This New Year

Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Our new year is well underway. By now, statistically speaking, most folks who have made a New Year’s resolution have already given up or are about to. It does seem a bit distressing that we spend so much time identifying the areas we need to change or improve but abandon our hopes and goals so easily. While there may be valid reasons we do so, as a believer in Jesus and the Bible, there is no reason for accepting spiritual failure. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, 2Pt. 1:3. It is clearly stated (2Pt. 3:18) and implied in many passages, that our walk with the Lord is to be one of continual growth.

One avenue of continuing that growth is the memorization of God’s word. Each year, here at First Baptist, we have an annual theme for the teaching and preaching with a corresponding monthly memory verse. Our theme this year is The Hope of Glory. Of course the reference is to the hope we have in Jesus Christ and the future glory that we shall share with Him (Titus 2:13; Rom. 8:18).

Our memory verse for this month is quoted above. Of course Bible memorization is not just a simple discipline like memorizing the lines of Shakespeare in grade school. Rather Bible memory is to:

  • insulate us from the temptations of sin – Psalm 119:11
  • illuminate for us the path we ought to take – Psalm 119:105
  • instruct us along the way of life – Psalm 119:130
  • enable us to effectively serve the Saviour – 2Timothy 2:15; 3:16, 17

Each verse of God’s work encapsulates nuggets of truth not just to memorize but to be infused in our living. Take the current verse we are memorizing, Colossians 1:27. Several wonderful truths are in this verse.

  1. The use of the word Gentile, while specifically would refer to non-Jews, is probably intended to be a broad reference to those that have not trusted in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Remember the church in Colossae would have primarily been a church filled with Gentiles and here Paul is making a distinction between Gentiles in those who have trusted Christ. These Gentiles stand in need of the hope available in Christ.
  2. The hope, of course, rests in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Calvary.
  3. This hope, though residing in Jesus, must be seen in the life of the saints. So, in a very practical sense, the christian shows the hope of glory. Am I living in such a fashion?
  4. The truth of this great treasure (2Cor. 4:7) is what the Father is revealing to the christian. We reflect the value of Christ to those that need Him most. Am I helping or hindering?

Let me encourage you to memorize the Word. Not just to recite it, but to KNOW IT AND LIVE IT!

Published in: on January 21, 2019 at 5:42 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:10, 11
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I am sure many people say the same. It is a time of festive joy that seems almost palpable at times. Even the normally grumpy are a bit tempered in their grumpyness. But, rather than just the festive joy, it is the reason why there is joy is what makes it my favorite. Yes, at times all the “festivness” can seem a bit overwhelming. It is in those times I must stop and remember why there can be joy at all. It is not the lights, parties, presents, or even family, it is Christ. Even if there were no festivities, there would be Christmas because, Christmas is Christ. He came, and He came for me!

Perhaps what excites me most is the fact of His coming just as it is written in the word. The angel, the shepherds, the star, the wise man, all of it. This Christmas I would like to share with you a little story I wrote some time ago about the visit of the angels to the shepherds. While it is a work of fiction, I have followed the Scriptures as well as facts of history and traditional beliefs. I trust you will find it encouraging this season. Merry Christmas!

The Castle of Bethlehem

I was with Baba, my father, that night. It had been a long day. Baba was a shepherd. But not any shepherd, he was a shepherd for the sheep that would one day be sent to the temple for sacrifice. Baba was a good shepherd, in many ways he was considered the lead shepherd for the temple flocks. All the others looked to him for leadership and teaching the ways of a shepherd. That is why I was with him that night. I had just gone through bar mitzpha and was now to learn my way as a man. The day had begun with great excitement. I would spend the next several weeks with Baba in the field learning to watch the sheep. This would be the most time spent with my father in a long time. As a temple shepherd he was almost never home, and though he cared for temple sheep he was under a rabbinical ban since he could hardly ever go to the temple for services.

It was the 9th of Tebheth and so a fast day, for the Rabbi’s believed the Messiah would come on this day, though they had said such for a long time. But Baba loved Jehovah and the promise of His coming and so we fasted. This made the day even longer. With the cold wind and wandering sheep, the hunger in my belly had grown as large as the tiredness in my limbs. Once the sun was down I was so glad to finally have some food and lay upon my rough bed and sleep.

It seemed as only minutes had passed, though it had been many hours since we had our dinner. suddenly Baba was shaking me to awake and see. It should have been dark but all around was bathed in bright light from the sky. It was then I heard him; Fear Not! By now, Baba was standing motionless with an uplifted face. I couldn’t help but stand beside him, unmoving and enraptured by what we saw before us; an angelic being shrouded in what could only be a heavenly glory. He spoke;

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

As soon as he finished the entire night sky around the Migdal Edar was enthroned with a host of angels. Together they spoke in unison giving praise to Jehovah.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)

I heard every word clear as if they were talking just to me within arm’s reach. And yet, as they spoke it was as if a pure and heavenly song was coursing through my very being. And then they were gone!

Baba spoke, “David, we must go.”

“Where Baba?” I replied.

“To Bethlehem. We must see this child. He is the Messiah. And Jehovah has announced to us, of all people, His birth. We dare not ignore such an invitation!”

“Yes, Baba.” Though I so wanted to be a man, I couldn’t help but take my father’s hand in mine as he struck out for the village of Bethlehem a few miles off. The other shepherds were following us. All of them!

It seemed to take us only minutes to walk those few miles to the village. It was almost as Baba knew exactly where to go. We came to the inn at the edge of the village. My uncle Abram owned this inn. When we brought the sheep for the temple to town it was in his stable that we kept them. Oddly this stable was filled with light this night. There was a young couple there. Candles were burning brightly while the cattle lowed softly.

There He was, just as the angel said. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger. The man kneeling close looked up as we approached. He appeared startled that all of us were there. “Yes,” he said, “can I help you?”

“May we see Him?” Baba replied.

The man just stared at first with a question in his eyes. “How did you know a baby boy was here?”

“The Angel told us.”

“An angel?”

“Yes. Just as we have found him. May we look into His eyes?”

At first he was hesitant, but then, “Yes, yes, you may come and see.”

We came to look. Each of us. One by one. A wonder began to fill my mind and heart. As we left, Baba began to chuckle.

“What are you laughing at Baba?” I asked.

“I heard today in the market some wise man came to King Herod looking for the new-born king. They went to the wrong castle. They should have come here to the castle of Bethlehem. For where the king is, that is the castle! Come, David. We must tell everyone that the Messiah has come.”

“Everyone, Baba?”

“Yes, for that is who He has come for!”

I have spent the rest of my life telling everyone I meet the story of that night. For He came for me and…

I heard the angels,

I saw the glory,

I viewed the Messiah!

Isaiah 45:17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

Published in: on December 25, 2018 at 12:06 AM  Leave a Comment  
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A Secure Treasure

Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is soon approaching. Which means Christmas decorations are already up in certain places and the “gift giving” season is here. Of course the greatest gift ever given was that of the Lord Jesus, John 3:16. In the Scriptures He is referred to as the unspeakable gift, 2 Corinthians 9:15. God is the great gift giver. In fact Scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift if from above and comets down from the Father of lights, with whole is no variable ness, neither shadow of turning.

Apart from the gift of Himself, perhaps the greatest gift is that of His word. You might even make a corrallary between them as the Lord Himself exalts His word above His own name, Ps. 138:2. Such a gift is obviously precious due to its relationship to God Himself. But also because our very salvation is dependent upon our access to it, 2Tim. 3:15. If our very salvation is routed in the truth of His word then we are dependent upon Him to preserve His word. It remains a perplexing befuddlement that some Christians struggle with the simple and obvious truth of the preservation of the Scriptures.

Not only is this truth clearly proclaimed in various passages such as Ps. 119:89, Matt. 5:18; 25:35; But is also implied in many other places. For instance, take note of Deuteronomy 17:18.

Deuteronomy 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

In the early days of the Israeli nation, even before there was a king. God gave guidelines for that future king to live and rule by, His word. The king was to have his own personal copy. He would be quite familiar with the contents of God’s word as he personally hand copied it. Here is a great practice for each Christian to follow, possessing your own copy of God’s word that you are intimately familiar with.

Did you notice though that the king’s copy wasn’t spurious, or based on his emotions or interpretations. It was based upon a sure and confident standard, …that which is before the priests the Levites. This is an obvious indication that God intended to ensure that His word would not be lost. Certainly man will be unfaithful and forget God’s truth but God would be faithful. Many years later God’s word was found by forgetful men. Not hidden in a cave in a mountain, not in the ambiguous words of a vision, but right where it was supposed to be, in the temple, 2Kings 22:8.

This “gift-giving” season, don’t forget to thank the Lord for this secure treasure, His Word!

Published in: on November 14, 2018 at 10:02 AM  Leave a Comment  
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A Conclusion

The Passing of An Era – A Conclusion

Judges 2:10  And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

We have previously considered why it is that there is a passing of an era of faithful warriors for the Lord. Either it is the Inevitability of Time: that due to the aging servant or the time due to the distance from others and of course there is the inescapable death that all face. Or is may be the Insidiousness of Compromise: because of the weariness of the battle, the difficulty of the trial or temptation from our sinful nature. Whatever the reason, one generation of servants passes on and the next must take its place. How do we ensure that the Lord and His truth is not forgotten or minimized? This dilemma highlights the Importance of Transfer, the transfer of commitment, loyalty, and convictions from one generation to the next.

How could a generation arise that knew not the Lord? Especially as the fathers were responsible to teach their children to prevent this very problem, Ex. 10:2; 13:14. Obviously they were negligent in this responsibility. What can be done to prevent our repeating the sins of Eli in loosing the younger generation to a carnal, selfish, sinful form of Christianity (2Ti. 3:5)?

Certainly the next generation must be taught and shown the truth in the home, Eph. 6:4 cp. Deut. 6:20. A faithful pastor is hard pressed to undo years of poor modeling by carnal parents. But they must also be taught in the church, Titus 1:9; 2:4; 2Ti. 2:2; Heb. 5:12. The perpetuation of Christ’s teaching is the completion of the commission given to us from the Saviour, Matt. 28:20.

Of the utmost importance is that those of us that are in any leadership capacity must model the Truth. It is imperative that we KNOW the God of whom we speak and WALK the life of which we preach! We should be able to say to the “Young Fundmentalists” the same as Paul said to Timothy. The pulpit must be empowerd by the Holy Spirit, saturated by the Word of Truth, and modeled by a submitted servant to the master. 2Ti. 3:10; 4:1-8.

2Timothy 3:10  But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

2Timothy 4:7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished mycourse, I have kept the faith:

May God help us!

Published in: on May 15, 2018 at 10:12 AM  Leave a Comment  

Merry Christmas

Hebrews 1:1-3
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Christmas, many things to many people. To some a time of family and fun, to others stress and tension. But to those redeemed by the Saviour, a time to reflect on the precious truth that God became a man. Not just a human manifestation of deity, but rather, deity incarnate in the flesh of the most vulnerable of humans, an infant. No wonder Paul said, “And without controversy greatisthemysteryof godliness: (1Tim. 3:16).”

Yes, a mystery, for how could God become flesh? A mystery and a wonder! As the angel said to the shepherds, “…good tidings of great joy.” It is almost universal around the world that this is a time to celebrate the coming of Jesus. Of course there are abuses and skeptics, but should Bible believing people be deterred in the joy of Christ’s coming because of unbelief? No! As J. Sidlow Baxter says in his devotional, Awake My Heart, “However much Christmas may be abused by godless worldlings  it brings home to Christian hearts around the globe, all at the same time, that wonderful even which is the first of all strictly Christian facts, the incarnation of the Divine Son.”

Think of it, Christians around the globe all thinking of the Saviour at the same season. No wonder there is a special sense at this time of year. Or that the devil and his crowd want to imitate and corrupt such an exaltation of Jesus Christ.

More distressing than the godless worldlings is the cynical Christians who seem to delight in attacking the Christmas story. Can we not simply take the Bible at face value. He came just like He said. And, He came of us. Rather than undermine the story of His birth with endless and needless questions about which day, what season, when the wise men arrived: can’t we simply rejoice in that Christ came? A simple study of the Scriptures, as well as a review of history and astronomical events leads not to a truncated story, but a greater confidence in my Bible and joy at His birth. If you are interested in my findings, I would be delighted to send you a copy of my booklet The Day He Came. At the very least let us rejoice and share the news of the Saviour’s birth with all who will hear, just like the shepherds did!

Merry Christmas!

Published in: on December 27, 2017 at 12:20 AM  Leave a Comment  

Time’s Degradation

Psalm 89:47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

In a previous post I wrote about the passing of an era. My thoughts had been spurred at the time by the recent passing of Dr. Neil Cadwell. Since then another faithful servant of the Lord, in my acquaintance has ben promoted to glory: Dr. James Barrick, longtime pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cody, Wyoming. Again there is a reminder of time’s persistent progression and its effects on those left behind.

We read in Joshua;

Joshua 1:2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise,

The era of Moses was over and that of Joshua had begun. No one would deny the obvious differences of these eras.

  • Moses was a prophet but Joshua was a general.
  • Israel had been a horde of wandering nomads and now would be a conquering nation.

And yet it was the same God, the same law and the same expected commitment.

Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

So why this degradation (Judges 2:7)? Why does it appear that we decline from Biblical convictions to general beliefs to personal opinions? Why? Because some have swerved (1Tim. 1:6) and others have slipped (Heb. 4:1).

The effects of time are clear: diminishing strength due to age, the reduction of fellowship due to distance and the loss of influence when individuals die. These effects are inevitable. What exacerbates the degradation is the insidiousness of compromise.

Insidiousness of Compromise

Tiredness is experienced by all of the Lord’s workers. Classic is the example of Moses and the battle in Exodus 17. His hands became heavy and he was in need of help. Aaron and Hur lent their strength to Moses and a victory was secured. The work of the Lord is just that, WORK! Once, Dr. Wayne Musson, a veteran war horse of Gospel ministry, told me that properly done, preaching one sermon is like working a full day of physical labor. Its work. Perhaps the same could be said of the other aspects of Gospel ministry.

While all experience becoming weary while well doing, we must guard against being “weary in well doing.” (Gal. 6:9; 2Thess. 3:13) In other words, we must guard our attitude toward the struggle for the Lord’s glory. Becoming weary of the struggle lends us to compromise. The priests of Israel said, “What a weariness it is!” (Mal. 1:13) The Lord rightly rebuked them.

Eli, the high priest, apparently became weary of disciplining his sons. His weariness lead to his abject compromise of no restraint against their wicked behavior. (1Sam. 3:13) The tabernacle, the nation, and the Lord’s glory all suffered because of it. This is but one of the facets whereby compromise hastens the passing of an era.

Published in: on October 28, 2017 at 9:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Passing of an Era

Judges 2:7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

An era was coming to an end. Joshua, the faithful, godly leader of Israel had come to the end of his journey. Soon those of that generation would all be gone. The nation would be at a crossroad. Would that generation pass on to the next their heritage and commitment to stay true to Jehovah? Sadly, they did not, “…and their arose another generation…which knew not the LORD.”

Similar circumstances continue in the present. This was evident just recently as I attended the funeral for Evangelist Dr. Neil Cadwell. As I looked around, there were a lot of “grey heads” in the congregation, many of which had been classmates of Dr. Cadwell in those early days of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College. I was struck with the reality that an era was passing.

In fact several eras have already passed within the fundamental movement. For most of us serving in this present era, the former eras are just the stories of the fundamental-modernist controversies and accounts of the ministries of men such as Riley, Jones, Stranton and others. They are just history we read about and sadly, often don’t understand or properly interpret. Why does this happen and what should be our response?

The Inevitability of Time

Time is no respecter of persons. Solomon makes this rather clear in Ecclesiastes 12. When a youth we think we are invincible, yet time takes its toll upon each of us. King David discovered the effects of time upon his own ability to lead his troops. At one event he was almost overcome and had to be rescued, 2Sam. 21:17. Age brings a reduction in strength and sight.

Distance brings a natural reduction in fellowship and influence. The children of Israel were made aware of this affect when the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh returned to the east side of the Jordan. They had erected a great altar as a visible memorial that they and those on the western side were one people, Joshua 22:24, 25.

Death brings an obvious end of the influencing presence of one we love and admire. Joash was the little prince saved by Jehoiada the High Priest. He was hidden from his evil grandmother, Athaliah, who would have killed him to secure her ambitions. When Joash finally ascended the throne, he was a godly king all the days of Jehoiada. But, alas, it was at the priest’s death that he drifted from a place of righteousness.

Each of these preceding dynamics are inevitable. Yet must we simply resign ourselves to the diminishing of God’s favor because time marches on? In future posts we will examine the reasons for negative effects and a proper response.

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 1:02 PM  Comments (1)  

They Come in Threes

They say that they come in threes, funerals that is. I am not sure who “they” is. Neither can I confirm the truthfulness of the statement. I suppose it depends when you start counting. Almost a self-fulfilling prophecy it seems.
What I do know is that First Baptist in Laurel, Montana has suffered the loss of three prince servants of the Saviour this year, already. The first was Brother Greg Trout, missionary to Ireland. Though his service the Emerald Isle was short, we trust his influence continues to touch those he was reaching out to. The second was Dr. Wayne Musson, retired pastor. Dr. Musson had preached the Gospel for over 50 years. While some may remember him as a war-horse of a previous era, my memory is a bit different. I remember a man who loved his savior, the Word, and to preach. His last official sermon was to the Christian school kids of First Baptist Academy. Even singing them his “Grumbler” song. An old war-horse? Perhaps. But more importantly a man who still desired to be used in the service of the Saviour.
Lastly, and most recently was the promotion of dear saint; Mrs. Judy Cherry. When health permitted she could be found always serving the Lord. Whether that was as a Sunday School teacher, assisting her husband, or washing dishes in the church kitchen, hers was an attitude and action worth emulating. In fact each of these servants left a legacy to be followed.
We know that the Lord’s servants are precious to Him.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Are we living our lives in such a way that faithfulness is modeled for those we leave behind? Are we living in a way that others are spurred to serve? Or, in a way that causes them to spurn the service of Christ? Are we living for now or later?

Published in: on July 28, 2016 at 12:19 AM  Comments (3)  
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The Call

Pastor, how do I know that I am called to the ministry? That was my question almost 30 years ago. He responded with a simple, yet profound answer.

  1. Desire. “Walt, the Bible says that a man should desire the office of a bishop.” (1Timothy 3:1) If a man has to be coerced into serving the Lord, unless his heart his changed he quite likely will have the attitude of a hireling rather than a shepherd (John 10:13).
  2. Ability. “Secondly,” he said. “If you are called to preach, there will be some drive or push to write or preach. You may find yourself reworking the sermon you are listening to. Perhaps thinking, ‘he should have/could have used this verse or passage’.” The Bible says a pastor should be ‘…apt to teach.’ (1Timothy 3:2)
  3. Opportunity. “Lastly is the issue of opportunity to serve. Do others see this potential gift in you? Do you have open doors to preach or teach?” While we all have the responsibility to witness and serve the Saviour, the opportunity to lead in ministry is not universal.

How thankful I am for that wise pastor’s influence in my life. That man was Pastor David Smith. He pastored the Great Hope Baptist Church in Barco, NC. I was a young sailor feeling the draw into Gospel ministry. He was gracious and generous with me, giving me many opportunities to preach and teach the precious Word of God.

Thank you Pastor Smith!

In His Service,

Pastor Widdis

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 5:27 PM  Leave a Comment  

A Heartfelt Thank you!

A few months ago we were all shocked by the sudden home-going of our dear friend and brother in Christ, Missionary Greg Trout. We were naturally grieved over the loss we felt as well as acute concern for his dear wife Marta.

The Lord has been so gracious in this time of sorrow and transition. Marta’s brother was able to go to Ireland and assist her with the details of returning to the states. Her daughter, Shawna, prepared to receive her home and did much of the footwork in preparation for her dad’s memorial service. What a blessing to have family to help in such times. That’s what family is supposed to do, isn’t it?

The Lord worked all the details out. Marta made it home, the Saviour was honored through the service and God’s word that was preached in Ireland will not return void! Many have asked or wondered what will Marta do now? She will do as she has always done – faithfully serve the Saviour she loves. She has settled back in to service here at First Baptist; singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, willing to serve wherever the Lord leads.

Just as we anticipate our family to come alongside us during a time of need, so should our church family. As the Trout’s home pastor I had asked their supporters to continue their regular support up through the month of March. This would give Marta some time to seek the Lord’s will. Not only was support continued but a transition fund has been collecting. Both of these mission’s projects has come to a close. Funds are no longer being accepted for this fund. You are welcome to send any gifts to Marta personally if you wish. Those who have contributed are welcome to contact the church concerning the final amount or disposition of these funds.

As Marta’s pastor and on behalf of her, let me thank you for being such a loving, caring, and generous “family.” May the Lord bless you for your expressed affection for His servant.

Joh 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

In His Service,

Pastor Widdis

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 4:38 PM  Leave a Comment