Monday, 10/19/20 – Pressing on… Flatter or Flatten?

Flatter or Flatten?

I saw a movie once where a deadly scorpion fell from a jungle tree landing on the head of an inexperienced and at that moment cap-less adventurer. Unaware of the danger which had “fallen” upon him, the character cheerfully went about chomping on a mango. When his companion eventually looked his way he was aghast! He saw immediately the peril at hand… er, head!

It is often the case that a good pair of eyes outside oneself are necessary if one is to see oneself as one truly is.

At the close of our service yesterday morning Don Longworth shared a passage from one of the Psalms. Of the wicked, the psalmist David writes, “There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.” (Psalm 36:1b-2).

It summarizes well the ignorance we can have toward our own shortcomings. Oops! See how easy it is to excuse evil? I did it right there! I chose the more palatable euphemism “shortcomings” when what we are really averting our eyes from seeing is SIN.

Our eyes can only see what is around us… earthbound stuff… stuff like animals and trees, plants and streams. Inanimate or uneducated things…things over which we can easily feel superior. Or we see other men… some better, some worse than what we deem ourselves to be. So we flatter ourselves: ” I’m better than that fellow.” “I can do better than her…” “Not bad, if I do say…”

We struggle, we strive and compete. We let pride pat us on our back. Based on the vision of our own eyes we strengthen pride with that very flattery. We do not “detect or hate” our own sin.

But when God steps in we are flattened! So brilliant He shines! So high a new standard! What fools we finally see ourselves to be!

This Sunday past Pastor Andrew urged us again to look to our heart… not just our heart as we see it, but invite God to step in. See your heart as it lay bare beneath the spotlight of God’s gaze. Does that heart “condemn” you? Or is that heart “at rest in His Presence?” (See 1 John 3:16-18).

Set aside self-flattering. Seek instead self-flattening.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10).

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.

Wednesday, 10/14/20 – Pressing on… Redemption Events

Redemption Events

I received an email last week from a national drug store chain urging “Join us for our Bonus Redemption Event” Some of you may also have received it. The store offers points which can be redeemed as cash for items purchased in the store. The “Bonus” of this six-day deal is that the redemption cash value will be topped up. So, for example, redeeming $50 in points will actually buy you $65 in merchandise! It’s a good deal: you surrender X many points, but in exchange receive X plus in value!

A few weeks back I brought a collection of empty pop and sparkling water bottles in to our local bottle exchange. They call the place where this all happens a “Redemption Center.” There is usually a big line-up — folks are eager to exchange what is empty and useless for something of value.

Of course the very BEST “Redemption Event” is the one that’s been available for centuries. It is the one provided by our Creator… in the works “from the foundation [creation] of the world” (Rev. 13:8), planned from eternity and culminated into “the fullness of time” [at just the right moment] (Gal. 4:4) to us, we the undeserving, in the cross of Christ.

The offer is this: We give Him our broken, sin ravaged, “filthy rag” flesh – all our finite physical life, and He gives us immediate entry into the family of God… life eternal… pure… holy and faultless. It’s a very good offer indeed! Only a fool would walk away from it. But as slain missionary Jim Elliot pointedly stated, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus puts it like this: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. / For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. / What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? / Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)

The drug store chain’s “Bonus Redemption Event” ends today. After that, and it will be too late. Jesus’s “Redemption Event” could end at any moment. He urges everyone, saying “Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2); “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Ps. 95:7-8; Heb. 3:7-8, 15).

Want help? Use my personal Contact page. It’s just me. We can talk. The Lord bless you. 😊

Press on…

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, 10/13/20 –The Challenge… just a step

The Challenge… just a step

I wrote yesterday’s blog on Saturday, but I still had one more thought on thanksgiving which, for length sake, I did not include. I jotted down a paragraph and set it aside for the Tuesday blog. All of this was done on Saturday, before Don Longworth spoke on Sunday. Here’s what I wrote…

There is another power of ‘Thank you.’ It affirms our faith in the giver. Indeed, it may be that the desired object of one’s faith is never quite fully received until there is confidence to offer the thanks for it in advance.

If you heard our brother Don’s message on Sunday you will recognize this thought was also one of the points he made. “Praying through,” the holiness folk called it. Praying until the “burden” (the compulsion to pray about the matter) lifted and the petitioner, to paraphrase John, “knew that he had what he asked of Him.” (1 John 5:15). At that point there is no more need for praying; praise becomes the new order of the day.

The trick in adapting to this sort of faith is really no trick at all. It is simply a matter of obedience. We must be faithful to use what faith we have if we wish to have more. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” said Jesus (Luke 16:10a).

As He called to Gideon our Lord calls to each believer “Go in the strength you have” (Judges 6:14). Take that first step… “one small step”… for God… see what “giant leap” God may make of it. Then take another… then another… then another… “from faith… to Faith… to FAITH…

In it [the gospel of Christ] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Rom. 1:17).

Don’s closing challenge to us was to obediently do the very next thing the Lord puts in your head to do. If it aligns with scripture you can trust the thought is from Him and have sufficient confidence to take a risk.. “a step”…of faith.

Did you accept this challenge? Did you hear from God? If you did, but don’t like it, there is no point in waiting for something more agreeable to come along. It will not. The thing in your head now is what you must do. When you do it, let me know. We’ll thank God together for what He will do.

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, 10/7/20 – Pressing on…Marinating in the Messiah

Marinating in the Messiah

“Any cut of meat… can be made tender and delicious with the right techniques.” say the experts. Likewise, the Lord can make any individual into something spectacular! There’s no special requirement… just a willingness to allow the Word and Spirit of God to do their tenderizing work. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer…?” Jeremiah cried (Jer. 23:29) Tenderizing breaks down the muscle fibers of the meat and softens it, explain the experts. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart” a repentant David plead. “These, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17).

Evidently you can tenderize meat several ways: you can pound with a meat mallet, apply heat, or even breakdown the tissue using the enzymes from fruit. This is true also of hearts. Some require the mallet, like Paul, some fire, like Peter, and some are wooed to melting, like Nicodemus.

When it comes to marinades there are four primary ingredients: fat, acid, salt, and flavorings. They say the best fat to use (and I’m not making this up,) is olive oil! That’s right the oil spoken of throughout the scriptures, indicative of the Holy Spirit and efficacious in healing. Shepherd lad David sang, “Thou anointed my head with oil…” (Ps. 23:5). “Be filled with the Spirit,” echoes Paul (Eph. 5:18).

Balsamic, red wine vinegar or simple lemon juice make good acidic components for a marinade. Just the right amounts of hardships and bitter things in life also season and soften the soul. Suffering, it seems, makes a more sympathetic and compassionate saint.

Salt is the third item. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50). “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus taught His followers. We need to soak up salt spiritually to retain living water and distribute these to a dying world. Salt can preserve, sting, or make thirsty and just a wee bit will go a long way.

Flavorings can be of a variety of things and each individual brings their own unique blend to the pan. Becoming a Christian does not annihilate individuality, it enhances it…. It fulfils you… it presents to yourself and to others the fullest you.

Meat must soak in its marinade. Marinating meat is in no hurry. It is content to abide in the marinade. Before leaving this world Jesus said, “Abide in Me… he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:4-7).

And so we come full circle. From “believing on” to “abiding in” both result in God working in and through us “greater things,” wondrous and eternal things, things which glorify our Lord and Saviour.

Soak up Jesus! Believe on Him! Abide in Him! Glorify Him!

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, 10/6/20 – Pressing on… Believing on, yet being in…

Believing on, yet being in

As discussed yesterday believing on Christ speaks of our dependency upon Him. This presupposes we have come to understand that without Him we have, as they say, “nothing upon which to stand” or, as one might also say, whatever it was we may have thought sturdy soil previously we have now come to see in the light of eternity to be utterly “groundless.” We must rest all our weight fully upon Him.

Yet, we find also a complementary truth also in scripture – perhaps almost a paradox. It is that when one believes on Christ he finds himself thereafter to be in Christ. Paul writes, “in Him [Christ] we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).

In fact, just skimming through the New Testament we find “in Christ” we have no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), we are being sanctified [made holy] (1 Cor. 1:2), established (2 Cor. 1:21), we triumph (2 Cor. 2:14), see clearly (2 Cor. 3:14). “In Christ” we become a new creature: old things are passed away and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). “In Christ” we receive spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), we are raised up and made to sit in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). “In Christ” we find consolation and comfort (Phil. 2:1l, boldness (Philemon 1:8) and every good thing (Philemon 1:6). “In Christ” we die and are made alive (1 Cor.15:22), we rise from death (1 Thess 4:16) and are gathered together in one (Eph. 1:10).

Then will be fulfilled Christ’s prayer for all believers…

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

Just as “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (1 Cor. 5:19), so we labor toward “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14) as Jesus prayed “that the world may believe” (John 17:21).

For not only do we find the believer is in Christ, but also, “mysteriously” as the Apostle suggests, we find that Christ is in us! “…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. …this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:26-27)

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, 10/5/20 – Pressing on… The ins and outs of on and off

The ins and outs of on and off

“This is NEAR,” says Ernie as he trots up close to the Sesame St. camera lens. “And this is FAR,” he shouts trotting far from it. “IN,” says a smiling Cookie Monster as he lowers a ginger snap down his cavernous mouth. “OUT,” he utters pulling a chocolate chip treat from a well-stocked cookie jar. This program was brought to you by the words ON and OFF reads a sponsor card.

Near, Far, In, Out, On and Off. A few of the basics of relational descriptors for young and old alike. We need to know these fundamentals because upon them many enduring things are built.

This past Sunday Pastor Andrew focussed on two of these and the bearing they have upon one’s relationship to Christ. In part, the passage from which he spoke reads

He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

A distinction to note is that these “greater works” are done by those who “believe on” Jesus Christ. Not every translation bears this out but the truth is taught across scripture.

👉 “This is the work of God,” said Jesus, “that you believe on” the One the Father has sent. (John 6:29)
👉 Sonship of God is granted those who “believe on His Name” (John 1:12)
👉 The Holy Spirit is received by “they that believe on Him” (John 7:39).
👉 Jesus prayer is “for them also which shall believe on me” (John 17:20)
[See also John 9:35, 36; 11:48].

👉 The disciples preached “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Act 16:31). [See also Act 19:4; Rom 4:24; Phi 1:29; 1 Tim. 1:16 and 1 John 5:13]. “And this is his commandment,” affirms John, “That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ…” (1 John 3:23).

You see when a thing is “on” another thing, it is dependent upon that which is beneath it to support it. To “believe on” Christ is to rely upon Him. It is the wise man who builds his house, his life, upon the Rock. (Matt. 7:21-27), and that “Rock,” explains Paul, is “Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). Building on… relying on… Him by faith is the foundation of all Christianity, as Jesus told Peter, “on this Rock,” [professed reliance upon Christ,] “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18).

We believe in – the existence of a historical person; we believe on – a Living Lord.
We believe in – one who was then; we believe on — One Who is now.
We believe in – philosophies, arguments, theories; we believe on — Him Who has power to transform realities, to do through us “greater things,” and to save souls to the uttermost!

Believe on Jesus Christ!

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, 9/30/20 – Pressing on… It’s a good thing to get cleaned up!

It’s a good thing to get cleaned up!

I remember the landscaping job I had during my early twenties. Fourteen long, hard hours of dirty physical work 7am to 9pm. Much of the day involved laying sod. It was hot and dry in those Saskatchewan summers; shorts and tees were a must. Sod soil would stick to the sweat of my thighs, forearms and face, then cake dry by day’s end. Arriving home late in the evening, covered in filth and sweat, dizzy with exhaustion and ravenous with hunger, I’d never know which need to satisfy first: sleep, food or cleanliness!

But O how good it felt soon after, skin scrubbed, hair shampooed and brushed, belly full and body ready for rest. Squeaky clean after such a soiling.

This is what God wants for our souls… my soul… your soul. He doesn’t want to pounce on you for being dirty. He wants to clean you up, satisfy your emptiness and the sickness that you feel in your heart. Give you a new one!

Ezekiel speaks on His behalf…

“…I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. …you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezek. 26:25-26, 28b).

Sounds to me like a pretty good thing!

Now imagine if I came home from that landscaping job and didn’t clean up… didn’t shampoo that matted hair, didn’t satisfy that gnawing in my gut, that faintness in my head and weakness in my legs and body? What then? Pretty soon I would certainly begin to stink, continued workdays would pile on ever more filth and grime and eventually I would begin to get sick. I would be so weak and deteriorated that I would very likely need hospitalization — and if I refused that, I would very likely die.

God is not out to kill us; He is out to cleanse us… and re-cleanse us too if we fall in the mud or step on a rake head (see 1 John 1:9). But if we refuse there are consequences, and God wants to steer us free of those consequences.

Don’t fight Him. Run to Him. Acknowledge your uncleanness. Submit to the Soap of His Spirit, the nourishment of His Word, and the rest you will find when all this is done.

It’s a good thing to get cleaned up!

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 9/29/20 – Pressing on… One thing…

One thing…

Phil worked hard in his service to the Lord. He was an elder on the church board, taught Sunday School class of rambunctious pre-teens, led a midweek adult Bible study group and kept the church lawn mowed. At his workplace Phil was mocked as “the preacher” but he was not deterred. Though he could not tolerate the wickedness of the world he endured all taunts and hardships with perseverance. None of these things moved or wearied him. Phil pressed on.

Phil was on his way to hell!

“How can this be?” one might ask. “Is God unjust?”

No, God is most certainly NOT unjust. The judgement of God is according to Truth… real Truth… Truth as God knows it best to be. We may be deceived, but God is not. God knows our hearts. His judgment is not based on our deeds, but on our hearts… on whether we know and love our Lord.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” said Jesus (John 10:27). “I never knew you, Away from me, you evildoers!” He says to the self-deceived (Matt. 7:21-23).

Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?… Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” asked an incredulous Abraham (Gen. 18:23, 25). “No one is good—except God alone.” said Jesus (Mark 10:18), and Paul affirmed “God’s judgment… is based on truth” (Rom. 2:2). In fact, God alone is Truth (John 14:6).

God has given Phil and all like him fair warning. To the church in Ephesus He warns:

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. (Rev. 2:2-4)

The Church in Ephesus was doing many good things, but they lacked just one thing, the most important thing: they had left off loving the Lord. Martha was an excellent hostess, but she too had neglected the most important thing, just one thing: to spend time with Jesus (Luke 10:42). A rich man wanted eternal life but he too lacked one thing: a love for Jesus greater than his love for money (Luke 18:22).

Certainly, God wants our service. But He wants our hearts more. What are we To do? We, like Phil, whose love for God has grown cold? Confess to God our sorry state, purify our hearts and environment, obey promptly the nudges of the Holy Spirit, and confess publicly, unashamedly, our allegiance to Christ.

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 9/28/20 – Pressing on… “Honk!”

“Honk!”

At about this time every year I am reminded of a message brought by our former Pastor Steve Ranni. If you’ve been attending our church for more than a few years you probably know exactly to which message I refer.

For weeks afterward folk from our church would go about saying a one-word phrase of encouragement to one another. The word was not “Hallelujah,” it was not “Amen,” it was a rather irreverent sounding but heartfelt “Honk!

Pastor Steve had brought us a message on encouraging one another and illustrated it with the practice of geese flying in “V” formation. I am reminded of this message because of the large field across from our home which for several years now has served as a sort of ‘airport’ for these migrating fowl. Early each morning we hear them loudly honking and see their familiar “V” formation grow, as they strengthen themselves for the big migration day.

There are three reasons why geese and other birds utilize this formation. The birds take turns leading the flock and the brunt of the wind resistance. This lessens the difficulty for the birds behind. When the lead bird grows tired it falls behind and the next in line takes over. The “V” formation also helps the flock keep track of one another by providing the rearmost birds with a clear view. Finally, it is the trailing birds which “honk.” This lets the others know the pack are following well and encourages the lead bird to keep going.

Do you know someone bearing the headwinds of some particular trial? Get behind them… let them know you are there… and “honk” your encouragement!

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:23-25)

More tomorrow…

Note: This past Sunday we were blessed with the ministry of Pastor David Storey from the Miramichi region of New Brunswick. I will comment on his message tomorrow.

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

Wednesday, 9/23/20 – Pressing on… Yoke, leash, or noose?

Yoke, leash, or noose?

Oswald Chambers writes,

“Our Lord never takes measures to make me do what He wants. Sometimes I wish God would master and control me to make me do what He wants, but He will not. And at other times I wish He would leave me alone, and He does not.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Christians may have varied images in their minds when it comes to this battle of flesh and Spirit. So far this week we have likened it to Civil War or Chess. But the picture you hold in your mind about this can influence your attitude toward this battle.

Do you See yourself as a dog on a leash being pulled about to places unplanned by you? Is your attention drawn to this or that allure along the way which you would like to stop and sniff, stop to investigate further, but for that yank on your conscience pulling you onward?

Do you See this inner struggle as a noose about your neck… something indicative of death? Are you longing to be free of it to live as you determine, to not let die some of those items of darkness but keep them for personal and private pleasures?

Jesus likened our walk with Him as neither of these. Rather, He likened it to a shared walk, a yoke about our neck is we ourselves wished to don it, but also at the same time a yoke about His own neck. A commitment of sorts that if we wish to go the journey, He will go with us. He will set the pace, avoid the obstacles and dangers along the way for He knows the path.

In this He does not “capture” us, as in a snare, but He calls to us… would you like to come with me? “Follow me?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. 11:28-29)

If we will, He removes the shackles which had held us down and which we had been dragging about – dragging about for so long we had grown used to them, never imagining a life without them. Instead He offers His Yoke, His Burden, and best of all His Strength and promise to pull with us.

Walk in the Spirit… plow on with our Lord… “For,” as He adds, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (v. 30).

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.