Monday, January 16, 2017

The Eternal Nature Of Witnessing: He Being Dead Yet Speaketh

A word may seem small but oft lives for Eternity

"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." Heb.11:4. 

Able was not a perfect man. No man is. It was not Able's goodness or merit that motivated him to offer "a more excellent sacrifice" unto God. It was his "faith"Able's "faith offering" was a "witness" of his "rightness" with God. Why did Able have "faith" to offer a "right" offering to God? He couldn't have known a blood sacrifice was required, and Cain's offering wouldn't have been rejected, unless God had made it known to both of them what was acceptable.
Obviously, both Cain and Able had heard God's word of his will requiring a "righteous" sacrifice. Cain was rejected because he had "heard" God's word and knew what was "righteous" but had no faith and disobeyed. Able was accepted because he had "heard" God's word, had faith in it, and obeyed it. " cometh by hearing ... the word of God." Rom.10:17.

So we see, in Heb.11:4, that Able's faith to do right by his obedience to God, was his "witness" of "rightness" ... "God testifying of his gifts", so that "he being dead yet speaketh".

Cain killed Able nearly 6000 years ago, in anger over this issue, but Able's "faith" lives on; his "witness" of obedience to God is still remembered and God's word "testifieth" of Able's obedience to this day. "He being dead yet speaketh" after 6000 years.

As God the Father told Cain and Able of the essential nature of obedience, Jesus told us, his disciples, his church, the "right" we must obey and bear witness of.

"And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. Every Christian has a commission, an obligation to be right with God by offering the more excellent sacrifice of witnessing Jesus to the world." shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8. Nobody is a perfect witness, but every Christian can bear witness of what God has done for them, how they were forgiven and saved and of their love for Christ. The grammar, style or impressive oratory are not what God blesses. He blesses the sincerity and truth and willingness to obey. It is not your ability but your availability which God uses.

My Great Grandmother's Witness
My Christian life, ministry and roots date back to my great grandmother, who was an uneducated, plain, farmer's wife, in a flowery, flour sack dress, her hair pulled back in a bun, who smelled like biscuits. She could wring a chicken's neck and have dinner ready from the time she saw you turn in down the hill at the mail box to the time you knocked on the screen door. And she did it a million times for all her descendants. Few people moved away from their home county in the Great Depression, Dustbowl days of the 1930's, and the Jones clan consisted of about 50 relatives around Sweetwater, Texas. Mostly farmers.

One of my earliest memories was of Grandmother Jones, after a Sunday dinner, while the younger women cleaned up the kitchen, men talked farming and the big kids chased the chickens and calves. My Great Grandmother went out and sat in her rocking chair on the old wooden front porch. She had her worn out bible in her lap and had all the little kids line up across the porch and take their turn standing at her knees while she laid her bony hand on each little head and prayed for us. I can still see, in my memory, that moment eighty years ago. It came my turn, and I felt I was standing before God's most important person in the world, someone who knew God better than anyone else... and her hand was on me, and she was talking to God about me. I can still hear her prayer. She was saying, "Oh Lord bless Lee and maybe, Lord, you will even make him a preacher. In Jesus name, Amen. From that moment I knew my destiny was set. I have not always done right or even well. I have often done wrong and sinned and have never been worthy of my calling, but neither have I ever been able to escape it. Was she the great spiritual giant I thought she was? No, she was a plain, unsophisticated, unglamorous, old grandmother who smelled like biscuits. But she was faithful, a witness, a true believer, and obedient to Christ...
"She being dead yet speaketh." Her prayer was short, simple and sincere. Every single one of you grandmothers can and should and must be a witness for Christ to your grandchildren. Most will never forget it and it will change their lives. "She being dead yet speaketh".

A Neighbor, Mrs. Free
At that time, my parents, two sisters and I lived on the poor side of Sweetwater in a little shot-gun house my dad built, whose living room was about 9X9 ft. with a wood burning stove in the middle. Dust about an inch or two high accumulated on the window sills and under outside doors. It got in Mother's cooking and drove her to distraction. We had a neighbor next door who was Pentecostal and dipped snuff, as many women did in those days. Few people, at that time took a bath more than once a week, on Saturday. Mrs Free took one less often than that. Don't be too smug. You wouldn't have either is you had to bathe in a washtub about 24-32 inches across and 12 inches deep with 8 or 10 gallons of cool to cold water and little or no heat in the room. We had lye soap or Lava, which felt like lava. It took a lot of hard work and was a mess to clean up. Anyway, Mrs Free witnessed to my older sister Betty about the return of Christ and told her she had better accept Jesus as her Savior. It was that witness which so impressed my sister that she began to seek the Lord and pretend to read the Bible to me. We were both saved before teen age partially due to Mrs. Free's witness to my sister. If her little witness had such an effect on Betty, who has been teaching Sunday School, mostly adult classes, for over 60 years and still does at 88, don't you think you might qualify to witness to your neighbors? Especially the little children? You don't have to avoid bathing, be in poverty, and dip snuff to be an effective witness like Mrs Free. She made the most of her feeble little voice... but ..."She being dead yet speaketh."

 "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." 1 Cor.26-29.

Our Angelic Cousin, Onita
We had a cousin, Onita, whose Christian roots also reached back to our Great Grandmother Jones. Onita was saved early in life and surrendered her life to be a missionary. She was 11 or 12 years older than us and was attending the same Seminary I later graduated from. When she came home during holidays, she invariably gathered up us kids and taught us from her bible. Onita was an angel to us, beautiful, clean, loving and a marvelous Christian. She really attracted us to the Lord by her witness when we were 6 or 8 years old, and were not yet saved. Onita died about that time, but we kids kept her as the kind of person we would like to be. I still have a strong love for her. Though she died young, "She being dead yet speaketh". Surely you have some cousins too who either do not know Jesus or know him less well than you. Will you be their Onita and take the time to pull them aside and tell them what Jesus has done for you and ask them to accept him as their Savior ... as my cousin did for Betty and me? You can be an "Onita" to them.

Precious Mrs Buck's Consistancy
During WW2 we moved to a larger and nicer house. Mother was a beautician and Dad was building a airfield in Panama to protect the canal. A very sophisticated, nice lady lived next door who took us kids to church every Sunday morning and wasn't easily put off. We knew she would not fail to be at the door to get us so we felt compelled to be ready. Frankly, I wanted to stay home and play. Many years passed and I was pastoring the church my wife Betty, I and our children founded in Florida. It had grown into a large church and we had founded and ran three Christian Schools K-12, the downtown rescue mission, the city Food Bank, a children's home, a TV station. and our own mission station in Mexico. I flew back to Texas to attend a Jones family reunion in Sweetwater. While there, I went by to see if Mrs Buck was still living. I walked up to the door of her home and knocked. I was surprised when she opened the door. She still looked well. I introduced myself but she couldn't remember me. I told her I was an 11 year old boy who lived next door and that she took us kids to Sunday School. She said, lots of children lived there that I took to Sunday School. Then I told her, "I was the one who thought he could fly and jumped off the barn flapping my arms." "Oh, you are that little boy?" Mrs Buck stood silent a moment, teared up and said, "Oh, thank you Son for coming back to see me. You are the only one who ever has." Then I teared up and she rejoiced as she looked through our brochure of ministries of which she had a big part ... but didn't know it till then. She's gone now ... but "She being dead yet speaketh." Everybody has children living near them. You may not realize the importance of ministering to them for Jesus. You may not think you have the words or the ability or the time, but you could be a Mrs. Buck in their lives and make an eternity of difference. If you will ... one day some man or woman may stop by to see you again when you most need it, and thank you for helping them know Jesus. That may be the most important thing you will ever do. 

Our Uncle Henry Blair
I had an Uncle Henry who was a machinist and loved God's word and especially prophecy. He and Aunt Lorena were always in church. When our family moved again, in WW2 , to near North American Aircraft Plant in Grand Prairie, west of Dallas. Uncle Henry was there waiting for us and insisted that we go with his family to First Baptist Church in Grand Prairie. On Saturday, when I was twelve, he took me to the back yard and spent an hour telling me what the Bible said about salvation, end times prophecy and the second coming of Christ. I had had a run-in with the police that week, which neither he nor my parents knew about. That Sunday, he picked us up and took us to hear the evangelist preaching a Revival there. I don't remember the evangelist's or pastor's names or what was preached, but I remembered what Uncle Henry had told me the day before and I went to the altar that Sunday and accepted Christ as my Savior before I got there. No one said anything to me but to put my name on a card as accepting Christ and I was baptized that evening. I am eternally grateful for Uncle Henry's witness to me. "He being dead yet speaketh."

My Two Sisters' Witness
We Blair kids, Alta, Tommy and I had a big sister, Betty, who was the oldest, to set the example and lead the way in serving our Lord. No siblings ever had a finer Christian Sister than we. Betty has been teaching a Sunday School Class for over 6o years and still loving it at 88. Alta went to be with the Lord a few years ago, and went off to meet him in perfect peace. She had the same roots as we. Her Christian husband died before her and she left three Christian daughters. We were blessed to have Betty, always conscious of the Lord's presence, and always her main subject of conversation. Betty has a grandson who, when he, his brother and father moved back to Texas, after the trauma of divorce, told a group of new friends about his grandmother Betty. He said, "If they had a world-wide contest for the best grandmother, my grandma would win." Those two boys, who seemed almost beyond redemption when they first moved here, are now Christians and going to church. I had the privilege of baptizing them and their Dad in their beloved Aunt Alta's lake. Betty made a thousand percent difference, for the Lord, in their young lives, while they were here, and when they moved away, near Alta, she was there for them and loved them even closer to Jesus. "She being dead yet speaketh." Surely you have a sister, brother or nephew for whom you too can be an Onita, a Betty or an Alta.

Our Mom And Dad
Though Mom and Dad were not active in church until about the time I was saved, at twelve, but they were by far the most influential sources of who I am. They were impeccably honest, clean living, hard working, generous but frugal parents. From the time I was 12 they became committed Christians and faithful church members and tithers. I can honestly say that no child ever had a more loving mother and father than I. They were better people than I could ever be. My father was the strongest, bravest and best man I ever knew. Mother was more than an angel and adored her children. Dad was my greatest hero. If I have any good or success about me, I accredit it to them.... and God. My mothers prayers saved my life at the very hour I was entering Hell Fire Valley and the Chosin Battle, in North Korea; she was praying for me in a Wednesday night prayer meeting in Texas. "They being dead yet speaketh".

My Precious Brother's Witness
Because of Mom and Dad's Christian faithfulness in their words and actions and their years of praying for their children, my brother, Tommy in also walking in their footsteps. He and his wife Evelyn are serving the Lord in Mom and Dad's and Uncle Henry and aunt Lorena's old home church in the piney woods of East Texas where I preached my first sermon. Most of the relatives and other members in that church, all of whom had input into Tommy's life, and are buried in the old Macon Baptist Church are gone now, but ... "They being dead yet speaketh".

Family Heritage branches out in tens, hundreds and then thousands of branches. My dear wife Bettie has grown strong in the Lord on this family tree and has produced our six precious children which are now 70 grand, great grand and great great grand children. My primary prayer is that they will all be influenced by the lives and testimonies of all the above. RB