Friday, December 1, 2000

Nothing to Celebrate?

I was watching the news this morning trying to get a weather report for the day. World news was still on and they were talking about Bethlehem and how that the Christmas celebration was being cancelled. I heard the news lady say because the country was at war there was "nothing to celebrate."

Usually there would be parades with all the little children marching in their scout uniforms. There would be bands and choirs playing and singing. Throngs of people around the birth place of Jesus, praying, celebrating His birth.

But not this year! There was nothing to celebrate! There was a war on!

Can you believe that? Because the birth place of Jesus Christ was at war, they couldn't celebrate. Why, someone needs to tell those people that Christ isn't in the manger any more. He's not still in Bethlehem. He's not still on the earth healing and ministering to people. He's not still on the cross. He's not still on the tomb. He's been there and done that. He's come to live in the hearts of His people. Nothing to celebrate? Why, all we have to do is open up our hearts and let Him in and then we find we can celebrate this Christmas.

Nothing to celebrate because we don't have as much to give as others do? Nothing to celebrate because we refuse to go in debt to buy gifts? Christmas is not about what we buy each other. Christmas is about celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ.

"Oh! Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!"

Why, nothing can keep me from celebrating, because He gave me the greatest gift of all, His love and His life!

Praise His name...

Sunday, October 1, 2000

Warnings

The other day, for some reason, I began to notice the different things that give us warnings. Of course, there are the ones we see every day. Like the road signs. I think there are two different types of signs. Warning and information. Then, there are things that we don't often see, like flashing lights on top of high towers that give warnings. How about the police, fire trucks and emergency vehicles that sound their sirens and flash their lights? How about the person who is using a flag to give us warning? How about the traffic lights? How about unborn babies wanting to come into this world? They give their mothers a big warning. All of these things are things that give us warnings...

How often do we ignore warning signs in life and it costs us? I remember many years ago when I was in Bible school, I was going from Rock Island, Illinois to Denver, Colorado with a group of students to a General Convention. We had been traveling all day and into the night and now into the early morning hours, and it was my time to drive. I did real well until everyone in the car had gone to sleep. About 4:00 a.m. I began to fight sleep and then about 5:00 we came upon some road construction and there was a big sign that gave me a warning. But because of my sleepiness, my mind didn't catch on fast enough. I ran through a barricade and hit something steel that was being used on the construction site, blew out two tires and came to a very sudden stop. Can you believe it? Everyone in the car was now awake and so was I! Well, because I didn't pay attention to the signs, we were delayed about two hours and it cost the school two new wheels and tires.

In our every day routine we see signs that become so common to us that we fail to heed them and many times we find ourselves in trouble.

Well, let me get to the main point that I am trying to make.

The Bible is full of signs of the last days. Signs that we all have heard all our lives and they have become so common place to us that many times we ignore them. The Holy Spirit in us gives us warning, but because we are so busy, many times we don't heed them.

Quoting from I Thessalonians 5 as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message. "I don't think, friends, that I need to deal with the questions of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master's coming can't be posted on our calendars. He won't call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody's walking around complacently, congratulating each other--'We've sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!'--suddenly everything will fall apart. It's going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.

"But friends, you're not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You're sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let's not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let's keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we're creatures of Day, let's act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation."

Pay attention to the signs!

Creator of Light

It was just before day break when I left the house with the school bus. My attention was caught by a big full moon that was in the western sky. I got to thinking about how my Father made that moon by just saying the words. Well, I was watching the moon set as daylight was approaching and thinking about what a great God we have that can say the words, "Let there be" and "It was so" and be able to see this great sight.

By now I am down the road a few miles and the moon was fast getting dimmer when all of a sudden, as if the Lord was trying to say to me, "You think this is great... look at this!" There in the east God showed me His might sun. I mean a big ball of fire. Wow! The sky was red. The sun had come up over the hills. What a sight!

In the glowing ball of the giant sun alone there is room for over one and a quarter million such earths as we live on. The sun is some 93 million miles from earth.

I am reminded of a song that a friend of the past wrote:

Have you ever watched the sunrise at daybreak?
Or watched the moon sail across the starlit dome?
Have you noticed white clouds against a blue sky?
Or seen the forest ablaze with color when autumn comes?

Then you know that Christ is not a disappointment,
but making worlds was only part of His great plan.
To save us from our sin and shame is the reason Jesus came.
And there's no disappointment in Him.

I'm glad I serve such a great God!

Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Things Talk to Me

Things talk to me. No, really they do. No, I haven't lost my mind yet.

For instance, I was in the bean patch the other day and I had picked one row and was about half-way down another one when I decided to give my back a little rest by stretching it. I thought I would walk down to the end of the garden and back to rest it. (I mean, my back was already threatening to take me to court for abuse.)

On the way back to the bucket, there was a nice plump bean on the very row that I had already picked and it said to me, "You missed me!"

My back said to me, "That one bean isn't worth you abusing me any more."

Well, the bean won out and I picked it.

Don't think I have gone over the edge. You have had things talk to you too. Yes, you have, too! Don't deny it.

I remember when I was a child, the balls always talked to me. It would say, "Either kick me, or throw me, or bounce me..." When is the last time you read a good book and you had to put it down to go do something else? All the time that book was calling out to you, "Come on back and finish me. Let that other stuff go. We are just getting to the good part. Please hurry!"

Have you ever read the story of Balaam's donkey in the book of Numbers, chapter 22 where the donkey talked to Balaam? Look at verse 28. "Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?'" Well, if the donkey talked to Balaam, then why can't things talk to us?

I think you see what I am talking about, don't you? Things do talk to us... Right? Sometimes there are so many things talking to us to do them that we don't know which one to do first. Most of the time we whatever is yelling the loudest.

There is a voice, way back in the background that is always talking to us, and it may not always be the loudest but it is the most important one. That's the voice of the Lord. It is so important, that we must not let the other voices cause us to miss His voice.

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." --Hebrews 2:1

Saturday, July 1, 2000

Lessons from the Scissortails

What is that Scissortail doing? If he's not careful he will get caught in my reel!

I was pulling a 12 foot reel mower on the main football field, and this crazy Scissortail bird kept darting down right behind the reel. As I watched it, I became aware that it was feeding on the bugs that the reel was flushing up as I mowed. Then I became aware that there was more than one. There were five or six that were taking advantage of what I was doing. (I wonder if I should get a tip for feeding them? Would 15% be about right? I mean, after all, I am doing a good job. No, thanks! I'll pass.)

As I watched and mowed, I began to wonder about the birds. I noticed their beauty and grace as they darted in and out. I noticed that the males were a brighter color than the female. Only God could make such beautiful creatures. No artist could match their color. Mankind has come a long way in building airplanes but I don't think that there is one that can do in the air what these little birds can do. I don't think the Blue Angels could put on a show like what these Scissortails were doing. They looked like jet bombers, darting in and out, scraping the ground, catching the little grasshoppers and moths in midair. They were fun to watch.

As I continued on, I thought of the scripture that says... well, let me read it. Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Now the point of this text is, "Are you not of more value than they?" Wow! God cares for us! You say, "Duh! That's not anything new." Well, if it's not anything new, why do we sometimes act like God isn't concerned with things in our lives? I mean, after all, the human race is only God's most treasured creation.

"Said the robin to the sparrow,
'I should really like to know,
why these anxious human beings
rush about and worry so.'

Said the sparrow to the robin,
'Friend, I think that it must be
that they have no Heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me.'"

Thursday, June 1, 2000

Lessons from a Black Lab

I had been sitting on the rock levy of the Arkansas River, praying and reading my Bible and watching the tug boats move some barges, when a pickup truck pulled up to the boat ramp with two men and two Black Labs in it. The two men and one of the dogs got out of the truck and began to walk down the ramp towards the river. The one dog that was still in the truck began to whine as the others moved away from the truck. I sat there thinking to myself... how mean can you get, to let one dog get out and then you tie the other one in the truck and make it stay there while it's friend, the other dog, was having all the fun.

I seemed to feel like the Lord was saying to me, "There is a lesson in this for you... Just watch." So I just sat there and watched the poor dog and wondered what lesson I could learn from all this. I wanted to go over to the truck and talk to the dog but thought better of it since I didn't know the men and they might think that I was doing something to their truck. So I just sat and watched.

Only a minute or two had passed. The men had not gotten to the river yet. Then a very amazing thing happened. One of the men turned and looked back at the truck and said to the dog that I thought was tied, "Do you want to come?" The dog gave a loud bark and began to jump around in the truck. I was thinking, "Well, it's about time, you jerk!" I waited on the man to go back to the truck to untie the dog so he could have some fun, too. But the man just said real loud, "Well, come on then!" Out of the truck came the dog and made a bee-line toward the man, and when he arrived he began to run around and around the man. The man was petting and loving the dog as well.

All the time I had thought bad thoughts about the man, but now I thought what a great guy he was. The dog had not been tired at all but was doing what his master told him to do.

What lesson did you get from this story? Well, here's what I got:
1. Training: from the master
2. Discipline: from the dog
3. Obedience: from the dog
4. Love: from the master and the dog

Monday, May 1, 2000

Open Eyes

Some years ago now, I had a very interesting thing happen on my bus that I thought you might enjoy. One of my high school girls finished school and got married. Her little brothers always kept me posted on how Spring was doing.

A year passed and at the start of the next school year the youngest boy got on the bus one morning very excited and said, "Mr. Ezell, guess what!"

I don't know why they always want you to guess. But I had to guess. Finally, I said, "Chris, I don't know what it could be."

"Spring had her baby!"

I said, "Chris, that's great!"

"But, Mr. Ezell, guess what else!"

I said, "Chris, you will have to tell me."

He said, "The baby has got it's eyes open already!"

I guess he thought the baby would be like his puppy. I don't know how I made it to school because I was laughing so much.

Isn't it amazing how long it takes for some of God's children to get their eyes open? I, like so many other pastors, preach week in and week out and we wonder why people don't open their eyes to His love and grace. I mean, I know Christian people who really love the Lord, who can't see God wants to help them with everything in their lives. Think on these things.

Saturday, April 1, 2000

A Little Child

We just closed revival here at Ozark View Chapel. We had a good spirit and good attendance all week.

The two Sundays before revival I was preaching on the need of revival and how to have a revival. I was using the scripture where Elijah was on the mountain and told the servant to go look toward the sky to see if there was a cloud. The servant came back six times and told him nothing was out there. On the seventh time he said there was a cloud about the size of a man's hand. Then the old prophet told the servant to go tell Ahab to get ready, for it was going to rain. Well, you know the story. I was telling the people to get ready because God was going to do something beginning Tuesday night. That if we had faith and obedience that God would send a great shower of blessing on the church and that it would begin Tuesday night. Go out and look for it!

Well, I told you about this message to tell you what a little boy that in was in the service, who also rides my bus, asked me later in the week. As he got on the bus he said (very excited), "Mr. Ezell, did anything happen Tuesday night? I forgot to look and I want to know what happened?" I wasn't sure what he was talking about, so I said, "Justin, what do you mean?" He said, "Well, you said last Sunday that we needed to look to the sky because something was going to happen Tuesday night!"

"And a little child shall lead them." God give me more faith!