Thursday, 6/17/21 – When you least Expect Him

When you least Expect Him

Consider those moments you find yourself at your lowest points of righteousness. I mean, are there times when you slip into anger… perhaps even rage? Does spite against a brother or sister momentarily rise in your heart? Does your gaze linger a bit too long at that suggestive billboard? Or your heart envy at your neighbour’s flashy new sports car?

These are moments in which to remember our Lord’s warning, “…be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” (Matt. 24:44). When will that be? Don’t ask your pastor; He does not know. Don’t ask the astrologers or scientists… your best buddy, Siri, or Google.  None of these know. Don’t ask the angels, and don’t even ask Christ. Not even they know the day nor the hour chosen by the Father.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36).

How that can be I cannot comprehend, but our business is not to understand, our business is simply to be ready. Ready not only at some times…. not even at most times… but ready at all times.

When He comes it will be like a thief. Diligence in only these some times… in only these most times… is not enough! He may come when we are found ‘sleeping.’ But to those faithful and wise at all times He says, “It will be good” (v. 46). Such a servant will be proven faithful, and rewarded with greater trusts in eternity (see v. 47).

There are good reasons and good resources for training oneself in all righteousness. Peter reminds us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3). And Paul reminds us of the power of God’s Word for “training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16,17).

Believer, be ready “because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Press on…

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Thursday, 6/10/21 – A short course in the Will of God

A short course in the Will of God

I think that one reason God tends to veil His Will for His children is that if He made His Will clear to us we would probably go and do it. That would be very bad.

What I mean is, I think God would rather have us follow Him, than give us a map and risk us running off away from Him all goal-oriented and alone and trying to “do.” (see Luke 10:38-42).

What God really wants is for us to walk along beside Him, fellowship with Him, get to know Him more deeply as He knows us. He wants us to have travel companions too as we journey, and knit together with them also. You know… you’ve seen this construct before – Jesus, and His disciples.

The only Will of God a believer needs to know about is God’s Love and desire they be with Him. He is where we want to be. He is both destination and journey. “Abide in Me,” said Jesus. “Stay in Me,” “Remain in Me,” “LiveDwell in Me.” (John 15:4).

That’s all.

Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way…'” (John 14:6).

Press on…

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Thursday, 6/3/21 – Discipleship: Evangelism First-hand

Evangelism First-hand

A clever series of TV ads for an insurance company portrays a wild assortment of bizarre accident claims purported to have come from clients and which have now entered the company’s “Hall of Claims.” The tag line intending to highlight the company’s first hand experience is emphasized: “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.”

In a similar manner the Apostle John underscores his and the other disciples first-hand experience in the opening words of his first epistle:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us…” (1 John 1:1-3a).

John personally witnessed that remarkable transfigurement on the mount, he distributed with the others the scant bread and watched it feed thousands. John reclined on the Saviour’s chest at that last meal, felt His heartbeat. Later, he saw the blood and water gush from that side, the limp body taken down, the huge stone moved, the tomb empty, the neatly folded cloth. He watched as a living Christ appeared among them… as He bared His wounds to Thomas’ inspection… as He ascended before them.

None of it was a dream… none was a hallucination. The response of the people, of the unbelieving authorities, of the words of the prophets, and of the Spirit now speaking within them – all these testified to the veracity of these events. Earth indeed had been visited by the Messiah!

Thatwhich we have heard… seen… touched…” in effect, John is saying, “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Listen to us! We know whereof we speak, and if you will bow before Him, reach out to Him, and believe upon Him, you too will know Him. You too will be saved!

What do you know of Him first-hand? — Tell it! – That’s evangelism.

Press on…

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Thursday, 5/27/21 – Fellowship: Shipwrecked!?

Fellowship: Shipwrecked!?

Suppose you were to be shipwrecked on a proverbial desert island. Would you prefer to be shipwrecked alone so the meagre food and shelter resources of the island would last longer, or would you prefer a companion despite the fact this would more speedily deplete the available resources for yourself?

It’s my guess that most folk would take the companion, or at least desperately wish they had after a few days of tedious isolation.

Psychologists tell us that loneliness can be very destructive. It can become a chronic condition leading to depression, loss of sleep and appetite, impaired immune and cardiovascular function, even suicide. Like food and shelter, companionship too is a basic human need. “It is not good for the man to be alone,” said God of His first created human (Gen. 2:18).

In fact, we were designed to need each other. Man, created in the image of God, is incomplete in isolation. We must remember that God Himself exists as a Trinity, a triune fellowship.

Solomon, in the great wisdom God had given him, observed,

“…I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless— a miserable business! / 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. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:7-12)

There is much wisdom in these few lines.

Dependence on and cooperation with each other enhances our ability to survive under harsh conditions. Two heads are better than one in any crisis, and companionship is a a joy to share when all is well. Love finds no object but personal ego when one is alone, and true self-sacrifice on any scale is impossible. Accountability is gone. Support and encouragement are gone, forgiveness cannot grow and there exists no example of higher virtue to emulate.

Many commands of Christ become impracticable:

“…love each other deeply… Offer hospitality to one another… use whatever gift you have received to serve others…” (1 Pet. 4:8-10). “…Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:12-13). “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Prov. 13:20). “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col. 3:13).

… to mention but a few.

There are no self-made saints, no independent Christians. Christ has likened His people to a Body, each believer being a part, not the whole. Like any body part, any believer separated from the Body will soon die. But working together we can thrive – we can even avoid becoming shipwrecked at all!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like 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, 5/20/21 – Prayer & Perseverance

Prayer & Perseverance

Mankind’s first attempt to retrieve sound from Mars was in 1999 when microphones were incorporated into the design of NASA’s ‘Mars Polar Lander.’ The Lander blasted off on January 3, 1999. It began its descent to the planet’s surface exactly eleven months later on Dec. 3, 1999. Unfortunately NASA lost communication with the spacecraft as it neared the planet, likely due to the jolt of its landing gear’s deployment prematurely triggering engine shut-down and causing the spacecraft to crash.

Another attempt was made by the French space agency CNES. The well microphoned ‘Netlander’ was scheduled to launch in 2007 but was cancelled in 2004 due to lack of funds.

NASA again made an attempt including a microphone in the ‘Phoenix Lander’ which successfully landed near the Martian north pole in 2008. But just prior to launch it was discovered that operation of the microphone could potentially interfere in the operation of other spacecraft systems, thus it was deactivated. By November of that same year the Phoenix had frozen in the frigid temperatures of the Martian north.

Attempts were also made to include microphones on NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and InSight missions, and also on the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander which ended up crashing in 2016.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On July 30, 2020 NASA’s aptly named ‘Perseverance’ launched and after nearly seven months travelling at a speed of about 24,600 mph (c 39,000 kph) arrived intact on the Martian soil on Feb. 18, 2021. The next day Perseverance recorded its first sounds from Mars.

Now, I’m really trying to not say the obvious, but you know it’s just begging to be said: “Perseverance pays”!

Perseverance, “the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition” becomes profitable (worthwhile… brings success) in virtually every setting in which it is found – including prayer!

Jesus even told a parable to emphasize this truth. Scripture very clearly affirms this intent: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).

The parable which follows tells of a widow who repeatedly pled to a heartless judge for justice to be done against her adversary. He ignored her many times until he realized it would be less tiring to hear the woman’s case than to keep trying to put her off. He said, “I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” (Luke 18:5 NKJV).

The point of the parable is this: If persistence pays of with such a disagreeable person as this judge then won’t it certainly pay off with a Heavenly Father Who loves us and delights when we come to HIm? The obvious answer: of course He will! (Read the whole story in Luke 18:1-8).

Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 KJV).

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Heb. 10:36 NIV).

May the Lord direct your hearts… to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thess. 3:5 NLT).

Want to hear from Mars? –  PLAY & PRESS HERE. 

Want to hear from God? –  PRAY & PERSEVERE!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like 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, 5/13/21 – The Bible: Not an IV line!

The Bible: Not an IV line!

When asked the old party game icebreaker “What three books would you want to have if stranded on a desert island?” most surveys still report the Bible in the number one spot. This is both encouraging yet curious. When we look at our North American societies in general we do not see the things of God having priority, yet it seems that, when in a pinch (stranded on a desert island), we acknowledge it might be good to have God in one’s back pocket, so to speak.

Last week I was invited to have my name added to a clergy resource list in case frustrated folk stranded in hotel isolation felt the need for online spiritual support. Evidently there was some supposition that when folk are in exigency they just might be moved to look up to the heavens for help.

But the Word of God was never intended as a “In case of extremity, break glass” sort of read. The Word of God is not an IV line for the dying, but daily bread for the living! “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,” writes Peter (1 Pet. 2:2).

When tempted by Satan Jesus Himself cited the scriptures and answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4 / Deut. 8:3).

Paul scolded the Corinthians: “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” (1 Cor. 3:1-2).

Likewise the Hebrew were reprimanded for not feeding on  God and growing spiritually,

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Heb. 5:12-14).

The Bible is God’s message to us. We must digest it daily!

Press on…

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Thursday, 5/6/21 – Pandemic Priorities

Pandemic Priorities

WW III has begun! It is very real. It is not at all the sort of war we expected. It has, as C.S. has said “just that queer twist about it that real things have.” The entire globe is battling not one another this time, but an alien invasion. Not from Mars, or Venus, or a galaxy far, far away, but from within our planetary boundaries, yet nevertheless “alien.”

This time it is not our military personnel that occupy the front lines, but our medical personnel. Our physicians and researchers, nurses and lab technicians, pharmacists and volunteers. The enemy is all but invisible, reckless in whom it attacks, and most deadly!

Here are some shocking statistics as best I could decipher them (estimates vary and are generally reported as a range rather than a fixed number.):

WW I (July 28, 1914 – Nov. 11, 1918 = 1,568 days), 20,000,000 deaths = 12,755 per day.

WW II (Sept. 1, 1939 – Sept. 2, 1945 = 2,194 days), 75,000,000 deaths = 34,184 per day.

WW III (Thur. Jan. 9, 2020 — as of Tue., May 5, 2021, 09:09 GMT = 483 days), 3,242,644 deaths = 6,714 per day.

Worldmeters further reports that, as of the above time, there were 155,025,425 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections worldwide, adding “The fatality rate is still being assessed.”

Defeating Covid has become ‘Priority One’ world-wide. Yet less than two years past not a thought of it had ever entered anyone’s mind. How quickly our priorities can change!

Reality has this way about it, of smacking you right in the face with its demands and urgency. Like a an ice slip, a road accident, a physician’s diagnosis. Whammo! So this is my situation…. This is my true and present reality!

C.S. Lewis was speaking of Christianity in the statement I cited above. He wrote…

“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The greatest priority in this life is not surviving the duration of it, but preparing for the eternal life which follows it. You will exist forever. Deep in your soul you know this (Eccl. 3:11). The only question remaining is “Where.”

Some 700 years BC the prophet Micah cried “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Jesus entreats, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33a), and asks “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Make Him your priority today, and every day.

Press on…

Check the worldwide Covid-19 deaths total and daily increase here.

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like 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, 4/29/21 – Freedom!

Freedom!

According to the American Psychiatric Assn “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.”*

These poor folk often become prisoners in their own homes, fearful of “contaminations” believed to be lurking “out there,” or confined simply by reason of their very time consuming compulsive rituals. Their beliefs have enslaved them… made them slaves

The International OCD Foundation identifies Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) a type of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as the most effective treatments for OCD. Basically, treatment leads one to challenge and re-think their behavior. In time, more rational beliefs and behaviours assert themselves, and the sufferer begins to be free!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Writes Paul (Gal. 5:1a). He further urges the believer not to take this freedom in a casual manner, but to claim it daily, to stand firm in it, and to shun any deviation from it: “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Christ sets the believer free from bondage to legalism, to self-righteousness, to self flagellation for past sins, to externally following some list of laws, rules, or deeds. Christ gives the believer a new heart. A heart which when followed is freedom indeed! “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

Christ’s purpose in this is not that one experiences a momentary reprieve from this bondage but that one walks in freedom daily. The great paradox is that this freedom is found only by taking a firm stand to follow that new heart… to follow Christ… to become His bondslave – a slavery not of compulion, but a slavery of love!

The only thing that counts,” adds Paul,is faith expressing itself through love.” (Gal. 5:6).

Live as free people…  live as God’s slaves.” (1 Pet. 2:16).

Press on…

* Retrieved April 28, 2021 from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ocd/what-is-obsessive-compulsive-disorder.

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Thursday, 4/22/21 – Assurance

Assurance

Of all earth’s recent years now more than ever are its inhabitants desiring assurance! Will we get through this? Please, can someone assure us everything will be alright? Where can we look for stability? Where is there ground on which to stand which is not shaking… quaking… convulsing?  Having thrown out God and Truth and human responsibility we find we have thrown out hope also!

The psalmist asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). The answer is known, “Nothing!” Without foundation all structures crumble. Without God we are lost – adrift in both space and time, forever falling, grasping, falling more…

Assurance? Stability? Only in Christ do we find that which is enduring, Christ, “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). But with Him we must accept our responsibility. We have offended our Holy God. We have “fallen short” (Rom. 3:23) of the sinlessness His kingdom requires. This is fact. This is Truth. We must own it, admit it, cry to Him only for the One remedy for it – the sacrifice of His pure and Holy Son, the only “swap” possible: the pure for the impure. We do not deserve it, yet He offers Him to us. He also says, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, I am the Life” (see John 14:6).

When we do this, we have peace. When we “face the music” then only can we learn the “new song” (Ps. 40:3). It is a song of peace, a song of assurance. All is well again with the Father. Though now, on this earth there is no rest, rest is no longer a requirement for the assurance found when one is at peace with God.

Did He not say, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). When we are at peace with God we are confident In His protection, His Presence, His stamina in our trials. We have assurance whether we go around, or over, or through our trials, for we have “set our hearts at rest in His presence” (1 John 3:19).

Is it well with your soul? Cannyou “be still” and in that stillness know peace… assurance?

Ultimately, being honest before God is the only thing that matters.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like 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, 4/15/21 – Soon Return of Christ: “to bring salvation?”

Soon Return of Christ: “to bring salvation?”

There is a passage regarding Christ’s return which may puzzle some believers — Well, I guess when it comes to Christ’s return there are many puzzling passages! — But the one I have in mind is found in Hebrews:

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” (Heb. 9:28 – NIV).

At least, that’s now my NIV translation has it. Depending on the version you use the passage may read “unto salvation…”, “to bring salvation…”, “for salvation…”, “to save everyone…”, “to bring them to full salvation…”, “to save those…” or some other rendition.

“Wh… Wait, — What?” someone might interject. “I thought I received salvation the day I made Christ my Lord!? What does this mean, ‘…He will appear a second time… to bring salvation?’ Am I not saved now?”

Well yes, if you have turned from sin and embraced Christ by faith recognizing He alone is the atonement for your sin and have made Him your Lord to obey, then yes, you are now most certainly “saved.” Yet, there is a sense in which you have not yet “received your salvation.”

Picture it like this. You are drowning in a fog-dense sea. You splash desperately trying to stay afloat but it’s a losing battle. Suddenly, from behind, out of the mist, someone tosses you a life-saver! Help has arrived! You are saved! You clutch tightly to the life-saver as others pull it through the fog toward the waiting ship. On board you rejoice! You are delivered forever from the raging sea!

Let me ask you this: at what point were you “saved?”

You were “saved” the moment you grabbed hold of the life-saver, placing your full confidence in it alone to save you. In that instant you demonstrated that you knew you were incapable of saving yourself, realized only the life-saver could, and relied fully upon it for your deliverance. You had not yet arrived on the ship, but the happy outcome was assured. Once onboard it could be said that now, at last, you had “received your salvation.”

When Christ returns it will not be to bring any additional atonement. That was all completed at the cross. Now He comes to collect His own and to bring judgment upon the world.

Paul, in writing to Titus, says this: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. … we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11-14).

Grab hold of Christ and you are most certainly saved. — And THIS Life-Saver also grabs hold of you!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like 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.