Wednesday, 1/22/20 – Pressing on…

Kinfolk Unashamed

portrait old person sad

Shame” refers to “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” To be “ashamed” means “to be embarrassed or guilty because of one’s actions, characteristics, or associations.” It can also mean “to be reluctant to do something through fear of embarrassment or humiliation.”

Jesus said “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). Luke tells us the same (Luke 9:26).

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Jesus is saying that if a believer is reluctant to do a thing that would identify him or her as a follower of Jesus Christ, as a disciple of His, as one who acknowledges the personal Lordship of Christ in one’s life, for fear of embarrassment or humiliation before others, if that is the case then Jesus will experience “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress” at the thought of granting that soul entrance into His Kingdom!

But there is another scripture that gives us great hope. In another place (Heb. 2:11) Jesus says that because of His atoning death and resurrection, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters

Paul boldly announced, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Could you say that… Say that boldly?

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The day is coming when all who may laugh and scorn now will fall to their knees acknowledging their folly and pleading to Christ for mercy. But on that day it will be too late. Scripture is clear. He will say to them “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:23).

In both the Mark 8 and Luke 9 accounts Jesus had just finished telling how foolish one would be to forfeit their eternal soul for any treasure. He said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). Stand tall Christian. There is serious business to be done in this world. Be counted among the redeemed. Whatever consequences such a profession may bring they are well worth the reward of one day hearing Jesus acknowledge that you are not only His friend, but His brother… His sister…

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 18 message.

Tuesday, 1/21/20 – Pressing on…

Need a Whack?

woman giving birth to baby via c section

Sometimes suffering serves a completely different purpose in our lives. Sometimes we are not suffering for Christ at all, not living intimately in contact with Him, in fact, not giving Him a thought whatsoever. Sometimes the purpose of suffering has more to do with what we looked at last Thursday – a ‘Whack’ to make us awake!

Again, Sadhu Sundar Singh illustrates…

“A doctor once told me of a child who could not breathe when it was born. In order to make it breathe doctor gave it a slight blow. …he was really doing the kindest thing possible. As with newborn children the lungs are contracted, so are our spiritual lungs. But through suffering God strikes us in love. Then our lungs expand and we can breathe and pray.” – Sadhu Sundar Singh

Sometimes getting knocked down physically is God’s only way of getting us to look up.

The Apostle Paul experienced this. We read about It in Acts 9. Still an avowed persecutor of Christians Paul (then named Saul) was headed to Damascus to imprison in Jerusalem any believers he might find there. As Luke relates it,

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” (Acts 9:3-6)

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The light blinded Paul and he had to be led away by his friends. Paul needed this “Whack” to get him to God. It’s interesting to note that Paul realized he had encountered the Lord God before he was aware that this Lord God is Jesus. “Who are you, Lord?” he asked, calling Him Lord. “I am Jesus,” came the reply.

The atheist believes there is no God, the agnostic is ignorant that there is, the rebel tries to run from God, but the Christian knows that Jesus is Lord. When suffering comes to any of these it may well be that God is trying to get us to gasp! God does not ‘Whack’ us in delight, but of necessity and out of great Love.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 18 message.

Monday, 1/20/20 – Pressing on…

Lesson from a Bird…

20200119_164632A book that was very formative in the early days of my walk with the Lord was a Moody Press pocket paperback The Story of Sadhu Sundar Singh by Cyril J Davey.* I carried the book about with me often and read on the 25 minute bus trips to and from town. On the back was printed this quote:

When we have left this life we will not have a second chance to bear the cross of Christ.” – Sadhu Sundar Singh

That quote affected me greatly, so much so that I can recite it now with ease decades later – and as those of you who know me can attest, memory these days is far from one of my strong points!

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I thought of Sadhu Sundar Singh and this quote as I listened to Pastor Andrew’s message this morning. He spoke of how our suffering and Christ’s suffering are intimately connected. How through these we share in something profound and spiritual.**

Parents know this. They already love their children but something much deeper grows when they must watch them suffer, helpless to alleviate the child’s pain, despair, or questioning gaze. The parent suffers with the child in this and can do none other. Years later the scene may be reversed. Aged parent now suffers as the caregiver child now agonizes with them. They are both made of like substance but in this suffering that union grows deeper.

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It is a privilege to share in like suffering. Choosing it is our greatest gift. Jesus once said this, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). Singh’s quote above reminds us that it is only now, in this life, that we have such privilege to gift Christ by our patient suffering, perhaps even our life.

On such suffering Singh relates this,

“In a Tibetan village I noticed a crowd of people standing under a burning tree and looking up into the branches. I came near and discovered in the branches a bird which was anxiously flying round a nest full of young ones. The mother bird wanted to save her little ones, but she could not. When the fire reached the nest the people waited breathlessly to see what she would do. No one could climb the tree, no one could help her. Now she could easily have saved her own life by flight, but instead of fleeing she sat down on the nest, covering the little ones carefully with her wings. The fire seized her and burnt her to ashes. She showed her love to her little ones by giving her life for them. If then, this little insignificant creature had such love, how much more must our Heavenly Father love His children, the Creator love His creatures!”

Today Christ agonizes for the lost. “Why does He not do something to save them?” someone may ask. Ah, but He has! He has sent someone to them; He has sent them us.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 18 message.

*To watch a 42 minute dramatization of the life of Sadhu Sundar Singh, click here.

**e.g. Never was New York more united than in the days, weeks, and months following 9/11.

Wednesday, 1/15/20 – Pressing on…

Fruitcakes!

20200114_071300I like fruitcake … quite a bit actually. But I seldom buy any at the peak of its popularity – those days leading up to Christmas. I buy my fruitcake mid-January. In fact, I bought some just yesterday. One year I snatched up a half dozen selling at Wal-Mart for $1 each. A half-dozen fruitcake bought mid-January can leave you enough change to have breakfast at McDonald’s and still not surpass the price of a single fruitcake sold mid-December!

Of course many people hate fruitcake. Search “fruitcake jokes” online and you find things like the sketch of the loaf on a psychiatrist’s bench confessing “I feel like nobody likes me!” A thought bubble shows the psychiatrist thinking “He’s a fruitcake case!” Or the archaeologists discovering the world’s oldest fruitcake and exclaiming “Its still edible!”

But no matter; though some people think I’m a fruitcake for liking fruitcake I still like fruitcake. Frosted or not, this year’s or last, sliced or brick, it makes no matter. I’ll root for this underdog.

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Some of my best friends are fruitcakes too. No, no, not like that! I mean some of them are society’s outcasts. People pawned off to others, “regifted” to “agencies” not for their perceived value but because the “gifter” doesn’t want them cluttering up their pantry, or taking up space in their fridge.

But “fruitcakes” are not “hot potatoes.” If we could look at this world as Jesus sees it we’d find we are all “fruitcakes” too! We might try to hide under a glaze or thick frosting but Jesus sees what lies below.

Isaiah caught a glimpse of it: “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;” he wrote, “we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isa. 64:6).

We all “fall short of the glory of God,” penned Paul (Rom. 3:23). But God did not toss us aside, He did not “regift” us to the devil, or wash us away. Rather, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). He paid a price that far out-stripped our worth! So much does He love each one of us. He does not snatch us up at bargain prices, He sells the farm for us, gives His life for us! He intends to make of us something beautiful for all eternity. How thankful we are!

Jesus loves fruitcakes too!

Press on…

Want help connecting with this Jesus? Use the Contact page. To hear recent messages from Lincoln Baptist Church look under ‘Sermons Online’ here at the LBC website.

Tuesday, 1/14/20 – Pressing on…

“Where did it fall?”

It’s Tuesday and something just isn’t right. What is it? Something seems missing… distant…

There’s an easily overlooked little incident in the Bible that I quite like. Perhaps it’s because many years ago I heard a camp speaker tell the story in a way that gripped my soul. It wasn’t really a conviction at the time that latched on to me, rather a warning.

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The incident occurred during Elisha’s ministry. Elisha, as you may recall, was invited by the prophet Elijah to join him as he travelled about the land of Israel (1 Kings 19-21). Elijah likely sensed the need for an apprentice of sorts for he was soon to be taken away. We read of this happening in 2 Kings 2. Elisha was there when God swept away Elijah in a mighty “chariot of fire and horses of fire” (v.11) leaving Elisha with, as he had requested, a “double portion” of the spirit of Elijah.

Well, Elisha goes about doing miracles and counseling kings for about the next sixty years. His ministry and the miracles wrought by God through him had far out-stripped those of Elijah by the time of the incident I want to share with you.

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A sort of school for aspiring prophets had emerged with Elisha at the head and had become so popular that the facilities needed expansion. So the students all pooled together and began to build. As one industrious young student was felling a tree his axhead flew off and into the Jordan river! “Oh, my Lord,” He cried out to Elisha, “it was borrowed!” (2 Kings 6:5).

Where did it fall?” Elisha asked (v.6). The student knew exactly, pointed it out, and the man of God caused the iron head to float! “Lift it out,” He told the student and all was well once again.

Where did it fall?” was the searing question. When something goes missing in our soul we need to return to the spot where it was lost. It does no good at all not admitting to what went flying, the exact spot must be identified. You know where it is.

This day, the missing bit may be that time alone with God, or in congregation with His people, the worship, the challenge, the uplifting. The “missing but” is most probably Jesus!

An ice storm can be a monkey wrench to plans and Christian fellowship, but not to personal prayer and worship… and God can make tools and turns behave in ways miraculous. “Where did it fall?” Put down your device and talk with Him about it now.

More tomorrow…

Note: Read the whole story in 2 Kings 6:1-7.

Monday, 1/13/20 – Pressing on…

Eat like a sheep!

white sheep on plant field

A sheep has four stomachs. Now, while that may sound great to a gourmand, what I’m about to explain next is much less appetizing.

The sheep’s first stomach is called the “rumen.” When a sheep ingests food it goes first to this “rumen” where bacteria, protozoa and microbes begin to digest it. But then the sheep “regurgitates” (causes to flow backwards) the food into its mouth again to re-chew it and swallow it several times! This is called “ruminating.” In this manner the food eaten by the sheep is broken down and its nutrients are absorbed.

20200112_070213We also use the word “ruminate” to mean to think deeply about a thing. Merriam-Webster suggests synonyms such as consider, contemplate, deliberate, meditate, mull (over), ponder, and wrestle (with).

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We can take wisdom from this. Jesus likened believers to sheep, and His teaching and the scriptures to food for our souls. We are not properly “nourished” spiritually if we take in this food but do not “digest” it… cause it to take root in us and change us (see James 1:25). The Bible is filled with reminders of this fact:

Joshua, faced with the great task of filling Moses sandals, was warned multiple times what was expected of him:  “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it….” (Josh. 1:8)

David, himself a shepherd, must have learned well from the habits of his charge. He wrote of the righteous man: “…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:2). “I will meditate on your precepts.” (Ps. 119:78 ) he determined. “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Ps. 77:12; see also 143:5).

Paul wrote the Galatians “…I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Gal. 4:19), and urged the Colossian believers to ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly“ (Col. 3:16). He taught the Philippian Christians to train their minds to focus on that which will promote a Christ-like spirit within them: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8). And to Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Tim. 4:15)

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Yesterday, here in New Brunswick, many church services were cancelled due to freezing rain and ice pellets. But just as a sheep has the ability to ruminate, to pull back from its resources the nourishment needed, so do we. Jesus once said, “…every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matt. 13:52). In Acts, Luke noted of the Berean believers, “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11). Likewise Paul urged Timothy “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Be a ruminator. Eat like a sheep!

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 1/8/20 – Pressing on…

Increasing and Decreasing

black and white people bar men

It astonished me that though the first disciples walked daily with Jesus – that Jesus who as We have been discussing this week is “Jesus is Greater Than ___________.” (you fill in the blank) – though these disciples walked with Him still they argued amongst themselves about which of them was to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke records two instances of this.

The first is in Luke 9. Earlier in this chapter we have the miraculous feeding of 5,000, Peter’s declaration that Jesus Is the Messiah, the astonishing event of the Transfiguration, and the healing of a demonic boy. Twice in this chapter Jesus speaks to His disciples of His coming betrayal and death but they did not understand. Instead, their conversation turns to which of them will be the greatest! In fact, it becomes an out and out argument!!

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An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’” (Luke 9:46-48).

So Jesus sets the standard aright. Greatness in the kingdom of God is not measured by how high you can rise, but on how low you will humble yourself. But a humility which seeks humility as a way to Greatness is no humility at all. True humility never thinks to seek greatness. In fact, true humility is completely unaware of itself; it seeks only to minister to the needs of others.

But then the disciples even dare to raise the matter again!

Jesus has just announced that one of them would betray Him. So uncertain are they of their own hearts that the disciples begin to ask among themselves who the betrayer might be. “Is it I?” each asks (Matt. 26:22).

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But then the ugly question rose again… “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24). Again Jesus, troubled as He was about His own impending task, explained to them that the kingdom of God ran on a different economy. “… you are not to be like that [this world’s system of greatness]. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (v. 26).

Jesus is Greater than all. He is God. May we all learn to say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 5 message.