Tuesday, 5/25/21 – Pressing on… He didn’t actually mean “holy” – did He?

He didn’t actually mean “holy” – did He?

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Pet. 1:3

Wait, Whaat? What did that verse at the end of yesterday’s blog just say? Did Peter say it is possible for a believer to actually achieve personal holiness in this life??? Can one truly walk about in this filthy fallen world yet remain unsullied… unsoiled? I know Jesus did, but… well,, He’s Jesus! I know He charged us to, “Be holy, for I am holy,” (Lev. 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:8; Exod. 19:6; 1 Pet. 1:16; 1 Thess. 4:7) But surely He didn’t actually mean “holy” – did He?

Pastor Andrew’s text on Sunday was this:

“14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ [Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27] 17 Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ [Isa. 52:11; Ezek. 20:34,41] (2 Cor. 6:14-17).

The first three verses underscore our urgent need to walk in holiness while the citations from the Law and Prophets reveal how. Peter says the means to personal purity come to us “through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Paul refers to the scriptures and shows the means to holiness is God Himself “living with us” and “walking among us,” and in our obedience to Him as Lord and God. Because God is with us, even within us, we receive of His enabling Holy Spirit. Peter explains that now, through Christ, we come to this relationship with Him “through our knowledge of him who called us.”

Because of the Spirit of Christ living within the believer he/she now has a CHOICE at every crossroad: righteousness or wickedness, Christ or Belial, God or idols? We have a choice, to serve Christ, or serve self, to “Come apart” from the ways of this world, or be absorbed into them?

Faith and belief in Christ, acknowledging and turning from sin, daily shunning evil and embracing spiritual disciplines – by these we can “Come out” and “be separate.” This, daily, is what it means to live a godly life!

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, 5/24/21 – Pressing on… Testimonies to His Holiness

Testimonies to His Holiness

During our Adult Bible Class hour this past Sunday we were reminded and directed in our duty to be Christ’s ambassadors to lost souls of this present world. Our Sunday message followed focusing on the holiness of God and our need for personal holiness in order to enter His Presence. These things we cannot do of our own ability; they are both divine workings of God — workings made possible by the actions of the Holy Spirit, Who Himself is God, convicting, indwelling, empowering and transforming the committed and surrendered believer.

The Christian — all Christians — are commanded to be witnesses both of and to Christ. By this work of the Holy Spirit we testify of the transformations wrought in us through the newness of our deeds and desires, and we also testify to the Person of Christ by our likeness to Him… through lives of purity and separation from the loves and lures of this fallen world.

Both of these require our complete surrender. We surrender fully to Christ in the act of salvation (repentance and obedience), and we surrender fully to Christ in our walk of sanctification (becoming holy as He is holy).

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” adjures the apostle (Col. 2:6). Oswald Chambers comments, “My unrestrained commitment of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to grant to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.” (My Utmost, 3/21 entry).

It is every believer’s duty and privilege to “come apart” from this world and live godly before our God.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6:14).

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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-30).

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3).

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, 5/19/21 – “My disciple must…follow Me…”

“My disciple must…follow Me…”

To follow someone or some teaching is to act in accordance with that example or instruction. It is to adhere to, to stick to, to abide by, comply with, or conform to. It means most certainly to obey, and to do so because of personal regard, surrender or willful acceptance.  

Take the most simplest of things… like playing a game for example. All the players must first know and then agree together to follow the rules, otherwise no sense at all exists in even starting to play. Or suppose you want to get to an unfamiliar destination. Perhaps you buy a roadmap or hire a guide. It would obviously be foolish and possibly quite dangerous to ignore these and make up your own way as you travel along. Not just any way will do! You must follow the one who knows the one true way.

Jesus invites us to life eternal with Him in His Kingdom. Before His departure Jesus gave us a most simplified illustration as to how to know, and find strength, and follow Him to that Kingdom. He Himself IS that One true Way. “I Am the Way,” He said. “Abide in Me.

Christ is the vehicle. He has already paid the costly fare. The way to follow Him is to surrender our ideas as to the route, leave where we now are, bid Him entry into fellowship with us that we may enter into fellowship with Him, then stay in Him… “abide” in Him.

We follow Christ not by strength of human determination. That effort is always futile. We follow Christ by living in Him, surrendering to and becoming enabled by His Spirit living in us. We “abide by” Him as we “abide in” Him.

Follow Him today! (John 10:27; 12:26; 21:19).

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 nkjv)

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, 5/18/21 – “My disciple must…take up their cross…”

“My disciple must…take up their cross…”

We say of one with a disability, or one with an abusive upbringing, or of one who must daily provide exhausting care for another, we say that such a one “has a difficult cross to bear.” These may be unfortunate trials, but they are not at all the “cross” to which Jesus here refers.

To “bear one’s cross” is to bear the disgrace of the cross (Heb. 13:13). It is when a believer, having unashamedly professed one’s identification with Christ – whether by bold words, visible lifestyle, fruits of the Spirit, or separateness from the world – one bears the consequences of that profession whatever they may be. The Christian journeys toward death carrying with him this profession of faith under the Lordship of Jesus. It drags behind him making a furrow in the soil, a witness all can see. Those disturbed by this witness will further assault this saint, as they assaulted Christ. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Barnes speaks well on this:

When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die to the place of execution… The cross was usually composed of two rough beams of wood, united in the form of this figure of a cross It was an instrument of death… To carry it was burdensome, was disgraceful, was trying to the feelings, was an addition to the punishment. So “to carry the cross” is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or is trying, or is considered disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, let the people of the world think of it or speak of it as they may. It does not consist in making trouble for ourselves, or doing things merely “to be opposed;” it is doing just what is required of us in the Scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jesus is required to do. – Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jesus states this requirement in even starker fashion. He says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27). Not that one should have pure hate in one’s heart, but that one’s devotion to Christ surpasses one’s devotion to kin, even surpassing one’s sense of self-preservation of temporal life.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel,” wrote Paul (Rom. 1:16). Indeed, none of us should be. Did not Jesus warn, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26). None of us want that!

“It is a great encouragement to us, when we meet with crosses,” writes Matthew Henry, “that in bearing them we follow Christ, who has showed us the way; and that if we follow him faithfully, he will lead us through sufferings like him, to glory with him.” Hence we are urged to “fix our eyes upon Jesus” (See Heb. 12:1-3).

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 nkjv)

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, 5/17/21 – “My disciple must…deny self…”

“My disciple must…deny self…”

Vladimir Lenin likened communists to “dead men on furlough,” men committed from the beginning and ready to die for their cause. To such men each new day is seen as an unguaranteed reprieve.

In a similar manner the Christian is called to live life like that. From the get-go the way to Christ begins with life surrender. We “give Him our life” and in return He gives us His! “For you died,” Paul writes the Colossians, “and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3).

New birth, it seems, requires old death. How them do we live yet be dead? Paul explains, “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).

But this death is not an instant death, just as crucifixion does not occur instantly. There are daily battles to be fought, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other” (Gal. 5:17). We fight these battles at every small crossroad many times each day: Will you choose anger, or forgiveness? Giving or withholding? Indulgence or self-control? Like newly formed rivulets of trickling water each action grows the flow deeper, wider, till at last it becomes a rushing river.

So much so was Martin Luther’s identification with Christ that he once commented “The moment I consider Christ and myself as two I am gone.” For Luther, he had no identity except his identity in Christ… the identity that God, working in him by the indwelling Holy Spirit, was conforming more and more each day to the image and likeness of Christ. As Paul travailed in prayer for the Galatians “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

To hear and heed that “still, small Voice” behind you saying “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21): this is what it is to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16)… to walk away from the way of the flesh, leaving it off to die, and making Christ’s life living through you your chief desire.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (v.24).

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 nkjv)

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, 5/12/21 – Pressing on… Tough Mamas, Tough Surrenders

Tough Mamas, Tough Surrenders

A week ago last Sunday searchers found an unnamed 47-year-old woman who had been missing since last November. She was found living in a tent, by choice, in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon about 15 miles south of Provo, Utah. A drone had been used in the search, but crashed. When searchers went looking for it, they found the missing woman.

She was described as weak and underweight having lived off grass, moss and water from a river nearby. She had a tent and sleeping bag and was able to make fire. She had broken no laws and simply explained that she sought some solitude and isolation.

Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon commented, “Regardless of the fact that she was able to survive, it was a tough existence for those months that she was up there, and we’re glad we were able to make contact with her.”

Women are tough! They have to be for all that baby building, birthing, mothering stuff. Given a choice between a conflict with a battle trained and fully armed soldier and an angry mama who thinks I’ve got her children and I’ll take the soldier any day. When it comes to defending their kids, moms get superpowers.

A sword will pierce your soul,” prophesied Simeon (Luke 2:35). And indeed one did. We can understand Mary’s interest in how her boy Jesus was faring – and we can only imagine her pain as He distanced her and embraced fully His calling – like any son or daughter having reached maturity and moving out on their own, both a time to rejoice and a time to weep. Then to see Him on the cross… bloodied, beaten, pierced and lifeless.

All mothers suffer with their suffering children, but hope can be found as we seek the bigger plans of God… unfathomable plans for now…. Moms too have their Gethsemanes….  and dad’s…. and each of us who calls upon Christ as Saviour and Lord. May we all respond as He…

Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

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, 5/11/21 – Pressing on… Cats’ Philosophy

Cats’ Philosophy

As you might have noticed, yesterday’s blog had nothing to do with the day’s previous Sunday message – the format I usually follow in these posts (see ‘Welcome to the Broken Runner’).

Apologies! It was ‘Mothers Day’ so I wrote it in advance! Tks, tsk… I know, but I’m afraid I’m going to do the same today also!

It’s just that I’ve been intrigued this weekend over discussion in the media regarding a newly published book by philosopher John Gray. The book’s title alone, Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, is enough to raise my eyebrow.

Socrates is said to have said “The unexamined life is not worth living,” Hence, philosophy. But, says Gray, cats have no interest in self-examination, hence no need for philosophy, “They’re content with the life nature gives them,” concludes Gray.  Humans, on the other hand – or paw – are not content. They are frightfully aware of their own mortality and by philosophy try to analyze their angst… to respond, through reason and speculation, to the BIG questions of existence.

In his autobiography,* the late Billy Graham defines these questions:

      • Who am I?

      • Where did I come from?

      • Where am I going?

      • Is there any meaning to my life?

Graham comments, “These basic questions of life are ultimately religious in nature… Only God can give us an ultimate answer to those questions.”

Perhaps the reason cats are at peace within themselves is that cats did not rebel against their Creator. Cats did not fall… they did not sin. Neither did dogs… or fish…. Or ___________. Only humans alienated themselves in this way, though by that fall we disrupted all of creation (see Rom. 8:22).

Jesus pointed to the sky to illustrate the peaceful faith found in His Creation. He said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matt. 6:26). Read Job chapters 39-41 where God Himself defends His care of all nature. “The eyes of all look to You,” declares the psalmist, “And You give them their food in due time.” (Ps. 145:15 — see also Ps. 104:14; 147:9).

Cats are just one example of life lived one day at a time, confident and at peace with one’s Maker – it is a life of abundance… a life God longs for us to take again from His Hand… a life made possible by the sacrifice of His Son.

Hmm… perhaps this post has a connection with last Sunday’s message after all!

More tomorrow…

* Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, HarperCollins Pub. Ltd., 1997, p. 423.

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, 5/10/21 – Pressing on… Construction site insights

Construction site insights

Looking out our front window and across our private road we can watch as a new townhouse goes up on an adjacent downhill street. First, ploughs came and worked the below street level land and we wondered as to the purpose. Next wood frames were put in place, concrete poured, and walls began to rise up. Aha! It is a structure they are making, but what are they thinking? It is so low most surely it will flood, or eventually be inundated by melting snow. But the men laboured on.

Next, truckloads of dirt arrived, dumping their loads within and without the multi levelled emerging walls of the sloping edifice. Aha! — we realised as days passed. What we watched was not the building itself but it’s above ground built foundation now becoming buried beneath the steadily accumulating soil.

I noticed the men they worked: busy and with purpose. At times they would all huddle round one man in particular who always wore a white hard hat. They would nod, peer into a large paper he was holding, ask, nod again, look where he pointed, then return to their tasks.

This man in the white hard hat seemed essential to the success of their efforts. Clearly it would be only a disaster if each man built as he pleased, if each man had a different design, a different plan. It would be downright deadly when heavy machinery was used!

Do I need to spell out the lessons here? I think not. Prayerfully, before the Lord, consider these insights…

  • What may seem like prolonged and pointless ploughing has purpose.

  • What we sometimes think is the building is often merely the foundation – hidden from view but essential in supporting the whole.

  • The Master Builder has the Master Plan. He has paid the price, knows each man’s skill, and calls each labourer into service. We must follow him completely lest all our building be only disaster and death.

  • What looks ugly and unfinished now will one day be completed… a thing of newness and beauty… a thing the Master Builder had in mind all along.

In addition to the scriptures, tent-making, and evangelism, the Apostle Paul must also have known a thing or two about construction. He reminds us,

“… no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ… If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Cor. 3:11, 14-15)

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, 5/5/21 – Pressing on… “Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.”*

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.”*

The Devil wants to destroy you. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” warned Jesus (John 10:10). “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” He said to Simon Peter (Luke 22:31). “Be alert and of sober mind,” Peter himself later wrote. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8).

He is a ssssinister, ssssneaky foe, “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,” says scripture. The one “who leads the whole world astray.” (Rev. 12:9). So sly and subtle are his ways that Jesus forewarns the faithful, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16). We must be quick to outwit him, forgiving each other’s faults, for our brother or sister in Christ is not our true foe. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. 2:11).

And so we must also guard our own hearts against his lies. Our sins are forgiven though he tempts us to remember them and bear guilt that was long drowned in the depths of Christ’s shed blood. The devil wants us to dwell on sins past, sins of which, once confessed and repented, Christ has now long forgotten (Micah 7:19, Isa. 43:25, Ps. 103:1, Heb. 8:12).

The glorious truth is this: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1).

So believer, You have no business, no right, to cast condemnations upon yourself! — No more right than you have to cast condemnations on a brother or sister in Christ. In fact, you are no longer even your own to treat in any such disparaging manner. “…You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20).

Train yourself to think like what you have now in Christ’s eyes already become: a citizen of heaven, holy and beloved of God. You are commanded to do this: to “set your minds on things above” (Col. 3:2), to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

The devil wants you to focus on sins past, to limit yourself – and God — to the ceilings that once were. But Christ says to you, despite all pasts, “RISE… LET US BE GOING…” (Matt. 26:46). Not even the sky is the limit with Christ by your side.

Press on…

  • Title quote: Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Feb. 18 entry

Tuesday, 5/4/21 – “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!”

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!

Our home has a fairly open floor plan from front door, through entry, hallway, kitchen, dining and living areas. The flooring varies, but all of it is smooth and carpetless. Our granddaughter loves this feature and when she comes to visit she makes full use of it. After a running start at the entry across about one third the expanse, she will crash to her knees in that invincible manner only the very young (and some intoxicated teenagers) dare, and slide on her leggings full way to the patio sliding doors! “Its ‘slidey‘ grammy,” I once heard her squeal with wide-grinned delight.

Mind you, we do warn her of the dangers involved in this activity. “Not so hard on your knees dear, you’ll hurt yourself!” But it is generally a fruitless caution. Fun trumps compliance most every time.

At other times true accidents may happen: a stumble… a slip on ice… a trip over a startled cat… she falls, is wounded (in either pride or patella) cries, and we race to comfort.

There is a difference in these two “fallings.” The first is premeditated, the second is unexpected. The first is intentional, the second accidental. Though tears from both will receive comfort from adults, the first most often also includes a caution: “See… you should have listened… “

This demonstrates in part at least how God lovingly, yet sternly at times, treats us. His desire is always our best interest, but sometimes we don’t see it as such. Still, the promise is this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). God is FOR us. He wants always to help us up again, set us on our feet, and enjoy this world within the parameters He has lovingly set for us.

Law One of that enduring basic evangelism tool, The Four Spiritual Laws, is ever true: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” Do not fear to approach him whether your wound is from actions of fleshly defiance or weakness. Acknowledge, repent, reach out and rely. He is most willing to help set you aright again. He loves you still… It is in His nature. “He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). All hope is not lost. Christ is praying for you even now (Heb. 7:25).

He says to you, “Rise, let us be going...” (Matt. 26:46).

More tomorrow…