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The Evangelistic Ministries of John "BJ" Hall

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The Difference

August 19, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

I had allowed my spiritual life to become dormant. How could I, a preacher, allow that to happen? I got busy doing things for the Lord and the church. Corrie Ten Boom said it best when she said, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

I found this to be true in my life. I always knew that I was not as “good” as other ministers. So in order to compensate, I went into overdrive “doing” church. If someone were to call late at night the church office, I was probably going to answer the phone.

Even though we had a church secretary, I was the one who typed up the prayer reports for the “714 Club” prayer ministry. I was the one who shortchanged his family time, because “Church” came before family. I had to be the good preacher and drop whatever was happening at home because somebody “needed me.”

I did not realize that a part of my responsibility to my Lord, included responsibility to my family. I had forgotten that my family is my partner in ministry. I have forgotten that they needed me just as much as the person on the phone at 2:00 am.

Colossians 2:13-15 (KJV) says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

The work-a-holic in me thought that by my doing, I was being faithful to Christ. The “handwriting of ordinances” was not bringing joy into my home.

I needed an awakening. I needed a wakeup call. My health broke about the same time that I left the pastorate. That was what I needed. I was able to focus on prayer, Bible study, and worship more than I had in years. I no longer had to be in performance mode. It took several years for it to make a true difference in my life. But I am so glad it did.

Frankly, I believe that my family sees that difference as well.

 

The Difference

My life was filled with selfishness.
I was filled up with pride.
I thought the whole world I could bless
If they’d stand by my side.

I worked and tried my best to give
The world a better day.
I tried a good clean life to live,
What better price to pay?

But in my house my family knew.
They’d see me fuss and fight.
And people in the world saw too,
Something was just not right.

But I have bowed unto the Lord
And asked Him to forgive,
For I can no longer afford
Without His power to live.

No longer do I live alone,
With aching heart so sore;
For God's own power to me, He’s shown.
It’s Him I’m living for.

And now the difference I can feel.
In Jesus my heart burns
For other’s souls now to appeal,
Until sin their heart spurns.

“For me to live is Christ,” Paul said,
“To die it would be 
gain.”
Now my heart is no longer dead
And I can say the same.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

 

One Hundred Years and Counting

August 17, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

There is a place that is dear to my heart. It is a place where I have heard God’s voice and answered His call. It is a place where thousands of people of all ages have come to faith in Christ. It is a place where more people have surrendered to the call of missionary and pastor than any other place on Earth. It happens to be the largest Christian youth camp in the world. Where is this special place? Falls Creek Baptist Assembly near Davis, Oklahoma is the only place that fits the description.

I began attending camp there in 1954. Back then there were no air conditioners, hot showers, indoor toilets, etc. The cabin my parents and I stayed in was just inside the main gate and on the other side of Falls Creek. I learned at an early age that the convenience of riding in a car was a luxury. You had to walk about a city block from where Daddy parked the car, to the front door of our little cabin. Of course at camp, you walked everywhere.

The shower consisted of a 50-gallon drum on a stand behind the cabin. Water from a spring ran into the drum all day long. You didn’t want to take your shower in the morning. The water would be ice cold from the spring. But in the evening, just before bed, you could go out and enjoy the fact that the water had been warmed by the sun.  

That shower calls to mind the way the Holy Spirit works in our lives. John recorded Jesus words in chapter fourteen verses sixteen and seventeen. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

The Psalmist had said, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” Psalm 69:20 (KJV)

The cold spring water is the cold, harsh world we live in. The Psalmist was prophesying concerning the death of our Lord. But it also applies to us. If you try to take it on your own as it comes out of the side of the mountain it chills and literally makes you hurt. There doesn’t seem that there is anything that could warm the water. No one cared enough to even try

But when the Holy Spirit works in our lives, He takes away the harsh chill that threatens us. He heals the broken heart and lifts up the heaviness. He looks on us with more than pity. He gives us His love and a comforter that will take away the chill.

If you have trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you. It’s a package deal. Allow Him the freedom to work in your life and let Him be your Comforter.

Falls Creek

We thank our Lord and Savior,
For forming these old hills.
Where cool clear water fills a pool,
And over fall does spill.

The setting is so beautiful,
Exciting yet serene.
In these hills there is power,
To move the soul within.

This place is given to the Lord,
His Spirit to control.
And as we come together now,
He speaks unto the soul.

Yes, Falls Creek is a special place,
Where sinners are set free.
A place that Jesus did provide,
A place for you and me.

Now would you stop and listen,
To what He has to say?
Then yield your heart and life to Him,
And bow to Him and pray.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Lessons On An Axhead

August 14, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

A few years ago, as Southern Baptists were in some lively debates about the accuracy of the Bible, several typical passages have been mentioned, which a few believe are not historical.  The first eleven chapters of Genesis were being called myth. The deliverance at the Red Sea was called "embellished." Even the Resurrection of Jesus was "spiritualized" or called a "legend."

One of the Old Testament miracles that was being subjected to ridicule is the one found in 2 Kings 6:1-7, where the chronicler tells us about an ax head. Elisha the prophet had recently taken the mantle of Elijah, after the latter had gone into heaven, ending his ministry. One of the first mighty things Elisha is recorded as doing is in this passage in 2 Kings 6:

    The company of the prophets said to Elisha, "Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us.  Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." And he said, "Go."  Then one of them said, "Won't you please come with your servants?" "I will," Elisha replied.  And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees.  As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed!"  The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float.  "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

In my opinion, those who would explain away scriptures like this are simply afraid of their being.

Now think of the setting is this. Elisha was the teacher in a school called the school of the prophets. The students felt that the school was too small and they needed more room to study. So one of them approached Elisha and asked him if they could build a larger school.

In order to build the school, they needed tools and materials. So they gathered their resources, some of which was borrowed. One student wasn’t watching closely enough and the head of his ax became loose and fell into the water, sinking to the bottom.

The lesson here is that we should be proper stewards of that which is in our hands. Everything we possess is loaned to us by God. If you think you are the owner, you are fooling yourself.

Elijah acted in faith. He cut a stick and threw it in the water. This is a reminder that the rod of the Lord is often used to Glorify His Holy Name. He merely acted on the instructions of the Lord. If we act in accordance with what God tells us to do, great things will happen.

Sadly we often stand back when God speaks and worry about what we are going to do next. We ask ourselves, “What can I do about it?” When the question should be, “What can God do about it?” and “Can I be an instrument in His hands.”

Borrowed Tools

Borrowed tools for one young prophet
‘Most ended his career.
For he lost that tool while working,
And came to Elisha in fear.

Borrowed tools won’t stop a Christian
From doing the Lord’s will
If he’ll only come confessing sin,
On bended knee be still.

Borrowed tools can be a blessing,
Or they can be a curse.
It all depends on how you use them,
For better or for worse.

Borrowed tools will be a blessing
When we use them with care
But when we take them for granted
Our only hope is prayer

Borrowed tools won’t be a hindrance,
In the work, you do each day.
If you just take care and use them
In their intended way.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem, contact Passages Ministries.

 

Running From Your Call

August 9, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

As a kid, running was part of our DNA. My brother and I hardly ever went anywhere that it was not made into a race. The old nursery rhyme The Gingerbread Man comes to mind.

In the 1875 St. Nicholas Magazine tale, a childless old woman bakes a gingerbread man who leaps from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but fail to catch him. The Gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them with the phrase:

Run, run as fast as you can!
You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man!

The tale ends with a fox catching and eating the gingerbread man who cries as he's devoured, "I'm quarter gone...I'm half gone...I'm three-quarters gone...I'm all gone!"

The book of Jonah is about a man who thought he could outrun God. He didn’t want to do what God called him to do. Jonah was a Jew and he hated the Ninevites. They were a cruel and wicked people who had given the people of Israel trouble for an extended period of time.

God told him to go and tell them that God was going to destroy their city. Now it seems that this would be something Jonah would want to do. You know, walk through their city yelling that God is going to destroy them.

But Jonah knew God. He knew that if the people of Ninevah were to repent, God would forgive them. He did not want that to happen. So Jonah ran.

But there are some things he did not know. He didn’t know that running from God is very difficult. All kinds of obstacles block the way of escape. Just about the time, he thought he had gotten away with it, God sent a storm to break over the ship he was in. It was so bad that the sailors were afraid for their lives. They threw cargo overboard trying to lighten the load. But that didn’t help. Finally, they cast lots in an attempt to find out who brought this catastrophe upon them.

The second thing he did not know was that running from God can be dangerous. Jonah finally relented and told them that he was to blame. He told them to cast him overboard and the storm would end. At first they resisted, but finally, they did as he said.

I wonder if he was thinking, “I would give up my life not to do what God has commanded me to do.” Can a man be so desperate to avoid God’s call that he is willing to die?

Finally, I find that running from God can be deceptive. God’s plan was not going to be thwarted by a rebellious prophet. Jonah just thought he was getting away from his call. If I die, I won't have to go. But he was only deceiving himself. God had prepared what the Bible calls “a great fish” to swallow Jonah.

Running from God is always a downward spiral. Please note that Jonah went:

  • Down to Joppa – Jonah 1:3
  • Down to a ship – Jonah 1:3
  • Down into the ship – Jonah 1:5
  • Down into the sea – Jonah 2:3

But when he turned in repentance to God he started an upward journey. It says in chapter one verse ten, “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” That was the first step in the right direction for Jonah.

What about you? Are you running from the call God has placed on your life? Some are running from the call to salvation. Others are running from the call to a Christlike life. Still, others are running from the call to ministry.

Remember that running from God is difficult, it is dangerous and it is deceptive. Also, never forget that when you are running from God you are on a downward journey. Turn to Him today. Be obedient to His call. He will lift you up.

 

Jonah

God had said to Nineveh you go,
Warning of judgment He would send their way.
Jonah knew that God would mercy show.
 So he then tried to run and disobey.

To the sea, he ran so he could hide
And keep from warning Nineveh to turn.
God sent a storm to arrest his flight.
“Throw me in!” he cried God’s will to spurn.

God sent a great fish to meet him there.
Down in the depths of the see Jonah went.
And in the great fish, he did despair.
When three days had passed he did repent.

To Nineveh, he finally did preach.
And all those who heard in sorrow did bow.
From the poor to the king it did reach.
Their allegiance to God each did avow.

Now Jonah on a hill he did scowl.
Not happy with God, for death he appealed.
 From scorching sun a plant for a cowl,
He sat and brooded refusing to yield.

God sent a worm to destroy his shade.
And he once again was moved in despair.
“Why are you concerned for the plant's fate
Yet for thousands of souls, you had no care?”

The question’s the same for us today
As we travel this road the world to see.
Millions of lives that have gone astray

They’re waiting, the message of hope to hear.

We often despair for the small things
And turn our backs to the big things of life.
While God is tugging on our heart strings
To share the message of hope that is Christ.

 

© Copyright 2017 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Heaven Or Hell You Choose

August 5, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

I was speaking with a fellow not long ago about why he did not trust in Christ. His biggest objection was that he did not believe in Hell. He said, “How could a loving God send people to Hell for eternity?”

      He has his question completely backward. The question is not “How could God send people to Hell.” The question is, “Why would men chose to go to Hell instead of coming to Christ.”

Think of it this way. Imagine that I have two glasses of water. These glasses are numbered 1 and 2. I then tell you that glass number one is full of strawberry juice with one drop of poison and glass number two is pure strawberry juice. Who in their right mind would choose glass number one?

If you choose to drink from glass number one, even though it only has one drop of poison, you will die.

However, if you drink from glass number two, I will send you on an all expenses paid trip to Disney World. You will live in a multimillion dollar mansion and you will be driven in a Rolls Royce anywhere your heart desires.

I have clearly laid out the parameters. I have defined what is in each glass and the consequences of drinking from each glass.

Now, if you choose to drink from glass number one, you can’t say it is unfair that you have to die and don’t get to go to Disney World and ride in a Rolls Royce.

If I had not told you from the beginning what was in each glass and simply handed you the glass with the poison, that would be unfair. But I didn’t do that.

I gave you the free choice. I am not evil because you chose to drink the poison. You were completely free to drink the strawberry juice in glass number two.

Did you know that Jesus talked about Hell more than any other person in the Bible? Jesus believed there was a Hell to avoid and a Heaven to choose. He told the true story of a man named Lazarus, who was poor and sick. He laid at the gate of a rich man who didn’t even care enough to give him scraps off his table.

Lazarus died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom (an analogy for paradise).

The rich man died and in Hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. He cried out in torment and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” (Luke 16:24 NASB)

The rich man didn’t grouse and complain that it wasn’t fair. He saw that he was in Hell by his own choice. “How can you say that?” you may ask.

When he found that he could not have water to cool his tongue, he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him (Lazarus) to my father's house—28  for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Luke 16:27-28 (NASB)

The rich man wanted his brothers to make a better choice than he had made.

One did come back from the dead. His name was Jesus. He arose the victor over death and Hell. By His resurrection, all those who trust in Him will receive the gift of eternal life. The choice is yours, and yours alone. I cannot make it for you. No one can make that choice for you. God, Himself cannot make that choice for you!

Which will you choose, glass number one that leads to death, or glass number two that leads to eternal life?

Lonesome

As I sit here in this dingy cell,
My life more lonesome than I can tell.
No wondering what the verdict will be.
When the Judge of all calls out to me.

The questioning of my fear is strong.
How did I let life go so wrong?
Why didn’t I hear those words of peace,
That could have given my soul true ease?

Chorus:                                                     
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

I could have been on the other side,
Where peace and love with all do abide.
I see over there my mother dear,
And father too, as I shed a tear.

They look so peaceful and full of rest.
But then I too could have been thus bless’d.
But I chose a path that led to death.
And walked that path till my dying breath.

Chorus:
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

I had heard the call of hope and love
But thought that God, I could live above.
So now I feel the fires of hell.
My life’s more lonesome than I can tell.

Chorus:
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries, All rights reserved.
For permission to use this song contact Passages Ministries.

Are You Listening?

August 1, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

Pardon me a moment as I reminisce just a bit. I am sorry to say that as a child I listened more attentively to God than I sometimes do today. Let me give you a couple of examples.

When I was three and one-half years old, I came in from the sandbox, tugged on my mother’s apron, and told her, “God wants me to be a preacher but I have to be saved first.” To say that she was shocked would be an understatement. She dropped the dish she had in her hands and I can still hear it hitting the floor and shattering into a thousand pieces. I turned on my heels and ran back out to the sandbox.

About six months later my father and a couple of other men had started a little church in a dirt floor garage at what used to be called “eleven-mile corner.” The church has moved and was later known as Cass Heights Baptist Church near Midwest City, Oklahoma.

As a part of establishing the church, they had a revival meeting. There was one particular lady I remember. She was always prim and proper. She had been praying for her husband to be saved for many years. On Thursday night he came to the revival and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. The dear lady was so excited that she grabbed a broom from the corner and began sweeping that dirt floor as hard as she could. We all left the service that evening coughing and wheezing.

That night as my mother was getting me ready for bed I said, “Mama, I need to get saved tonight.” She tried to put me off, thinking that I was trying to keep from going to bed. I said, “No Mama, I need to get saved tonight!”

Mama said, “Now son we are late getting in bed because of the revival. Go to bed now and we will talk about it in the morning.”

I said, “Mama, didn’t the preacher say tonight that if you died and didn’t know Jesus you would get punished?”

She said, “Well, yes!”

I said, “Well if I die tonight and get punished, it will be your fault!”

She pointed to the door and said, “Go talk to your father!”

When I came through the bedroom door Daddy asked me what I needed. I said, “I need to get saved tonight.”

He said, “Well son there are some things you need to know before you can be saved.”

I asked, “Like what?”

He said, “You need to know what sin is.”

I said, “I know what sin is!”

“Okay smart little man, what is sin?”

“Sin is anything that makes Jesus unhappy.” was my reply.

“Well, I can’t beat that.” He continued, “Do you have anything like that in your life?”

I said, “I sure do! When I don’t do what you or Mama tell me to do, or when I fight with David, or when I break his toys, or…”

He broke in and said, “Okay, that will do. What do you think you need to do about that?”

“I need to ask Jesus to forgive me and make me a new boy!”

“When do you want to do that?” he asked.

“Right now!” We knelt down by the old iron post bed and I asked Jesus to forgive my sin and make me a new boy. And He did.

Skip forward seven years. Daddy was now the pastor of First Baptist Church Carmen, Oklahoma. We were in revival with Evangelist Paul Roe. He was preaching from Romans chapter ten.

Romans 10:8-15 (NASB) 8  But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11  For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13  for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

14  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

The whole evening all I heard over and over were the words, “How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”

I prayed, “Lord why is Bro. Roe talking to me? Doesn’t he know that my best friend Coy is sitting right behind me? Doesn’t he now that my friend needs to be saved?”

What I didn’t know was that brother Roe only read the verses I heard one time. The message he was giving was one of a call to salvation. But I was hearing the Holy Spirit telling me that I needed to commit to His call on my life.

I went to the front and prayed with Daddy. While we were praying God brought into my mind what I told my mother when I was only three and one-half years old.

That night I walked home with Mama. I asked her if what I remembered was real. With tears streaming down her face she said, “I have held that as a secret in my heart. I never told anyone because I was afraid they might say something to make you do something that wasn’t His will.” She added, “I have prayed that if that was God talking to my little boy, that He would remind you of it in His time.”

Several years later my friend, Coy, was lead to faith in Christ in the kitchen of his parent’s home. In my mind, God answered the prayer of an eight-year-old kid that day.

I didn’t hear an audible voice. But, I heard His voice, a still small voice as He placed His calling in the heart of a three and one-half-year-old child. I heard His voice again when I accepted Christ into my heart at four years of age. I heard His voice again when I surrendered to His call at eight years of age.

Have you heard His voice? Is there too much of the world going on around you to hear? Then step aside. Get out of the noise. Hear His voice today.

The Joy Of Revival

 

To see a child as he comes to Christ,
Is a Christian’s greatest joy in life.
Yes, a child has many years to live,
For the One Who His own life did give.

Yet again I see another joy,
As an old man comes as though a boy,
And confesses of a life of sin,
So that a new life he can begin.

Now another joy comes clear to me,
As
a Christian bows upon the knee,
And rededicates his heart and life,
To bring an end to a way of strife.

Now this is what true revival is,
When we place our feeble hands in His.
And God speaks unto a weary soul,
Who then gives to God his life control.

Won’t you turn now from life's silly toys,
And join in all God’s wonderful joys?
Then you can feel the joy I have known,
As Jesus’ love to our world is shown.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Is the Yoke On You?

July 29, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

When I was young there was a farmer, we will call him Fred, who lived nearby who raised and trained oxen for work. Another neighbor had a brand new John Deere tractor. This neighbor, we will call him John, was always ribbing Fred and telling him that his tractor was better than any team Fred might put together.

One day John got his tractor stuck in a muddy part of the field. He tried everything he could think of to get his prized tractor out of the mud. Before long he heard the crack of a whip and the commands "Gee" and "Haw" as Fred drove his team of oxen into the field.

John said, “What do you think you are going to be able to do with those cows?” He continued, “The tractor is buried up to the axle. There won't be anything I can do about it until that corner of the field dries up.”

Fred smiled as he put his team in front of the tractor. He took the log chain that was draped across one of the oxen and fastened it to the front of the tractor. He then fastened it to the yoke. He said, “Now John if you will just be quiet for a bit and get up on your tractor, we will see what these girls can do.”

Fred told John to start the tractor. Then he cracked the whip and said, “HUP!” Suddenly the oxen leaned into the yoke and the chain drew tense. Once again he shouted “HUP!” and the oxen strained against their yoke. The tractor began to raise up from its position in the mud and John slowly let out on the clutch.

Again Fred shouted “HUP!” The oxen felt the movement and instinctively dug in and pulled harder. Suddenly the tractor was free from the mud and being drug across the open field by the two mighty beasts.

John learned a valuable lesson that day. When you are in a hole, it might take a yoke to get you going again.

Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30  "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30 NASB)

When a yoke is new its edges are hard and straight, but as the oxen pull on it day after day, it begins to wear down to a point that it is easy. The farmer always put the ox in the same side of the yoke. That way the wood begins to form to the shape of that particular ox. This is what Jesus is saying. My yoke is already an easy fit. He has eased the edges for us. He bore it on Calvary.

Just like Fred in our story of the yoke, Jesus has a task for us. He has called us to a purpose. In fact, He clearly directs us into that task in the Great Commission. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)  

Is His yoke on you?

The Task

Two thousand years ago our Savior came
And gave to us the right to bear His name.
But with that name, there’s a task to do.
A task that’s made for me and made for you.

He gave this task to all who trust in Him.
Those whom He has forgiven all their sin.
So if you know that He, your Savior is,
Do that task as though your all is His.

“Go ye,” He said to those with Him that day.
And they watched as clouds took Him away.
We are His hand, His feet the Bible says.
It’s up to us to teach the world His ways.

Our task is clear, and plain the path is made,
For on the Cross the price of sin was paid.
This message true, we must take to lost men,
For true it is, they’re dying in their sin.

So we are now His army in this world.
And overhead His banner is unfurled.
Now we march on, as soldiers of the Cross.
We’ll do the task, no matter what the cost.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Of Sycamores and Angels

July 26, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

What is it that lifts us up so that we may see Jesus for what He really is? Luke 19:4 (NASB) says, "And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way."

First, we will look at some “Sycamores” for the Christian. Then we will see some Sycamores for the lost.

God’s Holy Word is the first Sycamore.

There once was a woman who was incredibly nosey. She would sit in her house and watch the mailman leave mail at her neighbor's house.

Nearly every day when her neighbor came home from work she watched as the neighbor anxiously opened a letter. The letter was always in the same pretty blue envelope.

Each day her neighbor would open that blue envelope and she would laugh and laugh. Then suddenly she would cry. Then she would look surprised and invariably she would end in laughter.

The nosey neighbor watched this happen, day after day. One day she decided she just had to know what was in that envelope and who it was from. She watched the mailman close the box, lower the flag and go on his way. Then when he was just out of sight, the lady ran across the street and took out that blue envelope, took it to her house and steamed it open. She read it and didn’t find anything of interest and it was signed with initials only.

She resealed the envelope and hurried to put it back in the mailbox. She just barely made it back in the house when the neighbor pulled into her garage and immediately went out to the mailbox. Standing there she opened the blue envelope and immediately cried. Then she laughed so hard she almost fell over.

Well, the nosey neighbor couldn’t stand it any longer. She opened her door and marched across the street and demanded to know what was so sad or funny in that letter. She said, “I read that letter and there was nothing worth crying over and certainly nothing even the least bit funny!”

Her neighbor said, “But you don’t know the person who wrote this letter. If you did, you would understand."

Scriptures’ inner sanctuary opens only to worshippers. People who say, “Nobody can understand the Bible” do not know the author.

Christ is the great subject of search and research. In the Old Testament, He is desired, foretold, and pictured. In the New Testament, He is shown to be Prophet, Priest, and King.

The second Sycamore is Private Prayer.

Prayer lifts us to Heaven. We have all been invited to spend eternity in a place that cannot be described by mortal human beings. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” In other words, if Jesus Christ can do nothing about death, we have no hope at all.

Private prayer brings Heaven to us. The old Gospel song says, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul. When at the cross the Savior made me whole. My sins were washed away, And my night was turned to day. Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.” We can now see things from God’s perspective We can come “boldly to the throne of grace.”

Public Worship is the next Sycamore for the Christian.

God’s house is a place of worship and fellowship. It is a place where we can learn how to live an abundant life. Yet there are those who do not take advantage of this important time. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  

It is also a place where we can participate in God’s ordinances. The early church believed strongly in “breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Jesus himself told us that as often as we celebrate The Lord’s Supper, we are remembering the broken body and shed blood until He returns.

There is the Sycamore of Personal Trust.

Unbelief and distrust close our eyes in our walk with the Lord. We have all heard the axiom “Seeing is believing.” We need to turn that on its head. Shouldn’t we be saying “Believing is seeing?” I love what it says in Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The fifth Sycamore is Humble Confession.

Men say, “Confession is good for the soul.” But we must be aware of what kind of confession is good for the soul. Romans 10:9-10 (KJV) 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Later in the same chapter, Paul asks a question. How shall they believe if they have not heard about Him?” He continued, “How shall they hear without someone to tell them?” That someone is you and me. And in telling them, we are blessed.

For the Christian, there is another confession that we must keep up to date. 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB) “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” We must remember that the book of First John was written to those who were already believers.

Complete Obedience is the sixth Sycamore.

Christ does not ask us to do anything that He will not do. He is asking us to imitate Him in our daily walk in, Luke 9:23 “23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (KJV) When people of His day saw anyone carrying a cross, there was only one explanation. That person was going to be executed in the most gruesome way that man ever conceived. There are people all over the world who are obeying unto death. They are dying for their faith.

Faithfulness to Christ in our time is not an easy accomplishment. We are shouted down in the streets if we dare to speak up for what is good and holy. But our faithfulness tells those who observe what we really believe. — John 7:17 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (KJV)

The final Sycamore for the believer is Devoted Service.

Work is a necessity. An old hymn says, Oh land of rest, for thee I sigh! When will the moment come When I shall lay my armor by and dwell in peace at home? We’ll work till Jesus comes, We’ll work till Jesus comes, We’ll work till Jesus comes, And we’ll be gathered home.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (KJV)

Work is a blessing, not a curse. It has been said, “If you can find a job that you love don’t let go of it until you retire.”  — Galatians 6:4 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (KJV)

These are the things that help us to see Christ for who he really is. They are near us, available, reliable. Use them for His glory. Even so, the Lost world has some difficulties. For them the “Sycamores” are different.

Some “Sycamores” For the Lost.

Individually we can be Sycamores.

There are two necessary features in a tree if one intends to climb. It must be accessible. Therefore, we must be available to those who our message and our help. And it must be strong. Therefore, we must be able to bear the burdens of others.

We can be Sycamores Corporately.

Others must see Christ in our churches. If they are to see Christ in our churches they must be able to see Christ in us. — 1 Corinthians 14:25 “25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” (KJV)

We must show them that we are one with other Christians. John 17:21 says, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (KJV)

To climb God’s sycamore trees — to be God’s sycamore tree is a responsibility, a privilege, and a joy. If we climb — if we are to encourage others to climb — we will each see Jesus and hear His tender voice say: “Today I must abide at thy house . . . this day is salvation come to this house.”

You say, "But what about the angels?" Angels are messengers from God. Some believe that we all have guardian angels. Whether that is the case or not, you and I can and should be messengers, angels of sorts, to those who do not know Him. So the lessons of the Sycamore are the same lessons for the angels.

An Angel By My Side

Everyday hassles build to fear,
Frustrations rise and fall.
Sometimes I feel that there’s no hope,
My life’s about to stall.

Then suddenly when I least expect,
I feel a cooling breeze.
My frustration begins to subside a bit,
My fears begin to ease.

I look around and there I see,
A dear friend by my side.
One to give me good advice,
Whose wisdom has been tried.

I didn’t know that I had met,
An angel sent from God.
Who’d pray for me and care so much,
When through the hurt I’ve trod.

I’ve met an angel in that day,
I’m in their very midst.
Without the trouble, I have known,
Their presence I'd have missed.

Now I must tell you what I know,
You’ve been an angel for me
You took me out of a prison of guilt,
And with compassion, you set me free.

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

 

But Who Do You Say That I Am?

July 22, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

 

The most important question of the ages was asked by Jesus in Matthew 16:15 “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” If we get this question right we have hope and blessings ahead of us. If we get it wrong, there is nothing but hopelessness in our future.

 

Jesus did not expect the disciples to accept Him on “blind faith.” They walked with Him for three years before He asked them this question. They watched as He healed the sick. They saw Him give sight to the blind. The witnessed Him touching the leprous hand and make their bodies clean. They saw him bring the dead to life. They also saw how He responded with authority to the challenges of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

They came to an informed faith in Jesus as their Christ and Lord. When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one they were looking for (The Messiah) or if they need to look for some other. Jesus’ answer was clear. He wanted them to have an informed faith. He told them to look around and see the blind, lame, and sick healed and the dead raised.

 

When Jesus posed the question to them they were about 120 miles from Jerusalem in the northern part of Palestine. The region was strongly identified with various religions: It had been a center for Baal Worship; the Greek god Pan had shrines there; and Herod the great had built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar. It was in the midst of these pagan superstitions that Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God.

A right confession of who Jesus is is basic to salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-10 (NASB) “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

I want to challenge my readers to investigate for yourselves the veracity of God’s Word and Jesus being the Christ. You can begin your journey by reading books like The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel, Evidence That Demands a Verdict By Josh McDowell, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Athiest by Norman Geisler.

There are many other resources available to help you find the truth. If your objection to Christianity is the pain and suffering that is in our world, then I would suggest The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis. Lewis speaks of pain from a personal level. Not long after he came to faith in Christ he married a lovely young lady who had a son. His precious wife then died of cancer. His struggles are real as he deals with this topic. But his loss and the pain that resulted made his faith stronger.

There is one who knew the pain like no other.

A Dream?

A scream--

Groans of agony

          The sound of metal striking metal.

          metal striking flesh and bones

Torn flesh----

and blood that's streaming down.

          A gasp for air, but in it pain

          Joints pulled out of socket

The pain-

Hair matted with blood-

          and tears.

                   When will it end?

Those eyes

          sad, lonesome, -- loving, -

          thoughtful, hurting, -- compassionate eyes.

I've seen those eyes -

                             but where? when?

What are they looking at?

          At-

                   me?

          and yet through me -

                   to the soul.

                   ---------------------But why?---

Is-

that-

a tear?

                   Will it never end?

That voice

          I've heard that voice before.

                   What was that?

ABBA-

Father!

          Was that a name it whispered too?

                   Who's?

It can't be--

                             Mine?

 

          What else?

It-

          is-

                   finished!

 

                   I reached out to take a nail-scarred hand-

                   ---And it was there.

          Suddenly I awoke

          a cold sweat on my face

          Then I knew

IT-

          WAS-

                   for me!

 

© Copyright 1993 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

I Said It Would Be Worth It

July 19, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

On the wall at my physical therapist is a framed poster. It says, “I didn’t say it wouldn’t hurt. I said it would be worth it.” On June 19th I had a Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder Replacement. On July 13th I began physical therapy to increase my range of motion and strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. As I write this article I have one week down and three weeks to go.

I have found the poster to be truthful. We have all heard the axiom, “No pain. No gain.” The therapist has not been gentle with me. In fact, I’m pretty sore right now. But I have made real progress in my quest for complete recovery. I have already reached the target goal for what they call “Shoulder Abduction.” And I am well on my way to reaching the other goals.

Why am I telling you this? Physical therapy has a lot in common with spiritual growth. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Just as my goal in physical therapy is complete recovery, so our goal in trials is to  be “complete, lacking nothing.” Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that God makes every difficulty, every trial, every disappointment, every heartache, every failure, every job loss, every death of a loved one, work out for the good of everyone who loves God and is called to His purpose.

The truth is that we are purified by the trials of life. Peter said it this way, “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:7 (NASB)

Sometimes God doesn’t show us the purpose of our struggles in this life. When Job lost everything, God did not tell him why. He only found out why when he left this earth and entered into the Glory of the Lord. Job even endured the judgments and accusations of his friends. Yet he said that even if God were to take his life, he would trust Him. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NASB)

I look forward to the day that I complete my therapy and am able to mow my own yard. But there is a road I must travel before I get there. That road leads through stretching of my muscles and tendons.

I look forward to the day when I wake up and look around and find myself in Heaven with my Lord. I hope to hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” My road will lead me through times when my faith is stretched beyond what I think I can bear. It leads through prayer, witnessing, and loving on the unlovable as I strengthen my walk with Him.

He didn’t say it wouldn’t be painful, He said it would be worth it.

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The Difference

August 19, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

I had allowed my spiritual life to become dormant. How could I, a preacher, allow that to happen? I got busy doing things for the Lord and the church. Corrie Ten Boom said it best when she said, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

I found this to be true in my life. I always knew that I was not as “good” as other ministers. So in order to compensate, I went into overdrive “doing” church. If someone were to call late at night the church office, I was probably going to answer the phone.

Even though we had a church secretary, I was the one who typed up the prayer reports for the “714 Club” prayer ministry. I was the one who shortchanged his family time, because “Church” came before family. I had to be the good preacher and drop whatever was happening at home because somebody “needed me.”

I did not realize that a part of my responsibility to my Lord, included responsibility to my family. I had forgotten that my family is my partner in ministry. I have forgotten that they needed me just as much as the person on the phone at 2:00 am.

Colossians 2:13-15 (KJV) says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

The work-a-holic in me thought that by my doing, I was being faithful to Christ. The “handwriting of ordinances” was not bringing joy into my home.

I needed an awakening. I needed a wakeup call. My health broke about the same time that I left the pastorate. That was what I needed. I was able to focus on prayer, Bible study, and worship more than I had in years. I no longer had to be in performance mode. It took several years for it to make a true difference in my life. But I am so glad it did.

Frankly, I believe that my family sees that difference as well.

 

The Difference

My life was filled with selfishness.
I was filled up with pride.
I thought the whole world I could bless
If they’d stand by my side.

I worked and tried my best to give
The world a better day.
I tried a good clean life to live,
What better price to pay?

But in my house my family knew.
They’d see me fuss and fight.
And people in the world saw too,
Something was just not right.

But I have bowed unto the Lord
And asked Him to forgive,
For I can no longer afford
Without His power to live.

No longer do I live alone,
With aching heart so sore;
For God's own power to me, He’s shown.
It’s Him I’m living for.

And now the difference I can feel.
In Jesus my heart burns
For other’s souls now to appeal,
Until sin their heart spurns.

“For me to live is Christ,” Paul said,
“To die it would be 
gain.”
Now my heart is no longer dead
And I can say the same.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

 

One Hundred Years and Counting

August 17, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

There is a place that is dear to my heart. It is a place where I have heard God’s voice and answered His call. It is a place where thousands of people of all ages have come to faith in Christ. It is a place where more people have surrendered to the call of missionary and pastor than any other place on Earth. It happens to be the largest Christian youth camp in the world. Where is this special place? Falls Creek Baptist Assembly near Davis, Oklahoma is the only place that fits the description.

I began attending camp there in 1954. Back then there were no air conditioners, hot showers, indoor toilets, etc. The cabin my parents and I stayed in was just inside the main gate and on the other side of Falls Creek. I learned at an early age that the convenience of riding in a car was a luxury. You had to walk about a city block from where Daddy parked the car, to the front door of our little cabin. Of course at camp, you walked everywhere.

The shower consisted of a 50-gallon drum on a stand behind the cabin. Water from a spring ran into the drum all day long. You didn’t want to take your shower in the morning. The water would be ice cold from the spring. But in the evening, just before bed, you could go out and enjoy the fact that the water had been warmed by the sun.  

That shower calls to mind the way the Holy Spirit works in our lives. John recorded Jesus words in chapter fourteen verses sixteen and seventeen. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

The Psalmist had said, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” Psalm 69:20 (KJV)

The cold spring water is the cold, harsh world we live in. The Psalmist was prophesying concerning the death of our Lord. But it also applies to us. If you try to take it on your own as it comes out of the side of the mountain it chills and literally makes you hurt. There doesn’t seem that there is anything that could warm the water. No one cared enough to even try

But when the Holy Spirit works in our lives, He takes away the harsh chill that threatens us. He heals the broken heart and lifts up the heaviness. He looks on us with more than pity. He gives us His love and a comforter that will take away the chill.

If you have trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you. It’s a package deal. Allow Him the freedom to work in your life and let Him be your Comforter.

Falls Creek

We thank our Lord and Savior,
For forming these old hills.
Where cool clear water fills a pool,
And over fall does spill.

The setting is so beautiful,
Exciting yet serene.
In these hills there is power,
To move the soul within.

This place is given to the Lord,
His Spirit to control.
And as we come together now,
He speaks unto the soul.

Yes, Falls Creek is a special place,
Where sinners are set free.
A place that Jesus did provide,
A place for you and me.

Now would you stop and listen,
To what He has to say?
Then yield your heart and life to Him,
And bow to Him and pray.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Lessons On An Axhead

August 14, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

A few years ago, as Southern Baptists were in some lively debates about the accuracy of the Bible, several typical passages have been mentioned, which a few believe are not historical.  The first eleven chapters of Genesis were being called myth. The deliverance at the Red Sea was called "embellished." Even the Resurrection of Jesus was "spiritualized" or called a "legend."

One of the Old Testament miracles that was being subjected to ridicule is the one found in 2 Kings 6:1-7, where the chronicler tells us about an ax head. Elisha the prophet had recently taken the mantle of Elijah, after the latter had gone into heaven, ending his ministry. One of the first mighty things Elisha is recorded as doing is in this passage in 2 Kings 6:

    The company of the prophets said to Elisha, "Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us.  Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." And he said, "Go."  Then one of them said, "Won't you please come with your servants?" "I will," Elisha replied.  And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees.  As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed!"  The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float.  "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

In my opinion, those who would explain away scriptures like this are simply afraid of their being.

Now think of the setting is this. Elisha was the teacher in a school called the school of the prophets. The students felt that the school was too small and they needed more room to study. So one of them approached Elisha and asked him if they could build a larger school.

In order to build the school, they needed tools and materials. So they gathered their resources, some of which was borrowed. One student wasn’t watching closely enough and the head of his ax became loose and fell into the water, sinking to the bottom.

The lesson here is that we should be proper stewards of that which is in our hands. Everything we possess is loaned to us by God. If you think you are the owner, you are fooling yourself.

Elijah acted in faith. He cut a stick and threw it in the water. This is a reminder that the rod of the Lord is often used to Glorify His Holy Name. He merely acted on the instructions of the Lord. If we act in accordance with what God tells us to do, great things will happen.

Sadly we often stand back when God speaks and worry about what we are going to do next. We ask ourselves, “What can I do about it?” When the question should be, “What can God do about it?” and “Can I be an instrument in His hands.”

Borrowed Tools

Borrowed tools for one young prophet
‘Most ended his career.
For he lost that tool while working,
And came to Elisha in fear.

Borrowed tools won’t stop a Christian
From doing the Lord’s will
If he’ll only come confessing sin,
On bended knee be still.

Borrowed tools can be a blessing,
Or they can be a curse.
It all depends on how you use them,
For better or for worse.

Borrowed tools will be a blessing
When we use them with care
But when we take them for granted
Our only hope is prayer

Borrowed tools won’t be a hindrance,
In the work, you do each day.
If you just take care and use them
In their intended way.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem, contact Passages Ministries.

 

Running From Your Call

August 9, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

As a kid, running was part of our DNA. My brother and I hardly ever went anywhere that it was not made into a race. The old nursery rhyme The Gingerbread Man comes to mind.

In the 1875 St. Nicholas Magazine tale, a childless old woman bakes a gingerbread man who leaps from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but fail to catch him. The Gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them with the phrase:

Run, run as fast as you can!
You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man!

The tale ends with a fox catching and eating the gingerbread man who cries as he's devoured, "I'm quarter gone...I'm half gone...I'm three-quarters gone...I'm all gone!"

The book of Jonah is about a man who thought he could outrun God. He didn’t want to do what God called him to do. Jonah was a Jew and he hated the Ninevites. They were a cruel and wicked people who had given the people of Israel trouble for an extended period of time.

God told him to go and tell them that God was going to destroy their city. Now it seems that this would be something Jonah would want to do. You know, walk through their city yelling that God is going to destroy them.

But Jonah knew God. He knew that if the people of Ninevah were to repent, God would forgive them. He did not want that to happen. So Jonah ran.

But there are some things he did not know. He didn’t know that running from God is very difficult. All kinds of obstacles block the way of escape. Just about the time, he thought he had gotten away with it, God sent a storm to break over the ship he was in. It was so bad that the sailors were afraid for their lives. They threw cargo overboard trying to lighten the load. But that didn’t help. Finally, they cast lots in an attempt to find out who brought this catastrophe upon them.

The second thing he did not know was that running from God can be dangerous. Jonah finally relented and told them that he was to blame. He told them to cast him overboard and the storm would end. At first they resisted, but finally, they did as he said.

I wonder if he was thinking, “I would give up my life not to do what God has commanded me to do.” Can a man be so desperate to avoid God’s call that he is willing to die?

Finally, I find that running from God can be deceptive. God’s plan was not going to be thwarted by a rebellious prophet. Jonah just thought he was getting away from his call. If I die, I won't have to go. But he was only deceiving himself. God had prepared what the Bible calls “a great fish” to swallow Jonah.

Running from God is always a downward spiral. Please note that Jonah went:

  • Down to Joppa – Jonah 1:3
  • Down to a ship – Jonah 1:3
  • Down into the ship – Jonah 1:5
  • Down into the sea – Jonah 2:3

But when he turned in repentance to God he started an upward journey. It says in chapter one verse ten, “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” That was the first step in the right direction for Jonah.

What about you? Are you running from the call God has placed on your life? Some are running from the call to salvation. Others are running from the call to a Christlike life. Still, others are running from the call to ministry.

Remember that running from God is difficult, it is dangerous and it is deceptive. Also, never forget that when you are running from God you are on a downward journey. Turn to Him today. Be obedient to His call. He will lift you up.

 

Jonah

God had said to Nineveh you go,
Warning of judgment He would send their way.
Jonah knew that God would mercy show.
 So he then tried to run and disobey.

To the sea, he ran so he could hide
And keep from warning Nineveh to turn.
God sent a storm to arrest his flight.
“Throw me in!” he cried God’s will to spurn.

God sent a great fish to meet him there.
Down in the depths of the see Jonah went.
And in the great fish, he did despair.
When three days had passed he did repent.

To Nineveh, he finally did preach.
And all those who heard in sorrow did bow.
From the poor to the king it did reach.
Their allegiance to God each did avow.

Now Jonah on a hill he did scowl.
Not happy with God, for death he appealed.
 From scorching sun a plant for a cowl,
He sat and brooded refusing to yield.

God sent a worm to destroy his shade.
And he once again was moved in despair.
“Why are you concerned for the plant's fate
Yet for thousands of souls, you had no care?”

The question’s the same for us today
As we travel this road the world to see.
Millions of lives that have gone astray

They’re waiting, the message of hope to hear.

We often despair for the small things
And turn our backs to the big things of life.
While God is tugging on our heart strings
To share the message of hope that is Christ.

 

© Copyright 2017 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Heaven Or Hell You Choose

August 5, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

I was speaking with a fellow not long ago about why he did not trust in Christ. His biggest objection was that he did not believe in Hell. He said, “How could a loving God send people to Hell for eternity?”

      He has his question completely backward. The question is not “How could God send people to Hell.” The question is, “Why would men chose to go to Hell instead of coming to Christ.”

Think of it this way. Imagine that I have two glasses of water. These glasses are numbered 1 and 2. I then tell you that glass number one is full of strawberry juice with one drop of poison and glass number two is pure strawberry juice. Who in their right mind would choose glass number one?

If you choose to drink from glass number one, even though it only has one drop of poison, you will die.

However, if you drink from glass number two, I will send you on an all expenses paid trip to Disney World. You will live in a multimillion dollar mansion and you will be driven in a Rolls Royce anywhere your heart desires.

I have clearly laid out the parameters. I have defined what is in each glass and the consequences of drinking from each glass.

Now, if you choose to drink from glass number one, you can’t say it is unfair that you have to die and don’t get to go to Disney World and ride in a Rolls Royce.

If I had not told you from the beginning what was in each glass and simply handed you the glass with the poison, that would be unfair. But I didn’t do that.

I gave you the free choice. I am not evil because you chose to drink the poison. You were completely free to drink the strawberry juice in glass number two.

Did you know that Jesus talked about Hell more than any other person in the Bible? Jesus believed there was a Hell to avoid and a Heaven to choose. He told the true story of a man named Lazarus, who was poor and sick. He laid at the gate of a rich man who didn’t even care enough to give him scraps off his table.

Lazarus died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom (an analogy for paradise).

The rich man died and in Hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. He cried out in torment and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” (Luke 16:24 NASB)

The rich man didn’t grouse and complain that it wasn’t fair. He saw that he was in Hell by his own choice. “How can you say that?” you may ask.

When he found that he could not have water to cool his tongue, he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him (Lazarus) to my father's house—28  for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Luke 16:27-28 (NASB)

The rich man wanted his brothers to make a better choice than he had made.

One did come back from the dead. His name was Jesus. He arose the victor over death and Hell. By His resurrection, all those who trust in Him will receive the gift of eternal life. The choice is yours, and yours alone. I cannot make it for you. No one can make that choice for you. God, Himself cannot make that choice for you!

Which will you choose, glass number one that leads to death, or glass number two that leads to eternal life?

Lonesome

As I sit here in this dingy cell,
My life more lonesome than I can tell.
No wondering what the verdict will be.
When the Judge of all calls out to me.

The questioning of my fear is strong.
How did I let life go so wrong?
Why didn’t I hear those words of peace,
That could have given my soul true ease?

Chorus:                                                     
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

I could have been on the other side,
Where peace and love with all do abide.
I see over there my mother dear,
And father too, as I shed a tear.

They look so peaceful and full of rest.
But then I too could have been thus bless’d.
But I chose a path that led to death.
And walked that path till my dying breath.

Chorus:
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

I had heard the call of hope and love
But thought that God, I could live above.
So now I feel the fires of hell.
My life’s more lonesome than I can tell.

Chorus:
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries, All rights reserved.
For permission to use this song contact Passages Ministries.

Are You Listening?

August 1, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

Pardon me a moment as I reminisce just a bit. I am sorry to say that as a child I listened more attentively to God than I sometimes do today. Let me give you a couple of examples.

When I was three and one-half years old, I came in from the sandbox, tugged on my mother’s apron, and told her, “God wants me to be a preacher but I have to be saved first.” To say that she was shocked would be an understatement. She dropped the dish she had in her hands and I can still hear it hitting the floor and shattering into a thousand pieces. I turned on my heels and ran back out to the sandbox.

About six months later my father and a couple of other men had started a little church in a dirt floor garage at what used to be called “eleven-mile corner.” The church has moved and was later known as Cass Heights Baptist Church near Midwest City, Oklahoma.

As a part of establishing the church, they had a revival meeting. There was one particular lady I remember. She was always prim and proper. She had been praying for her husband to be saved for many years. On Thursday night he came to the revival and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. The dear lady was so excited that she grabbed a broom from the corner and began sweeping that dirt floor as hard as she could. We all left the service that evening coughing and wheezing.

That night as my mother was getting me ready for bed I said, “Mama, I need to get saved tonight.” She tried to put me off, thinking that I was trying to keep from going to bed. I said, “No Mama, I need to get saved tonight!”

Mama said, “Now son we are late getting in bed because of the revival. Go to bed now and we will talk about it in the morning.”

I said, “Mama, didn’t the preacher say tonight that if you died and didn’t know Jesus you would get punished?”

She said, “Well, yes!”

I said, “Well if I die tonight and get punished, it will be your fault!”

She pointed to the door and said, “Go talk to your father!”

When I came through the bedroom door Daddy asked me what I needed. I said, “I need to get saved tonight.”

He said, “Well son there are some things you need to know before you can be saved.”

I asked, “Like what?”

He said, “You need to know what sin is.”

I said, “I know what sin is!”

“Okay smart little man, what is sin?”

“Sin is anything that makes Jesus unhappy.” was my reply.

“Well, I can’t beat that.” He continued, “Do you have anything like that in your life?”

I said, “I sure do! When I don’t do what you or Mama tell me to do, or when I fight with David, or when I break his toys, or…”

He broke in and said, “Okay, that will do. What do you think you need to do about that?”

“I need to ask Jesus to forgive me and make me a new boy!”

“When do you want to do that?” he asked.

“Right now!” We knelt down by the old iron post bed and I asked Jesus to forgive my sin and make me a new boy. And He did.

Skip forward seven years. Daddy was now the pastor of First Baptist Church Carmen, Oklahoma. We were in revival with Evangelist Paul Roe. He was preaching from Romans chapter ten.

Romans 10:8-15 (NASB) 8  But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11  For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13  for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

14  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

The whole evening all I heard over and over were the words, “How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”

I prayed, “Lord why is Bro. Roe talking to me? Doesn’t he know that my best friend Coy is sitting right behind me? Doesn’t he now that my friend needs to be saved?”

What I didn’t know was that brother Roe only read the verses I heard one time. The message he was giving was one of a call to salvation. But I was hearing the Holy Spirit telling me that I needed to commit to His call on my life.

I went to the front and prayed with Daddy. While we were praying God brought into my mind what I told my mother when I was only three and one-half years old.

That night I walked home with Mama. I asked her if what I remembered was real. With tears streaming down her face she said, “I have held that as a secret in my heart. I never told anyone because I was afraid they might say something to make you do something that wasn’t His will.” She added, “I have prayed that if that was God talking to my little boy, that He would remind you of it in His time.”

Several years later my friend, Coy, was lead to faith in Christ in the kitchen of his parent’s home. In my mind, God answered the prayer of an eight-year-old kid that day.

I didn’t hear an audible voice. But, I heard His voice, a still small voice as He placed His calling in the heart of a three and one-half-year-old child. I heard His voice again when I accepted Christ into my heart at four years of age. I heard His voice again when I surrendered to His call at eight years of age.

Have you heard His voice? Is there too much of the world going on around you to hear? Then step aside. Get out of the noise. Hear His voice today.

The Joy Of Revival

 

To see a child as he comes to Christ,
Is a Christian’s greatest joy in life.
Yes, a child has many years to live,
For the One Who His own life did give.

Yet again I see another joy,
As an old man comes as though a boy,
And confesses of a life of sin,
So that a new life he can begin.

Now another joy comes clear to me,
As
a Christian bows upon the knee,
And rededicates his heart and life,
To bring an end to a way of strife.

Now this is what true revival is,
When we place our feeble hands in His.
And God speaks unto a weary soul,
Who then gives to God his life control.

Won’t you turn now from life's silly toys,
And join in all God’s wonderful joys?
Then you can feel the joy I have known,
As Jesus’ love to our world is shown.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Is the Yoke On You?

July 29, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

When I was young there was a farmer, we will call him Fred, who lived nearby who raised and trained oxen for work. Another neighbor had a brand new John Deere tractor. This neighbor, we will call him John, was always ribbing Fred and telling him that his tractor was better than any team Fred might put together.

One day John got his tractor stuck in a muddy part of the field. He tried everything he could think of to get his prized tractor out of the mud. Before long he heard the crack of a whip and the commands "Gee" and "Haw" as Fred drove his team of oxen into the field.

John said, “What do you think you are going to be able to do with those cows?” He continued, “The tractor is buried up to the axle. There won't be anything I can do about it until that corner of the field dries up.”

Fred smiled as he put his team in front of the tractor. He took the log chain that was draped across one of the oxen and fastened it to the front of the tractor. He then fastened it to the yoke. He said, “Now John if you will just be quiet for a bit and get up on your tractor, we will see what these girls can do.”

Fred told John to start the tractor. Then he cracked the whip and said, “HUP!” Suddenly the oxen leaned into the yoke and the chain drew tense. Once again he shouted “HUP!” and the oxen strained against their yoke. The tractor began to raise up from its position in the mud and John slowly let out on the clutch.

Again Fred shouted “HUP!” The oxen felt the movement and instinctively dug in and pulled harder. Suddenly the tractor was free from the mud and being drug across the open field by the two mighty beasts.

John learned a valuable lesson that day. When you are in a hole, it might take a yoke to get you going again.

Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30  "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30 NASB)

When a yoke is new its edges are hard and straight, but as the oxen pull on it day after day, it begins to wear down to a point that it is easy. The farmer always put the ox in the same side of the yoke. That way the wood begins to form to the shape of that particular ox. This is what Jesus is saying. My yoke is already an easy fit. He has eased the edges for us. He bore it on Calvary.

Just like Fred in our story of the yoke, Jesus has a task for us. He has called us to a purpose. In fact, He clearly directs us into that task in the Great Commission. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)  

Is His yoke on you?

The Task

Two thousand years ago our Savior came
And gave to us the right to bear His name.
But with that name, there’s a task to do.
A task that’s made for me and made for you.

He gave this task to all who trust in Him.
Those whom He has forgiven all their sin.
So if you know that He, your Savior is,
Do that task as though your all is His.

“Go ye,” He said to those with Him that day.
And they watched as clouds took Him away.
We are His hand, His feet the Bible says.
It’s up to us to teach the world His ways.

Our task is clear, and plain the path is made,
For on the Cross the price of sin was paid.
This message true, we must take to lost men,
For true it is, they’re dying in their sin.

So we are now His army in this world.
And overhead His banner is unfurled.
Now we march on, as soldiers of the Cross.
We’ll do the task, no matter what the cost.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Of Sycamores and Angels

July 26, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

What is it that lifts us up so that we may see Jesus for what He really is? Luke 19:4 (NASB) says, "And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way."

First, we will look at some “Sycamores” for the Christian. Then we will see some Sycamores for the lost.

God’s Holy Word is the first Sycamore.

There once was a woman who was incredibly nosey. She would sit in her house and watch the mailman leave mail at her neighbor's house.

Nearly every day when her neighbor came home from work she watched as the neighbor anxiously opened a letter. The letter was always in the same pretty blue envelope.

Each day her neighbor would open that blue envelope and she would laugh and laugh. Then suddenly she would cry. Then she would look surprised and invariably she would end in laughter.

The nosey neighbor watched this happen, day after day. One day she decided she just had to know what was in that envelope and who it was from. She watched the mailman close the box, lower the flag and go on his way. Then when he was just out of sight, the lady ran across the street and took out that blue envelope, took it to her house and steamed it open. She read it and didn’t find anything of interest and it was signed with initials only.

She resealed the envelope and hurried to put it back in the mailbox. She just barely made it back in the house when the neighbor pulled into her garage and immediately went out to the mailbox. Standing there she opened the blue envelope and immediately cried. Then she laughed so hard she almost fell over.

Well, the nosey neighbor couldn’t stand it any longer. She opened her door and marched across the street and demanded to know what was so sad or funny in that letter. She said, “I read that letter and there was nothing worth crying over and certainly nothing even the least bit funny!”

Her neighbor said, “But you don’t know the person who wrote this letter. If you did, you would understand."

Scriptures’ inner sanctuary opens only to worshippers. People who say, “Nobody can understand the Bible” do not know the author.

Christ is the great subject of search and research. In the Old Testament, He is desired, foretold, and pictured. In the New Testament, He is shown to be Prophet, Priest, and King.

The second Sycamore is Private Prayer.

Prayer lifts us to Heaven. We have all been invited to spend eternity in a place that cannot be described by mortal human beings. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” In other words, if Jesus Christ can do nothing about death, we have no hope at all.

Private prayer brings Heaven to us. The old Gospel song says, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul. When at the cross the Savior made me whole. My sins were washed away, And my night was turned to day. Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.” We can now see things from God’s perspective We can come “boldly to the throne of grace.”

Public Worship is the next Sycamore for the Christian.

God’s house is a place of worship and fellowship. It is a place where we can learn how to live an abundant life. Yet there are those who do not take advantage of this important time. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  

It is also a place where we can participate in God’s ordinances. The early church believed strongly in “breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Jesus himself told us that as often as we celebrate The Lord’s Supper, we are remembering the broken body and shed blood until He returns.

There is the Sycamore of Personal Trust.

Unbelief and distrust close our eyes in our walk with the Lord. We have all heard the axiom “Seeing is believing.” We need to turn that on its head. Shouldn’t we be saying “Believing is seeing?” I love what it says in Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The fifth Sycamore is Humble Confession.

Men say, “Confession is good for the soul.” But we must be aware of what kind of confession is good for the soul. Romans 10:9-10 (KJV) 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Later in the same chapter, Paul asks a question. How shall they believe if they have not heard about Him?” He continued, “How shall they hear without someone to tell them?” That someone is you and me. And in telling them, we are blessed.

For the Christian, there is another confession that we must keep up to date. 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB) “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” We must remember that the book of First John was written to those who were already believers.

Complete Obedience is the sixth Sycamore.

Christ does not ask us to do anything that He will not do. He is asking us to imitate Him in our daily walk in, Luke 9:23 “23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (KJV) When people of His day saw anyone carrying a cross, there was only one explanation. That person was going to be executed in the most gruesome way that man ever conceived. There are people all over the world who are obeying unto death. They are dying for their faith.

Faithfulness to Christ in our time is not an easy accomplishment. We are shouted down in the streets if we dare to speak up for what is good and holy. But our faithfulness tells those who observe what we really believe. — John 7:17 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (KJV)

The final Sycamore for the believer is Devoted Service.

Work is a necessity. An old hymn says, Oh land of rest, for thee I sigh! When will the moment come When I shall lay my armor by and dwell in peace at home? We’ll work till Jesus comes, We’ll work till Jesus comes, We’ll work till Jesus comes, And we’ll be gathered home.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (KJV)

Work is a blessing, not a curse. It has been said, “If you can find a job that you love don’t let go of it until you retire.”  — Galatians 6:4 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (KJV)

These are the things that help us to see Christ for who he really is. They are near us, available, reliable. Use them for His glory. Even so, the Lost world has some difficulties. For them the “Sycamores” are different.

Some “Sycamores” For the Lost.

Individually we can be Sycamores.

There are two necessary features in a tree if one intends to climb. It must be accessible. Therefore, we must be available to those who our message and our help. And it must be strong. Therefore, we must be able to bear the burdens of others.

We can be Sycamores Corporately.

Others must see Christ in our churches. If they are to see Christ in our churches they must be able to see Christ in us. — 1 Corinthians 14:25 “25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” (KJV)

We must show them that we are one with other Christians. John 17:21 says, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (KJV)

To climb God’s sycamore trees — to be God’s sycamore tree is a responsibility, a privilege, and a joy. If we climb — if we are to encourage others to climb — we will each see Jesus and hear His tender voice say: “Today I must abide at thy house . . . this day is salvation come to this house.”

You say, "But what about the angels?" Angels are messengers from God. Some believe that we all have guardian angels. Whether that is the case or not, you and I can and should be messengers, angels of sorts, to those who do not know Him. So the lessons of the Sycamore are the same lessons for the angels.

An Angel By My Side

Everyday hassles build to fear,
Frustrations rise and fall.
Sometimes I feel that there’s no hope,
My life’s about to stall.

Then suddenly when I least expect,
I feel a cooling breeze.
My frustration begins to subside a bit,
My fears begin to ease.

I look around and there I see,
A dear friend by my side.
One to give me good advice,
Whose wisdom has been tried.

I didn’t know that I had met,
An angel sent from God.
Who’d pray for me and care so much,
When through the hurt I’ve trod.

I’ve met an angel in that day,
I’m in their very midst.
Without the trouble, I have known,
Their presence I'd have missed.

Now I must tell you what I know,
You’ve been an angel for me
You took me out of a prison of guilt,
And with compassion, you set me free.

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

 

But Who Do You Say That I Am?

July 22, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

 

The most important question of the ages was asked by Jesus in Matthew 16:15 “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” If we get this question right we have hope and blessings ahead of us. If we get it wrong, there is nothing but hopelessness in our future.

 

Jesus did not expect the disciples to accept Him on “blind faith.” They walked with Him for three years before He asked them this question. They watched as He healed the sick. They saw Him give sight to the blind. The witnessed Him touching the leprous hand and make their bodies clean. They saw him bring the dead to life. They also saw how He responded with authority to the challenges of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

They came to an informed faith in Jesus as their Christ and Lord. When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one they were looking for (The Messiah) or if they need to look for some other. Jesus’ answer was clear. He wanted them to have an informed faith. He told them to look around and see the blind, lame, and sick healed and the dead raised.

 

When Jesus posed the question to them they were about 120 miles from Jerusalem in the northern part of Palestine. The region was strongly identified with various religions: It had been a center for Baal Worship; the Greek god Pan had shrines there; and Herod the great had built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar. It was in the midst of these pagan superstitions that Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God.

A right confession of who Jesus is is basic to salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-10 (NASB) “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

I want to challenge my readers to investigate for yourselves the veracity of God’s Word and Jesus being the Christ. You can begin your journey by reading books like The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel, Evidence That Demands a Verdict By Josh McDowell, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Athiest by Norman Geisler.

There are many other resources available to help you find the truth. If your objection to Christianity is the pain and suffering that is in our world, then I would suggest The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis. Lewis speaks of pain from a personal level. Not long after he came to faith in Christ he married a lovely young lady who had a son. His precious wife then died of cancer. His struggles are real as he deals with this topic. But his loss and the pain that resulted made his faith stronger.

There is one who knew the pain like no other.

A Dream?

A scream--

Groans of agony

          The sound of metal striking metal.

          metal striking flesh and bones

Torn flesh----

and blood that's streaming down.

          A gasp for air, but in it pain

          Joints pulled out of socket

The pain-

Hair matted with blood-

          and tears.

                   When will it end?

Those eyes

          sad, lonesome, -- loving, -

          thoughtful, hurting, -- compassionate eyes.

I've seen those eyes -

                             but where? when?

What are they looking at?

          At-

                   me?

          and yet through me -

                   to the soul.

                   ---------------------But why?---

Is-

that-

a tear?

                   Will it never end?

That voice

          I've heard that voice before.

                   What was that?

ABBA-

Father!

          Was that a name it whispered too?

                   Who's?

It can't be--

                             Mine?

 

          What else?

It-

          is-

                   finished!

 

                   I reached out to take a nail-scarred hand-

                   ---And it was there.

          Suddenly I awoke

          a cold sweat on my face

          Then I knew

IT-

          WAS-

                   for me!

 

© Copyright 1993 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

I Said It Would Be Worth It

July 19, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

On the wall at my physical therapist is a framed poster. It says, “I didn’t say it wouldn’t hurt. I said it would be worth it.” On June 19th I had a Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder Replacement. On July 13th I began physical therapy to increase my range of motion and strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. As I write this article I have one week down and three weeks to go.

I have found the poster to be truthful. We have all heard the axiom, “No pain. No gain.” The therapist has not been gentle with me. In fact, I’m pretty sore right now. But I have made real progress in my quest for complete recovery. I have already reached the target goal for what they call “Shoulder Abduction.” And I am well on my way to reaching the other goals.

Why am I telling you this? Physical therapy has a lot in common with spiritual growth. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Just as my goal in physical therapy is complete recovery, so our goal in trials is to  be “complete, lacking nothing.” Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that God makes every difficulty, every trial, every disappointment, every heartache, every failure, every job loss, every death of a loved one, work out for the good of everyone who loves God and is called to His purpose.

The truth is that we are purified by the trials of life. Peter said it this way, “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:7 (NASB)

Sometimes God doesn’t show us the purpose of our struggles in this life. When Job lost everything, God did not tell him why. He only found out why when he left this earth and entered into the Glory of the Lord. Job even endured the judgments and accusations of his friends. Yet he said that even if God were to take his life, he would trust Him. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NASB)

I look forward to the day that I complete my therapy and am able to mow my own yard. But there is a road I must travel before I get there. That road leads through stretching of my muscles and tendons.

I look forward to the day when I wake up and look around and find myself in Heaven with my Lord. I hope to hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” My road will lead me through times when my faith is stretched beyond what I think I can bear. It leads through prayer, witnessing, and loving on the unlovable as I strengthen my walk with Him.

He didn’t say it wouldn’t be painful, He said it would be worth it.

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The Difference

August 19, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

I had allowed my spiritual life to become dormant. How could I, a preacher, allow that to happen? I got busy doing things for the Lord and the church. Corrie Ten Boom said it best when she said, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

I found this to be true in my life. I always knew that I was not as “good” as other ministers. So in order to compensate, I went into overdrive “doing” church. If someone were to call late at night the church office, I was probably going to answer the phone.

Even though we had a church secretary, I was the one who typed up the prayer reports for the “714 Club” prayer ministry. I was the one who shortchanged his family time, because “Church” came before family. I had to be the good preacher and drop whatever was happening at home because somebody “needed me.”

I did not realize that a part of my responsibility to my Lord, included responsibility to my family. I had forgotten that my family is my partner in ministry. I have forgotten that they needed me just as much as the person on the phone at 2:00 am.

Colossians 2:13-15 (KJV) says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

The work-a-holic in me thought that by my doing, I was being faithful to Christ. The “handwriting of ordinances” was not bringing joy into my home.

I needed an awakening. I needed a wakeup call. My health broke about the same time that I left the pastorate. That was what I needed. I was able to focus on prayer, Bible study, and worship more than I had in years. I no longer had to be in performance mode. It took several years for it to make a true difference in my life. But I am so glad it did.

Frankly, I believe that my family sees that difference as well.

 

The Difference

My life was filled with selfishness.
I was filled up with pride.
I thought the whole world I could bless
If they’d stand by my side.

I worked and tried my best to give
The world a better day.
I tried a good clean life to live,
What better price to pay?

But in my house my family knew.
They’d see me fuss and fight.
And people in the world saw too,
Something was just not right.

But I have bowed unto the Lord
And asked Him to forgive,
For I can no longer afford
Without His power to live.

No longer do I live alone,
With aching heart so sore;
For God's own power to me, He’s shown.
It’s Him I’m living for.

And now the difference I can feel.
In Jesus my heart burns
For other’s souls now to appeal,
Until sin their heart spurns.

“For me to live is Christ,” Paul said,
“To die it would be 
gain.”
Now my heart is no longer dead
And I can say the same.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

 

One Hundred Years and Counting

August 17, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

There is a place that is dear to my heart. It is a place where I have heard God’s voice and answered His call. It is a place where thousands of people of all ages have come to faith in Christ. It is a place where more people have surrendered to the call of missionary and pastor than any other place on Earth. It happens to be the largest Christian youth camp in the world. Where is this special place? Falls Creek Baptist Assembly near Davis, Oklahoma is the only place that fits the description.

I began attending camp there in 1954. Back then there were no air conditioners, hot showers, indoor toilets, etc. The cabin my parents and I stayed in was just inside the main gate and on the other side of Falls Creek. I learned at an early age that the convenience of riding in a car was a luxury. You had to walk about a city block from where Daddy parked the car, to the front door of our little cabin. Of course at camp, you walked everywhere.

The shower consisted of a 50-gallon drum on a stand behind the cabin. Water from a spring ran into the drum all day long. You didn’t want to take your shower in the morning. The water would be ice cold from the spring. But in the evening, just before bed, you could go out and enjoy the fact that the water had been warmed by the sun.  

That shower calls to mind the way the Holy Spirit works in our lives. John recorded Jesus words in chapter fourteen verses sixteen and seventeen. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

The Psalmist had said, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” Psalm 69:20 (KJV)

The cold spring water is the cold, harsh world we live in. The Psalmist was prophesying concerning the death of our Lord. But it also applies to us. If you try to take it on your own as it comes out of the side of the mountain it chills and literally makes you hurt. There doesn’t seem that there is anything that could warm the water. No one cared enough to even try

But when the Holy Spirit works in our lives, He takes away the harsh chill that threatens us. He heals the broken heart and lifts up the heaviness. He looks on us with more than pity. He gives us His love and a comforter that will take away the chill.

If you have trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you. It’s a package deal. Allow Him the freedom to work in your life and let Him be your Comforter.

Falls Creek

We thank our Lord and Savior,
For forming these old hills.
Where cool clear water fills a pool,
And over fall does spill.

The setting is so beautiful,
Exciting yet serene.
In these hills there is power,
To move the soul within.

This place is given to the Lord,
His Spirit to control.
And as we come together now,
He speaks unto the soul.

Yes, Falls Creek is a special place,
Where sinners are set free.
A place that Jesus did provide,
A place for you and me.

Now would you stop and listen,
To what He has to say?
Then yield your heart and life to Him,
And bow to Him and pray.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Lessons On An Axhead

August 14, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

A few years ago, as Southern Baptists were in some lively debates about the accuracy of the Bible, several typical passages have been mentioned, which a few believe are not historical.  The first eleven chapters of Genesis were being called myth. The deliverance at the Red Sea was called "embellished." Even the Resurrection of Jesus was "spiritualized" or called a "legend."

One of the Old Testament miracles that was being subjected to ridicule is the one found in 2 Kings 6:1-7, where the chronicler tells us about an ax head. Elisha the prophet had recently taken the mantle of Elijah, after the latter had gone into heaven, ending his ministry. One of the first mighty things Elisha is recorded as doing is in this passage in 2 Kings 6:

    The company of the prophets said to Elisha, "Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us.  Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." And he said, "Go."  Then one of them said, "Won't you please come with your servants?" "I will," Elisha replied.  And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees.  As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed!"  The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float.  "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

In my opinion, those who would explain away scriptures like this are simply afraid of their being.

Now think of the setting is this. Elisha was the teacher in a school called the school of the prophets. The students felt that the school was too small and they needed more room to study. So one of them approached Elisha and asked him if they could build a larger school.

In order to build the school, they needed tools and materials. So they gathered their resources, some of which was borrowed. One student wasn’t watching closely enough and the head of his ax became loose and fell into the water, sinking to the bottom.

The lesson here is that we should be proper stewards of that which is in our hands. Everything we possess is loaned to us by God. If you think you are the owner, you are fooling yourself.

Elijah acted in faith. He cut a stick and threw it in the water. This is a reminder that the rod of the Lord is often used to Glorify His Holy Name. He merely acted on the instructions of the Lord. If we act in accordance with what God tells us to do, great things will happen.

Sadly we often stand back when God speaks and worry about what we are going to do next. We ask ourselves, “What can I do about it?” When the question should be, “What can God do about it?” and “Can I be an instrument in His hands.”

Borrowed Tools

Borrowed tools for one young prophet
‘Most ended his career.
For he lost that tool while working,
And came to Elisha in fear.

Borrowed tools won’t stop a Christian
From doing the Lord’s will
If he’ll only come confessing sin,
On bended knee be still.

Borrowed tools can be a blessing,
Or they can be a curse.
It all depends on how you use them,
For better or for worse.

Borrowed tools will be a blessing
When we use them with care
But when we take them for granted
Our only hope is prayer

Borrowed tools won’t be a hindrance,
In the work, you do each day.
If you just take care and use them
In their intended way.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem, contact Passages Ministries.

 

Running From Your Call

August 9, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

As a kid, running was part of our DNA. My brother and I hardly ever went anywhere that it was not made into a race. The old nursery rhyme The Gingerbread Man comes to mind.

In the 1875 St. Nicholas Magazine tale, a childless old woman bakes a gingerbread man who leaps from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but fail to catch him. The Gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them with the phrase:

Run, run as fast as you can!
You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man!

The tale ends with a fox catching and eating the gingerbread man who cries as he's devoured, "I'm quarter gone...I'm half gone...I'm three-quarters gone...I'm all gone!"

The book of Jonah is about a man who thought he could outrun God. He didn’t want to do what God called him to do. Jonah was a Jew and he hated the Ninevites. They were a cruel and wicked people who had given the people of Israel trouble for an extended period of time.

God told him to go and tell them that God was going to destroy their city. Now it seems that this would be something Jonah would want to do. You know, walk through their city yelling that God is going to destroy them.

But Jonah knew God. He knew that if the people of Ninevah were to repent, God would forgive them. He did not want that to happen. So Jonah ran.

But there are some things he did not know. He didn’t know that running from God is very difficult. All kinds of obstacles block the way of escape. Just about the time, he thought he had gotten away with it, God sent a storm to break over the ship he was in. It was so bad that the sailors were afraid for their lives. They threw cargo overboard trying to lighten the load. But that didn’t help. Finally, they cast lots in an attempt to find out who brought this catastrophe upon them.

The second thing he did not know was that running from God can be dangerous. Jonah finally relented and told them that he was to blame. He told them to cast him overboard and the storm would end. At first they resisted, but finally, they did as he said.

I wonder if he was thinking, “I would give up my life not to do what God has commanded me to do.” Can a man be so desperate to avoid God’s call that he is willing to die?

Finally, I find that running from God can be deceptive. God’s plan was not going to be thwarted by a rebellious prophet. Jonah just thought he was getting away from his call. If I die, I won't have to go. But he was only deceiving himself. God had prepared what the Bible calls “a great fish” to swallow Jonah.

Running from God is always a downward spiral. Please note that Jonah went:

  • Down to Joppa – Jonah 1:3
  • Down to a ship – Jonah 1:3
  • Down into the ship – Jonah 1:5
  • Down into the sea – Jonah 2:3

But when he turned in repentance to God he started an upward journey. It says in chapter one verse ten, “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” That was the first step in the right direction for Jonah.

What about you? Are you running from the call God has placed on your life? Some are running from the call to salvation. Others are running from the call to a Christlike life. Still, others are running from the call to ministry.

Remember that running from God is difficult, it is dangerous and it is deceptive. Also, never forget that when you are running from God you are on a downward journey. Turn to Him today. Be obedient to His call. He will lift you up.

 

Jonah

God had said to Nineveh you go,
Warning of judgment He would send their way.
Jonah knew that God would mercy show.
 So he then tried to run and disobey.

To the sea, he ran so he could hide
And keep from warning Nineveh to turn.
God sent a storm to arrest his flight.
“Throw me in!” he cried God’s will to spurn.

God sent a great fish to meet him there.
Down in the depths of the see Jonah went.
And in the great fish, he did despair.
When three days had passed he did repent.

To Nineveh, he finally did preach.
And all those who heard in sorrow did bow.
From the poor to the king it did reach.
Their allegiance to God each did avow.

Now Jonah on a hill he did scowl.
Not happy with God, for death he appealed.
 From scorching sun a plant for a cowl,
He sat and brooded refusing to yield.

God sent a worm to destroy his shade.
And he once again was moved in despair.
“Why are you concerned for the plant's fate
Yet for thousands of souls, you had no care?”

The question’s the same for us today
As we travel this road the world to see.
Millions of lives that have gone astray

They’re waiting, the message of hope to hear.

We often despair for the small things
And turn our backs to the big things of life.
While God is tugging on our heart strings
To share the message of hope that is Christ.

 

© Copyright 2017 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Heaven Or Hell You Choose

August 5, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

I was speaking with a fellow not long ago about why he did not trust in Christ. His biggest objection was that he did not believe in Hell. He said, “How could a loving God send people to Hell for eternity?”

      He has his question completely backward. The question is not “How could God send people to Hell.” The question is, “Why would men chose to go to Hell instead of coming to Christ.”

Think of it this way. Imagine that I have two glasses of water. These glasses are numbered 1 and 2. I then tell you that glass number one is full of strawberry juice with one drop of poison and glass number two is pure strawberry juice. Who in their right mind would choose glass number one?

If you choose to drink from glass number one, even though it only has one drop of poison, you will die.

However, if you drink from glass number two, I will send you on an all expenses paid trip to Disney World. You will live in a multimillion dollar mansion and you will be driven in a Rolls Royce anywhere your heart desires.

I have clearly laid out the parameters. I have defined what is in each glass and the consequences of drinking from each glass.

Now, if you choose to drink from glass number one, you can’t say it is unfair that you have to die and don’t get to go to Disney World and ride in a Rolls Royce.

If I had not told you from the beginning what was in each glass and simply handed you the glass with the poison, that would be unfair. But I didn’t do that.

I gave you the free choice. I am not evil because you chose to drink the poison. You were completely free to drink the strawberry juice in glass number two.

Did you know that Jesus talked about Hell more than any other person in the Bible? Jesus believed there was a Hell to avoid and a Heaven to choose. He told the true story of a man named Lazarus, who was poor and sick. He laid at the gate of a rich man who didn’t even care enough to give him scraps off his table.

Lazarus died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom (an analogy for paradise).

The rich man died and in Hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. He cried out in torment and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” (Luke 16:24 NASB)

The rich man didn’t grouse and complain that it wasn’t fair. He saw that he was in Hell by his own choice. “How can you say that?” you may ask.

When he found that he could not have water to cool his tongue, he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him (Lazarus) to my father's house—28  for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Luke 16:27-28 (NASB)

The rich man wanted his brothers to make a better choice than he had made.

One did come back from the dead. His name was Jesus. He arose the victor over death and Hell. By His resurrection, all those who trust in Him will receive the gift of eternal life. The choice is yours, and yours alone. I cannot make it for you. No one can make that choice for you. God, Himself cannot make that choice for you!

Which will you choose, glass number one that leads to death, or glass number two that leads to eternal life?

Lonesome

As I sit here in this dingy cell,
My life more lonesome than I can tell.
No wondering what the verdict will be.
When the Judge of all calls out to me.

The questioning of my fear is strong.
How did I let life go so wrong?
Why didn’t I hear those words of peace,
That could have given my soul true ease?

Chorus:                                                     
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

I could have been on the other side,
Where peace and love with all do abide.
I see over there my mother dear,
And father too, as I shed a tear.

They look so peaceful and full of rest.
But then I too could have been thus bless’d.
But I chose a path that led to death.
And walked that path till my dying breath.

Chorus:
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

I had heard the call of hope and love
But thought that God, I could live above.
So now I feel the fires of hell.
My life’s more lonesome than I can tell.

Chorus:
You don’t have to spend eternity this way
If you fall on your knees and pray.
You can live your life in His peace and love
When you call on the Lord above.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries, All rights reserved.
For permission to use this song contact Passages Ministries.

Are You Listening?

August 1, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

Pardon me a moment as I reminisce just a bit. I am sorry to say that as a child I listened more attentively to God than I sometimes do today. Let me give you a couple of examples.

When I was three and one-half years old, I came in from the sandbox, tugged on my mother’s apron, and told her, “God wants me to be a preacher but I have to be saved first.” To say that she was shocked would be an understatement. She dropped the dish she had in her hands and I can still hear it hitting the floor and shattering into a thousand pieces. I turned on my heels and ran back out to the sandbox.

About six months later my father and a couple of other men had started a little church in a dirt floor garage at what used to be called “eleven-mile corner.” The church has moved and was later known as Cass Heights Baptist Church near Midwest City, Oklahoma.

As a part of establishing the church, they had a revival meeting. There was one particular lady I remember. She was always prim and proper. She had been praying for her husband to be saved for many years. On Thursday night he came to the revival and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. The dear lady was so excited that she grabbed a broom from the corner and began sweeping that dirt floor as hard as she could. We all left the service that evening coughing and wheezing.

That night as my mother was getting me ready for bed I said, “Mama, I need to get saved tonight.” She tried to put me off, thinking that I was trying to keep from going to bed. I said, “No Mama, I need to get saved tonight!”

Mama said, “Now son we are late getting in bed because of the revival. Go to bed now and we will talk about it in the morning.”

I said, “Mama, didn’t the preacher say tonight that if you died and didn’t know Jesus you would get punished?”

She said, “Well, yes!”

I said, “Well if I die tonight and get punished, it will be your fault!”

She pointed to the door and said, “Go talk to your father!”

When I came through the bedroom door Daddy asked me what I needed. I said, “I need to get saved tonight.”

He said, “Well son there are some things you need to know before you can be saved.”

I asked, “Like what?”

He said, “You need to know what sin is.”

I said, “I know what sin is!”

“Okay smart little man, what is sin?”

“Sin is anything that makes Jesus unhappy.” was my reply.

“Well, I can’t beat that.” He continued, “Do you have anything like that in your life?”

I said, “I sure do! When I don’t do what you or Mama tell me to do, or when I fight with David, or when I break his toys, or…”

He broke in and said, “Okay, that will do. What do you think you need to do about that?”

“I need to ask Jesus to forgive me and make me a new boy!”

“When do you want to do that?” he asked.

“Right now!” We knelt down by the old iron post bed and I asked Jesus to forgive my sin and make me a new boy. And He did.

Skip forward seven years. Daddy was now the pastor of First Baptist Church Carmen, Oklahoma. We were in revival with Evangelist Paul Roe. He was preaching from Romans chapter ten.

Romans 10:8-15 (NASB) 8  But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11  For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13  for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

14  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

The whole evening all I heard over and over were the words, “How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”

I prayed, “Lord why is Bro. Roe talking to me? Doesn’t he know that my best friend Coy is sitting right behind me? Doesn’t he now that my friend needs to be saved?”

What I didn’t know was that brother Roe only read the verses I heard one time. The message he was giving was one of a call to salvation. But I was hearing the Holy Spirit telling me that I needed to commit to His call on my life.

I went to the front and prayed with Daddy. While we were praying God brought into my mind what I told my mother when I was only three and one-half years old.

That night I walked home with Mama. I asked her if what I remembered was real. With tears streaming down her face she said, “I have held that as a secret in my heart. I never told anyone because I was afraid they might say something to make you do something that wasn’t His will.” She added, “I have prayed that if that was God talking to my little boy, that He would remind you of it in His time.”

Several years later my friend, Coy, was lead to faith in Christ in the kitchen of his parent’s home. In my mind, God answered the prayer of an eight-year-old kid that day.

I didn’t hear an audible voice. But, I heard His voice, a still small voice as He placed His calling in the heart of a three and one-half-year-old child. I heard His voice again when I accepted Christ into my heart at four years of age. I heard His voice again when I surrendered to His call at eight years of age.

Have you heard His voice? Is there too much of the world going on around you to hear? Then step aside. Get out of the noise. Hear His voice today.

The Joy Of Revival

 

To see a child as he comes to Christ,
Is a Christian’s greatest joy in life.
Yes, a child has many years to live,
For the One Who His own life did give.

Yet again I see another joy,
As an old man comes as though a boy,
And confesses of a life of sin,
So that a new life he can begin.

Now another joy comes clear to me,
As
a Christian bows upon the knee,
And rededicates his heart and life,
To bring an end to a way of strife.

Now this is what true revival is,
When we place our feeble hands in His.
And God speaks unto a weary soul,
Who then gives to God his life control.

Won’t you turn now from life's silly toys,
And join in all God’s wonderful joys?
Then you can feel the joy I have known,
As Jesus’ love to our world is shown.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Is the Yoke On You?

July 29, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

When I was young there was a farmer, we will call him Fred, who lived nearby who raised and trained oxen for work. Another neighbor had a brand new John Deere tractor. This neighbor, we will call him John, was always ribbing Fred and telling him that his tractor was better than any team Fred might put together.

One day John got his tractor stuck in a muddy part of the field. He tried everything he could think of to get his prized tractor out of the mud. Before long he heard the crack of a whip and the commands "Gee" and "Haw" as Fred drove his team of oxen into the field.

John said, “What do you think you are going to be able to do with those cows?” He continued, “The tractor is buried up to the axle. There won't be anything I can do about it until that corner of the field dries up.”

Fred smiled as he put his team in front of the tractor. He took the log chain that was draped across one of the oxen and fastened it to the front of the tractor. He then fastened it to the yoke. He said, “Now John if you will just be quiet for a bit and get up on your tractor, we will see what these girls can do.”

Fred told John to start the tractor. Then he cracked the whip and said, “HUP!” Suddenly the oxen leaned into the yoke and the chain drew tense. Once again he shouted “HUP!” and the oxen strained against their yoke. The tractor began to raise up from its position in the mud and John slowly let out on the clutch.

Again Fred shouted “HUP!” The oxen felt the movement and instinctively dug in and pulled harder. Suddenly the tractor was free from the mud and being drug across the open field by the two mighty beasts.

John learned a valuable lesson that day. When you are in a hole, it might take a yoke to get you going again.

Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30  "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30 NASB)

When a yoke is new its edges are hard and straight, but as the oxen pull on it day after day, it begins to wear down to a point that it is easy. The farmer always put the ox in the same side of the yoke. That way the wood begins to form to the shape of that particular ox. This is what Jesus is saying. My yoke is already an easy fit. He has eased the edges for us. He bore it on Calvary.

Just like Fred in our story of the yoke, Jesus has a task for us. He has called us to a purpose. In fact, He clearly directs us into that task in the Great Commission. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)  

Is His yoke on you?

The Task

Two thousand years ago our Savior came
And gave to us the right to bear His name.
But with that name, there’s a task to do.
A task that’s made for me and made for you.

He gave this task to all who trust in Him.
Those whom He has forgiven all their sin.
So if you know that He, your Savior is,
Do that task as though your all is His.

“Go ye,” He said to those with Him that day.
And they watched as clouds took Him away.
We are His hand, His feet the Bible says.
It’s up to us to teach the world His ways.

Our task is clear, and plain the path is made,
For on the Cross the price of sin was paid.
This message true, we must take to lost men,
For true it is, they’re dying in their sin.

So we are now His army in this world.
And overhead His banner is unfurled.
Now we march on, as soldiers of the Cross.
We’ll do the task, no matter what the cost.

 

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

Of Sycamores and Angels

July 26, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

What is it that lifts us up so that we may see Jesus for what He really is? Luke 19:4 (NASB) says, "And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way."

First, we will look at some “Sycamores” for the Christian. Then we will see some Sycamores for the lost.

God’s Holy Word is the first Sycamore.

There once was a woman who was incredibly nosey. She would sit in her house and watch the mailman leave mail at her neighbor's house.

Nearly every day when her neighbor came home from work she watched as the neighbor anxiously opened a letter. The letter was always in the same pretty blue envelope.

Each day her neighbor would open that blue envelope and she would laugh and laugh. Then suddenly she would cry. Then she would look surprised and invariably she would end in laughter.

The nosey neighbor watched this happen, day after day. One day she decided she just had to know what was in that envelope and who it was from. She watched the mailman close the box, lower the flag and go on his way. Then when he was just out of sight, the lady ran across the street and took out that blue envelope, took it to her house and steamed it open. She read it and didn’t find anything of interest and it was signed with initials only.

She resealed the envelope and hurried to put it back in the mailbox. She just barely made it back in the house when the neighbor pulled into her garage and immediately went out to the mailbox. Standing there she opened the blue envelope and immediately cried. Then she laughed so hard she almost fell over.

Well, the nosey neighbor couldn’t stand it any longer. She opened her door and marched across the street and demanded to know what was so sad or funny in that letter. She said, “I read that letter and there was nothing worth crying over and certainly nothing even the least bit funny!”

Her neighbor said, “But you don’t know the person who wrote this letter. If you did, you would understand."

Scriptures’ inner sanctuary opens only to worshippers. People who say, “Nobody can understand the Bible” do not know the author.

Christ is the great subject of search and research. In the Old Testament, He is desired, foretold, and pictured. In the New Testament, He is shown to be Prophet, Priest, and King.

The second Sycamore is Private Prayer.

Prayer lifts us to Heaven. We have all been invited to spend eternity in a place that cannot be described by mortal human beings. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” In other words, if Jesus Christ can do nothing about death, we have no hope at all.

Private prayer brings Heaven to us. The old Gospel song says, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul. When at the cross the Savior made me whole. My sins were washed away, And my night was turned to day. Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.” We can now see things from God’s perspective We can come “boldly to the throne of grace.”

Public Worship is the next Sycamore for the Christian.

God’s house is a place of worship and fellowship. It is a place where we can learn how to live an abundant life. Yet there are those who do not take advantage of this important time. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  

It is also a place where we can participate in God’s ordinances. The early church believed strongly in “breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Jesus himself told us that as often as we celebrate The Lord’s Supper, we are remembering the broken body and shed blood until He returns.

There is the Sycamore of Personal Trust.

Unbelief and distrust close our eyes in our walk with the Lord. We have all heard the axiom “Seeing is believing.” We need to turn that on its head. Shouldn’t we be saying “Believing is seeing?” I love what it says in Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The fifth Sycamore is Humble Confession.

Men say, “Confession is good for the soul.” But we must be aware of what kind of confession is good for the soul. Romans 10:9-10 (KJV) 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Later in the same chapter, Paul asks a question. How shall they believe if they have not heard about Him?” He continued, “How shall they hear without someone to tell them?” That someone is you and me. And in telling them, we are blessed.

For the Christian, there is another confession that we must keep up to date. 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB) “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” We must remember that the book of First John was written to those who were already believers.

Complete Obedience is the sixth Sycamore.

Christ does not ask us to do anything that He will not do. He is asking us to imitate Him in our daily walk in, Luke 9:23 “23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (KJV) When people of His day saw anyone carrying a cross, there was only one explanation. That person was going to be executed in the most gruesome way that man ever conceived. There are people all over the world who are obeying unto death. They are dying for their faith.

Faithfulness to Christ in our time is not an easy accomplishment. We are shouted down in the streets if we dare to speak up for what is good and holy. But our faithfulness tells those who observe what we really believe. — John 7:17 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (KJV)

The final Sycamore for the believer is Devoted Service.

Work is a necessity. An old hymn says, Oh land of rest, for thee I sigh! When will the moment come When I shall lay my armor by and dwell in peace at home? We’ll work till Jesus comes, We’ll work till Jesus comes, We’ll work till Jesus comes, And we’ll be gathered home.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (KJV)

Work is a blessing, not a curse. It has been said, “If you can find a job that you love don’t let go of it until you retire.”  — Galatians 6:4 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (KJV)

These are the things that help us to see Christ for who he really is. They are near us, available, reliable. Use them for His glory. Even so, the Lost world has some difficulties. For them the “Sycamores” are different.

Some “Sycamores” For the Lost.

Individually we can be Sycamores.

There are two necessary features in a tree if one intends to climb. It must be accessible. Therefore, we must be available to those who our message and our help. And it must be strong. Therefore, we must be able to bear the burdens of others.

We can be Sycamores Corporately.

Others must see Christ in our churches. If they are to see Christ in our churches they must be able to see Christ in us. — 1 Corinthians 14:25 “25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” (KJV)

We must show them that we are one with other Christians. John 17:21 says, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (KJV)

To climb God’s sycamore trees — to be God’s sycamore tree is a responsibility, a privilege, and a joy. If we climb — if we are to encourage others to climb — we will each see Jesus and hear His tender voice say: “Today I must abide at thy house . . . this day is salvation come to this house.”

You say, "But what about the angels?" Angels are messengers from God. Some believe that we all have guardian angels. Whether that is the case or not, you and I can and should be messengers, angels of sorts, to those who do not know Him. So the lessons of the Sycamore are the same lessons for the angels.

An Angel By My Side

Everyday hassles build to fear,
Frustrations rise and fall.
Sometimes I feel that there’s no hope,
My life’s about to stall.

Then suddenly when I least expect,
I feel a cooling breeze.
My frustration begins to subside a bit,
My fears begin to ease.

I look around and there I see,
A dear friend by my side.
One to give me good advice,
Whose wisdom has been tried.

I didn’t know that I had met,
An angel sent from God.
Who’d pray for me and care so much,
When through the hurt I’ve trod.

I’ve met an angel in that day,
I’m in their very midst.
Without the trouble, I have known,
Their presence I'd have missed.

Now I must tell you what I know,
You’ve been an angel for me
You took me out of a prison of guilt,
And with compassion, you set me free.

© Copyright 1995 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

 

But Who Do You Say That I Am?

July 22, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

 

The most important question of the ages was asked by Jesus in Matthew 16:15 “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” If we get this question right we have hope and blessings ahead of us. If we get it wrong, there is nothing but hopelessness in our future.

 

Jesus did not expect the disciples to accept Him on “blind faith.” They walked with Him for three years before He asked them this question. They watched as He healed the sick. They saw Him give sight to the blind. The witnessed Him touching the leprous hand and make their bodies clean. They saw him bring the dead to life. They also saw how He responded with authority to the challenges of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

They came to an informed faith in Jesus as their Christ and Lord. When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one they were looking for (The Messiah) or if they need to look for some other. Jesus’ answer was clear. He wanted them to have an informed faith. He told them to look around and see the blind, lame, and sick healed and the dead raised.

 

When Jesus posed the question to them they were about 120 miles from Jerusalem in the northern part of Palestine. The region was strongly identified with various religions: It had been a center for Baal Worship; the Greek god Pan had shrines there; and Herod the great had built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar. It was in the midst of these pagan superstitions that Peter confessed Jesus as the Son of God.

A right confession of who Jesus is is basic to salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-10 (NASB) “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

I want to challenge my readers to investigate for yourselves the veracity of God’s Word and Jesus being the Christ. You can begin your journey by reading books like The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel, Evidence That Demands a Verdict By Josh McDowell, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Athiest by Norman Geisler.

There are many other resources available to help you find the truth. If your objection to Christianity is the pain and suffering that is in our world, then I would suggest The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis. Lewis speaks of pain from a personal level. Not long after he came to faith in Christ he married a lovely young lady who had a son. His precious wife then died of cancer. His struggles are real as he deals with this topic. But his loss and the pain that resulted made his faith stronger.

There is one who knew the pain like no other.

A Dream?

A scream--

Groans of agony

          The sound of metal striking metal.

          metal striking flesh and bones

Torn flesh----

and blood that's streaming down.

          A gasp for air, but in it pain

          Joints pulled out of socket

The pain-

Hair matted with blood-

          and tears.

                   When will it end?

Those eyes

          sad, lonesome, -- loving, -

          thoughtful, hurting, -- compassionate eyes.

I've seen those eyes -

                             but where? when?

What are they looking at?

          At-

                   me?

          and yet through me -

                   to the soul.

                   ---------------------But why?---

Is-

that-

a tear?

                   Will it never end?

That voice

          I've heard that voice before.

                   What was that?

ABBA-

Father!

          Was that a name it whispered too?

                   Who's?

It can't be--

                             Mine?

 

          What else?

It-

          is-

                   finished!

 

                   I reached out to take a nail-scarred hand-

                   ---And it was there.

          Suddenly I awoke

          a cold sweat on my face

          Then I knew

IT-

          WAS-

                   for me!

 

© Copyright 1993 by Passages Ministries. All rights reserved.
For permission to use this poem contact Passages Ministries.

I Said It Would Be Worth It

July 19, 2017

By Evangelist John BJ Hall

On the wall at my physical therapist is a framed poster. It says, “I didn’t say it wouldn’t hurt. I said it would be worth it.” On June 19th I had a Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder Replacement. On July 13th I began physical therapy to increase my range of motion and strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. As I write this article I have one week down and three weeks to go.

I have found the poster to be truthful. We have all heard the axiom, “No pain. No gain.” The therapist has not been gentle with me. In fact, I’m pretty sore right now. But I have made real progress in my quest for complete recovery. I have already reached the target goal for what they call “Shoulder Abduction.” And I am well on my way to reaching the other goals.

Why am I telling you this? Physical therapy has a lot in common with spiritual growth. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Just as my goal in physical therapy is complete recovery, so our goal in trials is to  be “complete, lacking nothing.” Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that God makes every difficulty, every trial, every disappointment, every heartache, every failure, every job loss, every death of a loved one, work out for the good of everyone who loves God and is called to His purpose.

The truth is that we are purified by the trials of life. Peter said it this way, “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:7 (NASB)

Sometimes God doesn’t show us the purpose of our struggles in this life. When Job lost everything, God did not tell him why. He only found out why when he left this earth and entered into the Glory of the Lord. Job even endured the judgments and accusations of his friends. Yet he said that even if God were to take his life, he would trust Him. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NASB)

I look forward to the day that I complete my therapy and am able to mow my own yard. But there is a road I must travel before I get there. That road leads through stretching of my muscles and tendons.

I look forward to the day when I wake up and look around and find myself in Heaven with my Lord. I hope to hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” My road will lead me through times when my faith is stretched beyond what I think I can bear. It leads through prayer, witnessing, and loving on the unlovable as I strengthen my walk with Him.

He didn’t say it wouldn’t be painful, He said it would be worth it.

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