Sunday, December 1, 2002

His Star

It does not seems like it's been a year since I told you about the bell ringer last Christmas but I guess it has.

I was wondering the other day what I could write about this year, then I saw a sign painter working on a bill board for the Baptist church in Alma. All I saw when I would drive by as I went from school to school with my work, was a big blob of paint of different colors that he was putting on the very large sign. Every time I went by, the sign changed until I could see that he was painting some camels. That’s all he had when it started raining and he pulled off.
The next day I didn’t take note of it because I had a funeral and my mind was on the responsibility of doing a message for a grieving family.

When I arrived the following day, the sign was completed. It turned out to be just a plain sign with camels and now the wise men painted on. But what caught my attention was the words that the painter put on the sign. The only words said:
“Wise men still seek Him.”
For the past few days I have been thinking about that statement and what it meant to me. Two nights ago I stepped out on the porch to get wood for the fire. The night was black, but the night sky was lit up like a Christmas tree. I took a minute to find the north star. Sure enough, there it was, like it has always been.

As I stood on the porch shivering, looking at the stars, I thought about the sign and thought to my self, “ Yes! Wise people still seek Him.”

The wise men had been traveling for months trying to find the Christ Child. They finally arrived, worshipped Him and gave Him their gifts.

Jesus says in John 8:12:
“I am the light of the world, He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
I remember when the star (light) first shined for me as a youth. I have been trying to follow His star for over fifty years. I am still following His Star!

I followed Him to the manger, and I followed Him to the cross, I followed Him to the tomb, and praise be to His mercy and by His grace, I will follow Him to heaven.

I don’t know where His star will lead me to on this earth but I know where He will lead me in the hereafter. Following His star, one can’t go wrong, so keep following no matter where he leads...

Merry Christmas and a very good new year!

Friday, November 1, 2002

Be Who You Is!

A few weeks ago I ran across a statement in my reading that caught my attention. It read like this:
“Be who you is, because if you is who you ain’t, you ain’t who you is.”
I don’t have any idea who said it but I think they must have had some good theology behind them.

In Psalms 139:14 the Word says,
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The Lord created us to be in His image (Genesis 1:26) but something has happened to us, and it's called sin. Sin has distorted us to the point that we can’t “be who we is” because it makes us “who we ain’t.”
Romans 7:15-17: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
Paul is telling us that we can’t “be who we is” because sin has made us “who we ain’t.” I am glad God didn’t leave us in that condition but provided for us a better way.
Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
I think at this stage in a person's life they could rewrite the homespun theology to say, “Be who you is in the Lord.” In other words, be who God intended you to be in first place.

A few years ago, everywhere we went, we saw signs that said, “Be like Mike!” (a big basketball star). I think we need to be like Christ Jesus.

Some time ago I walked into our bank and had forgotten my bank card with all the numbers that they needed. The lady said to me, “That’s okay. I will just put your name in the computer. So she typed, “Darrell Ezell.” Up popped my name, or what seemed to be my name. She said “Mr. Ezell, do you live in Comdon, Arkansas?” I looked at her and said, “I don’t think so.” She looked at me real funny for a second, and then ask for my middle name. Then she said, “Oh! You live in Mulberry?” I told her I did, but then I asked her if there was a Darrell Ezell that lived in Comdon. She said yes, there was. We both thought that was strange.

I wondered if I was me, or was I the other one? If I was the other one, I wondered what nationailty I was... if I had a wife and family... I walked out of the bank thoroughly confused. I guessed I was me, because I knew I lived in Mulberry. Or did I?

Laying all fun aside, I do know that my Heavenly Father created me and that He created me for His purpose. I want to be who I am in the Lord. To do my best to please Him in every way. To love Him like He loves me. I want to be “what I is” in the Lord.

I read from “The Message,” Psalm 139: 13-16:
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body: You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, How I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”
Again be who you is in the Lord!

Saturday, June 1, 2002

Without Him

These past days a scripture has been running through my head. So I did a little word study that you might be interested in.
John 15:5. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
This scripture kept going through my head and I wondered what lesson the Lord was trying to teach me or what sermon I needed to develop around it.

While I was wondering about this scripture, Pallie Sue and I were transplanting some flowers that we had gotten from Carlton's house. I was using a shovel digging the holes as Pallie Sue would point out the spot where she wanted it. I looked at the shovel and said, “Dig!” Do you know that it just stayed right I had put it?

This last week at the school, we were knocking down block and brick walls for remodeling purposes. There were several sledge hammers and shovels we were using. I gave the same command to them and they to just set there. The lesson I was getting was the same in both places. Without a human these tools were useless. They were not designed to work by themselves! Even computers will not work without input from mankind.

Neither are we designed to work by ourselves! Jesus Himself said He couldn’t work without the Father.
John 5:19. “Most assuredly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
Let's read verse 30:
“I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent me.”
If Jesus couldn’t do anything without the Father, how can we ever hope to accomplish anything without Him?

It wasn’t until I took those tools into my hands that they were able to accomplish something. Just so, until we are willing to place ourselves into the hands of the Master we can't do anything.

Acts 17:28 says,
“For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
It’s when we place ourselves into His hand and into His will that we can be of any use to Him. “Without Him we can do nothing.” Let’s not take a lifetime to learn this.

There is a song that Mylon Lefevre wrote that says it all, I think:
Without him I could do nothing
and without him I’d surely fail.
Without him I would be drifting
like a ship without a sail.

Wednesday, May 1, 2002

The White Rock

This afternoon Shadow and I took a walk down the road to the creek. I wanted to see how the creek had changed since the seven inch rain we had about a week ago. Well, there is a good load of grave way up in the pasture that could be used for something I am sure. The water had raisen to the fence line about 50 or 60 feet from the creek bed. Lots of debris has gathered on the fence. As I was walking I noticed lots of small rocks of all kinds that would be pretty in a fish tank. There were all colors that you might see in a fish tank, there on the bank of the creek.

Shadow and I were having fun. He was wading in the creek and I was looking at the pretty rocks. I got to thinking about how the rocks got there. Then it came to me. They were brought there by a storm. Among the pebbles was a small white one that I brought home. It has dirt on it, but I can tell that when I get through with it, it will be white. I will then put it with my car collection.

How did the little white stone get where it was? Where did it come from? How hard was the trip, from where it came from, to where I found it? As it was being moved by the swift stream of water, how many times did it hit some other stone? Well, I will never know, but it must have been a hard trip.

In the book of Revelation, it talks about overcoming in life and the rewards that are to come. Look at chapter 2. John is writing about the church in Pergamos. Here is the precious promise that God gave. "To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat." But next He says. " And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no knows except him who receives it."

Adam Clarke says about this stone, "It is supposed that by the white stone is meant "Pardon" or "Acquittance", and the evidence of it; and that there is an allusion here to the custom observed by judges in ancient times, who were accustomed to give their suffrages by white and black pebbles; those who gave the former were for absolving the culprit, those who gave the latter were for his condemnation."

Another way he looked at it was, "Others suppose there is an allusion here to conquerors in the public games, who were not only conducted with great pomp into the city to which they belonged, but had a white stone given to them, with their name inscribed on it. which badge entitled them, during their whole life, to be maintained at the public expense."

Do you feel like you are tumbling down life's path way being moved by the storms of life? You are wondering whither the beating you are taking will be worth it? Do you feel like giving up and quitting? Well, just keep on keeping on and you will receive a reward. A white stone with your name on it telling you that you are free from condemnation and that will give you rights to the city of God.

Well, let me go wash my white rock...

Monday, April 1, 2002

The Mission Field

I tell people everywhere I go that I serve on a mission field. Last night as Pallie Sue and I attended a community meeting to elect a community developmental board to have the authority to get public water and a fire station out here. We sat there two and half hour listening to the biggest argument you ever heard. It was so very poorly organized that it was almost funny. There were fifty people there and it was kind of like listening to children fussing. Some of the old people thought that we wanted to take over their jobs as caretaker of the old building. Others thought that the ones who had called the meeting together was trying to railroad things like they wanted it. Nearly the whole time they set there fussing at one another. Yes, a board was finally elected, but boy what a mess.

This morning at five a.m., I got to thinking about all that had gone on the night before. I was thinking about all the people there, and then it hit me that very few of those people knew the Lord! Very few of them ever went to church! That I was right about being on a mission field! Brother Easley and I have been preaching to this community for over thirty years. We have had very little impact on these people. The church has grown some, but we are seeing very few converts. This really bothers me.

Why aren't people wanting to seek the Lord? Why isn't there conviction like there used to be? Why doesn't the Spirit of God move like He did when I was a child? Is it a lack of vision? For the scripture says, "Where there is no vision the people perish." Are we in the great falling away time? Is the Spirit of God moving away from enlightening people? All these question have a "yes" answer.

The scripture also says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!" The Lord is helping me see a new vision of prayer for this mission field.

God has given us some good people over the years and they are very important to the work. But these are only a few compared to the population of the community. Most of the people out here will help others when there is a death, or a fire, or sickness, or whatever. They have more fund raisers than any place I know, but don't ask them to attend church, or to seek the Lord. I have come to the conclusion that these people are self-righteous people serving the god of good works, hoping that he will get them to heaven. They seem to have the idea that if they have their pie suppers and garage sales and their chili suppers, that it will go toward their salvation. Yes, these are good people but very few know God.

Having made little impact on this community I ask myself the question, have I failed them in some way or the other? How can I make them see their need of God when they won't come to church? I believe that all we can do is keep preaching the word as straight as we can for those who come and then live a life before them all that is pleasing to God and do lots of praying for them.

As write this, the thought just hit me anew, this isn't the only place that the Spirit isn't moving. I talk to other pastors and they have the same problem. It seems like the Spirit of God is moving on foreign fields more then here because this nation has rejected the light of the gospel so long. I believe we need a revival that will move people in these last days. I am asking for your help! Would you please pray that God would move here like we have never seen before? That God would give the people a desire to come to the services? But above all would you please pray for converts? Please help us pray for this mission field!

Tuesday, March 5, 2002

37 Years of Blessings

My wife and I have just celebrated our wedding anniversary. It’s been 37 years and we are still in love. That’s quite a feat in these days. God has brought us through all kinds of things together. Pallie Sue and I would do it all over again. Only we want to know all that we know now, please. Thank you.

God has blessed us through the years. When we needed Him most, He was always there for us. When the pantry was bare, He filled it. When the gas was empty, He always filled the tank. When the fever was raging He cooled it. When the clothes were worn He always gave more. We did without things we wanted many times, but never what we needed. We can say, ever need His hand has supplied! For 37 years God has been right with us. Oh! Sometimes we had to be tested, but he always brought us through.

Let me share one story with you, about how God has help. You will know that there were many.

We were pastoring a home mission church in Oakdale, Louisiana. (Seems to me, most of the churches have been home missions). Karla was a toddler and we were expecting the twins. I could not find work and we were out of food. We didn’t want to beg and we didn’t know what to do.

Pallie Sue had fixed the last food in the house. A can of pumpkin, some rice, and a pitcher of KoolAid. I remember this as if it were yesterday. For the only time that I ever knew, we knelt down beside the table to ask the blessing. I remember praying. "Well, Lord you said that you would take care of us and here we are! I can’ t find work and this is all the food we have. We are trusting in your help."

I can’t remember all that I was telling the Lord while kneeling there that day, but I do know that God came through before I stopped praying. While still on our knees, a knock came on the front door. I know, you have read stories like this before, but this happened to us! I went to the door and there stood a woman and her grown son. She had attended the services at the mission. She ask me if I could marry people. I said, "Yes. Why?" She said that her son wanted to get married. I thought that she meant he was planning his wedding, and would a set date to get married. The son then left. I asked her when the wedding would be, and she said her son had gone to get the bride and would be right back. Then it came to us that she meant now, in our house! Well, I went to change clothes, and the lady thought she would be nice and help Pallie Sue clean up the dinner table. She raked out the pumpkin and poured the KoolAid down the drain. Our last meal was gone. Now we were living on faith.

After the wedding the man asked how much he owed for the service. I told him I didn’t charge for weddings. He handed me $10 anyway. Back then, that was enough for a week's supply of groceries. The bride, broom and mother left. We picked up Karla and went to the grocery store.

That was a promise that God would always supply our needs and He always has.

Saturday, March 2, 2002

Never Alone

Birds, birds, birds everywhere! All around my bus, in the fields, in the sky, all around are black birds. I see them every day. I have wondered how many there are of them. I know there must be thousands. They are feeding on last year's grass seeds I guess.

Yesterday as I came to this certain place on the bus route, they were there again. When they hear the sound of the bus they take to the sky. Yesterday was a little different. Right in the middle of the road there was one little black bird. I approached Him with the bus and he never moved. I passed on one side of him and looked back in the mirror. He was still sitting right where he was. I began to wonder if he might be sick, or if maybe he was hurt? Well, there is no way I can ever know, but I do know he had been left alone with his problem.

There was no way I could take time to see about him, I had a bus to run. The other birds didn't seem to take note of him. I guess they were to busy with their own problems.

I began to relate his plight to life. Have you ever felt alone? Others seem to be doing great, and things are going good for them, but here you are in the midst of others and you feel alone and hurt and there seems to be no one that cares. Or it seems there isn't.

Did you know that sometimes God lets us be alone ? He lets us go through things that are not fun! He lets us see what it would be like without Him! Alone with our problems! Sometimes we try talking to others but they can't understand what we are going through. Then we come to the conclusion that we are left alone for a while.

But we are never alone! God is always there! The clouds will pass away and the sun will shine again. Early this week I took a bus to Fort Smith. Just before I got to where I was going a black cloud came up and I could hardly see to drive. The next day the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. What different a day makes.

God and time has a way of healing all things. Well, like the bird on the road, through it all, we are never alone.

C. Albert Tindley wrote:
"If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,
And you have to get along with meager fare,
Just remember in His word, how He feeds the little bird;
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out."

I continued down the road and made a turn around, as I came back down the same road, I began looking for the little black bird, but he was gone. I don't know If he was only resting and then flew off or what, but I didn't see any signs of him again. (Maybe the Lord took him! Well, He could have you know!)

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them." Matthew 6:26

Do you feel hurt and alone ? Just remember God does care, and He will come to your aid!

Friday, February 1, 2002

Are You Listening?

A few days ago I was awakened at 2:30 a.m. by the sound of my dog barking. I lay there trying to go back to sleep, but because of his insistent barking I was unable to. You would think that he would know what time it was and that it was the wrong time of the day to be making noise! I lay there for while and I got to wondering what he was barking at. Could it be a bear or some other animal? There have been some sightings of a bear around. So I got out of the bed, got dressed and made my way down the stairs and out the door. Here I was at 2:45 a.m. out in the yard just to see why my dog was barking.

No gun or any other thing in my hands to fight a bear with, had there been a bear. Smart, right?

Well, I called Shadow to me and got onto him for waking me up. About that time I heard way off in the distant another dog barking. Shadow's ears went up and he wanted to respond but I stopped him. I put him in the basement and then back in the house.

Now I was wide awake and knew that I would have a hard time going back to sleep. Not wanting to disturb Pallie Sue, I sat down in the recliner and thought I would pray for a while. I got to thinking (I know, that’s dangerous but I did it anyhow...) about listening and hearing. Pallie Sue sometimes would be talking to me, and after she talks for a while she would say,"Are you listening to me?" She knows I am not deaf and that I can hear her, but I was not listening to her.

Webster says "to hear is to perceive by ear." He says to listen "is to make effort to hear something."

Mark Twain said: " If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two mouths and one ear." Boy! That’s something to think about, right?

So here I was at 3:00 a.m. and the Lord was teaching me a lesson about hearing and listening. He seemed to say to me, "There is a lesson in this for you." So I waited while the Lord was talking to me.

Here are some of the things He seemed to say: "Darrell, I know you hear Me but you don’t always listen when I talk. You could get many more blessings from Me if you would listen to Me more. You could keep from so many messes if you would listen to Me more. I may not always tell you what you want to hear but I will always answer you."

I sat there for awhile thinking about all of this and He seemed to say to me, "Are you listening?"

I said, "Yes, Lord." So He said, "Then get up and go to bed!" I did, and slept like a baby.

I plan to listen more how about you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2002

A New Beginning

Well, here it is 2002, and I am still trying to find out what to do in 2001! Where has the year gone?

The other day I was in my upstairs bedroom and was watching the birds in the trees. I could not help but notice that the tree had gone into winter hibernation. There were very few leaves and what leaves were left were dead. Well, it’s winter time and that’s what it’s supposed to do. Come spring the leaves will turn green again. In the book of Genesis chapter 8, verse 22: " While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and summer, and day and night shall not cease." The earth always has a new beginning.

In this book of the Bible, God made a covenant with mankind on the outset of their new beginning. Chapter 9: 12-17: "And God said: ‘This is a sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."

Mankind had just seen clouds with a little rain in them. (Enough to cover the whole earth!) Now God was making a promise to mankind that they would never exprience a flood of the earth again.

Here are few things that I see in this promise:
1. God never said that there would never be clouds in our lives. The fact is, He said, "when I bring a cloud over the earth." So, we will always have clouds. We will always have hard times.
2. The rainbow will be seen in the clouds. There is always something to look up for.
3. God said that when He sees the rainbow in the cloud that He would remember us.

In the year 2002 when we are going through storms and the clouds darken our lives, remember that God is looking on and He will keep his promises.

We may not always be in a line to view the rainbow, but God is, and He said, "I will remember you."

So my prayer for each one of you is that God will be with you every day of this year. Put your trust in Him for He knows all there is to know about this year.