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.

Tuesday, 9/22/20 – Pressing on… “Checkmate!”

Checkmate!

Pastor Andrew’s civil war analogy in his message this past Sunday about the believer’s battle between Spirit and fallen flesh also reminded me of the strategies of chess. In chess each piece behaves uniquely…

Pawns edge forward slowly, typically one square at a time. If an opposing piece blocks their way they must wait, they cannot take it as other pieces take men; their captures are made on the diagonal — and by such move they may take down kings. Knights are the trickiest pieces of all; their move consists of one square on the horizontal plus one on the diagonal (or vice-versa). They also have the power to leap any other piece in their path. Rooks, (or ‘Castles’), slide on the board as far as a clear path permits. They move only on the horizontal or the vertical. Bishops, on the other hand, slide also but only on planes diagonal. The Queen has both powers and can slide on open spaces in any direction. The King also moves on any square but only one square at a time. He seldom goes to battle but moves mostly to evade entrapment, a “check.” When he can evade no more a “checkmate” is called, he is toppled on the board, his kingdom is conquered!

In our battle against the flesh temptations assail us in all these like forms: some creep up on us then by a sidestep leap at us, some do the dance of the Knight, trying to confuse us, other temptations slide straight toward us, from any angle, sometimes from far across the board.

A skilled chess player remains alert at all times. His eyes are watchful in all directions. He seeks also to anticipate his opponent, to see in advance any trap being set for him… and to thwart such far before they can be tripped.

The Christian must do the same.

Be alert and of sober mind,” warns Peter (1 Pet. 5:8); “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…. keep alert with all perseverance,” writes Paul (Eph. 6:18); “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” records Mark (Mark 14:38), and Matthew (Matt. 26:41).

Opposing pieces may be positioned on any square of the board… near or far. “The whole world lies in wickedness.,” John reminds us (1 John 5:19). Be wary, be wary of even your own heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” asks Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9). Guard it by staying in accountability with one another.

It’s a checkerboard out there… stay alert!

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, 9/21/20 – Pressing on… Double-minded Generals

Double-minded Generals

The thing about the Christian being the battlefield between the warring troops of Spirit and flesh is that though he is the commander and chief of both armies he has friends, or so-called “friends” on both sides. Rationally he knows the so-called “friends” are really traitors in disguise. They plan to conquer the land, rape it of its resources, and plant land mines deep in its soil so that no one else may ever use it again.

But the Christian remembers the good times he once had with these turncoats… the laughter and revelry, the filthy but admirably clever wit of their humor, the joys of their moments together long before there ever was any war. They were then his only “friends.” He knew none better, thus he is reluctant to slay them.

To be sure, some died quickly on first assault. Indeed the believer then thought himself commander in full of Spirit forces. Then, one day early in the battle he recognized the familiar face of one approaching “friend” /foe… and then another… and one more… lust, greed, that idol pride… dear wolves every one but without an Alpha. He decided to give them a few pointers only at first… just something go help them launch and maintain a good defense… then soon he began to strategize their offense… even plan an assault.

Back and forth between camps he ran… back and forth we run too… double-minded generals indeed… every one of us.

What we must do is spend more time growing our friendships with the Spirit side. Get to know it’s men in depth: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Walk with them… let them lead you… Soon you will grow in your love for these men… love greater and more enduring than what you thought was friendship with those of the flesh. In fact, you will see more clearly the flesh camp’s coup… understand more deeply their deceptions… You will take up armor against them yourself and become with Spirit power a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

“…walk by the Spirit…” be “…led by the Spirit… live by the Spirit… keep in step with the Spirit.”

(Gal. 5:16, 18, 25)

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, 9/16/20 – Pressing on… “Can God have Faith in You?”

Can God have Faith in You?

Did you catch it? It was there within Elder Don’s message this past Sunday and it was penetrating… worthy of careful and personal attention. He asked, “Can God trust you not to steal His glory?”

This, you may recall, was Lucifer’s great sin. “I will be like the Most High.” (Isa. 14:14). It was his temptation to Eve in the garden, “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Gen. 3:4). It was even embedded in his temptation of Christ: “…the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said…” Self glory… self power… power over___ (You fill in the blank.)

It has been said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. What power actually does is magnify. It is like a lever. Small movements at one end wield magnified effect at the other. It is like this with all things: the media (movies, TV, printed materials), the internet, technologies for good and technologies for evil.

Back to Elder Don’s question:

Can God trust you not to steal His glory?

Suppose God were to do a great miracle through you… one that changed this world in a great and excellent way… and suppose no person gave you any credit for it. Would that matter to you?

King Solomon bemoaned such a man: “Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.” (Eccl. 9:15). “Meaningless! Meaningless!” he cried. “Everything is meaningless!” (Eccl. 12:8). Would that be your conclusion?

I firmly believe that before God will do a great work in a person that person must be willing to be His vessel in anonymity. What must be the greatest desire in this person’s heart is that God alone receives all glory!

Though such a person will not know it, this is true humility. True humility looks to God. It experiences no desire to look in mirrors. God has faith in such a person. In such a person God can trust.

Can God have Faith in you?

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 9/15/20 – Pressing on… Satisfied?

“Satisfaction Guaranteed!”

According to Duhaime’s Law Dictionary the phrase “Satisfaction Guaranteed” is “A term in a sales or services contract in which the seller defers to the buyer the sole and unilateral discretion as to whether or not the goods or services tendered are acceptable.” (www.duhaime.org › LegalDictionary).

Thus, if you deem a purchased product acceptable, raising no complaint or objection, you are expressing satisfaction that the transaction was fair and worthy of the price you paid for it. That price, the money you gave, represents in currency form the hours of labor you previously put in to earn it… labor which consumed that portion of your lifetime during which you worked.

I want you to understand this: if a product cost you $30.00, and if your wage is $10.00/hr, then the true “cost” of that purchased item was three hours of your lifetime. When you are “satisfied” with that exchange you are actually accepting that the purchased product is of sufficient value to you that you are willing to sacrifice this part of your life to obtain it.

When a seller advertises “Satisfaction Guaranteed” he has conferred to you the right to return the item and receive back again that portion of your life which you originally surrendered to him. This frees you to exchange those hours of labor for some other thing… perhaps some more valuable and satisfying thing… some potentially eternal thing that may help grow the kingdom of God. — Or, you could of course just buy candy. It is all a matter of what you determine to be of satisfactory value.

This past Sunday Elder Don asked us a searching question: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with where you now are spiritually? Is your current state of soul worth the lifetime you are surrendering?

Be dissatisfied with “a holy dissatisfaction, he urged… one that says “I want more” and takes new faith steps away from the shore, even out of the boat, walking to Christ, to receive it.

When we surrender 100% of our lifetimes to Him we find satisfaction. He guarantees it!

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 9/14/20 – Pressing on… Monday Morning

Monday Morning

When Philip Yancey wrote in Prayer Does it make any difference? about preparing to join Peter Jenkins on a leg of his cross America trek my interest piqued. Yancey spoke of the slow but steady improvement he made from running only one block at first then to seven miles non-stop over a period of six weeks training. Gradual increase after gradual increase. From this experience Yancey proved a principle: disciplined consistency brings results.

As a former runner myself I can very much identify. Some runs are designed as ‘endurance’ runs, some as runs focussed on speed, others aim to develop uphill stamina, work on breathing, measure hydration or some other physiological metric. But then there are the “junk runs.” These runs have no particular objective or focus at all — they are just you “showing up.” Indeed, as Yancey extrapolates regarding prayer…

“As with physical exercise, much of the benefit of prayer comes as a result of consistency, the simple act of showing up.” / “I needed the discipline of regularity to make possible those exceptional times of free communication with God.”

Philip Yancey wrote in Prayer Does it make any difference? p.165 / 166

The exploits of many great men of God grow out of this backdrop as well. As Elder Don Longworth reminded us, Elijah was a human being, even as we are” (James 5:17). Gideon was a frightened, hiding ‘everyman’ like you and I. Moses spent years figuring himself nothing more than an orphaned shepherd. Joshua prefaced the miracles of the Jordan and Jericho by months of just “showing up” in Prayer and waiting on God.

Monday Morning: This may be just the start of another mundane Monday… But then again, it may not! This may be a day God chooses to do something new in you… through you… Don’t define yourself — or limit God — by Mondays past.

Who dares despise the day of small things,” the Lord roars through Zachariah (Zach. 4:10). Do not disdain the “junk” days. Whatever this Monday holds, stick with your spiritual disciplines: a regular time of prayer, of reading the scripture, and of taking bold steps of faith. These are the foundation upon which God’s ‘great things’ are built.

More tomorrow…

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

Wednesday, 9/9/20 – Pressing on…personal fog?

Your own personal fog?

I recall an old TV ad for a head cold remedy. The ad depicted a cold sufferer walking about, doing their daily business, yet looking miserable. Above the individual’s head a dark, damp, and dismal beach-ball sized raincloud followed them. Then, upon taking the advertised product, the cloud gave way to sunlight, flowers bloomed, and all was well again.

In the same way many individuals today walk about with a cloud about them – their own personal fog, clouding them from spiritual realities. Paul likened this “cloud” to a “veil,” fogging over one’s spiritual vision:

…to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2 Cor. 3:14, 15)

Paul was here speaking of the Jews whose rigid Judaism had hidden Christ’s true identity and teaching from them. But such fogginess is true of everyone apart from the Spirit of God. As Paul wrote in a previous epistle:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Spiritual truth must be received through spiritual means. One must listen to that spiritual voice which convicts, which teaches, which guides. Cut through that fog with that spiritual Sword of God’s Truth, the Word of God.

Christ brings us the prescription to break that fog. It is that which Pastor Andrew shared with us last Sunday through Ezekiel:

“Repent! Turn away… Rid yourselves… get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”

Ezek. 18:30-32

Just simply turn around!

Believe Christ, obey Him as Lord, walk in a new way. Christ will transplant your heart, implant a new spirit, make you a new man, a new woman in Christ! Then, get with God’s people and Grow!

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.