Thursday, 4/8/21 – God’s Will – Best Will

God’s Will – Best Will

In Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? he confesses “I do not doubt that God answers prayer. Rather, I struggle with the inconsistency of those apparent answers.” (p. 220). Why does God answer some passionate prayers yet seemingly ignore others? Why does one praying Christian survive in a plane crash while another equally praying perishes? Is God only good, loving, and powerful sometimes?

God has said of His actions, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” (Isa. 55:8-9). In short, He is saying we cannot now comprehend Him. Like a wise and loving parent speaking to child He says, “You will understand when you are older.” We will understand when we are further along in becoming all that He intends.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; [“only a reflection as in a mirror,” NIV] but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12, KJV).

A time is coming when we will understand God in ways similar to His understanding of us! What grandparent has not said to their now adult and parenting child, “See, now you understand…”? So now is for us simply to be obedient children: to give to Him those things which he takes from us, to receive from Him those things which are disagreeable to us, and to accept his “No” when we desire so much that He would say “Yes.”

The child must know above all else that his parents love him and that it is with good reason that they take from him that dangerous plaything, give him that disgusting medicine, and sometimes must say “No.” Sadly, however, many children do not have loving parents, or do not learn until they are much older that many actions their parents did were motivated by love.

The important thing for us as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ is that we do not make the same mistake — thinking God is not loving at all when in fact we just can’t see the whole picture. Where loved ones or suffering is involved this can be very difficult indeed.

We must remember Christ Our Savior cried great tears with blood that He might avoid the cross but there was no other way. The Father said “No,” and the Son chose to accept that answer, even embrace it. He did so not in order to sit “at the right hand of the throne of God,” but to save lost souls like you and I. He “endured the cross, scorning its shame” for the better plan and Will of God, “bringing many sons and daughters to glory” (Heb. 2:10, 12:2).

God may not always answer our prayers our ways, but God’s Will is always the best Will no matter what that Will may look like today.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 4/1/21 – Evangelism: The Foolishness of God

Evangelism: The Foolishness of God

April Fool’s Day: It was on this date in 1778 that a New Orleans businessman, Oliver Pollock, created the “$” symbol. Now, world-wide, this symbol is all many see before their eyes, even to making all it represents their god. Serious stuff, and its no joke!

On this date in 1905 the German government first adopted the acronym “SOS” as a morse code distress signal: 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots. It is a symbol now recognised globally to the saving of many lives, and that’s no joke!

And it was on this date in 1969 that the Royal Canadian Mint formally formed as a Crown Corporation. It is the central repository of Canadian money, the stuff that many believe makes this world go round! Sadly, the ubiquity of this belief too is no joke at all!

But it was also at about this time, during these several days that God’s eternal plan of redemption climaxed within the confines of human history. The eternal emptied Himself sufficient to unite with the temporal. Creator united with creation. God united with man. Into damnation came salvation, and we killed Him! We mutilated Him. Spat on Him. Mocked Him. We deemed Him a joke! A delusional! We had our laws. We needed no saviour. We pounded nails through His flesh and into rough wood. Though He made the flesh, the metal, the tree we perverted them all into expressions of hatred.

We were and still are fools!

We are the April Fool, we are every month’s fool, and ever shall be until we fall at this cross begging mercy… more than mercy… begging grace. Like all, other things in Christ’s Kingdom we find our goal by seeking its opposite: the way to wisdom is what seems at first to be foolishness.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ [Isaiah 29:14] Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1:18-21).

And indeed, of all things, this is no joke at all!

the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (v. 25).

Press on…

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

Thursday, 3/25/21 – Fellowship: 1+1=3, 1+2=4!

Fellowship: 1+1=3, 1+2=4!

Paris Reidhead (1919-1992) was a Christian missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission, and associated with the Christian Missionary Alliance. As an advocate of economic development he was instrumental in the formation of the Institute for International Development and Enterprise Development International. Although I know little else about him this one quote of his struck my attention.

Most Christians do not have fellowship with God; they have fellowship with each other about God.” – Paris Reidhead

I am afraid this may be quite true.

John, the beloved disciple wrote, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” This is the amazing reality at work when Christians meet: Jesus Christ is there with them! Not just in a large Sunday gathering, an assembly led by some “qualified” saint, but in the two or the three… the guys getting together for coffee… watching a game on TV or at the event. It is Chriatian ladies at a baby shower… or out shopping. Jesus said it: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt. 18:20).

But sadly many believers miss this. Perhaps having interacted with unbelievers or the uncommitted at work all day some forget this dimension of Christian fellowship and fall into the superficial patterns of a superficial world. It need not be this way. Enquire of each other, “What has the Lord been teaching you?” Share together your answered, and unanswered, prayers. Minister to one another’s needs. Pray! Talk to God together about these things. Listen together to Him. Sing! Declare! Share. He’s right there with you anyway… just waiting to be invited in to your conversations.

When believers meet in fellowship that is vertical as well as horizontal… fellowship “with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” they will soon testify with the psalmist: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!… For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (Ps. 133:1,3b).

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, 3/18/21 – Today’s Discipleship Blog… Praying

Praying

Which is most important to spiritual life: Prayer, Bible Study, Spirit, Faith, Fellowship, Witness? Which is most important to physical life: Air, Food, Water, Shelter, Community, Purpose? Remove any one from either account and you have withering, illness, death. An old saying goes, “Seven days without prayer and Bible study makes one weak.” You could replace those with any from the above list, but I will say prayer tops the list.

The Word of God may be like food to the saint – “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jer. 15:16) —  but prayer is the believer’s life breath! God breathed life into man, and He has needed to breathe ever since! In fact each breath we take is a gift of God, just ask any person with emphysema, COPD, or some other breathing ailment. We do not deserve to live, yet by His grace God grants it. Prayer, like air, is essential with all regularity. “Pray without ceasing,” Paul urges (1 Thess. 5:17). “Abide in Me,” demands Christ (John 15:4).

Though not widely practiced anymore it was customary that a doctor would slap or poke an unbreathing newborn causing it to cry and thus gulp its first breath. This was done almost immediately on birth because the time window to save the child was brief. This is also true of our good and loving God Who may cause us to cry simply to provoke us to pray.

You can survive weeks without food, a few days without water, but only minutes without air. What is true of us physically ought to inform us as to what is true of us spiritually.

To pray, and continue. This is God’s will and way for His people to live. The lesson Jesus taught His disciples in parable was designed “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1).

Do you need to pray more? Does “Pray without ceasing” seem an impossible goal? It should not. Already you can worry without ceasing. It is simply a matter of establishing a new habit. Give yourself a slap on the butt… cry to our Father… take a deep breath…. Breathe!

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, 3/11/21 – The Bible: Our Instructions Library

The Bible: Our Instructions Library

Gregory of Nanzianus was a great apologist and preacher of the fourth century. Reflecting on the writings of scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit he comments,

“The purpose of the biblical writers was to provide… instructions for us to contemplate when we find ourselves in similar situations, if such should come upon us at any time. The proper outcome is that these examples from the past act as guides and models to warn us, and are patterns for our own imitation.”

Paul, writing to the believers in Corinth — having no idea that by doing so he was being used of God to write our New Testament – writes similarly of the records of the Old Testament,

“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did… These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:6, 11).

Writing to Timothy he adds, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are written for us to learn from and to obey. All their authors have died. They shone with us during their appointed times, but, like all flesh, they too have died. God’s Word, however, endures. It was, as with Timothy, present around you when you were very young, “…from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (v.15), and it will be available to you when you are very old.

Even before it was written, the Word, Christ Himself, is eternal and ever shall be eternal. This Word became flesh in Christ and those concurrent with His incarnate sojourn, “have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Then that bodily form was taken from us and the Holy Spirit was given to be within us. A day will come when the Word in ink and paper form will also no longer be with us (see Matt. 5:18), but still the eternal Word of God will live on. The Word is the Son, a member of the trinity of God. Know the Word. Be transformed by the Word. Plant the Word deep in your heart.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” (Isa. 40:8).

The Bible: your instructional library. Read it daily!

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, 3/4/21 – Priorities upside-down?

Priorities upside-down?

Turns out the kingdom of God’s economy is pretty much upside down by our standards. What’s great is what’s least, giving up life brings eternal life, holding on to life brings eternal death, greatness is in servanthood, giving is measured not by the amount of the gift but by the amount that is kept, victories are won by the few, not the many, personal weakness is strength and personal strength is weakness, wisdom is foolishness and foolishness is wisdom, and the greatest king of all arrives not in a throne but in a feeding trough!

They played an old song on the radio the other day. It was one of those early morning programs for older folk which I find myself identifying with more and more as the decades ruled by. The song was the 1968 chart topper “Both Sides, Now” by Joni Mitchell, first recorded by Judy Collins.

Perhaps you remember it. The chorus went like this,

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now / From up and down and still somehow / It’s cloud’s illusions I recall / I really don’t know clouds at all

As the song progresses the refrain changes the word “clouds” to the word “love” and the singer concludes they really don’t understand love or life or anything really. All is just illusion.

Paul acknowledged that many things about the kingdom of God seem unclear to us at present. As if we are looking through clouds. He wrote, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12, NKJV). Or, as The Message has it, “We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.

But the kingdom of God is not really upside down. The kingdom of God is right side up. It is the kingdom of man that is upside down! There are no clouds in the heavens; but it is our eyes that have cataracts.

Scripture tells us that Christ has come to cause the blind to see… to properly re-orient our thinking. To give us a brand new heart! The worldly mob’s accusation against the disciples was this: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too!” (Acts 17:6). But when you turn again a thing currently inverted you set that thing aright.

The Christian’s priorities then begin at the foot of the cross, in surrendering one’s life, in becoming a bondservant of Christ. “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16).

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, 2/25/21 – Discipleship: Freedom, Deep Freedom!

Freedom, Deep Freedom!

Luke records Jesus’ very first declaration of the mandate of His mission as Messiah. After His Baptism (chap. 3) Luke tells us “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1). There for forty days He fasted, prayed, and resisted all temptations of the devil. He then “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.” (v.14-15). Finally, on return to Nazareth, Jesus stands up in the synagogue and reads from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (v.18-19; see Isa. 61:1-2).

After returning the scroll He announced “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (v. 21).

Jesus’s first proclamation of purpose is all about freedom: Freedom from poverty. Freedom from imprisonment. Freedom from blindness Freedom from oppression Freedom from divine disfavor

But, a sceptic might complain, don’t we see believers who are poor, believers in prisons, believers who are blind, believers who are oppressed? Yes, indeed we do. But Jesus is here speaking of something much deeper than the physical realm. He is speaking of the spiritual.

For though a believer may have little of this world’s goods he is rich in spirit and has few desires. [See John 4:32; Phil. 4:11-13]. Though a believer may be restricted physically even in a prison cell, he can experience contentment, and express worship, as did Paul & Silas [See Acts 16:23-25]. Though a believer may be unable to see, Jesus opens their eyes to deeper spiritual truths [See John 9:39; Psalm 119:18]. Though a believer may be oppressed on many sides, there is comfort and peace as by centering one’s thoughts upon Christ [See Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:8-9].

And the believer has the great privilege of sharing this Christ with another, “Freely you have received; freely give,” Jesus told His disciples. (Matt. 10:8).

This freedom is a unique freedom. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36). It is unique because it has nothing to do with the circumstances of life. A believe need not live “under the circumstances,” but above them! — You may need to seek it earnestly at times, but it is available.

Best of all the believer is freed from divine disfavor! The wrong that stood between creature and Creator is removed. As Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1-2).

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, 2/18/21 – Assurance: One step at a time…

Assurance: One step at a time…

In the ninth chapter of Mark’s gospel the apostle relates to us the amazing account of Jesus freeing a young lad from years of demonic control. This sinister spirit had made the boy mute, thrown him foaming to the earth teeth clenched, body stiffened. The disciples had already tried to pray this demon out of the child, but without success. An unanswered prayer casts a disheartening shadow and the disciples were not immune.

So they brought the child to Jesus and immediately the boy raged into a foaming, convulsing fit. “Please help him if you can,” blurted the father. Jesus immediately picked up on this and retorted, “‘If you can’?… Everything is possible for one who believes.”

“I do believe,” the man replied, “help me overcome my unbelief!”

Well which was it? – Belief? Or unbelief? I’d say this man had faith. Faith is often made of a mix of belief and unbelief. As Philip Yancey cites Paul Tournier: “When there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith either.” Faith acts out of this imbalance… like walking… step upon step upon step. Almost falling, but not, then doing it again: right, left, right, left. “We walk by faith,” writes Paul (2 Cor. 5:7), a truth indeed both physically and spiritually.

“I command you, come out of him and never enter him again,” demanded Jesus. The lad shrieked, shook, then flopped motionless. “He’s dead!” someone shouted. But he was not. Jesus took the boy’s hand and lifted him to his feet. The boy was whole again, freed and sane.

Faith made the difference. Assurance not only of salvation but assurance of the power and will of God. When the disciples later asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He answered, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” That is, by closer connection to God, the sort wrought through intimate, daily communion and often enhanced by fasting. (Read the whole story: Mark 9:14-29)

Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22).

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, 2/11/21 – Soon Return of Christ

Soon Return of Christ

We’ve had a number of babies born in our church in recent days. Some arrived on their anticipated due dates others took a while longer. Toward the final days of these pregnancies nervous husbands made several ‘false alarm’ trips to the hospital. Why? They saw the signs of imminent birth, signs that were stronger signs than those previous. They thought perhaps this time… perhaps this time will be the birth.

Whether or not a time was the one in which the mother gave birth, several things were always true of each trip: 1. There was a child in that womb soon to be born. 2. The signs of its approaching birth were present, more intense, more urgent. 3. There would most certainly be a birth at some time. 4. Those awaiting the birth longed for it. 5. The birth would occur whether or not anyone believed in it.

From the moment of His Ascension the promise of Christ’s return was given,

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11).

Hadn’t Jesus warned them, “…keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” (Matt. 24:42,44).

The Apostle John writes, “…continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28). “Look, He is coming with the clouds…” (Rev. 1:7, see also Dan. 7:13).

On Patmos Jesus reveals Himself to John saying, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty.’” (Rev. 1:8).

Whether or not today is the day of His return several things are true of it: 1. Christ is awaiting the father’s command to come. 2. The signs of His soon return are currently present, more intense, more urgent. 3. He will most certainly return at some time. 4. Those awaiting His return long for it. 5. His return is certain whether or not anyone believes in it.

Heed what He says, I am coming soon….” “Look, I am coming soon!…” “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Rev. 3:11, 22:12, 20).

“…Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20).

Press on…

Thursday, 2/4/21 – God’s Will

God’s Will

We began this week considering how human self-will will resent the fact of God being in control. Pride is the real culprit. Pride is sin because it is based on self-will over God’s will. We want the glory that rightfully belongs to our Creator, and Manager of all His creation. Self-will initiates self-made actions and brings us the praise or envy of others. “I did it myself,” we boast! “I did it my way,” sang Sinatra… an anthem for “the self-made man” (or woman).

But God says, No. You must bow to Me. I am God and none other.

Consider the primary commands of the Decalogue: No other gods before me, No objects of worship may be made, No disrespect or misuse of My Name, Keep My Sabbath Day holy! (see Exod. 20). If any man made such demands we would most certainly call him egotistical. But God commands it rightly. He knows we were made to worship and if we worship anything other than Him that idol will destroy us!

Last Friday I watched a documentary about wind… how it helps Peregrines to soar, dandelions to proliferate, Monarchs to migrate, and possums to sniff out their dinner. Yet when wind is unbridled it has power to carry away automobiles, flood islands, or destroy cities! How would you like just to manage the wind? — Not I. But God keeps all things under control. He is the One deserving our thanks.

Job had great questions for the Almighty. But when that Almighty questioned him he soon became silent. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?” he blurted. “I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” (40:4-5)

But the Almighty was relentless, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” He demands (v.7). On and on He goes… creation… the sea… the sun… the stars… Lions, mountain goats, donkeys and ostriches, horses and hawks…. Can you keep the balance of nature in check? Whom but He Who knows the count of the ever changing hairs upon your head is wisest to guide your life, respond to your prayers, receive and be worthy of your worship? Read Job 38-41 for yourself and see if you too are not silenced.

No, being in control is no job for me! Like the 60s sit-com I must acknowledge, “Father Knows Best.” Most eagerly I bow to Him. Only He has my best plans in mind, and at heart.

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.