Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Through Faith, God Healed Bud!

by Michael C. Garrett

Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 5 –“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test [or prove] yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.”

And I ask the question: By what standard!? By what means and methods does an individual examine and evaluate the condition and the status of their spiritual health and the level of their spiritual maturity!? The most significant diagnostic tool that I can find in the Bible is from the Words of Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 7, where He said, verse 16 – “’You will know them by their fruits.’” And then in Verse 20, He says again, “’Therefore by their fruits you will know them.’

Well, we went through Galatians chapter 5, and spoke about the ‘works of the flesh,’ and then, near the end, we spoke about Galatians chapter 5, verses 2324, ‘the fruits of God’s Spirit.’ Now, Mr. Herbert Armstrong, gave the definition of love – he gave this many times – as an out-going concern, as opposed to an in-going concern. Are you thinking about others, or are you thinking about yourself!? Very simple formula. And I think it was a very accurate formula. And then joy, just the fact that you can be in such an evil environment, in such troubling times and still have the joy of God percolate up through you and down through you and – what a wonderful thing to have! Peace, just to have peace. Turn to Philippians chapter 4 – there’s a wonderful passage about peace. Verse 4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” – and we, sometimes, as the people of God, forget to rejoice! We get so concerned and heavy laden with all of the news of the world, and maybe individual problems, situations within our families and friends, work, and bank accounts, and all the things that we start to worry about. But we should always keep in mind that in the end The Anchor Holds, Jesus Christ is there, and He will be with us!

And Verse 5 – “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” – the Return of Jesus Christ is near! Now, imagine, Paul wrote this back in, what, 60-70 A.D. Can you imagine what he would be saying right now!? I mean – IT IS NEAR FOLKS! I don’t know how excited he would get, but he would try to get the point across – we are living on the edge of a change of an age! And as for me, I can’t wait to see that change! I’m just pretty well burned up with the tragedies, the heartaches, the problems of this present age! And I, like you, just look forward to a time when the KINGDOM OF GOD – the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the very presence of Jesus Christ upon the EARTH – being King of kings and Lord of lords – that is a moment I do savor, and I’m sure you’re right there with me! Verse 6 – “Be anxious for nothing, …” – he said again, ‘don’t be worried, don’t wring your hands all the time.’ “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving [don’t forget that part! – you have to be thankful!], let your requests be made known to God; 7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate on these things.” – that’s where we should keep a lot of the focus of our mind! Even when we’re in this sea of choppy water, we need to keep our mind focused on things that are of God. Verse 9 – “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” – I just think that’s wonderful! And again, he said ‘think on these things!’ And yet there are people – people who ostensibly, outwardly, professedly, claim to be members of the Body of Christ, and yet people who spend an inordinate amount of their time and energy trashing other people! Individuals who also claim to be members of the Body of Christ. It is a terrible, terrible, terrible, thing to MURDER another human being! To take another person’s life, or to even contemplate taking another person’s life! And most church members would recoil at such a thought. The very thought of taking a knife or a gun, or their very bare hands, and murdering another human being is so foreign, and so grotesque that most people can not even begin to imagine or contemplate participating in such an act. And yet, many times, those very same people do not hesitate when they overtly attempt to destroy another person!

Or their name, or their reputation, or their standing in the church through the misuse of the weapon of their tongue. And James had a lot to say about that, in James chapter 3 – we’ve read it before, but, can you read this too much!? Can you hear this too often!? And, by the way we live our lives, I think the answer to that is, “No, we probably need to hear it some more!” Verse 1 – “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers [or masters], knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” – and one of the problems of the history of the Worldwide Church of God and its descendants have been individuals who want to rise up within the congregation and crave to be ‘up in front’! And here, James says, ‘Don’t crave it!’ Because those people who are picked for that job face a more stern judgment. You’re just walking into a beehive – in one sense. Therefore, you really need to be careful what you say and do! Verse 2 – “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, …” – now, get that. If you don’t screw up with your tongue, “he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3) Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4) Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5) Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” – it starts with a little spark. A little match. And sometimes it can consume whole congregations, or whole organizations. Because people simply can’t keep their tongue in its holster. Verse 6 – “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell [Gehenna fire].” – that’s what the word hell there means. Gehenna fire, destruction in the lake of fire! Verse 7 – “For every kind of beast and bird, or reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8) But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9) With it we bless our God the Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the [image] of God. 10) Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11) Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12) Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” – the two can’t exist. Verse 13 – “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him [or her] show by good conduct that his [or her] works are done in meekness of wisdom.”

And then he says, Verse 14 – “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15) This wisdom [the wisdom of envy, strife, and hatred] does not descend from above, but is earthly [of the human senses or human nature] …” – and it of the Devil – Satan the Devil – the accuser of the brethren we are told in the Book of Revelation. Verse 16 – “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18) Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” -  an awful lot there to think about.


Well, back to Galatians chapter 5 – we mentioned love, joy, peace. And then he picks up with, Verse 22 – “… patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” And then in Verses 25 & 26 he says, “ “If we live in the Spirit [that is – if we have God’s Spirit], let us also walk in the Spirit. 26) Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” – and I think of what Mr. Ted often said, that human nature (of and by itself – apart from God) was a collection – and he said this so many times I thought it was a Bible verse. And finally I got curious and I thought, well I’m gonna go research this and see – was this Paul, was this Jesus, who said this!? Was it one of the Old Testament prophets!? And after searching and searching, I finally figured out that Mr. Ted had coined this phrase himself! And I think he really hit the nail on the head. Human nature (by itself – apart from God) is a collection of vanity, jealousy, lust, and greed. How many of you remember him saying that!? Well, apostle Paul gave us other descriptions of how people, who are being led by God’s Spirit, should conduct themselves.

1st Corinthians chapter 13 – we’ve read this before! But again, it’s one of those verses where you say, “Can I hear that too often!?” “Is there a point where I just don’t need to hear that anymore!?” Probably not. Verse 1 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [godly] love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” – and I’ve often thought is there really a good reason for mountains to be thrown into the sea!?

I can’t think of many examples where, “Ah, I just think that mountain needs to go over there into that ocean!” If you had that much faith, and you did not possess godly love, your faith is simply like a wet bag of popcorn! You ever had a wet bag of popcorn!? It’s not very tasty. Verse 4 – “Love suffers long …” – it’s patient. And this is an issue which we in this age – this instant age of just go, go, go - I really think maybe we miss out on just the ability to be patient. “and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Verse 8 – “Love never fails. …” – well, that’s godly love, from God’s perspective.

There’s another chapter, Colossians chapter 3 – I think this is a wonderful passage. Talks about the way we, as people, should be. And I’ve mentioned these things before. But, can you hear them too much!? Well, from the evidence I’ve seen, no, we haven’t heard it enough! Maybe we need to hear it some more!? Again, not me speaking, these are the words of the apostle Paul, inspired by Jesus Christ – who is our soon-coming King and is our soon coming Judge! We need to hear these things! Verse 12 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on the tender mercies, kindness [again, the word kindness], humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – I keep saying, one of the greatest traits you can have is a spirit of thanksgiving. Now, I’ve often talked about David. I want to do a sermon some time about this, but, we often think of David as being a man – we’re told – David, a man ‘after God’s own heart.’ And we’ve often thought – well, David was a man of repentance. Yes he was. But David was also a man of thanksgiving! When he thought about God he became extremely humble and thankful that there was such a Creator! The Spirit of thanksgiving. Verse 16 – “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17) And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” What a wonderful passage and how instructive.

Paul gave us another wonderful passage. Ephesians chapter 4, about three verses. Verse 30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, …” – and I’ve always interpreted that to mean – don’t squeeze out the Spirit of God out of you! I don’t think God takes His Spirit from you. Because we’re told, the gifts and the repentance of God is without repentance. He doesn’t take away His Spirit, but I think we – as human beings – have the capability to simply drive God out of our minds, and out of our presence. And I think about people who I once knew who were members of the Work of God at Ambassador College, fellow students, and now I hear about them and some of them are just filled with – just like a leaf that’s turned to brown and dust, it’s just a shadow of what it once was. And then, Darrell was saying how there are websites that are just so evil, just so demented in their outlook upon other people and churches and – just full of hatred! And I said to Darrell, “Who’s behind those websites!? Is that God speaking, or is that Satan the devil!?” That’s Satan’s spirit – the spirit of revenge and hatred, accusation. And those people have just shriveled up to nothing inside. I fear that they, to a degree, might have ‘grieved the Holy Spirit of God’ right out of them. He said, because you’ve been called, you’ve been “sealed for the day of redemption.” – the day when you are changed from mortal into immortality! Verse 31 – “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” – and think about the times we’ve been told – if you are not willing to extend mercy, mercy will not be shown to you! If you are not willing to forgive, forgiveness will not be extended to you by God. It’s said over and over, just plain as can be! And yet, there are people who – in their little twisted minds – just, “I will not forget! I will not forgive!” And they do so to the cursing of their own lives. It’s really an important subject. ‘Be you kind to one another.’ I’ve always been deeply impressed and deeply moved by acts of kindness. And I’ve always been disturbed, troubled, and often deeply wounded by acts of unkindness.

You know, Mike Partridge and I are good buddies, and the first time Mike and I met we were watching a baseball game. Mike was about a year younger, but at that time he was a smaller guy, and a guy in my class by the name of “Flathead Wilson” - that was his actual name! And he got the name, he earned it! You could take that head and measure it in the corners and know exactly what – how big or small the angle was – but he had ninety degrees all over him! Like a cube!

And “Flathead Wilson” was just picking on Mike! Just taunting him! And, I didn’t even know who Mike was! And it just bothered me, I remember going down to “Flathead Wilson” and just squeezing his little head as hard as I could in a headlock! And I squeezed it for about forty-five seconds, and he was just flopping around. There wasn’t a thing he could do. And then after I did it I said, “Hey Flathead how does it feel to have someone bigger and stronger to just harass you!? How does it feel Flathead!?” “You don’t like it do ya!?” I said, “Leave the kid alone!” And guess what!? He never touched Mike Partridge again! But now, Mike is so big and strong, he could just take his hands and just twist off Flatheads head like a pop bottle cap. But anyway, just being mean to people, it’s always sort-of troubled me! 

And I think that the Word of God indicates that Jesus Christ – our future Judge – is also deeply impressed and moved by acts of kindness and He’s deeply disturbed and troubled by acts of unkindness.

Matthew chapter 25 – and He says in Verse 31 – “’When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32) All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33) And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34) Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35) for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36) I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37) Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and gave You drink? 38) When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39) Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’” And He says in Verse 40 – “’And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” – to show an act of kindness to another human being, and particularly, another church person, is like showing kindness directly to Jesus Christ! That’s what He says here! Now, if He’s lying to you, you gotta take it up with Him. But, you see, I don’t think He’s lying, because He’s the One who said it! And it’s in the Book for us to learn about, to learn from.

He says then, in Verse 41 – “’Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42) for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43) I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44) Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45) Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46) And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’” – so, acts of kindness make a deep impression on Jesus Christ! And I will remind you – He is your Judge, He is my Judge, He is our Judge!

He said in John chapter 13 – you’ve heard this many times. Verse 34 – “’A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; …’” – I will interpret that, in this particular sermon, to mean that ‘you are kind one to another, that you be tender-hearted. That you forgive one another’ “…’as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’” – meaning, if you are kind one to another, if you are tender-hearted for one another, and if you are willing to forgive one another.

James chapter 2 – James is packed with a lot of good stuff! James chapter 2, verse 1 – “My brethren, …” at the beginning of verse 1. Then let’s go to Verse 8 – “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; 9) but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” And then, he says in Verse 13 – “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. …” Then he says in Verse 14 – “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith [whatever that is] save him? 15) If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,” – they don’t have anything to eat, they have nothing to wear, they’re in horrible straits. Verse 16 – “and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” – what does that little speech you gave, what does it amount to!?

Nothing but a bunch of hot air! Verse 17 – “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – it’s just alone, just a little figment, an idea, a thought, that doesn’t become something! Verse 19 – “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! 20) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” – ‘faith without works is worthless.’ And I contend, that in the very same manner, love – or an expression of love, “O’ I love the people!” however you want to say that – without acts of kindness and tender-heartedness, and forgiveness is simply DEAD! Worthless, meaningless, nothing but a bunch of worthless hot air! 

It is so overwhelmingly comforting and inspiring to know that God the Father and Jesus Christ practice what they preach! As members of the Body of Christ, we are awash, we are simply inundated with God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, patience, blessings, kindness, graciousness, God’s unending love, His Amazing Grace. And for some reason, descendants of the Worldwide Church of God are somewhat reluctant or hesitant or unwilling to acknowledge and appreciate the Biblical concept of God’s GRACE. And I think I know the reason, I think I know a possible answer, I’ll attempt one. The Worldwide Church of God often made an extremely wide detour around ANYTHING – any concept – that sort-of sounded Protestant or Catholic. And some quick examples – in my opinion here; this is just me speaking: Because they sounded too much like the so-called ‘Christmas story,’ ministers in the Worldwide Church of God almost NEVER made mention of Matthew chapters 1 & 2 and Luke chapters 1 & 2. Do any of you know what’s in Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2!?  It’s the birth of Jesus Christ. Because that sounded too much like the ‘Christmas story,’ and we had to be different. Well folks I’m just telling ya, if Jesus Christ was not born as a human being, you and I would never have had a Savior! That’s a wonderful story, that’s a wonderful moment in history! And it has nothing to do about a story that came along about a fat man going down chimneys!

And, there’s nothing wrong about fat men going down chimneys, but anyway… I mean, the two have nothing together! The birth of Jesus Christ is in the Bible, and yet back in the old Worldwide days it was almost like there was a black marker, and those verses were verboten! “Can’t read them. Might sound like Christmas!” And there are some songs – perfectly good songs – that talk about the birth of Jesus Christ, don’t have a thing to do with Christmas, wonderful hymns, that people in the Worldwide Church of God wouldn’t even pronounce the names of the songs. For fear that, “OH! That’s Christmas!” No! That’s the birth of Christ! THAT’S THE BIBLE – THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED! Revel in it, appreciate it! Because without it, you and I would be hopeless! Without hope. 

Well, because it sounded too much like the so-called ‘Easter story,’ ministers in the Worldwide Church of God almost NEVER made mention of the historical fact that the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred right smack dab in the middle of the Days of Unleavened Bread! And that should have been part of the story from the very beginning! That Unleavened Bread – a part of it; the meaning of it is that LIFE CAME BACK TO LIFE!! The Bread of Life was alive! And because He walked out of that tomb, he blazed a path where all of us, someday, can walk out of our tomb! But why deny yourself that part of the story!? Because the churches of this world has it mixed up!? I don’t care what they’ve got messed up! I want to know what God said, and He says it in His Book! ‘He walked out of His tomb on the Days of Unleavened Bread’! It’s a wonderful part of the story! And yet, it wasn’t talked about much because it sounded too much like Easter. That was my experience. Maybe with you, it was something else.

And because some Protestant groups misinterpret, they misapply, they misrepresent the term ‘God’s grace,’ and they make it into the incorrect concept of ‘once saved always saved.’ You know, “Give your heart to the Lord, and it’s all said and done!” Well, that’s not correct! And because there was that strain of incorrectness, ministers of the Worldwide Church of God tended to avoid or detour around the subject almost altogether. And yet, the term ‘God’s grace’ – my friends, we have no chance unless God is gracious to us! And He has been gracious to us! His love, His mercy, His tenderness, His patience, that’s one of the aspects I think about! How long He has been so patient with me, and I am so thankful that He did not – the first time I got out of line – take a shovel and whack my head off!

And He could have! He could have said, “You mess up one time – BAM!” But He didn’t! He has waited, and He has waited, and He has waited, and I think it’s probably true with everyone of you! He has been amazingly patient. Because He wants His little children to succeed. How many times did your little baby fall down trying to learn how to walk!? I’ll betcha a bunch of times, and yet every time you as the parent wanted that little child to try one more time, “Come on Johnny!” “Come on Jainy! You can do it!” “Walk to Daddy, walk to Mommy!” And eventually they did! And then they got on their bicycle, and how many times did they crash on that!? Or their roller skates or their skateboard, or their skis – or whatever implement they were trying to go on!? There were a lot of crashes and falls, but patiently, were allowed to learn how to do it! And God has stood by us. That’s a wonderful story!

Well, Ephesians chapter 2 – another passage that, just to be honest with you, I don’t remember being read too often back in the days of the Worldwide Church of God, and, maybe I was asleep that day!? Verse 1 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2) in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3) among who also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4) But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5) even when we were dead in [sins], made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7) that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8) For by GRACE you have been saved THROUGH faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9) NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast. 10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus [and created by Christ Jesus] for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” He goes on to say down in Verse 12 – ‘we are a part of the commonwealth of Israel.’ And he says in Verse 13 – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Verse 19 – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” – this whole chapter is just beautiful! Just the concept that, we can’t make it on our own!

We don’t have it within our power to be holy enough – in respect of the eyes of God. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again – at our very best we are nothing more than a filthy rag in the eyes of God! But in His graciousness – 

1) He has granted us His knowledge.  
2) He has granted us His truth. 
3) He has granted us the gift of baptism. 
4) The gift of receiving His Spirit.

And there is our name written in His Book of Life, and a ticket – as it were – to the Kingdom of God! That’s something to be thankful for! And we should be thankful every day! 

The Miraculous Healing of Bud

Well, we should be thankful and celebrate God’s many kindnesses and His blessings that He bestows upon His people. And today, I have a report that I want to share with all of you. As I said earlier, I was here last in Tyler on March 20th, basically about a week before Passover. And in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 25th, around 3:30 a.m., the telephone where I lived began to ring. As all of you surely realize, a telephone ringing at 3:30 in the morning, is almost always a harbinger of bad news. And when it rang, and I woke up, I thought – O’ no! What’s happened!? Who is it!? Well, on the line was Alice Offutt, wife of Bud Offutt – both are members of the Body of Christ. And with strain, fear, alarm, and panic, and trepidation in her voice, Alice began to describe that Bud was in the intensive care unit of their local hospital struggling to breathe – struggling to live. Well, during the winter, Bud had experienced a cardiac incident, however he had subsequently been cleared by his doctor to resume his normal routine. And we all felt that the worst was behind him and everything was fine. Well, however, in the evening hours of Wednesday, March 24th – at night, they were watching the news on television – Bud found it increasingly difficult to  breathe. And they rushed to their nearby hospital in Madisonville, Kentucky, and he went straight to the ICU! I mean, they wheeled him in and they were whipping off his clothes and sticking tubes and things in him – right in immediate! Well, when Alice called me at 3:30, she made two requests. 1) She wanted immediate prayer to be made on Bud’s behalf. 2) She wanted me to come to the hospital the following day.

Well, on Thursday morning I called my good friend and fellow minister Mike Partridge, and apprised him of what was going on – and Mike, Bud, and Alice are great friends. We made plans to meet and travel together to see Bud and Alice. And then we eventually arrived at the hospital and found Alice in the waiting room of the ICU. Alice had arranged that Mike and I, and Alice to be allowed to enter into the ICU to see Bud. Had it not been for Alice going to Bud and caressing him, I would not have recognized him. I walked right by him and didn’t even know who it was. Well, it was truly shocking to me to see Bud looking so bad. He was on a ventilator, he had the normal assortment of tubes, wires and leads, machines and monitors. However, the situation which most alarmed me was the fact that Bud’s color was about the same color as his gray mustache. He did not have normal color. In his face, his skin, was only a lifeless gray. I have seen that color several times before, and in my experiences, that color had always been a precursor for death. I felt my stomach sink deep within me. I realized with stunning clarity that my friend was in an extremely dangerous and precarious state. He was at the point of death.

We had a prayer, we had an anointing ceremony – Mike and I was there, Alice was near – and we asked God to intervene on Bud’s behalf. Well, just before we arrived at the hospital, Bud had been severely, heavily sedated. And he told me later that he just had a faint memory or impression that Mike and I had been there, but, he told me, “I felt your presence.” And after our prayer, Mike and I just stayed in the room for a little time, we wanted to visit with Alice and sort-of go over everything that happened, or was happening. And, to my great joy as we discussed all that had happened, I realized that Bud was no longer gray! His forehead, his nose and cheeks were pink! In just a short moment of time, Bud had changed from the color of death to the color of life! And in my heart I knew that God had heard our prayer, and I knew that God had decreed that Bud would continue to live at least a little longer.

Well, even though the doctors had previously told Alice that Bud would be on a ventilator for a long time – that evening, later on that evening – they removed the ventilator. And the doctor asked Bud, “Can you breathe!?” when they took it out. And Bud (now you have to know Bud, I can hear him saying it) said with a sassy, “Well of course I can breathe!” Well, the next morning Bud was sitting up in bed laughing and telling his stories – he is a great story teller. And he visited with his family members. Bud, was ready to go home! And told the doctors so.

Well I’m sure that there are people who would scoff and sneer, and jeer at this account. But Mike Partridge and I know that beyond a doubt that we were privileged and honored to see and to witness what happened. And Bud and Alice know what happened! We witnessed the love, the kindness, the mercy, the grace and the power of God – right before our eyes!

Back about a year and a half ago, maybe a little less, I almost lost my finger to a raging staph infection. Caused by a splinter of all things! And, it was on the verge of taking my finger, hand, and as my doctor said, “It could have taken your arm, could have cost you your life!” He said, “You have no idea what a tough situation you’re in!” And God answered my prayer. I’ve told the story down here, and how very thankful I was – and that day I read from Psalm chapter 35, verse 18 – where David, he was in a tough spot. In this case, people were trying to kill David, and he was protected and he was very thankful, and David said, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” And, just as I did in January of ’09 telling that story, I say again right here, before the entire congregation and before many people, “I am so thankful that Bud was allowed to receive God’s blessing!” 

If you would, turn to Psalm chapter 100 – here David was inspired to write, verse 1 – “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2) Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3) Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves [He is the Potter, we are the clay];  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4) Enter into His gates with THANKSGIVING, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5) For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”

Then, Psalm chapter 103 – David wrote the following. I read this the Sabbath following our visit to the hospital, it was one of several psalms I read in appreciation of what God had done for Bud! Verse 1 – “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2) Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits; 3) Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4) Who redeems your life from [the grave], Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies 5) Who satisfies your  mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6) The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed. 7) He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” Verse 8 – “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9) He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.” – and we know that the Day of the LORD – the Day of the end-times – is on the horizon, like a storm!

Verse 10 – “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.” – and thankfully He’s been kinder to us than we’ve been to Him! Verse 11 – “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12) As far as the east is from the west, …” – last night Darrell was telling me of a computer program he found on a website that talked about the vastness of the universe. And he talked about the incredible distances just within our own solar system – within our own Milky Way Galaxy! And the Milky Way Galaxy is just one little galaxy among hundreds of thousands in the vastness of space! And over it all is the One we now call Jesus Christ! Who created it, designed it, ordered it, watches over it – that is the greatness of our God! And, in the same respect, “As far as east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” – and I have told people before, they’ve come before me and said, “Well, I’ve got a problem” and they go through it, and I say, “Well, have you gone to God!? Did you repent!? Did you ask God for forgiveness!?” “Well, yes I did!” they would say. Well, a week later, they come to me, “O’ Mike, this problem… blah, blah, blah.” And they go through the whole thing again! And I say, “Well, did you go to God? Have you asked for forgiveness!?” “Well, yes I did!” And about the third time they come up, I say, “Woe, do you believe the Bible!? Do you believe what He said!? He said when He takes that sin He removes it so far it’s just like out of the universe! WHY do you keep bringing it up!? He’d like to forget it! And you just keep dredging it up again! Maybe you need to trust the fact that the word Jesus literally means SAVIOR! He is our Savior! He has forgiven us our sins. He wants to forgive us our sins. If we’ll just give Him a chance!” Verse 13 – “As a father [tenderly loves his child], So the LORD pities [tenderly loves] those who fear Him. 14) For He knows our frame …” – He knows that we’re just a bunch of idiots down inside – little worms, little monkeys playing around in a sand-pit! He knows we have limitations. But He also looks upon us as His children, and He wants to see us gain maturity as a part of the Kingdom of God! Verse 15 – “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16) For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 17) But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, [multiple generations], 18) To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.” – that is the GREATNESS of our God!

Well, dear Father, dear Brother, before the entire congregation and before many people I again thank You so very much for extending Your love, Your kindness, Your mercy and blessing to Bud and Alice. And I ask and pray dear Father and dear Brother that You would place within the hearts and the minds of Your people the awareness and the understanding that if we would dedicate ourselves to You, and if we would endeavor through the power of Your Spirit to grow in grace and in knowledge and in the fruit of Your Spirit, that You would pour out upon us a display of blessings, benevolences and mercies in such manner that the world has never witnessed! This You could and You would do, if only we would turn to You and become spiritually mature. As You have shown kindness to us so many times, help us to show kindness to one another. As You have been tenderhearted to us, help us to be tenderhearted one to another. As you have granted mercy and forgiveness to us, help us to extend mercy and forgiveness to others. In the holy and righteous names of Jesus we pray and give You thanks. Amen.

      The Day of the LORD - the single most prophesied event in the Bible - bar none. Not even the Return of Jesus Christ is prophesied as much as the Day of the LORD is prophesied!

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