Thursday, 9/16/21 – The Bible: The “Frozen” Sword that Brings Victory!

The Bible: The “Frozen” Sword that Brings Victory!

The Apostle Peter encourages the scattered faithful, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3, NASB). He has provided for us a Hope, “a living hope” as Peter put it, same chapter and verse in his previous letter (I Pet. 1:3). He has given us promises, “great and precious promises” he calls them (2 Pet. 1:4). He has given us the deposit of the Holy Spirit within to teach us, guide us, and when necessary convict us. He has given us one another, “the fellowship of the saints,” the Church and Bride of Christ to encourage us, confirm God’s will in us, hold us in account, and uphold us by prayers. And He has given us prayer itself, an open line to the Father, access His throne and the right to do so with boldness (Heb. 4:16).

He has also given us His Word, created through agency but nonetheless His own — “God-breathed,” as we are soon to see…

The Amplified Bible expands nuances of the Greek within brackets. Though this may make the translation difficult to read it can often be a helpful study resource. It states 2 Timothy 3:16-17 like this…

All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the [a] man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, AMP).

In Ephesians we are urged to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:13) and a part of this outfit includes its only item of assault, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v.17).

A steeping of oneself in the Word of God is essential to victorious Christian living. The psalmist David confesses to God, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” The incarnate Christ demonstrated its power in the 40 day prequel to his ministry, alone in that wilderness and harassed by the devil. “It is written..,” He cited, three times, effective against three temptations: temptations of flesh, of glory, and of kingdom (Matt. 4:4,6,10).

The Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, which is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,” the sword which “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow” and “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).

Believer, seize hold of it well! Like Eleazar “who stood his ground and struck down the Philistines,” let your hand, though it grows tired, be “froze to the sword” till the Lord brings about each “great victory” (2 Sam. 23:10).

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, 9/9/21 – Priorities: Is it really that simple?

Priorities: Is it really that simple?

John’s gospel records Christ stating an amazing thing. He says, “And I, if I am lifted up…will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32). In the Greek here the phrase “lifted up” is the Word ὑψόω [hupsoō]. It means “to lift up on high, to exalt, to raise to dignity and honour.” This is what Christ asks the believer to do. The Word “draw” in the Greek has two forms, ἑλκύω or ἕλκω [helkuō or helkō]. It means “to draw, to draw by inward power, lead, or impel.” This is what Christ promises He will do.

When we meet with a person who is lost Jesus tells us that the cross is primary. The cross is the principal matter – the “crux” of all things — the priority of all evangelism . “If that person can get to God in any other way,” concludes Chalmers, “then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary.”

Sympathy, social aid, even love is not enough. The cross: Christ’s substitutionary death on our behalf. The cross: Each believer’s unashamed identification with Christ, His Lordship in one’s life and the demonstrated fruits of the Spirit. The cross: the challenge to likewise die to self and self-efforts, to turn from evils and live for God. This is all the cross, the principal thing which “lifts up” Christ.

This is all we can do, and a this is what we must do.

Paul affirmed,

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Rom. 1:16).

If a believer is ashamed – embarassed to be identified with the cross of Christ and the gospel that goes with it — it suggests he values the praise of men more than the praise of God.

“What the world needs is not ‘a little bit of love,’ but major surgery,” says Chambers. The cross is that surgery.

Of the written Word of God we read,

For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).

And Christ is that Word made flesh. As we exalt Him, He will do the necessary surgery.

By you words, life and purity “lift up” Christ on high, “exalt” Him in your worship, “raise His Name to dignity and honour” in your speech and conversation.

Do this and Christ will do all that remains. He will “draw by inward power,” by conviction of the Holy Spirit, He will “lead” by the truth of His Word, and “impel” by the need of the soul.

Yes! It is really that simple.

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, 9/2/21 – Freedom: Freedom to be Free!

Freedom: Freedom to be Free!

Each of us must have something for which to live — a reason to seek survival. Some choose hedonism: simple self-pleasure. Some choose power or fame: the pride of having control over others or being praised by a populace. Some choose money: a commodity form of power, materialism, bribery, or satisfaction of personal lusts. Having chosen one’s goal, one’s goal soon becomes one’s god. Ambition becomes obsession and the individual becomes enslaved.

The Old Covenant Law enslaved. While it taught what God required, it provided no power to meet its impossible precepts. Yet still men were “bound” to keep trying. Jesus came on the scene and fulfilled this Law completely. He undeservedly paid the debt of all sinfulness making a way for those who choose to trust Him to transfer slavery to sin to allegiance to Him.

Paul addresses this freedom from slavery to sin in His epistle to the Galatians.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” / “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal. 5:1, 14)

To be free from bondage to empty pursuits, to be free from bondage to world and flesh, to be free from these is the whole point of Christ’s sacrifice: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” So Paul urges the Galatians not to waver in their stance of faith and not law. “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1) This freedom is not a freedom to sin, but a freedom to no longer be bound by the requirement of self-made holiness. It is Christ Himself Who makes righteous!

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal. 5:14)

This truth of salvation by grace, salvation as a provision of God received by one’s faith in relying upon it, this is the Truth which by repentance of sin and acknowledgement of it one becomes free! “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). “…you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God….” (Rom. 6:22). This slavery to God is not enslavement to a Taskmaster, but in it one finds one’s true love… it is a commitment of love…. a bond-servanthood as the Old Covenant describes it, to have “life and have it abundantly.” as spoke Christ in the New (John 10:10).

Freedom in Christ is Freedom indeed. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

It is Freedom to be Free!

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, 8/26/21 – Assurance: Examining Yourself

Assurance: Examining Yourself

Paul commands those in the church at Corinth: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Many people believe they are saved – but their lives look the same as an unbeliever. They seldom speak about Christ, read the Bible, pray or share the gospel. Many would not even know how to explain the basic truth of mankind’s need for redemption, Christ’s atonement, repentance and Lordship of Jesus Christ. In their own eyes they deem themselves righteous because they do not do this or that sin like others.

Jesus told a parable specifically targeted to such persons who “were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.” (Luke 18:9). Such a one stood and prayed like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” (v. 12).

This man certainly felt secure in his righteousness, but the true measure of one’s purity is found when one compares oneself to God. God’s standard is holiness, a totally sanitized, never once sullied, purity of being.

“God is light,” writes John, “in Him there is no darkness at all(1 John 1:5). In His kingdom heavenly beings day and night unceasingly shout “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8). Isaiah in vision stood before this sight (Isa. 6:3) and immediately understood his true sinfulness. “Woe to me!” he 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.” (v.5).

God’s Holiness has a way of shocking a mortal into proper perspective — and Holiness is what God requires in order to enter His Presence: “…without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). The only way to holiness is by beginning all over again. “You must be born again,” said Jesus (John 3:7).

This is exactly the reason Jesus came to this Earth: to make a whole new beginning possible… to replace our old beginnings and everything up until this time with something new! The Old Testament calls it giving us “a new heart.” It is Himself… it is the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer and making him holy too. All self effort must be surrendered. At the end of this process John says, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2). And until then, as Paul describes it, “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).

Our assurance then is just this, this indwelling Spirit, this changing of our hearts, this “fruit” of changed behaviours and viewpoint much in contrast to that of this present evil world. We are beginning to become, each day, bit by bit, more and more like Jesus. As we began, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

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, 8/19/21 – Soon Return of Christ: the Christian’s Calming Trust

Soon Return of Christ: the Christian’s Calming Trust

This past Sunday Pastor Andrew began a series preaching through the book of Galatians. He reminded us that the purpose of the cross was not merely to provide believers with a ticket to heaven, but “that He [Christ] might deliver us from this present evil world…” (Gal. 1:4).

This world is an evil world “both under the surface and on the surface,” he said. Creation has been distorted, twisted, corrupted. The gospel too has been challenged by deceitful, perverted “other gospels” – gospels which are really not gospels at all… teachings that contain bold lies, or bits of lies, or lies made by twisting truth.

Jesus died to pull us out of this world… to bring us to a new and eternal kingdom… a kingdom of Truth and Light. And one day very soon Jesus will come again to gather His own to be with Him there.

This kingdom and this return of our Saviour is also the focus of local recording artist Becka deHaan’s 3rd album, “Calming Trust and Coming King,” released this past March and featured this past week in Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner. Regarding the serendipitous placement of the article in the publication Becka comments: “I have found it particularly uplifting that my article appears as the only good news on a page otherwise filled with bad news… a spiritual album-release on being calmed… by trust in the assurance of Christ’s soon return.”

As the last verse of one of the songs on the album summarizes…

I’ve been reading the local paper; / I’ve been watching the nightly news;
Yeh, this old world’s just ripping at the seams. / And with a past dark and brooding,
And a future looking black, / It’s got me thinking, “Lord, Lord, when are You coming back?”*

The Christian, knowing of the Lord’s “one day, sooner or later” return, laments the lostness of this world yet sees it as prophetic fulfillment, evidence and assurance that His return will indeed happen someday.

Each year it appears more and more likely that His return is very near indeed. This has increasingly been the case for generations. Believers see this as the ever intensifying, ever more frequent “labor pains” spoken of by Christ in the gospels (Matt. 24:8), Scoffers see this as idle hope never to be fulfilled – an attitude to which scriptures also testify (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

This is an evil world. But into it our King is Coming. He is coming victorious to bring us to our new home, His kingdom — a calming trust to all who hope in Him.

Press on…

*“When are You Coming Back,” Wayne Kirkpatrick, originally recorded by Susan Ashton, found on “Angels of Mercy,” 1992

For more information about Becka and her ministry link to her Website: http://www.beckadehaan.com or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/beckadehaanmusic

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, 8/12/21 – God’s Will: Seek it, Find it, Do it!

God’s Will: Seek it, Find it, Do it!

Perhaps one reason God does not reveal His specific will to an individual is that He is waiting for us to come to that place where we will be willing to obey it. Once one knows what it is God wants them to do that person is accountable to God to do it. Jesus spoke very bluntly regarding this..

The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:47-48).

Maybe God’s will is waiting on our will.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” wrote that wisest of all men, Solomon (Eccl. 9:10). But many “find” nothing simply because they are not looking! “Seek and you will find,” said Jesus (Matt. 7:7). “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,” writes James, “…and it will be given to you” (Jas. 1:5).

Some things God hides from us until we are ready to receive them. Other things are very clearly revealed to us in Scripture. If we are not obeying these general things why do we think God should tell us the specific things? If we refuse to obey the things clearly revealed — things for which God will hold us accountable — then to reveal even more to us makes us even more accountable before Him, and more deserving of punishment for failing to do so!

For the unbeliever the first will of God is belief. “The work of God is this,” answers Jesus, “to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29). Then comes repentance, surrender, submission…. Nurture, understanding, fruitfulness.

For the believer, Paul writes, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). Or, as Peter citing Levitical law writes, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”(1  Pet. 1:15-16). And scripture is filled with virtues God commands Christians to emulate. (e.g. Col. 3:1-17; Gal. 5:13-26; 2 Pet. 1:5-9… far, far too many more to list!). Read the gospels, epistles, and commands and you will find much of God’s Will for you! Do these… grow closer to Him… and He will show you more! (See Matt. 25:14-30).

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, 8/5/21 – Evangelism: Lifting Jesus Higher

Evangelism: Lifting Jesus Higher

Weve actually been looking at this all week — this idea of glory! Glorifying Christ in our lives and at all times is really the core of biblical evangelism.

At the Passover feast in Jerusalem Jesus, recognizing his crucifixion drew near, said, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12:23). He prayed “Father, glorify thy name.” and God spoke! He said, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (v. 28).

Then Jesus said “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (v. 31-32).

Glorifying Jesus… Lifting Him up… Have we got evangelism wrong? Evangelism is not about convincing… its about glorifying Christ… lifting Him up. He said “if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” We are working with The Holy Spirit – do not forget this. He, the Holy Spirit, will do, not the “convincing,” but the “convicting.” He works not according to our evangelistic strategy, intellectual argument, technological spectacle, oratory charisma, musical artistry or alluring giveaways. The Holy Spirit works unpredictably, as Jesus described:

“…the Spirit gives birth to spirit… The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6, 8).

Our task is simply to lift up Jesus:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (v. 14-15).

We lift Jesus up, point to His Glory, demonstrate Him at work within us, and Jesus will draw lost souls to Himself as The Holy Spirit convicts and woos them.

Many years ago Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ founder and author of The Four Spiritual Laws, gave this simple definition of evangelism: “Evangelism is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results with God.” Jesus likened evangelism to casting out seed upon the earth. The seed is good and comes from God; we dare not add anything to it. The soil is what it is; we cannot alter it. Our only job is to cast the seed. We do this whenever we bring glory to Christ.

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, 7/29/21 – Today’s Discipleship Blog: Fellowship Forever

Fellowship Forever

This Friday, July 30, at 11:59 PM here in New Brunswick, Canada, our province enters what we have called the “Green” public health alert level of recovery. All Covid-19 restrictions will be removed. Businesses are gearing up, celebrations are being planned, and travel plans for the commencing long weekend are anticipated. On Monday the Capital City, Fredericton, hosts “New Brunswick Day” with ceremony, free concerts, displays and culminating fireworks launched from a major city bridge. It’ll be a landmark weekend!

Most meaningful of all these things will be to experience once again the freedom of fellowship! If nothing else, the experience of the pandemic has taught us the great treasure and necessity of human interaction. “How good and how pleasant…” the psalmist celebrates, “for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1).

Currently our church is in process of seeking leadership. This process requires great prayer, prudence and patience. As a fellowship of believers in Christ, and in these days in particular, we do well to heed Paul’s urging to the Ephesians,

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:3-6).

It is both God’s nature and desire for us that we be united as one in a fellowship of love in Him. Consider Jesus’ great prayer for all believer…

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23).

Unity and fellowship, with one another and with Him, on Earth now and in Heaven then, in time and for eternity. This is the will of our Creator, Father, Lord and God.

Value it… Celebrate it… Enjoy it… Maintain it!

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, 7/22/21 – Prayer: Desires of the heart

Prayer: Desires of the heart

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” penned the psalmist (Ps. 37:4).

Philip Yancey prays for big things… things like peace in the Middle East and an end to homelessness in the USA. He writes, “I earnestly desire those things — and moreover, I believe God does too.” I also believe God desires these things and you probably do too. But does any one of us actually believe God will do these things in response to our prayers? Yancey writes,

“A friend of mine in Chicago tried to recruit some colleagues in urban ministry to join him in a season of prayer for an end to poverty in that city. Almost everyone he asked balked. “Why pray for something so idealistic and impossible?” they objected.”

This reminds me of an incident during my years in Bible College. The college badly needed a new bus. I had faith that God could provide one and began to seek out others to join me in meeting regularly to pray earnestly to that end. Sadly, in a college of over a hundred theological students, I found not one person who would believe with me and join me in prayer.

Well what’s going on here anyway? And just what is the psalmist telling us? On this passage Matthew Henry comments,

“He has not promised to gratify all the appetites of the body and the humours of the fancy, but to grant all the desires of the heart, all the cravings of the renewed sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him.”

Perhaps what the psalmist is saying is that when we delight in our Lord… when we love Him in the uttermost, our prayer… our heart’s desire… is a self-fulfilling reality. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you,” writes James (Jas. 4:8). Or, as Jan Kempe writes in Faithful Hearts, “God’s answer to any problem is His Presence.” (Faithful Hearts, p. 41).

Like you, I still have many questions about prayer, about God’s answers, and about His non-answers. And I wonder at times, while we are asking God why He does not act, if He may not be asking us exactly the same question!

But my business — our business –  is not so much to understand, as to pray, and to love, and obey. Let’s let us let that suffice for now. All will be made clear to us soon enough.

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, 7/15/21 – The Unchanging Word of God…

The Unchanging Word of God…

One at times annoying and at other times reassuring thing about the Word of God is that by virtue of  its medium – print – it is fixed. Inspired men of God were moved upon my the Holy Spirit and wrote as He directed and that was that.

Yes, there have been many translations to make their words relevant to many cultures and norms of language usage throughout time and geography, but their original words don’t change. What they wrote, they wrote. Inspired by our God we have 66 books of His intended message to us, and it is not changing!

Sometimes we wish it would change. Sometimes what it asks of us we would rather not do. But is doesn’t. It just stares back at us saying what is says. It we who must change to accommodate it, not the other way around.

Oswald Chambers comments on our responsibility to initiate personal change in order to adapt to the unchanging Word of God…

“Our Lord never takes measures to make me do what He wants. Sometimes I wish God would master and control me to make me do what He wants, but He will not. And at other times I wish He would leave me alone, and He does not.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Sept. 22 entry.

WC Fields was not known to be a religious man. So it was puzzling when one day near the end of his life he was observed thumbing through the Bible. “What are you doing?” someone who knew him well asked. Fields reply was both comical, yet grave: “Looking for loopholes,” he said. He found none.

Sooner or later we must each face the unwavering message of the Word of God. He will not force salvation or damnation upon us. We will decide. But the Word of God will not change. As dreadful as our refusal of it will surely be, so wonderful will be our acceptance of it!

For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23a).

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

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.