Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christ, The Branch

Isaiah 11:1 – “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:”

Several times throughout the Old Testament, the Messiah is referred to as the “Branch.” Our text above introduces the concept to our minds. The prophet Isaiah announces that one day a Branch will come – a Branch that will grow from a dead, royal line, the house of Jesse. When God wanted a king for Israel, He told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and there He would show Samuel which of Jesse’s sons he was to anoint as king. All of Jesse’s strong, manly sons came marching through, each one God told Samuel was not the one. But out in the wilderness, tending to the sheep was the youngest son – a fair, ruddy complexioned lad – a poet – a singer – a dreamer. “This is the one,” God told Samuel. “This young lad will become the great psalmist of Israel – this ruddy fellow will become the man after God’s own heart – this little shepherd boy will become the great warrior-king of Zion.” And he was the beginning of a great royal line – David, Solomon, and on and on. And, according to all the prophets, the Messiah would usher in the kingdom of God through this royal line.

So . . . what happened? The line died out. The nation of Israel became divided – the larger part choosing a different king, the smaller part keeping the Davidic line – the people choosing to worship idols and abandon God. Finally God had all He could take, causing the Babylonians to conquer and carry away Zedekiah, the last Davidic king. The royal line of David was gone … caput! So how was the prophecy that a son of David would sit on the throne forever going to be fulfilled now? Well, there would come a “Branch” – a shoot – a sprout – a twig – a rod. Where would this “Branch” come from? It would come from a stem – not a royal family tree – but a stem – a stump – a trunk of a cut-down tree. And it would be the stem of Jesse. How about that!?! New growth from the dead family line of Jesse, once a proud royal tree, now cut down to the ground – all that remained was a stump. In fact, as far as anyone knows, all that remained of this once proud family was two plain commoners living in Nazareth of Galilee, Joseph and Mary. They were all that was left of Israel’s once illustrious royal line.

And one day this stump sprouted forth a Branch, a young, green shoot giving this dead line new life. Yet not only did He give the royal line new life – He gave all men new life. This Branch brought from lowly beginnings, of humanly impossible beginnings, new life from a dead stump. And the greatest miracle of all, He was not here just for decoration, but was here to produce and bear fruit. In Him are hidden great and wonderful promises. This is what made the Apostle Paul say, many years later in 2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” This Branch brings new life to all – salvation to all who will accept the free gift. Imagine that – on His birthday, He gives a precious gift to everyone else. He’s Jesus Christ, the Branch.

Quote – “What those prophets affirm in the metaphor of the Branch is that God will not leave His people without a leader to show them how to be His people.” – Dennis Bratcher

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lo, I Come

Psalm 40:7 – “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.”

Oh what a blessing to see pictures of Christ in the Old Testament. Many of the Psalms are Messianic in nature – that is, they speak of the coming Messiah; His suffering; His sacrifice; His first advent; His second advent; all painting a picture of Christ’s work of forgiveness on the cross. The very religion of the Jews – the yearly sacrifice – the tabernacle in the wilderness – the temple in Jerusalem – all the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism – all point to the coming of the Messiah to “bruise” the head of the serpent.

But here in Psalm 40, the need for salvation is never more evident. Man, created in innocence, has plunged into sin and degradation. Man’s condition was lower than sacrifice and offerings could atone for. And then Christ steps forward and says, “Lo, I come.” Christ is the obedient Servant, coming to earth into man’s sinful race, “encompassed about” by “innumerable evils (v.12).” But why? Why did the apostle in Hebrews 12:2 declare that Christ “endured the cross, despising the shame?”


What made Christ leave His heavenly home
And take upon Himself humanity?
He did not set aside His Deity, mind you,
He just put on a robe of flesh.

What caused Him to suffer the humiliation of mortality,
He who was immortal?
Why did He identify Himself with sinful fallen man,
He who knew no sin?

What made Him endure the existence of the creature,
He who was the Creator?
Why did He come to dwell among us,
He who had dwelt in glory?

Why did He subject Himself to the ridicule of men,
He who could destroy them with a single word?
Why did He suffer the pain and agony of the cross,
He who was the Lamb of God?

When God created man so many years hence,
He was the crowning of His creation.
He so loved this precious creature,
That He breathed His very Spirit into him.

Yet when man chose to disobey God,
His heart was broken at the sin –
Scripture calls it the “joy that was set before Him.”
His Love answers all the “Why’s.”
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “He whom the ages could not contain, the glorious One who dwelt with the Father for ever unseen, now appeared within the bounds of time and space, and humble shepherds saw him, and adored.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Profit of Prayer

Job 22:27 – “Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee.”

In this day and hour, when everyone is seeking profit, let us not forget that there is great profit in prayer. The ancient one tells us that if we make our prayer unto God, He will stop what He’s doing and hear us. The Infinite One – the One who runs this universe – the One who manages the affairs of nations – the One who does great and mighty works – will stop everything and hear our prayer.

Charles Spurgeon related this during one of his sermons: “All the mighty works of God have been attended with great prayer, as well as great faith. Have ye ever heard of the commencement of the great American revival? A man, unknown and obscure, laid it up in his heart to pray that God would bless his country. After praying and wrestling and making the soul-stirring inquiry, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ he hired a room, and put up an announcement that there would be a prayer meeting held there at such-and-such an hour of the day.

“He went at the proper hour, and there was not a single person there; he began to pray, and prayed for half an hour alone. One came in at the end of the half-hour, and then two more, and I think he closed with six. The next week came around, and there might have been fifty dropped in at different times. At last the prayer meetings grew to a hundred; then others began to start prayer meetings; at last there was scarcely a street in New York that was without a prayer meeting. Merchants found time to run in, in the middle of the day, to pray.

“The prayer meetings became daily ones, lasting for about an hour; petitions and requests were sent up; these were simply asked and offered before God, and the answers came; and many happy hearts that stood up and testified that the prayer offered last week had been already fulfilled. Then it was when they were all earnest in prayer, suddenly the Spirit of God fell upon the people, and it was rumored that in a certain village a preacher had been preaching in thorough earnest, and there had been hundreds converted in a week. The matter spread into and through the Northern States. These revivals of religion became universal, and it has been sometimes said, that a quarter of a million people were converted to God through the short space of two or three months.”

Yes, there is great profit in prayer. Oh, more than likely it won’t fill your pockets with cash; it won’t put a Porsche in your garage; it won’t give you a vacation house in the south of France. But it will profit you in ways that you could never imagine – with joy – with peace – with hope. Who knows but that you will pray for God to bless your country and He will send great revival sweeping through the shores of this once-great land. Who knows?

Quote – “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Remember Lot's Wife

Luke 17:32 – “Remember Lot’s wife.”

In Luke 17, Christ is teaching his disciples about the days of the coming of the Son of man. He tells them there will be eating, drinking, buying, selling, marrying, giving in marriage, building – all those things that are common in this life. Get that? Common in this life – in this day and age – could be right around the corner. It could be any day now. That’s how close we are to the days Christ is talking about in this passage.

Christ compared the day of his coming to the days of Noah and of Lot. And what happened to those civilizations? They were destroyed by God’s wrath. Noah’s world was destroyed by a worldwide flood, Lot’s by fire and brimstone. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 warns us of God’s wrath outpoured, “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” The antediluvian world met with God’s wrath (2 Pe 2:5) – Sodom and Gomorrah met with God’s wrath (2 Pe 2:6) – even the angels that sinned met with God’s wrath (2 Pe 2:4). But this short verse, verse 32 – three short words are here given as an example to those who would reject God’s gracious provision and have to face His terrible wrath.

Remember Lot’s wife – Even though she was married to a righteous man, she was responsible for her own soul and was responsible for her own salvation. And Lot was a righteous man – the apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 2:7 & 8, “And delivered just Lot, …(For that righteous man …vexed his righteous soul from day to day…)” But his righteousness was not enough to pull her in on his shirttails – she was responsible for her own actions.

Remember Lot’s wife – Even though she was warned of the wrath that was to come, and even though she was warned not to look back, her actions spoke louder than words. The sinful condition of her soul was such that would not allow her to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation. How many leather-lunged preachers have proclaimed the message of God’s provision from the pulpits, from the street corners, from the radios and televisions across this land warning men, women, boys, and girls of the terrible wrath that is to come if they reject God’s precious Son. Yet teeming masses still tread “the broad road that leadeth to destruction.”

Remember Lot’s wife – Even though she made an effort to be saved, she stopped short of salvation. Such is the damnable position of those deceived by religion. Religion teaches man that they can do it their own way – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Pr 14:12).” Religion teaches salvation by works – religion teaches salvation by will – religion teaches salvation by wealth. But every other way but God’s way leads only to His wrath. Lot’s wife made an effort, but she didn’t come God’s way.

Remember Lot’s wife – Even though she committed only one sin, the sin of disbelief, she was lost without God and suffered His wrath. Though every person is born in sin and commits sins throughout his life, the only sin that condemns a man is the sin of disbelief. Lot’s wife was on her way to deliverance, but that sinful condition ruled her life and she found that she could not give up the life that she enjoyed in Sodom. She looked back lusting after Sodom, and that unbelief condemned her. But everyone that turns from their sin and accepts God’s precious gift of salvation can be spared the outpoured wrath of God and be blessed with eternal life in Him.

Quote – “To an impure heart, God cannot be seen anywhere; but to a pure heart God is to be seen everywhere, in the deepest caverns of the sea, in the lonely desert, in every star that gems the brow of midnight.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Monday, September 21, 2009

As a Thief in the Night

1 Thessalonians 5:2 – “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”

Paul begins this section of his letter to the church at Thessalonica by reminding them that they know the times and the seasons – that’s not an issue. In our lives today, we need to remember the same thing. The times and seasons are well known to us, for we have been preached to for years. We have been instructed in how to read the times and seasons, both of this world and the spiritual world. But knowing and acting on that knowledge are two different things. We know that the Lord will come at any time – that’s the eminence of His return. But in spite of knowing that He will come “as a thief in the night,” it will catch some off guard.

Ezekiel tells us that we are to be watchmen on the walls, shouting out warnings of trouble to come. We are to warn those within the city. We know that the day of the Lord will come soon, yet we continue through our lives in apathy and complacency. We know what shape the world’s in, and we know what to do about it. Some say, “It’s too big a task – we can never get it done.” So they do nothing.

I heard a story once about a young girl who lived in the days when coal was burned for heat. As she attempted to carry a ton of coal a shovelful at a time from the sidewalk to a coal bin in the cellar, she was asked by an onlooker, “Do you expect to get all that coal in with that little shovel?” “Yes sir,” she answered, “if I work long enough.” That should be our response to those who ask us, “There are so many to win – can you win enough?” We should answer, “Yes sir – if I work long enough.”

But the task is large and daunting, and so many don’t take it up. Many have become weak and powerless. They can’t tell of His great love, because they don’t have it in their heart. They neglect God’s Word and prayer. Many haven’t kept themselves free from worldliness, so their garments have become spotted with the world. They have let sin creep in and make them unfit for service. Many have neglected the house of God where we get charged up through the preaching of the Word and fellowship with fellow-believers. They have forsaken the assembling of themselves together. Many have gotten caught up in themselves and their own lives and don’t keep a watch for the souls of men, losing sight of the fact that those souls are lost and bound for a devil’s hell.

My friend, we have the knowledge; we have the solution; we have the command of God. Paul tells us in verse 7 of the same chapter, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” This is the same admonition we get from Ezekiel to be watchmen on the walls. Our job is to warn those around us of the coming danger. Carry gospel tracts with you everywhere you go, handing them out or just leaving them where others will find them. Always be ready to give a witness to everyone you meet. Live in such a way that others see Christ in you. But please, don’t turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those souls that are rushing headlong into an eternity without Christ. Time is short - Christ is coming soon - "as a thief in the night."

Quote – “I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps He may interrupt my work and begin His own. I am not looking for death, I am looking for Him.” – G. Campbell Morgan

Saturday, September 19, 2009

If I Had One Day To Live

1 Samuel 28:19 – “…to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me…”

The story is simple – In 1 Samuel 15, the Bible tells us of God’s command to Saul to complete a task for Him. However, Saul, lifted up with pride in himself, only half completed the task. And then when confronted by the prophet Samuel, he blamed the sin of incomplete obedience on the people. In response to this open rebellion against God’s authority, Samuel informed Saul that God was washing his hands of him. “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” Samuel asked him. Then answering his own question, he added, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”

But Samuel wasn’t finished yet – He had a message from God for Saul. “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” What a pronouncement! What a blow to Saul! Samuel then set about to find God’s choice to replace Saul as king.

The story continues – Saul continues on his downward spiral until we get to chapter 28. Saul is about to lead Israel into battle against the Philistines. He consults a witch, who summons Samuel's spirit, which tells him that God is going to deliver Israel into the hands of the Philistines and Saul and his sons will be killed. What a sad commentary – Saul goes from a place of prominence – a place of preeminence – a place of royalty – to a place of derision – a place of despair – a place of judgment. “…To morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me….”

Think about it! What would you do if you had but one day to live? What would be the priorities of your life? There used to be an old worldly beer commercial that said you need to grab all the gusto you can get – would that be your priority? Would you try to cram a lifetime of adventure in before you “kick the bucket”?

Here’s what I’d like to think I would do if I had one day to live.

First, I’d be sure I was saved. 2 Peter 1:10 tells us “to give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” There’s nothing more important in this life than salvation. If you go through this life with a false hope of salvation, then you are of all men most miserable. Make sure your salvation lines up with the scripture, not some man’s teachings.

Secondly, I’d make sure my Christian life was up to par. The Bible is very plain about how we are to live as Christians. Romans 12:2 tells us “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We are to live dedicated, consecrated, sanctified lives before God. For when this life is over, we will be judged for those things done in this life. It’s called the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Thirdly, I’d try to reach my loved ones for Christ. Even the rich man that died and went to hell in Luke 16 asked Abraham that Lazarus might go and tell his brothers not to come to that awful place. Nothing can be sadder than to live our lives on this earth as Christians and never even speak to those we love about their need for salvation.

Fourthly, I’d look forward with joy to dying and going to heaven. You know, this world is scared to death of dying – they don’t know the one that makes death desirable. I know where I’m going – I know I’ll spend eternity in heaven – I have no fear of death. We can rejoice in death, knowing that it is but a passing from this world to the next.

Quote – “People spend too much time making preparations for life on this earth and not making preparations for eternity.” – Dr. Bob Jones, Jr.

"He Knows My Name" - MVBC Young Ladies Trio

Ravenna Kennels

If you go to this website,, you'll find beautiful German Shepherd dogs. If you're looking for German Shepherd puppies for pets, for showing, for training or any other reason, please contact us at