(by Clint Defrance)
By Clint Defrance 2009
After a successful gospel meeting May 29th-April 3rd, evangelist Jerry Dickinson’s audio sermons are now available for iTunes download or immediate podcast listening. Topics are diverse and range from ‘Women’s Rights’ to ‘A Prophet for Profit’.
Don’t miss Jerry’s sermon on the New Testament account of Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee entitled ‘Surveying the Wind’.
Stay tuned for upcoming video clips !
(by Jerry Dickinson)
(by Jerry Dickinson)
Consider the winsome figure of Abigail who fleetingly flashes on the pages of the Bible as a peacemaker and mediator to the beloved David. The scripture affords her glowing words of praise as a “woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance” (1 Samuel 25:3) who was pleasant and humble despite being married to a nasty and brutish husband. That wicked man, Nabal, is depicted as one “harsh and evil in his doings.” Like many desperate housewives Abigail must have often asked God why her marriage was unfulfilled and empty. How many sorrowful tears ran down burning red cheeks still stinging from the hostile slaps of a heartless husband?
Somehow in the midst of persecution Abigail maintained a gracious God-seeking attitude not embittered by a seemingly pointless existence. However, one remarkable day the question ‘why?’ was answered unexpectedly: her destiny was to be a godly restraining influence upon anointed future king David.
Let’s review the events of 1 Samuel 25: David has been endlessly running from the murderous hand of Saul. He is exhausted, mentally fatigued, and just a little bit testy. Months in the wilderness have ground down his tolerance and patience. Living in the pressure cooker had reduced David’s capacity to think spiritually and react morally. Indeed, in this account David does not come across as an enlightened spiritual servant of God; rather he is shown as a typical man– flawed, arrogant, and presumptuous.
Abigail’s graceless spouse Nabal provides a catastrophic flashpoint for Satan’s attempt to destroy David’s future. For some time David and his men have been protecting the wealthy Nabal’s flocks and herds. Tired of the dusty wilderness, David decides the moment had come for a little social reimbursement. David is ready to sleep in a comfortable bed with sheets and ruffled pillows, eat his food with utensils, and enjoy a hot shower. It’s time to wash off the dust and enjoy some merrymaking, revelry, and festivity. Surely Nabal will listen with reason to David’s messengers and respond with gratitude!
Waiting with anticipation for the news of acceptance and invitation, David is instead shocked to hear words of rebuff and rejection. Like a match to gasoline, David’s expectancy instantly morphs into hysterical rage. The affront of Nabal mandates aggressive action! Swearing that Nabal and all his males will die by morning light, David girds on his sword. With livid tunnel vision David mounts his horse and leads 400 warriors against the hopeless unsuspecting camp. Only minutes of time separate David from a murderous rampage which will forever mar his righteous standing with God the Father.
Then, at God’s prompting, beautiful Abigail enters the pathway of the vengeful David. Bearing many gifts she bows down before David and beseeches him to turn from his ruthless route of rage. She cries: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be!” She begs David to spare Nabal and to accept her oblation. Consider the future, she entreats, and the days that are to come— will this violence and bloodshed be a reproach to David in later years? She reasons:
“And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself.” (vs. 30-31)
David’s wrath evaporates like moisture on noontime August concrete and he immediately recognizes the danger of his uncontrolled fury. He says: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.” (vs. 32-33)
Isn’t it wondrous that David recognizes the words of truth that are spoken to him? What a gift to be insightful enough to change course before irreparable damage is done to self and others! We can learn from David’s near miss of willful fury. Spiritual though we may be, precarious is our position. We must take heed that we do not fall into presumptuous sin (1 Cor 10:12). God grant each of us an Abigail when we are set and determined upon a very human path of vengeance and retribution.
Pray for the insight of David to recognize the graceful intervention of one who comes across our expressway of hate and bows down with gifts. We should also reflect upon the truth that the number of divine intercessors sent into each person’s life is limited. Sorrowfully, like David, the day may come when rather than a restraining Abigail bowing before us in our path of lust, dishonesty, and murder, an accusatory and rebuking Nathan darkens our door.
And if you are an Abigail, God bless you! May God give us all grace to resist Satan.
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing…” Psalm 144:3-4
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace.” Romans 12:15
Bart Shaw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 5/09
The image at the top of the article is by Dutch artist Jacob Willemsz de Wet (1610-1675) “The Meeting of David and Abigail”.
(by Jerry Dickinson)
The Apostle Paul gives the Philippians some practical and amazing admonition:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7, NKJV)
Back in the 50’s Charles Schultz adapted Paul’s teaching and placed it in the mouth of Peanut’s resident theologian Linus van Pelt. The often crabby and cranky Lucy is anxious that the never-ending rain might flood the whole world. Linus reminds her of a promise from God in Genesis and Lucy is comforted. The comic strip ends with the affirmation “Sound theology has a way of doing that.” In short, Bible knowledge has the side-benefit of reassuring the believer about the various anxieties of life.
My father taught me a similar lesson back in 1983. I was 17 years old and the USSR was still very powerful and threatening during the administration of President Reagan. Our family had gathered to watch a nuclear doomsday TV movie called “The Day After.” I was greatly distressed by the pathetic wandering of Jason Robard’s disfigured character through the post-holocaust radioactive wasteland. I asked Dad (who was sitting in his favorite recliner) if he was worried such a horrible scenario might come to pass. He said:
“It isn’t going to happen because the Bible tells us how the world will end. Nuclear war isn’t on the table. The Lord will return like a thief in the night and THAT will be the surprise that shocks the world. But, in truth, if the Lord determines that nuclear war was going to happen, no one on earth could stop it. So don’t worry, leave it to God to work out.”
Those words from my father had an immediate salutary effect upon me and have been formative in my thoughts about the faux-emergencies of the day. While nuclear war with the USSR is no longer greatly feared, other scary bogeymen are continually propped up by the media to terrify a theologically unsound populace: Will a gigantic asteroid hurtle from outer space and smash the earth with the force of countless hydrogen bombs? Could be! Perhaps a local galactic supernova will bathe the earth in harmful radiation and destroy our precious atmosphere! Or the super-volcano that lies under Yellowstone will erupt and cause wintry famine that kills billions! Will carbon dioxide-induced global warming melt the ice caps and cause global flooding?
On and on the fear-mongering speculators work an insidious web of anxiety, promoting unease and discomfort about the future. But God’s still and quiet voice commands us to be ‘anxious for nothing’ and my father’s words echo in my mind. “…don’t worry, leave it to God to work out.”
That is the job of the Christian, isn’t it? Our spiritual avocation is not to prevent climate change, or to promote green technology, or to dig nuclear bunkers, or to stockpile guns and ammo, but rather to be about our Father’s work. We don’t have to spend priceless time fretting about the fantasies of faithless men fashioned to cause confusion and panic. The scripture assures us that the world will come to an end at the time and place of God’s choosing. Before that happens, the seasons will continue unaltered as witness to God’s love and mercy. When Noah climbed down out of the ark, God said:
“While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NKJV)
It is thought-provoking to consider that thousands of years before the global warming scare, Noah understood that the passing of the seasons will never again be disrupted by a natural disaster! God has given us the seasons as a demonstration of His love and provision for man. Paul told the Lystrans:
“Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17, NKJV)
So, faithful Christians, we know that man-made global climate change is not coming to devastate the planet. Rather, God will send divine fire to melt the planet in His own good time and on His timetable! (2 Peter 3:12) Meanwhile, fortunately for us, God has given us a witness and He does good by providing us with the fruitful seasons. As long as the earth lasts God will ensure that they do not cease. We can rest in the peace that passes understanding that God has this world firmly in control. Like Lucy we can let scripture take a load off our minds. Let us be about the Father’s work.
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35, NKJV)
Bart Shaw, email@example.com, 3/09
Last year I had the privilege of co-hosting the East Texas Campmeeting in Phalba, Texas. (it is not a “church camp”, it is a campmeeting) This meeting is held in style of the old time campmeetings that at one time were very common across the nation. As it was in the early days of the Sulpher 4th of July Meeting, the attendants bring their tents and camp out at night, play games and sing during the day and in the evening gather for an outdoor worship service.
Folding chairs were set up on under some trees on brother Charles Usury’s land and an old flatbed pick-up truck was pulled up in front of the chairs. A pulpit stand was placed on the back of the truck and a light rigged up so that brother Nathan Battey and I could see our sermon notes as we preached into the evening.
It was a taste of the old-times and a grand experience for all. I was thrilled to be asked back this year to hold the meeting again with brother Cullen Smith of Farmerville, Louisiana who now labors with the church in Strong, Arkansas, but this year it was a little different.
Heavy rain storms prevented those who attended the meeting from camping in their tents and there was no outdoor dinners or activities until late Saturday when the rain was dried up. When news of the storms came to me I became a little concerned for the effect it might have on our attendance and as folks began to cancel who had planned on coming I had little hope in my own mind of the meeting being very large.
The rain did little to affect the meeting. Crowds of 100 or more were common throughout the weekend. The singing was wonderful, and a joyous times was had by all in spite of the weather. Several services were attended by community visitors and although there were no visible results, the meeting seemed to be quite successful in its own way.
I was certainly encouraged by the large number of young people who made great efforts to attend, in spite of the fact that the fun and frivolity had been washed out. It goes to show that the Lord’s church today is full of young men and women who love to hear the Gospel preached! I enjoyed delivering sermons alongside brother Smith who gave an excellent lesson on Saturday evening regarding the “Principles of Clothing” for Christians.
I want to encourage parents to take their children and the young folks of their congregations to this meeting. You will enjoy sound doctrinal preaching, beautiful singing, and good Christian association in a Christian environment were the folks act, talk and dress like Christians. It is a wonderful retreat from the cares of the world, and at the same time a great effort to reach the east Texas community with the Gospel of Christ. – CED