Thursday, 11/12/20 – Prayer: “MAN SPEAKS WITH GOD!”

Prayer: “MAN SPEAKS WITH GOD!”

I once made up a mock newspaper with headline:

MAN SPEAKS WITH GOD!

I held it up before the congregation and said… If people really believed that a man would speak with God they would flock from miles and kilometers just to watch the spectacle! It would be an event something like Moses ascending Sinai to speak with the Almighty!

The event is described in the 19th and 20th chapters of Exodus…

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him…

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. ..The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. (Ex. 19:16-19; 20:18, 21).

But now through Christ, our Saviour, Mediator, Justifier, Lord and Brother, God has come down to us… walked among us… given us His Spirit to indwell us and assist us in the feebleness of our praying. As C.S. Lewis marvels…

An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life… spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Christian, this great privilege is yours! You, conversing with the Almighty, creature with Creator, clay with Potter, within and without, in deep fellowship together! O what miracle of love! John, amazed gasps… “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (John 3:1)!

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, 11/5/20 – Discipleship – The Bible: Making Your Marks

The Bible: Making Your Marks

Parts of today’s ‘Discipleship’ blog first appeared as a Facebook “chat” with another believer about our old and worn Bibles…

“Old Bibles are the best! Mine is filled with margin notes, life event dates noted beside passages given me at these special times, quotes from pillars of church history, personal growth reminders, prayers of sorrow and of praise.

“A time came for awhile when it’s fine print strained my eyes too much and I had to set it aside for a larger print. At my most recent visit to our optometrist, however, reading glasses were prescribed and I was able to pick up that old Bible again and enjoy the blessings of its pages and memories. I have picked up that pen again too and continued to add to its treasures — for myself, but perhaps also for our progeny.”

Impactful verses are underlined in blue, red, green or black. Others may be circled, bracketed, or highlighted in yellow. Some are personal hand-scrawled sidebars of sermon notes, some are quotations from Christian authors who have impacted my spiritual life. Some are simply notations of dates and events during which an adjacent underscored passage shone with special meaning: perhaps a comfort, a direction, an ambition or hope.

● God’s call on my life upon graduation from Bible College… (Amos 7:14).
● The death of my father… (Psalm 68:5-6a).
● And my mother… (Psalm 48:14).
● When nervously facing challenges… (Josh. 1:9; Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:7-9).
● Or fears… (2 Tim. 1:7).
● My decision to marry… (Prov. 18:22).
● Whether to borrow money or trust God’s provision… (Rom. 13:8).

Now these pages chronicle God’s amazing provision or enablement, His Presence when I needed it most, or His Promises when His Presence seemed distant. They give me hope that through the remaining days of my pilgrimage He will continue to show Himself faithful (Ps. 18:25; Heb. 13:8), that what He has begun in me He will finish (Phil. 1:6), and that there is a prize ahead worthy of all present trials or difficulties (Rom. 8:18).

If you’re not in the habit of marking your Bible, I urge you to do so. It creates a most personal treasury of a book already the greatest treasure of 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, 10/29/20 – Discipleship – Priorities: This before That…

Priorities: This before That…

Some things MUST be done PRIOR to other things: Socks before shoes. Look before leap. Parachute before rip cord and, unless you are Indiana Jones, land plane, exit plane, and arrive at the rapids before inflating dinghy!

The growing Christian must also learn and practice the priorities which foster spiritual growth… which “build you up in your most holy faith” (Jude 20). [See Tuesday’s blog.]

Jesus clearly told his disciples, followers and onlookers what God knows must be Job #1 on humankind’s priority list. When one Pharisee, “an expert in the law,” asked Jesus which of all the commandments was the topmost Jesus’ answer was swift and concise:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37) [See also Luke 10:25-27].

Earlier He had put it another way:

“…do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33).

Putting the kingdom of God and His righteousness first means, submitting to His rule, that still, small, sometimes shouting, voice of the Holy Spirit within you — “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21) — and responding in ways that are right… responding as you know in your heart Jesus Himself would respond (WWJD)… “walking” in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).

When we do this… when we put God’s known Will in a matter first, we do indeed amazingly find the lesser issues — “all these things” — work themselves out! Living this way is living “by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

Stretch your faith. Put God as your Number One Priority! Place as first His rule and righteousness and the rest will fall in place. — It’s what Christians do.

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 10/27/20 – Pressing on… Maintenance Matters

Maintenance Matters

I was looking over our budget categories this morning and noticed the repetitive appearance of the abbreviation “Maint” (Maintenance). There was a category “Home Repair & Maint,” and a category “Car Repair & Maint,” plus one for “Utilities & Maint” such as pressure checks, cleanups, filters and such for the heating system.

Then I looked over to our “Health Expenses” column and realized it was no more than what one might call “Body Maint!” In fact, if you think of it, most everything could be reclassified as a sort of maintenance: “Food & Groceries” could be seen as “Survival Maint.” “Auto Gas” could be called “Transportation Maint,” and even the expense category “Molly” (our housecat) could be reclassified “Pet Maint.” Indeed, simply maintaining things as they are accounts for a very large chunk of a household’s annual expenses! Maintaining is very important!

Likewise, “maintaining” is essential in the life of every Christian. As Pastor Andrew reminded us this past Sunday: in a world filled with apostasy and unbelief, the Christian must work at maintaining a godly lifestyle.

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 20-21)

A godly lifestyle includes daily habits and spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, witness and service to others. It includes guarding one’s heart against worldly influences, fleshly lists, and evil temptations. It includes guarding one’s mind against false teachings, cynicism, fault-finding and lies. And it includes guarding one’s spirit against a love growing cold, a neck growing stiff, and a relationship growing distant.

Paul’s prayer and urging to the Thessalonians was “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:23).

How does the believer do all this? Read again Jude’s entreaty:
Build up your faith! Stretch your faith by trusting more. (“Baby steps” that lead to marathons.)
Pray in the Holy Spirit! (Not in empty repetition, but as the Spirit leads, about what He leads, for as long as He leads.)
Love (and hate) like God loves (and hates) and Love Him above all!
Set your mind on the eternal, waiting assuredly for the full manifestation of His Mercy to you – Heaven and its rewards.

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Thursday, 10/22/20 – Discipleship – Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ

So I met with my buddy for coffee a few months back. We had a great chat together, a few laughs, some updates on things going on in our lives; we chatted about the latest developments in world news, shared prayer needs and had a brief prayer together. As I reached for my bill my buddy beat me to it. “I’ll get that,” he said.

I thanked him and we moved on “See you next week,” we simultaneously shouted back to each other.

The next week, our visit was much the same. There were new life developments, unfolding stories in the news, some answers to previous prayers, new opportunities to discuss, and further matters for prayer. Again, when we were done, my buddy snatched up the bill! I protested, but he explained he wanted to do this every time as a gesture of appreciation for our friendship. Of course I pulled back saying I wasn’t deserving, but he insisted and explained how it was his delight to do this.

Well, it was only a weekly cup of coffee, and I could see how I’d be robbing him of a pleasure by digging my heels in, so I thanked him further and left it at that.

In his letter to the believers in Galatia Paul writes,
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. 5:13).

To those in Rome he exclaims, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Rom. 6:1-2). And again, “Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (v. 15).

What do these verses have in common? And what do they have to do with my buddy’s generosity? These verses are warnings against taking the grace — the undeserved favor — of God for granted. Christ has paid for the sin of all believers. He has set us free of our sin debt before God. But that does not mean we should now take personal sin or His grace lightly, viewing forgiveness as a free pass to indulge our fleshly selves. “By no means!” shouts Paul. “God forbid!” read other translations.

It’s like my friend’s generosity… his “grace” to me in buying my coffees. How disrespectful it would be of me if, along with my coffee, I began to order full course dinners, sides, and rich desserts knowing my buddy would be stuck with the bill.

Today’s discipleship topic is “Freedom.” Christ has set the believer free, but we must not begin to take such “amazing grace” lightly. This freedom came at great cost and suffering to the One we ought love the most.

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, 10/15/20 – Discipleship – Assurance: past, present, future

Assurance: past, present, future

Recently I’ve had the privilege of leading a long-standing believer in discipleship. Though a follower of Christ for many years this saint had never entered into a one-on-one accountability and mentoring relationship with another believer. What a joy for us both as we reviewed the basics together. I wish you could have seen his face as a fuller understanding of God’s forgiveness dawned in his heart!

Until now this brother had rejoiced in past sins forgiven, yet struggled at times with the ever present reality of shortcomings in his daily walk. He knew and practiced the truth that confessed sin will be cleansed as we acknowledge it to Christ – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). But until this moment the all sufficiency of Christ’s atonement – that Christ’s sacrificial death is sufficient not only for sins past and those we may commit today, but also for all that we may commit in days ahead — had eluded him.

We see Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection as historical events along a timeline. But God sees them from before even the timeline, “the first day” (Gen. 1:5), was called into existence. It’s as though God sees all of human history, past, present and future, laid out as a mural before Him. Overlaying the whole of it is Christ’s sacrifice efficacious to all who will turn from sin and receive Him as Saviour and Lord. All His wrath against all the sins of repentant hearts has been poured out upon His Son in full.

Now, this fact is no license for the believer to sin. Paul discusses this clearly in Romans 6. But It does mean the struggling believer need not fear a future failing will cast him from God’s Presence forever. The promise cited above is true:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

Believers new and old can rest in this assurance.

Press on…

Monday, 10/12/20 – The Thankful and the Thankempty

The Thankful and the Thankempty

We begin today with this portion of scripture…

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19, NASB).

You probably know the story… Jesus healed ten lepers who were in need and who came to Him for help. He told them to go to the priest and all ten were healed as they went. I say, all ten were healed. One returned Jesus to give thanks… to say ‘Thank you.’ Well, it must have been more like ‘Thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!’ I mean, he was after all just healed of leprosy! The other nine lepers, however, did not return with their gratitude. Presumably they just went on their way to the priest. They needed his declaration of wholeness, of now being “clean,” in order to fully and freely return – not to Jesus, but — to their society… their world.

Still, Jesus did not revoke their healing. He had not asked that they return, that was of their own decision, or not. Perhaps for some the thought never entered their mind. But all ten were healed.

Only one returned to thank Jesus. Of this one leper Matthew Henry comments, “He turned back towards him who was the Author of his cure, whom he wished to have the glory of it, before he received the benefit of it.”

There is a Great lesson in this observation, but my point today is not so much that we should be like the one and return thanks to our Lord, although that would be a very good point indeed. No, my point is that we must be like Jesus, content to do good to those who return to us no thanks at all, to those who are apt to be the overwhelming majority.

Our flesh will want to revoke the good we may have done to thankless persons, but did not Jesus say such goodness is measured in heaven as though we had done, or had not done, or had revoked having done it, to Him?

God so loved” not because we were worthy, or loveable, or kindly, or would thank Him in return. “God so loved” while we were still rebels, lost, sunk deep in sin. God loves because “God IS Love” and this same love now indwells every believer. Love others, regardless of thankful response, love them for the glory of God.

Happy Thanks-giving Day Canada!

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Thursday, 10/8/20 – Discipleship: Awaiting Christ in an old and broken body

Soon Return of Christ
(Waiting for Christ in an old and broken body)

I awoke a few days ago with phrases running in my head. As I jotted them down, others came to mind and I wrote on, I cannot much explain them better than what you may read. Insofar as today’s ‘discipleship’ topic has to do with a looking forward to that eternal day, I share these words with you now. Let me know if they take root in you. And, press on…

My soul wakens once again to find itself in this rusted suit of armor looking out to this world through greasy glasses. It desires to fly, but the energy it pushes against the armor is too weak, repeated blinking over the pupils does not clear them.

So again this soul creaks upward to stand, washes blurry face and reaches for partly corrective lens. It covers the armor with clothing, stands as erect as the moment allows for as long as the knife in its back will sleep. (When it’s pain awakens it cannot be ignored.)

This soul imagines the tasks, the exploits it might pursue if the armor and pain, the fuzziness of mind and vision would allow. But it is a depleting dream. All too obvious is the truth that in this life, this body, these imaginings cannot happen.

The soul listens and speaks to its Maker. The Maker has all power, but the dreams of the soul are not the better plans of the Maker. The soul’s only hope is to seek out and follow His plan, not its own. This sheep must find its joys in the meadows, not the skies. It’s days to soar as the eagle are not yet, not for this present form.

So this soul trudges on. It is the final leg of its one great trek, to be ran… walked… limped perhaps but always to be completed. There is but this one course upon which this weary soul stands. No crossroads, no U-turns, lay ahead. No water stations, shade, companion or prize. These all await at the courses end.

O how this soul would fly to the finish if it but could. But the making of the man is in the journeying, not the arriving, the pressing on despite the conditions. This trek is about its travel, not its termination.

And so this soul breathes deep and presses on…

“…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. … I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12, 14)

Many who read my weekday blogs struggle with physical limitations, discomforts or other obstacles to living as vibrantly as perhaps they once did. Many others however are yet young and strong and for them today’s blog may not resonate. But the mandate of Phil. 3:12, 14 applies to all believers. Our One Lord knows each soul’s struggle. Take heart… the day of His return is near.

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, 10/1/20 – Discipleship – God’s Will

God’s Will

A person who is not yet a Christian — and by this I mean someone who has not yet given over his life to the Lordship (The rule) of Christ, becoming His servant, and listening to His Voice to obey — this such person may well look at Christianity from his stance outside of it and ask, “How does this Christian ‘know’ the will of his God?”

Having no better answer, such an enquirer may conclude that a believer ‘knows’ the Will of his God through the study of Christianity’s holy book, the Bible. He may think the believer must read it and determine resolutely to follow its teachings. In short, the unbeliever sees Christianity as another legalism… another religion of works, however moral and ethical they may be.

He thinks this because it is as the scriptures say,

“…the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].” (1 Cor. 2:14, Amplified Bible).

Not only does such man stumble at the words of the Bible, but in his person there is only himself. He has not yet surrendered his will to the Will of God and in return received from Him the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The true Christian, however, has more. Though he does indeed turn to the scriptures for guidance, he has in addition to his own thoughts and feelings the inner voice and divine compassion of the Holy Spirit. This moves Him to new actions, new sentiments. Over time this “new heart” takes deeper and deeper residence within him, changing him, eventually transforming him into the image of Christ.

It is simply as Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27); “…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)…. and as Paul describes, “…we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)…. and as John adds, “…we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).

The Christian knows the Will of God by the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and in accountability with the Family of God.

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, 9/24/20 – Discipleship – Evangelism

Evangelism

I wonder if “evangelism” might receive less flack from the world if we called it “advertising?”

I know, I know, “A rose by any other name…” But “advertising” does seem quite socially accepted these days… in fact, advertisers have duped us into believing that targeted ads are no longer an annoyance, but a service.

Data collecting software now has virtually each one of us catalogued according to our personal likes and interests. This data is sold to advertisers who channel lifestyle specific products into our cyberspace activities: email, chat sites, internet browsing and social media.

“Evangelism,” however, is viewed as something quite different. Instead of the Good News which meets the soul ache of every man, woman and child across all cultures, countries and centuries, it is seen as an unwanted invasion into an individual’s more stimulating, virtual or material worlds.

Though we have become a very “spiritual” society we have grown a much more Christ-less society. Instead of looking upward we prefer to avoid the gaze of God and look inward, outward, backward or forward for answers — or try to escape the ache and look downward into the unreal worlds of our technological devices, chemical crutches or temporal treasures.

The fact that evangelism is denigrated should come as no surprise to the believer. It is part and parcel with the proclamation of the Gospel that the evangel exposes himself to what Paul called “the offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:11). Why? Because it demands we repent!

The gospel flattens human pride until, like Nebuchadnezzar*, we all become desperate creatures, naked before our Creator hoping only in His mercy to bring us life!

The “offense” is that not one of us can take pride in doing anything to effect our salvation. Indeed, as Paul expressed it to the Ephesian believers, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Nonetheless, “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). God Himself has become one of us, walked among us, died and rose again for us because indeed He yet loves us. His gift is free, and all people must be told of it.

Press on…

* Read Nebuchadnezzar’s story in Daniel chap. 4

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