THE INSPIRED WORD

By

Shelby G. Floyd

Image result for The Inspired Word 2 Tim. 3:16-17

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17 NKJV).

All Holy Scripture is Inspired of God

All Holy Scripture is the product of the inspiration of God. God has breathed into the scripture infallibility. The Holy Spirit exercised divine power over the minds of the authors of the Holy Scriptures, even in the words which they used, preserving them from any error (1 Corinthians 2: 10-13). This being true, it is expected that any statement upon whatever subject the Bible might touch, would be true. The Bible is not a textbook upon science; it is rather a textbook on redemption from sin. However, when the Bible alludes to natural science, it is expected that the authors spoke the truth.

Scientific Facts That Were Known Only by Inspiration

It is the purpose of this article to point out some statements which could not possibly have been known at the time they were spoken, except that the authors were guided by divine inspiration. In the days of the Old Testament the wisest men of the most enlightened nations were ignorant of the origin of the earth and the laws which govern its movements. They were filled with superstition regarding the natural world.

The Circle of the Earth

God’s spokesmen during that age often made statements touching upon the natural world which today are proved to be true by the scientific method. For instance, in ancient times men believed that the earth was flat, and that it rested on the back of a giant elephant or turtle; but the Old Testament writers did not teach such fanciful theories and false superstitions. The prophet Isaiah said,

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,See the source image
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
(Isaiah 40:22).

Even as late as the time of Columbus, most of the people still believed that the earth was flat. Today, it has been proved that the earth is round for astronauts have traveled to the moon, and have looked back upon “the circle of the earth.” Isaiah did not have the methods of modern science, neither was he able to travel to the moon and look back upon the earth. How did he know that the earth is a circle? He was guided by divine inspiration. The same word in the Old Testament that is used to describe the roundness of the earth is also applied to the heavens and the oceans.

The Spherical Shape of the Universe

In describing the spherical shape of the heavens, we read in the book of Job,

Thick clouds cover Him, so that He cannot see,Image result for Job 37 22
And He walks above the circle of heaven.’
(Job 22: 14).

Then in describing the circular shape of the ocean, Solomon the wise man said,

“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth” (Proverbs 8:27).

In this passage the wisdom of God is personified and said to have been present at the creation of earth and heaven. Therefore, it is very plain that at a time when the rest of the world believed that the earth was flat, the prophets taught that it was round. The difference being that the teachers of Israel were guided by inspiration, whereas the teachers of the heathen nations were guided by their own unaided reason.

The Earth is Hanging on Nothing

See the source image

Not only did the writers of the Old Testament teach that the earth was round, but they also taught that the earth was suspended in space and hanging upon nothing. In the book of Job we have a wonderful statement regarding the suspension of the planet earth,

“He stretches out the north over empty space
And hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7 NASB).

Remember Job made this statement when the people around him were teaching that the earth rested upon the back of a giant elephant or turtle. How was Job preserved from making the mistake of the people around him? Job was guided by inspiration; he spoke as he was moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

During our day men have orbited the earth in satellites, and they have proved abundantly that the earth is hanging upon nothing, and that it is floating through space. Job did not have access to all the methods of modem science and yet he said that “God hangeth the earth upon nothing.” All the wonderful facts that science has discovered have been known by God from the very beginning: “Known to God from Eternity are all His Works” (Acts 15:18 NKJV).

Unrevealed Truth Must Be Searched Out by Man

Down through the ages God has revealed some facts relative to the natural world to those who wrote the Bible; but unless God revealed it, it has been the work of man to learn the truth regarding such matters. Solomon said, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2). Since Isaiah absolutely told the truth concerning the shape of the earth, and since he could not have made that statement unless he was inspired; it is obvious that any reasonable person must conclude that Isaiah also told the truth when he spoke concerning the virgin birth (Isaiah 7: l4), death (Isaiah 53) and resurrection of Christ (Isaiah 25:8; 26:19). Since Job absolutely told the truth concerning the suspension of the earth upon nothing, Job must also have been inspired when he said,

Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,See the source image
And at the last, He will take His stand on the *earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I will see God,
Whom I, on my part, shall behold for myself,
And whom my eyes will see, and not another.
My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27 NASB).

Since the Bible writers are absolutely accurate in their statements touching upon the natural world, it is reasonable to conclude that they are reliable when they speak upon the subject of salvation from sin. Let us have no doubts concerning the inspiration of the Bible. Every statement is a product of the divine breath of God.

*Job 19:25 earth, Hebrew aphar and means dry earth, dust, ashes, debris etc. This is not the same word used in Genesis 1:5 when God created the earth Hebrew ha-a-res.

Copyright © 2012 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

THE LOST BOOK

By

Shelby G. Floyd

 

Sunday School Lesson: Josiah – Rediscovering the Word - Sunday School  Lessons

 

We have a wonderful crowd today and we are glad that all of you came out to worship God. I hope that all of you have brought your Bible or have one from the seat in front of you. About 680 BC, Hezekiah became mortally sick. Isaiah the prophet said to him, “Thus says the Lord, set your house in order, you shall die and not live” (2 Kings 20:1). How would you like to get a message like that from Almighty God? Most people want to live as long as they possibly can to carry out their activities and their goals that they have in life. Hezekiah was no different from any of us. He wanted to live and not die. Therefore Hezekiah then prayed to the Lord and reminded him how he had served him with all his heart. At that point God sent Isaiah the prophet back to tell him that he would heal him and add 15 years to his life. He had a boil and he was given a cake of figs to recover from the boil (2 Kings 20:2-11). When I was a young boy I had a boil and my mom tried everything to clear it up, but nothing worked. Then she told me that I must go to the doctor and have it lanced. That scared me to death. It was not pleasant having that done, but once it was done it healed rather quickly. I have never had one sense and I do not want one in the future. I am sure Hezekiah felt the same way that I did.

God told Hezekiah that he would add 15 years to his life. And that meant that he would set the sundial back 10 places. Scientists have set their computers to go back and see if there was a long day at the time that Hezekiah lived. I do not think that they have been successful. But we believe the Bible that God did what he said he was going to do and Hezekiah lived 15 more years. But eventually like all of us, Hezekiah slept with his fathers and his son Manasseh became king (2 Kings 20:21). Manasseh and his son Amon, “did evil in the sight of the word and they died.” Manasseh repented at the last minute and did what he could to restore the true worship of God. But it was too little too late and did not make a lasting impact the people. His son Amon went right back into idolatry and was such a bad king that his own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in the palace and he only reigned as king for two years (2 Kings 21:24).

Continue reading “THE LOST BOOK”

THE MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE

By

Shelby G. Floyd

Jesus' Transfiguration: How the mountain-top experiences help us in the  valley

Good morning. It is good for all of us to meet together to worship Almighty God. I am glad that I can stand before you today and present the word of God. The topic that I have chosen to speak on today is, The Mountain Top Experience. How many of you have had a mountaintop experience? About the highest mountain I have ever been on is Mount Eagle that is located shortly after you come out of Chattanooga, Tennessee and are heading north. It is wonderful when you go over the top and head down into that beautiful valley in Tennessee.
But mountaintop experiences cannot last forever. Some of our members put on a lot of photos of mountaintops in Switzerland and other places. And I look at everyone, and it struck me one day, that in every one of those photos, the people live down in the valley. They do not live up on top of the mountain. That is the way of all mountaintop experiences. You experience it, and you enjoy it, but then you must come down in the valley where people live their daily lives.

Marriage

I was thinking also of some mountaintop experiences that all of us go through in our life. Do all of you remember the day that you were married? Do you remember how beautiful and how wonderful it was to start a new family or home? And perhaps you went on a honeymoon that will be a beautiful lifetime memory. But after it was all over, you had to go back to your job and go to work, and take care of your family, mow the yard and 100 other things that are involved in living our life every day.

Having a Baby

And what about having a baby come into that new family? That is a mountaintop experience. It is wonderful to remember back when each one of our children was born and became a part of our family. Remember how wonderful they were, how much we loved them, and how we could not wait to take their picture and present it to all the members of our extended family. But after the birth of the baby and everyone returns back to their home, there is a lot of work that must be done in taking care of that child. And all of that continues through grade school, middle school, high school and until they leave home to start out on their own. It is a great responsibility!

Day of Your Baptism

Then do you all remember the day that you became a Christian? Do you remember when you made the good confession that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God and were immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sin? Do you also remember when you rose from the waters of baptism to live a new life modeled after your Lord Jesus Christ? But then as we go forward, it is not easy to live the Christian life every day. There are temptations and sometimes we sin, and then we get back up, repent and go forward to overcome our shortcomings. The lesson for all of us is how wonderful it is to have a mountain top experience, but after it is all over, we have to come down into the Valley and go to work in all of our everyday activities.

Now I want to talk to you about the mountaintop experience that we really are going to focus upon during the rest of this lesson. It is found in Matthew seventeen, Mark nine, and Luke nine, and also in our text that was read in our hearing found in 2 Peter 1:15-19. In order to get an accurate picture of this mountaintop experience. We must look at every one of those passages in which the mountaintop experience is rehearsed. And I will say that right before they experienced this mountaintop experience, Jesus made an important statement:

And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1 NKJV).

In this statement Jesus said plainly that the kingdom of God would come in the lifetime of some of those who were standing there with him at that time. The kingdom of God has definitely come into existence in time past. Therefore, the preachers who are running around telling people that the kingdom of God is to come at any time are making false statements and their message should be rejected by all sensible people. And when you add what other inspired writers wrote like the statement in the book of Hebrews that says that they were receiving a kingdom, then we know the kingdom has come into existence!

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:28).

Therefore, we know that the kingdom was in existence at the time of the closing of the divine revelation from God to fallen mankind (Revelation 1:9).

Continue reading “THE MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE”

A MINISTRY OF LOVE

By

Shelby G. Floyd

See the source image

Good morning church. And we welcome all of you who have joined us for worship online. Today I am speaking on a love story and according to the Bible reading, in Genesis 29:20 at least twice it is said that Jacob loved Rachel. We would expect the Bible to have a love story because it deals with human beings and we know that love is a big part of our life. A marriage built on love will last a lifetime. A marriage without love will falter and fail.

THE HOME LIFE OF JACOB, ESAU, ISAAC, AND REBEKAH


Let us take a look at some of the qualities of Jacob’s love ministry to Rachel. I like the word ministry. I had a member of the church who told me that he did not like the word ministry. But that word is found quite a few times in the Bible and it means to serve. So, if somebody says I do not like that word ministry it means that they do not like to serve! Jacob ministered or served in order to gain Rachel as his wife. I begin this morning by saying that the home life of Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Rebekah were not perfect. There are no perfect parents. There are no perfect children. We are all flawed. We try to be the best parents we can be and we try to be the best children we can be, but children are not perfect. We fall short and we have to expect that and we have to deal with that. Now when it comes to grandparents and great-grandparents that is different! They are perfect!

But we notice in the life of Isaac and Rebecca that they were not perfect parents. Esau their first born was not a perfect young man. He sold his birthright for pot of soup and we look at other things about the family. We also find out that his mother and father were really grieved when he went and married Canaanite women because they were ungodly women. Rebekah said she brings me much grief. Young people, if you marry the wrong person you are probably going to bring grief to your parents. Rebekah wanted to make sure that Isaac did not marry a Canaanite wife. And we also remember that Jacob lied to his father and passed himself off as Esau and received his father’s blessing instead of Esau. Therefore, you can see that the family started off pretty bad. Isaac called Jacob after this and he charged him not to take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. They had enough of Esau and his Canaanite wife so he said you better not go out and do the same thing. Do not take a Canaanite woman for your wife.

Then he said what I want you to do Jacob is to go to PadanAram and later it is said he went toward Haran. Today that would be up in what we call southeastern Turkey. Jacob, I want you to go to Haran and find a wife among your mother’s family. Her brother Laban lives near Haran. I want you take that journey and find your wife there instead of these Canaanite women around here. Isaac then prayed to God that he would give Jacob the blessing of Abraham, and he sent him on his way. Jacob headed toward Haran to find a wife.

He stopped and spent the night at Bethel. He slept with a rock for a pillow. I guess we could call that the hard rock motel. He dreamed of a ladder that was from the earth all the way up into heaven, and the angels of God were going up and down that ladder and God spoke to him and God promised that he would give him the blessing of Abraham:

“And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 28:13-14),

I read that several years ago and I kept it on my mind about that ladder and then I was reading the Gospel according to John, and in the very last verse of the first chapter, Jesus is the ladder upon which the angels were ascending and descending:

And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter[a] you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51 NKJV).

After the dream Jacob awoke there at Bethel and the word Bethel means House of God. And Jacob made a vow if you ever make a vow to God. Be sure that you keep your word when you make a promise to God. God is not happy when we make promises and we do not keep them! Jacob made a vow that if God would be with him and take care of him, that he would give 1/10 of all that he received. You know we have to learn to give of our material assets just like we have to learn to do other things. And I think that if we learn to give at least a 10th of our income to the Lord we will find out that we will be blessed and we will never have to worry about anything when we do the best we can because God will take care of us. I believe that with all my heart and I have seen it in my own life. So, Jacob set the example here and said, God you be with me, bring me on my journey, let me fulfill my mission and I will give you a 10th of all that I possess.

JACOB’S MINISTRY OF LOVE FOR RACHEL


So that brings us to Jacob’s Ministry of Love for Rachel. Then Jacob went on toward Haran. As he approached the city, he noticed there was a field and there was a well in the field. I remember working on the farm at 46 Street and Millersville Road where I worked as a teenager. There was a well with one of those old-fashioned pumps and it was a wonderful blessing when you were hot and you could pump a dipper of fresh water! Jacob saw a big stone rolled against the mouth of the well and three flocks of sheep. He went over and talked to the shepherds. He said do you know a man by the name of Laban and is he well? They said we know him and he is well and by the way, there comes Rachel his daughter with some sheep. God is working in bringing Jacob the blessing of Abraham and Rachel just shows up right there at that well. Jacob goes over there and you know men like to show off. He goes and rolls that big stone away and waters the sheep for Rachel. He gave her a break and then the Bible says that he kissed her. So here we have an example of kissing and it was not even his first date. He kissed her soon as he saw her. We like a fellow like that. He knows who he wants and he goes after her and kissed her. Then Jacob spent about a month with Laban and rehearsed all the news of the two families. They were related. Laban was his uncle, his mother’s brother. I am sure they had a lot of news to catch up on and so he spent a month there.

Then the Bible tells us why Jacob labored seven years for Rachel:

Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance (Genesis 19:15-17 NKJV).

Jacob loved Rachel because she was very beautiful. Several years ago, at worship one Wednesday night, some teenage girls brought some of their friends to church and we had several little boys sitting close by. I became amused because those little boys could not look forward. They were constantly turning around and looking at those girls because they were pretty. So, I put that in my mind, that even from the time we are young we recognize the difference between pretty and not quite so pretty. They were fascinated with those teenage girls because they were pretty. But as the song goes, everything is beautiful in its own way. There is somebody for everybody even though there is a difference between beauty and not quite so beautiful. And the Bible says that Leah’s eyes were weak but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Therefore, even the Bible admits there is a difference in the way that people look. But there are people that are beautiful outwardly and very ugly on the inside. And so, the idea is if you are looking for a wife you want one that is beautiful like Rachel outwardly but also beautiful inwardly, with a beautiful spirit.

But anyway, Jacob loved Rachel and the Bible says that he served seven years to get Rachel but they seem like only a few days them because of his love that he had for her (Genesis 29:20). Therefore, Jacob served seven years for Rachel and so after the seven years were up, he said to Laban, we have a deal. I have served my seven years and now I want my wife. Back then the women wore head coverings like we see in some of those countries today. And about all you can see are their eyes and so Laban sends supposedly Rachel in to be his wife. But guess what? The next morning, he wakes up and it is not Rachel, it is Leah and so he went to Laban. What is this? I worked seven years for Rachel and when I woke up this morning it was Leah. Well, Laban always had a good answer. He said that up here in our country It is not customary to give the younger daughter until you give the older daughter away. And so you go ahead and finish your week with the Leah and I will give you Rachel. Therefore, after seven years he got Leah and Rachel. He got a double bargain. Laban was a schemer and deceiver.

I remember when I was in the second grade at the Bluff Avenue Elementary school and it was Valentines week. There was the prettiest little girl that I had my eyes on and we had a big bag of those Valentines cards and we would fill those out and give them to the girls. After recess when I got back there was a card with a note on my desk from this little girl. She told me how much she liked me. My heart started to pitter patter and I could not wait to answer that note and put it over on her desk. This went back and forth for three or four times and then finally I figured it out. She was not writing those notes, but some of those boys behind me. I learned a good lesson that things do not always turn out as they appear. And I learned that it is good to have a healthy skepticism until you have the full proof. But then as a young adult I met this girl here from Gallatin, Tennessee. We dated for three years, got married and celebrated 60 years of marriage this past December.

And Jacob was happy to get both of those girls, because he got Rachel the one, he wanted. He worked seven more years for Rachel and that makes 14 years altogether, and I think before he left there with all the goods that God gave him, he spent about 20 some years altogether. He was not lazy, he worked hard and God blessed him not only with a beautiful wife and we might say two wonderful wives because Leah and her handmaiden and Rachel and her handmaiden gave him 12 boys and one girl. These 12 sons became known as the children of Israel. God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. The Jewish people seem to know how to get sons.

BENEFITS OF THE MINISTRY OF LOVE


“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her” (Genesis 29:20).

Jacob served seven years to get Rachel but they seem like only a few days to him because of his love for her. That is a wonderful statement that we need to memorize and know of the many benefits that true love brings into our lives.

Love Shortens the Time
Jacobs experience says that love shortens the time, for he served seven years but it seemed like just like a few days because of love. He loved Rachel so much that it seemed only a short time. Seven long years was not short, but it seemed short because he had so much love for Rachel.

Abraham dwelt in tents for 100 years in the land of Palestine and the Bible says he did that because he looked for a city that God was going to create and he was looking for a better heavenly country that God had prepared for him and all his children, an eternal city and not a temporal homeland. Abraham served God 175 years and he did not get one foot of land in Canaan.

The journey from Egypt to the promised land was a long journey that took 40 years. It could have been a short journey, but because of sin, it ended up being 40 years and Joshua was with Moses for 40 years. But I am sure it did not seem like 40 years because Joshua was looking for a land that flowed with milk and honey. He loved God so much and he loved the promise that God made about the promised land. Love will definitely shorten the time.

Love Makes the Load Light
When you are serving because you love somebody, love makes the load light. Why is it that people will not leave the bedside of a mother or father, a companion or somebody that is critically ill? You know you are going to become tired and weary while caring for those with terminal illnesses. But why do people not give up and continue to serve? It is because we love those people and abiding love makes the load light.

Some of us have preached for 60 years and we have covered a lot of ground. I look back and ask, how did I carry that responsibility for so long? It is because I love what I am doing. I love God and I love the church and I love you people. If we love God and one another, then the time will be short and the load will not be so heavy. When we love God and one another it applies to marriage and family, but also to the church as a family.

Love Paves the Road We Travel
When we serve God and one another with love, then love paves the road we travel. The road we travel as all of you know is not paved with roses, nor with concrete. As an example, Paul went on his first evangelistic journey and it took about three years. Paul was stoned, yet the stones were not so hard to Paul because he loved God. Paul and Silas were in the Philippian jail, they had been beaten with many stripes and their hands and their feet were fastened in the stocks, but they loved God and at midnight they started singing psalms and hymns and they prayed to God. Paul was on a ship to Rome with a lot of other passengers and a hurricane blew up and they thought they were all going to perish. They started throwing things off of the ship to lighten the ship and finally they had a ship wreck at Malta. You know, Paul said, be of good cheer for I believe in God and not a single passenger lost their life. They landed on that island and they were treated well by the native people and they even started a fire for the people to warm up that were on that ship. Even death to Paul was an entrance to a better world. James says, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into manifold temptations” (James 1:2).

Love Helps to Bear the Burdens
Love helps to bear the burdens and we all have some burdens we must bear! John said, “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17). Jesus had to bear his own cross. Why? He carried his own cross because he loved us so much. And he loved us so much that He was crucified and shed his precious blood. Jesus did not have to bear the cross. He could have called for 12 legions of angels, but he did not do that. He bore the cross for each one of us. And the Bible says that we are to bear our own cross. And we know that the way of the cross leads home.

LET US ALL MAKE THE LOVE MINISTRY GROW


Because we love the Lord let all of us make the love ministry grow in our family relationships and our love ministry here at Heartland Church of Christ. We love one another according to the qualities mentioned in that beautiful song of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-8).

All family counselors and marriage counselors will agree that the things that I am presenting will work to make your love ministry grow in your marriage, family, and the church.

Communication
The first is communication. If married couples have problems and they stop talking to each other, then they have a big problem that must be solved. And good communication also applies in the church. Paul encourages good communication to the church at Ephesus:

“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—” (Ephesians 4:15 NKJV).

Paul, how do we make the love ministry grow in the church—we speak the truth in love. You can speak the truth, but if you do not speak in love it will not work. And the same thing is true with husband and wife. It is a skill that a lot of people are lacking. In any loving relationship when we talk to one another we must realize that we are all flawed. We all make mistakes because we are weak sinners. And good listeners are as hard-to-find as good speakers. When other people sense that you are not listening any longer, they will stop communicating. A loving relationship will be enhanced when each party makes suggestions to one another how they can deal with the situation.

Affection
We all can make the love ministry grow when we show affection to one another. Paul taught the Romans to show affection to one another: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). In the church we should be affectionate to one another and I think we do a good job here at Heartland. If you grew up in a family where your parents did not show you much affection to each other and to you, it will be very uncomfortable for you to show affection. But you can overcome that difficulty. Most marriage counselor will say a wife and husband should hug each other four times a day. And hugging can lift depression. It can breathe life into tired body. It can make you feel younger and vibrant. And in both the Old and New Testament God’s people are often said to embrace each other. We do a pretty good job here but were not recommending that until the Covid plague is over! But church worship is probably one of the safest places we can be present.

Forgiveness
Another way that we can make the love ministry grow in our family and in the church is by forgiveness. To the church at Ephesus Paul wrote,

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

God forgave us through the sacrifice of Christ and we must learn to forgive one another because we all fall short. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes, we all commit sin and we have to make allowance for that and learn to forgive one another and not just hold it in until it explodes.

Honesty
We have to learn to be honest with ourselves and others. Solomon in a very brief proverb graphically described how good it is to be honest:

Like a kiss on the lips is the one who gives an honest answer (Proverbs 24:26 NET).

One of the members in this congregation that I have observed always gives an honest answer and it seems to work very well with her relationships. We can all learn to be more honest in our relationships with one another. All of these principles will work to make our love ministry grow spiritually.

And now I remind all of us of God’s love ministry. God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8-9). Jesus was asked one time what the greatest commandment is:

Jesus answered, “Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NASB).

And Jesus said in John 14:15-16, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

And before Jesus left earth, he charged his disciples to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 The one who has believed and has been baptized will be saved; but the one who has not believed will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 NASB).

Jesus would not ask us to do something that he would not do himself. Jesus did not need to be baptized because he had no sins to be forgiven. Jesus came to John the Baptist and John was figuratively the Elijah who was to come into the world. John said why are you coming to me. I need to be baptized of you:

But Jesus, answering, said to him, “Allow it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *allowed Him. 16 After He was baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and settling on Him, 17 and behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:15-17 NASB).

God proclaimed Jesus to be his beloved Son after he was baptized, and God will also claim you as His child after you are baptized for (“in order to” SGF) the forgiveness of your sin.

If you are not a Christian today would be a wonderful time to come forward and confess the sweetest name that ever fell for mortal tongue and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sin. *

* Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved. I am indebted to G. K. Wallace, one of my teachers at Freed-Hardeman College for some of these thoughts.

Shelby G. Floyd delivered the essence of this sermon February 14, 2021 at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142.

CONTINUE TO WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION

By

Shelby G. Floyd

  These words were written to the church at Philippi by the apostle Paul:

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Our salvation from sin is both man’s work and God’s work. Man’s work is to appropriate the salvation offered by God to man through faith and obedience to the gospel. Notice that Paul exhorts them to “continue to work out your salvation…” This implies that they were working out their salvation when they believed and were baptized to be saved from their past sins (Mark 16:15-16). Now they are to continue to work out their salvation!

  To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is a work of man. But it is also the work of God. Some Jews asked Christ,

“What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29).

Just as faith in Jesus is the work of God, so also is repentance and baptism. However, these acts of obedience are a work that man does in receiving the gift of salvation. The Roman Christians were baptized into Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-3). They were promised the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). And three times their justification from sin is said to be the “free gift” (Romans 5:15-18).

  The Philippians had also believed and been baptized (Acts 16: 14-15, 30-34). Now in his letter to them, Paul commands them to continue to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). He then assigns the reason they are to do this:

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

When we do what God has told us to do (work), God is working in us through his word to bring about our salvation now and at the last day. That is the reason Paul said, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Make sure your work is “the work of God” and not just your “own work!”*

*Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

IN GOD WE TRUST

By


Shelby G. Floyd

            Last year on my birthday, my son Damon, Susan, and the boys gave me the book with the title, “In God We Still Trust.”  Now every morning when I get up around five o’clock, the first thing I do is put on my coffee, and then as I drink my coffee, I read the Bible.  I am reading Matthew out of the hardcopy and at the same time I am reading Mark on my Kindle, and I am also reading the Old Testament. 

            After that, I pick up this book, In God We Still Trust.  And I think this is one of the best birthday presents, because it lasts 365 days.  There is a one-page devotional every day of the year revealing how our forefathers built this country on faith in God and the providence of God.  And I make little notes because when Damon gave me this book, he said, “Dad there are a lot of sermons in this book!”  So I have made my notes, and this is the first sermon that I have preached based upon some of the notes that I have made throughout the past year.

            This is a good book for all of you to buy, whether it is for a birthday present or not.  In God We Still Trust, is a 365-day devotional by Richard G. Lee. Now, to any of you rebels from Alabama, I did not say it was by Robert E. Lee, I said, Richard G. Lee!

            I want us to get into the word right here at the beginning of this lesson. Paul and his companions on one of their evangelistic journeys were treated very shamefully and violently while they were in Asia.  Later on he writes a letter to the Corinthian church where he had spent about a year and a half. In this second letter to the Corinthians Paul declared, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many” (2 Corinthians 1: 8-11 NKJV). 

            Notice Paul said that they had learned not to trust in themselves but in God. We need to trust in God because he will help us, and we also can help each other by offering up prayers to Almighty God for his help.

The Country Song: In God We Still Trust

            We need to trust in God.  Many of us enjoy some country music.  The group known as Diamond Rio may have been inspired to write their song, In God We Still Trust, based on the book previously mentioned.  Listen to the words of the song:

You place your hand on His bible, and when you swear to tell the truth.
His name is on our greatest monuments and all our money too.
And when we pledge allegiance, there’s no doubt where we stand:
There’s no separation, we’re one nation under Him.

In God, we still trust here in America,
He’s the one we turn to every time the going gets tough.
He is the source of all our strength, the one who watches over us.
Here in America, in God, we still trust.

Now there are those among us,
Who wanna push Him out.
And erase his name from everything,
This country’s all about.
From the schoolhouse to the courthouse,
They’re silencing His word,
An’ now it’s time for all believers,
To make our voices heard.

In God, we still trust here in America,
He’s the one we turn to every time the goin’ gets tough.
He is the source of all our strength, the one who watches over us.
Here in America, in God, we still trust.

Continue reading “IN GOD WE TRUST”

THE DIVINE NATURE

The Bible teaches that there is just one God, but this one Godhead involves three distinct persons—identified as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mark 12:29).

Christ Is the Bodily Fullness of the Godhead

Paul declares that in Christ “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). That is why Jesus said to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus Christ existed eternally as “the Word,” but was historically made flesh and lived among the human family (John 1:1-4; 1:14).

In several scriptures the first person of the Godhead is even called “God the Father” (Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:2-3). Great is this mystery of godliness that has been revealed unto us (Colossians 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:16).

One God—Three Persons

All three persons are mentioned together in such a way as to indicate that they share the same nature—deity (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6). After the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove; the Father was in heaven and endorsed his Son as being well pleasing. This is a clear illustration of the three distinct persons who shared the divine nature.

There are several independent lines of proof that Jesus was the divine Son of God. (1) John the Baptist gave testimony to this fact (John 1:32-34; 5:32-35). (2) The works of benevolence that Jesus did testify to his deity (John 5:36; Matthew 11:4-6). (3) The miracles of Jesus prove who he claimed to be. (John 20:30-31; 1 John 5:7-8). We serve an awesome God!

Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

HUMBLE YOURSELVES

By

Shelby G. Floyd

See the source image

It is human nature to resist submitting to authority. And yet the Bible commands us to “humble yourselves.” In discussing the role of the elders of the church, Peter declared that they are to “shepherd the flock,” and to “take the oversight” of the congregation. In taking this responsibility, the bishops or elders are to superintend and direct the life of each local congregation:

1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but [a]willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away (NKJV).

Peter who had to learn humility himself, in his mature years of life declared to his readers that the younger must be subject to the elders of the church: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

In a democratic country like America, it is sometimes difficult for people to submit to authority. But the church or kingdom of God, is a monarchy with Christ the king ruling over his people. The king has delegated to the elders the authority to superintend the congregation: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17). Many of the problems in the local congregation result from the refusal to respect and submit to the shepherds of the flock.

However, the elders are also to “humble yourselves” and not act like dictatorial tyrants by “lording” over the charge allotted to them by the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:3).

The answer to pride and arrogance is to “clothe yourselves” with humility. The verb “clothe yourselves” is derived from a word that meant to tie a knot in an apron worn by slaves to distinguish them from freemen. We are at the same time the Lord’s freemen and his bondservants. We are to serve God and one another in the spirit of humility: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

As in all things Christ is our best example. He humbled himself and tied a knot in his apron and stooped down and washed the disciples feet when none of them would (John 13:10-17). But his greatest example is when he humbled himself on the cross for our salvation: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 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. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV).

If we will humble ourselves Christ will lift us up from the grave and exalt us to eternal glory in heaven.

Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

CHRIST LIVES IN ME

By

Shelby G. Floyd

The apostle Paul was arrested at Jerusalem and he was sent by the governing authorities on a dangerous sea voyage to Rome. The author of the Acts said, “When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself with a soldier to guard him” (Acts 28:16). What was going on during Paul’s two years of imprisonment in Rome?

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28: 30-31).

Paul wrote the book of Philippians from his prison. From a strict worldly viewpoint, being in prison for no crime seemed to be a bad thing. When Christ is our life, God can take a bad thing and make it a good thing, and can even make it a God thing. Paul had a positive spirit. Because of the prayers of the Philippians for him and the power of the Spirit of Christ that was within him, he believed “what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).

How did Paul expect that he would deal with the things that were happening to him? Paul confessed that he eagerly expected and hoped that he would not be ashamed of the gospel and of Christ. He intended to be bold and courageous in exalting and magnifying Christ whether it was by life or death (Philippians 1:20). Paul declared,

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

If Christ is not our life, we are not ready to die. Paul had already died to sin and now Christ was living in him. To the Galatians he said,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Let all who have been baptized into Christ rise to walk a new life of joy and focus on living for Christ.

Copyright © 2019 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

FATHERHOOD

By

Shelby G. Floyd

Today is the Lord’s Day. The Lord’s Day originated with God. He gave us this day, the first day of the week, to honor his Son Jesus Christ. He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have honored Him today by singing these wonderful songs of praise, hymns, and spiritual songs. We have honored Him by remembering the death, burial and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. We have honored Him through prayer, through our contribution to promote the work and now through our study and mediation of His word. Also, today is Father’s Day.

Father’s Day originated with man. About a month ago we had Mother’s Day and we honored our mothers. After mother’s day was setup, there was a lady who thought that since we honored our mothers, we also ought to honor the fathers. Fathers ought not to be left behind. They set up a day once a year to honor the fathers.

Even though Father’s Day is something originated by man, there is nothing wrong with it because the bible teaches that we ought to honor our fathers and mothers. In Ephesians 6:1-4: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” In that wonderful passage children are commanded to honor their father and their mother, and the fathers are commanded not to exasperate their children, but bring them up in the way that they should go so when they are old they will not depart and leave the right paths.

THE FATHER IMAGE

All of us have a changing and evolving image of our father. Sarah and I really enjoyed having Trent and Grant up here with Evan and Trevor for ten days. Sarah heard them talking and they were bragging about their fathers. My dad can do this and my dad can do that. Finally, Sarah heard Evan and Trevor say, “my dad beat some guys and he was running backwards.” Isn’t it wonderful when children are younger that they have this image of their father and that he can do anything. In the mind of the child, the image of the father kind of changes as the years goes by.

The Changing Image of the Father

At four years old—my dad can do anything;
Seven years old—my dad knows a lot—a whole lot;
Eight years old—my father does not quite know everything;
Twelve years old—oh well naturally father does not know that either;
Fourteen years old–oh father, he is so helplessly old-fashioned;
Twenty-one years—oh, that man he is so out-of-date;
Twenty-five years old—he knows a little bit about it, but not much;
Thirty years old—I am going to find out what Dad thinks about it;
Thirty-five years old—before we decide, we will get Dad’s idea first;
Fifty years old—what would Dad have thought about that;
Sixty years old—my Dad knew literally everything;
Sixty-five years old and upward—I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more.

My father died when he was 51 and I wish I had my Dad around to see all of my children and my grandchildren. I wish I had my dad around to talk with him about things. When I was about 16 or 17-years old, I decided I was going to build a gun cabinet. My dad was a carpenter, and he never gave me any training on how to be a carpenter or to build anything. I had watched him do things and I guess I had more of his spirit and learned more than I realized, so I decided I was going to build a gun cabinet. The 12-inch boards were not wide enough to make the base of the cabinet, and I had no clamps to glue two of them together. So I got out in the barn and laid down some boards and I put my two boards together and I had to figure out a way to clamp them together without clamps. So I nailed some pieces on each side of them and made some wedges, and I drove the wedges in there and I think my dad was impressed with my ingenuity, because I came up with that on my own. After I got the gun cabinet completed, I didn’t know how to make doors. I guess he felt sorry for me and he made the doors on the cabinet. I still have that cabinet today and would not take anything for it, because my Dad had a part in helping me make that. We love our fathers and we embody more of their spirit than we possibly can know.

GOD IS THE ARCHITECT OF FATHERHOOD

God is our Father. He is the perfect Father. The Bible says: “Be you perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Many times the word perfect does not mean sinless, it means complete or mature. God was sinless and He was complete and mature. He wants us to be complete and mature. We can not be sinless, because all of us make mistakes. God is the perfect Father. God is the architect of fatherhood. He is the original and if any of us want to be a good father we have got to go and study the fatherhood of God, because He is the perfect Father. Paul says to the Ephesians: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in Heaven and earth derive His name.” (Ephesians 3:14-15). God is the Father, he has always been the Father, and He will always be the Father. He is the perfect God and Father.

Psychologists and psychiatrists tell us that children have a concept of God as a Father mirrored by their view of their own father. So if a little child has a father who abuses the mother, berates and shows no love and affection to the mother, how is that child going to have a good image of love, marriage and sex. A child’s image of love, marriage and sex mirrors what he sees in his mother and father. If he does not see a good example there, he will grow up and think that is the way husbands and wives ought to treat each other. If a little child has a father that divorces, abuses his mother, drinks alcohol, leaves the family, then that is the image that the child is going to have of what a father ought to be. He will grow up and say that is what a father is supposed to be. He will duplicate the same idea in his fatherhood that he has seen in his family.

I had a good father. I will tell you, I never heard my father curse. If he mashed his finger with a hammer, he would say “sugar” instead of a bad word. That takes a lot of willpower. When we lived out on a farm my Dad’s family would come out on Sunday afternoon to visit us. We would sit around and visit and talk all afternoon. When it would come about 5:30 my dad would tell his own family, “Now it is time for us to go to church, we have an appointment with the Lord and we invite you to go with us, or, you are welcome to stay here, and when we get back we will visit some more.” My Dad would let them know that he was not going to stay and miss worship in order to continue his visit with his family. So they knew where my Dad stood, and they would usually leave at that time. So that is the kind of example I had in a father who would be faithful to the Lord.

My Dad’s father was not a good father. He drank all of the time, and he abused my grandmother. My Dad told me one time that his dad was drinking and he was abusing my Grandmother and she had about all of it she could stand, and she took a butcher knife and threw it right at him, and it stuck in the door right beside him. She almost nailed him. My Grandfather divorced my Grandmother and went off to California for 20-years and I didn’t even know I had a Grandfather except on my Mother’s side. When Sarah and I were going together, my Grandfather came back from California, they told me this is your Grandfather. He looked like a Floyd, he was handsome, good looking, but I didn’t know him from Adam. He was a total stranger to me. He did change his life in his final years. He started going to church, but he could not bring all of those years back when he was away from his children and grandchildren. I was asked to preach his funeral and I did so. I hope and pray that the Lord will have mercy upon him as He must have mercy upon all of us, because all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. The consequences of some sins are much greater than others. Being a bad father can sometimes bring about bad consequences. The point I want to make here is my dad broke the cycle. He had a bad father, but he didn’t have to be a bad father. Even though he didn’t have a good example in a father, my Dad became a good father, because he studied the fatherhood of God. He became a good father because he did not imitate his own father, but the perfect father—God the Father in heaven. The same thing can happen in reverse, sometimes children grow up and they have a good father and mother, they bring them to church and they bring them up in the way that they should go and when they become an adult they become a bad father. That shows us if it shows anything at all, that we all have free choice. We can have good examples and bad examples, but when it comes down to the final word it is how we chose to live our life and the kind of example we ought to set.

THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD VERSUS FATHER FAILURES

Whether you have had a good father or a bad father, this morning I want to show you the contrast of the fatherhood of God and father failures, the contrast between father failures and the wonderful fatherhood of God.

God as a good Father always listens to His children

A good father listens to his children. He takes time to let them talk. We have all gone through this when our children want to talk to us. We say well that is just child talk and it is not very important or doesn’t mean very much. To a child when they want to talk to their father and their mother what they have to say is just as important to them as it is when we want to talk to an adult. A good father when his children come up to talk, no matter how busy or how much is on his plate, he is going to say okay let’s set down and talk awhile. I will listen to you. Sometimes they just want you to sympathize with them if they are having a hard time. They don’t want you to give them all of the answers. “I can understand how you feel like that, I have felt like that sometimes.” John Kennedy was a good father in many ways. There were a lot of things about John Kennedy I did not admire and I do not admire now, but the one thing I remember about him even though he was the President of the United States we have pictures of him playing with his children, doing things with his children, and talking with them. He took time out of being the President of the United States to listen and talk to his children and to do things with his children. That is important. His children respected him because of that. So a good father always listens to his children and takes time to hear what they say. God is the perfect Father and that is why He listens to us and that is the reason we ought to pray at all times. “Pray without ceasing” the Bible says. He wants us to come to him and pour out our hearts petitions, our feelings, and emotions. He wants to hear from us. He wants to listen. In 1 Peter 3:12 Peter says: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Do the right thing and go to your heavenly Father and he will listen to you. He wants to hear from you in your prayers.

God is a loving and compassionate Father with his children

Good fathers are loving and compassionate with their children. One way that we can transfer the blessing to our children is to tell them how much we love them verbally. Put our arms around them and show them affection. This is the sign of approval and acceptance. Let them know that we have high expectations of them. When your children are growing up and you keep saying to them that “one day you are going to end up in jail” that is where they may end up. The father should say: “I have high expectations of you that you are going to grow up and be somebody, you are really going to turn out to be a fine person.” We like to hear those kinds of things and live up to the expectation that people have of us. Give your children love, affection and compassion and let them know that you have great expectations of them. God is that kind of a Father with us. In Isaiah 40:11: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isn’t it wonderful to serve that kind of a father who loves us, who takes care of us and who is so affectionate with us?

God as a good Father talks to his children

God talks to His children and good fathers talk to their children. Father failures do not talk to their children. They do not give their children much time. Therefore, the children never have any communication with them. A father that is good will sit down and talk to his children and let them know what the boundaries are in the family, what the rules are, and what he expects out of them and how he expects them to live and conduct themselves and what kind of children they ought to be. God is the same way with us. The Bible says: “In times past, God spoke unto the Fathers by the Prophets, but in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son.” God speaks to us and talks with His children through his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the center of all communication. God talks to us through Christ and through His blessed word. In Psalms 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” That is the reason God is a perfect Father. He talks, instructs, trains, and counsels His children.

God as a good Father disciplines his children

Father failures do not discipline their children. A good father will let his children know there are rules. Every time I got a whipping as a boy, I deserved it. I know some parents march their kids in and say I am going to give you a whipping today whether you deserve it or not. That is not the right way to treat children. Every time that I was disciplined, I needed it because I had done something that I should not have done, or I failed to do something I should have done. I respected my father. Boys especially need a father who will “haul them in.” Boys do not respect their mother as much as they do their father when it comes to discipline. I remember when I was a little boy and my Mom told me to do something and I said in my heart, “Old girl I am going to run and you are not going to catch me.” I started running around the house and I would look back every once in a while and I was running off and leaving her, and thought she is never going to catch me. She was smarter than I was. All of a sudden I ran into her arms and she gave me a good whipping. She changed directions on me. I did not try that with my Dad, because I knew my Dad would “haul me in.” The way that he disciplined me was that he would cut a keen switch and he whipped my legs real good. I learned how to do the Apache war dance. When I got older, I appreciated what my dad did, because he kept me from making a lot of mistakes that I would have made. I probably would have suffered a lot more had my Dad not disciplined me.

Good fathers will discipline their children, chastise them and punish them when they do wrong. But if we, as fathers, do not do that, let me tell you society will. When we get out into the world we are going to be disciplined one way or another. God disciplines his children because he is the perfect father. We read in Hebrews 12:5-6: “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” So I think a good question to ask when something is happening in our lives that may be negative, maybe we ought to say, could that be that the Lord is disciplining me so I will improve my life. It is a good question to ask. I only got a whipping when I did things that I shouldn’t. If we are being disciplined in some way we have to interpret that maybe the Lord is giving me some discipline because I need it. Let me look into my life and see what is going on. Basically, that is how you become a good father. You listen to your children, you love and show compassion to your children, you talk to your children and you discipline your children. That is the reason God is a good heavenly Father. He does all of those things and if we want to have a good fatherhood then He is the example we should follow.

RUDYARD KIPLING AND HIS SON JOHN

Generally, I do not like poetry. There are only a few poets that I really enjoy reading and quoting from. Rudyard Kipling is one of my favorite poets. He was born in 1856, in Bombay, India. He wrote children’s books and the Jungle Book is one of them. When he was about 6 or 7 years old his father and mother shipped him back to England along with his sister Trix, and put them in a boarding house. The lady at the boarding house abused him, berated him, and locked him up in a damp cellar for hours. Later on in his life, he said that he learned that he had to will himself to be joyful and happy in those dire circumstances. He also said that he lost all ability to hate people growing out of that experience. He never hated anybody, or despised anybody, even though he went through that terrible experience.

He grew up and wrote a lot of children books. Most artists and most authors do not get much encouragement when they first start painting pictures or writing literature. The critics talked about his works, they said they were no good, nobody would buy them, but he did not let that discourage him. He kept writing those children’s books and they became more and more popular.

Later on he married an American wife and had two daughters, Josephine and Elise. He prayed to God that he would give him a son and God gave him a son. He named him John. He and his American wife visited America in the late 1800’s. While in America, Rudyard Kipling and his oldest daughter Josephine came down with pneumonia. In a few days Rudyard was able to overcome the pneumonia and regain his health, but Josephine died. It broke his heart. He said, “I cannot even stand to hear her name mentioned, or look at her photos.” He went into a deep depression. Then finally one day he said: “I have got to pull myself out of this, for the sake of my other daughter and young son.” He decided I am going to devote myself to writing children books and to raising my two children that are left. He became a very popular author.

In the early 1900’s, he started going around Europe warning France and other countries along with England, that there was going to be a war with Germany, which was the First World War. They made fun of him just like people are making fun of our President today, because we are in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting radical terrorists. They said he was a warmonger, and he was an imperialist. He did not let those kinds of criticisms bother him. He kept warning them that there was going to be a war and sure enough the First World War broke out and England started calling up the young men to fight the German Army. His son John was 17-years old and had bad eyesight. He could not get in the regular English Army. He kept working and working and finally got John in as an officer in an Irish Regiment. Young John went off to fight the Germans. He loved his son John. He was a wonderful boy and he had great character. He was in sports. When he would lose in sports he would not whine or cry. When he would win he did not brag and be boastful. He was just an outstanding boy. He was the kind of boy anyone would want to have to raise up in their family. Since he was such an outstanding young man, Rudyard Kipling sat down one day and wrote a poem in honor of his son John, because he was such an outstanding young man. The poem is called,

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Most fathers would want that kind of a son! My mom used to say, “If” is a big word. Most of the things in life are conditional. You will turn out to be this if you do this or that. He was a good boy, but not long after he went off to war, Rudyard Kipling got notice that his son John had been killed in battle. No one knew what happened to the body of his son. He went to the regiment and asked everywhere. After many years of searching he found one solider that had seen his son killed in action. They never found his body and Rudyard Kipling came up with the phrase that is inscribed on the monument to the unknown solider, “His name is known eternally to none but God.” He spent the rest of his life trying to do things to help those families that had lost their sons in warfare and in battle.

Not long after he lost his son he got a box from France. In this box was a French copy of his novel called KIM. There was a bullet hole in this copy up to the last 20 pages. The French solider had received the highest medal of honor from France, and he sent the French translation to Rudyard Kipling. “I want you to have these, since I had your novel in my pocket, it saved my life. The bullet would have killed me if the novel had not been in my pocket.” Rudyard Kipling said, “That was the greatest honor he ever had.” He was a Nobel Prize winner and this meant more than any of the other honors, because through his writing he had saved the life of that French soldier and he received and accepted that. Then he got to wondering, I wish I could have saved the life of another young man, my son John. I am sure today that every parent who has lost a child in war is asking the same thing. Why did I have to give up my son? Why did I have to make that sacrifice? He asked that same question. Why could I have not saved the life of my son? I saved the life of the French solider, why could I not have saved my son? I only had one son John, why couldn’t I save his life? He wondered about that and years went by. He had kept in communication with this French soldier. The French soldier sent him a letter, and wanted to share some good news with him. “My wife is giving birth to a son and I want you to be his Godfather.” All of a sudden it hit Rudyard Kipling why he lost his son. He wrote back hurriedly and said: “Yes I will be the Godfather. Your son must be named after my son, John.” The French equivalent to John is Jean. It made him realize why he lost his son and why he had to give him up, my son died for the unborn. My son died, so the unborn sons and daughters can live a life of Freedom.

Fathers love your children because you never know when you are going to lose them. I had a wonderful Mom and she would baby-sit with children after my Dad died at 51. She was an amazing woman. She kept little children. She loved little children and they loved her. She had two little boys that she kept from the time they were little and they grew up to be fine young men. She loved those boys and even after my mom moved in with us, they would come over on her birthday, bring her presents and hug her and kiss her. They loved my Mom just like a Mother or a Grandmother. After my mom died, I am glad she did not live to hear about this. Young Greg Lee was 21-years old, an outstanding young man. He was a man of character. He was like Rudyard Kipling’s son. He worked two jobs and had already bought a house at 21-years old. He loved sports and was playing up here at the sports park. He was the pitcher. Today with these modern bats, you can hit the ball so hard. Somebody hit a line drive and it hit him right behind the neck and immediately he fell over and collapsed and he died a short time afterwards. Something like that is not supposed to happen. Very few people are killed in baseball. He died. Many people came to his funeral because of the man he was. I only mention that because he had a wonderful Dad, and he raised those boys by himself. I tell you from these examples my friends and fathers, love you children, be the kind of father you need to be to them, because you never know when you are going to lose your children. Right now we are in a state of war, and I read this statement in a book called TEXAS. “In times of peace, sons bury their fathers, but in times of war fathers bury their sons.” Young people, honor your fathers today and fathers honor your children because we never know when we will lose a son or daughter. They mean so much to each of us and we need to let them know how much we love them.

HOW DOES A GOOD FATHER TREAT A CHILD THAT GOES WRONG?

Not all children turn out good. Are there any fathers here who have never made a mistake? I have made many; I make fewer mistakes now than when I was young. I have made my share and I think many can say we have taken some wrong turns. Fathers how do you treat a child when you have done the best you could and he turns out bad? We have a Bible answer for that—“The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” Luke 15 shows how fathers should react when children go wrong.

In the first place, the father in the parable did not disown his son when he took his inheritance and went off to a far country and wasted it. There is no trace of anger or retaliation; he just kept on loving and looking for the return of his son.

Next, the father did not allow himself to become overcome with grief and depression. Some parents fall apart when a son or daughter go astray. The father in the parable went on with living. He did not allow a wayward son to ruin his own life and neither should we.

Third, the father did not chase after his son. Over zealous parents can push their children farther away by hounding them all of the time. The father allowed his son the freedom to go away and chose a different lifestyle, an ungodly one at that.
Fourth, the father did not hold material goods from his son. The son said, “I want my inheritance.” He gave it to him.

Fifth, the father never gave up hope on this boy. In Luke 15, we see the father looking for the return of his son. Through it all he believed in his son and that he would someday come to his senses and return home. So should we.

Sixth, there is no evidence that the father said anything like “I told you so.” He did not put the mistakes of his son back in his face. He forgave his son and welcomed him back home. He killed the fatted calf, put a new robe on him, a ring on his hand, shoes on feet and they had a celebration.

Finally, the father involved others in the celebration in the return of his son. The older son acted in an unloving way toward his brother because of a bad attitude. His father reminded him: “This, my son was dead, but now he is alive, he was lost but now has been found.”

CHOOSE THE LORD

We have some wonderful fathers and mothers here at Heartland. We can have even better fathers and mothers, if we will be like Joshua. Joshua, when he got toward the end of his life, said to the children of Israel: “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15). That is what every father here should be saying this morning. We must join in with Joshua and choose the Lord for us and our families.*

Copyright © 2008, 2021 Shelby G. Floyd All Rights Reserved


*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon June 18, 2006, and June 20, 2021, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142