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…

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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.

Thursday, 3/12/20 – Discipleship – Fellowship

Fellowship & the Virus

person holding glass flasks

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat spreading the globe some governments are beginning to ban large assemblies. Some pastor friends and I were chatting about this earlier this week. Several ideas were put forward: smaller house gatherings, online church services, providing support for quarantined persons…

Fundamental to all these external responses is every believer’s responsibility to “encourage one another” to rest in Christ. A heart at rest in Christ can rest whatever results: protection, healing, provision, or if it must be, even through suffering or death. Panic need not be the believer’s response. Remember as Paul wrote,

“…that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39).

people taking group picture

In times like these fellowship among believers is most important, in whatever size gatherings it is accomplished. We are all sometimes ‘up,’ sometimes ‘down.’ When one is filled with hope that person can help lift another. Then, when that person wavers into worrisomeness, another can be the encourager. The church of God is a reciprocating Body, each part caring for the other. Each part pointing to the ‘Head’ Who brings all things to perspective.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ …there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor. 12:21, 25-26).

You have a gift to share just by being with your brother or sister, and they have a gift to share with you!

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 by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 3/5/20 – Discipleship – Prayer

Prayer – you have His full attention

photo of people near computer

As I opened our service this past Sunday morning I made reference to God’s attentiveness to our prayers. I contrasted the experience of speaking to someone deeply engaged in their cell phone with the experience of speaking to someone who has put down whatever they may have been doing, leans forward gives you full eye contact, and responds to your words with verbal affirmations or nods. I cited from Peter (who was citing from the Psalms,) “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.”*

In his book Prayer – Does it Make Any Difference? author Philip Yancey adds, “We need not bang a drum or bring animal sacrifices to get Gods full attention; we already have it.”

“Talk to me,” pleads our Savior, Father, Brother and Lord!

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Why should we pray? If God is all powerful, all loving, all knowing, what is the point? Can’t He… Won’t He… just do what’s best for us whether we ask Him to or not?

When we ask questions like these we miss the point! Prayer is not about transaction, it is not about asking and getting. Prayer is about relationship. Yancey summarizes, “Though my needs may drive me to prayer, there I come face-to-face with my greatest need: an encounter with God’s Own self.”

man tattooed praying

Relationship-based praying is conversation. You might not ask anything of God at all, or you might. Or, He may have something to ask of you… or He may not. Relationship-based conversing does not wonder such things. Relationship-based conversing is in it for the pleasure of the good company of the conversers; it is about mutual exchange and deepening intimacy. Relationship-based prayer, notes Yancey, “may be the most freedom-enhancing way of connecting to a God whose vantage point we can never achieve and can hardly imagine.”

What is incomprehensible about God to our minds is better apprehended by our hearts.

“Talk to me,” pleads our Savior, Father, Brother and Lord!

Relationship. That’s all God wants. That’s all God ever wanted.

What do you want?

Press on…

* (1 Pet. 3:12; Ps. 34:15).

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 by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 2/27/20 – Discipleship – The Bible

Nature’s Signs

close up photo of woman wearing golden ring

Look straight ahead. Now, making a fist extend your right arm straight forward. Align the thumb side of your extended fist before the center point of some fixed object in front of you. As you look at the back of the fist you have made the distance from its thumb side to its pinky side will be a fairly accurate 10°. If you change your fist to a “Y” shape by spanning thumb and pinky as far apart as you can the distance between thumb and pinky will be doubled to a fairly accurate 20°. Moving your arm two “Y” shaped lengths plus 1 three middle finger spans (see chart) to the right will result in your arm pointing 45° to the right of the center point from which you began.

20200226_060553Three middle finger spans = 5°. A pinky span = 1°. Nine fist spans = 90°. Eighteen “Y” spans = 360° and so on… You can use these “human sextant” tools to determine heights of trees, buildings or other objects, and by using triangulation even distances across rivers and such.

I learned all this from reading in a fascinating book called The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs, by Australian writer and navigator Tristan Gooley.

gray small bird on green leaves

God’s creation holds many secrets and speaks to us in many ways if we listen. In fact, scripture tells us that “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Rom. 1:20). Jesus Himself often pointed to creation in His parables explaining the Love and Nature of God the Father.

In the beginning God spoke… and created (Gen. 1). Some 2,000 years ago this same Word became flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ. Later the Word became text as holy men of God were inspired by the Spirit thereby creating the written Word of God, the Holy scriptures to guide us. Creation, Flesh, Book. But we must apply our ears and hearts, minds and spirit to grow. We must “have ears to hear,” as Jesus put it.

white printer book page

Dig into the Word of God today. As Peter writes, “desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow” (1 Pet. 2:2). Jesus Himself pleads, “learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29).

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 by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 2/20/20 – Discipleship – Priorities

Priorities – TODAY!

inspirational quotes on a planner

Today’s discipleship blog looks again at the topic of Priorities. It is important to keep cycling through these fundamentals because the basics are things to which we must re-commit ourselves daily.

Some Christians doubt their faith because they cannot pinpoint a specific date of transformation. Their history is not one of a dramatic moment of turnaround. Rather, for some, they grew slowly into a deepening belief, a deepening trust, and deepening commitment.

believe bible black and white book

But all that aside what really matters is this: What do you believe at this moment? Do you believe you have fallen short of God’s standard, “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord?” (Heb. 12:14). Do you believe God became man in Christ, became a holy sacrifice in your stead and rose again from death? Do you this day acknowledge Him as both your Saviour and your Lord?

person holding ruled ntoebook with yellow sticky note

Don’t say “yes” to that last one too quickly. When you acknowledge Christ not only as your Saviour but also as your Lord, you are saying His will, His direction, His kingdom will now be your Top Priority.

We each need to come to this decision every morning. It does not matter what sort of past “coming to Christ” journey you have taken. What matters is your answer to this: Is Christ my Desire, my Saviour and my Lord TODAY

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2).

“…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb. 3:13).

Press on…

beautiful businesswomen career caucasian

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 commit your life to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

 

Thursday, 2/13/20 – Discipleship – Freedom

Freedom!

adult background beach blue

When Jesus gave the great pronouncement, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” many who heard took His words as an insult. They said, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?

orange fish in ocean

Try to tell a fish that you can make it fly and the swimming fish will think you’re crazy! “I’m flying already,” it thinks, so oblivious it is of its environment in relation to the world above. The fish thinks that what it sees is everything. It does not believe in water. It believes it is flying.

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin…. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (see John 8:31-33, 34, 36)

“I can quit anytime I want,” boasts the alcoholic. “I just don’t want to right now.” And so says the addict, the workaholic, gambler, rager, materialist, proud-hearted, bigot, thief, abuser, smoker, cultist, hoarder, backbiter, liar, kleptomaniac, money lover, fame seeker, egoist, coveter… and on…

Paul testified this:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13).

blonde hair blur daylight environment

The Christian finds that Christ fills all those empty corners of body, mind, soul and spirit. C.S. Lewis writes, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” (Weight of Glory.) Augustine of Hippo summarises, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Our hearts are driven to worship and if they do not choose Christ they choose something hollow, they cannot surrender it because the vacuum must be filled with something. That “something” is Christ. Embracing that Truth frees us from all lies. He frees us from sins, from their hold on us, and from their penalty against us. He frees us to experience fulfillment in Him in this life and grants us fulfillment in Him through eternity.

silhouette of people by the seashore

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

Press on…

achievement confident free freedom

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