Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Guest Blogger! "Standing in the Breach" West Virginia School of Preaching Graduation Ceremony

Last Friday night, the majority of our family attended the West Virginia School of Preaching graduation ceremony.  Our parents, Denver & Dorotha Haught, were honored for their many years of service in the church.  My brother Doug Haught, of Albana, GA, spoke these words and I thought I would share them on my blog.  He also had some personal comments on our father which I have left off.  

What an honor to have this heritage in the Lord, and also for us to be in attendance of this event.  

Standing in the Breach

Ezekiel 22.  The text falls into three sections dealing with the impurity of Jerusalem and the people of Judah. 

The first section (vv. 1-16) is an indictment of the city with her sins of bloodshed, idolatry, adultery, and oppression. It includes a judgment from God that exile and dispersion were inevitable. 

The second section (vv. 17-22) speaks of the refiner's furnace (or God's judgment) being used to purify the city.  As a fire burns the dross from the ore, so God's punishment would consume the wicked. 

The third section (vv. 23-31) reveals the evil doing of the whole population of Judah, including leaders, priests, princes, and prophets.  No righteous souls were found to spare the city.  The doom of Jerusalem was sealed. 

The repetition of words like "blood" and "bloodshed" is noticeable in this chapter.  Her judgment was obviously related to her being "the bloody city."  

What I want to focus on is that last section, and particularly verse 30.  "And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none."

Having looked at four classes of people in verse 29, God declared that he had examined everyone and yet found "no one" living righteously.  The ills of the society were being left unattended because no one was willing to build up the wall that had been broken down; none would stand in the breach and represent the people with righteousness. 

Judah had no champions to represent her to the Lord or try to dissuade the people from their wickedness. 
We need men and women today who will stand in the breach and dissuade the people from their wickedness.

1.  We must stand in the breach and declare right is right and wrong is wrong. 

Isaiah 5:20 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"  The evil of man will never end, but we must not become like the evil that is around us.  Romans 12: 21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." 

2. We need to fill the breach between "Thus says the Lord" and "Thus says man."   

Pride leads us to do a lot of things that we want to do.  In 2 Chronicles 26:1-15 Uzziah becomes a great king.  He did what was right in the sight of the Lord with all of his heart. And so God blessed him.  He made war against the Philistines and broke down the wall of Gath.  He even settled the people in the land of the Philistines.  He built towers and cut out many cisterns, he had large herds and had fertile lands full of  produce.   The army had 2,600 men of valor and 307, 500 under his command.  He built towers on the corners of Jerusalem that could shoot arrows and throw great stones.  However,  when he grew strong and his pride overwhelmed his desire to please God, he decided that he was going to make a sacrifice to God. The "thus says the Lord" no longer mattered to him, and he rushed into the temple to burn incense. 
81 priests rush in to stop Uzziah.  They were willing to stand in the breach and defy their king.  And because Uzziah would not relent God made him a leper.  And the king was separated with the lepers, and he died and was buried with the lepers.  We need to fill the breach between "thus says the Lord" and "thus says man."

3. We need to fill the breach between fear and courage.

Matthew 10:28-31 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  Do not be fearful.  I John "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." 
Do not be fearful.  We need to fill the breach between fear and courage.

4.  Stand in the breach as Jesus has stood in the breach for you. 

Job asks the question, "How can a man be righteous before God?"  Job 9:2
And Paul answers that question in Romans 5:1-5.  He says it's Jesus.  And that God's love has been poured into us.  So how can I not stand in the breach? 

My father has been standing in the breach for over 52 years.  But he has not stood alone, my mother has been by his side through this journey.  Which of us could live such a life without someone to stand with us? 
I still hear my father's voice when I preach.  His mannerisms have been passed down, his way of saying things.  I hope his care and concern have passed on.  While my father can no longer stand as he stood, others are there to take his place. I stand today in the breach.  I am a champion of the Lord.  There is no better life than this.  

When there was a need, dad stood in the breech.
When there was no one else to do what needed done, dad stood in the breech.
When no one else would say what needed said, dad stood in the breech.

The need is still there.  The evil one is still prowling.  Will you also stand in the breech?
Will you do what needs to be done?
Will you say what needs to be said?  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 7

This is the last post in a series on Christian joy.

I can have extraordinary joy as a Christian because Christians pray instead of worry.

It’s hard to have joy and worry in the same life.  It’s hard not to worry with all the trials we have in this life. 

Ph. 4:6-7 “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.” 

Can any of us get out our telephones and call the president of the United States?  Do you realize that we can pray to the God of heaven, the creator of the universe, the Father, we can pray through Jesus our mediator.  We don’t have to wait until nights or weekends when the rates are cheaper.  We have a direct line for our worries and concerns at any time, or anywhere.

When we say don’t worry about anything, it means we must be willing to turn everything over to God!  We have this ability through our adoption as His children.  I heard an interview with Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton.  He was talking about being in the hospital undergoing surgery for a brain tumor.  He said that one night a nurse came in and spoke with him about prayer and asked – what do you pray about.  Scott said that he thanked God for His goodness and blessings.  The nurse suggested to Scott that as our Father, God wants it all.  We want our children to come to us with problems and concerns, hurts and desires.  As our Father, God wants to hear those things from us.  We are His children.

A person who literally does not have a care in the world doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking care of responsibilities or are negligent, but is someone who is able to turn over all trials, burdens and temptations over to God –I Peter 5:7 “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”– that will be a joyful individual.

How wonderful that I have an avenue of communication with God, what joy that brings.

We can draw so much strength and encouragement for joy from the book of Philippians.  

Rejoice!  God has given us so many reasons for joy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 6

The next several posts will be focusing on joy from the book of Philippians. 

I can have extraordinary joy as a Christian because the Lord is near to help me with my problems. 

Philippians 4:5 – “The Lord is at hand.” 

Philippians 4:9 “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. 

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

What did Jesus say at the end of the great commission?  Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Jesus is with us everywhere!

We sing Anywhere with Jesus, I can safely go, anywhere He leads me in this world below – if we cling to Jesus and never let Him go, we can make it through any circumstance.  

Hebrews 13:5&6 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we may boldly say:  The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” 

Jesus knows our hurts and heartaches.  Psalm 56 was written when the Philistines had captured David in Gath.  Ps 56:8 “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”  Have you ever thought about God collecting your tears in a bottle?  Even those we’ve cried when no one knows of.  Rejoice!  The Lord is at hand!  He is nearby. 

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning, Ps. 30:5

If your joy is in the material possessions and all the goods of the world can that be taken from you?  Yes, in a second!  If your joy is in Christ, THAT is secure.  No one can steal our joy … because if the world can steal our joy, it was the world’s to take.  We don’t sing Blessed Assurance with our fingers crossed!  We can have confidence not because of our own goodness, but because of God’s promises. 

When we are scared, and surrounded by darkness and troubles.  Our Father is there to hold us in the hollow of His hand. 

Christians can rejoice because Jesus is nearby.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 5

The next several posts will be focusing on joy from the book of Philippians. 

Christians can have extraordinary joy by knowing that our name is written in the book of life. 

Philippians 4:3-4 “I urge you, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.  Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!”   

Rev. 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  What joy that will be to hear Jesus say our name in front of God!

In Luke 10:17 We have the 70 disciples who had gone out and come back, reporting to Jesus “Then the 70 returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.  And Jesus said to them (vs. 20) Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Sin robs us of joy, but salvation gives us joy.  Acts 8 – The eunuch, as he came up out of the waters of baptism,  went on his way rejoicing! 

Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” 

This song says it best:

No tears in heaven, no sorrows given.
All will be glory in that land;
There'll be no sadness, all will be gladness,
When we shall join that happy band.
Glory is waiting, waiting up yonder,
Where we shall spend an endless day;
There with our Savior, we'll be forever,
Where no more sorrow can dismay.
Some morning yonder, we'll cease to ponder
O'er things this life has brought to view;
All will be clearer, loved ones be dearer
In heav'n where all will be made new.
No tears in heaven fair
No tears, no tears up there,
Sorrow and pain will all have flown;
No tears in heaven fair
No tears, no tears up there;
No tears in heaven will be known.

How thankful we should be that we have the reason for rejoicing if our name is written in the book of life.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 4

The next several posts will be focusing on joy from the book of Philippians. 

Christians can have extraordinary joy by not dwelling on the past, but by looking forward to the future. 

Many times, Christians will focus on their past allowing those sins committed to hide the joy from their lives.  If you are a person who is prone to dwell on those mistakes of the past, if you can’t let that go even though God has forgiven you, you are going to miserable.  Faithful Christians have that assurance that God has forgiven us!  God offers us a brand new start, a clean beginning as a Christian.  The world doesn’t give us such an opportunity, the world consistently wants to remind us of all our mistakes and short comings, but a child of God has forgiveness and a God who will forget. 

Ph. 3:13  “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; (Paul knew he had not reached perfection) but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.” 

When we think of Paul, and his ability of having joy, looking back at his past would definitely be something that would keep joy from him.  What did Paul have to forget about?  A lot, actually.   What about Stephen?  Do you think Paul could remember standing there, with the clothes of others at his feet, while watching and consenting Stephen be stoned to death?  Do you think Paul ever had memories of the Christian families he had committed to prison just because they believed on some man called Jesus?  Acts 8:3 says “as for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”  Can you imagine the memories of the past Paul had?   However he chose to look forward instead of behind.  Paul says – I’m not perfect, but this one thing I do – forgetting and pressing forward.
We must remember that if we are willing to repent, then God is willing to forget.  Jesus said in Luke 9:62 “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  We can’t look back, with guilt, with regret, or with longing eyes, at our lives of sin. 

Your past is not your past if you are still allowing it to impact your present.

How wonderful that we can have joy by not dwelling on our past.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 3

The next several posts will be focusing on joy from the book of Philippians. 

Christians can have extraordinary joy because we aren’t overly concerned with self. 

Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” 

Selfish people are not joyful, it takes developing a servant heart to be joyful. 

The world says that joy is found in self-indulgence.  This idea assumes that sin doesn’t really exist.  If it feels good, do it!  Whatever feels right must be right, anything goes, just be happy!  This excuse is used to justify anything and everything. 

Paul mentions 4 personal examples of having a servant attitude in Philippians chapter 2. 

If we continue reading there in Philippians 2:5 we see “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Jesus was a servant – “who, being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”

As Christians, we are working by learning from God’s word how to bring our lives and our minds as close to and equal to the life and mind of Christ.  That is the goal for us in Bible study, sermons, etc.  We want to act like Jesus acted and do the things He did.  At every opportunity, Jesus sought to serve other people, despite the fact that He is the creator!  Jesus didn’t die on the cross because He was looking out for #1, but because he was looking out for the billions of people that weren’t even alive yet! In John 13 we read the account of washing the apostle’s feet.  Jesus was teaching the lesson of service and self-sacrifice.  The more Christ-like your actions become the more joy will show. 

Paul himself is an example in service.  2:2 – “fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”  Paul wanted the Philippian brethren to share that mind of service with him and with Christ.  Paul was concerned about the Philippians.  He said – if you want to make me joyful, be like minded, be of one accord, be of one love. 

In vs. 19 we read of Timothy.  “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state for I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the thing which are of Christ Jesus.  But you know his proven character.”  Paul wanted Timothy to go and report back to him about how Philippians were doing.  Timothy was a servant – his job was to minister to the needs of his brethren. 

Finally in vs. 25-29 Paul mentions yet another servant – Epaphroditus, his brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier who ministered to my need.  Epaphroditus wanted to go to Philippi because he was concerned for the brethren, he wanted to show that he wasn’t sick any longer and that they could be joyful.

Christians find joy in not being self-centered, but being servants.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 2

The next several posts will be focusing on joy from the book of Philippians.  

Christians can have extraordinary joy because of our fellow Christians. 

Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

I can have joy because of Christian fellowship.  The togetherness that should be a part of the Lord’s body brings great joy.  Sometimes we have a misunderstanding when we hear the word fellowship.  Fellowship does not just mean that once-a-month potluck after morning worship.  Normally, we are so busy setting up, eating and cleaning up that there isn’t much time for real fellowship! Fellowship means a joint participation, an association.  We all know people everywhere we go.  My family makes fun of me because I am on first name bases with Kevin & Jeff in the produce department, or Henry at the post office, who held my hand on 9-11.  I am acquainted with these people.  In our years in our community, I have associates in many places – the school systems, doctors’ offices, through my business but I am not related to them by blood like I am related to my fellow Christians.  I am related to Christians by blood, that blood of Jesus Christ.  You see, Christians are a family and Christians have fellowship because of that blood. 

Paul had joy just thinking about the Philippian brethren.  Christians should want to be together – it should not be a burden to be in each other’s company.  However, many assume that punching the time clock of church attendance satisfies all requirements and those who take that mindset, lose out on the joy that comes from Christian fellowship.
Fellowship can be found by doing a variety of activities together.  Working together brings joy – having a project, like this ladies day, causes us to spend more time with each other and helps us to draw closer towards each other.  It is a joy to see a project begin and grow and see positive results.  Fellowship should be happening in our homes also.  Brother Tom Holland said about fellowship “I want to get to know the people better that I will be spending eternity with!”  Shouldn’t that be the case?

Another area of seeing joy is the spiritual growth and fruitfulness in each other.  Perhaps it’s in your children or someone you taught in Bible class or in a private study.  Perhaps it’s in your spouse.  Seeing the change and growth in others causes great joy.   

We can also have that joy of Christian fellowship through prayers.  Prayer lists are not just to have your name up in front of a congregation for recognition.  We are to bear one another’s burdens, and the only way we know those burdens are to share them with each other.  Paul would pray for his fellow Christians with joy and he knew that the Philippian Christians were praying for his deliverance from prison!  This brought him great comfort and joy.  How wonderful to know that our fellow Christians are bringing our names and concerns in front of God on our behalf! 

Joy can be found in our fellow Christians.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Joy of Being a Christian - part 1

There are so many things in our lives that bring us joy. 

·      There is the joy of being a child and all the wonders that life holds
There is the joy of young love
There is the joy of a bride beginning a new chapter of life full of optimism and hope
There is the joy of a positive pregnancy test
There is the joy of holding a newborn baby, counting their toes and smelling their head
There is joy in watching our children grow and mature
There is the joy of seeing our children obey the gospel

·    We can have joy throughout every part of our lives!

·         The greatest joy we can ever know, is that joy of being a Christian!

Many of our hymns talk about joy, and there are numerous mentions of joy in the Bible.  Joy should be a major part in the Christian life.  Is it a part of yours?  If I were to ask you – do you want your life filled with joy?  I’m confident that you would say yes, and that is precisely what Jesus wanted for each of us. 

As we look into the pages of the Bible, we can see that joy is something that we should have.  Jesus said in John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”  Jesus wants us to have joy!  I John 1:4 “and these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  Having an abounding joy is desired for us.  Not just a thimble full, but overflowing! 

We also see this same joy in the apostle Paul as he writes “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4 – that while in prison, and enduring persecutions, he had the ability to rejoice.  We need to recognize that this Christian life is one that is meant to be lived with joy.  We have the greatest life in the world!

We may have heard the song “We are the only Bible, the careless world will read” and I believe that is true.  If we are to be showing the world Christ, and the life of a Christian, we need to be showing others joy.  Why if someone was miserable in sin would they ever leave it for a life of misery in Christ?  Not that I want all of us to be fake about the joy – life is not all rainbows, butterflies and unicorns – we need to understand the reasons we have for rejoicing, grow in the Lord and show others that joy. 

When we rejoice even through the sorrow, your coworkers notice it, your family notices it, your neighbors notice it and people are going to want that for themselves.
Christian joy is not a happiness that depends on our circumstances and our moods; joy doesn’t have to do with our emotions or station in life.  This joy is something that is constant; it doesn’t come and go.  One can have the same joy in terrible circumstance that they would have when all is well, the same attitude of being on the mountain top when they are in the valley.

Jesus didn’t say these words in John 15 lightly. He was facing a dark time when He instructed us to have His joy.  Consider that just a short while after this conversation with his disciples, is when Jesus was arrested and crucified, yet He instructed us to have this joy that would remain. 

Yes, there are bad things in our lives – the loss of a job, cancer, death, children leaving the church, so many bad things – and we are to rejoice?  Yes, we are to rejoice in spite of these circumstances.

Psalms 89:15-18 "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.  In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted.  For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted.  For our shield belongs to the LORD, and our king to the Holy One of Israel." 

Christians have many reasons for rejoicing!  When I think of joy, my mind immediately goes to the book of Philippians where joy is mentioned so many times.  The next few posts, I will be looking into the book of Philippians and examining 6 things that can bring a Christian joy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Do You Have Joy?

I am preparing for a ladies day talk on "The Joy of Being a Christian".  As I am doing my research, I am finding so many reasons why we should have joy, but in my day to day life, I am seeing few people who do have that joy!

How can I show that joy?  Let me offer just a few suggestions.  First of all, smile.  Smile at everyone you see - the neighbors, the grocery store clerks, your coworkers, but especially your fellow Christians.  Smile as you are walking into the church building, smile when you are singing, smile as you shake hands with your preacher and elders.  Better yet, give them a hug and a smile.  Second, guard your speech.  Don't dwell on the negatives of life, and there are many.  Most of us have heard "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" however, the majority of us don't follow through with that statement.  Finally, focus on others.  There is much joy in focusing on the lives of others instead of dwelling on self.  Selfish people are never content and are inable to show joy.  

This is by no means a comprehensive list of ways to show joy.  In fact, it is difficult to show joy unless you have joy in your life and the only way to have true joy in your life is by being in Christ.  

How do you show the joy that is in you?