George writes: "I am retired, for the fourth time, and live with my wife in Westbrook, Maine. I retired officially in October of 1999, and after two years of relaxation(???) I went back to work and worked three more jobs at a total of ten more years retiring last January. We are Maineiacs by birth and Christian by Grace. Jesus is Lord of All."
Deliver the Message; Stay Awake
In my thirty years of preaching, I have found, the easiest way to stay awake
during a sermon, is to deliver it.
I have been known to cause more than a few people to nod off during my messages. One of these dozers was my brother. Often I would look his way when I was preaching, and his head would first, drop quickly to his chest, and aware he was getting sleepy, would raise his head, and focus his attention on the message, or at least look as if he was.
In the old days, I am told; they had deacons sitting at the rear of the church. Their job, when they saw a parishioner’s head droop, take a long pole resembling a fishing rod and tap the dozer on the head. Today the pastor’s just let them fall asleep. They figure their wives will catch them up on anything they may have missed during the delivery of the sermon.
It is funny how you can watch a football game on TV, eat popcorn, sip your favorite beverage and never fall asleep. One hour on Sunday morning and you have to doze off in church, the one place where you should focus your attention. It is more beneficial than knowing if the quarterback is, or is not making the right decision. The game of life trumps all other games. In life, you have hope as long as you have breath. In basketball, you may have one game to prove your worth for the team. In God’s world, you get chance after chance to prove you are serious about the life you lead. Our God is a God of the second chance, third, fourth and more.
I like to tell folks that people are people no matter where you go. I am sure you have heard someone say; “I don’t go to church. I don’t want to sit with all those hypocrites.” Want an answer to that statement? Here, goes; tell them if that’s the case, why do they go shopping at the grocery store, stop in the aisle, tie up traffic, laugh and joke with those same hypocrites they don’t want to be seen with in church?
Ever notice that the ones, who call you a fanatic for going to church, or talking about Jesus, are the same ones who paint their faces and upper chests the color of their favorite teams? Who wave foam index fingers shouting until they are hoarse, who an hour before the game are out in the parking lot eating grilled hot dogs, drinking beer and having a grand old time. But, you are the fanatic. Go figure!
Whoever wrote it is a topsy turvy world we live in was certainly one hundred percent correct. Decent, hard working, dedicated men and women, are ‘narrow minded,’ ‘bigots,’ or mean-spirited because they stand for what is right in this country. They are like square pegs. They don’t fit into a round hole. Those who allow this country to become a giant ‘gimme wagon’ are the problem, not the solution. They are like the man who thought he was all set with the bank, when one day, he received a notice of insufficient funds. “How can that be?” He asked himself, “I’ve still got unwritten checks left.” The answer, from some of our elected officials, is spend it, we can always go up on the taxes, and besides, we can order more money printed.
Enough of this political nonsense, I, for one, see too many chips stacked against us in the fight for what is right in this one time Christian nation. But, thank God, I know how it all comes out as Corrie Ten Boom said in her biography, “I’ve read the Book.”
If you will not acknowledge that you are a grumbler, at least admit to occasional muttering. We all sputter from time to time. Gas is too high; the mailman is late, the bank closed today... wimps, they let thirty two inches of snow bother them. I’ve got a two dollar check I need cashed.
How often do we take our thoughtless, sputtering time and turn it to thankfulness for what we have instead of what we do not have time?
I read in one of my commentaries several years ago, a story that made me laugh out loud. A young seminarian in Scotland years ago, was asked by his pastor, if he would like to preach the sermon on Sunday morning. He was ecstatic and quickly took the pastor up on his offer. Sunday morning came, and the young man entered the church, and pridefully ascended the several steps up to the pulpit, confident he would be a great preacher, keep his audience in awe. He was doing fine until he looked out over the crowd. He froze... stammered through his sermon, unsure of himself, sweating like a pig with the flu, he descended the steps, went to the rear of the church and greeted the congregation. One old lady shook his hand, and gave him this advice; “if you had gone up the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up.” I have never forgotten that tidbit from that commentary to this day.
One evening I preached a message on the healing power of God, and invited people who needed prayer to come forward. One elderly man came up and stood waiting for me to pray with him. I approached him and asked what he wanted God to do for him that night.
"Heal my arthritis," he answered. I prayed for him, and felt God asked me to tell him to thank God every morning for his healing even though he might not see it immediately. He assured me; he would pray. At the end of the service as I was leaving, I ran into the older gentleman at the rear of the church. I asked him how he felt.
“Good,” he replied, “except for this arthritis of mine... it cripples me, you know.” I had to chuckle; God forgive me, but he had just asked for prayer for healing of that disease. He then took the problem back again, out of God’s hands.
Over the years, I have noticed people who want a healing go to meeting after meeting, get prayed for their ailments, and then Wednesday night they are back at the same church asking for prayer for the malady.
One woman, a Catholic lady, went to healing meetings for years. Her routine; go up front, get prayed for, fall over backward and get up and sit down. On several occasions, I asked her how she felt after being prayed for by the pastor or one of the elders.
“Fine, I got a ten percent healing.” I never knew God healed in percentages. I thought he just totally healed. As far as I know she is still looking for that other ninety percent healing.
A girl in our prayer group got a miraculous healing
in her back one Wednesday night at the meeting. Before she left that night, I
said, don’t forget we have a meeting on Tuesday of next week. She said; “Oh,
sorry, I can’t make it, Pastor, I’ve got physical therapy for my back.” I said,
“Didn’t God heal your back tonight?”
“Yes,” she said, “but I’m on worker’s comp, and I have to report to the doctor in order to collect my checks.” Hello? Did I miss something here?
I attended a meeting one evening when the son of a popular faith healer was in town. The auditorium was packed, around six thousand people. The preacher said, “Someone here tonight has a hearing impairment, and God wants to heal you.” Though we were way up in the top bleachers, I could see down front. A woman, who attended the same church my wife and I attended, stood up. The preacher asked her if she wanted prayer. She said she did. He prayed for her to receive her healing. She raised her hands and said Amen; a huge smile covered her face. My thought was she got a healing. Then, the preacher said; “Can you hear me, Sister?” She answered, “What?”
“Can you hear me?” He asked again.
“Well, praise the Lord this sister got her hearing back.” I turned to my wife, and we both smiled. We knew the woman, and we knew she had not got her hearing back as stated. A few days later I asked her if she got a healing. Her answer was, “Well, a little... about ten percent I’d say.”
What is this ten percent thing God’s children run around saying? Either you got a healing or you didn’t. Show me in the Bible where Jesus healed someone ten percent only. You can’t, It isn’t in the Book. To say He only healed you ten percent, is like saying He loves me, but only a little. No, my friend, He loves you unconditionally, one hundred percent.
When those outside of Christ, the Ain’ts, not the saints, refuse to believe God healed you, you know it is because they don’t believe in God. But when a Christian doubts your healing, trying to convince you the doctors did it, or it was a coincidence, you are wounded.
Whenever I tell people how God delivered me from alcohol, tobacco, and healed me of emphysema I get more wows out of non Christians than I do from Christians.
I do not claim to be a recovering alcoholic. I am a delivered drunk! Billy Sunday said, only when we call sin by its right name can we defeat it.
Here, is the story in abbreviated form: (I should call this My Testimony In a Paragraph and a Half.) I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for over thirty years, and as a result, I contracted emphysema, verified by Xrays and written doctor’s report from the hospital. I was drinking a pint or more of whiskey and scotch a day, every day for years. I was divorced, and my drinking increased as did my cigarette smoking. I met and married again... I married one of those fanatics, a ‘born again’ Christian. My drinking didn’t slacken, nor did my smoking. Nights I would sit down stairs drinking my scotch while my new wife was up stairs, on her knees, praying, asking God to deliver her husband from alcohol. One night, as she was leading my up the stairs, I stopped, asked her if she would do me a favor. She said of course. I said; “Take that bottle of scotch in the cupboard, empty it down the sink and throw the bottle in the dumpster.” She did as I had asked. That was thirty two years ago, and by the grace of God, I have not touched a drop since.
Three years later, I prayed one weekend after rededicating my life to the Lord, for deliverance from tobacco, and a healing in my lungs, which were now, filling fast with the emphysema. That was a Friday afternoon after having a chest plate at the hospital. Monday morning at nine forty five I called the doctor and heard him explain that he didn’t know what happened, but my lungs were white and healthy. I could hardly contain myself. I asked him about the emphysema. He said; “What emphysema? I told you; your lungs are white and healthy.” (This was three years after my original diagnosis, and a different doctor.) I might have thought it was a coincidence, and the original doctor mixed up the Xrays, but my body said differently. I could now take two stairs at a time without losing my breath, my breathing went down to my toes now. I am talking about the next day, not two years later. I was healed. The doctor’s last words to me were; “Now, quit smoking.”
“I just did, Doctor. I just did.” I said as I crushed out my last cigarette on May 9, 1983. Thank God. If someone has come to tell me God doesn’t heal any longer, save your breath, I know better.
Christians have said to me when I testify of my healing and deliverance; “Yeah, but you must have had will power.” I tell them; I have no will power if I had I would not be smoking, or drinking in the first place. They continue; “Yeah, but you must have done something... ad Infinitum. Let me make something clear. I did nothing except believe God for my healing. There is nothing you can do when you are facing a Goliath in your life, when you have exhausted your strength and energy. When the doctors have given up, throw up your hands, pray to God and I guarantee you, He will hear your plea. I do not, and cannot guarantee He will heal you, but I can say with Stuart Hamblen, “It is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you...”
I am sure you have heard the saying that was birthed in the late sixties, early seventies, “He/she is so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good,” it was passed off as Christian theology. That is rubbish. I said it in the seventies, and I say it now, that saying belongs in the trash bin. It is not scriptural according to the Bible. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1,2 NKJV
Someone reading this treatise wants to quit their addiction, but they have exhausted all they can think to do. Try God. Pray and ask God to deliver you, be honest with Him... He knows you, so you can’t hide anything from Him. Say, “God, I’ve tried everything I can think to do, and I am still addicted to ___________. Please help me.” If you do not know Jesus in a personal way, pray this way, Father, forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness, and Jesus come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. I ask it your name, Jesus, Amen.
For that person who is in Marlboro Country, it is time to come riding out of that addiction. You know who you are. If this speaks to you, then Praise God!
(© 2012 George E. Davis – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)