Archive for June, 2022

Friendship at a Cost – Part Eleven

“Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  (I Corinthians 9: 24 – 27)

In 1936 Adolf Hitler had the perfect stage to show the world the superiority of the Aryan Race, the Berlin Olympics.

In those days of competition American Jesse Owens, the son of an Alabama sharecropper, won four gold medals. A climatic moment came when Luz Long, the German record holder in the long jump and Owens faced off. Owens’ first jump was disallowed. On his second jump he scratched. He was unsettled with only one jump remaining. He needed a jump of 23-and-a half-feet to qualify. In a great gesture of friendship Long came to Owens and suggested he change his mark and take off one foot before the foul mark to avoid fouling and being disqualified. Owens did and jumped 25 feet for a new Olympic record to defeat Long and win the Olympic Gold. Long, who finished second, was the first to congratulate Owens.

Hitler and the predominantly German crowd were amazed when Long and Owens walked around the tract arm in arm. Their friendship was a lasting one, proving  friendship can be forged enabling people to be friends across gender, race and nationalities, even in the toughest circumstances. 

Owens said in light of the hostile environment, “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me.”

Long stated, “That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew that you were in prayer.”

Long continued, “This is what I have to tell you, Jesse, I think I might believe in God and I pray to him….”

Long, like all German youths, was forced into the army in World War II. He was killed in the Battle of St. Pietro. Shortly before his death, which he perceived was at hand, Long wrote Owens an affectionate letter stating, “My heart tells me, if I be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is something very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war is done, someday find my Karl, and tell him about his father. Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we were not separated by war. I am saying – tell him how things can be between men on this earth.

Long signed the letter, “Your brother, Luz.” That is how things can be between people on earth.

When people can in faith pray, “Our Father which is in heaven,” there can be a bond that transcends differences. The long sought after brotherhood of man is only possible under the Fatherhood of God.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3: 12 – 14)

Let’s Keep Christmas 12/27/98

Matthew 2:1-11
Page 1410 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST, the God\man, is Immanuel, God with us. In Bethlehem He was with us and today He is still with us. The mystery of His dual nature might have resulted in an interview like this:

What is your name, young man?
On my mother’s side my name is Jesus.
On my Father’s side my name is Immanuel.

How old are you?
On my mother’s side I am twelve.
On my Father’s side I am the Ancient of Days.

Where did you come from?
On my mother’s side I came from Bethlehem.
On my Father’s side I came from everlasting to everlasting.

Well, you seem so smart, what are your future plans?
On my mother’s side I plan to go to Calvary and die for the sin of the world.
On my Father’s side I plan to be resurrected the third day and ascend into Heaven.

The birth of Immanuel has once again been celebrated. Excitement has built over a period of weeks. Persons have been more expressive of love, joy, good will, and peace than at any time of the year. But that was yesterday.

Once more Christmas has come and gone. Nothing is as over as Christmas, when it is over.

Before Christmas, up goes expectations and the day after down come the decorations. My wife permits me the pleasure in participating in re-decorating the house. I get to go around packing up the many nativities we put out for the celebration. There goes Mary and Joseph followed by sheep and wise men. The last figure in each creche to be put away is Jesus. The moment inevitably comes when its time: “Back in the box Jesus.” He too is packed and put away.

Somehow that seems symbolical of what really happens. As soon as Christmas day is passed we put away Jesus and return to our daily wars.

There is a Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy says to Charlie Brown. “‘Tis the season of peace on earth good will toward men. I suppose we ought to be a little kinder to each other.”

The ever hopeful Charlie responds, “It’s a shame we can’t make it last all year.” To which Lucy retorts, “What are you, some kind of religious fanatic?”

Henry Van Dyke made an appeal for keeping alive the spirit of Christmas at all times.

“Are you willing to …. stoop down and consider the desires of little children;
to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old;
to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
….to bear in mind the things others have to bear in their hearts;
to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you;
….to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so your shadow will fall behind you;
to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your good thoughts, with the gate open —- are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Are you willing to believe love is the strongest thing in the world —- stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death —- and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas!

And if you keep it for a day, why not always? But you can never keep it alone!

Soon after Christ was born wise men from the East came seeking Him to worship Him. They ventured to

Jerusalem and inquired of Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2: 2). The question prevails today. Where is He? Even those not asking the question need the answer. Today’s question is: “Where can I find happiness?” Seeking happiness without Christ is like trying to grow a garden without the light. Consider these aspects of the first Christmas.

The Lord gave them guidance to find the Christ child. Incidentally, their coming may well have been as much as three years after His birth. There is a Greek word for “baby” or “infant,” BREPHOS and one for “young child OR “toddler,” PAIDION. The latter is used here. Notice how it is translated in verse 9: “…where the young Child was.”

The fact Herod, soon, thereafter, had all children under three years of age killed indicates He could have been almost three by the time the wise men arrived.

Matthew notes three things used to guide the wise men.

A. The Supernatural Vss. 2 & 9 “We have seen His star”
Wise men ever since have been trying to figure out what “His star” was.

I have no trouble accepting the fact the Father might well have simply hung out a special celestial body for that moment in time to identify the spot. He who initially said, “Let there be light” could well have done so.

He who set the clock of the universe ticking initially might have scheduled from the dawning of time a solar event timed to have occurred at that precise moment. Consider one such possibility.

Time is recorded B.C. and A.D. in relation to the birth of Christ. However, this method of dating didn’t occur until 525 A.D. when a Roman monk Dionysius Exiguus devised our current calendar. It is now apparent that in making the calendar change he was off a bit. In reality Christ was born two to four years earlier than our calendar indicates.

In both 3 B.C. and 2 B.C. a unique astronomical thing happened. JUPITER, the planet which represents the birth of kings and kingship had a series of conjunctions.

In Hebrew, JUPITER is known as SEDEQ or “righteousness,” a term for Messiah.

In June of 3 B.C. JUPITER came into conjunction with REGULUS, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo. It is known as the star of kingship.

LEO was the constellation of kings and was associated with the Lion of Judah.

At that time the royal planet approached the royal star in the royal constellation representing Israel.

Notice Matthew 2: 9 says the star “stood over where the young Child was.” Stood?

Here is where a natural phenomenon might well have been timed by our Lord to participate in the announcement. Planets normally move eastward through the sky but regularly perform a “retrograde loop.” That is, as it approaches the opposite point in the sky from the sun, it appears to slow down, come to a full stop, and move backwards (westward). It reverses the course when nearest the sun and again appears to stop.

The Father may well have set the celestial clock on the day of creation to go off at this precise moment.

It is known that in 2 B.C. Jupiter performed a retrograde loop. The day, December 25, 2 B.C.

The writer of Hebrews (1:10) said of Jesus: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish but you will remain…”

Sir John Echols, a Nobel laureate in neurophysiology, said in Chicago in January, 1968, that for the right circumstances to have just evolved to produce life on planet earth the odds would have had to be 400 thousand, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion to one.

The existence of this solar system is no evolutionary accident it evidences divine order. The God who ordered it ordered one celestial body to guide the wise men. Likewise He has provided His Holy Spirit to guide us daily.

God’s timing is always right. It is in the events of our lives we need to let this event be a contemporary stimulus to our confidence in God’s time keeping.

B. The Scripture Vs. 5
Nearly 700 years earlier the Lord had inspired the prophet Micah (5:2) to identify the inconspicuous, insipid, innocuous village of Bethlehem to be the place of Christ’s birth.

The books of the Old Testament were written by 40 plus authors over 1500 years

Fulfilled prophecy is one thing our Lord uses to confirm the Bible as being Divinely inspired.

C. The Situation Luke 2: 1 “A decree from Caesar …”
God often uses unknowing and unwilling individuals to help guide us.

The 750th year of the founding of Rome coincided with the 25th anniversary of the rule of Caesar Augustus. In 2 B.C. Caesar Augustus ordered a census and enrollment throughout the empire. The Lord used this pagan to help fulfill the prophecy regarding where Jesus would be born, Bethlehem.

Where is He? Look for Him in the situations of life for they all can be used of the Lord to draw you to Himself.

Finding Jesus still poses a dilemma for the secular mind.

He is to rule and shepherd in our lives. Dare we put Him back in the box and not allow Him these two offices in our lives?

This required the miracle of the virgin birth. Being born of woman assured Him of a human nature. Being conceived of the Holy Spirit assured Him of a divine nature. He was Immanuel, God with us.

Once there was a kind and decent person who just couldn’t believe in the miracle of the Incarnation. It didn’t make sense to him and he couldn’t pretend it did.

On Christmas Eve his wife and family went to church. It began to snow and he thought, “If we must have Christmas it’s nice to have snow.”

As he sat by the fire and read he heard thudding sounds against a window. It proved to be birds caught in the snow storm that were looking for shelter. He watched as they huddled in the snow knowing it would be their death bed. He thought, “How can I help them?”

Then he thought of his large warm barn. He dressed for the weather, trudged out to open the large doors of the barn, and turn on a light in the barn.

The birds wouldn’t respond. He then considered food, and sprinkled a trail into the barn. They just continued to flop around in the snow.

Next he tried shooing them into the barn. He only scattered them. He thought, “They consider me a strange and frightening creature. I can’t think of any way to make them trust me. If only I could be a bird myself and talk bird talk, I could guide them to safety.”

Then it dawned on him, “That is exactly why Jesus became a man. He became one with us that we might be one with Him.”

We have enjoyed giving and receiving gifts this Christmas. Now that the season is over dare we quit giving. Are we going to put Jesus back in the box or let Him be the object of our worship to Whom we give ourselves?

A. Gold – is the gift for a king.
We must not lose sight of the fact Jesus is our King. We do not approach Him as equals, but as subjects.

It is said that British Admiral Lord Nelson earned the reputation for treating his vanquished opponents with the greatest of kindness and courtesy.

After a victorious naval battle the defeated admiral was brought on board. The defeated admiral, knowing Nelson’s reputation, approached him with hand outstretched as if to shake hands as an equal. Nelson’s hand remained at his side and he said: “Your sword first and then your hand.”

That is how we must come to our king. When we come in full surrender He becomes our friend.

B. Frankincense – the gift for a priest.
The Latin word for “priest” is PONTIFEX which means “bridge builder.” That is what Jesus is, our Great High Priest. He is the One who has built the bridge to the Father.

C. Myrrh – the gift for one who is to die.
What gift have you for Him. He asks for but one. In return for it He promises you everything worth having.

Affect Comes Before Effect – Part Ten

Alice Coachman was born in Albany, Georgia. As an aspiring athlete she faced two barriers in training to become an athlete: she was black and she was a woman. She ran shoeless on dirt roads and used makeshift equipment to work on her high jumping. 

Her developmental years involved joining the high school track team before moving on to Tuskegee College. She also competed in the Amateur Athletic Union, and by 1946 she was the national champion in the 50- and 100-meter dashes, 400-meter relay and high jump. She also enrolled at Albany State College in 1946 after graduating from Tuskegee.

After World War II wiped out the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, Coachman finally got her chance to compete in 1948, high jumping an Olympic-record 5 feet, 6 1/8 inches to win her first gold in London and receive her medal in Wembley Stadium. She is in nine Halls of Fame, including the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. 

Coachman became the first black woman with an endorsement deal when the Coca-Cola Company signed her as a spokesperson in 1952.

Alice worked for years preparing herself physically, culturally, and spiritually while awaiting her moment. What a shame it would have been for her hour to have come only to find her not prepared.  She said, “I’ve had that strong will, that oneness of purpose, all my life. … I just called upon myself and the Lord to let the best come through.”

W. A. Criswell was a diligent seminary student. After chapel there was a daily break. Most students went to the coffee shop, he went to the library. In response to appeals by fellow students to join them in the coffee shop he would often lightheartedly say, one of these days George Truett is going to retire at First Baptist Church in Dallas and I want to be ready. Little did he realize that day would actually come. It did, and it found Criswell ready.

There is an appeal with a promise in Isaiah 40: 31: “…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength….”

It takes God time to get us ready for what He has in store for us. Give God time to be God.

In the interim there is promised a special provision for those who patiently wait on Him: “They shall mount up with wings like eagles.” This is a metaphor speaking of overcoming.

There is a plus, “They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” This speaks of endurance. 

Do you have a dream, that is, an objective, a goal in mind?” We who do are always eager to obtain it. Prepare yourself that if an occasion arises making it ready for you, you will be ready for it.

“Wait on the Lord, run not before Him, and He shall direct your path.” 

Affect always comes before effect.

Finding Strength in the Lord – Part Nine

“Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  I Corinthians 9: 24 – 27

In the February 1952 issue of Iron Man Magazine Bob Peeples, a world-renown lifter and writer for the magazine, tells the story of their first meeting. A 19 year old Paul went into Peeples’ weight room, and without any warm up or wraps, squatted 550lbs…in just his regular shoes. At 5’10” tall, the 275 lb teenager with the 50-inch chest had just squatted 25lbs under the standing 575 lb world record, and he did it twice.

Paul didn’t always have access to traditional weights, so he made his own out of household items like 55 gallon drums filled with concrete, the aforementioned safe, and iron wheels. Paul also developed his own training methods that included squatting all day, every other day.

Three days before the Olympic weight lifting competition Paul developed a high fever and inner ear infection.. At the last minute he was allowed to compete.

An ailing Anderson fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt Paul had a talk with the Lord saying, “I’m not trying to make a deal, Lord, no deals, but I must have Your help to get this weight overhead.” Paul made a true commitment to serve God for the rest of his life. He gave the final push and drove the bar overhead, and it stayed. The crowd went wild as Paul returned the bar to the floor. He suddenly was the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Paul often said, “If the strongest man in the world needs Jesus, so do you.”

Paul died on August 15, 1994 from complications from kidney disease at the age of 61 and I conducted his funeral.

Experientially on his deathbed Paul knew, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”  (Isaiah 40:29)

This bouquet of Scripture typified Paul regarding his true strength.. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

Paul often issued this challenge, “If I, Paul Anderson, the World’s Strongest Man, can not make it through one day without Jesus Christ, how can you?”

Like Paul, call on the Lord and commit to Him.

How to Experience a Renewal of Joy 9/27/98

Psalm 51:9-13
Page 840 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST redeems by His precious blood. When He saves us it is a once and for all time experience. However, there are many times in life when we need to be refreshed and revived.

Remember the last time you were real hot, thirsty, and tired. Recall when you found a comfortable and cool place to sit and sip deeply of cool water. What a sensation! Reflect on that wonderful feeling.

An experience more exhilarating than that awaits those who are spiritually in need of revival.

Historically revival always begins with prayer.

God wants to mature you through prayer. Matthew 15: 21-28 illustrates this.

A woman cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me…my daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

Jesus seems to ignore her. The disciples said, “Send her away.”

The woman persisted, “Lord, help me.”

Jesus seemed to insult her by what appeared to be a put-down: “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

He did so in order to give her the opportunity to show her desire and persistence. She did and replied, “True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ tables.

Having given her an opportunity to mature in her faith, Jesus rewarded her by saying, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

Great must have been her joy!

Scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is thy strength…” Question: “how strong are you?”

A haze hangs over America as private immorality is focused upon publicly. Self-exoneration and public apathy regarding improper conduct gives cause for consternation. Why do so many people condone immoral actions. The answer is found in a scenario incorporated in Romans 1. It is basically this: You approve of my sin and I will applaud yours. A reversal of that is, “I’m not going to condemn anyone for fear someone might condemn me.” Much of the public response indicates many have sin in their lives about which they are apprehensive. If so how should one respond to it? Let’s search a poignant passage for the answer and apply it in order that conscience might be free and joy abound.

God doesn’t want us to come face to face with our sin and go away remorseful over guilt but rejoicing over grace.

King David had sinned. Under the convicting energy of the Holy Spirit he knew he needed to forsake his sin. An interesting, often overlooked aspect of sin, is that at the time a person is involved in it there is a sense of it being right. Wonder of wonders is that a person’s mind can be changed and a sense of the sinfulness of sin awakened. That happened to David. What he did in committing adultery with Bathsheba seemed enjoyable. What he did in having her husband killed seemed plausible. Both sins were self-excused. His self-excusing was his third and equally as evil sin.

Sin is a defect in character which remains until the character is altered. When character is altered then a genuine abhorrence for sin results. A “what have I done” mentality emerges. It is at this point repentance begins.

Realizing the sinfulness of sin David prayed, “Do not cast me away from Your presence” (Vs. 11a).

The word for “repent” is not METAMELIA, which means to feel sorry for what has been done. Judas felt sorry for betraying Christ and hanged himself.

The Greek word translated “repent” is METANOIA, which means to have a change of heart. Be sure your repentance is deep and absolute and not an attempt to buy God’s favor. It is to seek His forgiveness and that is the biggest of favors. Repentance is a change of inner attitude, not just outward actions.

This very apparently happened to David. His broken heart did not contain any excuses for his sin. He made no effort to tone down the seriousness of it or to blame anyone else. He accepted the fault as his. He spoke of it as “my transgressions,” “my iniquity,” and “my sin.”

There was none of the “Bathsheba, sinned also,” or “If Uriah had done what I told him to I wouldn’t have had to have him killed.”

Realizing his sin David prayed – – –


Download I John 1:9 and store it in your memory. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


This is a plea to charge his spiritual battery. The reasons for his improper spirit are often paralleled by our preludes to sin. They are revealed in II Samuel 11: 1ff.

“…at a time when kings go out to battle … David sent Joab … But David remained in Jerusalem” (Vs. 1c). He wasn’t where he should have been. He should have been with his army.

This was a case of “Here am I — send him.”

When we get out of place we get out of God’s will.

“one evening David arose from his bed” (Vs. 2a). What was he doing sleeping late? He was out of sync. He wasn’t where he ought to be, and he wasn’t doing what he should have been doing.

“…he saw a woman bathing…” It is amazing how many sins are introduced by the word “saw.”

Lust comes in a variegated bouquet. There is lust for power, possessions, position, prestige, and praise.

We are saved by grace, kept by grace, and can only be renewed by grace. We can’t lose our salvation but we can lose the joy of our salvation.

A fellow went to a barber shop wanting a shave. He had never seen anyone shaved by a barber but thought it would be different. His barber’s name was Grace. She did a super job giving a smooth clean shave. When he asked how much he was amazed to learn it was $45.00. He thought that was excessive but paid.

The next day he looked in the mirror and didn’t need a shave. Each day for a week this happened. Finally he went back to see Grace. His pastor was in the shop and he asked his pastor if he had ever gotten a shave there. Being assured he had the man asked his pastor how long it was before he needed another shave. “I haven’t needed one have you?” “No and I don’t understand it.” “Well,” said the pastor, “the answer is easy. Once shaved always shaved when you have been shaved by Grace.”

Once saved always saved, but the joy can be lost — rejoice, it can also be restored.

“… do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51: 11c & 12a).

The right spirit is the Holy Spirit. David’s spirit was one of humility. GOD NEVER REVIVES A PROUD PEOPLE.

One new convert exclaimed, “I am happier now when I am not happy than I was before when I was happy.”

Galatians 5: 22 lists “joy” as part of the fruit of the Spirit. One exuberant believer was described: “He must go to heaven every night because there is no other way he could be so joyous every day.”

Joy is the banner that is flown over the castle of the heart when the King is in residence.

“… uphold me with Your generous Spirit…” (Vs. 12).

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise” (Vs. 17).

David’s personal revival brought him HOPE. It does the same for us. It gave him a sense of

HOLINESS. Holiness means set apart. He set himself apart for the use of the Lord.

David prayed for three things:
A “pure heart” (Vs. 10a).
A “steadfast spirit” (vs. 10b).
The “joy” of his salvation (vs. 12a).

OBEDIENCE. He said, “Then will I teach transgressors thy way” (Vs. 13a).

Let me digress to say that in this day in the life of our nation and the ministry of the church there needs to be a revival of commitment to our reason for being as illustrated by an event in the un-civil Civil War. Our community has streets named for such generals of the war as Cheatham, Hood, and Cleiburn.

During a heated period of the war General Hood relieved General Johnston. The first thing he did was send his adjutant to find General Cheatham. The adjutant returned and reported him killed in action.

General Hood then sent for General Evans. After his search the adjutant returned and reported him missing in action.

General Hood then sent the adjutant with this message to General Cleiburn: “Give him my love and tell him I require his hand at the fort at the locust grove.”

Upon receiving the message General Cleiburn stirred in his saddle, raised his saber and to his forces shouted, “First Missouri brigade, to the fort at the locust grove, C-H-A-R-G-E!”

When the fury of the battle was over General Cleiburn reported to General Hood. He dismounted and with dignity said, “Sir, I am pleased to present to your hand the fort at the locust grove.”

One day we will stand before our Commander after having received orders in our earthly spiritual warfare. How will we report. “We were on leave.” “We had some quarrels in the company we had to settle.” “We ….” Or, “Lord, I am pleased to present to your nail scarred hand the sphere of influence you entrusted to me.”

Will we present to His hand the conquest of the charge given us?

POWER. He had the power to love as His Lord loved. The power to overcome sin.

EVANGELISM. “And sinners shall be converted to You” (Vs. 13b).

Having the joy of his own salvation restored and knowing how wonderful it is, the Psalmist wanted others to have the same joy therefore he sought to bring people to the Lord. We who enjoy our own salvation want others to have the same joy.