this is so. My mother did not know the Lord when my brother, my sister and I were growing up. When, at age six I asked her what was going to happen to me when I died, she said she didn’t know. I was really scared by that!

She knew about cooking. We had good inexpensive meals. It was the Great Depression but my dad landed a good job at Owens Corning in Newark, Ohio, my birthplace. It was 1933 and he received .40 an hour. Mama said, they were able to save a little from his checks!

She knew about keeping clothes cleaned. She worked on the dirt floor of our basement with two wash tubs and a scrub-board and she scrubbed! We had an automatic dryer too. It was about 40 feet long and was strung along the middle of the back yard. Mama worked hard keeping our clothes clean.

Mama knew about fighting fires too. I set ’em and she put ’em out. I liked burning things — combs in our bathroom stove, papers in the kitchen wastebasket, leaves and wood in Dad’s trailer, finally stuff in the basement window wells– along side of the house — Talk about stupid! I liked setting fires. 

When Dad got home from work he set a fire too, every time– on the seat of my pants! I kept setting fires though, until Dad raised the price too high and then I quit! But, Mama was good at putting them out! I’m not sure I was a good example to my little brother and sister! Mama was good about doctoring too. When I was just six weeks old I was desperately sick in my throat and ears. The doctor said, “When he sleeps you stay awake and watch him.” Babies sleep a lot. But she stayed awake and saved my life. She didn’t know then that I would one day set many fires — good thing!

Mama could make a great mustard plaster too. When I got it in the chest she made up a mustard plaster. Just the thought of wearing the stinkin’ thing made me get  better.

If I had my way about it every 21st century spoiled brat would have to have at least one mustard plaster as a kid. That would make him or her appreciate everything else in life for at least a year. Only thing, Mama couldn’t take pills very well. So she always insisted we take our pills, for whatever, with a spoon of jelly. I could take them best with water but she couldn’t so we always used jelly. What a waste — I kind of gagged on the stuff!

Mama was good with Dad too. He loved her and showed it. One day he came home from work early and tippy-toed into the house. Our house was too rich to have doors between the various rooms. We had curtains instead. Dad sneaked into the house and stuck his head into the room Mama was in from the kitchen. He wanted to give her a kiss. But first he yelled “Boo”- It got Mama’s attention. She thought he was an intruder so she swung her small fist as hard as she could. It caught Dad on the end of the nose. He never sneaked in again that I can remember.

Mama was a wonderful cigarette maker too. She bought Dad “Buglar” tobacco and with our little rolling machine she made him many cigarettes. Often at night she’d press me into service and we rolled and twisted the ends closed and put them back into the pack so Dad sort of had plenty of packs of cigarettes. Mama didn’t smoke. I think she hated smoking but Dad smoked for 39 years regularly and started much earlier than that sneaking around as a child.

I never used any of Dad’s — afraid I might get caught. I got mine from the gutter in front of our house — there were plenty and they were shorter but more round than Dad’s. I don’t remember giving Bill or Ann any though!

Mama was really good as Santa’s helper too. When I was five I got up early in the night just before Christmas and there under our little leaning Christmas tree were presents and stuff. I pretended I was sick and started looking for mama. I went outside and looks down to the garage — decided she wasn’t there. I went out to the front porch and looked around — callings several times for her.

Finally, I ran through the trace of snow with my bare feet on and went up on the neighbor’s porch. I got something in my eye so Mama thought I was crying when the neighbor lady opened the door and brought me into their fine living  room.

Was I surprised. Mama had a little glass in her hand, really small. So did the neighbor man and lady. There was something brown in the glass and a funny smell about it. Mama seemed very embarrassed and I got the idea it was a brand new thing to her. Later, I  learned it was. She was taking a drink to fit in. I wonder if any good mothers still do things like that! 

Mama picked me up and made a bee-line for the door. Now that I think of it, I believe God woke me up that night and sent me to the neighbors’ house to speak to Mama! If so, it is a case of a pint-sized bare-foot boy in his pjs. witnessing   to  his Mama  before HE was saved! She never did that again — never in her whole life that I can remember. Like I was to become, she became a strong  enemy of  rot gut  alcohol when we realized the terrible things it does to everybody involved! 

Yes, Mama was a wonderful woman, even in her lost condition. After I got saved I wrote letters home from my Navy station imploring her to get saved too. She saw a new interest, in religious things in me, so she would write back and congratulate me on my new religion. She thought I had gotten religion. I knew I had gotten Jesus into my life and I tried hard to explain! 

About that time a couple of young men came to her door at home. They began to explain about their religion. They talked to her about one Joseph Smith. They gave her a Book of Mormon. complete with little hand-drawn diagrams of how great he was. Later she gave it to me and I have used it many times over the years to point out the silly things taught therein that formed the Mormon false religion. 

II. BUT MAMA GOT SAVED 

Mama kept reading the tracts about Christ and the plan of salvation as I sent them home in my letters. Finally she opened her heart to Christ, and signed the plan of salvation at the end of one of the tracts and sent it to Chicago for further help. 

 When she got saved she got a Bible. Oh, we always had a Bible at home while we kids were growing up. Grandma and Mama used it to press flowers into when anybody in the family died. Grandma had her own Bible and sometimes she read it but just the easy parts like Mark and John because she got only to the fourth grade when her mama died so she stayed home and ran the house for my great grandpa and her siblings. But Mama started bringing her Bible to church. She wrote to me more explaining that she felt funny taking her Bible as she was the only one in church with one, well, except the minister. She began to realize no-body in our church cared about the Bible or didn’t seem to know anything about it. That helped me convince her she was in the wrong church.

If you go to a church and the Bible is not evident in many hands of those coming to church, you are probably in the wrong church. Over the centuries the established church forbid folks to have a Bible, to bring it to church and discouraged them from reading it. “Only established scholars can understand the Bible,” they said. “So, don’t bother reading it.”

Now in our day, we’ve heard a lot of blabber about “Why can’t we read the Bible in school.” Parents suck up their chests and complain — “We need to get the Bible back into the schools.” Well, my answer to that is, “They haven’t taken the Bibles out of your house yet have they! Do you read your Bible in your home?” Maybe you ought to start there. When you had children at home, did you read the Bible with them? Do YOU even read your Bible at home now? I’m not talking about the “Daily Bread.” The few Scriptures in the Daily Bread are fine but if that is all the Bible you are getting, you’re going to starve spiritually! As fine as the Daily Bread is, I think even the publishers would tell you that is the kindergarten of the Christian faith. If that’s all the Bible you get, no wonder you don’t know much about the Lord! Do you think your body would thrive if all you ate every day was one small carrot?

III. WHEN MAMA GOT SAVED HER LIFE CHANGED 

When you got saved, did your life change? My mama’s did. Soon she was ready to listen to my suggestions to find a good Bible-preaching church. In the meantime my dad got his heart right with Christ after never admitting to any of us that he had gotten saved in his old-time Methodist church at age 12. 

Together Mama and Dad set off to get established in a good church. They started learning the Bible. Dad began substituting in teaching Sunday school Then he prayed for more Sundays off from his job. God heard him!

At work Dad played cards at lunch time with the gang in his shop. He smoked and heard the dirty stories others told, stories not unlike the ones he had been telling up to then.

One day, just as Dad was leaving for work, he said to Mama, “Pray for me, Honey, I left my cigarettes upstairs, I’m going to try to quit.” 

Mama went into action the moment he left. She buzzed up the stairs, gathered all Dad’s cartons of cigarettes, his lighters, his ash trays– the whole works and took them out to the burn barrel. Yep, Mama was changing.. So was Dad. He later said to me, years later, “Two weeks after I quit smoking the smell of cigarette smoke nauseated me.” He said, “I quit playing euchre because I couldn’t gamble any more. I quit smoking because I got tired of witnessing to guys and blowing cigarette smoke in their faces.” Yep, Mama changed, and Dad changed. Have you changed since you confessed Christ? 

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Co. 5:17). If you are in Christ you are changing to be more like the Lord. If you are not changing to be more like the Lord, you’re still stuck in your old hell-bound self! Not good! God never intended His plan of salvation to be something to breeze into and be done with. Mama, Papa, Younger, God is not in the business of making temporary half-way changes in your life. He wants you all!! Once He has your soul, now He wants your body too: “What, know ye not that your body in the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which he have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” ( I Co 6:19-20).

The Apostle Paul said about this new life we have in Christ: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”(II Co. 3:18).

So, what is supposed to happen after we are saved? Grow man grow! Grow Ma’m grow! Grow “younger,” grow!

MAMA, ARE YOU SAVED? 

Nowadays, when someone confesses Christ and his or life doesn’t change, somebody else gets the blame for their failure. That is unbiblical. When you got saved, I mean really saved, no obstacle is too great to overcome with Christ. That is because “We are more than conquerors, through him that loved us” (Ro. 8:37). Christ didn’t die to be a pee-wee in your life. He died to be your Lord and Saviour. It’s about time we started playing the role of conqueror, just like He outlined for us! 

Friday night we had our Mother’s and Daughters celebration for Mother’s Day. I am glad we did. Our ladies deserve our planning, our attention, and a good time in the Lord. But more than that, we want each one to understand, “I need to be saved.” Every mama needs to be saved. Mama, are you saved today?

Today is Mother’s Day. Guys and gals, do something nice for Mama today. Mama started taking care of you when there were only three things in the world you could do and all three of them were a problem for her. If you are not saved or have a friend who is not saved, help them to come to Christ, and make all Mama’s work for you worthwhile. 

Mama did many wonderful things for me in my life right up to the last years she lived. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but the two greatest things I ever did for Mama was, first, to stop being a drifting, average lost soul, and secondly to become the instrument by which she found the mighty Christ. God did that in my life! Wow!

I don’t have to ask the question any more, “Mama, are you saved?” Yep, Mama i you are saved and you’ve been in the presence of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ for eleven years, six months and eleven days! Hallelujah! 

Conclusion

Before Mama died, she said to me one day, “Ken, I just wish I had been saved while you kids were growing up. Things would have been a lot different!” Yes, Mama, you bet your Toosie Rolls they’d be different!

Yep, Mama, we wouldn’t have had to roll all those cigarettes, and you wouldn’t have been embarrassed with a glass of whiskey in your hand, and you wouldn’t have had to correct my cussin’ and fussin so much. We’d have been reading our Bibles and studying our Sunday school lessons and would have been working on our neighbors to be saved, wouldn’t we Mama?

In December of last year when I always put out Bible reading plans for you folks to get started in a Bible reading plan, one person called me over to the table during those weeks and asked about one booklet. To my knowledge, I picked up every one of those I had put out those weeks and put them back into my files except that one! So, what am I supposed to think as your pastor: “Everybody in my church is busy on their own daily Bible reading plan; they don’t need me?” Or, are there quite a few in our church who can get along okay without reading their Bibles?” I wonder! 

I can’t help but feel, I better ask my question again: “Mama, are you saved today?” And Papa, are you saved today. And “Younger,” are you saved today.

You may feel it won’t make any difference. Friend, if you are saved or you are not it will make all the difference in this world. And it sure will make all the difference in the next. Come and be saved today.

Mama, Are You Saved? DAY-80

Slaughter of the Innocents

SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS
Psalm 139:7-18; 23-24

“Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he ascertained from the magi.  Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, ‘a voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.’”
–Matthew 2:16-18, NASB

Introduction

Few subjects in modern society have generated controversy greater than that of the abortion of an unborn baby.  While I, like many ministers of the gospel, oppose deliberate abortion, we address this subject, in full knowledge that  it is never cataloged in Scripture as  unpardonable.  Cataloging sin is God’s business.  Every evil is sin and God in Christ stands ready to extend His mercy and grace to forgive the repentant sinner.  This message is a response to an important theme: “the sanctity of human life.”  Anyone reading this who has experienced abortion, had a hand in influencing one, or who has personally performed one should know that God stands ready to meet the needs of every broken-hearted person, including those who carry guilt over this subject. [Read more…]

GOD DOES ANSWER OUR PRAYERS

GOD DOES ANSWER OUR PRAYERS
John 15:1-7

Introduction
PRA-11

A man once adopted a young child into his family.,  He worked and sacrificed all that he had to provide for his child. He met the child’s every need. He showed the child his love and affection always.

Finally the day came when the child decided he wanted something from his father that he didn’t have as yet. First he called softly to his father and apparently the father did not hear for nothing seemed to happen.,  The child cried out more loudly, then even frantically.,  Not satisfied, the child tried to bargain with his father.,  After awhile he tried threats to his father and screamed and yelled.,  He even called out, “You don’t love me!” [Read more…]