Lord Open His Eyes

I think it is amazing how much of our time is wasted considering the enormous number that oppose us and not seeing the power of He who directs us.  Certainly everyone is encumbered by many things in life and sometimes we fear the very size of the opposition.  Maybe it might be health issues or maybe it might be financial concerns.  It might even be issues in relationships or quite possibly its problems of a spiritual nature.  Whatever the hindrances of our life if we focus only on them then in our minds the power of He who loves us most diminishes it would seem.

But really if our eyes are opened and we begin to view the greatness of His power and His kingdom then the size of our problems grows smaller and our view of Him and His grace and mercy grow larger.

In 2 KIngs 6:15-17 much insight is given to God’s people concerning this very issue.  Elisha the prophet was blessed by the Lord with tremendous insight towards the intent of the enemies of the children of Israel. The King of Syria and his enormous army was making preparation to entrap the children of Israel and destroy them.  Several times the King would make plans to attack but every time the Lord would inform Elisha and God’s people would be warned and the Kings plan would be of no avail and safety would be the result for God’s people.

The King thought that there must be a spy in his inner circle and began to question his closest confidants.  But the truth was the Lord was warning Elisha and all of the Kings plans failed.  He questioned his closest advisors about the location of Elisha and they all agreed that he was in Dothan.  So the King sent an enormous amount of soldiers and chariots and they encircled Dothan by night and were ready to attack at the first light of morning.

The young servant of Elisha arose early that morning and went to the wall of the city and began to awake from his sleep.  But his awakening was instant as he began to see the enormous amount of the enemy round about the city.  He called for his master and said, “Alas my master! How shall we do.”  In today’s language his concern was “What will we do.  How shall we overcome such great numbers.”

The prophet answered with such eloquence and grace and conveyed a truth that we, God’s people of today, should never, ever forget.  “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”  Such great strength and truth comes to God’s people at such times of great need.  Then the prophet prayed and the prayer is somewhat surprising.  My prayer would probably be, “Lord, bring down fire and brimstone and destroy the enemy.”  Or maybe my desire would be as Peter and the other disciples spoke on the ship in the middle of the storm, “Lord save us or we perish.”

But here is what Elsiha the prophet, called of God to be a spokesman for Him prayed. “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.”  Isn’t it amazing that Elisha’s prayer in the midst of such opposing numbers was not for himself but for the young servant.  And the Lord opened the young servants eyes and this is what he saw.  “And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. ” When the young man’s eyes were opened by the power of God he saw deliverance was nigh.

So, how large are your problems?  How numerous are your adversaries?  Do you lose sleep of a night or do you rely on some other means to cushion the pressure that is upon you because of all of your problems.  Don’t get me wrong, we all have problems and they are real and they pile up and the cause pressure and it seems that there is no escape.

My prayer for us is “Lord open our eyes that we might see that deliverance is nigh.  That there is a heavenly God-sent escape for all of our problems.  Lord, let us see that Satan desires us to be ensnared by all of the problems of society. Lord open our eyes as the young lad and let us see that the Lord has given us deliverance and an avenue of escape.”  Because as the prophet said, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

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His Sheep Still Hear The Voice of The Good Shepherd

I have watched several times, as probably you have, a video that was taken from a field in Norway.  In the field below the road a herd of sheep are grazing and several tourists are given the opportunity to call the sheep and see how they respond.  Each tries in their own way to call the sheep but there is no response.  The sheep continue to graze and don’t even lift their heads in response to the futile attempts of the tourists.

But when the shepherd, and I’m sure he is a good shepherd, begins to call, the response from the sheep is immediate.  Their heads rise up, they quit they’re grazing and almost in unison they began to run towards the voice of the Shepherd.  Again, certainly the man must have been a good shepherd.

Why then, from the examples of the sheep of the field, are we God’s children surprised? In the 10th Chapter of the Gospel of John, Christ told the Pharisees that the reason they hear not nor understand His voice is they are not of His sheep.  Christ tells those in attendance a truth that does not diminish in importance because of the continuing years since He spoke.  He says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” How reputable would the shepherd be if he did not even know who his sheep were.  And with out the intimate relationship between the sheep and a good shepherd, how would the sheep even know who their shepherd was.

I have read accounts of the shepherds of Israel, just like those that tended their sheep on the fields outside of Bethlehem that glorious night of the birth of Christ.  When night came the shepherds would find a calm place, with food and water for the sheep to rest.  And one by one he would call his sheep and they, heeding the call of a good shepherd, would come to his side and gently he would take oil and apply to the bruises and scratches of the sheep that they had received by grazing in the rocky fields where the resided.  The good shepherd would dam up fast flowing water so the sheep would not be fearful and they could drink from pools of water that a good shepherd had provided.  And a good shepherd would gently lead his sheep and the sheep would follow without hesitation. A good shepherd would also courageously defend his sheep from danger with his life.  Need an example….David writes of killing a bear and a lion in defense of his sheep because truthfully he was a good shepherd.

But the sheep of the King of Kings knows and hear the voice of not just a good shepherd but they hear the voice and receive  love, grace and mercy from The Good Shepherd. Christ says the hireling caring for the sheep  at the moment of distress  will run for his own safety because the sheep are not his.  But Christ confesses in all honesty and sincerity that He will not leave His sheep because they are His and that He will even lay down His life for His sheep because He is The Good Shepherd who knows His sheep and is known of them.

What great truth is found in the gospel of John in the 10th chapter concerning The Good Shepherd.  A story worth reading again and again and a story worth telling our children that they might have the understanding and knowledge that their Saviour Jesus Christ is The Good Shepherd and gave His life for all of His sheep no matter how young, no matter how old.

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Only He Could Stop A Funeral Procession

She was now all alone. There was no one in her family nor of her acquaintance that could help her. She had relied during the twilight years of her life, after her husbands death, on her only son for support. But now he was dead also. And the procession was leaving through the gates of the small town of Nain with men carrying the bier covered with flowers and cloth supporting the body of her son. In just a few moments they would be at the grave, he would be interred and then she would be without any help whatsoever.  
Your problems may not be as dire as this unnamed widow but they are personal and seem very severe to you. Maybe your problems are financial in nature. May be the one that has promised to be with you until death has now had a change of heart and mind and he/she has left you alone. Maybe you’ve tried hard to raise your children in a Christian home but they now are of age, have left the safety and sanctity of your home and the world has led them astray to your distress and tears flow unceasingly from your eyes. Or maybe your health has deteriorated so badly that your strength, your hope and your finances are gone and you think no one cares and you have no hope.
If any of these situations are a thousand other bad possibilities is now your lot may I be allowed to bring you some good news. Jesus Christ is at the gates of your life and He will give you courage and support that will carry you throughout all of your situations. He is aware of your needs, He is aware of your tears and as David tells in a Psalm, He has placed your tears in a bottle and holds them in His loving hands. He knows your needs and He is faithful to help.
Unknown to the widow, help in the form of Jesus Christ her Saviour was entering through the gates of the city and he was moved with compassion by her needs. As the disciples and a great crowd watched, Jesus stopped the procession and touched the bier carrying the dead body of her son and He said, “Young man I say unto thee, Arise” (Luke 7:14). And the young man sat straight up and began to speak and the now alive young man was delivered to his mother. Small amounts of speculation is needed but can’t you just hear the shouts of joy from the widow. Can’t you just imagine she screaming, My son is alive, he is alive. And the scripture says that fear came upon all that were in attendance and they glorified God.
Though this wonderful story of grace and healing happened over two thousand years ago the promise of a loving, all caring, victorious Saviour is still very much alive today. He will uphold you during the worst of your problems. He will give comfort to the comfortless, He will draw those close who can feel no love and He will dry the tears from the eyes of those that cry without comfort. All is possible because He is the only one who can stop the funeral procession and raise the dead. Now how big, really, was your problem?

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I Want What She Has

I am so thankful that we worship a Saviour that is Lord of Second Chances.  If our Lord judged us as man sometimes judges others we would have no hope at all.  Mans judgement is sure and biased but the Lords judgement concerning us today is one full of love, hope and second chances.  

Consider an occurrence described in the Gospel of Luke in the 7th chapter.  Simon a Pharisee had invited Jesus to sup with him. The reason for the invitation is not discussed but it doesn’t take much speculation that the Pharisee did not cast the invitation for heart felt conversation with Jesus but probably as an attempt to show others how important the Pharisee was.

But a really unusual event took place when an uninvited guest made her appearance.  Love for the Saviour filled her heart and life and her love for Him was shown by her works and not her words.  She approached the Saviour as He was seated at supper and with out great fanfare she began to wash His feet with her tears and dried His feet with her hair.  Then she took the most prized possession she had, broke the Alabaster box and let the oil flow from the top of His head and the beautiful smell must have filled the room.  Love for her Saviour was her object and therefore her actions showed the deep feelings she had for Him.

But you she, evidently this love had not always been a part of her life.  Under his breath, Simon began to think “This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touched Him, for she is a sinner.”  Evidently the past of the woman was well known among the people of the town.  Her deeds go unannounced but all knew her past and the uninvited guest’s reputation followed her wherever she went.

But obviously somewhere, sometime, forgiveness had came into her life and the knowledge of Her Saviour came from the throne room of glory and was placed within her very soul.  And a feeling she had never known washed over her soul and over her feelings and she felt something that she had never felt before.  Forgiveness for her sins replaced the dark, foreboding that she had known and the knowledge of the power of a forgiving Saviour was now the focus of her mind and of the walk of her life.  And this beautiful feeling brought her right to where He dined and the thankfulness and love that comes only from He who can forgive sins, brought love to her actions and communing with Him brought joys she had never known before.

I want some of what she has.  I want the feeling that can only come from the understanding that He is a Saviour of love and of second chances.  I want to put the past behind me, mark the spot where I’ve gained the knowledge of Him being a Saviour of second chances and feel the depth of love for Him and His people that maybe I’ve never felt before.

I want to let go of hurts  of the past, of  guilt from past sins,  of grudges and bad feelings that I may have harbored for years and let them go and bask in the love of a Saviour of  love and of second chances.

How about you?

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He said it, I believe it

The Apostle Paul suffered as much in his lifetime probably more than any other Apostle.  He writes in II Corinthians, 11 th chapter regarding the great hard ships that he suffered for the cause of Christ.  Shipwrecks, stoning, in stripes above measure, in perils of robbers, heathens, in the cities, in the wilderness, in the sea and even perils from his own countrymen.  He suffered much weariness, great pain, great hunger and thirst and many things that are too great in number to even mention.  And even the things he suffered in the last years of his life including imprisonment and denial by his own countrymen are greatly overlooked when we begin to consider his life.  I have this picture in my mind of Paul bent and scarred but pressing on until the end preaching the gospel.  History tells us that during the last years of his imprisonment in Rome the jailers had to be routinely changed from the duty of watching over the elderly Apostle in fear of them being converted to belief in Christ.  But the Apostle pressed on.

At one time in his life an ailment or issue came upon Paul that he referred to as a “thorn in the flesh”.  We really don’t know his issue though many have varying opinions.  Whatever it was Paul prayed unto Jesus and asked the problem be removed, but it remained.  With great faith the Appostle prayed unto his Lord again but the problem remained.  He prayed the third time and the answer came to Paul from the Maker of the Universe.  “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.  Obviously the answer that Paul received was sufficient for joy for Paul writes in the next verse, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christs sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong”.

In our lives we go through many times when it would seem our God given faith grows quite small.  We love to complain at the smallest of issues and then when really hard times come we nearly faint because we grow so weary.  Or maybe we watch someone we love very dearly live in the valley of the shadow of death and we grow angry at God because it seems our prayers for healing  for ourselves or our loved ones go unanswered.  Probably some of us have stood by the bedside of dearest of loved ones and have seen their breath grow more shallow by the moment and certainly the thought may have gone through our minds that the Lord has not answer our prayers. And then we see those loved ones go home to be with Him and our hearts break and our faith diminishes even greater.

But what if He had answered our prayer and we just didn’t realize it.  What if He said to us by action that His grace is sufficient.  What if He allows us to see and not necessarily hear the answer.  What if the comfort found in Romans 5:3, “but we glory in tribulation” is made manifest in our daily lives.

I know some that may read this are going through some really hard times…loved ones are very sick…your health has diminished greatly…someone you’ve loved dearly have turned there backs on you and you heart breaks for whatever the cause may be.  Please understand you have not been left without a comforter.  The Lord loves you so much and in our anguish He holds us closer than ever.  And the truth is we do glory in tribulation.  Because the tribulation worketh patience, and the patience worketh hope and the hope makes us not to be ashamed.

The Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient and the Lord inspired Paul to write of the glory we gain in tribulation and He said it therefore friends I believe it.  When our tears fall for the distress of our loved ones or they fall because of the loss we suffer He draws us close and wipes away our tears and tells us He will, never no never forsake us.  He said it and I believe it.

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The Road Home

I’m sure that at least sometime in our younger lives we had thoughts like the youngest son of a man and the story of his journey that’s told in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Luke. As the story starts the young man probably tired of what he considerd a very mundane life and was ready to leave home and see what the world, just across the horizon, held for him. As you have read I’m sure, he approaches his Father with his request for his portion of the goods and was more than likely shocked when his father granted the request. Not only did the father grant his youngest sons request but also granted his oldest son his portion of the goods.
So many times in our younger days I’m quite certain that the desire to leave home and the limits placed on us by our godly fathers became quite a hindrance if not a nuisance to us and the desire for our freedom just cried out from within our souls. If I could just be freed from the rule of my Father and see what’s out there in the rest of the world was upon our minds daily. Now the youngest son is not only freed from the restrictions of home but he has ample resources and the journey begins.
And it doesn’t take long for the journey to take a dramatic twist. Through bad lifestyles, riotous living the young nameless lad finds his dreams are shattered and the reality of a life away from his Father’s love and kindness brings the young man literally to his knees. Money all spent he joins himself to a citizen of the country and has the worst job one could probably have, feeding the swine. Caring for the stinking, nasty creatures that he never had to care for in his Fathers house. As he realizes he’s at the lowest position and stature in his life he considers fighting the pigs for the husks and corn that they are dining upon.
Then something marvelous happens. The scripture says “And when he came to himself”…. This story in my opinion is not about regeneration or not about we as God’s people making good choices. It’s about repentance and restoration and the realization that when we make terrible choices it does not remove us from the love of God. When the moment came along with the realization that back home his Fathers servants dine far better than he was about to dine something wonderful occurred. And along with the God sent realization of his current situation from His heavenly Fathers throne room came the strong desire “I will arise and go to my father and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
When we truly repent with a Godly repentance the knowledge of our current situation truly comes to our mind and God sends us a way out. So it was with the young man….I won’t come back as your son, but as one of your hired servants. I’m not worthy of the close relationship that I had, but if I could just serve you as your hired servants do, I will be satisfied.
But unknown to the young man, someone had been searching the horizon for months looking for a shadow or an image of someone, that might just be his son. Can you imagine the joy that must have filled the Fathers bosom with the growing image of someone that continued to look a lot like his youngest son. I would not be surprised if shouts of joy filled the air when the son came into full view and that his Fathers loving instructions rang through out the camp.”Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And Bring forth the fatted calf and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
The youngest son’s prepared speech to his father regarding a servants position was not heard but only the shouts of joy in the camp rang forth. But there were shouts being heard in a place far above the camp of the father and son. Luke also wrote in the 15th chapter “Likewise, I say unto you there is joy in the presence of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Repentance is so very important in our lives that when repentance truly comes the Angels in heaven around the throne of God shout praises for one of God’s children that turn from great error and basks in the forgiving love of our Almighty Father. So then if the Angels are filled with joy should we not also be filled with joy and love for one of our brothers and sisters that have turned their face from error and bask again in the light of the love of God.
Joy in the camp, joy in heaven and joy in our lives by repenting from the things that hold us back from worshipping our Father in heaven….

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Mimi and Grandad’s House

A house filled with peace, with joy, with love, with forgiveness, where the Lord’s name was never raised in vain, where shouting nor demeaning never entered pretty well identifies the house I grew up in.  A little 2 bedroom home on a peaceful road in far East Dallas but it, the vast majority of the time, was free of the angst contained in the preceding words.  

I think the same can be said about the home of both my sets of grandparents, and not to my surprise, it can be said about the home I first visited in Fort Worth when I started courting Carole Beth Swart.

To be honest all of our children as well as all of us should be dwelling in such a peaceful place.  A place where we can all grow in joy and love surrounded by the teaching of how great our Elder Brother is and about how much he accomplished and gave us.

As I write this awaiting the arrival at our home of most of my sons, their wives and all of their precious children I pray that Mimi and Granddad’s house will continue to be such a place.  Tomorrow afternoon before we feast on the bounty the Lord has provided and Mimi has prepared we, one by one, will try to enumerate all that we are thankful for.  Tears will fill our eyes, our voices will crack and we will somewhat struggle to find the right words but in the home where Mimi and Grandad live peace, joy, love, forgiveness and hugs all around will fill the room.  And my heart will nearly burst with joy for the Lord blessing me and my family so abundantly.

The church at Indian Oaks, I pray will continue to be such a place.  A place where sinners gather to hear about He who has given us so much.  A place where all of the spiritual teaching becomes more than just words.  It becomes His love put into action in our lives.  A place where He reigns and His love permeates our lives and is made manifest by our actions one toward another.  A place where my best friends reside, where I can tell them of my faults and failures and they will tell me they know and they love me in spite of them.  A place where condemnation doesn’t reside and we don’t have to look very far in our hearts to find the ability to forgive one another.   Because, to be very honest, hypocrisy should find no residence in our church but love must and should abound.

I pray Mimi and Granddad’s house remains a very special place for all of our family, where precious memories overflow but I pray also that place pales in comparison to the joy, peace, love, forgiveness and His Holy Spirit found in the little, loving, peaceful church found on Shawnee Trail identified as Indian Oaks.

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     Enough defined by Webster is “equal to what is needed”.  Growing up it seems Mom and Dad and the Lord above always supplied enough, or equal to what was needed.  We didn’t have a lot and to be honest some might think us poor but we always had enough. We didn’t dine on steak every night, sometimes the meal was meager but now looking back we always had enough.  I never went without clean clothes, always enough.  Every time I needed a little extra for stuff when possible it was supplied, always enough.

     I didn’t get to finish college, Mom was sick, Dad lost his job, I had to quit school but I had enough training to always find a job….it was always enough.

     I would imagine you have similar stories that in your life our Father above always provided enough…equal to what was needed.

     I’m reminded of the great drought during the line of wicked Kings in the lives of the children of Israel.  Remember when Elijah came to the little town of Zarephath as the Lord instructed?   He didn’t find a long line of those ready to help but what he did find was a widow woman at the gates of the city gathering sticks, preparing to start a fire, bake a cake so she and her son could eat their last meal and die. After the request from the prophet for her to fetch him some water and a little cake, she in anger confessed that a little meal in the barrel and a small amount of oil in the cruse was all of the food stuff available and that would never be enough to sustain their lives.  

      Sometimes in our times of inadequate faith we think our problems so large and insurmountable that no help is enough or available for us.  But the preacher encouraged her with this truth found in 1st. Kings 17:14.  “For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until  the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth”.  And the encouragement proved true for the scripture tells us that the barrel of meal wasted not nor the cruse of oil did not fail but provided sustenance enough for her, her son and her family.  When she went to the barrel everyday it was not flowing over with meal nor was the cruse running over with oil.  Truth is everyday the Lord provided enough. 

Even though nearly three thousand years have passed since this wonderful story the Lord still provides provision for His children and truly He provides enough.  He provides the needs of His children and always will.  David brings the entire subject of enough to fruition when he writes in Psalm 37:25 the following…..”I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”  Why?   Because the Lord always blesses His children with enough.


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Something new

Due to the hard work of Elder Barry Brown our new website is up and running and looks great.  A new feature of the website, I can now write a blog and it will be posted to the website.  I’m looking forward to sharing some thoughts on scriptures or other topics that I find interesting and also some articles of other ministers that I think you might enjoy. So look forward to my ramblings, some which may make sense and interest you but some that might only interest me. So ready or not here comes the blogs of your pastor….

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Commentary, Musings, & Edification

Coming soon to this very blog space!

A Deep Well

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