Wednesday, 3/13/19 – Pressing on…

“Timidity in prayer is not humility.” – Pastor Andrew Violette, Sunday March 10, Lincoln Baptist Church

Someone once asked me this question: “If you could do something GREAT for God which you knew couldnotfail… what would you do?”

boy child clouds kid

It’s a big thought! Wow! What if you knew… you were absolutely guaranteed… that whatever one thing you put your hand to do, and did with all your might for the glory of God, it would be certain to succeed… What then would you put your hand out to do?

This past Sunday Pastor Andrew urged us to ‘come clean’ with God and to so build our nearness to Him that His Mind and ours become one. Martin Luther seems to have known this. He once commented, “The moment I attempt to think of myself apart from my being in Christ I am gone!” Paul said something very similar. He said, “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).

woman wearing red hat and sunglasses

Elijah was in such union with God that he needed no consultation with Him to know what to do. Elijah simply spoke and wonders happened!

As souls redeemed by the blood of Christ we are urged “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).

But note the reason for our approach: not for power to demonstrate spectacle, not for promotion or gain for self, but we come seeking mercy (refuge from rage rightly due) and grace (goodness undeserved). If these be the attitudes of our hearts then we are clay supple enough for the Master’s use.

Elijah,” says the scriptures, “was a human being, even as we are,” (James 5:17) – “with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings]” reads the Amplified version.

Draw near to God. Be filled daily with the Holy Spirit. Walk in purity just a little while longer on this sin-filled earth, and be brave in Christ. When He shows you clearly what to do with your hand, step forward in faith.

Press on…

Tuesday, 3/12/19 – Pressing on…

Yesterday we spoke if how good it is to stand clean and uncondemned before God. A clear conscience brings peace to the heart and confidence to the soul: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” (1 John 3:21).

But the passage goes on, “…we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” (v.22)

design ground heart love

When we have a right heart we begin to make right petitions. As our requests become more in line with God’s Will we find more prayers are answered. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7).

And this is just the start of living clean before our Lord. As we grow in our openness with the Lord we receive more of His Love and Forgiveness. We seek to keep His commands and please Him more. We realize that without Christ we are more lost than we could ever imagine – like a ship adrift at sea.

white gallon ship

You cannot anchor a ship to itself; it must be anchored to something outside itself, something immoveable, something strong. Self cannot sustain you in the storms. You must anchor your life to Christ.

In fact, that’s the very next part of our passage, “ … and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us (v.23).

These are commands, much like a parent might command a child hesitating at jumping from a fiery second floor window into the waiting parent’s arms, “Jump!” Jesus shouts, “Believe!” “Love!”

When we do this… when we trust and obey Him, He lives in us. “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (v.24).

We have confidence and boldness in Christ.

More tomorrow…

To hear all of Pastor Andrew’s message go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the March 10th Sunday message.

 

Monday, 3/11/19 – Pressing on…

alarm clock analogue bed bedroom

Many Canadians are grumpy this morning. Yesterday morning at about 3 AM clocks across most of Canada were moved either manually or electronically ahead one full hour. Everyone lost an hour of sleep that night and on this back-to-work Monday morning many are still recovering.

I’ve had my share of groggy mornings… body moving around the house, but consciousness not yet quite caught up to it. One wonders, am I really that same person I’m expected to be later this day–that confident lecturer or a salesperson… or possibly that skillful conflict mediator between warring siblings or political groups… or maybe I’m a heart surgeon or a stock advisor, capable of inflicting physical or financial devastation on someone due to some sleep-deprived cognitive disconnect!

Whatever you face in your surreal imaginings the consequences of lost confidence can be most disconcerting.

This past Sunday (March 10) Pastor Andrew shared with us what is essential if we are to have confidence in approaching God. John spells it out in one simple sentence: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” (1 John 3:21). If we want to know confidence in coming to God we’ve got to come clean regarding our sin.

man playing piano

The Holy Spirit resident within each believer runs a constant searchlight back and forth across one’s heart, not looking to point and condemn, but to identify and cleanse. A guilty heart is a divided heart: it is found in a person who is “double-minded.” James calls that person “unstable in all they do” (James 1:8). He says, there is only one cure, “purify your hearts” (James 4:8)

When a person “comes clean” with God it is like a refreshing morning shower. It clears away the fogginess. It quickens the mind, narrows the vision and targets the heart. You know again why you are here and what you are to do. Your wobbly self-confidence is not restored, in fact you have discarded it. Now you have a superior confidence, a firmer foundation. Your confidence is again in Christ for you have restored your union with Him.

It’s a good way to wake up every morning!

Have you come clean with God? If not, you’d better get at it… it’s later than you think.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 3/8/19 – Tough Question

“Did the disciples select Judas’ replacement by chance?”

At His ascension Jesus said to his disciples “…stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:48). This they did spending much time in the temple giving praise to God (v. 53). In Acts chapter 1 historian Luke picks up this narrative and tells how the disciples went to the upper room where it was revealed to Peter through the scriptures that a replacement for Judas was necessary.

Two men were selected who met the requirements*- “Joseph called Barsabbas… and Matthias.” (v.23). But how to decide between these two?

person about to catch four dices

Luke’s account is clear. First the disciples prayed asking God to show them His will, “Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (v. 26).

“What!?” you say? “You mean God was OK with them just leaving this huge decision to what appears to be nothing more than blind chance?”

Well, yes… and no.

But before I get into the history of this practice remember this one thing: the disciples had gone into Jerusalem, as Christ had told them, to “wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about… the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4,5). But at the time of determining Judas’ successor the Holy Spirit – the One Who “guides into all truth” (John 16:13) — had not yet been given. The incarnate Christ also had departed this world. So the disciples used this method and prefaced it with the prayer. “Lord… Show us which of these two you have chosen…” (v. 24,25).

Now for some backstory…

Casting lots was a common practice in resolving important and difficult issues in the days of the disciples. Albert Barnes gives this quick summary of the practice as found in scripture:

David divided the priests by lot, 1 Chronicles 24:5. The land of Canaan was divided by lot, Numbers 26:55; Joshua 15; Joshua 16:1-10; Joshua 17; etc. Jonathan, son of Saul, was detected as having violated his father’s command. and as bringing calamity on the Israelites by lot, 1 Samuel 14:41-42. Achan was detected by lot, Joshua 7:16-18. In these instances the use of the lot was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direct interference in cases which they could not themselves decide. Proverbs 16:33, “the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” The choice of an apostle was an event of the same kind, and was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direction and guidance in a case which the apostles could not determine. – Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

white dove on white bird figure stand

But lot casting Is typically not a means of knowing God’s will which believers in Christ should use today. Today we DO have the Holy Spirit with us and within us. We have the true Word of God to guide us. We have also the wisdom and experience of other mature brothers and sisters around us and the testimonies of those gone on before us. Best of all we have the sure Presence of Christ Who journeys with us and leads us and Who is only a prayer breath away.

Press on…

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

*The candidate had to be a witness to Christ’s ministry from the time of John the Baptist through to the resurrection of Christ. (Acts 1:21,22).

Thursday, 3/7/19 – Discipleship: Evangelism

Many “new” or “renewed” believers find the topic of Evangelism rather unsettling. The very word calls to their mind images of huge gatherings in stadiums or tents as a fiery Bible-waving preacher sputters and sweats over a podium. “I could never do that,” they say. Yet, there it is… the Great Commission to all believers, Christ’s last words and wishes — the last will of the first risen testator.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19, 20a).

bird s eye view of group of people

“That must just be a command for people gifted to preach,” one might say. But no… He is speaking to His disciples… to those who follow Him… those who love Him and have committed to obeying Him. Yes, there are those specifically gifted and subsequently called to mass meeting, perhaps cross-cultural, itinerant evangelism, but we are all called to share, to testify, to Christ… to be lights to a dark, dark world. (Matt. 5:16).

close up of teenage girl

Peter knew the stomach churning regret of having evaded this duty. He thrice renewed his commitment and was strengthened. He spoke and now continues to speak: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pet. 3:15).

So, you may ask, if not a mass crusade gathering what does evangelism look like expressed in my life, my world, my situation?

On page 101 of the First Steps One-on-One Discipleship adventure we are urged, “Ask the Lord to give you a burden for one person” and then “Commit to … praying” for this person (and perhaps others) “for whom the Lord has given you a burden.”

Admit it. The spiritual condition of every individual you run into in a day does not keep you up late every night with worry. That is as it should be. That would be a burden far too great to bear. As Jethro said to an overwrought Moses, “…you will only wear yourselves out….you cannot handle it alone.” (Exod. 18:18).

two women sitting and chatting near table

But God does have a mission for each believer. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit: Who in our sphere is He convicting this day. What or how much is our role to play. “Always be prepared,” says Peter. How? He prefaces this with “…in your hearts revere Christ as Lord”… or, “Sanctify [or set apart] the Lord in your heart…

photo of men having conversation

We ask God to guide us, we make ourselves clean and available vessels ready for use, and as He leads, we speak. To His disciples about to face persecution and make defense of the gospel Jesus said, “…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matt.10:19) [See also Mark 13:11 & Luke 12:11,12].

Invite the Holy Spirit to direct your prayers for a specific individual. Pray faithfully for this person, and for specific opportunities to open to you. Keep short accounts with the Lord by confessing and avoiding known sin. When an opportunity appears, simply share Christ trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results with God.

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 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, 3/6/19 – Pressing on…

person holding pen and plannerSo what are your plans for the weekend? Have you made any? How about the upcoming Easter holidays? Taking a trip? Gathering with family? How about longer-range stuff? Are you looking forward to starting a family…. Buying a home… beginning a new job or business? Or, maybe you’ve done all that… maybe you’re looking forward to or have begun retirement. Newly empty-nesters, or trying to adapt to ‘new normals’ of health or finances.

After you’ve done all that… ALL that. Then what? What are your plans for eternity….. “Infinity and beyond” as Buzz Lightyear would say. What do you envision for then?

fire in fire pit

Myself, I’m open to the plans of my Creator. He has good plans for me already. The way He said it to Jeremiah, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” He was talking about the plans He has for His people, for Israel, and all who become part of the true Israel through faith in the sacrifice of Christ to save them.

I am going there to prepare a place for you,” said Jesus. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2,3)

So what am I doing to prepare for that? Peter offers some good guidance: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Pet. 3:11,12)

adult black and white dark face

Jesus said, “Watch!” (Mark 13:37). He said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16). He said, “…go and make disciples…” (Matt. 28:19). And He told what awaited those who were just going through the motions, “…I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:23).

So I want to know Him now… know Him more… and more. Paul wanted the same thing. He wrote, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10). He said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14).

The Person, the Presence and the Power of the Holy Spirit  helps us grow in relationship with Christ. Prayer is our primary channel of communications. Plan on it. Make Christ your goal; make prayer your priority.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Eph. 6:18)

Press on…

Tuesday, 3/5/19 – Pressing on…

You need to press in before you press on.

three red heart balloons

In his message last Sunday Don Longworth referenced the ‘beloved’ relationship the Apostle John enjoyed with Jesus. John references himself in this way six times in his Gospel (13:23, 19:26, 20:2,8, 21:7, 20). It was John who rested on Jesus’s chest as they customarily reclined and ate at the last supper (John 13:23). It was John to whom Christ entrusted the care of his aging mother Mary as he hung dying upon the cross (John 19:26). It was to John and Peter that Mary first ran to bring news of the empty tomb (John 20:2). It was John who outran Peter to the tomb (John 20:4-8); it was John who was first to recognize the risen Christ standing on the shore (John 21:7), and it was John to whom Christ revealed the mysteries of the end of the ages (Rev. 1:1-2).

agriculture animals baby blur

I know my sheep and my sheep know me…. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” said Jesus (John 10:14, 27). And as Don shared Sunday and I cited yesterday this truth expressed by the psalmist: “The Lord confides in those who fear Him” (Psalm. 25:14)

To enjoy that nearness of communion! Wow! …like nestling confident in the shoulder of a resting Lion, his mammoth chest rising and falling, his roar silenced yet ready in an instant, his giant soft paws relaxed yet with claws quick to answer any call to battle… you are not his prey; he is not your predator… for you he is your defender! Why? You are his beloved.

close up portrait of lion

Do you know this: that place is possible for you?

Someone once said, “You have as much of Christ as you want!” If So, then many of us should pray to want Him more! How much do you want Him? More than your iphone? More than your best friend? More than your life?

James urges, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:7-10).

Press in… press in close to Christ. Then and only then will you find both rest for your soul and strength to press on.

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s full message go to the lincolnbaptistchurch.ca website. Click on ‘Media’ and select the March 3/19 message.