Thursday, 6/20/19 – Discipleship: the Bible

20190618_194246Canadian rock star Bryan Adams sings “…it cuts like a knife / But it feels so right…” He s singing about his bittersweet acceptance of his girlfriend breaking up with him in favour of another. Losing her is severing, but deep down he knows it is for the best.

How easily and swiftly even as Christians we can sometimes fall prey to allures that are really not good for us at all. This world is a landmine field of such snares. When unwholesome loves get hold of our hearts it takes the Word of God to excise them. It too “cuts like a knife…” it performs surgery like a scalpel, and it slays like a sword.

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” urges Paul (Eph. 6:17). And in Hebrews we read, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).

20190618_195111A “double-edged sword” is typically a narrow, straight, flat sword with a blade on each side which comes to a sharp point. These features make it an excellent weapon for accuracy and deep penetration. A “double-edged sword” can be thrust through gaps in armour and wielded with greater versatility than a single-edged weapon. In battle a “double-edged sword” can whip backwards as well as slash in an arc. It’s ability to also thrust make it a useful weapon even in very tight environments.

Idiomatically the phrase “double-edged sword” refers to something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. It “cuts both ways,” as we sometimes say. It can have both a desirable and an undesirable effect. The medicine may cure the disease but also bring uncomfortable side-effects.

bible book business christian

The Word if God can seem to be having this effect as it inspires our souls, guides us or brings comfort yet convicts us of areas of stubborn will or practices of sin which are unyielding. Its work is similar to that of the Holy Spirit, “to convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

The Word of God exposes all: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13)

What should be our response to its incising work? We need to admit like Bryan, “…it cuts like a knife / But it feels so right…”

God has our best interests in mind. Let His Word do its work…. often.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Tuesday, 6/18/19 – Pressing on…

selective focus photography of tombstoneThis past Sunday was also Fathers Day. Roaming about on Facebook I noticed an unfortunate number of folk commenting on their love for a father now deceased. I too have been among those ranks for most of my life. My father passed away shortly after suffering his third heart attack just three days past my sixteenth birthday.

Having no siblings I was quickly designated “man of the house” as mom and I struggled to redefine our lives. Now with no earthly father I pressed in more deeply to my heavenly Father. I found Him in prayers, in scripture, and in my father’s notes and legacy. In time I found Him also in other godly friends, showing me how to fix a lawnmower, learn to drive… and at work in me as I learned to give more of myself to Him.

20190617_053633

There’s a popular Christian song these days which testifies in worship to God, “You’re a good, good Father. It’s who you are, it’s who you are…” Good fathering is not just a thing God does, it’s something He is. He made man in His Image in part so that they to could aspire to good fathering. Without His Image, marred though it now is, man would have no hope or knowing of good fatherhood.

And who are you?

There is good theology in those lyrics, for they continue “And I’m loved by you. It’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

20190424_101920One day all this world will be over. The New will be come. The kingdoms of this world will have become the Kingdom of our Lord… and he will reign for ever and ever (see Rev. 11:15). We will no longer look as through a glass darkly, but we will see all things clearly (see 1 Cor. 13:12). We will be transformed. Mortality will be no more, only the new immortality (see 1 Cor. 15:53). We will be that for which God has taken hold of us (see Phil. 3:12). We will see Him as He is (see 1 John 3:2).

Who are you to be a part of this eternal scene? Nobody special by this world’s standards. But by the Father’s, you are most precious indeed. This perfect Father made you, formed you, loves you. Yes, you are loved by the good, good Father. It’s who you are, and it’s all you need ever desire to be.

Happy Fathers Day!

More tomorrow…

Monday, 6/17/19 – Pressing on…

This past Sunday God’s people gathered at our church to fellowship, to pray, to worship and to hear from God. After an opening song Elder Jim began our service with prayer, scripture and some announcements. The worship team led us in praise, folk looked to the Lord in prayers, and Pastor Andrew mounted the platform.

man raising his left hand

“I have no message for you this morning,” he announced. “I sought the Lord all week for a word, asking Him what He wanted me to bring to His people, but He gave me none. I can only assume He has something different in mind for this morning’s service. Perhaps one of you has a word from our Lord?”

It takes a brave believer to shun second best. To refuse to be a scratcher of “itching ears” as Paul cautioned Timothy.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim. 4:3).

We want none of that. We want to hear from God.

close up photo of man holding microphone

One by one folk spoke. Some had prayers… some testimonies… one had a song. We shared what we had each received from our One True Lord. We heard from each other, and we heard from God.

We read in 1 Corinthians 14 the pattern for exactly this sort of meeting together. We find it is not odd at all.

“…When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up… in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Cor. 14:26, 40)

man standing in front of people

Elder Don referred us to what he regarded the most chilling passage in scripture: Exodus 33:3. Here, God Almighty is fed-up with the stubbornness of His people. “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey.” He says, But I will not go with you…” The people repented, Moses plead with the Lord… and the Lord reconsidered: ”My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Moses responded, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (v.14,15). How essential it is that we hear from God, not man.

Brothers and sisters, we are the Church. Be the Church today.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 6/14/19 – Tough Question

Could you please explain again about the origin of the Jewish Nation?

Our speaker last Sunday touched briefly on the genealogy of Abraham leading to the emergence of the Nation of Israel, the Jews. I’ve been asked to review and expand on this, which I will do as blog space allows.

In Genesis, chapters 15 through 21 we read of God’s promise to Abraham that despite Abraham’s age and the barrenness of Sarah’s womb, He would make Abraham the “father of many nations.” Abraham believed God. He believed despite all evidence to the contrary that God both could and would do this. God was pleased at Abraham’s faith and the scriptures tell us that God considered this as “righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6).

Several things transpire throughout the following chapters, but sure enough by chapter 21 the child Isaac is born to them. Isaac later marries and father’s Esau and Jacob, who in turn sires twelve sons who eventually become the twelve tribes of IsraelIsrael being the new name God gave Jacob after he wrestled all night with an angel. (see Gen. 32:28).

20190611_053228One of Jacob’s sons was Joseph, who you may recall was sold by His brothers and ended up second to Pharaoh in Egypt. Famine brings his brothers to him, they are reunited and along with their father Jacob settle in the land of Goshen in Egypt. Time goes on and a new Pharaoh comes on the scene. The growing population of Hebrews is seen as a threat and they are made slaves, constructing clay bricks.

Well you probably know the story from there: God sends Moses to deliverer the Hebrews from slavery and after multiple plagues, and the parting and passing of the Red Sea, they begin 40 years of wilderness wanderings. This independent mass of people are now their own people the Jewish Nation seeking and finally arriving to their earthly Promised Land.

For this reason the Jews call themselves “sons of Abraham.” They take the name “Jew” as a derivative from the name Judah, the tribe of David’s line which led to the Messiah.

The New Testament contains two genealogies tracing through Adam to Jesus. These genealogies are found in Matthew 1:1-17 which traces Mary’s husband Joseph’s lineage from Abraham to Jesus, and in Luke 3:23-38 which traces Mary’s lineage in reverse chronology from Jesus to Adam.

We too are now “sons (and daughters) of Abraham” as Paul masterfully outlines in his letter to the Galatians, because we too trust in Christ by faith, just as did Abraham.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 6/13/19 – Discipleship: Priorities

20190610_130207Christ gave this directive to every believer: “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33). It is a command. Yes, it is s command with a promise: “…seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” But it is a command first. That fact is right in the command itself: “Seek first…” It is the command’s essential aspect.

bitcoins and u s dollar bills

Still, many believers, new and seasoned, get these aspects reversed. They read “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” But They think “The way to obtaining ‘all these things’ is to seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness.”

action asphalt auto automobile

In that subtle mental flip-flop they have defied the command. They have placed first the obtaining of ‘all these things’ and placed second the ‘seeking of His Kingdom’ as a means to that usurping first end. In this self-deception they have committed a ‘coup’ against the Kingdom.

God is most certainly wiser than I, but I sometimes wonder why He did not simply say, “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness,” and stop at that? For this is a command and we are to obey it whether or not we are rewarded with ‘all these things.’

pink tiger lily on bloom

And just what are ‘all these things’ anyway? He did not say “all things” will be given you — as if you now had His services as some sort of divine genie. No, He said ‘all these things‘… all the aforementioned sorts of things.

He had been speaking of human worry and he had just made mention of the worry-less state of His natural creation. Don’t chase after money, chase after God, He had taught and then adds,

…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…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. …See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. …So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them… (See Matt. 6:25-32)

It is here that He commands what we must do instead… what we must do instead of worry. “But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness…” When we make this quest our first priority ‘all these things’ — all the necessities of life: food, drink, shelter and adornment — will be provided for us, and provided abundantly.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 6/12/19 – Pressing on…

selective focus photography of a telescopeWhy is it that we are to seek the Kingdom of God above our own self-interests? Why is God so opposed to our own selfishness?

Selfish people often justify it saying “Let me be. I’m not hurting anyone!” But why is that argument found insufficient by God? Does He deny us our selfishness because He wants all attention on Him. Is He Himself selfish?

One reason I think, though there are many, is that God desires our best happiness. He desires our best happiness because of course He is not selfish. And He knows that our greatest happiness comes in blessing others.

construction house architecture luxury

Selfish people do not know this. They think happiness is found in things, or in prestige, or wealth, or fame. It does not matter if they have any of these things, only that they think happiness can be found in them. Even having the things or the fame or whatever is not wherein they think dwells happiness, but in having the things, the fame, the whatever when others around them do not.

C.S. Lewis writes elegantly on this,

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

So, when Christ commands us, “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness,” (Matt. 6:33) He does so knowing our greatest happiness is to be found in Him.

He is s very good, good God indeed.

Press on…

Tuesday, 6/11/19 – Pressing on…

selective focus photography of three disney princesses figurines on brown surfaceA dad watched as his five year old son struggled to twist open a new jar of play-doh. “Use all your strength,” encouraged the father. “I’m trying,” said the child. The dad watched and waited a while longer. Clearly the child was too weak to meet the task. “You’re not using ALL your strength,” said the father. “But I am!” the child protested. “I’m trying with all my strength!”

20190610_063320

The dad leaned in low, looked the child in the eyes and lovingly said, “No… You’re not using ALL your strength, because you haven’t asked me to help you.” The dad took the jar and in one effortless twist opened it.

How often, and how seemingly easy, it is for us to forget that God is our Strength, our ever-present Help in time of need. We love Him. We know He is right there with us, and we want to please Him. We want to serve Him. But we find our Strength to do so is limited. In frustration, we double down, grit our teeth and try harder. But we forget to turn to Him and surrender the task into His Hands, for He too – and above all — is our Strength and our Shield.

20190609_222155This past Sunday Shant Manuel reminded us of the boy who surrendered his lunch to Jesus. In Jesus’ hands that small offering fed thousands – with leftovers to spare…. leftovers greater than the initial surrendered supply.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7

“When they had all had enough to eat… they… filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” – John 6:12, 13

Do you remember what God asked Moses?

child holding clear glass jar with yellow light

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’” – Exod. 4:2

What is in your hand today? Give it to the Father and watch Him do wonders!

More tomorrow…

To hear Shant Manuel’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the June 9 message.
To learn more about Shant Manuel and Far Corners Ministry, click here.