American Evangelism’s “Missing Ingredient”?

Acts Chapter 2:41-47 describes the glorious initial days of the Church, when 3000 were saved in response to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Interestingly enough, although the chapter concludes with a description of how people were being saved daily, not much is said at all about “evangelistic method” or efforts. There is surely a lesson for many of our contemporary American churches here:

Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wise As Serpents

The request that Tobiah and Sanballat made of Nehemiah in the second verse of Chapter 6 sounded reasonable and innocent: “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But as in most situations, there is a context here, and there was more to it. Nehemiah responded accordingly, and we can learn from it: Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illustrations from Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad

Not long after the Civil War, Mark Twain joined a steamship tour of Europe and the Holy Land. His entertaining book, The Innocents Abroad, chronicles the journey in a way only Twain could. Punctuated liberally with sarcasm and irony, the volume contains not a few (well-deserved?) jabs at hypocritical religion. From time to time, however, the author offers striking praise for what he observes. The Innocents Abroad has become one of my favorite books; I have read it three times. I have made use of a number of anecdotes from the book in my sermons in recent years, and hope the following might be useful to you as life lessons, or in your own lessons or messages as you seek to illustrate the truth of God’s word:

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews, Sermon Illustrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Classic Response

Governor Nehemiah models for us how we need to respond to a number of things that clamor for our attention. In Nehemiah 6, the continual enemies of the governor’s work in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, Tobiah, Sanballat, et al, issued Nehemiah an invitation to come and meet with them. His response is classic — and instructive to us:

Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Discipline of Giving” (Genesis 28:20-22 sermon)

(Preached at First Baptist, Pauls Valley, OK, 10-19-14)

Cheryl & I love to watch old movies, and one of our favorites is the 1948 classic: “Life With Father” with William Powell & Irene Dunne. There is actually a great lesson on baptism in that movie, which perhaps we will refer to another time, but one of our favorite scenes unfolds as the husband gives his wife a new ring, I believe it was. Her response is classic: “This shows you love me a little; now if you’d get me the matching necklace, it would show you love me a lot!” Cheryl & I often tease about those lines; if I do something for her, she will say, “This shows you love me a little …”!

We know that our love for others is not merely expressed by the way we give — and sometimes there are good reasons NOT to give someone something. But the truth is, most of the time, we DO demonstrate our love by the way we give. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) In other words, you are willing to spend money on what is important to you. If you want to see where a person’s heart is, just follow their checkbook (or their debit card!) — what they spend money on will lead you to what is most important to them. Continue reading

Posted in "The Disciplines of Disciples" series, Discipleship, Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

General and Special Revelation (Psalm 19)

Psalm 19, which opens with those famous words: “The heavens declare the glory of God”, gives us a great example of what theologians call “General Revelation” and “Special Revelation.”

Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies, Doctrine/Theology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Righteous Anger

It is not always a sin to be angry. In fact, there are times when it is a sin NOT to be! Nehemiah experienced one of those times when he was told about how the Jewish leaders were taking advantage of their poorer brothers and sisters through unjust mortgages and usury. Nehemiah 5:6 says: “Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.”

Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment