In my opinion, the best biscuits I have ever eaten were those hand crafted by my maternal grandmother, Mamaw Iris, who lived a few miles from my hometown in Northern Alabama. I loved spending the night with her, and then being treated to her delicious biscuits the next morning for breakfast-the kind of biscuits that were just as soft and wonderful at 6:00 pm as they were at 6:00 am. Mamaw would throw some flour out on her old baking counter and then, in the process, add some baking powder along with milk, sugar, and lard and, after baking, I would taste the world’s best biscuits! But allow me to ask you a question. Would you just sit down and eat a bowl of flour or a bowl of lard by itself? Who would attempt such a thing? But when you mix all the above together, then you have something good!
Paul, writing from personal experience, puts it this way: “And we know all things work together for good, for those who love God, for those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Paul is referring to Christians in this verse; believers who know something unbelievers do not know. That God can take “all things” including our mistakes and mess-ups, and by His grace and mercy work behind the scenes to produce something beautiful that not only brings us comfort, hope, and revival of spirit through the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but ultimately brings glory and honor to Him. In other words, things that happen in life have a way of constructively working together for good for those who love God and know that He has a perfect plan for their lives. This verse is not saying that everything that happens to us is “good,” but that God can take all things (financial failings, sickness, unfair things and set-backs), and work them together for good! Trust God with your life today! Love Him and rest in His present and eternal care for you. Look to the tapestry of the Cross!
Sand Mountain Sermonette 7
The Auspicious Odometer
I loved my 1973 Chevrolet Nova SS I had in High School, but it was my 1963 all original four-door silver blue Chevrolet Impala that I owned from 2000 to 2004 that I want to share with you today.
It featured the original half-ring horn, metal dash, carpeting, side molding and hub caps among its other classic features. But it had one problem. The mechanical odometer which records the mileage would stick from time to time. Sometimes it would stick for just a few miles while at other times it may not work for a couple of hundred miles or so. Later, I went to a good friend of mine who worked on old cars and who was also the president of the local antique car club I belonged to and asked him about my problem. He told me that sometimes you could position an old car like mine on a slight incline, then put it in “Neutral” and let the car coast backwards a little bit and it would reset the odometer to working condition once again. So, I took my Chevy to the church parking lot where I pastored at the time, tried this, and the odometer worked fine!
In Matthew Chapter Five, we find the wonderful and popular teachings of Jesus known as the Beatitudes in which Jesus is teaching us how to live the Kingdom life surrendered daily under the influence of the Holy Spirit. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed (Happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled (satisfied).”
My auspicious (opportune) 63’ odometer taught me that I often miss God’s blessings and live in a spiritually “stuck” mode because I am placing the “doing” before the “being.” I am focusing on conduct more than character. Then, worry, fear, and confusion dominate my thoughts and my life. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:6 that His Spirit fills us as we are hungering and thirsting for His righteousness; not in the achieving of happiness for happiness’ sake or the achieving of fame and at the expense of humility. Isn’t that freeing news, Christian? Let us invite the Holy Spirit to apply the “Be-attitudes” to our hearts today and be satisfied in Jesus and in Him, alone.
Sand Mountain Sermonette 8
Sand Mountain Sermonette 8
Mercer and Merton
Dr. Jerry Mercer and Thomas Merton have both played instrumental parts in my Christian development. Having completed my undergraduate degree from Jacksonville State University in Alabama in 1979, I found myself attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky six years later. While there, God placed me under the instruction of Dr. Jerry Mercer for one of my preaching classes. I loved Dr. Mercer and I was enjoying seminary, but while there, I was battling an old spiritual battle with doubt that I had been struggling with for a long time; one that affecting my seminary stay resulting in my considering leaving seminary about midway; the time I was in Dr. Mercer’s class.
I had told Dr. Mercer about my struggle with God’s present and eternal love for me as one having been born again by the blood of Christ; a struggle that was even calling me to question if I should continue my seminary degree, so Dr. Mercer invited me to his office. Once I arrived, he shared with me a prayer of a Twentieth Century Christian writer turned Monk of the Trappist Order, who sought out the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, by the name of Thomas Merton. This is the prayer that kept me in seminary, gave me the assurance I needed and transformed my spiritual life at the time I needed it most: “Lord, I may not be in your will today, but the desire to be in your will pleases you.” Praise God!
Jesus said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40.
Sand Mountain Sermonette 9
Isaiah 53:6, Romans 5:8
Sand Mountain Sermonette 9
God’s Rx for Man’s Sin
Although I now receive my monthly prescription via of a parcel delivery company, I still remember sitting down at what is now one of those classic tables with grandfather Mabrey and enjoying a delicious hot fudge sundae at the old home-owned and operated “Davis Drug Store” in downtown Albertville, Alabama when I was a kid in the 60’s. I still remember the smell of medicine mixed with sweet treats, the soda fountain, and the medicine dispensary counter.
One of the most enjoyable times I had at Davis Drugs was when the owner, Mr. Davis, (of course) would walk over and chat and laugh with my grandfather. The one thing I am sure of is this: I grew up knowing good things like the wonderful relationship I enjoyed with my grandfather, came out of the drug store.
Our world today is broken and eruptive for there is a great sickness prevalent in the heart of man; a sickness that manifests itself in the prejudice, injustice, racial tension, rioting, violence, lootings, burnings, and wars we are witnessing today. The Bible clearly and lovingly identifies this disease as “sin” and we are all infected and affected by this disease of the heart, mind, and will that occurred when man sinned against God in the Garden of Eden.
But God has not “a” remedy but “the” remedy for man’s disease of the soul and that is the transformation of the heart. One person has said, “Isaiah 53:6, is the most vivid and vibrant picture of our Lord Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament.” This Scripture reads, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus upon the cross) the iniquity of us all.” Also explore Romans 5:8.