Monday, 10/19/20 – Pressing on… Flatter or Flatten?

Flatter or Flatten?

I saw a movie once where a deadly scorpion fell from a jungle tree landing on the head of an inexperienced and at that moment cap-less adventurer. Unaware of the danger which had “fallen” upon him, the character cheerfully went about chomping on a mango. When his companion eventually looked his way he was aghast! He saw immediately the peril at hand… er, head!

It is often the case that a good pair of eyes outside oneself are necessary if one is to see oneself as one truly is.

At the close of our service yesterday morning Don Longworth shared a passage from one of the Psalms. Of the wicked, the psalmist David writes, “There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.” (Psalm 36:1b-2).

It summarizes well the ignorance we can have toward our own shortcomings. Oops! See how easy it is to excuse evil? I did it right there! I chose the more palatable euphemism “shortcomings” when what we are really averting our eyes from seeing is SIN.

Our eyes can only see what is around us… earthbound stuff… stuff like animals and trees, plants and streams. Inanimate or uneducated things…things over which we can easily feel superior. Or we see other men… some better, some worse than what we deem ourselves to be. So we flatter ourselves: ” I’m better than that fellow.” “I can do better than her…” “Not bad, if I do say…”

We struggle, we strive and compete. We let pride pat us on our back. Based on the vision of our own eyes we strengthen pride with that very flattery. We do not “detect or hate” our own sin.

But when God steps in we are flattened! So brilliant He shines! So high a new standard! What fools we finally see ourselves to be!

This Sunday past Pastor Andrew urged us again to look to our heart… not just our heart as we see it, but invite God to step in. See your heart as it lay bare beneath the spotlight of God’s gaze. Does that heart “condemn” you? Or is that heart “at rest in His Presence?” (See 1 John 3:16-18).

Set aside self-flattering. Seek instead self-flattening.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10).

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 10/16/20 – Friday Tough Question: What is Propitiation?

What is Propitiation?

The word “propitiation” appears just three times in scripture but conveys a most important truth about the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John, the beloved and now aged disciple, uses the word twice in his first epistle (letter):

“…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, NASB)

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10, NASB)

Paul writes of it once in his masterful letter to the believers in Rome. Speaking of the believers redemption in Christ, he writes… “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (Rom. 3:25, NASB).

Because of its strange-soundingness to our ears today many translations have replaced the word with more familiar terms such as “satisfaction,” “atoning sacrifice,” or “expiation.” But something of its meaning is lost in doing so.

We speak much of God’s goodness, grace, mercy and love these days, but we must never forget the truth of God’s wrath against sin! We have not only lost fellowship with God due to our sin, but we have also enraged Him. God HATES sin! When we turn our backs to him and love sin more it is an act of spiritual idolatry and adultery.

Paul warns, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18, NASB).

John also in his gospel writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV).

But thanks be to God that Christ Jesus is the propitiation for our sin!

Propitiation means that Christ took upon Himself all the wrath of God the Father. Jesus “took the heat” so to speak for your sin and mine. God’s rage has been satisfied… His wrath found its object in Christ!

Never before had Christ lost Oneness with the Father, yet on His cross He cries, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matt. 27:46). In that moment God could no longer look upon His Son.

He could have come down from that cross. He could have just walked away and said “No. Sinful mankind is not worth it.” But He did not. He said,

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18).

Why not take a moment now and thank Him. Thank Him that “He Himself is the propitiation for your sin.”

Press on…

Thursday, 10/15/20 – Discipleship – Assurance: past, present, future

Assurance: past, present, future

Recently I’ve had the privilege of leading a long-standing believer in discipleship. Though a follower of Christ for many years this saint had never entered into a one-on-one accountability and mentoring relationship with another believer. What a joy for us both as we reviewed the basics together. I wish you could have seen his face as a fuller understanding of God’s forgiveness dawned in his heart!

Until now this brother had rejoiced in past sins forgiven, yet struggled at times with the ever present reality of shortcomings in his daily walk. He knew and practiced the truth that confessed sin will be cleansed as we acknowledge it to Christ – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). But until this moment the all sufficiency of Christ’s atonement – that Christ’s sacrificial death is sufficient not only for sins past and those we may commit today, but also for all that we may commit in days ahead — had eluded him.

We see Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection as historical events along a timeline. But God sees them from before even the timeline, “the first day” (Gen. 1:5), was called into existence. It’s as though God sees all of human history, past, present and future, laid out as a mural before Him. Overlaying the whole of it is Christ’s sacrifice efficacious to all who will turn from sin and receive Him as Saviour and Lord. All His wrath against all the sins of repentant hearts has been poured out upon His Son in full.

Now, this fact is no license for the believer to sin. Paul discusses this clearly in Romans 6. But It does mean the struggling believer need not fear a future failing will cast him from God’s Presence forever. The promise cited above is true:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

Believers new and old can rest in this assurance.

Press on…

Wednesday, 10/14/20 – Pressing on… Redemption Events

Redemption Events

I received an email last week from a national drug store chain urging “Join us for our Bonus Redemption Event” Some of you may also have received it. The store offers points which can be redeemed as cash for items purchased in the store. The “Bonus” of this six-day deal is that the redemption cash value will be topped up. So, for example, redeeming $50 in points will actually buy you $65 in merchandise! It’s a good deal: you surrender X many points, but in exchange receive X plus in value!

A few weeks back I brought a collection of empty pop and sparkling water bottles in to our local bottle exchange. They call the place where this all happens a “Redemption Center.” There is usually a big line-up — folks are eager to exchange what is empty and useless for something of value.

Of course the very BEST “Redemption Event” is the one that’s been available for centuries. It is the one provided by our Creator… in the works “from the foundation [creation] of the world” (Rev. 13:8), planned from eternity and culminated into “the fullness of time” [at just the right moment] (Gal. 4:4) to us, we the undeserving, in the cross of Christ.

The offer is this: We give Him our broken, sin ravaged, “filthy rag” flesh – all our finite physical life, and He gives us immediate entry into the family of God… life eternal… pure… holy and faultless. It’s a very good offer indeed! Only a fool would walk away from it. But as slain missionary Jim Elliot pointedly stated, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus puts it like this: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. / For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. / What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? / Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)

The drug store chain’s “Bonus Redemption Event” ends today. After that, and it will be too late. Jesus’s “Redemption Event” could end at any moment. He urges everyone, saying “Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2); “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Ps. 95:7-8; Heb. 3:7-8, 15).

Want help? Use my personal Contact page. It’s just me. We can talk. The Lord bless you. 😊

Press on…

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 10/13/20 –The Challenge… just a step

The Challenge… just a step

I wrote yesterday’s blog on Saturday, but I still had one more thought on thanksgiving which, for length sake, I did not include. I jotted down a paragraph and set it aside for the Tuesday blog. All of this was done on Saturday, before Don Longworth spoke on Sunday. Here’s what I wrote…

There is another power of ‘Thank you.’ It affirms our faith in the giver. Indeed, it may be that the desired object of one’s faith is never quite fully received until there is confidence to offer the thanks for it in advance.

If you heard our brother Don’s message on Sunday you will recognize this thought was also one of the points he made. “Praying through,” the holiness folk called it. Praying until the “burden” (the compulsion to pray about the matter) lifted and the petitioner, to paraphrase John, “knew that he had what he asked of Him.” (1 John 5:15). At that point there is no more need for praying; praise becomes the new order of the day.

The trick in adapting to this sort of faith is really no trick at all. It is simply a matter of obedience. We must be faithful to use what faith we have if we wish to have more. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” said Jesus (Luke 16:10a).

As He called to Gideon our Lord calls to each believer “Go in the strength you have” (Judges 6:14). Take that first step… “one small step”… for God… see what “giant leap” God may make of it. Then take another… then another… then another… “from faith… to Faith… to FAITH…

In it [the gospel of Christ] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Rom. 1:17).

Don’s closing challenge to us was to obediently do the very next thing the Lord puts in your head to do. If it aligns with scripture you can trust the thought is from Him and have sufficient confidence to take a risk.. “a step”…of faith.

Did you accept this challenge? Did you hear from God? If you did, but don’t like it, there is no point in waiting for something more agreeable to come along. It will not. The thing in your head now is what you must do. When you do it, let me know. We’ll thank God together for what He will do.

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 10/12/20 – The Thankful and the Thankempty

The Thankful and the Thankempty

We begin today with this portion of scripture…

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19, NASB).

You probably know the story… Jesus healed ten lepers who were in need and who came to Him for help. He told them to go to the priest and all ten were healed as they went. I say, all ten were healed. One returned Jesus to give thanks… to say ‘Thank you.’ Well, it must have been more like ‘Thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!’ I mean, he was after all just healed of leprosy! The other nine lepers, however, did not return with their gratitude. Presumably they just went on their way to the priest. They needed his declaration of wholeness, of now being “clean,” in order to fully and freely return – not to Jesus, but — to their society… their world.

Still, Jesus did not revoke their healing. He had not asked that they return, that was of their own decision, or not. Perhaps for some the thought never entered their mind. But all ten were healed.

Only one returned to thank Jesus. Of this one leper Matthew Henry comments, “He turned back towards him who was the Author of his cure, whom he wished to have the glory of it, before he received the benefit of it.”

There is a Great lesson in this observation, but my point today is not so much that we should be like the one and return thanks to our Lord, although that would be a very good point indeed. No, my point is that we must be like Jesus, content to do good to those who return to us no thanks at all, to those who are apt to be the overwhelming majority.

Our flesh will want to revoke the good we may have done to thankless persons, but did not Jesus say such goodness is measured in heaven as though we had done, or had not done, or had revoked having done it, to Him?

God so loved” not because we were worthy, or loveable, or kindly, or would thank Him in return. “God so loved” while we were still rebels, lost, sunk deep in sin. God loves because “God IS Love” and this same love now indwells every believer. Love others, regardless of thankful response, love them for the glory of God.

Happy Thanks-giving Day Canada!

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 10/9/20 – Friday Question: Why should I say ‘Thank you’?

Why should I say ‘Thank you’?

In an article posted at PsychCentral.com entitled “Why ‘Thank You’ Is More Than Just Good Manners” (updated July 8, 2018) author Jeremy Dean cites studies by Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Grant & Gino, 2010). They sought to find what effect saying ‘Thank you’ had on the one being thanked.

Results demonstrated that when a ‘Thank you’ was given the individual who gave the assistance was doubly inclined to be helpful again than were those who received only a neutral response to their initial helpfulness.

Helpers “appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.” Explains Dean, “The act of saying thank you reassures the helper that their help is valued and motivates them to provide more.”

Subsequent studies further showed helpers who received a ‘Thank you’ from the first individual were more than doubly motivated to offer assistance to a second individual than when no ‘Thank you’ had been given. Measurable increases in willingness to help another persisted even to a third and fourth person.

Interestingly, scripture speaks of the Lord “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:6-7; Deut. 5:8-10; Lev. 26:39). It seems a simple ‘Thank you’ follows a similar mathematical reverberation.

The PsychCentral.com item also stated that saying ‘Thank you’ is beneficial to the self. “Studies have suggested that being grateful can improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.

All good stuff, but the scriptures taught us that centuries earlier. “A cheerful heart is good medicine,” wrote wise King Solomon (Prov. 17:22). David taught us to Whom all our ‘Thank you’s are ultimately due: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Ps. 107:1) Paul taught our thankfulness must persist in all circumstances and for all things at all times: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18); “…be thankful… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:15, 17); “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,” (1 Tim. 4:4). Even our requests — before God answers — should be accompanied with a ‘Thank you’ — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) — for we know that whatever God gives or allows is for our best.

Thanks for reading 😊!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 10/8/20 – Discipleship: Awaiting Christ in an old and broken body

Soon Return of Christ
(Waiting for Christ in an old and broken body)

I awoke a few days ago with phrases running in my head. As I jotted them down, others came to mind and I wrote on, I cannot much explain them better than what you may read. Insofar as today’s ‘discipleship’ topic has to do with a looking forward to that eternal day, I share these words with you now. Let me know if they take root in you. And, press on…

My soul wakens once again to find itself in this rusted suit of armor looking out to this world through greasy glasses. It desires to fly, but the energy it pushes against the armor is too weak, repeated blinking over the pupils does not clear them.

So again this soul creaks upward to stand, washes blurry face and reaches for partly corrective lens. It covers the armor with clothing, stands as erect as the moment allows for as long as the knife in its back will sleep. (When it’s pain awakens it cannot be ignored.)

This soul imagines the tasks, the exploits it might pursue if the armor and pain, the fuzziness of mind and vision would allow. But it is a depleting dream. All too obvious is the truth that in this life, this body, these imaginings cannot happen.

The soul listens and speaks to its Maker. The Maker has all power, but the dreams of the soul are not the better plans of the Maker. The soul’s only hope is to seek out and follow His plan, not its own. This sheep must find its joys in the meadows, not the skies. It’s days to soar as the eagle are not yet, not for this present form.

So this soul trudges on. It is the final leg of its one great trek, to be ran… walked… limped perhaps but always to be completed. There is but this one course upon which this weary soul stands. No crossroads, no U-turns, lay ahead. No water stations, shade, companion or prize. These all await at the courses end.

O how this soul would fly to the finish if it but could. But the making of the man is in the journeying, not the arriving, the pressing on despite the conditions. This trek is about its travel, not its termination.

And so this soul breathes deep and presses on…

“…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. … I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12, 14)

Many who read my weekday blogs struggle with physical limitations, discomforts or other obstacles to living as vibrantly as perhaps they once did. Many others however are yet young and strong and for them today’s blog may not resonate. But the mandate of Phil. 3:12, 14 applies to all believers. Our One Lord knows each soul’s struggle. Take heart… the day of His return is near.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 10/7/20 – Pressing on…Marinating in the Messiah

Marinating in the Messiah

“Any cut of meat… can be made tender and delicious with the right techniques.” say the experts. Likewise, the Lord can make any individual into something spectacular! There’s no special requirement… just a willingness to allow the Word and Spirit of God to do their tenderizing work. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer…?” Jeremiah cried (Jer. 23:29) Tenderizing breaks down the muscle fibers of the meat and softens it, explain the experts. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart” a repentant David plead. “These, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17).

Evidently you can tenderize meat several ways: you can pound with a meat mallet, apply heat, or even breakdown the tissue using the enzymes from fruit. This is true also of hearts. Some require the mallet, like Paul, some fire, like Peter, and some are wooed to melting, like Nicodemus.

When it comes to marinades there are four primary ingredients: fat, acid, salt, and flavorings. They say the best fat to use (and I’m not making this up,) is olive oil! That’s right the oil spoken of throughout the scriptures, indicative of the Holy Spirit and efficacious in healing. Shepherd lad David sang, “Thou anointed my head with oil…” (Ps. 23:5). “Be filled with the Spirit,” echoes Paul (Eph. 5:18).

Balsamic, red wine vinegar or simple lemon juice make good acidic components for a marinade. Just the right amounts of hardships and bitter things in life also season and soften the soul. Suffering, it seems, makes a more sympathetic and compassionate saint.

Salt is the third item. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50). “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus taught His followers. We need to soak up salt spiritually to retain living water and distribute these to a dying world. Salt can preserve, sting, or make thirsty and just a wee bit will go a long way.

Flavorings can be of a variety of things and each individual brings their own unique blend to the pan. Becoming a Christian does not annihilate individuality, it enhances it…. It fulfils you… it presents to yourself and to others the fullest you.

Meat must soak in its marinade. Marinating meat is in no hurry. It is content to abide in the marinade. Before leaving this world Jesus said, “Abide in Me… he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:4-7).

And so we come full circle. From “believing on” to “abiding in” both result in God working in and through us “greater things,” wondrous and eternal things, things which glorify our Lord and Saviour.

Soak up Jesus! Believe on Him! Abide in Him! Glorify Him!

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 10/6/20 – Pressing on… Believing on, yet being in…

Believing on, yet being in

As discussed yesterday believing on Christ speaks of our dependency upon Him. This presupposes we have come to understand that without Him we have, as they say, “nothing upon which to stand” or, as one might also say, whatever it was we may have thought sturdy soil previously we have now come to see in the light of eternity to be utterly “groundless.” We must rest all our weight fully upon Him.

Yet, we find also a complementary truth also in scripture – perhaps almost a paradox. It is that when one believes on Christ he finds himself thereafter to be in Christ. Paul writes, “in Him [Christ] we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).

In fact, just skimming through the New Testament we find “in Christ” we have no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), we are being sanctified [made holy] (1 Cor. 1:2), established (2 Cor. 1:21), we triumph (2 Cor. 2:14), see clearly (2 Cor. 3:14). “In Christ” we become a new creature: old things are passed away and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). “In Christ” we receive spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), we are raised up and made to sit in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). “In Christ” we find consolation and comfort (Phil. 2:1l, boldness (Philemon 1:8) and every good thing (Philemon 1:6). “In Christ” we die and are made alive (1 Cor.15:22), we rise from death (1 Thess 4:16) and are gathered together in one (Eph. 1:10).

Then will be fulfilled Christ’s prayer for all believers…

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

Just as “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (1 Cor. 5:19), so we labor toward “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14) as Jesus prayed “that the world may believe” (John 17:21).

For not only do we find the believer is in Christ, but also, “mysteriously” as the Apostle suggests, we find that Christ is in us! “…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. …this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:26-27)

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.