Tuesday, 8/6/19 – Pressing on…

Ordinary Day!

 

The older I get the more contented I am with these lifestyle directives…

silhouette of person sitting and facing mountain during sunset

“…love each other… more and more… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life… mind your own business… work with your hands… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:9-12).

These are commands I can manage when I am weak and when I am stro –… or rather, less weak.

It is good to know that serving Christ is not only for the strong or supple. Working with God need not mean building a habitação in Brazil, ascending the Andes with gospel Bible/radios for the Quechua, or growing churches in Benin – all ministries those near to me have done. I need not aspire to doing some “great work for God,” but as Mother Teresa has said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

20190805_105454Doing our best at what we can do, and doing it for the glory of God, these are the very best things that we can do. Scripture warns against doing exact inverse of that as Don pointed out to us in the words of Jeremiah: “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” (Jer. 45:5).

I like that directive too. It’s not complicated. “Should I…?” No! “Do not…?” A guy at any age appreciates that sort of simplicity… much moreso as the clock ticks on.

clean clear cold drink

Instead, give a glass of cold water… go visit someone who is sick, or someone in prison (There are many kinds of prisons.) Live as a testimony of purity–an example to younger believers, be hospitable to visiting missionaries or guest speakers traveling by, donate clothing to your local Thrift Shop, check in with a widow, a shut-in and help out or find help where you can. Each of these is also a command of scripture:

“…if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42 – NLT)

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27 – NLT).

“…I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’…‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matt. 25:34-35, 40 – NLT).

blue purple red and yellow heart printed poster

All of these are little things, yet all become extra-ordinary things when we do them… live them… for the glory of God… as we go about our so-called ‘ordinary’ days.

Today the Lord’s message to us is this: Don’t do nothing because you can no longer do the extraordinary — get out there and be ordinary!

More tomorrow…

Monday, 8/5/19 – Pressing on…

Designer Undesirables

In his message yesterday morning Elder Don Longworth mentioned a poorly promoted yet surprisingly delicious cold noodle dish he had discovered at the Fredericton Northside Market. It looked like a thing of no account. There was nothing in its marketing or its appearance to cause a person to desire it. Many who did not know the dish most likely passed it by as undesirable.

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Isaiah reminds us that in a similar way many pass by Jesus:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isa 53:3)

20190804_192131Yet Christ was not this way by misfortune, not by bad luck. No, He was this way by design. When “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), the Word carefully determined just what sort of flesh that would be… where and when He would dwell.

“…when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son…” (Gal. 4:4).

And the same is true of you! — When Paul preached to the Athenians he said God “From one man [God] made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” (Acts 17:26). He determined to appear among us Himself as a very ordinary man in order to do extraordinary things… and to demonstrate to us ordinary people just what God can do through you and I as well. In fact He said, “…they [you and I too] will do even greater things…” (John 14:12).

The stunning reality is this: you are who and where and when you are by God’s divine design. What remains is for you to be brave… to surrender to that still, small voice, or strengthening conviction to do the thing that God is asking you to do.

20190804_191215It may be a very small thing, but if God is in it it is sure to become an extraordinary thing (see Acts 5:39). You may see the extraordinary end of it, or you may not. As Don said about our prayers for revival. Whether we see revival in our day or not our prayers are like seeds and are mighty. The seed of some giant redwoods today were first dropped in the soil before the shepherds followed that mysterious star.

What extraordinary thing will you allow God to do through you this week?

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the Aug. 4 message.

Wednesday, 7/31/19 – Pressing on…

“What would you do…”

20190730_061601A Klondike bar is a chocolate-coated square of vanilla ice cream first invented in the 1920s by the Isaly Dairy Company of Mansfield, Ohio. It was named after the Klondike River in the Yukon, a name eventually purchased by Good Humor-Breyers, a part of Unilever.

20190730_061752The product was marketed in the U.S. and Canada and was well-known for its clever ads which appeared in the 1980s in which passersby were asked “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” and depicted people willing to do all sorts of silly things in exchange for the frozen treat.

“Would you act like a chicken for a Klondike bar?”

This past Sunday our guest speaker at Lincoln Baptist Church, Greg Gordon, shared with us the true story of resolute atheist Charles Peace, a famous 19th-century English burglar and murderer. Peace had evaded capture for years but was eventually caught and condemned to death by hanging.

20190730_061843The morning of his execution, Peace was led to the gallows in the company of prison officials and a priest who read aloud routinely and sleepily about the fires of hell. “Do you believe what you are reading?” asked Peace. “Well, yes, I guess I do.” came the priest’s reply.

Sir,” said Peace, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!

Do you believe…?” Peace asked.

Three times Jesus asked Peter a similarly piercing question, “Do you love me?” Twice Peter was quick to answer in characteristic knee-jerk fashion, “Yes, Lord!” We too may we tempted to spout, “Well of course!” But we may well do to ponder the question awhile longer.

Oswald Chambers once wrote, “The Lord’s questions always reveal the true me to myself.” Our best answer must turn the question back to Jesus, “Lord, Thou knowest.” (see John 21:15-17). Only God knows the truth of our hearts.

Jeremiah exclaimed, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).
Christ behaved knowingly, “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for He knew all peopleHe knew what was in each person.” (John 2:24, 25).
Paul acknowledged his own self-ignorance, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Cor, 4:4).

O Lord, show us our true hearts, then show us Yours.

black and white clear cool dew

What would you do to save a soul from Hell?

May we be fishers of men with the passion of Christ’s heart.

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 22, 23).

Press on…

Tuesday, 7/30/19 – Pressing on…

Victim statement…

20190729_095507One by one the family members of the victim of a horrific murder approached the microphone and through sobs and tremors of grief and loss delivered their own victim impact statements to the judge and jury.

The mother of the bloodgeoned child raised trembling arm and pointed deliberately at the accused. Her eyes glared at him as she sputtered “You can rot in Hell for what you’ve done!”

But the fact is he will not “rot in Hell”… no one will.

fire wallpaper

Hell is a place of eternal torment. It’s inhabitants would gladly choose to “rot” there, if only they could… to diminish bit by bit, until finally they were no more. But Hell is a place of no endings. Just as the soul is eternal, Hell is eternal.

Scripture records another “victim statement,” one from the depths of Hell itself,

In Hades [Hell] he lifted up his eyes, being in torment… And he cried out… ‘have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’” (Luke 16:23, 24 – NASB)

But in Hell no such respite is possible. Yet, there is another place, a place for those who trust in Christ. Hell, said Jesus, is prepared already…

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons)” (Matt. 25:41 – AMP)

20190729_100234But so much vaster are the splendours of Heaven than the scope of the torments of Hell that even now Jesus continues to make it ready.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 – AMP)

You are your soul… you are eternal. Where will you be 100 years from today? 1,000 years from today? 100,000 years…100,000,000….. 100,000,000,000……..

More tomorrow…

Monday, 7/29/19 – Pressing on…

Hell!

20190729_051520Our guest speaker this past Sunday was Greg Gordon. Greg oversees Sermon Index http://www.sermonindex.net – an excellent online resource of audio and video messages by top quality speakers past and present. A tagline for the site is “Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.”

Greg chose to speak on a topic essential to the gospel of Christ yet one difficult for today’s worldly-minded souls — whether professed atheists or believers — to hear. His topic was “Hell.”

ash background beautiful blaze

Hell, he explained, is a place of 14 fearful realities: 1. Abiding wrath (John 3:36), 2. Darkness (2 Pet. 2:17), 3. Crying (Luke 13:28), 4. Damnation (Mark 3:29), 5. Everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46), 6. Filthiness (Rev. 22:11), 7. Hopelessness (Eph. 2:12), 8. Judgment (Eccl. 12:14), 9. Eternal imprisonment (Jude 6), 10. Fire (Rev. 20:14), 11. Rueful memories (Luke 16:2), 12 No rest (Rev. 14:11), 13. Lonely oblivion (Job 24:20), 14. Painful torment (Luke 16:23).

Many more scriptures were referenced but these are sufficient. Hell is a very real and current place, never intended for people but “for the devil and his [the fallen] angels” (Matt. 25:41). It became a place for the human disobedient by our willful choice to turn from God and to the Devil.

God must by His Nature repel sin from His holiness, just as a magnet repels a like charged pole. His nature demands it. God IS holy, thus “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). We are admonished “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:15-16, cf Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2).

20190728_130650Greg also referenced the universality of the concept of Hell. He spoke of encountering “The Wheel of Life,” or ‘Bhavacakra’, while in Nepal–a Buddhist meditation tool depicting various realms of existence and how the law of ‘Karma’ works among them. It is all held together by ‘Yama,’ the Lord of Death. Buddhism acknowledges 18 “hells” and all are places of intense torment and torture inflicted by demons.

At the bottom of most Bhavacakra is this inscription:

“I have shown you the path that leads to liberation
But you should know that liberation depends upon yourself.” – Buddha

But Scripture teaches us we can only depend upon God…

The psalmist blessed God, singing “You [the Lord God] make known to me the path of life…” (Ps. 16:11).
Jesus taught, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
And the early church linked the two: “…God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead… David said about Him: ‘You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.’” (Acts 2:24…28).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10)

Choose wisely today.

More tomorrow…

 

Wednesday, 7/24/19 – Pressing on…

You will die, probably.

Probability experts tell us the likelihood of you…

Winning the $1 billion ‘Mega Millions’ = 1: 88,000,000,000,000,000
Winning the $345 million ‘Powerball’ lottery = 1: 292,000,000
Being killed in a plane crash = 1: 11,000,000
Getting struck by lightning in any given year = 1: 700,000
Finding a four-leaf clover = 1: 10,000
Getting hit by a meteorite = 1: 3,000
Being born on Feb. 29 (leap year day) = 1: 1,461
Cracking open a double-yoked egg  = 1: 1,095
Being truly ambidextrous = 1: 100
Dying = 1: 1

account accounting balance budget

This past Sunday Don Longworth reminded us of the certitude of that last ratio – the probability that you will die has been, is currently, and always will be precisely 100%. One out of every one person will die. 1 billion out of every 1 billion will die. It is an appointment each of us will keep.

“Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27 – NLT)

Are you thinking you don’t need to be bothered about the judgment because you’ll be dead? Well, “you” won’t be dead. Your body will be dead but “you” are an eternal soul — an eternal soul.

20190723_155120This is why death is such an unsettling thing. People often dismiss death saying it is “natural.” But death is not natural. Our Creator never designed death into His creation. We put it there! We sinned, and death became our penalty. Think of it: every truly “natural” thing feels good to us…is good for us: food & drink, fellowship, sleep, sex, sunshine, and meaningful work. But death seems completely wrong. And it is wrong. Of all He created God said “It is good.” But darkness and death He did not create. Darkness and death are consequences of sin.

20190723_161221Remember: you do not “have” a soul… you are a soul, and just now you have a body. But that body will die… with 100% certitude, and after that, as scripture says, we souls will each have a chat with our Creator.

Don’s message to us is urgent because it tells us the one thing we must do to be ready for that day. We must repent. Not probably, but certainly. We must turn around, face Christ Jesus, move toward Him and away from sin.

You can be sure of it!

“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.” (Heb. 9:27,28)

Press on…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the July 21 message.

Tuesday, 7/23/19 – Pressing on…

Downward Pull…

Newton’s law of gravity states: “Every point mass attracts every single other point mass by a force pointing along the line intersecting both points. The force is proportional to the product of the two masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them:

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where F is the force between the masses, G is the gravitational constant, m1 is the first mass, m2 is the second mass and r is the distance between the centers of the masses.”

close up of fruits hanging on tree

As the story goes, Newton got thinking about this attraction between objects after observing an apple fall from an apple tree. “Why do things fall?” he pondered.

Things fall all over the planet. I know from first hand experienced that my coffee cup falls if I bump it off my desk… I know my cell phone falls if it slips from my back pocket when I sit down… I know that the maple leaves fall from the maple trees along the trails every, er.. Fall, and I know painfully well that my body falls too when I slip on ice!

landscape photograph of body of water

I have never dropped my coffee mug over the middle of the Atlantic, but I can tell you with certitude that if ever I do, it will fall!

In his message this past Sunday Elder Don Longworth stressed our personal accountability before God in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He cited Peter’s bold and accusative words, pointing out his emphasis on the personal pronoun.

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross….. let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:22-23, 36)

20190722_150929They had seen the evidence of Christ’s divinity. He had walked among them during three years of amazing ministry. They knew His claims and message. It was given to them to determine a response, and theirs was the decision to brutally crucify Him.

You too have seen evidence of this man’s divinity. He has walked with you through all your life, though possibly you have ignored Him. But you know His claims and message, what He is asking of you even now. And yours is the decision what to do with Him.

“But I was not there,” you say. “I did not cry out ‘Crucify… Crucify!’

Still, just like my coffee cup, there is a principle at work in you… a law, if you will. Paul calls it “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). You may not have been there with the mob before Pilate shouting “Crucify,” but you don’t need to have been. You are guilty by nature… fallen nature.

The crowd before Peter cried something quite different:

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…’” (v.37,38).

Repentance is the only way to conquer our inherent downward pull. As Paul summarized, “…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2).

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the July 21 message.