Monday, 8/2/21 – Pressing on… Exceptional…

Exceptional…

This past Sunday our brother Joseph shared with us from 2 Thessalonians 4…

In this chapter Paul has just written several lines refuting the false claims of deceivers posing to be him and saying the second coming of Christ had already occurred. We have those folks today! Documenting them all would be beyond the scope of these posts!

To allay their fears Paul reminds them the antichrist must first appear. He will deceive many who “refused to love the truth and so be saved” (v.10). Because of this, they are condemned with all who have chosen wickedness.

Paul’s thoughts next turn with delight to his readers, the Christians in Thessalonica. They were the great exception to the wickedness he has just described. “But…” he begins…

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2 Thess. 4:13).

There’s enough theology in that one sentence to fuel a hundred sermons — a thousand! There is the great Love of God, the inclusion of male and female alike, on even ground, the depth of doctrine in the concept of firstfruits, it’s heritage, potential, connectedness to root and vine, fruitfulness, reproductivity, joy and eternity. There is the idea of sanctification… transformation… hope! The truth of God, by His Holy Spirit, indwelling, recreating, redeeming and making actual what at first was only legal: the holiness of a once lost soul! There is the agency by which the soul receives — belief in the truth, Jesus, Who said “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,” and there us none other. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

That God should do such a thing to a creature in itself just as wicked as the worst! What amazing skill! What demonstration of the divine’s grace and mercy! What a creature to point to – redeemed prodigal – that He could do so… would do so… does not that alone cause us, by our very redemption, to be testimony to His Glory? Yes indeed, as Paul writes on…

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.14).

Oh! — Marvelous Saviour! — Blessed Spirit! — Almighty and Holy God!

More tomorrow…

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

Friday, 7/30/21 – More thoughts on Christ and Temptation…

More thoughts on Christ and Temptation…

One of these days I really must look at changing my blog layout. Though I do like the one I’ve been using there is one aspect I wish were different: the poor visibility of your comments, and the even poorer visibility of my responses to them.

If you look very carefully, down at the bottom of each post you will find in small, very light font a list if options… something like this,

but it looks like this,

Most miss-able indeed!

If you click on the “Leave a Comment” link you will be able to do so, but few readers notice the link and consequently comments are rare. Once a comment has been left, however, it is easy to be seen following that blog.

The July 9 post, “Could Jesus Have Sinned,” was such a post with a good reader comment. Because these are easily overlooked I repeat my responses here as today’s post for your consideration…

* * * * * *

In Gal. 5:16 Paul writes, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” We tend to walk in and out of the Spirit and likely will until heaven. Jesus walked always in vital union with the Spirit and Father, excepting that dreadful moment on the cross (Matt.27:46).

A Spirit filled Christian seeing someone drop their wallet would be compelled to chase after the owner and return it. If this Christian is asked, “Why didn’t you keep it?” he may well reply, “Oh, I couldn’t do that!” Well, he could, but He couldn’t. Why? “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set [him] free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). So long as he walks in the Spirit, and until all sin is taken from him. Christ always walked by the Spirit.

On the matter of Christ being tempted “in all points like as we are” (Heb. 4:15), I think it important to distinguish between the virtue being tested and the means used to effect that testing.

When a man is tempted to vanity he may be enticed to purchase and flaunt an extravagant sports car, a fine yacht, or expensive electronics. When a woman is tempted to vanity she may be excessive in her clothing, beauty treatments, or socializations with some elite clique. Both are tempted on the same point, vanity, but the bait must necessarily be different. Christ was tempted to vanity also. It was the second of his great temptations while Jesus was in the wilderness.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’” (Matt. 4:5-6).

The devil had been taunting Jesus, challenging His identity. He dared Christ to prove His divinity by performing this act of indulgence. “If you are the Son of God,” he said. But Jesus asserted the Word of God over competition of vanity. He said, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”(v.7).

Like the man and the woman, so too Christ was tempted on the point of vanity, and as in the case of the man and the woman, so too with Christ the bait had to be tailor-made.

* * * * * *

Press On…

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

Thursday, 7/29/21 – Today’s Discipleship Blog: Fellowship Forever

Fellowship Forever

This Friday, July 30, at 11:59 PM here in New Brunswick, Canada, our province enters what we have called the “Green” public health alert level of recovery. All Covid-19 restrictions will be removed. Businesses are gearing up, celebrations are being planned, and travel plans for the commencing long weekend are anticipated. On Monday the Capital City, Fredericton, hosts “New Brunswick Day” with ceremony, free concerts, displays and culminating fireworks launched from a major city bridge. It’ll be a landmark weekend!

Most meaningful of all these things will be to experience once again the freedom of fellowship! If nothing else, the experience of the pandemic has taught us the great treasure and necessity of human interaction. “How good and how pleasant…” the psalmist celebrates, “for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1).

Currently our church is in process of seeking leadership. This process requires great prayer, prudence and patience. As a fellowship of believers in Christ, and in these days in particular, we do well to heed Paul’s urging to the Ephesians,

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:3-6).

It is both God’s nature and desire for us that we be united as one in a fellowship of love in Him. Consider Jesus’ great prayer for all believer…

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23).

Unity and fellowship, with one another and with Him, on Earth now and in Heaven then, in time and for eternity. This is the will of our Creator, Father, Lord and God.

Value it… Celebrate it… Enjoy it… Maintain it!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, 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, 7/28/21 – Pressing on… Giving the Gift to others…

Giving the Gift to others…

We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” writes Paul (2 Cor. 4:7). This treasure… this Gift… about which we have been speaking thus far this week. The Gift is the Holy Spirit deposited within all who believe, the effect is salvation… eternal life with our Lord and in His Kingdom, and the means is the Gospel of God… the true message that God has not abandoned us to the consequences of our rebellion. He has not tossed us aside as we might toss an item marred on the assembly line. No. He has come to us, given Himself to be tossed aside instead, tormented, punished, destroyed. And of us He has not merely made repair, but He has given us a whole new being,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

God… has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” Paul prefaces. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels” – God has seen fit to entrust Eternal Spirit to temporal clay. Why? “…that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (2 Cor. 4:6-7).

To carry such a treasure into such a fallen world, this is the evident and fearful plan of God, your and my Creator,

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:15-16).

“…Who is sufficient for these things?” Or, as the NIV has it, “…Who is equal to such a task?” Who can rise to it? This is not a true question, for God Himself has evidently answered it, and His answer is you! Every believer in that instant of faith becomes also an evangel, a bearer of the undiminishable Truth. Within him resides not only the “Gift,” the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Eph. 1:14) but also the Gospel, “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16)!

We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” writes Paul. It is true of every believer. And God expects each one to share it with this dying world.

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, 7/27/21 – Pressing on… Digging deeper into the Gift…

Digging deeper into the Gift…

At first you are astonished at the beauty of the box, the knowing of Presence within you. He has come! Just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit of God now rests within you. His perch is not forceful; it is gentle… like… like a dove. It would not take much to shoo Him away, but why would you? His Presence is now the most peaceful and desirous part of your person. The missing piece all these many years, until now.

Opening the Gift further and you find Him speaking to you, sometimes surprisingly. Sometimes He whispers from behind you, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isa. 30:21). Sometimes He comes with undeniably great power (Acts 2:2:-4). Sometimes He speaks as you dream (Joel 2:29, Matt. 1:20, 2:13,19, Acts 2:17, 9:10-11, 10:9-17, 16:9, 18:9, 22:18, 27:23, Rev. 1:12), waking or sleeping. Sometimes by a subtle inner tug (Acts 16:6), or in a season of prayer and fasting (Acts 13:2), as a collective sense (Acts 15), a miraculous intervention (Acts 10:44-48), a direct request for wisdom (James 1:5), through spiritual gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-10), by illumination while reading the scriptures (John 14:26, 16:13-16, Eph. 1:18), a conviction of guilt regarding personal sin (John 16:8), or a sense of peace and affirmation regarding the right thing to do (also John 16:8). In many other ways the Holy Spirit speaks to the believer, leading one to Truth, and as Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).

Keep opening the Gift and the Holy Spirit will work deeper and deeper within you. You will learn to trust Him and will grow confident that He will be there in all your times of need. You will stop trying to do His work for Him. “do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say” (Matt. 10:19). You will learn to be “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 5:18) and how to “walk by faith” (2 Cor.5:7).

You will see your very self changing… you will see the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit’s making, growing within you: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23), grow bolder in your testimony (Acts 4:31), and long more greatly for your eternal heavenly home (1 Cor. 5:6-9, Phil. 1:21-24).

Dig deep into the Gift daily. As Paul reminded Timothy: “…stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6). Dig deep into the Gift today!

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.

Monday, 7/26/21 – Pressing on… The Gift…

The Gift…

It was Peter’s first sermon… Thousands were in attendance that day and the Acts 2 account lists at least 16 nations represented. Several sources speculate up to seventy language groups were present. How’d you like that as your first congregation?

But that day was special! The Holy Spirit had fallen upon the scene and become the Interpreter. Peter’s message was simple: he recounted the people’s history and showed how they had slain their Messiah! “Let all Israel be assured of this,” he said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36).

Their response was singular: “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”(v. 37).

What shall we do indeed? What would you do having learned you had killed your Creator’s Begotten? We must all ask this, for indeed we all are guilty — “None is righteous, no, not one… all have sinned” (Rom. 3:10, 23).

How astonished they must have been to hear there was yet mercy! “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” announced Peter (v. 38a). Yes, even this could be forgiven! Had not the Crucified One Himself willed it: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

But more! There was yet more! Not only would there be mercy, but also grace! Not only may they be forgiven but also gifted! Peter continued, “…And you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” (v. 38b). Not a gift from the Holy Spirit, but the Gift of The Holy Spirit — The Holy Spirit Himself is the Gift! That same Spirit will dwell within you, “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead” (Rom. 8:11).

Yet there still is more! This Gift is not only for those contemporary to Christ, this Gift is for all believers, through all times. He says, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (v. 39). This Comforter, this Advocate, this Encourager, Teacher, Guide, and Glorifier of the Son, this Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Christ, and Breath of God, as Jesus said, “…He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

What a magnificent Gift!

Take Him. Thank Him. Know Him. Surrender to Him. Rejoice in Him!

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.

Friday, 7/23/21 – Why do we wiggle?

Why do we wiggle?

The manifestations of a demon-possessed person can be most unsettling: intense strength, growls and glares, cursing, flailing about, frothing like a rabid animal and convulsing. All the while a frightful spiritual darkness presses down upon the scene. Enough to rattle the nerves and shake the faith of many.

But the Truth is, the demons fear you, the believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. Even the weakest of us is, to the devil and his host, like a toddler with a loaded pistol. The devil knows what we hold in our hands. Drop the Name of Jesus and the demons must flee:

“…do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7b-8).
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (James 2:19).
God… gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth… to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Mark writes of one such individual brought by his father to Jesus. The fearful challenge had proved too much for the apostles; “I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out,” the man recounted to Jesus, “but they could not.” (Mark 9:18). “Since childhood,”‘ the man continued, “whenever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid,” the man explained, ”…and often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.”

Sure enough, as soon as the demon-possessed son saw Jesus scripture records, “…immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.”

But Jesus wasn’t wiggling. He knew who had the upper hand here. Despite the loud display of demonic madness before Him, Jesus calmly says, “…all things are possible to him who believes.” Oh, how we want to believe when circumstances shout otherwise! We do… but we don’t.

Let’s be wise like this father… How? By being honest. “Lord, I believe,” he cried, “help my unbelief!

That son was delivered that day. — Even though the father’s faith wobbled at best, he had at least a grain… and that grain was enough. As Jesus elsewhere said, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20).

Now I’m not saying we should all go out and seek to fight demons or move mountains around, but… well… Remember that brook trout? [See Tuesday’s blog] When situations looked tense brother Jim, Don’s dad, would often say “God’s not wiggling.” Whether it’s surrendering to some personal change or stepping boldly forward to a new level of faith and confidence in God — neither should we.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 7/22/21 – Prayer: Desires of the heart

Prayer: Desires of the heart

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” penned the psalmist (Ps. 37:4).

Philip Yancey prays for big things… things like peace in the Middle East and an end to homelessness in the USA. He writes, “I earnestly desire those things — and moreover, I believe God does too.” I also believe God desires these things and you probably do too. But does any one of us actually believe God will do these things in response to our prayers? Yancey writes,

“A friend of mine in Chicago tried to recruit some colleagues in urban ministry to join him in a season of prayer for an end to poverty in that city. Almost everyone he asked balked. “Why pray for something so idealistic and impossible?” they objected.”

This reminds me of an incident during my years in Bible College. The college badly needed a new bus. I had faith that God could provide one and began to seek out others to join me in meeting regularly to pray earnestly to that end. Sadly, in a college of over a hundred theological students, I found not one person who would believe with me and join me in prayer.

Well what’s going on here anyway? And just what is the psalmist telling us? On this passage Matthew Henry comments,

“He has not promised to gratify all the appetites of the body and the humours of the fancy, but to grant all the desires of the heart, all the cravings of the renewed sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him.”

Perhaps what the psalmist is saying is that when we delight in our Lord… when we love Him in the uttermost, our prayer… our heart’s desire… is a self-fulfilling reality. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you,” writes James (Jas. 4:8). Or, as Jan Kempe writes in Faithful Hearts, “God’s answer to any problem is His Presence.” (Faithful Hearts, p. 41).

Like you, I still have many questions about prayer, about God’s answers, and about His non-answers. And I wonder at times, while we are asking God why He does not act, if He may not be asking us exactly the same question!

But my business — our business –  is not so much to understand, as to pray, and to love, and obey. Let’s let us let that suffice for now. All will be made clear to us soon enough.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, 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, 7/21/21 – Pressing on… The Wisdom of an Owl…

The Wisdom of an Owl…

A few days ago I “helped” our seven-year-old granddaughter make an origami owl. The sketched diagrams and equally “sketchy” instructions which accompanied them were indeed a challenge to discern. Just what does “On the top layer, fold the top corners in to the centre line, and repeat on back” mean? This would all be so much easier if I had someone beside me to demonstrate each step along the way!

Much of life is just like that. Like the steps of making an origami owl the steps of life present new and puzzling challenges. Though we sometimes long for it, none of us could absorb and follow a blueprint or step manual for our lives if one were handed out at the start. We must each do one step at a time, learn from it, be changed by it, and then move on to the next step.

This is the process followed by Ezekiel. God had touched him and said do this….then this… then this…. As our brother Don shared last Sunday regarding the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37): v.1 “he brought me out…” v.2 “He led me back and forth…” v.3 “He asked me…” v.4 “He said to me…” v.9 He said to me…“ v.11 “Then he said to me…”

He works in this way because His plan calls to change us, each step is to make us just a little bit more like Himself, fit and ready for the step to come. He works in this way also to show us we could never have followed these steps alone. All glory and praise for what He makes of us and does through us belongs to Him. As He told Ezekiel, v.13 “Then you… will know that I am the Lord…” v.14 “…you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.”

Thank our great God for His “help” in and through your life thus far, and keep doing all the steps he shows you!

Press on…

Want to make an Origami owl? Click here 😃

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, 7/20/21 – Pressing on… On… to What?

On… to What?

Folk who know me or know my blog know that I have taken “Press On” as a sort of life motto. The phrase is taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. But what exactly was it that Paul was “pressing on” to? The context of this phrase makes a good summary of Don Longworth’s message to us this past Sunday.

Don likened our tendency to squirm in God’s hand to that of a slippery brook trout flopping about in the hand of a fisherman as he worked to free the hook. “Fishing is the easy part,” said Don. “The hard part is holding on to the trout as it fights the fisherman’s every next move.”

Don’t be like that, was Don’s word to us. Take bold steps of obedience… take ALL the steps of obedience. God does nothing half-way; it is we who sometimes collapse along the route. We collapse not of exhaustion, but of indifference. We’re sometimes not sure the journey is really with the trip. “Are we there yet?” we whine.

Paul was not like that. If Paul were a brook trout caught by the Master Fisher of men be would position himself calmly in hand and point to the best spot to grab on. He would not squirm, but gladly offer himself. Paul entrusted his fate to the one who had caught him… the one who had captivated him… for he knew He alone had the best of plans for him.

What was it he wrote? To what did he “Press on”? Paul’s motivation was this: “to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). Not only was Paul going to let the Fisherman hold him, but he would in turn hold tightly to the plans the Fisherman had for him. Paul would take the bold steps… ALL the bold steps… from persecutor, to student, to apologist, to evangel and, though we don’t know for certain just how Paul died, we know he was willing also to take a final bold step martyrdom. Not all at once, but as the Lord revealed. Step by step…

We should all do the same.

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.