My mother had five siblings; three sisters and two brothers. One day the revival came to Hustleville, Alabama, and something rather special and rather humorous would happen involving mother’s brother Jimmy, when he was a little boy. Their mom, my Mamaw Iris, had taken them to the revival one evening and the preacher was preaching strong! After the sermon was over, the preacher gave an altar call and little Jimmy walked down to the front. Now that was a good thing and it was such a good thing that he ended up coming down five times before the service ended! After the service was over, the preacher told my grandmother that he believed Jimmy was ready to be baptized down at the creek that following “Baptism Sunday.” But my grandmother said in reply, “No, preacher, I don’t think he’s ready.”
Now, it’s important to know that the creek the preacher was referring to was just a short distance down the bluff from my mom’s home, a very familiar spot to the family. The locals had divided up the creek by using two names: The deeper section was called the “Big J” and the shallower part where the baptisms were performed was called the “Little J.” So, on Baptism Sunday when mother’s family walked down to join the preacher and the crowd that had gathered, little Jimmy saw the water and jumped in and started to have himself a grand old time splashing around in the swimming hole. The preacher immediately turned to my grandmother and said, “Iris, he’s not ready.” Is it possible they renamed the “Little J” the “Little Jimmy?”
Is there a grand design and delight of God that results in passionate authentic revival in the hearts of people and churches? Yes, there is, and it begins as all true revival begins, among God’s people as they repent of sin and turn to God in prayer. It is found in Second Chronicles 7:14, and it reads/prays: “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Wow! Our sovereign God rules and yet he has given us a condition that when followed, will offer these results according to God’s faithfulness! “If My people…then…” Our part is to simply follow the directions! Come Holy Spirit, send revival to our hearts!
Sand Mountain Sermonette 11
The Chewing Gum in the Glass Case
The best 21-shrimp fried dinner I have ever eaten was in the “King’s Inn Restaurant” off Highway 431 North as you enter Albertville, Alabama. The restaurant has long been closed, but I can still imagine sitting down at the counter and watching the cook create my all-time favorite!
The other memory I hold dear to that restaurant was the evening my family and I had finished our meal and I found myself peering into the all familiar glass case of goodies that was positioned below the cash register as dad was paying our bill. I had fixed my eyes on the popular national brand of chewing gum that was known for its two flavors that were marked by either white or green wrappers. Being the elementary school boy that I was, I pointed in the general direction of the white-wrapper package but invited Gurley, the tall lanky man who worked the register, to give me a pack of gum stating only the name of the company, not the color of the wrapping I wanted. Old Gurley met my request by giving me something I hadn’t asked for; he proceeded to hand me a package of the chewing gum marked by the green wrapper. I told Gurley I had wanted “the white gum” to which he responded, “Now Louie, what did you say?” After that, I realized I should have specified which color I originally had in mind. Well, Gurley made it right by exchanging packages of gum with me, but I also learned a valuable spiritual lesson: The clarity of praying in God’s will is the key to asking and receiving!
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke these words, “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened,” (Matthew 7:7-8). Here, as one portrays, Jesus is introducing His followers to three levels of prayer: (1) When we know God’s will in a matter, we ask (The Level of Presenting a Petition). (2) If we do not know God’s will in a matter, we seek (The Level of Pressing a Petition). (3) If we know God’s will, but the answer has not come, we knock until the door opens (The Level of Persisting with a Petition). The original language of Matthew 7:7 means we are to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking! Do not give up! God wants you to know His will. Pray God’s word and trust Him!
Sand Mountain Sermonette 12
Sand Mountain Sermonette 12
Ruby Falls or God’s Reservoir
“Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18, New Living Translation.
The original Greek verb Paul uses translated, be filled is a plural verb in the present tense indicating continuous action and the passive voice which means the subject doesn’t act; it is acted upon by some outside force. Therefore, the verse literally reads, “All Christians must always be “being filled” with the Holy Spirit.” In other words, all of us are to “keep on being filled with the Spirit”.
In His Book, “The Holy Spirit,” Billy Graham describes his home in the North Carolina mountains this way, “Our home is supplied by a reservoir fed by two mountain springs. These two springs on the mountain above the house, according to the mountain people who lived here before we did, never fluctuate. Rainy season or dry, they remain the same. We draw on the water as we need it, and the springs continually flowing into the reservoir keep it filled to overflowing.
Drawing off another story, after my mom and dad were married in the mid 50’s, their best friends Hollis and Doris Jean Hendricks (the best man and maid of honor), accompanied them to Lookout Mountain, Tennessee to celebrate their wedding. Once there, they stopped off to see the famous “Ruby Falls.” Mother said they purchased their tickets and then proceeded to ride an elevator down to the falls, but once off the elevator, they had to travel way back in a cavern and across a rocky terrain to see the falls and along the way it was all mom and Doris Jean could do to keep from falling in their high-heeled shoes! And get this, once they arrived, mother said Ruby Falls “was the nearest nothing” she had ever seen for it was nothing more than a little trickle-like falls coming out of the rock! Christian, I have great news for you! You were “born again” in Christ to live filled and full Holy Spirit two-mountain-springs-reservoir-fed style, not Ruby-Falls-little-trickle-style! The former strengthens you to stand on the solid rock of Christ daily whereas the latter will keep you stumbling through life. The Person of the Holy Spirit lives in you. Trust Him today to empower you to walk in faith as you choose to place Christ on the throne of your heart.
Sand Mountain Sermonette 13
Galatians 5:22-23 & John 15:4
Grandmother’s Grape Vines
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
I still remember the muscadine grape vines my Mamaw Iris had running along posts out in her backyard in North Alabama. For many years they produced the delicious grapes my grandmother and I would enjoy when I would visit her home on a Saturday or stay over for the entire weekend. On occasion, I would also help her carefully prune the vines of dead or dying branches which would ensure more and better fruit the next year.
One has said, “Fruit is the delectable product of that which is created by the inner life of the vine.” On the eve of His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
God has called every Christian to bear all the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Notice fruit is singular here, not plural. One has likened it to one fruit with nine characteristics because the fruit is borne in the inner life of the Christian via the Holy Spirit. You can even cluster the nine characteristics into clusters of three.
Here are three questions for you to meditate on as you go about your week?
1. What about my countenance? Do others see Christ’s love, joy, and peace in me? 2. What about my conduct? Are patience, kindness, and goodness characteristic of who I am?” 3. Do I exhibit faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? And remember, the first fruit Paul lists from which all the others arise is, “Love.” May we Christians bear the bounteous, beautiful, and tasty fruit of the Spirit of the Living God this week as we pray for Christ to be first place over our hearts and minds.
Here’s an example: The word for “patience” Paul uses in cluster number two, means “far from anger” in the original language. How is your patience coming along? Learning God’s way too, day by day.