Tuesday, 10/1/19 – Pressing on…

Weather… or Not

I have two weather apps on my tablet. Neither are terribly reliable beyond a day or two.

photo of thunderstorm

The more accurate app is boring to look at, but I consult it daily. The less accurate app is exciting in appearsnce. It has moving weather images in the background which reflect the weather for the day you are viewing, realistic images showing cycles of the moon, and numerous colorful ways to view the data. But, as I said, its forecasts are far less accurate. I seldom ask it anything because what it gives me can be damaging to my weather-dependent plans.

Thankfully, God does not give like that.

woman standing beside open door

In Luke 11 Jesus has just finished giving His disciples a template for prayer, “the Lord’s prayer,“ as we like to call it, though really it would be better called “the disciples prayer” for it was to us that He gave it as guide. Jesus then presents an illustration teaching that we must be persistent in our asking. When He sees our sincerity He will answer.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

He teaches us that God delights to give His children good things… just as we do… even the worst of us…

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

red fish

Interesting that Jesus connects this truth about God’s good giving to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps He knows we sometimes think of the Spirit as something wild and out of control, something that might bite like a serpent, or sting like a scorpion. Maybe to counter this misconception is why God chose to represent the Holy Spirit as a dove, the gentlest of all birds, and Jesus often called Him the ‘Comforter.’

In Greek this word ‘Comforter’ is παράκλητος (paraklētos). meaning One called alongside….a Helper… a Friend. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” writes Solomon (Prov. 18:24). The Holy Spirit is the best such Friend of all… He is a gift from God, because of Christ. He is a good gift, a gift wrapped with you.

Solomon observed “Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given.” (Prov. 25:14) But the goodness of God’s giving is far more reliable than any man or man-made weather app.

Open your heart and mind and let Him flow out of your body to a desperate, dying, soul-starved world.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Sept. 29 message.

Thursday, 9/26/19 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ

Look up!

20190919_153831Over the summer my wife and I decided to revisit Kingsbrae Garden“a multi-award winning 27 acre horticultural masterpiece located in beautiful St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick.” The vast garden area is truly an inspiring masterpiece with “over 50,000 perennials in themed gardens, ponds, streams, old-growth Acadian forest, various animals and birds.” For anyone venturing out this way I highly recommend it.

20190807_175901On the grounds there was also a Sculpture Garden displaying winning works of a bi-annual Canada-wide sculpture competition. One of these in particular drew my attention. The piece was simply called ‘Man looking up.’ No surprises. It was a sculpture of a man… looking up.

Turns out there have been several sculptures of people gazing heavenward, often with a look of yearning, of lostness, of striving… mankind looking up for something transcendent.

There is an innate inner angst in all of us, a sense that something is amiss within, an incompleteness… an expectation. Mortality seems unfair. We ache for the eternal.

Screenshot_20190808-123620The Christian knows the truth behind all these yearnings, the reason for the soul’s anxiety. The gospel is true. Sin has alienated us from our Maker. We are complete only in Him. Without Him we are lost yet still eternal. Christ has come to reunite us if we will. He has gone, yet will return… in the clouds… as he was seen to leave. The angels asked,

“…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.” (see Acts 1 :11)

When He does it will be time, for the believer, to look up again, as He said,

they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28).

Look up. See Jesus.

When you do, nothing will ever be the same again.

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.

Tuesday, 9/24/19 – Pressing on…

Lifting Fog…

I looked out our patio window and was shocked at what I saw! I saw nothing! No road, No open field beside the tree cluster as I had become accustomed to seeing each morning. No descending roadway to the west, No elementary school to the east, No river and skyline on its far shore, No hill, church spire, hospital and water towers! All I saw was greyness everywhere!

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The fog was widespread this past Sunday morning. Elder Don, who lived some km to the east of us, also made mention of it as he shared God’s Word with us that morning. He had been driving in dense fog across the Princess Margaret Bridge from the north side of town to the south. As he neared the other side the fog abruptly dissipated.

His message to us emphasized a great truth from scripture, a “pearl” to his own walk, Don called it. A key which he graciously shared with us.

“I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:26-27].

Near the end of His earthly ministry Jesus told His disciples,

Unless I go away, the Advocate [Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you…. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:7, 13-15)

Later, Paul explained to the Corinthians,

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things…” (1 Cor. 2:14-15a)

art blurred background bright color

Without the Holy Spirit’s illumination the Truth of God is hidden from a man… like the dense fog which greeted us on Sunday morning. We just cant see the realities that are there. But Elder Don’s comment regarding Sunday’s fog was his amazement at just how quickly it all vanished upon nearing the end of the bridge.

Christ is our bridge to bring us to the Father. When we surrender to Him the Holy Spirit enters our being, He illumines our minds, transforms our hearts and enlivens our souls. The fog clears. We understand who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.

It’s amazing how quickly everything can change!

More tomorrow…

To hear Elder Don’s complete message, go to the NEW Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Sept. 22 message.

Thursday, 9/19/19 – Discipleship – God’s Will

What does God want?

“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)

What does the Lord require of me? What does God want from me? What does He want me to do?

These are all questions a growing believer wants to know. In short: What is God’s will?

person holding pen and planner

The answer to this question often eludes us because we are looking for an answer that describes some activity… some sort of busy-ness that we can do for God, an assignment. But God wants first and foremost a relationship. God did not send David to do conquests, and rule a nation until first David proved himself to be “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). In fact, it was because Saul was no longer in right relationship with God that God deposed him from the kingship.

countryside agriculture farm crowd

What message did God give the prophet Micah? What were the people supposed to “do?” In vs. 6 &7 it seems they were seeking something they could proudly “do” for God. “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn…” as if they had done all sorts of “legal ” things as the Law required, but still God was not satisfied. Like they were snapping back at Him, shouting “What do you want–blood?”

God answers through Micah, reminding them that He has already made clear His desire, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good…” What was that? “…To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

sunset person love people

The first two result from the third “to walk humbly with your God.” To be in a child-Father relationship with Him… daily. This statement is similar to Jesus’ response when asked what was the greatest command of the Law. He said,

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. 22:36-40).

God does not ask us to “act like Jesus.” He desires no “repayment ” for salvation, no indebted servitude or sacrifice. His will is that we love Him in return and allow His transforming work within us to actually change us into the likeness of Christ.

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, 9/12/19 – Discipleship – Evangelism

Evangelism

20190911_054100The best definition of evangelism that I have encountered is this: “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” For years I had attributed this quote to Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and author of ‘The Four Spiritual Laws.’ But as I went looking to verify this this morning I discovered there are several thought to have originated it (see photos).

Regardless of its origin, there are several reasons why I very much like this definition:

  • It acknowledges that the one who has the bread is indeed no more worthy of it than the one who has not yet received it.
  • It demonstrates that there can be no other mediator: the first beggar cannot bring bread for others, he can only point to its Source; each beggar must come to the Loaf oneself. As someone else once said, “There are no ‘second generation’ Christians.”
  • It shows that evangelism is very simple, and is do-able by the most common of humankind. We cannot make the bread, only eat of it. Then, being nourished ourselves, we can point others to it… to Him… to Christ.

You see, we do not need to argue or prove the existence of the Bread. We do not need to argue about the route to the Bread, we need only to have partake of the Bread ourselves, found our bellies now full, our countenance now brighter, and our energies renewed. We need only to tell our story as it is.

20190911_054125There is a lovely incident recorded in 2 Kings 7 which parallels this definition…

The Arameans had laid siege against Samaria. The city was in dire famine. Four lepers sat at the city gate and reasoned “If we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” Caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ they decide to go for broke and take their chances. But when they arrive at the enemy camp they find the entire area abandoned!

20190911_054022Initially they begin to feast and pillage, carrying off as much gold and garments as they can carry. Then they realize, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves…Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” (v.9)

They do so, and in doing become evangels – tellers of “good news” to others who are hungry.

In God’s economy we are all beggars… all evangels. So if you’ve found this Bread, get out there and tell others. Hurry… they are hungry!

Next Thursday: God’s Will

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, 9/5/19 – Discipleship – Fellowship

Fellowship…

grayscale photography of man praying on sidewalk with food in front

The first time I met “Sam” (not his real name) he was sitting on the sidewalk along one of the city’s major downtown streets. In front of him on the walkway I noticed a somewhat worn paper coffee cup. In the cup were a few coins. City by-laws do not permit folk in circumstances similar to Sam’s to verbally or with signage solicit money from passers-by, but it was clear that Sam was a man in need.

I chatted with Sam awhile. Learned he had a desperate health problem, but Sam was not in despair. Sam had learned to live one day at a time, thankful for whatever blessings came his way. When he occasionally had a bit more than he needed at that moment he gladly shared with another individual in need.

I moved on… but my encounter with Sam stuck in my head… in my heart. There was something about Sam… I felt an affinity with him… a bond which I could not understand.

I encountered Sam many times since. As I had the ability I helped him out at times with token grocery voucher, cold drink or toiletries. But it was not until most recently that I learned Sam was a brother, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, a member of the eternal family of God.

person shaking hands

No wonder our fellowship was sweet. The affinity I had sensed from the start was the affinity we shared in the Holy Spirit. As Paul writes, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Rom. 8:16).

True Christian fellowship is much more than simply a bunch of like-minded individuals gathering together. True Christian fellowship includes our very real interactions with God Who fellowships with us as well.

John writes, “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).

four men sitting on ground

Paul adds, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9), and “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14).

Christian fellowship is not just a house party, potluck, or golf game. It can be all that, but has also a much deeper connection point, “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13) into which we ought all be daily growing deeper and encouraging in one another.

Christian fellowship is a wonderful and necessary thing. The psalmist writes…

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Ps. 133:1-3)

Press on…

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Are 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, 8/29/19 – Discipleship – Prayer

Jesus leads us in Prayer too

photo of man running during daytime

Throughout this week we have been looking at following Christ as He leads us along – especially when His leading seems to be getting ahead of us. We like to travel at a comfortable, familiar pace. But as any runner will tell you, you don’t get stronger unless you push yourself just a little bit faster, just a little bit farther.

boy child clouds kid

Yes, prayer is simply the child of God conversing with his or her heavenly Father. Like a child we grow in this. Our first prayers, like our first words, may simply be a calling out to God. As a babe learns to say “mama,” so a soul first pleads “Abba,” Father. At first a child thinks only of its own world, it’s own needs and desires. It cries when these demands are not met, or when life gets uncomfortable. Baby believers are likewise inwardly focussed, “Lord, heal me, lead me, grant me” Much of their praying may yet be complaints, questions, challenges or demands.

But with time, nurture, example and challenge both babe and believer must grow. Communications should begin to turn outward not only inward.

“Mommy I love you,” – “I thank and praise you my Lord.”
“Sylvie is sad; I will draw her a picture!” – “Father, minister to others through me this day.”
“Dad, we need to get some guys together to re-shingle Bill’s roof. – “Father, send more labourers into the harvest of souls.”

hands people woman girl

Yes, we can all simply speak to the Lord at any time, being ourselves, in words or without them. But we can also stretch more deeply into prayer. We can pray longer, more frequently. We can pray through a night in watches, in vigils. We can add fasting to our praying. We can pray with words or in the spirit with weeping…

“…the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26 – NASB).

The Lord has also given us a template for our praying. “Pray like this,” says Jesus:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one. (Matt. 6:9-13).

Not by rote repetition, but by way of remembering: God is our Father, yet He is Holy. His Kingdom and Will are our priority. We are utterly dependent upon Him – for food, but also for forgiveness and purity. As He has given us grace and mercy, so we must extend it to others also.

Grow in God. Follow Him with wholeness of heart. Go deeper in prayer.

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.