Friday, 11/13/20 – Friday Question: “What power do I have to influence this world?”

What power do I have to influence this world?

I know what you mean. More and more with each passing year… or month… or week it seems, some giant company has absorbed yet another company. Viable competitors in the world’s marketplaces decrease further and further as the big name operations bloat with ever growing monopolization of economy, government, healthcare, or surveillance.

In comparison, you, the little guy, seem powerless, fallen already through some crevice, deep down into the machinery of a nameless world system. You wonder what possible influence you can have amid this seeming freefall? You ask, “What power do I have to influence this world?”

For the Christian there are two possible answers. Each is both concise and absolute: 1. None. 2. Infinite.

Of our own selves we are weak. Not many of us would claim to be wise; few are influential or born to nobility. Some of us may even be victims of prejudice, even despised. How can we possibly influence this world?

Last Saturday, when it became clear that the Democratic party had won the U.S. election, President Elect Joe Biden addressed the nation. Among his statements he said, “We will lead America not by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” I rather liked that, for it reminded me of the strategy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before leaving this earth Jesus said to His faithful, “You are the salt of the earth…” (Matt. 5:13). Like tiny grains believers are scattered throughout the planet, throughout the world and its ever-growing, ever-grabbing world system. Influencers empowered by the Infinite! In fact, by virtue of our awareness of our own powerlessness we become the Almighty Father’s first pick in turning our world upside-down for Christ! Hear Paul’s words to the Corinthians…

“Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. ” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).

Your example, your Christ-empowered godly living, your words of praise and testimony to the Lord in your experience, your heart at peace amid social storm, your devotion to worship, fellowship, service, love, scripture and prayer are all influencers… not examples of any personal power, for you have none, but powerful examples of the Infinite Power of Christ.

Take heart believer… and

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/6/20 – Friday Tough Question: “What does it mean to be ‘in Christ’?”

“What does it mean to be ‘in Christ’?”

Well I’m sure we all know what it means to be “in debt.” To be “in debt” describes the man or woman who has placed themselves in a position of obligation. If a person or a business lets debt get out of hand they may soon find themselves “in bankruptcy” – i.e. “the state of being completely lacking in a particular quality or value.” A person can thus be “bankrupt” in many ways: financially, morally, even spiritually.

This is the condition every person without Christ is currently “in.” (See Rom. 1:1–3:21 if you have any doubt!) God demands absolute purity in His Presence: “holiness,” says scripture; “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). I’ve got no holiness… have you? No? Didn’t think so. We are all completely bankrupt of any holiness.

So, when we each reach that day when we stand before Him we find ourselves filthy… unholy… unable to enter the glorious afterlife He has prepared for us!

Imagine a surgeon coming to the operating room in greasy auto mechanic overalls! What sort of reception do you suppose he would receive?

But scripture tells us there is a solution to our enigma… to our filthiness of heart and mind and soul. That solution is Christ! Christ has stepped forward to remove our filthy clothes, to scrub us up with His own Spirit of holiness and make us wholly clean, then clothe us with new clothing… pure and white… His own clothing, “garments of righteousness.” (Isa. 61:10; Rom. 3:21-22).

Scripture tells us to get into the habit of ongoing bathings, of daily “putting on Christ” (Col. 3:10) and walking anew “in Him,” steering clear of grimes and grease. The Christian walks around “in Christ,” (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 8:1) in “newness of life” for now Christ has made this possible.

As we do, He works in us more and more the desires and behaviours of holiness. Not only are we clothed in Christ, but we are also actually becoming new creations… new creatures “in Christ Jesus.”

Not only is the believer “in Christ,” but now also Christ is within the believer! (John 14:20 17:23). “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The Christian thus lives both in relation to and in relationship with Christ Jesus. As Martin Luther once noted, “The moment I consider Christ and myself as two, I am gone!”

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/30/20 – “Knock, Knock” Days – A Hallowe’en Special…

“Knock, Knock” Days – A Hallowe’en Special…

Tomorrow is October 31. Around the globe many children will don costume as well as facemask and go about their neighbourhoods, sack in hand, knocking on doors or ringing doorbells. Sugar is the name of the game here and getting as much of it as possible will be the objective. Others with darker aims will celebrate this day with darker pursuits but I will not speak of them.

Elsewhere some may reflect on the date as that upon which Martin Luther knocked nail through parchment onto the door of the Wittenberg chapel sparking in time the era of the Reformation.

But did you know? — October 31 is also National “Knock Knock” Joke Day! ‘Tis true! Look it up! Or, try Twitter at #KnockKnockJokeDay. Or, forget that and just check out this starter list of 85 favorites .

Here’s a few of my favorites:

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
A little old lady
A little old lady who?
Wow, I didn’t know you could yodel!

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Hatch
Hatch who?
God bless you!

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Candice
Candice who?
Candice joke get any worse?!

The Bible also tells of people knocking…

Peter, miraculously released from prison, stood knocking on Mary’s house church door. Inside believers had gathered, praying for just that exact thing: Peter’s release. But Peter had to persist some time in knocking because those inside were so stunned they hesitated to let him in! (Acts 12:12-16)

Song of Solomon can be read as a lovely allegory of the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church. In in we read “I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one…” (Song of Sol. 5:2).

Four times in the gospels believers are urged to “knock” – i.e. to ask the Father – and new possibilities will open (Matt 7:7,8; Luke 11:10,11). Luke also speaks of believers awaiting the Lord’s “knocking” upon His return (Luke 12:36), and how we must sometimes persist in our prayers, “knocking” on the doors of heaven awaiting His answer (Luke 11:8).

I’ve not yet mentioned perhaps the most often cited “knocking” verse of all: Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Christ’s great invitation to His Church.

This Hallowe’en amid the knocking and the “knock, knocks,” give some moments to the Lord… in knocking persistently on the portals of heaven, or in answering His knocks on the door to your heart.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/23/20 – Friday Tough Question: “What is Sanctification?”

What is Sanctification?

Of all the theological terms Sanctification is possibly the most puzzling to many Christians. But the word is not as foreign as one may think.

The root word “Sanctify” in English roots back through Old French “saintifier” to the Latin word “sanctus” meaning “holy”. Thus, “sanctify” means to make holy… to set a person or thing apart from other persons or things that it may be reserved for some particular use, or entity, or state (i.e. “holy”). “Sanctification” then, refers to the process of making a thing holy or set apart.

You already know this word as in “sanctuary” — a place set apart for holy or dedicated use (e.g. bird sanctuary, the large assembly room of a church), or inner “sanctum” – an area reserved for elite access, or “sanctimonious” – a person who behaves snobbishly as though they were set apart and above others.

For the Christian sanctification is spoken of in the Bible from two perspectives: God’s and our own.

God sees from Eternity. He sees believers as already sanctified… as “holy” already, as being “in Christ.” God sees “now” what John hinted at in his 1st epistle:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).

God intends to make us like His Son, Jesus Christ, “holy” as the author of Hebrews tells us we must be (See Heb. 12:14). And He sees this as an already done reality.

We however see from our particular point in time. We look “back” at what “was,” and “ahead” to what will be. From our perspective “sanctification” (personal holiness) seems a long way off. God understands this and invites — actually commands — us to work with Him at this.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,.” (Phil. 2:12).
“…clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Rom. 13:14).
“…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col. 3:12).
“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (1 Pet. 1:5-7).

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thess. 4:3).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/16/20 – Friday Tough Question: What is Propitiation?

What is Propitiation?

The word “propitiation” appears just three times in scripture but conveys a most important truth about the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John, the beloved and now aged disciple, uses the word twice in his first epistle (letter):

“…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, NASB)

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10, NASB)

Paul writes of it once in his masterful letter to the believers in Rome. Speaking of the believers redemption in Christ, he writes… “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (Rom. 3:25, NASB).

Because of its strange-soundingness to our ears today many translations have replaced the word with more familiar terms such as “satisfaction,” “atoning sacrifice,” or “expiation.” But something of its meaning is lost in doing so.

We speak much of God’s goodness, grace, mercy and love these days, but we must never forget the truth of God’s wrath against sin! We have not only lost fellowship with God due to our sin, but we have also enraged Him. God HATES sin! When we turn our backs to him and love sin more it is an act of spiritual idolatry and adultery.

Paul warns, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18, NASB).

John also in his gospel writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV).

But thanks be to God that Christ Jesus is the propitiation for our sin!

Propitiation means that Christ took upon Himself all the wrath of God the Father. Jesus “took the heat” so to speak for your sin and mine. God’s rage has been satisfied… His wrath found its object in Christ!

Never before had Christ lost Oneness with the Father, yet on His cross He cries, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matt. 27:46). In that moment God could no longer look upon His Son.

He could have come down from that cross. He could have just walked away and said “No. Sinful mankind is not worth it.” But He did not. He said,

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18).

Why not take a moment now and thank Him. Thank Him that “He Himself is the propitiation for your sin.”

Press on…

Friday, 10/9/20 – Friday Question: Why should I say ‘Thank you’?

Why should I say ‘Thank you’?

In an article posted at PsychCentral.com entitled “Why ‘Thank You’ Is More Than Just Good Manners” (updated July 8, 2018) author Jeremy Dean cites studies by Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Grant & Gino, 2010). They sought to find what effect saying ‘Thank you’ had on the one being thanked.

Results demonstrated that when a ‘Thank you’ was given the individual who gave the assistance was doubly inclined to be helpful again than were those who received only a neutral response to their initial helpfulness.

Helpers “appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.” Explains Dean, “The act of saying thank you reassures the helper that their help is valued and motivates them to provide more.”

Subsequent studies further showed helpers who received a ‘Thank you’ from the first individual were more than doubly motivated to offer assistance to a second individual than when no ‘Thank you’ had been given. Measurable increases in willingness to help another persisted even to a third and fourth person.

Interestingly, scripture speaks of the Lord “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:6-7; Deut. 5:8-10; Lev. 26:39). It seems a simple ‘Thank you’ follows a similar mathematical reverberation.

The PsychCentral.com item also stated that saying ‘Thank you’ is beneficial to the self. “Studies have suggested that being grateful can improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.

All good stuff, but the scriptures taught us that centuries earlier. “A cheerful heart is good medicine,” wrote wise King Solomon (Prov. 17:22). David taught us to Whom all our ‘Thank you’s are ultimately due: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Ps. 107:1) Paul taught our thankfulness must persist in all circumstances and for all things at all times: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18); “…be thankful… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:15, 17); “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,” (1 Tim. 4:4). Even our requests — before God answers — should be accompanied with a ‘Thank you’ — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) — for we know that whatever God gives or allows is for our best.

Thanks for reading 😊!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/2/20 – Friday Tough Question: What can be done for Phil?

What can be done for Phil?

I may have been a bit too harsh on “Phil” in my blog last Tuesday. True, Phil is hell-destined if he continues along his works-based ‘religionized” version of Christianity. But he has not reached the end of that road yet, and there are off ramps all along the way.

Theres a wonderful promise for Phil found in the Old Testament record of King David’s reign.

“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” (2 Sam. 14:13-15)

It was like this for the prodigal who strayed away from his father, loving more the allures of the world. But a way back was always open to him, and when he took it he found his father still waiting, arms open. (See Luke 15:11-20).

Turning back is what the Lord longs for every wayward one to do. In fact, it is what he urged the church of Ephesus to do: “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev. 2:5). Repent means to turn around. You were going one way, then you realize it is the wrong way, you stop, and you turn a full 180° round, and go the opposite way… the way back to our loving Father God.

Do the things you used to do, He pleads. There’s and old song sung by Neil Diamond and Barbara Striesand entitled “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Any More.” In it, a couple in a strained, love-lost marriage sing their sorrows to each other. The refrain “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Any More” embodies the problem.

When was the last time you brought the Lord some flowers, a sweet-smelling aroma of worship, obedience, sacrifice or ministry? It’s not too late! The flower shop is still open and the Father is still waiting, arms open… for you.

Jesus warned us this time would come: “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.” But there is hope. Turn around. Lost love can be restored. “…the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).

There is hope for Phil and for all who have strayed.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 9/25/20 – Friday Question: What is “the offense of the cross?”

What is “the offense of the cross?”

As mentioned yesterday, Paul uses this term in his letter to the believers in Galatia who were being confused by bold judaizers. Judaizers taught that the Jewish regulations, sacrifices and rituals still had to be practiced to be righteous before God.

Paul was preaching the Christian gospel message – the message that salvation was available to all by simple faith in Christ Jesus. The “law” had come not that anyone might successfully keep it, but to demonstrate that no one could keep it! Circumcision was meant to outwardly teach the truth of what must happen inwardly, in a believer’s heart, not merely in a person’s flesh.

This message offended the legalists of his day, as it offends those in any era, those who seek to put confidence in the flesh, in their own self-generated goodness, or righteousness, to “earn” salvation… to be able to “boast” in a sort of personal moral superiority… to “take pride” in it. Thus, Paul writes,

Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. (Gal. 5:11).

In the above verse Paul is saying that if he was still preaching a legalistic approach to God, then why would people be offended as they were? The fact that he was not preaching a salvation by works, “circumcision,” was the reason many were offended. As Billy Graham itemizes*. The cross offended

  1. Herod: who lived an immoral lifestyle
  2. Caiaphas: who condemned Christ to the cross
  3. Pilate: who cowardly did not stand up against the crowds
  4. Judas: who was covetous and ultimately betrayed Christ
  5. Soldiers: who were unmoved by Christ’s suffering and gambled for his clothing

In short, as I stated in yesterday’s blog, the cross called them – and calls everyone – to repent! To give up thinking we can of ourselves ever be righteous before God. We need the goodness of someone else to cover for us… someone faultless, someone holy!

That Someone is, and ever only will be, Christ.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 9/18/20 – Friday Question: “Why should I become a Christian?”

Why should I become a Christian?

John Bowen

Back in 2002 John Bowen, Director of the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe College (1997-2013) wrote an article in which he listed seven reasons a person should NOT become a Christian

  1. The Church is morally compromised
  2. Christians aren’t always nice
  3. Won’t you have to condemn other religions?
  4. People may make fun of you
  5. It will require sacrifices
  6. It means handing the leadership of your life over to God
  7. You don’t think you could keep it up

Yet when you think about it, these objections are universal.

They could be reasons NOT to get a job:

  1. The workplace is morally compromised
  2. Co-workers aren’t always nice
  3. Won’t you have to put down other employers?
  4. People may make fun of you
  5. It will require sacrifices
  6. It means handing your workday over to your boss
  7. You don’t know if you would keep it up

Or NOT to get married

  1. My spouse may have moral conflicts
  2. My spouse might not always be nice
  3. Won’t I have to be completely loyal to my spouse?
  4. People may make fun of you
  5. It will require sacrifices
  6. It means not being 100% my own boss but doing some things that please only my spouse
  7. You don’t have a guarantee you can be a good spouse yourself!

In fact any time an individual enters into any kind of a relationship with another entity – human, animal or Divine – uncertainties emerge. At some point you will encounter some aspect of risk. Christians call this faith!

Bowen also listed this one reason a person SHOULD become a Christian: It is what life is all about! He elaborates:

“Because the God who made you loves you more deeply than you can ever imagine, and that God longs for a friendship with you. More than that, in that friendship you will learn to live as God’s person in God’s world in God’s way. And you will discover the part God designed you to fulfil in God’s plan to redeem the world from evil, suffering and dysfunction. And that is the greatest adventure that can ever befall a human being. In fact, it is what human beings were made for.”

As for me and my house I completely agree. In fact, it is the testimony of every true believer past and present — and I believe will be of all who yet turn to Him — that Christ indeed is all-sufficient. As evangelist Billy Graham once noted,

“I have never known a man [or woman] who received Christ and ever regretted it.”

Press on…

Got a question? Want to know more about surrendering your life to Christ? Use the Contact page.

Friday, 9/11/20 – Friday Question: Do I really have to get rid of it?

Do I really have to get rid of it?

Cute… ain’t he?

Foxy fella

This little fella was one of three my wife and I spotted along the roadside as we drove through New Brunswick’s Kouchibouguac National Park en-route to Kelly’s Beach this past week. All three of these little guys showed more curiosity than fear of us. Didn’t take long for them to become endeared to us… almost enough to wish we could bring one home.

A few weeks back Don Longworth spoke to us from Song of Solomon 2:15, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” An important point of brother Don’s message was that these are “our vineyards,” it is the responsibility of each of us to remove the destructive elements. Just recently Pastor Andrew reminded us again of this duty: It is not up to man’s wife to remove his mistress! It is the duty of the unfaithful man. As beautiful and alluring as the paramour may be there can be no middle ground. She must go — all of her!

The temptation to excuse or whitewash some seeming innocuous sin can be great, but as an anonymous author has written,

“The devil doesn’t come to you with horns and a cape, he comes disguised as everything you’ve ever wanted.”

We say, “It’s just such a little sip… a little slip… a little sin… a white lie.. a harmless thing.” But It requires just one fox in the vineyard, just one fly in the ointment, just a little leaven in the batter… Even one degree off trajectory will sidestep a destination — and all the more the longer it goes uncorrected!

Brother Mike Kennedy also shared with us last Sunday. He reminded us it takes only a little faith to see a miracle… just a mustard seed to make the tree… uproot the mulberry… move the mountain! Jesus said so (Luke 17:6; Matt. 17:20).

“Little foxes” can be eradicated by persistent application of even just a little faith. It is your job to see past sin’s cuteness, to acknowledge it as serious destructive, and to apply faith and actions to remove it.

Press on…