Thursday, 12/5/19 – Discipleship – Assurance

Faith and Doubt

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Thomas had heard the warnings… false Christ’s and false prophets would emerge. Jesus had often spoken of wolves hidden among the sheep, dressed up like one of them. He had told how liars, thieves, destroyers would make efforts to sneak into the camp, there to wreck havoc.

brown wooden cross

Thomas would have none of that. Though some of his company had fallen asleep in Gethsemane, Thomas vowed to himself that he, if indeed he alone, would stand faithful and stay alert. Now they said the thoroughly dead Jesus, the Jesus whom he’d seen die, gasp his last and say “It is finished!” – that Jesus whose blood-soaked body flopped lifeless over the centurion’s shoulders when he pried the spikes from his limp ankles and wrists… that Jesus, so they said had been seen alive!

The women had started it… then the two on the road… now the whole band of them say he came to them, here, in this very room, while Thomas himself had been out.

people walking on desert on a windy day with dust clouding around them

Were all the ten duped now? Stay on the safe side, thought Thomas. Doubt until proven wrong. Proven wrong. He told them frankly, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). Thomas would do his Lord proud. Thomas would not just believe any old gossip. Thomas wanted proof!

Doubt. When we’re in the midst of it it seems like the wise thing, the cautious and right thing. But when we come out of it, when faith and the promises of God prove themselves trustworthy, we see doubt for what it was. “Oh you of little faith,” Jesus bemoaned when His disciples failed to show faith (Matt. 8:26; 14:31). Jesus always sees doubt for what it is: faithlessness.

But believer take heart! “When there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith either.” (Paul Tournier, as quoted in Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God)

Faith is like courage. As courage rises above fear to act courageously, so faith rises above doubt to act faithfully.

belief bible book business

To diminish your doubt, feed your faith. Fill your mind with the promises of God by reading Scripture. Fill your spirit with the Spirit of God through continual prayer. Fill your experience with the workings of God by taking bigger steps of faith. Reach out. Pray. Do not be presumptuous but do the will of God as He makes it known to you. Do the will of God in areas you may never have ventured into before.

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 11/28/19 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ

The Greatest Return of All

There’s a website out there that lists the top 100 films featuring “The Return of…” in their titles. I won’t list them all but see how many of these sound at least somewhat familiar:

architecture building business cinema
Now Playing: “The Return of…”

In the Star Wars saga we have of course The Return of the Jedi, and the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy has The Return of the King. Darkman has The Return of Durant, and more than a few times we’ve had The Return of the Living Dead. There’s been The Return of Godzilla, The Return of The Wolfman, The Return of the Fly, The Ape Man, Count Dracula, and Dr. X to name a few. Mr. Moto came back, as did The Vampire, The Swamp Thing, some Killer Shrews and The Dragon. Man’s best friend Rin Tin Tin came back. The Gunfighter made a return, as did the Musketeers. The One-Armed Swordsman and Mr. Hook both came back, and No, they are not the one and same person. The Joker came back and (thankfully) Batman too returned. The Pink Panther and Johnny English both have their “The Return of...” movie, and we mustn’t forget the Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the likewise alien Killer Tomatoes.

Animal, vegetable or mineral (Remember The Return of the Blob?) they all came back and with them the ‘ka-ching,’ or ‘tap’ of money machines worldwide. (Oh yeah, ‘The Machines,’ they also made a ‘Return.’)

white popcorns inside of a red and white popcorn box

One thing all these movies all have in common of course is that they are all movies! They are all just made-up tales — pretty spectacular-looking tales perhaps with all their mega budgets, CGI graphics, wide screens, 3-D and other special effects, but tales nonetheless. None of these stories truly happened.

But there is one story that truly is happening and will happen. In the end it is the only story that really matters. This story is His Story….or ‘history’ if you prefer. The story of humanity IS the story of history… the story of His Story. He made us, we strayed, He came to save us, and one day soon He will return.

In His Word He asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

photo of man wearing eyeglasses

It is your business in this life to answer that question. When the Son of Man comes for you, will He find faith in you? When you die and go to Him, will He judge you pardoned by the Sacrifice of His Son? He will if you commit to turn from sin, make Him your Lord and follow His will. Place your faith in Him today. It’s the only story… the only Return… that ultimately matters.

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 11/21/19 – Discipleship – God’s Will

What is God’s Will for my Life?

Yesterday we looked at the dangers of this world and its rebellion against the Lord. This world does NOT want to know, does NOT want to obey God’s Will. This world wants to assert its own will, be its own ‘god,” forge its own way.

light road landscape nature

But a man-made path can lead only as far as a man can go. Flesh and blood and all its flesh and blood made things — toys, cities, roads and graves – are “destined to perish” (Col. 2:22), not only because the Bible says so but this fact is observable all around you. Living things die, material things decay; God’s verdict is immutable: As for the physical “dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). As to the spiritual “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

John summarized this: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17). Knowing and doing God’s Will is the opposite of following the whims of this world.

The world teaches us God’s Will is something uncertain, something far from our knowing… a mystery. But the world is lost in its darkness! Paul wrote,

“…people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? / Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:14-16).

photo of stream during daytime

We walk by faith, not by sight,” Paul later wrote (2 Cor. 5:7). We have the sure Word of God and the abiding Holy Spirit to guide us. These we understand and trust. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” writes David (Ps. 119:105). “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God,” asserts Paul (1 Cor. 2:10). “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,” echoes Peter (2 Pet. 1:13).

God’s Will for each believer is not so much a destination as it is a journey. A brook need not concern itself about where it’s mouth meets the ocean. A brook’s concern is only in following the winding brook bed, lapping over the rocks, bubbling all the way. It knows that by diligence to this it is headed rightly and will reach the sea in God’s good time.

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 11/14/19 – Discipleship – Evangelism

You, the Evangelist…

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

Two paths lay before every soul and Jesus described them clearly:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14).
“…Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.’” (John 10:7-9).

In the classic novel by John Bunyon, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian stands before this gate, seeking entrance…

…At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.
Christian: Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.
Goodwill: I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.
…So when he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him thither.
Christian: Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.
Goodwill: An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.
Christian: Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.

Evangelist bid me come hither,” replies Christian. The term “Evangel” originates from two Greek words: eu (well) and angelein (announce). Essentially it means ‘bringing good news.’ An “Evangelist” is a person who does this, the one who brings the good news. Without this herald, none can be saved.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” writes Paul (Rom. 10:13). But how can anyone know this if there is no one to tell them? He continues…

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Rom. 10:14-15).

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

We are Christ’s ambassadors,” Paul writes elsewhere. “God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (2 Cor. 5:20 – NLT). “By the Holy Spirit we take God into Creation,” challenged Pat Emerick, one of our recent Revival Conference speakers. And Jesus’ commission to every believer is very clear: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

Every believer is called by God to do this — and every believer can! If you know how to gossip, you know how to evangel. It’s simply a matter of content!

Another conference presenter, Manuel Brayley, showed us a tiny seed, and then a fully grown apple. He reminded us that we are all landscape-changing ‘Johnny Appleseeds.’ We sow the seeds of the gospel and our efforts are not wasted — God, through Isaiah, has guaranteed it:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:10-11).

two men talking on focus photography

Be an evangel in the setting and situation in which God has placed you. You are His agent there. Your story is precisely the one needed among those very people around you. You are not in your place by accident, but by appointment. Rely on His Spirit. Walk through all doors He opens to you. Be obedient moment by moment; open your mouth when He tells you and trust that He indeed will fill it with the life-giving words that are needed.

Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Ps. 126:6).

Nothing of your testimony is ever wasted!

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 11/7/19 – Discipleship – Fellowship

Beware the past…

20191106_065207At age 61 just two years before his death from kidney failure C.S. Lewis wrote In a letter to a friend, “We must beware of the past, mustn’t we? …This is one of the dangers of being, like you and me, old. There’s so much past, now, isn’t there? And so little else. But we must try very hard not to keep on endlessly chewing the cud.”

Waxing nostalgic, consolidating one’s lifetime, is a typical phase of human experience in later years. For those whose hope is in this life only the temptation is great to live in one’s past, retelling the old stories again and again, in efforts to glean self-worth and life-purpose from them.

man carrying backpack while walking on a paved pathway

But Lewis is correct, for the Christian this indulgence holds a danger. “There’s so much past, now,” writes Lewis, “And so little else.” But he knows better. Little left of this life, certainly. But the believer is only now about to be born. Eternity which all his life has ached in his heart* is now about to be actualized.

There’s no stopping this. For the lost this fact should strike terror, “a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire” (Heb. 10:27), but the believer should be “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Pet. 1:8). Looking ahead to this should occupy his thoughts and desires more and more. Do not let nostalgia turn your thoughts backward.

“We carry our mortality about with us,” wrote Augustine, “You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.”

three men standing near window

We need to encourage one another as we draw to the end of this age, en masse or each in our time. Scripture urges us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:23-25)

Fellowship. None of us was meant to walk this pilgrimage alone. Together we all follow one Lord and we all form one body. We are all one in Christ (see Rom. 12:5; Gal. 3:28). You need your local family of God and they need you. Encourage… be encouraged. Don’t look back… Grow in God!

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:62).

Join us as we gather and grow together in God by seeking His Face and sitting under His Word… confessing and ministering to God and to one another.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

* God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

20191103_152246This week at Lincoln Baptist Church you have a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord. Join us for the Sermonindex Revival Conference — in person, or online. Go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website for details

Thursday, 10/31/19 – Discipleship – A Parable on Prayer

A Parable on Prayer

I have a friend. I’ll call him Tom.

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

Tom and I often get together for coffee. I like Tom, and I think he likes me. It’s just that… well, when we meet together I feel like I must converse with him in a few ‘quirky’ ways. Sometimes this make me feel like I don’t even want to keep some of our coffee dates!

For example, when I talk with Tom I feel I must use special “Tom” words. I’ve heard other people talk to Tom using these words so I guess I just feel Tom expects it. I’m not even sure what some of these words mean!

adult child daylight enjoyment

I’ve seen other people talk to Tom while in a specific yoga-like position. In fact, most times they talk with Tom they get into this position. The position feels odd to me but I guess Tom must like it. Myself, I find it kind of uncomfortable. But maybe Tom listens better when I do it.

photo of men talking with each other

I’ve often wondered if I shouldn’t get someone else to talk directly to Tom for me. I could get comfortable and use regular words to tell this person what I want to say to Tom, and they could talk to Tom for me… doing it all the “right” ways — like an interpreter.

Then I think that Tom likes me to raise topics with Him is a certain order, or at least be sure I include these four essential areas every conversation: 1. I must tell Tom some things I appreciate about Him. 2. I must apologize to Tom for anything I might have done that offended him and ask him to forgive me. Tom is always quick to forgive, so I don’t mind doing this… but I’m afraid one day Tom might not want to forgive me, or that I might forget something and Tom would be angry! 3. I must thank Tom for any special things he’s done for me and for being my friend. 4. If I do all these right then it’s OK for me to ask Tom for his help if I’m struggling with something.

photo of men pointing to each other

I also feel I must use certain phrases throughout our conversation… phrases I think Tom likes to hear because I hear other people using them whenever they talk with Tom. Things like “as I know you’d agree,” or, “like you’ve written me before,” or making sure to address him with his full family name, “Thomas James Smith.” And when it’s time for us to part I make certain I always say, “I agree with all you have said,” just so there’s no doubt.

There are other “rules” like these that I think I must follow… other “quirky” things I am always trying to remember and get right. Sometimes all this makes me think I really don’t know how to talk to Tom at all. I find it all very stressful!

two man walking in between of buildings toward with concrete building

Last time we got together I decided to lay this all out before Tom. He listened patiently as I rattled off my “quirky rules” list. When I was all done Tom laughed.. and said, “You know I’ve been wondering why you’ve talked to me like that. I’ve been longing for the day you would just be yourself with me and chat with me like you do with any good friend. After all, that’s what we are… friends, right?

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 10/24/19 – Discipleship – The Bible

Selecting a Bible Translation

photo of child reading holy bible

If you are a new believer in Christ you may not have a Bible of your own. Or, perhaps you have an old 1611 King James Bible but find it difficult to understand. If so, then ‘Job #1′ for you is this:

Prayerfully select a Bible translation you understand.

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I don’t just mean a Bible in a language you understand, although that too would certainly be necessary, but I mean a Bible translation that connects with your world, your vernacular and generation.

Consider for example the differences in these renditions of Hebrews 1:3

King James Version (KJV) – 1611

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:”

New Living Translation (NLT) – 1996

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

Both bring the same message, but the second, though a bit longer, uses words that many find easier to understand. There is only one Word of God, but there are many ways to convey it.

person throwing fish net while standing on boat

Consider this: When Jesus called the fishermen brothers Peter and Andrew, He said, “Come…and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt. 4:19). Jesus did not call Matthew in this way. Matthew was a tax collector. What did Matthew know about fishing? But all twelve were called to the same calling – to testify to Christ’s ministry and become evangels of the gospel.

In one of his letters to the Corinthian believers Paul alludes to the need for clear communication,

“Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor. 14:9)

Paul knew the value in framing the gospel to relate to his audience. Elsewhere he writes, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22).

books in black wooden book shelf

Here in Canada we are blessed with an enormous abundance of freely available Bible translations, study aids and devotional materials. Take your time… try several out; perhaps ask a mature believer or bookstore salesperson to help you.

belief bible book business

Once you’ve made your selection and are ready to read, develop right away the habit of praying before you begin. Invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to what the Lord wants to say to you today. When you do this, you will never read the Bible alone.

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18).

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 and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.