8 January 2000

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil"- I Thessalonians 5:16-22 With his "Quench not the Spirit", the apostle here warns us of a fault that must be common among God's people. To quench the influence of the Holy Spirit is something that we are all prone to do. The thought is very suggestive. It presents one throwing water upon a fire that is providing light and warmth. The result is darkness and coldness. Many times it is fear that drowns the flame within; sometimes it is pride or some other inward struggle. The heart must be searched as we consider the source of our greatest hindrance. The Thessalonians were persecuted from without and fear had gripped the hearts of many, hindering their fervent devotions. This fear momentarily quenched Peter's flame as he warmed his hands by the enemy's fire and denied his Lord. It was Pride that smoldered the inward flame of the rulers of the synagogues. They preferred their positions above warmth, light and fellowship with Christ and His humble followers(John 12:42). The inward struggles such as shame; peer pressure; and a desire to be like the world are the common problems for us today and present a quenching of the same magnitude. The Holy Spirit is a teacher and a Comforter, the grand paraclete that brings us into communion with our Lord. When we refuse His direction, His comforts and His light, we throw water upon the fire we so desperately need: we have quenched the Spirit. This we do when we are given light upon His word and reject His truths; when we refuse to use a gift that has been freely given; when we could have offered a word of encouragement and didn't; when we could have shed a tear in God's house and held it back; when we could forgive a wrong and did not; when we could have defended a truth and were ashamed; when our heart burned to confess Jesus by water baptism and did not; when we know where His house is and avoid it; we have extinguished the fire. This quenching affects the testimony of those around us. For His sake, for the cause of Christ, let us improve. Another negative encouragement is given us which we are also prone to do: "Despise not prophesyings." The word "prophesyings" speaks of forthtelling and not foretelling. It does not depict the foretelling of future events, but rather the expounding of the word. In short, this is preaching. There have been days, in this country, when people approached God's house for an all day event that focused upon preaching. Some literature will deride those old preachers who would expound the word of God for hours at a time. They present those old congregations as a sleepy and bored people. But in spite of how history may present those days, we observe the impact that such an interest in God's word had upon society then and today. I find a deeper knowledge of God and His word in their writings; in their stories; in their poetry; and even in the documents of the leaders of their day. There are many distractions all around us. Let them not cause us to despise prophesyings. I am not suggesting that we can not worship unless we have an all day event. Charles H. Spurgeon fed thousands and most of his discourses were about forty-five minutes. But I would suggest that many have placed entertainment and outside interests above preaching. Many will come for show, but few to know. If I am to "deny not prophesyings" I must listen to sermons that not only comfort, but also those that rebuke and reprove my sin. I must be willing to approach God's house with the attitude of praise, a willingness to change and a desire to learn from the expounding of God's word. After all, "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" -1 Cor. 1:21. To the world, preaching is foolishness. But to those who believe, it is the power of God unto salvation. Let us not despise the biblical instruction that will save us from Satan and his snares. This spiritual instruction will become a blessing to our families. It will make us better husbands, wives, parents, and citizens. This year, let us become better learners. Let us be always willing to lend an ear to those that God has called to expound His word. -to be continued- Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor