Thursday, 4/16/20 – Discipleship – Freedom (& COVID-19)

Freedom (& COVID-19)

grayscale photography of woman inside jail

One reason many people do not find the freedom that Christ offers is they do not know they are bound. Oh, they may have this or that vice, but they’re “working on it.” Besides, nobody’s perfect, right? Or, I can stop anytime I want to… I just don’t want to right now. Or… I’ll deal with that later. Others simply think their “sin” is merely what a self-righteous person calls some action that displeases them. Others deflect their episodes of rage, for example, as a thing some other person “made them” do. “Hey, it’s not my fault.”

man wearing black crew neck shirt reading book

Jesus disagrees. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). But the people didn’t get it. They said “We… have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (v. 33-34).

Peter writes, “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”(2 Pet. 2:19). If you don’t think you are “mastered” by an evil just try to stop it with your own finite might. Paul tried with all His Pharisaic power… all His disciplined obedience to the Law. He couldn’t do it. “Wretched man that I am!” he sumnsrizes, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

This is what happens when men accept darkness. “If then the light within you is darkness,” said Jesus, “how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23).

But Jesus came to expel that darkness. When He began His ministry He was at the temple. He opened the scroll and read from the prophet Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isa. 61:1).

And Jesus said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

blonde hair blur daylight environment

How does He do that? He does that by proclaiming the Truth. “…you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) The Truth is that we have all gone astray. Our best is still filthy contrasted with the holiness of God “without which no one will see God.” (Heb. 12:14). We need help! We are mortal! We will die — and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. We are unfit for heaven.

But thank God [literally] He has done something about it! He loves us. He gave His Son in place of us. He poured all wrath on Jesus. We must only agree with Him that we are unholy… sinful… we must believe this Truth of Christ’s sacrifice… the hope of His resurrection…. Make Him our Lord and, like the first disciples, follow Him.

This is true freedom. Death has no more dread for the Christian. Things that threaten death lose their bite. God is in control. He will lead us safely home. We are “free indeed” — even amid the COVID-19 pandemic!

Paul preached, “My friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain.” (Acts 13:38-39).

20200415_211457Press on…

BONUS: Click HERE to watch “Truth and Freedom” a message by Billy Graham on the “father of lies” (Satan) and the Truth and Freedom found only in Jesus Christ.

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.

Thursday, 4/9/20 – Discipleship: Assurance (& COVID-19)

Assurance (& COVID-19)

What one must first identify is just what it is of which one seeks assurance?

burial cemetery cross daylight

Do you desire assurance that your body will not die? Christ cannot help you there. Was it not God Himself who long ago commanded “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen. 2:17). But we did, and it broke our Creator’s heart. After that, “…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people…” (Rom. 5:12). Indeed you WILL die! But Christ offers life beyond death — eternal life!

man wearing gas mask standing beside store facade

Do you desire assurance that your environment will be one of ease and comfort? You will get no assurances of that either! Our sin has touched it all. Paul writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning ...” (Rom. 8:22) “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one” states John (1 John 5:19). and Jesus promised “in this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). But Christ offers strength and grace to carry us through it.

Do you desire assurance that your body will not be touched by COVID 19? There is no guarantee of that either! Many good believers of ages past and around our world today have suffered or are suffering much from pestilence and persecution. But Christ offers a soul at peace with Him that cannot be severed by any threat (Rom. 8:38-39).

white dove on white bird figure stand

Just as Christ has promised to allow no temptation to come our way without providing us a way to escape (1 Cor. 10:13) so He promises to grant sufficient grace to endure whatever miseries and sufferings this world may throw at us. Christ speaks to us as well as Paul when He says “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). When you need it, it will be there. Christ gives the Christian an abiding assurance… a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isa. 26:3).

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

What is needed on our part is s steadfast mind frequently refreshed by the Promises of God’s Word and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. The seas ahead may be tumultuous or they may be calm, but the Lord is a strong ship. Safe shores are secured ahead.

Press on…

photo of holy bible near acoustic guitar

There is really only one thing of which each individual must be assured… that one has made peace with God by repentance from sin and faith toward God through the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Need help making that commitment or growing in God? Use the Contact page.

Thursday, 4/2/20 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ (& COVID-19)

Soon Return of Christ (& COVID-19)

climate cold road landscape

No doubt you’ll be hearing all sorts of “end of the world” declarations amid this COVID-19 global pandemic. You’ve likely heard several already. And I’m not about to tell you it is or it isn’t the final few days before Armageddon. But it is most definitely one of the more severe “labour pains” of the end times spoken of by Jesus in the gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). However, the fundamental fact remains that the final date and hour remains unknown to us.

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

Our business in this day is, as it has always been, to be found ready:

Lamps burning, lights shining

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning… because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:35, 40)
“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).

Doing the will of the Father from the heart

“…as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.” (Eph. 6:6).

Loving God and neighbour

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37,38).

Living purely, free from bondage to sin

“…now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness” (Rom. 6:19).

Keeping ourselves unspotted from the world

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27).

earth space universe globe

Our Lord has told us the signs of the end times not to frighten us but to cause our hearts to draw ever closer to Him. Remember Jesus words to His faithful “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). The perils and torments of this world do not change the Father’s Love. They do not alter His greatest heart desire. He is still “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)… still desiring “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4).

The soul of the Christian is secure. The counsel of Micah still stands

“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).

Not so for the rebel! Not so for the soul who runs from his Maker! For that soul there is nothing but the greatest fear indeed — “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” as says the author of Hebrews (Heb. 10:27).

man tattooed praying

Does this describe you? If so, what must you do? You must agree with God that you are indeed a rebel, stop running from Him, ask His forgiveness, turn about and obey Him, recognize that Jesus has paid for all your sin, believe that knowing there is nothing you can do for your own self. Christ has done it all. He alone is your Saviour. Determine now to follow His leading, making Him your Lord to obey.

person reading book

This day forward speak often with Him in prayer, read, study and meditate up on the Word of God, find a Bible-believing church to grown by and learn to share and serve.

Here are some passages to get you started: John 3:16, Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; John 1:12. After that, begin reading the gospel of John… and keep going.

Want more help? Use the Contact page (see below) and we’ll be happy to help.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 3/26/20 – Discipleship – God’s Will (& COVID-19)

God’s Will (& COVID-19)

How does one reconcile God’s Will with the COVID-19 pandemic?

woman in white dress shirt using white microscope

Any scientist or logician will tell you that if you are hoping to compare two realities you must certainly understand something about the properties of each. In this matter our comprehension of both is woefully minute! Speculation using all available facts is all that is left to us.

In the case of God, the Bible gives us some sketches of Him, but all along emphasizes also this caveat: No one can grasp the Mind of God. From earliest biblical record to this current moment as you read, this has been so.

sky space dark galaxy

The Almighty “does great and unsearchable things,” says Job. (Job 5:9). “Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him? Who has appointed Him His way, And who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?” (Job 36:22-23). “Do you not know?” Isaiah writes, “… His understanding is inscrutable.” (Isa. 40:28).

In fact, in his great God-given wisdom, Solomon tells us “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter…” (Prov. 25:2). The Lord Himself declares it:

“…My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

If nothing else in this hour we must recognize that God is God and we are not.

baby sitting on man s shoulder

But we do know that God is a loving Father to His children. His interests for us have an eternal focus. Good parents guide their children to eat and to sleep and to exercise, to learn and to work and to endure, so that “When they grow up”…they will be healthy, and strong, and able. No child at the time of direction cares much about outcomes decades in the future. But still, the good parent directs.

God’s good will for His own is that they grow in dependence and love and relationship with Him. (Read Eph. 1:1-23, 1 Pet. 1:3-11, 1 Tim. 4:7-16). “No one is good—except God alone.” taught Jesus (Mark 10:18). The good by which we try to compare and comprehend God is tarnished and carnal, often earthbound and temporal. But God has “something better,” (Heb. 11:40) more enduring in mind for all His children. We must trust Him.

I read something very interesting today from a book by Jan Kempe published several years ago. I was amazed at how appropriately these words are for us all today…

“The truth is that we would rather trust in a bank balance which we can see than in God whom we can’t see. The thought of having no one or nothing but God to trust is sufficient to bring on a nervous collapse…
“‘We are all of us in danger of slipping into this form of unquiet distrust in the fatherly providence of God’ (Samuel Cox).
“God’s will is that our lives should be a perpetual crisis of dependence on Him. We defeat His will in our lives when we lay up treasures on earth.” – Jan Kempe, Faithful Hearts, p. 155

Paul marvels, “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!“ (Rom. 11:33-34) and to the Corinthians summarizes “…the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God…” (1 Cor. 2:11). “But,..” Paul adds, “we have the mind of Christ.” (v. 16).

God is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:31). Let us build ourselves up in trust toward Him. Let us so focus on the kingdom to come that it becomes a testimony to the lost and frantic. Writes Kempe,

“The life of faith speaks loudly to unbelievers and to other Christians. It testifies to all that there is a God in heaven the answers prayer. Faith is the opposite of sight; when you can see, you can’t trust.” – p. 116

believe bible black and white book

Press on…

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

Thursday, 3/19/20 – Faint or stand firm – Evangelism

Faint or stand firm…

hands in front of white and black background

We’ve grown rather accustomed to trusting in man… trusting in science. We get sick and ask, “OK what should I take for this?” We expect medical science to have a ready-made response to any discomfort.

But ultimately all good gifts come from God (James 1:17). Trust in science or wealth alone is no more than trust in humanism and materialism. We neglect the exhortation of Deut. 8:18 to “…remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability...” Shaky business indeed.

airport bank board business

A few weeks ago in one of the adult Bible classes pastor Andrew said something I thought noteworthy. He saièd, “Materialism and humanism are really just extreme ungratefulness.” I like that. You see mankind is very reluctant to take honor from self and give it to God. The prophet Jeremiah warned “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jer. 17:5). Every translation I consulted uses that word “cursed.” It is a serious thing to ignore the Lord in times of need.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

Pestilences! Plagues! Diseases! All that without a cure! They are beyond man’s ability to respond with a remedy! In the same chapter where Christ tells of coming pestilence, He says “People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world,” but to His own He adds “…do not be frightened… “ (v. 7) …make up your mind not to worry beforehand…” (v. 14) “Stand firm….” (v. 19).

In Isaiah we read “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…’” (Isa. 30:15).

praying man looking up

Repentance, agreeing with God about your sinfulness and with His help turning from it, this is repentance. Rest, putting all your concerns upon Christ, resting in Him, taking up His yoke and walking in stride, in obedience, to Him. This is true “rest,” as Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “ (Matt. 11:29).

Sharing this singular path to peace, especially during this troubling time, is true evangelism. These COVID-19 days may indeed be one more appeal from our loving Lord to bring souls to Him. Perhaps like Esther He has an appointed role for you in this crisis to reach out with hope to those around you. “..who knows but that you have come to your [sphere of social contacts] for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Stand firm…

Press on…

believe bible black and white book

Perhaps the Lord us calling to you in these difficult days. Perhaps you would you like to respond by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page… we’ll help get you started.

Thursday, 3/12/20 – Discipleship – Fellowship

Fellowship & the Virus

person holding glass flasks

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

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

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

people taking group picture

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

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

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

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 3/5/20 – Discipleship – Prayer

Prayer – you have His full attention

photo of people near computer

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

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

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

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

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

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

man tattooed praying

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

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

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

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

What do you want?

Press on…

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

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.