Tuesday, 12/10/19 – Pressing on…

Getting the bits behind our ears…

photo of woman holding magnifying glass

I’m not much of a guy for giving attention to detail. Oh, I shower and shave, get dressed, tuck in my shirt and comb my hair. But my wife’s the one with the eagle eye. “You missed a spot shaving, right here,” she’ll point out, or “There’s some hairs out of place there,” as she readjusts my shirt collar into something better that I’ve never quite understood, or pauses for a head-to-toe scan for stains and color-coordination.

You see, though we can get scrubbed up, “squeaky clean,” as I discussed yesterday, we don’t stay that way for long. In New Testament times sandal clad travelers were offered a footwash on reaching their destination. Picking up the filth of the world was a given by reason of simply passing through it. Our interactions with a dirty world leave their mark. Often these marks are more quickly perceptible to others than they are to us at first. We need others to point them out to us.

photo of people standing near body of water

Our speaker this past Sunday, Kurt Billard, reminded us of this from the get-go. Especially as this world grows darker… dirtier… we need to “…encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thess. 5:11). We need self and other’s scrutiny that “not even a hint” (Eph. 5:3) of worldly contamination sticks to us. “Squeaky clean,” unafraid of, yes even seeking, the bright glare of the Spirit’s soul-searching spotlight.

God has assembled the perfect place for this to lovingly take place: the Church and family of God, His Body… His Bride. We do this by coming to His light, “…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit” (Eph. 5:19), keeping tabs with one another, using our gifts and expressing Christ’s love in ministry, prayer, and practical support.

pair of brown footbed sandals

Believers in Christ are now citizens of another Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. Here we are but “sojourners,” travelers going through another domain. We must not forget this. We must keep ourselves clean. Jesus has gone before us, “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). He has given the resources to succeed: “…grace to help us in our time of need.” (v.16) And a promise to stabilize us,

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).

That “way out” just may come from our community of cleaners, those with outside perspective who can see more clearly the bits behind our ears.

More tomorrow…

To hear Kurt Billard’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Dec. 8 message.

Monday, 12/9/19 – Pressing on…

Squeaky Clean Just Feels So Good!

person lifting dumbbell
Uh… Not an actual picture of me!

Believe it or not there was a time when I was quite healthy, loaded with energy, strong. I’d begin my days mid-morning, eat largely, hit the weights for two hours, go for a run, eat large again, hop a bus to work, wash pots and dishes 6 to 7 hours and then at 1 am, when city busses no longer ran, walk the two-hour trek home. The next day I’d do it all again and think nothing of it.

One summer I worked the most physically demanding job I ever held. I worked for a landscaping company, laying sod, digging and weeding flower gardens, laying stonework, mowing lawns and trimming hedges. Laying sod was to me the most rewarding task. At the start of the day we’d arrive at a townhouse community set on dusty soil and at the end of the day, after hours of heaving and shifting dirty rectangles of sod into perfectly formed blankets of green, leave it a lush and tidy community of watering lawns and smiling residents.

architecture beautiful home building class

We worked long in those days—14 hours was common, following the sun. At the workplace by 7:30, onsite by 8. A 15 minute break midmorning, a forty-five minute lunch, and another 15 minutes mid-afternoon. I’d arrive home around 9 PM filthy, famished, and fatigued, bewildered as to which need to fill first: cleanliness, nourishment, or sleep. Somehow I’d find the strength to accomplish all three and by the next morning I’d be ready to go at it again.

man wearing blue suit

Those “next mornings” were the best when they fell on a Sunday. On Sunday I was clean and could for the most part stay that way. There’s something particularly glorious about having done one’s necessary work, scrubbed oneself clean, filled ones belly with well earned food and refreshed one’s countenance with deep and satisfying sleep — Squeaky clean, and fit for the Master’s use.

This is in fact what our speaker this Sunday, Kurt Billard, urged upon us in our spiritual selves. Just as Mary and Joseph were found righteous (even while oblivious to the great plan and purpose which God had for them) so we should be found at all times, as Peter wrote “…prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pet. 3:15). But we can’t do this authentically when we know all is not well with our soul.

baby inside white bathtub with water
Squeaky Clean!  Yay!!

Paul instructed Timothy “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Tim. 2:20-21).

There’s nothing like a “squeaky clean” vessel to assure and encourage its use. Be one – it just feels so good!

Like those earthly guardians of our Lord you too may be astonished at just what God has planned for you.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 12/6/19 – Friday Tough Question

“What’s God got Against Money?”

Regardless of your general Bible knowledge you’ve probably come across these two oft-cited scriptures:

“You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:24 – NIV), and
“…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Tim. 6:10 – NLT)

abundance bank banking banknotes
Money, money, money, money, money…

God = good; Money = bad. This seems to be the accepted equation. But is it really all that simple? And, if it is, what’s so bad about money anyway? “What’s God got Against Money?”

To get a clearer understanding of this it’s important to notice two words in particular, one in each of the above verses.

In Matt. 6:24 the word to note is “serve” — “You cannot serve both God and money.”
In 1 Tim. 6:10 the word to note is “love” — “…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

The Greek word ‘serve’ (δουλεύω) means ‘to be a slave,’ ‘to obey’ or ‘submit to.’ It is used of those who become slaves to some base power, who give themselves over to it. You could say, rather than you owning it, it owns you!

woman taking selfie indoor

The Greek word ‘love’ in the second reference carries with it the same idea of ‘slavery’ or ‘bondage’ to a thing, whether voluntary or involuntary, actual or alegorical. It indicates a greedy desire… a willingness to gain the thing even by unethical means.

We are made to worship and will worship whatever thing we set up as primary on the throne of our heart — and there is only room for one on that throne.

Money is unsatisfying, and for that reason addictive. If we chase after it, though we may catch some of it, we find it insufficient. We seek ‘just a bit more,’ and when that ‘bit’ too proves unsatisfying the result is bondage… an unending quest. The only way out is to seek something else, to seek the Rightful Ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider these words by the wisest man of all…

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income…. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)
“I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.” (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15)

Press on…

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

 

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

Thursday, 12/5/19 – Discipleship – Assurance

Faith and Doubt

people woman girl cute

Thomas had heard the warnings… false Christ’s and false prophets would emerge. Jesus had often spoken of wolves hidden among the sheep, dressed up like one of them. He had told how liars, thieves, destroyers would make efforts to sneak into the camp, there to wreck havoc.

brown wooden cross

Thomas would have none of that. Though some of his company had fallen asleep in Gethsemane, Thomas vowed to himself that he, if indeed he alone, would stand faithful and stay alert. Now they said the thoroughly dead Jesus, the Jesus whom he’d seen die, gasp his last and say “It is finished!” – that Jesus whose blood-soaked body flopped lifeless over the centurion’s shoulders when he pried the spikes from his limp ankles and wrists… that Jesus, so they said had been seen alive!

The women had started it… then the two on the road… now the whole band of them say he came to them, here, in this very room, while Thomas himself had been out.

people walking on desert on a windy day with dust clouding around them

Were all the ten duped now? Stay on the safe side, thought Thomas. Doubt until proven wrong. Proven wrong. He told them frankly, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). Thomas would do his Lord proud. Thomas would not just believe any old gossip. Thomas wanted proof!

Doubt. When we’re in the midst of it it seems like the wise thing, the cautious and right thing. But when we come out of it, when faith and the promises of God prove themselves trustworthy, we see doubt for what it was. “Oh you of little faith,” Jesus bemoaned when His disciples failed to show faith (Matt. 8:26; 14:31). Jesus always sees doubt for what it is: faithlessness.

But believer take heart! “When there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith either.” (Paul Tournier, as quoted in Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God)

Faith is like courage. As courage rises above fear to act courageously, so faith rises above doubt to act faithfully.

belief bible book business

To diminish your doubt, feed your faith. Fill your mind with the promises of God by reading Scripture. Fill your spirit with the Spirit of God through continual prayer. Fill your experience with the workings of God by taking bigger steps of faith. Reach out. Pray. Do not be presumptuous but do the will of God as He makes it known to you. Do the will of God in areas you may never have ventured into before.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 12/4/19 – Pressing on…

Time to Drop Everything!

All the greats we talked about on Monday, upon seeing God, immediately dropped their security blanket as did Linus whom we discussed yesterday.

person standing on stage

Isaiah dropped all notion that he might be a righteous man, a “cut above” man for having been chosen by God to serve as prophet. Against the pure spotlight of God’s holiness Isaiah saw he was himself covered in filth. As the New Living Translation has it, he cried, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Isa. 6:5, NLT). He dropped all security in personal righteousness.

light mountains sky night

The shepherds and stargazers all dropped plans and responsibilities to run to the Christ child. Sheep in a Jerusalem pasture bleated through that night, temporarily bereft of shepherd. King Herod waited and stewed but no wise men returned to bring him recon. God had said ‘Move on’ and they obeyed. Any security in good relations with Herod were dropped for the Messiah.

John dropped literally, to his already well-worn knees, at the sight of the Saviour. “I fell at his feet as though dead,” he writes (Rev. 1:17). Was this the same Jesus whose breast he had leaned upon in absolute repose years earlier at the supper? Indeed it was, but now, out of human costume, He stood in full glory. He stood as He is and will be when we too will one day face Him. We too must drop all pretense.

people inside building during nighttime

On that day we will drop all preconceptions. We will, as John earlier wrote, “see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Or as Paul penned, “we shall see face to face” (1 Cor. 13:5).

On that day we will all drop all these things: security in personal righteousness, personal plans, and past preconceptions. We will know we must play by His Rules and those Rules say “No entry on personal merit.” “No plan B.” ”No other Saviour.”

We will also learn – either much to our relief or much to our horror – that the “game” has already been played.

So with Paul the Apostle we urge you, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:2). “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2).

Drop whatever you must and grasp His waiting Hand… Today.

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Dec. 1 message.

Tuesday, 12/3/19 – Pressing on…

The Best Drop of All…

20191202_071953Operation Dumbo Drop (1995) is set during the Vietnam War. A Green Beret unit is tasked to improve relations with a small village by finding and delivering to them a most essential elephant in time for a village ceremony.

20191202_072030The Drop (2014) tells the tale of bartender Bob Saginowski as he makes “money drops” to local gangsters. He ends up in the middle of a robbery gone bad and his troubles worsen.

20191202_072104The Drop Box (2015) documents the moving story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak who rescues orphans that would otherwise be abandoned on the streets. It is “a story of hope – a reminder that every human life is sacred and worthy of love.”

20191202_072749But perhaps the best drop of all comes — as the psalmist sang, “out of the mouths of babes.”* Linus, to be exact… in a scene from the Peanuts Christmas special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – no doubt available online and to be aired many times again this holiday season as it has for over five past decades!

In the scene, a disheartened Charlie Brown pleads “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus is quick to respond, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” He moves center stage, requests a spotlight and recites Luke 2:8-14. But at just the point where the angelic messenger says “Fear not!” Linus drops his security blanket. When done, he returns and says “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Later in the story we see Linus place the blanket at the foot of a beautiful Christmas tree.

28974-AllAroundTreePeanutsI don’t think I should need to make my point any clearer. Schultz has done this marvellously. In fact, when he was first asked back in 1965 to create the Christmas special he insisted on doing so only if the story of Christ’s birth could be told. In the end, he won out and I for one am very glad he did!

This clip (see below) has gotten much play by Christian bloggers over the past several Christmas seasons, but I don’t mind at all hopping on this bandwagon…. After all this band is playing the most joyous and life-transforming song of all. Won’t you join Linus and drop at the foot of the cross that temporal thing which you’ve been holding to instead of Christ Jesus? Give it to Him… after all, it is very heavy, isnt it? But it can be the best birthday gift you could ever give Him.

More tomorrow…

*Psalms 8:2 – “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength…” (NKJV) Jesus quoted this passage in Matt. 21:16 when religious leaders of the time were critical of children shouting praises to Him.

Click HERE to watch Linus tell ‘What Christmas is All About.’

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Dec. 1 message.

Monday, 12/2/19 – Pressing on…

What if you saw God?

Think about that awhile… What do you suppose you would see? What might you expect?

20191201_141611After the death of his father Bart Millard, songwriter / lead singer of the band MercyMe, penned the lyrics to “I Can Only Imagine” later recorded by MercyMe and subsequently the title of a highly praised Christian motion picture. Millard’s father, now a believer, now stood in the Presence of Jesus Christ… What did he see?

I can only imagine / What my eyes would see / When your face is before me…
Surrounded by your glory / What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus / Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in your presence / To my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah / Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine…

Isaiah saw the Lord – also just after a significant death, the death of the righteous and reforming King Uzziah.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” (Isa. 6:1-5).

Some shepherds and stargazers saw the Lord.

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ …the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened…’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.’” (Luke 2:23-16).

“…When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:10-11)

The Apostle John saw the Lord.

“The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Rev. 1:14-17)

man wearing blue dress

It seems that at just a glimpse of God we fall at His feet in worship. It takes only a glimpse of God to set things in perspective. It takes only a glimpse of God to know we must worship… and all people will worship Him, whether they had wished to or not. “…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11).

C.S. Lewis notes, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

frozen wave against sunlight

You can see God too. The promise of Scripture is this, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matt. 5:8). How can one get a “pure heart”? Fall down before Him now, admit your need, His Sacrifice, turn from all known sin, acknowledge He is your Lord, and by His grace walk thereafter in His steps.

More tomorrow…