Monday, December 14, 2015

The Messenger


About 2400 years ago, around 400BC, the Prophet Malachi spoke and wrote the Word of the Lord to the Children of God as recorded in the last book of the Old Testament. Four hundred years later those prophecies came to pass and have continued to unfold in a greater spiritual application and will yet one day be completely fulfilled. I believe you and I have an opportunity to take part in that fulfillment.

The name Malachi, pronounced Maw-lah’-kee, means “My Messenger”. The root word, Malak, is found over 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. (111 times it is translated Angel; 98 times as messenger; 4 times Ambassador)

Malachi 3:1  "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts.

This season of the year we often read from the first books of the New Testament which contain a broad account of the occurrences surrounding the birth of Jesus. Among the first accounts in each of the Gospels is that of John the Baptist.

How apropos that the Old Testament leaves off with the prophecy of Malachi and the New Testament picks up 400 years later with the natural fulfillment of that prophecy. John the Baptist was the natural and physical embodiment of the messenger, (Malak), sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord by telling everyone to get ready because that Jesus is coming.

John was on a Mission with a Message from God.

The religious leaders of the day sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to the Judean Desert and asked John, “Who are you?”

John 1:23  He said: "I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD,"‘ as the prophet Isaiah said."

John was quoting a prophecy even older than that of Malachi. A prophecy recorded 750 years before John was born …

Isaiah 40:3  The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

In 1980 I was filled with the Holy Spirit and subsequently started a Church from a small Bible weekly study in my home town of Simms, Texas. Over the next two years our Church grew and meaningful lifelong relationships grew right along with the Church. We worked, worshipped, fellowshipped and recreated together. We were all learning the word and work of God together, raising our families and serving the Lord. I was discipling several men in the Church and wherever and whenever you saw one of us, you most likely saw a group of us … life was fun and productive.

Each year on the first day of October the men of our church enjoyed squirrel camp together. I realize not everyone here this morning can imagine themselves eating squirrels but that was my upbringing. If squirrels weren’t meant to be eaten then why does Texas have a squirrel hunting season? Whatever your tastes may be … I was raised eating squirrels and birds and deer and rabbits we hunted along with the frogs and fish we caught from the river. Lest I digress, let me get off the squirrels and back to the real story for this morning.

In 1984 squirrel season opened on a Monday at sunrise. This was not the best scenario because we had both a Sunday morning and a Sunday night Church service and there was no way any of us were going to miss Church to sit around a camp fire on the bank of Sulphur River. This meant we had to get our campsite all set up on Saturday, leave everything and travel back out that muddy, deep rutted river road for Church and then back after dark on Sunday night to get some sleep and be ready and in place at our favorite individual hunting spot before first light on Monday.

After Church on Sunday night, the 30th of September, I drove my big jacked up red Ford 4 wheel drive truck back down that muddy road and we all sat around the campfire telling stories and enjoying the outdoors. Along about 10:30 or a little after people started trailing off towards their tents and I decided it was time for me to turn in as well. I said goodnight and was headed to my tent when all of the sudden I knew I heard the Lord speak to me but it wasn’t quite clear what I was supposed to do. I figured if the Lord needed anything from me that the Holy Spirit would make it plain if I just kept listening. I got into my tent and the Lord spoke again. This time it was unmistakable. God wanted me to witness to a lady in our community who was considered a little nutty and a recluse. This lady, named Margie, was fairly well known as the lady who walked along the roads in our community searching the ditches for coke bottles which she would collect and sell back to the store owned by one of the members of the Church.

Margie was a very poor woman in her early 50’s and could be heard talking to herself. She seemed harmless and the people in our Church were nice to her but most folks avoided Margie and were a little afraid of her. I didn’t know why but I was certain God wanted me to talk to Margie about her salvation at some point. I acknowledged that I had heard the Holy Spirit, I prayed for her and committed myself in prayer to visit her later that week.

Just as I laid my head down I heard in my mind and knew in my heart that God wanted me to talk to her now … that very night. Once it was plain that and I believed I knew what God wanted the question was settled. I got up, got dressed and crawled back out of my tent. A few guys were still milling around the camp and one asked me what I was doing. I told them that I had heard from God and that I had to go right then and talk to Margie about Jesus. They were as surprised as I was but not one of them imagined I should do anything else but obey the Lord.

One of the men, Bruce Aaron, a deacon in our Church, decided he wanted to go with me. Me and Bruce got in my truck and headed up that muddy road and out of those river bottoms. I was glad Bruce was with me since I wasn’t sure which house Margie lived in. I knew it was about 3 or 4 miles from the Church on FM 990 just off US Hwy 67 in the community of Bassett, Texas. There were only about 4 small shotgun houses in that first mile before the curve. It took us about 40 minutes to get there and it was just coming midnight when I pulled into her yard. Bruce and I had prayed and he stayed in the truck while I got out and stepped up on her little 4x4 porch and knocked on her door.

I heard some rumbling but had to knock a few times before she called out and asked who it was. I told her it was Pastor Ron from Word of Faith Church. I really wasn’t sure if she even knew my name but she asked what I wanted and I told her that God had laid her on my heart and that I wanted to talk to her about Jesus. I figured just coming right out and being straight forward was my best approach at this point.

Margie turned on the porch and opened the door to where there was about a 6 to 10 inch crack and put her face in the opening and just looked at me. I didn’t try to sound eloquent but just told her that God loved her and that He sent His son Jesus to save her from her sins. I went on to tell her that if she believed in Jesus and sincerely called on Him to come into her life and be her Lord that Jesus would forgive her sins and save her soul.

After I made as clear a presentation of the Gospel as I could in the most simple and honest way I knew how I asked Margie if she understood and she plainly said that she did. I ask her if she had any questions and she asked if we could pray right then so she could be saved. I led her in a simple prayer and by the time we said amen she was crying and she told me that she had never felt like that before. I assured her that she was born again and I told her that I wanted her to begin coming to Church where she could learn more about God. She said ok and Bruce and I drove all the way back to squirrel camp praying and praising and thanking God for the chance to be used by Him to bring Margie to salvation.

Bear in mind that these were the days of no cell phones or any way to communicate wirelessly and there were no wires anywhere close to our camp. We hunted Monday morning and evening and again Tuesday morning before deciding Tuesday afternoon to make a trip back out to civilization and pick up a few things. When I got to my house Brenda informed me that there had been an accident about 4 miles down the road on Hwy 67. That lady named Margie was walking down the side of the highway early Monday morning and had been hit by a car that swerved off the road while coming around a curve and it killed her.

When Brenda told me that sad news I wasn’t sad at all and after I shared with Brenda what had happened late the night before Margie died Brenda wasn’t sad anymore either. Margie had no family that we knew of and there was no one to even claim her body however there was someone there at the moment of the accident to claim her soul … it was Jesus, her Lord and Savior.

We never know what tomorrow might bring but we do know one thing for sure … one day we will all cross that Jordan River and if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He will be right there waiting to welcome us into His everlasting arms. Do you know Jesus? If not … you can meet Him this morning. If you do know Jesus, you have a message to share with others.

Like John the Baptist, you are a messenger with a message from God.

John the messenger may is gone from this earth but the message remains … Get ready, Jesus is coming and He will come suddenly!

2 Corinthians 5
20  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Pastor Richard Vaughan, my Pastor and our resident Evangelist, is going to come and invite you to the altar this morning before we pray.