Thursday, 11/15/18 – Discipleship: Round and Round…

The purpose of these Thursday blogs on Discipleship is to visit, then re-visit nine basics of growing in Christ. These basics are Assurance, Freedom, Priorities, the Bible, Prayer, Fellowship, Evangelism, God’s Will, and the Soon Return of Christ. My plan is to just keep going round and round over these fundamentals.

So far this week we’ve thought a lot about remembering — about our need to keep the fundamentals of our faith in the forefront of our focus. Christian leaders are especially charged to keep these things fresh in the minds and hearts of their brothers and sisters in Christ… as Peter expresses…

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

…Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. (2 Peter 1:12,13; 3:3)

Going round and round… internalizing truth, practicing daily surrender, going over and over…

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Read, re-read, memorize, pray, pray again, then pray some more, be thankful, be confident, talk about your faith, about what Christ did in you today, listen to the Holy Spirit within you, look to the open or closed doors before you, listen to your own heart, weigh the insights of others, be with God’s people regularly, guard your mind, fight sin, embrace purity, fear God, love God expressively, help the needy, give them your time, encouragement, and practical things as you are able.

Look toward eternity. Today is “in your face” but eternity is forever. Remember God’s love, sacrifice, plan and purpose for you. Keep short accounts with Him, acknowledge and deal instantly with sin when you find it within you…. Again, and Again — and again… round and round…

I echo with Peter,

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside…” (2 Peter 1:12)

So, next Thursday we’ll start again with further thoughts on “Assurance.” You’ll need the reminder. I’ll need the reminder. As Red Green says, “We’re all in this together!”

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

Thursday, 11/8/18 – Discipleship: The Soon Return of Christ

A cartoon character wore a sandwich board which read “The End is Near!” Across from him was another sandwich board wearer whose sign read “The End is Far!” They glared at each other and shared a single accusing word bubble that read “Whacko!”

The subject of end times abounds with opinion. Some discount the notion altogether believing science will eventually propel humankind to godhood. Some believe aliens will rescue us from global destruction, or be the agents of it. Others believe in the return of Christ but say it has already happened… or spiritualize the idea. Some even claim that they are He!

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All this chaos is no surprise to Christ, and should be no surprise to His children either. Every bit of it was foretold long ago: from the deterioration of moral conscience to the multiplicity of false Christs and the scoffing at His true return…

There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

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Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (see Matthew 24).

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet. 3:3-4)

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In Matthew 24:8 scripture speaks of these things coming upon this earth as ‘labor pains.’ Labor pains have all the elements of birth and grow in frequency and in intensity as the birth nears. The nervous husband sees all the signs, even races her to the hospital and discovers multiple false alarms. But the bags are ready, there is gas in the car, for they know one of these times will be the true birth indeed. That outcome is assured.

This is the believer’s only job as well, to be ready at all times…

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him… understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:35-40)

Are you ready?

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.

Thursday, 11/1/18 – Discipleship: God’s Will

“What is God’s Will for my life?” It’s a question every Christian asks at some point in their journey… in fact, typically at many points. But We are not left completely in the dark. The Bible gives several clear statements to guide us.

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We know that God does have plans for us and that those plans are for our goodFor I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11). We know that He has given us His Word to help show the way: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105). We know that as we learn to trust Him He will make these paths straightTrust in the LORD… in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:6). We know that we must pray for His Will to be done (Matt. 6:10), that we can ask God for wisdom and He will give it (James 1:5), and that our perseverance is needed and will be rewarded (Heb. 10:36). .

Specifically, we know God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4), and that “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified [work towards holiness]: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3). Believers are to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18, “deny themselves” and “take up their cross daily” (Luke 9:23) as they follow Jesus.

Paul gives these very clear instructions to Christians in Ephesus

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:15-20)

Most importantly we must always remember that God wants relationship with us. More and more I have come to see that God’s Will for each of us is less about what we Do and more about what we Are. God wants us to be like Him — and remember: His Name is “I AM,” not “I DO” (Exod. 3:14).

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.

Thursday, 10/25/18 – Discipleship: Evangelism

20181017_203758Rev. Daniel Thambyrajah Niles (1908–1970) was a major Christian leader in Asia for three decades and in his day among the most well-known Christian leaders in the world. His humble definition of evangelism remains my favorite: “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

This “telling others where to find bread” is Job #1 for the church (er, you and I who’s sustenance is Christ). Making and growing other disciples, evangelism, is why we are still here on this earth. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The method of evangelism every believer can use is “witnessing.” A witness does not have to solve anything. A witness simply tells the bit he or she knows… not from study in books or what others have said, but only what the witness, well… witnessed! – i.e., what the individual experienced personally.

Peter writes that every Christian should be ready at any time to do this: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15). This doesn’t mean you must be prepared to give an answer to every question a sceptic may have. It doesn’t mean you must be ready with an answer to the hope some other believer may have. (For sure all believers place there hope in the One Lord Christ, but each has their own unique experience and journey of faith.) But it does mean that each believer must so set apart Christ in their heart (look up the first part of this verse) as to joyfully tell of one’s experience and relationship with Him. Beyond this, it is OK for a witness to say “I don’t know!”

Consider the testimony of the once blind man whom Christ healed. (Read the whole story in John 9)

People who knew him: “How were your eyes opened?”

Man: “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

People: “Where is this man?”

Man: “I don’t know.”

Pharisees: “How did you receive sight?”

Man: “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.”

Pharisees: “What have you to say about him?”

Man: “He is a prophet.”

Pharisees (to man’s parents): “Is this your son? Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

Man’s parents: “We know he is our son, and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.”

Pharisees (to man again): “Give glory to God by telling the truth. We know this man is a sinner.”

Man: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

Remember, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

We don’t need to know how to grow wheat, mill it, or bake a loaf. We don’t need to understand the process of digestion or the composition of its nutrients. We just need to partake of it ourselves, know that it is good, and point others to it.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

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.

Thursday, 10/18/18 – Discipleship: Fellowship

In 1964 Barbara Streisand released the song “People.” Originating from the play Funny Girl it’s refrain, “People who need people / Are the luckiest people in the world,” struck a chord with many. It was subsequently recorded by Andy Williams (1964), Johnny Mathis (1965), Aretha Franklin (1967) and many others.

NASA spends millions researching and experimentation to learn just how long a human can tolerate being apart from other people before it affects their mental well-being.

Inmates who transgress prison rules are sometimes placed in “Isolation,” being denied contact with other persons as a deeper punishment for their behavior.

“Isolation pay” is given to those whose employment removes them from the presence of others for extended periods of time. In fact, during WW II an error in paperwork doubled the isolation post of my father serving as a radio operator during the war. He suffered an emotional breakdown which continued the rest of his life.

Clearly, we are communal creatures. Our Creator designed us this way with purpose.

Sin however has made us think we can be independent. The vigor of youth supports this notion as we hit life feeling we can do anything! When the wheels begin to fall off, we scramble to repair them, but eventually we discover we cannot. Sadly, for many, this discovery may take their lifetime.

It is essential that every believer understand Gods design for community. Coming to Christ is not about you finding some power to make your independence successful! No, no! It is about you laying yourself before your Creator Whom you have come to see loves you, and giving to Him your life to do with as He knows best. You give Him yourself and surrender to His design for you. It is a design that includes community: brothers and sisters in a much larger Family of God, the Body of Christ of which He is the Head, His Church.

Consider the following insights from the scriptures…

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Eccles. 4:9-10)

John attributes fellowship as an aspect of his motivation in sharing the gospel: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

Four times in his gospel (John 13:34; 15:12,17) and six times in his epistles (1 John 3:11,23; 4:7,11,12; 2 John 5) John reiterates Jesus’ command to “love one another.”

In fact a simple study of that phrase alone will give one a good idea as to the importance of fellowship and our need for “one another” as we journey this life of faith.

Scripture teaches us to be kind, even prefer one another (Rom. 12:10), greet one another (2 Cor. 13:12), bear the burdens of one another (Gal. 6:2), to forbear [put up with] one another, and forgive one another (Col. 3:13). We are to be teaching and admonishing [warning] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16), and we must comfort (1 Thess. 4:18), edify [build up, encourage] (1 Thess. 5:11), exhort (Heb. 3:13), provoke to love and good works (Heb. 10:24) one another, and to not stop meeting together (Heb. 10:25).

Throughout scripture the Church, the Family of God, is likened to a Body, of which Christ is the Head. It doesn’t take long for any one of us to realize how interconnect our bodies are. Just stub your big toe or bang your index finger with a hammer and you’ll see. (Read about this more in 1 Corinthians 12.)

Billy Graham was a great servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. After most every public preaching of the gospel Billy would add, “… and go to church this Sunday.”

Christian fellowship is essential to your spiritual growth and is another key component to discipleship.

Are you looking for a church home? Why not stop by our church, take out “three try challenge” and decide if it might be a home for you too. Whatever you decide, find yourself in a good Bible-believing, Truth-teaching church this Sunday. You need it, and it needs you!

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.

Thursday, 10/11/18 – Discipleship: Prayer

About once a week I get a call from a friend of mine asking me to pray for him.

I often refuse.

“I can’t pray,” my friend laments. “You are a minister; you know about that stuff. If you ask God to help me He will listen to you, and help me.”

Time and time again I tell my friend that yes indeed he can pray! If he can talk to me on the phone he can talk to God. Prayer is just simply talking to God and then listening to Him speak silently within you, or through His Word, or perhaps through another believer.

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I tell him it doesn’t matter if he thinks he’s not very good at it. God is like the parents of a little child delighting at and encouraging every first word, however feeble. I remind him that even when our burdens are too difficult for words God knows our hearts. We need only cry out to Him. As scripture says, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

“I know The Lord’s Prayer,” my friend hopefully offers. “Well, that’s good,” I tell him, “but the important thing is to speak to God from your heart, not just recite something you have memorized.”

“I know The 23rd Psalm too… is that a prayer?” he asks, missing my point. “Maybe if you pray, and I copy after you…”

But I know this is no solution. We have done this before and my friend’s stilted echo betrays the fact that he is still only reciting words. Finally our conversation comes to an end: he still convinced he cannot pray, and I still telling him “Just talk to God.” He promises to try, but invariably I received the same call the following week.

Oh how we stumble over the most simplest of things!

We are like Martha scurrying about being busy thinking her busyness is accomplishment. But we must be like Mary. Only one thing was necessary: to sit at the feet of Jesus! (see Luke 10:38-42)

We live in an increasingly complex society. But the gospel has not changed. It is so simple: God loves us! He wants to restores us. He wants relationship with us, and He is available at every hour to have a chat.

Talk to Him today.

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.

Thursday, 10/4/18 – Discipleship: The “Word” of God

20181002_101943Confidence in the “Word” of God is the next foundational element of discipleship.

I have a hunch many Christians don’t fully realize just what is meant when it comes to the ‘Word’ of God. Certainly it is a term we use referring to the written Word, the revelation of God to man through the writings of inspired writers over hundreds of centuries in 66 volumes yet all in full agreement and which we commonly call ‘the Bible.’

The Word ‘Bible’ really just means a ‘Library’… a big collection of books. It is the root word from which we get the word ‘bibliography.’

But from God’s perspective the ‘Word’ of God is something much more! In fact, it is God Himself. Like the Love of God, the Word of God is God expressing Himself.

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At creation the Bible tells us that God said “Let there be…” and then ‘poof!’ There was! God expressed His Voice and things were created — things which reflected His very Nature and Being (Gen. 1:1-31).

When it came to the creation of mankind, God took a more personal ‘Hands-On’ approach: He formed man from the dust of the ground, scripture tells us (Gen. 2:7). Then again, from His mouth, God expressed Himself, He breathed into man – a living soul.

20181002_100721When “the fullness of time” had come (Gal. 4:4-5) God sent His Son into this world. John describes it like this: he says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). God expresses Himself in His Word which became flesh in His Son Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews says of this, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Heb. 1:1-2)

James exhorts “…get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (James 1:21). If we want God to be at work in our lives we must receive His Word into our hearts and obey it. James adds…

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)

Yes, the “Word” of God is God speaking to us. The Living Word, expressed in living things, reflected in nature, manifest in Christ, inscribed in the Bible, and deposited within our hearts. No Christian can be without it!

Want to learn more about the wonderful, living “Word” of God? Join us Sunday mornings as we study the video series “The God Who Speaks” in our Adult Bible Class. [10:00-10:45, Lincoln Baptist Church].

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.