Monday, 8/2/21 – Pressing on… Exceptional…

Exceptional…

This past Sunday our brother Joseph shared with us from 2 Thessalonians 4…

In this chapter Paul has just written several lines refuting the false claims of deceivers posing to be him and saying the second coming of Christ had already occurred. We have those folks today! Documenting them all would be beyond the scope of these posts!

To allay their fears Paul reminds them the antichrist must first appear. He will deceive many who “refused to love the truth and so be saved” (v.10). Because of this, they are condemned with all who have chosen wickedness.

Paul’s thoughts next turn with delight to his readers, the Christians in Thessalonica. They were the great exception to the wickedness he has just described. “But…” he begins…

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2 Thess. 4:13).

There’s enough theology in that one sentence to fuel a hundred sermons — a thousand! There is the great Love of God, the inclusion of male and female alike, on even ground, the depth of doctrine in the concept of firstfruits, it’s heritage, potential, connectedness to root and vine, fruitfulness, reproductivity, joy and eternity. There is the idea of sanctification… transformation… hope! The truth of God, by His Holy Spirit, indwelling, recreating, redeeming and making actual what at first was only legal: the holiness of a once lost soul! There is the agency by which the soul receives — belief in the truth, Jesus, Who said “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,” and there us none other. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

That God should do such a thing to a creature in itself just as wicked as the worst! What amazing skill! What demonstration of the divine’s grace and mercy! What a creature to point to – redeemed prodigal – that He could do so… would do so… does not that alone cause us, by our very redemption, to be testimony to His Glory? Yes indeed, as Paul writes on…

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.14).

Oh! — Marvelous Saviour! — Blessed Spirit! — Almighty and Holy God!

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Wednesday, 7/28/21 – Pressing on… Giving the Gift to others…

Giving the Gift to others…

We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” writes Paul (2 Cor. 4:7). This treasure… this Gift… about which we have been speaking thus far this week. The Gift is the Holy Spirit deposited within all who believe, the effect is salvation… eternal life with our Lord and in His Kingdom, and the means is the Gospel of God… the true message that God has not abandoned us to the consequences of our rebellion. He has not tossed us aside as we might toss an item marred on the assembly line. No. He has come to us, given Himself to be tossed aside instead, tormented, punished, destroyed. And of us He has not merely made repair, but He has given us a whole new being,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

God… has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” Paul prefaces. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels” – God has seen fit to entrust Eternal Spirit to temporal clay. Why? “…that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (2 Cor. 4:6-7).

To carry such a treasure into such a fallen world, this is the evident and fearful plan of God, your and my Creator,

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:15-16).

“…Who is sufficient for these things?” Or, as the NIV has it, “…Who is equal to such a task?” Who can rise to it? This is not a true question, for God Himself has evidently answered it, and His answer is you! Every believer in that instant of faith becomes also an evangel, a bearer of the undiminishable Truth. Within him resides not only the “Gift,” the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Eph. 1:14) but also the Gospel, “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16)!

We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” writes Paul. It is true of every believer. And God expects each one to share it with this dying world.

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 7/27/21 – Pressing on… Digging deeper into the Gift…

Digging deeper into the Gift…

At first you are astonished at the beauty of the box, the knowing of Presence within you. He has come! Just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit of God now rests within you. His perch is not forceful; it is gentle… like… like a dove. It would not take much to shoo Him away, but why would you? His Presence is now the most peaceful and desirous part of your person. The missing piece all these many years, until now.

Opening the Gift further and you find Him speaking to you, sometimes surprisingly. Sometimes He whispers from behind you, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isa. 30:21). Sometimes He comes with undeniably great power (Acts 2:2:-4). Sometimes He speaks as you dream (Joel 2:29, Matt. 1:20, 2:13,19, Acts 2:17, 9:10-11, 10:9-17, 16:9, 18:9, 22:18, 27:23, Rev. 1:12), waking or sleeping. Sometimes by a subtle inner tug (Acts 16:6), or in a season of prayer and fasting (Acts 13:2), as a collective sense (Acts 15), a miraculous intervention (Acts 10:44-48), a direct request for wisdom (James 1:5), through spiritual gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-10), by illumination while reading the scriptures (John 14:26, 16:13-16, Eph. 1:18), a conviction of guilt regarding personal sin (John 16:8), or a sense of peace and affirmation regarding the right thing to do (also John 16:8). In many other ways the Holy Spirit speaks to the believer, leading one to Truth, and as Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).

Keep opening the Gift and the Holy Spirit will work deeper and deeper within you. You will learn to trust Him and will grow confident that He will be there in all your times of need. You will stop trying to do His work for Him. “do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say” (Matt. 10:19). You will learn to be “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 5:18) and how to “walk by faith” (2 Cor.5:7).

You will see your very self changing… you will see the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit’s making, growing within you: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23), grow bolder in your testimony (Acts 4:31), and long more greatly for your eternal heavenly home (1 Cor. 5:6-9, Phil. 1:21-24).

Dig deep into the Gift daily. As Paul reminded Timothy: “…stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6). Dig deep into the Gift today!

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 7/26/21 – Pressing on… The Gift…

The Gift…

It was Peter’s first sermon… Thousands were in attendance that day and the Acts 2 account lists at least 16 nations represented. Several sources speculate up to seventy language groups were present. How’d you like that as your first congregation?

But that day was special! The Holy Spirit had fallen upon the scene and become the Interpreter. Peter’s message was simple: he recounted the people’s history and showed how they had slain their Messiah! “Let all Israel be assured of this,” he said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36).

Their response was singular: “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”(v. 37).

What shall we do indeed? What would you do having learned you had killed your Creator’s Begotten? We must all ask this, for indeed we all are guilty — “None is righteous, no, not one… all have sinned” (Rom. 3:10, 23).

How astonished they must have been to hear there was yet mercy! “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” announced Peter (v. 38a). Yes, even this could be forgiven! Had not the Crucified One Himself willed it: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

But more! There was yet more! Not only would there be mercy, but also grace! Not only may they be forgiven but also gifted! Peter continued, “…And you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” (v. 38b). Not a gift from the Holy Spirit, but the Gift of The Holy Spirit — The Holy Spirit Himself is the Gift! That same Spirit will dwell within you, “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead” (Rom. 8:11).

Yet there still is more! This Gift is not only for those contemporary to Christ, this Gift is for all believers, through all times. He says, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (v. 39). This Comforter, this Advocate, this Encourager, Teacher, Guide, and Glorifier of the Son, this Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Christ, and Breath of God, as Jesus said, “…He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

What a magnificent Gift!

Take Him. Thank Him. Know Him. Surrender to Him. Rejoice in Him!

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Wednesday, 7/21/21 – Pressing on… The Wisdom of an Owl…

The Wisdom of an Owl…

A few days ago I “helped” our seven-year-old granddaughter make an origami owl. The sketched diagrams and equally “sketchy” instructions which accompanied them were indeed a challenge to discern. Just what does “On the top layer, fold the top corners in to the centre line, and repeat on back” mean? This would all be so much easier if I had someone beside me to demonstrate each step along the way!

Much of life is just like that. Like the steps of making an origami owl the steps of life present new and puzzling challenges. Though we sometimes long for it, none of us could absorb and follow a blueprint or step manual for our lives if one were handed out at the start. We must each do one step at a time, learn from it, be changed by it, and then move on to the next step.

This is the process followed by Ezekiel. God had touched him and said do this….then this… then this…. As our brother Don shared last Sunday regarding the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37): v.1 “he brought me out…” v.2 “He led me back and forth…” v.3 “He asked me…” v.4 “He said to me…” v.9 He said to me…“ v.11 “Then he said to me…”

He works in this way because His plan calls to change us, each step is to make us just a little bit more like Himself, fit and ready for the step to come. He works in this way also to show us we could never have followed these steps alone. All glory and praise for what He makes of us and does through us belongs to Him. As He told Ezekiel, v.13 “Then you… will know that I am the Lord…” v.14 “…you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.”

Thank our great God for His “help” in and through your life thus far, and keep doing all the steps he shows you!

Press on…

Want to make an Origami owl? Click here 😃

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 7/20/21 – Pressing on… On… to What?

On… to What?

Folk who know me or know my blog know that I have taken “Press On” as a sort of life motto. The phrase is taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. But what exactly was it that Paul was “pressing on” to? The context of this phrase makes a good summary of Don Longworth’s message to us this past Sunday.

Don likened our tendency to squirm in God’s hand to that of a slippery brook trout flopping about in the hand of a fisherman as he worked to free the hook. “Fishing is the easy part,” said Don. “The hard part is holding on to the trout as it fights the fisherman’s every next move.”

Don’t be like that, was Don’s word to us. Take bold steps of obedience… take ALL the steps of obedience. God does nothing half-way; it is we who sometimes collapse along the route. We collapse not of exhaustion, but of indifference. We’re sometimes not sure the journey is really with the trip. “Are we there yet?” we whine.

Paul was not like that. If Paul were a brook trout caught by the Master Fisher of men be would position himself calmly in hand and point to the best spot to grab on. He would not squirm, but gladly offer himself. Paul entrusted his fate to the one who had caught him… the one who had captivated him… for he knew He alone had the best of plans for him.

What was it he wrote? To what did he “Press on”? Paul’s motivation was this: “to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). Not only was Paul going to let the Fisherman hold him, but he would in turn hold tightly to the plans the Fisherman had for him. Paul would take the bold steps… ALL the bold steps… from persecutor, to student, to apologist, to evangel and, though we don’t know for certain just how Paul died, we know he was willing also to take a final bold step martyrdom. Not all at once, but as the Lord revealed. Step by step…

We should all do the same.

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 7/19/21 – Pressing on… Sending Light…

Sending Light…

I am intrigued by real life crime documentaries like Dateline, 48 Hours, and videos of actual court proceedings. What interests me most are the suspect interrogations and courtroom testimonies. Many crimes occur almost by accident: a fit of rage, an alcoholic stupor, an accidental weapon firing — but it makes no difference. The deeds are done, and their consequences follow. “A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7b).

Some collapse in tears when their verdict is read, others fly into violent rage. They are always subdued… carried from the courtroom if necessary… but serve their sentences they do. There is no escape.

The Word of God tells us that all of mankind is under sentence… sentence of death! John writes,

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19). Darkness has its appeal to fallen flesh, but choosing it carries consequence.

Saul of Tarsus was one who chose darkness, but the light of Truth met him in undeniable fashion. He fell to the ground too (Acts 9:4). Oswald Chambers notes: “There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders.” That day the light taught Paul Whom his higher authority was.

When anyone knows the Truth he is accountable for what he does with it – and the more one knows, the more one is accountable. Luke records,

…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

(Luke 12:48). And James warns,

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1).

Are you a believer? If so, “You are the Light of the world,” Jesus said (Matt. 5:14). This is why we send missionaries. And to shine this light is the responsibility of every Christian as an “Ambassador” (2 Cor. 5:20) of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have seen some trials where the verdict of murder is given because a defendant took no action to prevent the otherwise imminent death of the victim. This truth is sobering.

Are you not yet a believer? Have you yet learned the Higher Authority of Christ? Chalmers comments,

“’Woe is me’ if after seeing Him I still will not obey… When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, ‘I will not obey,’ He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But ‘Woe is me’ if I refuse the light.”

Send the light… Be the light… Obey the light…

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Wednesday, 7/14/21 – Pressing on… You hold the Answer everyone seeks!

You hold the Answer everyone seeks!

As I discussed yesterday God has brought Truth to us. It is clear all around us, has been lived out among us, and is written down for us. More than this, when a soul surrenders to Saviour the Truth of God is deposited within him! The Holy Spirit of God takes residence in him, speaks to him, and leads him into more and more Truth. (Eph. 1:13b-14; John 8:32; 16:13).

In awe of this Paul wrote,

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:6-7, kjv).

Yesterday we read in Timothy that the Word of God, the Truth of God, is all we need for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” It is sufficient to equip the believer “for every good work.” – every one of them! Whatever you could imagine!  

Now, those without the Word, without the Truth of God, without the context of Truth by which to understand the madness of this world, the vague yearning of their soul, their inability to master self, the meaning of their existence or the possibility of life beyond the physical, those souls wander in worrying and ache for answers.

But the believer knows all these answers. The believer knows Truth. He knows Truth environmentally, historically, textually and personally. Though some curiosities continue no unknowns haunt him. The Saviour he knows, knows, and His answers are good.

Believer, you hold this treasure in your frail flesh. It is the answer the world seeks, whether they know it yet or not, and it is being brought to this world through you. You are one of the vessels by which He has chosen to bring it. Every believer, a little Christ. We are scattered everywhere… salt… light…

Why does He do it this way? “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Be not intimidated by the arrogance of some. You hold within you the only and true answer, “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).

What will you do with this treasure today?

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 7/13/21 – Pressing on… Knowing from whom you learned

Knowing from whom you learned

“Where’d you hear that,” my wife asks whenever I retell some suspicious sounding bit of data. Generally not one for keeping an ongoing subconscious bibliography of all I’ve learned in my near 70 years I usually can’t recall. But knowing where or from whom you learned the facts you have come to believe is important – especially so when it involves matters of eternity… matters of one’s eternal soul.

Much if what is believed about spiritual things these days has to do with what is socially popular… what is “the latest thing.” The Greeks of Paul’s day were like that. Luke records of the people of Athens, “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” (Acts 17:21).

I’ve always thought it odd that truth should be found in “the latest thing.” To believe that would mean truth had gone undiscovered from all previous generations. But truth has never been something hidden. Truth is shouting all around us in God’s creation and loving care of it. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” shouted the psalmist (Ps. 19:1). So clear was this revelation that Paul writes,

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:18-20).

You see, God desires that we know truth… that we know Him… that He is welcomed by us to be know by Him, deeply, intimately. He sent us His Son, Christ, to further demonstrate this truth to us, but we turned our backs on the revelations of nature and made every effort to destroy His gift of Son and Saviour!

Moreover He has now left us His Word, not only in Creation, not only in Son, but also in paper and ink. The Word of God, also called the Word of Truth, profitable to us for all things: “…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).

Truth is neither hidden nor new. Truth is the Word of God. And when the Word of God is where you learn a thing, you can count on it – for ever!

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 7/12/21 – Pressing on… God as you least Expect Him

God as you least Expect Him

Yesterday Pastor Andrew spoke on one of the more familiar passages to many Christians, 2 Tim. 3:16. I will follow my usual format and comment on that tomorrow, but today my thoughts led me to something different…

If we really want God we will not care whether He comes to us in a mighty rushing wind or in a still, small voice. We will not demand He comes with majestic glory, nor mind if He comes by speaking through an ass… or even an enemy!  Do you desire God to come to you enough that you would receive Him in a form you despise today?

“If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to “walk by faith.” How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, “I cannot do anything else until God appears to me”? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, “Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!” Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 1 entry.

God, coming to us in a way we least expect, seems often to be His way: a burning bush, a smoky cloud, a tower of fire, a harlot, a 7-day march, a terrified Abiezrite, a blinding light, a dream in the night, a helpless baby.

No parent will give their child the car keys before the child has been proven to drive responsibly. To do so could very well result in destruction of the child. Until then, the child must simply learn to walk. Similarly, Chalmers notes, “God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them.” Until then, we must simply learn to walk. Walking is the norm. Driving is privilege. It will do a child no good to stand and shout tantrums demanding a car! Doing so only further demonstrates the child’s present immaturity.

If a Christian truly wants to travel with Christ he will not care about their mode of transportation. To our delight, when we content ourselves with this, we find He is ever with us, even while trudging along on stony paths.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.