Thursday, October 15, 2020

 What About The Weaker Ones

     I have wondered if our personal understanding of Scripture passages makes all that much difference... in the true purposes of the Holy Spirit’s motives.  O’ sure there are scores of passages that say we should study and be good workmen in the Bible.  Let’s accept all those important chapters and verses without a quarrel.  But do they comprise the purposes the Lord designed for us to derive from His Holy Word?

     Absolutely His entire word is Spirit breathed and so important in our eternal salvation.  But why did Jesus comment, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40, NIV)

     The Message translation puts it in our lingo:  “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees.  These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.”

     The Passion translation plows deeper into our human-heart soil:  “You are busy analyzing the Scriptures, frantically poring over them in hopes of gaining eternal life.  Everything you read points to me, yet you still refuse to come to me so I can give you the life you’re looking for — eternal life!

O Happy Joyful Day

     The Burtons owned a used furniture store from which they sold a few products but often gave them to any poor, needy family.  Their son owned a transmission repair shop with the lowest prices in town and, though busy as can be, would help any poor person who was in a broken-down car.

     It was to be a most-memorable service.  Dad and Mom Burton had begun attending the services.  One Sunday morn' she was baptized.  When her wet body was raised from the baptistry she spontaneously started singing, “O’ Happy Day.”

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (oh happy day)

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
He taught me how to watch,
fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday
Oh happy day

He taught me how
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

Sharing A Special Supertime

     When we invited Mom and Dad Burton for dinner they accepted but then refused to be seated saying, “We’ve always stood while the others ate.”  It was with very much effort and continuous pleading that we finally got them to sit down with us at the table.  Later they explained that because they were “colored” (their exact words) they were never considered equals.  I assured them that the Scripture clearly states God doesn’t see any person’s skin color:

     “Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis.  It makes no difference what race of people one belongs to.  If they show deep reverence for God, and are committed to doing what’s right, they are acceptable before him.” (Act 10:34-35, TPT)

     “The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV)

The Visit

     Clark, a firm doctrinally entrenched long-time disciple, wanted to investigate the Burtons.  Later he said, “I had to make sure that they were truly as Christian as they appeared to be.”  It was in December and they warmly invited him in.  He continued, “I saw it as soon as I sat on their couch.  It was on the mantle above the fireplace.  I knew I had to say something and suddenly it blurted out.  “Don’t you know that Christmas tree is for pagans?”

     An 8-inch metal Christmas tree was for pagans?

     I was surprised when the Burtons weren’t at church next Sunday morning.  Nor night.  When they missed Wednesday night I drove to their home.

     Brother Burton, with tear-filled eyes, said, “I’ve never been called a pagan.  Not in my whole life.  We just don’t know what to do... and where we can go to church now.”  Sister Burton said, “And we loved going to your church.  Brother Smith what should we do?”

     I met with Clark and must admit I failed.  He would only apologize if I could prove to him that he was doctrinally wrong.  Sadly when I read the following Scriptures to him they bounced off his proud edifice.

     “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions.”  (Romans 14:1, GNT)

Is This Your Church?

     I was far from home and church on a business matter.  I found a small church that said, “We welcome any and all to our warm gathering.  Communion is served before the start of the preaching.”

     I arrived early and sat in on the Adult Sunday School class.

     The teacher threw out questions to the audience during the class.  A couple of times I raised my hand and answered.

     As soon as the class was over three men, whom I gauged to be elders, surrounded me.  One spoke, “You obviously know your Bible very well.  Where do you attend?” As I started to reply another asked “Oh, and where did you go to Bible College?”

     Each of my responses generated another question.  I felt grilled.  In fact it was more like an inquisition.  There was no warmth but rather a gnarly ache in my heart.

     Then it was time for serving the Lord’s Supper (communion).  Those three men passed the trays up and down the aisles.  That is until they came to my spot.  With nostrils tilted up so far they would have drowned had it been raining, they dodged my seat obviously refusing to serve me communion.

     As I recall that incident today I grieve that some “Christian” people reach a point where their judgement exceeds the very warning God’s Holy Spirit thundered:   

     “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?  Or why do you treat them with contempt?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.  It is written: 

     “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:10-13, NIV)

     Commentator Matthew Henry surmises it:

     “It was after he had died and risen that he said, All power is given unto me (Matt. 28:18), and presently he exerts that power in issuing out commissions, Rom. 14:19, 20.  Now if Christ paid so dearly for his dominion over souls and consciences, and has such a just and undisputed right to exercise that dominion, we must not so much as seem to invade it, nor intrench upon it, by judging the consciences of our brethren, and arraigning them at our bar.”

     Emphasizing he continues, “It is certain that nothing is more threatening, nor more often fatal, to Christian societies, than the contentions and divisions of their members.  By these wounds the life and soul of religion expire.  Now in this chapter we are furnished with the sovereign balm of Gilead; the blessed apostle prescribes like a wise physician.  “Why then is not the hurt of the daughter of my people recovered, ...”

Determining The Lord’s Will

     Don was in his 10th year as the minister since his graduation from Bible College when Bud Ableman visited.  He returned to the Sunday and Wednesday night services.

     Bud invited the Roddas to dinner at a restaurant.  He had a proposal.  “Please move to Crescent City, CA and become our preacher.”  Don smiled and politely said, “No.”  Bud returned several times over the next two months.  With the repeated visits were repeated attempts.

     Finally, Don responded more positively: “I’ll consider it if the Lord answers a fleece. We’ve tried to sell our home for nearly a year without anyone even coming to look at it.  Bud, I’ll put it back on the market and if it sells, I’ll accept that as a fleece that the Lord wants me to do so.”

     Bud went back home and asked the Crescent City church to pray about Don’s house selling.  Don had put the "For Sale" sign in his yard at about 9:30 Monday morning.  At a little past 3:00 PM an older couple asked permission to walk through the home.

     Afterwards they said, “How much is it?”  Don told them.  They said, “It’s well worth that.  We would like to buy it.”  Don said, “Well how will you finance it?”  The man said, “We’ll pay cash.  When can we have possession?”

     In less than a month the Roddas moved to Crescent City, CA. where they had an incredible multiple-year ministry.

     I’ve shared this absolutely true story not to discuss buying and selling homes.  This is a true story about how the Holy Spirit orchestrates bits and pieces of our lives to bring about Heaven’s will.  Jesus included this when he taught his disciples how to pray:

     “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10, NIV)

     Oh, and don’t overlook that Don Rodda’s fleece was answered.  God’s promises are always kept.

Will The Lord Help Teenagers

     I shared my conversion story in an earlier post (Murder Attempt Led Me To The Lord) and now I need to reveal how the Lord convinced me to preach.

     After I became a Christian in the summer after my sophomore year in High School spiritual events began pulling me towards serving the Lord full time.  But Baseball scouts were telling my coach they considered me a possible candidate.  So ~ ~ should I preach or play baseball for the future?  The wrestling match began.

     In the spring of my Junior year baseball began and my energy focused on it while my mind played ping pong between it and preaching.  I leaned towards preaching as the preseason games began.

     I pitched the first game and batted 6th in the line up.  We won and I also hit a double knocking in a run.  I was loaded with pride.  The last preseason game I played first base and hit a home run.  I just knew the scouts were drooling!  I was so amazed with my greatness I needed to buy a hat twice as large!  In the ping-pong match preaching was fading badly.

     As I planned my Babe-Ruth future the season began.  Game 1 I hit the ball hard but everyone was caught.  I went 0-3.  Game 2 was exactly the same...hard hit balls were caught and I went 0-3.

     Without boring you anymore I ended up setting a School record.  I played every game.  And went 0-26.  Nobody in our school had ever gone hit-less for a whole season.  Something was strange and I was struggling to figure it out.

     As my soul fought the ping-pong match, I’ll never forget the Coach coming to me mid season.  He said, “I’m going to leave you batting clean up.  You’re hitting the ball so hard.  I just can’t believe every hit gets caught.”

     The next night I couldn’t sleep very well.  I was sure classmates were mocking the wanna be Babe Ruth.  And my boss - the farmer - I’m sure wondered why he had let me have time away from farming to turn out so dudley.

     It was then the Lord spoke to my soul.  It became clear that He wanted me not to pitch but rather to preach.  I prayed and prayed and then told the church I’d made a decision.  “I’m going to ask my Principal if I can graduate now (my Junior year) as I am going to go to Bible College."  Dr. Robinson said “Yes, if I’d take two final classes in Summer school.”

     Once my decision was done and I put God in first place (where He always belongs) our school had one postseason baseball game remaining.  My first at bat in Cloverdale, OR the bases were full.  My mouth still drops when I relive that moment.  The pitcher threw a fastball.  I swung with gusto and the ball sailed over the fence.  A home run cleared the bases.  Two more times in that final game I got hits...3 for 3.

     Don’t think this story is about my supposed great baseball prowess.  This is about one thing.  Even when you’re young go to the Lord and ask Him to speak to your soul and direct your future.  He always will lead and guide you. I  so wanted to hug the Holy Spirit and my guardian angel then... and still do!

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