Friday, 3/27/20 – Friday Tough Question: “What are we supposed to do?”

What are we supposed to do?

Recently I received an email citing a number of Christian leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic. One I’d like to focus on today is this:

“Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when we’re facing adversity or sickness or hardship or death and then we rejoice, we are obeying God. God is on his throne. He loves you and is watching out for you. So rejoice in the Lord.” – Pastor Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, California.

20200326_131206It reminded me of an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters which I had also recently re-read. This is an excellent book and every Christian should read it – it’s right up there with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in my opinion. I believe both can be found and freely read online.

The Screwtape letters is a fictional account of “letters” written by a Senior devil “Screwtape” to his understudy demon “Wormwood.” In each chapter Screwtape advises this Jr devil how to best tempt and destroy faith in us humans. Screwtape writes,

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

We make the devil shake when we show faith despite adversity! This IS a war, but all we must do is stand still — and stay standing. Paul urges,

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:10-13).

abandoned ancient antique architecture

Interesting fact: Paul was in social isolation when he wrote this! He was in prison for the cause of Christ. John, “the beloved disciple” also experienced social isolation. He was in exile on the isle of Patmos – you know, the place from which he wrote Revelation!

I believe Elder Don once urged us to this same simplicity as he shared from Exodus. Facing huge opposition Moses assured the Hebrews,

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exod. 14:14)

Or as I like to put it…

Press on…

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

Thursday, 3/26/20 – Discipleship – God’s Will (& COVID-19)

God’s Will (& COVID-19)

How does one reconcile God’s Will with the COVID-19 pandemic?

woman in white dress shirt using white microscope

Any scientist or logician will tell you that if you are hoping to compare two realities you must certainly understand something about the properties of each. In this matter our comprehension of both is woefully minute! Speculation using all available facts is all that is left to us.

In the case of God, the Bible gives us some sketches of Him, but all along emphasizes also this caveat: No one can grasp the Mind of God. From earliest biblical record to this current moment as you read, this has been so.

sky space dark galaxy

The Almighty “does great and unsearchable things,” says Job. (Job 5:9). “Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him? Who has appointed Him His way, And who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?” (Job 36:22-23). “Do you not know?” Isaiah writes, “… His understanding is inscrutable.” (Isa. 40:28).

In fact, in his great God-given wisdom, Solomon tells us “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter…” (Prov. 25:2). The Lord Himself declares it:

“…My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

If nothing else in this hour we must recognize that God is God and we are not.

baby sitting on man s shoulder

But we do know that God is a loving Father to His children. His interests for us have an eternal focus. Good parents guide their children to eat and to sleep and to exercise, to learn and to work and to endure, so that “When they grow up”…they will be healthy, and strong, and able. No child at the time of direction cares much about outcomes decades in the future. But still, the good parent directs.

God’s good will for His own is that they grow in dependence and love and relationship with Him. (Read Eph. 1:1-23, 1 Pet. 1:3-11, 1 Tim. 4:7-16). “No one is good—except God alone.” taught Jesus (Mark 10:18). The good by which we try to compare and comprehend God is tarnished and carnal, often earthbound and temporal. But God has “something better,” (Heb. 11:40) more enduring in mind for all His children. We must trust Him.

I read something very interesting today from a book by Jan Kempe published several years ago. I was amazed at how appropriately these words are for us all today…

“The truth is that we would rather trust in a bank balance which we can see than in God whom we can’t see. The thought of having no one or nothing but God to trust is sufficient to bring on a nervous collapse…
“‘We are all of us in danger of slipping into this form of unquiet distrust in the fatherly providence of God’ (Samuel Cox).
“God’s will is that our lives should be a perpetual crisis of dependence on Him. We defeat His will in our lives when we lay up treasures on earth.” – Jan Kempe, Faithful Hearts, p. 155

Paul marvels, “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!“ (Rom. 11:33-34) and to the Corinthians summarizes “…the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God…” (1 Cor. 2:11). “But,..” Paul adds, “we have the mind of Christ.” (v. 16).

God is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:31). Let us build ourselves up in trust toward Him. Let us so focus on the kingdom to come that it becomes a testimony to the lost and frantic. Writes Kempe,

“The life of faith speaks loudly to unbelievers and to other Christians. It testifies to all that there is a God in heaven the answers prayer. Faith is the opposite of sight; when you can see, you can’t trust.” – p. 116

believe bible black and white book

Press on…

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

Wednesday, 3/25/20 – Pressing on…

Steer back!

20191110_120829As he shared with us last Sunday Elder Don reminded us of a statement by Alan Baker, one of our Sermonindex Revival presenters. Alan had seen how very quickly a society can be turned upside down. In urgent public warning he pointed to us all, both present and online, and warned “Don’t think that can’t happen to you!

ocean water wave photo

Knowing that a complete and sudden loss of all we’ve relied upon is possible – this is the first step in being prepared for it. Ignoring warnings has always led to destruction: e.g. the people of Noah’s age and the ensuing flood, the Passover and slaying of the firstborn, the residents of Sodom & Gomorrah and its fiery destruction…

In each case God gave warning, but the people ignored it. Scripture teaches God always gives warning:

“Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 Amplified).

He warns us like a loving parent… like the good, good Father that He is.

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11).

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Pastor Andrew touched on this theme in a message he shared some months ago. God warns before He acts. He doesn’t want to see us destroyed – but the clock keeps ticking…

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” (2 Pet. 3:9-10).

God is not trying to scare us… at least not without purpose; He is trying with all His might and with all His Love to steer us, as Don explained.

adult automotive blur car

Imagine a driver training instructor who shouts to his student “Turn around!” as the car heads to a precipice. Though it may startle the student the cry is urgent and motivated by greater wisdom and concern for what is best.

But suppose this student driver ignores the warning? What is the instructor to do? Shout louder?

Elder Don asked “How much does it take for God to get our attention?” How much does it take for Him to get your attention?

“Do not do what everyone else is doing,” said Elder Don, “Come to the Rock.”

Press on…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.

Tuesday, 3/24/20 – Pressing on…

The folly of flight

silhouette of a man in window

“…God’s judgment,” writes Paul to the Romans, “…is based on truth.” I’m not so sure much of our society understands this. Many do not even give thought to such notions of accountability. But each person IS accountable before God for what they have done with the life He has given them.

Do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” Paul asks. (Rom. 2:2-3). Sadly, many run from this question, they “flee on horses” (Isa. 30:16), as Elder Don reminded us last Sunday.

man wearing black officer uniform

But no one can outrun God! God is everywhere! The very idea that one can run “from” God is ludicrous. “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” asks the Lord through Jeremiah. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24). There are no “secret places” to the One Who created all places. Like in any episode of “Cops,” or “Live PD” the one being pursued is ALWAYS better off surrendering than running.

silhouette of person riding horse on body of water under yellow sunset

But in these last few days of grace God is pursuing us not to destroy us but to “proclaim peace” to those captured. Someone has stepped up to take our punishment instead. “Stop running!” He shouts. “You are only running deeper into the prison! The door is this way… follow My Voice for it is urgent. This prison will soon seal shut forever!”

“I rarely raise My Voice” spoke the Lord privately to Don as he prayed. But God is shouting at us now… shouting to the whole of us… “Come to Me! I am your only Hope!”

Paul continues… “… God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ …For God does not show favoritism.” (Rom. 2: 6, 11). To this the author of Hebrews adds,

“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” (Heb. 12:25-27)

lion roaring inside cager

In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe young Lucy asks the Beaver if the God-like figure Aslan is safe. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …. “Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”

Believers, do not fear. This is our Father speaking… shouting… shaking… He’s a good, good Father. Run closer to Him as He rages. It is the safest place to be.

More tomorrow…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 3/23/20 – Pressing on…

Shouting above the din…

20200322_173742I’ve got to say a big public Kudos to Don Longworth for wonderfully pulling together the first interactive online Sunday service of Lincoln Baptist Church. Hats off also to Don’s wife Erin for her assistance and to Becka and Gerry for their remote connection and ministry. The Lord is good and taking good care of His people.

Elder Don shared with us from Isaiah 30, in particular from verse 15,

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’”

photo of opened bible book on brown table

I touched on the first part of this passage last Thursday, but it’s that last line that is so chilling “but you would have none of it.” It reminds me of Hoses 4:17 where we read “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone.” I remember Billy Graham once preached on this passage. I can hear his firm, resonating voice now, see his penetrating  unwavering eyes, “…leave him alone!”

adult child daylight enjoyment

The Lord had plead long and hard with His people, but still they shunned Him. “The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer,” He spoke through the prophet, “How then can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadow?” (v. 16). Then the acknowledgement that “Ephraim is joined to idols…” That word “joined” means “to be united, coupled together, to make an alliance with.” In other words Ephraim had made its decision, the people had turned from God and locked them selves in with sin. “Leave him alone!”

Our world should thank God Almighty that He has not yet “left us alone.” He is shaking the world once more to get us to turn to Him. God’s people know this. Jesus told us this was all coming… like pains of labour of a pregnant woman!

woman carrying baby

All these are the beginning of birth pains,” said Jesus (Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8). “…destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman,” wrote Paul (1 Thess. 5:13). “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Rom. 8:22)

I do not know if this is that final hour, that hour which births the eternal kingdom. It may well be, or there may be more intense spasms yet to come. Only God the Father knows.

But I do know God is shaking our planet right now, or as Elder Don said, “God is shouting!” He is trying to get our attention above the din of our sin.

He’s doing this because He loves us. Sin leads one to destruction. The only way to escape it is to turn around. Leave the sin… turn to Him. You know you must leave it one day, for your flesh will most certainly one day die. Leave it now. Run to Him. Good things await you… a warm bed, a loving Father, eternal peace. “In repentance and rest is your salvation.”

More tomorrow…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.

Friday, 3/20/20 – Where Peace? – The Great Equation…

Where Peace? – The Great Equation…

man wearing eyeglasses

Some of the scriptures we’ve looked at through this week have actually been promises… almost equations… the Lord gives to His children. When worries come: Think on Christ. Talk with Him. Assurance and Peace will come to you.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).

agriculture clouds countryside daylight

David writes of his response to worry: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Ps. 46:4), and testifies of the Lord’s reliable reply, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Ps. 94:19)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Peter urges (1 Pet. 5:7). Isaiah, David, John, Paul and Peter all agree: God’s Presence = Peace!

Perhaps Isaiah sums up this truth most succinctly,

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isa. 26:3)

beach woman sunrise silhouette

Look to Jesus! It’s as simple as that. If you want to see the sunrise you must look to the eastern horizon. You’ll never experience it staring southward.

“They cried out… terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” (Mark 6:49b-50)

Press on…

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

Thursday, 3/19/20 – Faint or stand firm – Evangelism

Faint or stand firm…

hands in front of white and black background

We’ve grown rather accustomed to trusting in man… trusting in science. We get sick and ask, “OK what should I take for this?” We expect medical science to have a ready-made response to any discomfort.

But ultimately all good gifts come from God (James 1:17). Trust in science or wealth alone is no more than trust in humanism and materialism. We neglect the exhortation of Deut. 8:18 to “…remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability...” Shaky business indeed.

airport bank board business

A few weeks ago in one of the adult Bible classes pastor Andrew said something I thought noteworthy. He saièd, “Materialism and humanism are really just extreme ungratefulness.” I like that. You see mankind is very reluctant to take honor from self and give it to God. The prophet Jeremiah warned “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jer. 17:5). Every translation I consulted uses that word “cursed.” It is a serious thing to ignore the Lord in times of need.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

Pestilences! Plagues! Diseases! All that without a cure! They are beyond man’s ability to respond with a remedy! In the same chapter where Christ tells of coming pestilence, He says “People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world,” but to His own He adds “…do not be frightened… “ (v. 7) …make up your mind not to worry beforehand…” (v. 14) “Stand firm….” (v. 19).

In Isaiah we read “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…’” (Isa. 30:15).

praying man looking up

Repentance, agreeing with God about your sinfulness and with His help turning from it, this is repentance. Rest, putting all your concerns upon Christ, resting in Him, taking up His yoke and walking in stride, in obedience, to Him. This is true “rest,” as Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “ (Matt. 11:29).

Sharing this singular path to peace, especially during this troubling time, is true evangelism. These COVID-19 days may indeed be one more appeal from our loving Lord to bring souls to Him. Perhaps like Esther He has an appointed role for you in this crisis to reach out with hope to those around you. “..who knows but that you have come to your [sphere of social contacts] for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Stand firm…

Press on…

believe bible black and white book

Perhaps the Lord us calling to you in these difficult days. Perhaps you would you like to respond by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page… we’ll help get you started.