Posts tagged ‘Faith’

Hope in Devotion To Jesus

“By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

I have avoided writing in regards to the Corvid 19 Pandemic and the struggles of the world. I felt there was nothing fruitful to offer, as there are many people who have a better knowledge of this virus than I do. There are many who now our suffering its infection, and I have grown distressed, as they have grown weary. The struggle is understandable, and I have sympathy for them, but there is a way to cope. I understand their weariness but not their affliction. As of this writing, I have been blessed. If I do fall to a  victim, still I shall be blessed.

Lately, the people have grown impatient with the restrictions the government has placed upon them. It is a time when we have learned the value of the freedoms we have had and taken for granted. I am not one to believe that our government is by design plotting to introduce us to a totalitarian state. They would have to disarm the people first, and that has not happened. I agree with the actions of President Trump, as I believe the best interest of all the people is at heart. It is an inconvenience, as all trials and challenges in life are. We have faced them in the past by being united in the cause, and together we will get through.

Even as some feel hopeless in the present time, the truth is some have been hopeless all their time. Others have claimed to have their hope in the Lord should rejoice in the day the Lord has made and be glad in it. That may seem so easy to say and hard to live, but it is simple if you live in His truth. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

I was reading in Paul’s letter to Timothy this morning and realized the answer for difficult times we are in now, and it is the answer to all of our living for today and the tomorrows to come. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Prayer, this is the answer for each day, everything the day offers the blessings and challenges. After we recognize who our God is and praise Him for the mighty works He has done, we have the privileged to come boldly with our petitions. Our personal petitions and our intercessional petitions for others. Our petitions for His Church, as our Lord is the head, and the Church body of Christ. Pray for your fellow Church family members. The government has advised us not to meet together in the Church building, but they have not restricted our faith and prayers. We have lost our freedom to assemble until it is safe to gather again.

Paul is telling us to pray for all people, the righteous and the wicked alike. We serve a God who is not partial towards anyone. (Acts 10:34-35) He gives the command, and obedience pleases our God. We desire that our parents are pleased with us and how much more is it to please our Heavenly Father? Then Paul tells us to pray for the Kings, our government leaders whom God has appointed according to His pleasure and will. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

It is not meant for us to follow their suggestions blindly, as they too must obey the law of the government. Here we have the privilege to vote our leaders into office, so certainly we should vote for the leaders who abide by the law of God, for this is the law we all shall be judged by on that great day. God appoints them according to His will and purpose, and we must be obedient. It may not be what we want, but it is what we are to do. We are to pray for our leaders. Pray they are leading us to the full revelation of God’s plan. Pray that they receive His wisdom in their judgments, as God’s timetable will be accomplished, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” (Daniel 2:21)

Our prayers for our leaders are acceptable to God, who desires all men to come to a saving knowledge of His truth. As His Church, this is in line with the Church’s purpose. The Church gathers to be equipped and empowered to “Go” into all the world. The Church plants the seeds of His truth into every heart that will receive. The Church is not a gathering place for social pleasures. It is a place to gather to praise and worship our God through His Son Jesus. It is a place where we gather to learn and them “Go and Show” living the gospel message before the world. The Church’s body is His light to shine in the darkened world that mankind will know the truth. Prayerfully we hope that the worldly will receive His truth and repent from their worldly way and turn to the Kingdom of God.

Most people will reject the truth of Jesus Christ. Some do not believe in a Sovereign God as the Creator of all. Some do not believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Some reject His truth because they find the gospel offensive. I know that they do just as my sons rejected the truth of my discipline. Them when they were caught, they hated feeling guilty. When people hear ‘God’s Word in the Power of the Holy Spirit, they are convicted. They realize their guilt and shame, and they hate it. They do not see the freedom of righteousness and therefore have no desire for forgiveness and salvation. Now they know, and they have made their choice, and that is why they need our prayers. The seed sower cannot plant before the soil is prepared. Prayed is the key to heart preparation. Only God can change a heart!

The text we are looking at this morning is a doxology that Paul wrote to Timothy. A doxology is a formula for praise to our God and Savior. In chapter 3, verse 9, Paul made this statement about godliness. “Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” In the context of that statement, we can view this doxology as a devotion since the focus is on God. In our devotion to our Lord and Savior Jesus, we have plenty to praise Him for and share with any who do not accept Him as the incarnated God in the flesh.

No one denies that Jesus lived in history; they will not accept Him as a God. They may admire His personhood, but they do not believe who He is. Unbelief makes all men who reject Jesus as the Son of God is enemies of God. “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:23) Confrontation is not our message. Our message is Jesus loves them, and the gospel is His grace.

Jesus was manifested in the flesh that mankind could see God by their sight and believe in Him by faith. “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:19-20)

Jesus went to the cross as the Lamb of God to pay the sin debt of the world. (John 3:16) He went willingly out of His love for mankind for their reconciliation to God. “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)

The Heavenly Host, the angels of God worship Jesus. We see this at the announcement of His birth, “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13-14)

His Word, the gospel of the Kingdom of God, has been preached to the world. They started with the Apostles and now by His many disciples. His message of Good News has reached the nations of the world. What began on the Day of Pentecost can be held in our hearts today from two thousand years ago. “But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” (Romans 10:18)

Jesus promised that the gates of Hades could not prevail against His Church. For two thousand years, the message of Jesus has been received and being revealed by multitudes daily. Many are quickened and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.” (Colossians 1:6)

Jesus came from the Father, was received back to the Father when His work in the world was finished. He was glorified by the Father and will share that glory with His own. His own who have faith in His Word will share in the riches of His glory. “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” (1 Peter 3:21-22)

In this world, we will always have trials and tribulations, but do not forget we have the blessings from God. It’s hard to recognize them all each day, but praise Him for the ones we receive. In all challenges of life, prayer is the answer, with praise, petition, and giving the Lord the glory. Remember our Lord suffered as we and knows the way to overcome the world’s challenges. Remember that our neighbors need to know that truth, and share it with them. Share so they too can find inner peace and the hope that comes from our Lord.

Thomas Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church Durant, April 24, 2020

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The Value of Obstacles

“But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Before we start our discussion today, I must remind you of a misconception some have about following Jesus in this world. People have come to me and said I am following Jesus, and yet I have many struggles in the path. Many temptations to return to the former way I was on. I thought that when Jesus came into my life to be Lord and Savior, all of this difficulty would have past. Let me first address that by saying we mistake where we are bound for with where we are. We are of the Kingdom of God, but we are living in the same world we were once a part of. The word is a fractured and darkened place as a result of sin, disobedience of God’s Word. We are either suffering from our present sinful ways or of the world around us. Jesus told us that there would be trials and tribulations in this world. Jesus said to us that the world hated Him first and will hate us also. Jesus suffered the same obstacles that we shall continue to struggle with until He comes or we leave this world. We are changing into the likeness of our Lord, but the world is drifting into further wickedness. It is we who must change, as the world is hopelessly lost.

As it has always been for us, since the first house of cards fell in the winds of time, in the world, we face trials and temptations. We can have the wrong attitude of these things and cry out to God, saying why you have allowed this trouble to come into my life? Or we can have the right attitude and seek the Lord to lead us through and have the victory over our struggles. Do we see obstacles as a cause to be beaten down or as a challenge to strengthen our resolve?

An old Vietnamese proverb of Ho Chen Mien was this. “The wind causes the roots of the tree to grow deep, giving the tree strength to stand against the wind.” When obstacles come, instead of questioning the Lord, we should seek His counsel to overcome them. Those of us who exercise, either physically or mentally, know that resistance builds strength.

The Apostle Peter learned this truth in a very shameful way. On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, three times Peter was accused of being with Jesus, of being one of His disciples. Three times Peter denied that he had any association with Jesus. Peter felt that having admitted being with Jesus’ disciples would have brought death to him also. When Jesus was taken out of the courtyard, He looked at Peter, and Peter fell into bitter shame and wept. The sad truth was that Jesus had warned Peter that this would happen. Jesus advised Peter to pray that he would not fall into temptation. How many times do we know we should not do something, and still we do it?

After three years of serving as a disciple of Jesus, in the hour of Jesus’ greatest need, Peter denied Jesus as Lord. Peter was devastated and thought he had lost the most excellent opportunity of life to serve the Son of God. Jesus forgave Peter, just as He is willing to forgive any who seek Him, and Peter continued his position of building the Church for His Lord. Near two thousand years later that Church stands today, and the gate of hades cannot stand against it.

If you read of the struggles of the early Church that Peter and the other Apostles formed in the power of the Holy Spirit, then you will know the immense obstacles they overcame. These obstacles strengthened them, and they grew into the excellent moral guide of societies today. The Lord can take the struggles we face and use them to improve us into the moral character he desires His people to be. As Peter wrote, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

When obstacles come into my life, or should I say my day, instead of wondering why I take them to the Lord in prayer. Who else would I tell them to? Of course, I seek counsel from my closest friends, but they are not always with me. The Lord is always with me, He is ahead, beside, behind, and He is in me. Where ever I am, He is there with me, and I seek Him first. Still, as God does not live in a microwave world but a perfect Kingdom, I become anxious. I am not prone to worry, but I do have a patience problem. I want solutions now. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Sometimes it is hard to wait. When I was a younger child than now, birthdays and Christmas were an eternity away each year. Even worse for me, they both come in December. But we must remember that God does not operate in twenty-four hour days. God works in an eternal day, and for us, it is hard to imagine the minuteness of our day to HIs eternal day. When we gain the eternal perspective to live in, we realize that we cannot conceive God in time zones. We cannot measure His eternal time, and neither can we measure our time in eternity. God will answer our prayers, God will provide our needs, God will heal our sicknesses, and God will come for us in His immeasurable time. As the Scripture says in the fullness of time. We must be patient and wait upon the Lord. Have faith, as the Lord with be here at the perfect time. The Lord is patient towards us, and we must be patient towards Him. “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

My father pastored and Presbyterian USA Church for over forty years and then retired. During his retirement, he became an interim Pastor at churches that were in transition from one Pastor to another. While pastoring in North Carolina, my dad had a blockage in a vein of his neck to be cleared out. During the operation, he had several strokes. My dad had some paralyzes and difficulty thinking thought-out thoughts and speaking. It was devastating for his passion for serving as a Pastor in a Church. My dad communicated very clearly that he believed he would once again return to the pulpit and preach. He struggled for years retraining and preparing for the day he would again preach a sermon for the glory of God.

Surely thousands of prayers and fasting. Untold hours of practice and training and living in the faith that God would send him to the pulpit. The day arrived for my dad to have the opportunity to preach. It was a small country church in the mountains of North Carolina before a congregation that knew him well. Dad had been their interim pastor for a while back. They invited him, and it was an answer to a promise of God’s Word.

It was perfect for me, as it was a day that I was home. In years past, you could set your clock from the time my dad began to speak till he stopped. Twenty minutes always, never less, and seldom more. My dad was the most punctual man I ever knew. My dad made it to the pulpit and arranged his notes making ready to deliver God’s Word to a waiting congregation. My dad stumbled through with many words slurred, and a few thoughts dropped. There were a few eternal seconds of silence while he tried to gather his momentum. For those who had never heard my dad speak, it must have caused wonder. I could feel the question, “how could this man have made a living as a Pastor.”

The ones who knew the history before this day, those of us who have heard him preach, and those of us who knew his heart, it was the greatest sermon my dad had ever preached. All ten minutes of it. I don’t remember the topic or Scripture of his message. I don’t even remember the Church he had delivered it at. I do remember his message as proof of the promises of God’s Word. I remember it as the work of the Lord in a broken body healed for His glory. I do remember that every word hit my heart with a pounding conviction. I do remember the joy my dad never lost. With God, all things are possible. “Those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Stokes Green Swamp, March 1, 2020

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Good and Perfect Day

“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

This morning, like most mornings, I woke up wondering why the alarm goes off so early. Why do I seem to wake up fifteen minutes before the alarm? I read something like this on Facebook a time ago, “The first thing to do when waking up is to set a goal for the day, plan a way to reach that goal, and give thanks you have a day to work on that challenge.” I’ve never done that, as I have a calendar filled with things to do. I spend the first few minutes of the new day giving thanks to my Lord that I have a day to work with. I rejoice and give thanks for the day I have to be glad.

Each day we receive is an amazing day regardless of the challenges, achievements and shortcomings, joys and sorrows, as at the end of it all, there is a blessing to be found. Some sadly see the day as one more above the grass and too often take the day for granted. When I was a young dude, I had this everlasting feeling with the immense time set before me. Even now, with 24,870 days past, I still live as if to have an immense time ahead of me. Last week at a Bible study, I mentioned to the listeners that I hope to see the height of their dreams reached. Jokingly one replied, “If you live that long.” It was good for a small laugh amongst the class. But I do feel that I could live that long.

This day that we each have is amazing. Think about that sometime. Think about how amazing a day is. Can you go out and buy a day? Could you build a day for yourself? If you could, you would be very broke financially, and you would spend all your time making another day. What else would I do if I had to build 24,870 more days? Think about the smallness of this speck of time we call a day. The day is about twenty-four hours controlled by our planet spinning around the sun. For more years than we can comprehend and without flaw, a new day has come. Kind of like that song, “There has to be a morning after.” Energy always depletes, and yet we continue to spin and circle the sun day after day. The sun continues to shine bright, and the illuminance has not dimmed.

In the known universe, there are at least two trillion galaxies. In our galaxy, the Milky Way, our sun is one of over two-hundred billion stars. The National Academy of Sciences says that one in five stars has an Earth-like planet orbiting around it. That is forty billion planets in our galaxy that could support life. We only know of what we can see or have explored. The measure of the distance of our view of the universe is forty-six billion light-years. I am not saying there is no life to be found within the possibilities presented. I am only saying that in forty-six billion light-years of distance, we have found no life. On this day the Lord has made we share it with seven point seven billion people.

Each of these people is unique and has unique days in this day that we share with them. No other day in their life will be the same. The Lord God Almighty is sovereign over His creation, and, therefore, has created seven point seven billion days each day. The meaning of which is that this day is a special day created for you, whether you give Him thanks or not, whether you rejoice in it or not, and whether you are glad in it or not God has made you this day.

Many find their days difficult to manage. Days pass by, and they find no comfort in them. They cry for love, justice, and cooperation, finding none. Cynicism creeps into their demeanor, and they find the worst and seldom see the best of their day. I bump into them all the time, as they are easy to find even as their mask never hides completely. I was talking to a gentleman the other day, and he said sarcastically, “how is your day?  I used to answer with great, terrific, but now I say blessed. The gentleman didn’t like that answer. At times I learn it is true that misery loves company and I have never been good at that. My Grandmother once told me, “if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all.

No one has to live in that kind of despair. I have learned that some people like despair, but most hate it. That is a shame, as the day will be as you make it. That does not mean there will not be trials and tribulations, it does not mean that the day will not be filled with unpleasant challenges, and it doesn’t mean that things will always work out your way. In fact that was my problem I always wanted it to be my way. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that will never be true. After most of my life of doing it my way, I finally learned that my way is the wrong way. One day back in the dark ages my pastor introduced me to his life verse, and it changed my thinking. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Today my way is the last, and God’s way leads the way I go.

God is Jehovah-Jireh, which means He will provide. I will never understand everything that comes before me, and as curious as I am, I don’t need to. I search His Word, obey the teaching, and take the confusion to the Lord in prayer. At the right time, He will provide the correct reasoning and the way to go. When we have obedience to His Word and follow His way in faith, then we will see our steps ordered, and we have confidence in each one. I delight in the peace, knowing I am on the right path. “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23)

Anxiety is a happiness killer. When the worries of life come rushing in, and you can’t find space in your mind to deal with the pressure, then your peace of spirit is lost. What to do, oh, where will provision for the need and how to satisfy the desire of the want. The world will tell you to work harder and invest more, and you will dig your way out. I used to give that advice, but it is only partially true. Always seek the good counsel, which is your friend the Lord. Always where God guides He provides. “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

His grace exceeds the mercy the Lord has shown to me on the stumbling path. I now travel the path He has given me. When the shades of my eyelids rolled up and the night light flooded my eyes I knew that the Lord have given me a great day. In the first hour, I got my heart right to meet the challenges of this day in a darkened world would place before me. There is a path the Lord has ordered that I might overcome the obstacles and accomplish the work before me. One never knows what they will be, but in obedience the way will be revealed. Sixty minutes to the hour and twenty-four hours make a day, and all the days lead to The Day of the Lord. This day I will march to the day I long for The Day of The Lord. It will be a great day as every good and perfect gift comes from above. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

God is a Spirit and the Spirit gives us a variety of gifts each and every day we receive. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:4) We are here in this world of physical realities and contained in a fleshly body that desires the worldly reality. Its path leads to destruction and death, and many chose that path. Jesus said what is flesh is flesh, and flesh will remain in the dust it came from. The spirit of a person will leave this world to the next. Jesus said that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The spirit that has been reborn of the Spirit shall see God, shall remain with God, and will have an eternal home prepared by God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)

The good and perfect gift of God is His grace visible Jesus as He is the way that we should go to overcome the world. He is the truth of God’s love that we can find eternal life in the Kingdom of God. To lose our life to our way is to give our life to His way that we will have life, as life is in the Spirit. God the Father desires that all will come to Him and trust His truth and follow His Word in faith. Jehovah Jireh has made all provision to receive forgiveness, sanctification, and restoration to the image we were created in, that of our Lord. It is not for someday, it is not to be pondered if you hear His voice this day is the Day of Salvation.  “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) It is the Good and Perfect Gift.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 26, 2020

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The Tree by the River

“She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast.” (Proverbs 3:18)

She is the wisdom of God, and those who take hold of God’s wisdom will find happiness and peace. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) This verse of truth is the only place to start. In the beginning, God, only God, as in the beginning, there was nothing but God. Everything that is, came from a Divine intelligence and not by accidental circumstance. I cannot accept a big bang caused all we know and still cannot know to exist. No explosion has resulted in everything to rest in perfect harmony. There is no incident that dead matter came together and formed life. Without a higher intelligence, what we see of the known universe would not be in perfect harmony. The Divine intelligence is God the Father Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. All knowledge and the wisdom to use knowledge comes from God as He reveals it to us. We cannot imagine what is beyond our sight and the wonders and complexities of His work. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” What God has done beyond the heavens; no man has ever seen.

In the beginning, the earth was a reflection of God’s Heaven. Earth was a perfect paradise, as God’s Kingdom is eternal. If God created the heavens and the earth, then there is nothing in His Word that cannot be believed in faith. God created the heavens and the earth in six-days, in mature a state His creation was made. I will entertain the argument, but that is where my faith stays. Six days of labor and on the seventh day, God rested. Those of us who do not attend to this example of God will find themselves out of sync and destroy the natural progression of our life. When we do not set aside a day to keep holy and rest from our labors, we have broken our unity with the wisdom of His creation.

In seven days God created the vegetation of the earth, He created the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, God created the cattle and all the animals of the earth, and He created all the creeping creatures. God created all that is seen and unseen and spoke it into being by His Word. (Genesis). All that God created lived in the purpose that He had created it in harmony, and it was good. God then created the crown of His creation, mankind. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

Mankind was not spoken into existence but formed from the dust of the ground. Of this creation, there was no life until God breathed His spirit into the nostrils of the man. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) God gave mankind the defining feature that set mankind apart from the rest of God’s earthly creation, a spirit. God is a Spirit and now mankind was spirit also in the flesh.

In the beginning, the man didn’t need faith, as all he needed was obedience. Faith believes in the unseen truth of God’s Word, and in the paradise of God, the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. They did not need a prophet to hear from God and they did not need a priest to speak with God. They walked together in the Garden of Eden. They could see and trust their Creator and provider as He had created the heavens and the earth for them to have dominion over. There was contentment, there was happiness, and there was peace. All were righteous according to the will of God. Adam and Eve had one test, and that was to obey the Word of God. “Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)

Adam and Eve were not like their descendants of today. They lived in the perfect image of their Creator. They did not have thoughts of disobeying God’s Word, and they had no temptations to do so, as they enjoyed His fellowship. They were amazed by His creation, the abundant vegetation, the curious behaviors of the animal life, the amazement of fish living in the water, and the creeping things that labored to cultivate the garden. I have said and heard many say life was simple in the time long ago. I would not trade the complexities of today for the simple02/21/2020ness of the hoe and sickle. I think we have drifted so far from paradise in search of a utopia we have lost our way. We lack the discipline of obedience. It may have been simpler for Adam and Eve, as they only had to obey one rule. “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

Satan had been cast out of the Kingdom of God for his prideful heart. Satan was God’s most beautiful angelic being. Satan was an Arch Angle, one of three, and had charge of a third of the heavenly host. Satan was so prideful that he thought his throne should be equal to God the Most High. As a result, Michael, another Arch Angel, forced Satan out of Heaven. Satan thought the earth was his world, and this is where he roamed freely with his demons. Now God had created Adam and Eve who have invaded his world. Satan hated them just as he hated God and devised a plan to hurt the heart of God and destroy mankind.

Satan took on the form of a serpent and came to Eve and twisted the truth of God’s command. Satan is the father of deceit and he turned around what God had said and Eve believed what Satan said. She believed that she too could be a god. She took the fruit of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil in the act of disobedience to the Word of God. Sin, disobedience of God’s Word entered into the society of mankind. The venom of the Serpent Satan had poisoned the mind and spirit of mankind and spiritual death fell on him. God is holy and above His creation, God is righteous and cannot be in the presence of sin. God’s creation was now fractured, fellowship with a man was lost, and paradise was lost. “Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever … So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”  (Genesis 3:22; 24)

Today mankind has a sin-nature, a nature that is in love with the only world that can be seen. Mankind lives in shortsightedness and can only believe in what is seen. He no longer can see the Kingdom of God and yet lives within it. Mankind cannot believe in a Savior, even as he searches for a savior, but cannot see one. Mankind is filled with evil thoughts and angry ways to gain all he can have from a dying world. The tongue of mankind is a flaming dart that crushes all who oppose his desire for the way of the world. God in His love for His creation, sent Himself to pay the wage of mankind’s sin, which is death. “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)

Jesus, the Son of God, came in the likeness of a man. Jesus, the Son of man, came and lived a righteous life amid a darkened world full of sinful behaviors. Jesus came to heal sin ravaged hearts with the light of His truth that mankind could once again be free. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.” (Proverbs) 11:30) Jesus, the Lamb of God, went to the cross and sacrificed His life to make atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus, as man’s Savior full of Grace, He offers forgiveness and salvation from the wrath of God to all who will believe and follow Him in faith. Today Jesus is, “The way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus is the way, the only way, to receive forgiveness, receive salvation, the power to live in a sin-darkened world, to have eternal life as a child of God in eternal Heaven. Those of you who have a relationship with Jesus is His Church. To the Church, Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)

Where is the tree of life now? The Apostle John was taken up and had seen a vision of God’s Kingdom. “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)

Adam and Eve had a choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They made the wrong choice, and mankind has suffered ever since. By the grace of God, we have a choice to accept Jesus the Savior or continue to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The world has failed to learn the lessons of history and stumbles into the same mistakes. Do not be as the world and repent from it and turn towards the Kingdom of Heaven. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 19, 2020

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A Wind Led Kite

It has been a good and perfect day here in the Almost Heaven of Ballengee. Yes, the day has had its portion of challenges, disappointments, joy seasoned with sorrow, and a good fellowship between mankind, creation, and the Creator. As I sit here on the porch swaying to and fro in the old rocker, I review the events of the day, which happens to be May Day. May Day an old European holiday to celebrate the coming spring. Oh spring, a welcome time after cool to cold days and nights through the winter season. Now we see the newness of leaves forming in the trees. Soon they will grow and be filled by the passing wind and clap for the joy that the summer is near. The buds of flowers are pushing their way to the surface to gather the sun and share their nectar with the humming bees. Soon their magnificent color will please the eyes of young ladies in want of summer love. Still, there is a faint nip on the breeze as it whips across the valley trapped between the mountains. The birds have spent the day fluttering about in search of the early worm who has drawn nearer to the warmth of the dirt in the sun.

It is that drifting wind with it little nip of chill that has caught my attention on this peaceful evening overlooking the meadow. The meadow which, sloops down to the hardstand that runs through the town of Ballengee, promises to be filled with wildflowers and lined at its borders with honeysuckle to sweeten the air. As the bright orange sun begins to bury its warmth behind the horizon, the sounds of gayety drift up from Ballengee. The town folk who have ventured into their yards with guitars, violins, and banjos to play the rhythms that bring joy to the new season. The smell of outdoor feast cooking and the laughter of children playing wildly in the coming evening.

The wind rattles the cage of memory from the not so long ago when the boys, Pierce, Spence, and I sought to fly our kites at the Church on the Knoll’s yard, and many years ago the men of the Church worked hard to flatten the ground to form a flat place for a cemetery at the Church. After over a hundred years, the cemetery is yet to be filled. There is plenty of room left for Church picnics, baseball games, and other outside events. Once a month on the fourth Sunday the Church Family will gather for a pot luck supper which is a time for good fellowship, trying out new recipes, and Church Family Fellowship Dinners. In the summer months, we sometimes have family camping for the whole family. It is a time when everyone pitches a tent, cook on an open fire, work on woodland crafts, and tell stories in the evenings by a campfire.

It’s a great place to fly a kite. In the early years, Pierce, Spence, and I would go and fly kites. One year we have a contest to see who could get their kite to fly the highest. I would always win in the beginning and the little woman would get upset. “How could they be better if I always let them win,” I would say to her. In the later years, that was not the case and I was proud to lose. The competition began the first year we went flying the kites. Even as the kids could not at first get their kites higher than mine, their attitude was the usual “wow.” “Gee, dad, you are good.” I would dream that at school, they would be going around to the other kids saying my dad can beat your dad flying kites. I often expected Ken Martin to come by one day and challenge me.

The kite-flying contest that had its lasting impression was one year Spence was very determined to at least best Pierce. I watched Spence practicing running very fast without really looking where he was going. I told him to watch out about doing that. I said you would not run backward without looking would you? But he was determined and willing to take the risk.

There the three of us stood at the backside of the graveyard with our kites swinging in the breeze. I’d wait for a puff of wind and let more string out. Pierce would notice the technique and try the same. It is hard to develop the anticipation, but he was getting the hang of it. Spence was not that patient and took off running to create some resistance. As expected, he was not watching the direction he was going and ran underneath a tree branch. The kite became quickly entangled in a branch of the tree.

We all tried to wiggle the kite free, but it was about fifteen feet in the air hanging over a limb. Every time we pulled the string the tail of the kite would be caught by the limb. Pierce somehow got the idea that he would be the hero for Spence and climb up the tree and free the kite. I didn’t quite like that idea considering the kite only cost fifty cents and a trip to the clinic was never less than fifty dollars. So instead of doing the practical thing and going to Lou’s five and dime and getting a new kite, I said I would climb up and get the trapped kite.

After I reached the second branch on my mission, I began to think that maybe I shouldn’t have tried to be a hero myself. It is funny how over the years, easy things have now become impossible. Pride always gets in the way of common sense. So I kept on keeping on and reached a branch about a hundred feet up. Well, that’s the way it felt, but it was only ten feet. Not enough to kill me, but certainly enough to hurt. The problem was solved as there was not another branch I could reach to hang on to. Pierce yelled and said, climb it like shimming up a rope. I rejected that notion and said I’m coming down and we will go to Lou’s and get a new kite. It seemed the smart thing to do, but it presented another problem. Climbing down. Going down was harder than going up because of the view. There is no end to the height looking up, but when looking down, all I could see is the sudden stop should I slip.

When you are climbing up, you can see what you want to latch on to, and when you are going down the tree trunk, your feet, and the whole body blocks your vision. When you’re climbing down, you notice the wind is swaying the trunk of the tree, and it causes you to pause with each move. When you’re climbing down ten feet looks a lot further than when you are looking up. When you’re climbing down it is hard to look graceful while in complete fright.

Some do not think that the good Lord has a sense of humor. But that day at the Church on the Knoll the Lord revealed to me that He does enjoy and a good laugh. After I managed to get one foot on solid ground and my swagger returned to my presence a strong puff of wind came from who knows where and lifted the kite and shot it high into the sky above us. Spence was thrilled and shouted with joy, as he cheered, “My kite is higher than your kites ever were. The little bragger was still holding the string, as he pulled the string and the kite was so high we could not read Superman’s yellow S on the face of it. It was not hard for me to be scratched and weary, thankful to be on the ground, and proud of my youngest son.

Sitting here in the quiet breeze of the rocker moving back and forth, I can’t help but find a conclusion to that day so long ago. It’s really simple yet, profound. We go through life, and many times we attempt to do what we know is not prudent. We charge on ahead thinking we have complete control and it will work out as we planned. I’ve done that many times and many times, I have been shamed, failed, and humbled. As the creak of the old rocker signals the crickets chirp, I remember what I was once told is a good life verse. Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Much of my life I have the “I got this” attitude. I often find out that it is far from the truth. We are to realize that in our dominion of God’s creation in this world, we need to give Him the glory in all that we do with His creation. If nothing else, it is courtesy.

When we dance outside of His will, we had best include Him in or what we do may not end well for us. If you think about that, then from the minute to the magnificent requires the grace and mercy of God’s blessing. We often wonder why it didn’t work out, and should we? If God is not in it then why would he bless it? God does have a sense of humor and I am sure He is amused, but I am not sure I want Him laughing at me. We cannot control His creation try as we must, but do not wonder when it fails. His Spirit is our counselor and He knows the path we should be on. “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Ballengee, January 22, 2020

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The Bull’s Master

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10: 9)

I’m not going to stand before you cowboys today and pretend that I know what I am talking about in the next statement. Yes, I have my cowboy hat and Roy Rogers outfit on. I have a fancy pair of cowboy boots that my brother gave me. If you catch the allegory of my statement, then you will know that over the seventy-years I have been riding the bull, I know what I am talking about. Sometimes the bull wins, sometimes you win, but at the finish line you can always win.

I’ve been coming here for over a year now watching you guys climbing up and strapping yourselves to these 1500 pounds plus bulls determined to hang on for a long eight seconds. Now I do know how long eight seconds can be and I know it can be a very long time. You hang on waiting for an eternity waiting to hear the horn blow. If you stay on, then after the horn blows how do you let go and survive to be beneath the bull? I have watched and think hanging on is just as crazy as jumping off.

I have watched as you prepare to ride. Check your rope, position your chaps, making sure the vest is secure, and putting grit in your determination as the gate swings open. I know the money would be nice, as you have spent much of it getting the chance to ride eight seconds to glory. But I don’t think money is the prize. I think the prize is the roar of the crowd, the call of a champion, and the pride of accomplishment. I believe it is the thrill of courage, the trained discipline, and the reward of trial. I admire all of that because I haven’t even tried what you bravely do. There is that hope that someday cowboys like you will look and say, “He is a Pro.”

Bull riding is the path you have chosen, as this is where your heart is. Others chose different paths and hopefully, their hearts are in it as well. If your heart is in what you are doing, then that is called passion. I mentioned earlier that God gave us dominion over His creation. It is right for you cowboys to ride these bulls and have dominion over them. Just as it is right for the bulls to throw you off. I have tried to reason with many a hard person in my time but I cannot imagine trying to reason with a bull. You cowboys do but tell me if I am wrong, they are hard to reason with. Sometimes they leave you confused. After the signal, there’s the gate. You wonder what is going to happen. Will the bull give you a challenging run or will he lay down and leave you empty. Then what might happen? Will the bull fight and run you into the fence. If you are shaken off, will he turn to trample you? This mystery about to be revealed. All these questions will be answered in eight seconds.

There are more problems in bull riding than I know, and there are more problems in life than I have experienced. But I have learned one thing, the most important thing, Jesus is the answer to every problem in life. The problems we have faced, the one we are facing, and the ones we will face. The allegory is that bull riding is like life and the same confusions, the same feeling of being locked out, the bull as people will let you down, and there is always the mystery of what will happen to us.

We go through our lives doing what we can, and the best we can only to have something out of the ordinary happen and throw everything into confusion. It happens all the time, and we wonder what the truth of this matter is. You search for someone to turn the light on so you can see the path. You ask, seek and knock but only find a short remedy. And the confusion remains. To find the truth one must go to the truth, and that is the Lord Jesus. He taught us that He is the light of truth. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

As you travel in this journey of life, there is always a gate before you, and many times they are locked. Try as you will; you cannot get that gate to open. You can have a friend that opens doors that cannot be opened, and He can close doors that cannot be closed. Jesus is that friend and He can open the door that needs opening, and He can close the door that needs closing. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9).

In life, there is one thing that will always, without fail, let you down. I have heard so many people tell me I am wrong, but they find out that people will always let you down. There is one, a friend closer than a brother who will never let you down, Jesus is still there to lift you up, to clean you up, to counsel you up, and to give you the victory He has won for you. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:11, 14).

We can live in the mystery of life and wonder how it will end. Like the gambler, the best we can hope for is to die in our sleep. If we do that, it is because we have chosen to. We do not have to live our life here to lose it, as we can live our life here to find it in eternity in the Kingdom of God. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

We live in a hungry world. Some think it is food, and they become obese. Some believe it is passion and live in greed and are never satisfied. Some believe it is love, and after many partners, never find the right one. Some give up to be just stoned and never have peace. Some find the truth that their hunger is not in the physical but in the neglected spiritual. They find that food, possession, sexual pleasure, and a constant high does not feed the hunger of the spirit. There is nothing in this world that will satisfy their spiritual hunger. The only one that has the spiritual food we hunger for is Jesus. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35)

To satisfy this hunger is the question that drives many to search for everything and anything only to find nothing. Their question becomes what the way is, what the truth is, and what life is. There is only one answer, only one. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

There is a God in Heaven, and He created the heavens and the earth. It is foolish to think anything else. All that we know did not happen by circumstance. You cannot ride the bull and win by circumstance. God is sovereign, and He gave us His Word. His Word is the law and all have disobeyed His law. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Only sinless people can be in God’s presence as He is holy.

The penalty of our sin is spiritual death, and we cannot pay the debt and life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) God is love and He loves you, He wants to restore a fellowship with you, and He sent Himself as a man named Jesus to pay the wage of your sin for you. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The gospel of the Kingdom of God is you can be redeemed.

The way to salvation from the wage of sin is a simple thing to find. The simplicity of the gospel makes it hard for people to accept. How can we get to Heaven so easily? Salvation cannot be bought, we cannot earn salvation, and we need not look for the right connections. We call upon the name of the Lord. As we read just before, God calls you just as you are, and He has already paid the price of your redemption. There is nothing that you can do or say to make God love you any more than He loves you right now.

Do you recognize that you are a sinner, that you are broken, and need His touch to mend you? Jesus will heal your heart and fill it with His love. Recognize that Jesus died on the cross for you. He took all the sins you have done, and all the sins you will do with Him to the cross and paid the price. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The price of your sins has been paid because Jesus loves you and willingly by His grace suffered what you deserved. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (2 Peter 3:18)

Repent, turn away from sinful living and turn toward the Kingdom of God and live as a citizen there, a child of God. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

Receive Him into your heart and believe and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of your life. “For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:10)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick, First Baptist Church of Durant, February 10, 2020

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Life in the Gospel

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents–which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Philippians 1:27-30)

Christians need to live in the Gospel that we have received. The Gospel that, through the grace of God and our faith in His Word, has received salvation so great and miraculous. As we love God with all our heart, mind, and spirit, we must also know the responsibility to share His truth with our neighbors. The mission field ripe for the harvest is not always in a distant land, not always across town, but it is with the person next to us. It is good to be in the fellowship with fellow believers in Jesus, but it is better to be in the presence of those who do not know Him. It is a blessing to be an instrument of the Lord to change the direction of a hopeless one towards the Kingdom of God the home of our only hope.

The Apostle Paul, who was a former persecutor of the followers of the way, that only way provided by Christ Jesus, met Him one day on the road to Damascus. From that encounter, Paul became the greatest missionary of the Gospel of Jesus. From that day, Paul knew that he had a great responsibility to tell all who would listen of the miracle of salvation through Jesus. Paul was on a mission to minister to the Greeks, the non-Jews, that they too might be restored to God their Creator. “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:14, 16)

After Paul met Jesus, his focus changed from living for this world but the Kingdom of God. Paul’s mission was to go and tell a broken people; also, they could regain a relationship with God Almighty and become a child of God. Everything Paul did was a reflection of the glory of God that all could see the light to lead them out of the darkness. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)

Paul charged his son in the faith Timothy with the mission that he had also accepted. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2) To be an effective teacher of the Gospel, one must walk in a way that is worthy of a citizen of Heaven. As Paul wrote to us in the passage we are looking at today. “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27)

In our repentance, a turn from our desire for the world to a love for the Kingdom we are walking towards, we must have a change in the way that we think. Most thoughts we have of this world have no eternal value and profit us not. When we walk in the world, we walk by sight, but when we walk in the Kingdom of our new identity, we walk by faith. We cannot look and see the Kingdom with our eyes, but by our faith, we can live there today.

We cannot be chained to the ways of this world, cannot invest too much thought in it, as the world leads to a dead end. Once we were in the world, but now are not a part of the world. Leaving our old ways requires a different set of goals, a different perspective, and a different vision. Our eyes are not set on the horizon of the day, but on an eternal day, we see by faith. Paul explains we need a transformation. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Some battles must be fought against evil habits, which would harm the testimony we are developing. “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.” (Colossians 3:8-9) We must flee from the lusts of the old days and pursue the things of godly living. “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22) The testimony we are building is the victories we have won in the power of the Holy Spirit. They will know by the change of our character.

We must be worthy of the Gospel we have received by standing firm on the truth of our Saviors Word. Jesus came to testify to the truth, and His Word has endured through the eternity past and will for an eternity before us. Our battle is not only of our self, not only of the ways of the world but against evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm. Paul explains that the Christian must not go out unaware, unequipped, to fight the evil spirits that seek to destroy. We must be each day armored in God’s Word. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)

We are never alone as the Lord is always with us. The Lord has promised He will never forsake us. He is always with us as we abide in Him and Him in us. Nothing in creation can come between our Lord and us. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

The Church is the body of Christ, and the saints can be found all around us. At our conversion, HIs Spirit came to abide with us as our counselor and guide. It is He the Holy Spirit that is with us, before us, and behind us. The Holy Spirit is the One that joins the Church together in like-mindedness with Jesus. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.” (Ephesians 4:4) We are unified by the prayer and instruction of Jesus on the eve of His crucifixion that we would all be joined together in the unity of God’s Spirit. “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23)

It is by God’s grace we have received the Gospel, and it is a great treasure that many in the world never find. There is nothing in the whole of life that be of greater importance than the grace God has shown to us. We must always be on guard against those who would try to dissuade us from the truth. On guard from the fiery darts that Satan and his angels will toss at us. Persevere as our character is built on that faith that keeps us walking on water. Never lose focus on the Lord’s leading. “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

As in any army, the Lord has given us our commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) This Commission is our privilege and holds an awesome responsibility to go and tell the world of the Salvation we have received. Always in prayer that the seed of His truth will find good soil and grow. “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)

The world has no intention of finding the truth and, therefore cannot understand it. God will open doors, but still, it is a person’s choice to accept or reject. It will not be easy, and there will be conflict. It is only a battle in a victory already won on the cross of Jesus. We can overcome because Jesus overcame and will lead us onward. Do not fear in your gospel walk and go with love for those who intimidate you, as Jesus loved them enough to die for them. “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:14-15)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick, First Baptist Church of Durant, February 12. 2020

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Lord of the Sabbath

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)

A discussion had broken out in my Sunday School Class this past week about the Sabbath day. We were arguing over the day rather than the purpose of the Sabbath. Some religions observe the Sabbath on Saturday as it was in the beginning. Much of the protestant faith observe the Sabbath on Sunday in remembrance that Jesus our Lord rose from the grave on the first day of the week. I did not argue other than that the Sabbath is a day that we are to restrain from our labors, to set aside or keep holy, and to ponder on the blessings of our hope found in the Lord Jesus our Christ. Also, we live in a twenty-four hour seven day week, which means that not everyone has a Sunday to keep as the Sabbath, neither does everyone have a Saturday or any other specific day to set aside as holy and free from our labors. My point was a day of the week that belongs to the Lord, a day to devote to the worship of Him, and a day that the distractions of this world are left in the world.

This debate, which I neither won or lost, gave me the incentive to find the meaning of the Sabbath, to understand if the protestant faith did have it wrong to worship on Sunday, and if maybe I should be keeping two days a week holy. As always, when the question is a search to understand the intention of God, the place to start is with God’s Word, as His Word is the conclusion. The Sabbath began back in the beginning, back when the man was still in the perfect image of his creator, God. “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

When God had completed His creative labors, when He had pronounced His work as very good, then He blessed the day sanctified it and rested from His labors. The word Sabbath comes from the root word Sabat. Sabat means to rest, stop, or cease from labors. The Lord God gave to His people that when He finished His Divine work of creation, He rested. Man is to labor six days and then on the seventh, he is to rest. Years past until the Lord gave His Law to Moses. In the Ten Commandments, the fourth law is this. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

The Sabbath day was established, so the Children of God would have the seventh day set aside, kept holy, and the Lord God blessed that day and sanctified it. The Sabbath is a Divine day set aside and pointed towards our rest in the Lord. We have labored for six days and completed our work and are now resting in the Lord. It was a day not set apart for the benefit of rest for the Lord. Our Lord is all-powerful and never tires or needs rest. The Sabbath was created for man, a day for him not to devote to labor, but a day to remember the blessing of the Lord.

The Old Testament Law was to keep the seventh day, the Sabbath, holy and sanctified to the Lord. The Old Testament Law created labors for the people. There were the Ceremonial laws that had a list of dos and don’ts that had to be done. The Temple laws created a labor-intensive environment for the Levites to perform. Shepherds had to tend flocks of sheep and goats, cattle, and pigeons had to be maintained. Then there were the civil laws that had to be taken care of as well. It is no different than at any time in the history of mankind, as life itself is labor-intensive.

When mankind fell into disobedience to God’s Word, this sin broke the order of God’s creation. God is a deity of order, His perfect order. God cannot allow the existence of disorder in His presence. Mankind was now separated from the providence of God, from the love of God, and apart from His grace. Death fell upon mankind and no man can live spiritually outside of the Love of God. The fellowship was broken, mankind was broken, and the heart of God was burdened by the loss of His love towards mankind. Satan surely was savoring the taste of mankind’s disobedience. Everyone can identify with the loss of a loved one. If a perfect man disobeyed the Word of God, then a perfect man must pay the penalty. From Genesis 3:15, where God revealed His plan to restore the fellowship with His creation, the sacrificial system began its implication. God had to send Himself to pay the wage of mankind’s sinful nature.

The sacrificial system was a way to restore fellowship with God through faith that the death of an animal would wash away the sin of the believer. This sacrificial system also caused an increase in the labors of mankind. As mankind labored harder to raise the perfect firstborn sheep, bull, pigeon, the best of grain and wine, mankind also continued to sin. It became a continual process of labor and sin and all the while, God’s people become more attuned to the process than their faith in the process.

The multitude of sacrifices given in the Temple of the Lord had become a meaningless procedure to the Lord. The people had become caught in the process, and as all processes become, it lost its true purpose. The blood of animals did not forgive the people their sins, not washed clean by aminol blood. Their faith in God’s Word cleaned them. He would accept that. How can one have true faith if they continue in disobedience? “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.” (Isaiah 1:11)

Their salvation was faith in the full revelation of God. If God said it, if God promised it, then in faith, the people are to live daily in its truth. The sacrificial system made it possible for the people to be cleaned for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the Lord’s rest. If they had no faith in the revelation of God and were disobedient to His Word, then how would they ever find the Lord’s rest? The Sabbath was a symbol of the coming Messiah. The Messiah would provide a permanent rest for His people. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Hebrews 10:1) Understanding the relationship of Jesus to the Sabbath is essential in seeing the significance of His work on the cross.

The constant sacrificing of animals in the Old Testament would never make anyone perfect enough to be in the presence of God. That was the purpose of Hades and the two divisions. (Luke 16:19-31) The Apostles Creed states after His death He descended into hell. He went there to set the captives free. He could free them because Jesus had paid their sin debt and now they were restored to be in the presence with God the Father. Jesus the Messiah and His work on the cross made it possible for complete forgiveness, a perfect cleansing, and a restoration of fellowship with God the Father. “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.” (Hebrews 10:11-13)

Today Jesus is resting at the right hand of the Father. Jesus has completed His Divine work, His labor of atonement for mankind is complete, as He stated from the cross, “It is finished.” For the believer in Christ, we never labor to satisfy the Law of God, as Jesus has paid the penalty. “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14) In Jesus, we find rest from the labors of the law because Jesus alone is holy and righteous.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers in chapter four to “enter in” to the Sabbath rest founded in Jesus Christ. The writer explains that the Israelites in the wilderness failed to enter into their rest because of their unbelief. In the same way, the writer begs his readers not to make the same mistake by rejecting God’s Sabbath rest in Jesus Christ. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)

There is no other way to enter into God’s Sabbath rest but Jesus Christ. Jesus came to fulfill the law and has met the requirements of the Law. Jesus made the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of sin. Jesus is God’s plan that we can cease from the labors of our own work. Only the foolish will reject the one Way to Salvation from the wrath of God. Jesus is the one way to enter into God’s Sabbath. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 6, 2020

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“What is Truth?”

“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” (John 18:37-38)

The passage we are looking at today has caused me to struggle over the years. Here we read of Pontius Pilate, the Governor of the Province of Judaea, the man responsible for ruling with justice in the order of Roman law. A disturbance had come to the Jewish community during the Feast of the Passover. A holy day for the Jews and a man known as Jesus of Nazareth had come and aroused the people. The Jewish leaders had been over the past few years trying to silence His teachings, and now it was coming to a climax.

The Temple guard had captured Jesus in the early morning hours and brought Him to the court of the High Priest to hold a mock trial. Without defense or formal charges, they found Him guilty of blasphemy a crime worthy of death. The Jewish leaders were unable to carry out the sentence without the blessing of the Governor and took Jesus to be charged as a threat to the Roman Empire. Pilate interrogated Jesus, and for the most part, Jesus remained silent. Then Pilate asked if indeed He was a King. Jesus answered that He was but from another Kingdom and had come to testify to the truth. Then Pilate asked, “what is truth?” without waiting for the answer, Pilate returned to the Jews and said he found no guilt in Jesus. That was Pilate’s truth; he found no guilt in Jesus and then sent Him off to be crucified.

Pilate is typical to the rulers of government to this day. They claim to men who execute the law of the land and then walk on the borders of that law and many times cross the line. Sometimes for political reasons and also times for their practical benefit. The past administration here in the United States had the slogan, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” There is a logic in this axiom. Many millionaires have profited by the wars of the nation. The reasoning goes beyond war as a crisis melt the frigidness of politics. When a perceived need is overwhelming, opportunities develop, and they can be exploited. These opportunities give government growth and more maneuverability. No longer is it a question of what is true, what is right, but what must be done to exploit the crises for the good of the governance.

Pilate was the Governor, the leader in charge of truth and justice, and even spoke the truth. But when the opposition of the Jews threatened to petition Cease, Pilate abandoned the truth he had found no guilt in Jesus and sentenced Him to die. “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:12)

I have, in my younger days, admired the leaders of the community. I had always thought them as people of great wisdom, people who knew the truth and would defend it first and forever, and these people who have displayed greater integrity would always become the leaders through their vision. There is more to the reason than my simple mind can comprehend. As I bumped into Hitler, who convinced a nation, he was the one to raise their nation into the dominance of the world. I wondered how Hitler could have done that. I read how Hitler had studied long to learn how to project himself before the people. I learned how he influenced the right people to benefit his cause for world dominance. I learned how he had distracted the people from their lack of hope by blaming a portion of the population for their difficulties. I also learned that Hitler was in a satanic cult.

My father said back in the days of Hitler’s terror that his time was very short, and he soon would be gone. My mother told me that dad reasoned that Hitler had persecuted and killed the chosen people of God and was doomed to fail. History has proven that my dad was right. In my days, I looked over the world, seeing leaders that I thought was far from worthy and wondered how they convinced people to allow them to lead. Then I learned the truth that monarchies. dictatorships, republics with democratic elections exists by God’s discretion. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

Nebuchadnezzar and Hitler had something in common. God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish the Israelite nation for their disobedience by taking them captive. God used Hitler to show the need for the Jewish people to retake their land given to them in the Old Covenant. Shortly after Hitler’s world war in 1948, Israel became a state. If we do not know God’s truth, then we will never understand God’s purposes. If we do not seek God’s counsel, then we will never know God’s truth. If we do not, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), then we will never be in tune with His creation. Nothing more than orphans lost with no truth.

I’ve heard the popular definition that one’s reality defines truth. What is real to someone is their truth, and their truth serves them. Recently I heard a commentator say the same thing only with the sound of authority. “No one wants to hear the truth if it disturbs the reality of their desire.” I guess that was his truth. I, of course, have a different view of “What is truth.” I think there are three things that most people search for in vain, peace, truth, and hope. The whole world cries for peace, but nowhere can peace be found. “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11)

They want truth and they say that truth is what you make it, truth is what science teaches us, and that truth is what works. If you do not know the truth first, then none of that will work for you, and works only comes by the truth. The trouble with seeking peace, truth, and hope is that there is only one source to find it. Not long after Pilate rejected Jesus as the testifier of truth, he nailed him to a cross to die. The truth of Jesus rose from that death and lives to this day and for eternity. The source of peace, truth, and hope are not lost, but people like Pilate reject Him. Yet, we cry for peace, truth, and hope. How foolish it is in the world. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:19)

Jesus is the rock from which the foundation of truth stands through all of eternity. Jesus is the incarnate Son of God who came to live amid humanity that He may know us, and we could see the Father through Him. “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

No man can see God, no man can be in the presence of God, as the fire of His righteous judgment would consume them. God is Holy, and He is above His creation. God is righteous and sin cannot be in His presence. As none of humanity is near but far from the glory of God, as God is perfect and only perfection can be in His presence. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

God sent Himself as a man to pay the debt of humanity’s sin to redeem humanity by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus. To give His righteousness to those who by the gift of grace, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior on faith that He is and that His Word is true. Trust in His Word and live in it by faith to have everlasting life in the Kingdom of God. There is no other way that mankind can receive salvation, as Jesus is God’s begotten Son. “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:3-4)

If you reject the truth of God’s Word, His Son, the Lamb of God, and who paid the price for your disobedience to the Word of God. Who will defend you on the Day of Judgment? No Constitution of any nation will stand and argue your case of defense. You will not be judged by your constitution, but by the Law of God’s Word. Jesus who paid your debt and gives you His righteousness is the only One who can stand with you and plead God’s pardon. If you want the truth, then do not reject and turn away, as Jesus is the absolute truth. If your hearts desire peace, come to Jesus who will give you rest in your spirit, then find your hope in the only hope for mankind that transcends through all eternity. Even now, Jesus is praying for you that you will sanctify yourself in His love. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 3, 2020

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What Some Never Will Know

“But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

In this verse, the Apostle Paul has written to the Church in Corinth has many times been used out of its context. Many have used this verse to provide an expectation of the glories of Heaven when the saints arrive there. I also have used this verse in that way and I am not here arguing that this is incorrect. It could be used without being untrue. This verse is a combination of verses by the Prophet Isaiah in the sixty-fourth Chapter. “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4) This verse from Isaiah describes nearly the same point but has a key phrase at the beginning of the passage. “For from the days of old.”

This phrase reminds me of the Ancient of Days, a time before creation, and a time when there was only God. There is a strong point here that “In the beginning God.” (Genesis 1:1) There was only God and all that came into being came from God, as there was no one or anything else but God. We may ask how God created all there is from nothing, and maybe even think of this in terms of Impossible. It is not impossible when you see that in the beginning was God, and God has all knowledge, the wisdom to use His knowledge, and therefore has a complete understanding. To this day, all that God has done is a mystery. How God did it is a mystery. And as God is eternal and infinite, there is no end to the mystery. God is the Creator in the present tense and is still actively creating. Each day that we face is new and unique and is a creation of God. There are things in the subject of our verse, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

A mystery is that which we seek to understand but yet do not. First, we must gain the knowledge, the wisdom to use knowledge, and the result of understanding. Paul previously wrote this verse. “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)

I have had a conversation with many people I know to be wise. Some I came to realize was filled with worldly wisdom, short-sighted without an eternal perspective. The world is filled with worldly-wise people but it leads to no positive end. It has no positivity because it ends here with the dead and benefits nothing in eternity. In the eyes of God, the Creator wisdom of the world is foolishness. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:19)

Solomon, who was the wisest man who lived on earth, wrote some profound truths in his Proverbs. If God is before the beginning, then knowledge is of His founding. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) Solomon also points out that the fools, the ones who do not accept knowledge in the eternal perspective, are foolish and will reject the lessons it teaches. They have gained experience by God’s grace but despise the wisdom that calls for respect and fails to have understanding.

God, in His love for His creation, gave to mankind the power of His Word that they may find eternal life. They lost the eternal glory in the Garden of Eden on the day of disobedience. Forsaking the Word of God is forsaking life itself. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) The Word of God contains many things, but it is the instructions for mankind to find eternal life and not face spiritual death for sin. Many will not even entertain God’s Word, let alone study and meditate upon the Word. This failure is a fatal error, as they starve their spirits to death. “He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:20)

The world rejects the righteous as if they believed in some fairy tale or a myth, yet, they will worship and live in the discipline of the man-made gods that end in destruction. They will support the knowledge found in the sciences and reject the creator of that knowledge. Where the righteous should be looked like the model of life, they despise them for their goodness. “It is also not good to fine the righteous, Nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.” (Proverbs 17:20)

They care not to learn understanding through the wisdom of the Lord and live their lives in the fatalness of foolishness. They move through their short journey of life, dismissing the underlying fear of death. Knowing all along life will end in a moment and they will be lost to their fantasies of an unknown world. The only understanding they care to here is that of their weak thoughts. “A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.” (Proverbs 18:2)

The foolish practice poor stewardship and are wasteful of the resources they see no end of. There is peace in the home of God’s wisdom, and their spirit is aligned with the creation of God. Yet, in the home of the foolish, there is always want, need, and greed. “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up.” (Proverbs 21:20)

Wisdom gives the holder an understanding of the higher purpose of God and knowing that all of life’s trials will lead to the good of God’s will. The eyes of the fool see only the end of the earth and to what purpose must they toil. “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” (Proverbs 17:24) A life they say is too short to spend on gaining knowledge, the wisdom to use it, and the understanding of what the purpose of life is in the eternal perspective. Their life is filled with strife and a desire to quarrel over it. “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3)

From the day that God created man in His image and breathed His Spirit into him, the man was an eternal being like God. God walked with man in the Garden of Eden and instructed him how to live eternally in God’s presence. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

Man forsook that knowledge for the lust of the world God had given him. This rejection of God has been going on since that day back in the Garden. God is holy and man cannot understand the reality of holiness. Any sinful man cannot share the holiness of God as disobedience separates man from God. No man has ever experienced holiness and all men have fallen short of His glory. No man has seen God and no man can, as God is a Spirit. No man could see God as His righteousness would consume him in judgment.

God sent Himself in the likeness of a man to redeem him by paying the wage of sin, which is death, God as a man gave the man something he could never acquire on his own, righteousness. That man was Jesus, and He provided the way that man can be restored to his original image. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)

To realize who God is and to have reverent fear towards God is the only way to approach Him. Humble yourself and admit you are a sinner, repent, and accept Jesus into your life as Lord. Live His Word of truth in faith, and through Him, you will come to know God. Take this knowledge that He has given you, and through the wisdom of Jesus, gain the understanding of life in eternity in the house of God. No longer pursue the temporal but pursue the knowledge of the Holy God. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

A promise was given to a Prophet named Jeremiah, and it is a promise that lives in eternity. “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) For the believer in Jesus, it is about heaven. For the believer in Jesus is about knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. God has prepared a place for you, a rest when the work is finished, and great and mighty things you cannot even find in your imagination or the dreams of your heart. Do not waste understanding of His truth, as you will never live to miss it. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 29, 2020

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