Points to Ponder: Greater is He: Focus on That
Points to Ponder
Greater is He: Focus on That
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
(Psalm 119) My zeal has consumed me, Because my enemies have forgotten Your words. Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it. I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
This passage reminded me of Joshua Thomas, the Methodist preacher who was "parson of the islands". He pastored among the island communities along the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812.
As the British came against our young nation, 12,000 of them occupied Tangier Island, planning to use it as a staging ground for an assault via the Chesapeake. Thomas was known for his integrity and boldness for the Lord. When the British troops encroached on space commonly used for outdoor meetings of worshipers, Thomas would boldly request the commanders to back off. They respected Thomas, trusted in his character, and would cooperate with his requests.
The British enjoyed his preaching; the occupiers would often attend services right along with the occupied.
When word of the British plan to attack Baltimore came to Joshua Thomas, he was troubled. The British requested a special service prior to the departure. Thomas trusted God's word and lived by it. He was nervous, and delayed the inevitable with songs and prayers; but then it was time to preach the word. As Paul told Timothy, Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, and exhort, with all long suffering and teaching." (II Timothy 4:2)
He warned the British that their plan was evil and that God was not with them in it. He said to the armed and ready British, "you cannot take Baltimore". It shook him to his core to preach it, but he knew it was a true warning from God to these enemies of his country. But off they went.
The British were beaten back at North Point. A monument to General Ross stands on Old North Point Road where he fell. Fort McHenry held them off, as you probably know. Francis Scott Key was on board one of the ships, writing the hymn (yes it is a hymn!), which would become our national anthem. In the last stanza of it he writes that allegedly unconstitutional phrase, "for in God is our trust" (but that is for another column).
The British lost the Battle of Baltimore and eventually the War. As they retreated back to Tangier, Thomas was anxious for news. The troops reported that as they engaged in battle, Joshua Thomas' words from that sermon kept ringing in their minds. "You cannot take Baltimore."
Could he have known that God was using the courageous, biblical preaching of a simple small town preacher to fight the enemy from within? Isaiah, in chapter 55, says that God's word does not return to Him empty; it accomplishes what He sends it forth to do . We do not always perceive its work.
I pondered two points from my meditation on Psalm 119:139-141. First, "My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words."(v.139)
Enemies are among both the unbelievers in the culture as well as the disobedient within the church. The apostasy you witness among fellow believers and the leaders of our churches can consume you if you feel like you're pressing on for the truth while others have forgotten God's direction. They become our adversaries in a sense because they have forsaken the core values, which inform and guide us through life.
But the psalmist refocuses. He does not say, "what about them?, Lord." He turns to the Lord and confirms, rather, "What about me?"
"Your word is pure; therefore, Your servant, (me), loves it. I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts." (v.140-141)
God works on your enemies behind the scenes. If you are walking with Him and they are not, who has the power? God plus you puts you in the majority.
The second point is this: imagine if more preachers believed in the authority and inerrancy of the Bible and preached it. So many sermons today are like devotionals, using the scriptures as a book of illustrations to help make their point. Preachers, however are called to make His point. Without God's word, I frankly have nothing to say. Why waste people's time? One of the reasons the culture is on a greased slide heading for hell is because preachers compromise the word and use it, rather than allowing it to use them. A lot of folks will not attend church because they consider it irrelevant to life. For the most part they are right. If the word of God is not preached or taught, then you might as well golf or go to the game, because it is just one option among many for personal entertainment.
Imagine if we immersed ourselves in the Word and boldly lived it and preached it. A lot of enemies, a lot of the power of darkness in this society, would go down. Why? Because, "if God is for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31b). So learn it! Live it! Preach it!
"You are of God...and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world." (I John 4:4 NKJV)
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.