Friday, 4/16/21 – Friday Question: Does “Pray” mean more than “Ask”?

Does “Pray” mean more than “Ask”?

“We go to God as we send a boy to a grocery store with a long written list,” notes A. W. Tower. “But I think God is disappointed because we make Him to be no more than a source of what we want.” Indeed, God as Santa Claus is a travesty of the gospel!

Tozer goes on…

“Even our Lord Jesus is presented too often much as ‘Someone who will meet your need.’ That’s the throbbing heart of modern evangelism. You’re in need and Jesus will meet your need. He’s the Need-meeter. Well, He is that indeed; but, ah, He’s infinitely more than that.” – A. W. Tozer

I mean, have you ever known a friend like that? — Someone who comes ‘round only when they want something? It has wryly been said of such a person, “If someone borrows $20 from you and then you never see that person again it was worth the investment!” Thing is, you really do want to help the person… you love them… but you sure wish they loved you enough to just want to be with you… tell you about their day… their successes, failures, ambitions and loves. Or to simply say ‘thank you.’

People flocked around Jesus for all sorts of reasons when He walked among us. None of them fooled Him though. “He knew all people… He knew what was in each person.” (John 2:24,25). “You are looking for me,” He said “…because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:26). He knew what it was to go thankless. “Where are the nine?” He asked the one returning grateful leper of the ten he had healed (Luke 17:11-19).

I wonder, if we are really honest with ourselves, for what sort of reason do we most often seek Jesus? What is “prayer” to you? Is it merely another word for “asking”? Or is is truly a time of “conversing” — of just wanting to be with Christ… of telling Him about your day… your successes, failures, ambitions and loves, or simply a time of saying ‘thank you’ — and a time of listening?

Wise men seek Jesus simply to see Him… to bring Him gifts… to express to Him the praise that is His due (Matt. 2:1-12). He is a Great King. He is the Lord — and He invites us to pray.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 4/15/21 – Soon Return of Christ: “to bring salvation?”

Soon Return of Christ: “to bring salvation?”

There is a passage regarding Christ’s return which may puzzle some believers — Well, I guess when it comes to Christ’s return there are many puzzling passages! — But the one I have in mind is found in Hebrews:

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” (Heb. 9:28 – NIV).

At least, that’s now my NIV translation has it. Depending on the version you use the passage may read “unto salvation…”, “to bring salvation…”, “for salvation…”, “to save everyone…”, “to bring them to full salvation…”, “to save those…” or some other rendition.

“Wh… Wait, — What?” someone might interject. “I thought I received salvation the day I made Christ my Lord!? What does this mean, ‘…He will appear a second time… to bring salvation?’ Am I not saved now?”

Well yes, if you have turned from sin and embraced Christ by faith recognizing He alone is the atonement for your sin and have made Him your Lord to obey, then yes, you are now most certainly “saved.” Yet, there is a sense in which you have not yet “received your salvation.”

Picture it like this. You are drowning in a fog-dense sea. You splash desperately trying to stay afloat but it’s a losing battle. Suddenly, from behind, out of the mist, someone tosses you a life-saver! Help has arrived! You are saved! You clutch tightly to the life-saver as others pull it through the fog toward the waiting ship. On board you rejoice! You are delivered forever from the raging sea!

Let me ask you this: at what point were you “saved?”

You were “saved” the moment you grabbed hold of the life-saver, placing your full confidence in it alone to save you. In that instant you demonstrated that you knew you were incapable of saving yourself, realized only the life-saver could, and relied fully upon it for your deliverance. You had not yet arrived on the ship, but the happy outcome was assured. Once onboard it could be said that now, at last, you had “received your salvation.”

When Christ returns it will not be to bring any additional atonement. That was all completed at the cross. Now He comes to collect His own and to bring judgment upon the world.

Paul, in writing to Titus, says this: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. … we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11-14).

Grab hold of Christ and you are most certainly saved. — And THIS Life-Saver also grabs hold of you!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 4/14/21 – Pressing on… Something BIG? – Something “for”?

Something BIG? – Something “for”?

I mentioned yesterday how humankind wants to do something BIG for God. This is not a temptation of unbelievers. No, the temptation to “do something BIG for God” is one which snags many sincere believers. Indeed, some even determinedly dive into it!

You may even now be wondering “What’s wrong with doing something BIG for God?” I know. It sounds like something very good, doesn’t it? But therein lay the trap! It’s a fundamental trap too, one that lay in many a sin. That trap is Pride!

Ask yourself this when the notion to “do something BIG for God” pops into your head: Would I still want to do this thing if I never received any credit for it? — Even if someone else got the credit for it? — Even if someone else wrongly got the credit for it? This is the acid test. It reveals quickly if one’s motive is to glorify God or to glorify self.

Jeremiah is blunt: “Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” (Jer. 45:5). Jesus taught “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). He warned His disciples  “…do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).

More and more these days the tendency is toward spectacle. Attending some churches has become more like attending an emotionally charged rock concern than a selfless gathering of saints offering to God “sacrifices of praise.” (Heb. 13:15). In such settings is easy to confuse emotional hype with spiritual blessing.

Did Jesus do “great things?” Jesus did not build a great edifice, but spoke of the destruction of those built by men. Jesus did not do BIG things, but simple things which left great impression: providing wine, multiplying fish, washing feet and healing individuals. Jesus always ministered to people one at a time. There are no mass healings recorded in scripture. He met a single Pharisee at night, dined the home of a single tax collector, and shared His identity with a single despised Samaritan woman.

He said we would do “greater things” (John 14:12) but did He mean greater in spectacle or in number? There was one incarnate Jesus. He entrusted the gospel to twelve apostles. There has since been millions of Christians.

We can do nothing “for God” anyway, BIG or small. Jesus even stated of His own earthly ministry, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing,” (John 5:19). All things are of God. If we seek to do His Will the way is by giving ourselves to Him as “living sacrifices,” walking in daily obedience, watching as He does His work through us.

I like very much how Mother Teresa put it: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 4/13/21 – Pressing on… Church: Living Entity

Church: Living Entity

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog how I preferred the term “member” rather than “part” in describing committed church congregants. I said it ”sounds more like what the true Church is, a family… the family of God — not a business, an organization, or a mechanical device.”

Sadly however many folk outside the church think of the church in these business, or organizational, or mechanical terms. Sadder still is that a good number of “churches” do in fact operate as such. We find descriptive warnings to some of these in the book of Revelation, chapters two and three. These seven churches may well name seven existing assemblies contemporary to John’s time, but their warnings, consequences and sometimes good examples* serve also as timeless types to churches of all generations.

  • Ephesus, the church that had left its first love for Christ.
  • Smyrna,* the persecuted yet faithful church.
  • Pergamum, the worldly tolerant church.
  • Thyatira, the church with impure doctrine, idolatry, sexual sin and pagan traditions.
  • Sardis, the spiritually dead church.
  • Philadelphia,* the spiritually alive church.
  • Laodicea, the lukewarm church.

A new believer must weigh carefully the beliefs, teachings and practices of any church against the truth of God’s Word. He must foster an attentiveness to the guiding Voice of the Holy Spirit now dwelling within him and about Whom Jesus said “…He will guide you into all the truth… He will glorify me… will receive from me… will make known to you.” (John 16:13-15).

The Church Christ is building is the Church Christ is building. Any time fallen humankind tries to add something to it to enhance it, to make it more attractive, he in some way damages it. Man likes to build edifices, organizations, businesses and bureaucracies. He likes to seek out “professionals,” plan great projects, use the best materials, the most skilled personnel. He likes to do something BIG — something BIG for God!

But God cares for none of these things. He wants the man himself. He builds His Church with “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5), everyday people, unlikely people… fishermen, tax collectors, rebels and doubters. God chooses “foolish things… weak things… lowly things… despised things… things that are not” Why? “so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).

God chooses You!

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 4/12/21 – Pressing on… “Members” vs “Parts”

“Members” vs “Parts”

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12)

Of the 60 English translations I consulted (which, with today’s technology, is nowhere near as daunting a task as it may sound), 30 use this word “members” in describing the individuals which comprise the Church, the Bride and Body of Christ. Most of the others use the word “parts.”

I rather prefer that word “members.” The term “members” lends itself more naturally to that dual meaning Paul has in mind. As the human body has “members,” so has the Church. We speak of taking professing believers into church membership, not church partnership. “Member” sounds more like what the true Church is, a family… the family of God — not a business, an organization, or a mechanical construction.

This past Sunday after hearing their testimonies three new “members” were received into our church.

Local church “membership” is important because it identifies those present among an assembly who are recognized as being in doctrinal agreement. In the book of Acts a distinction is implied between the curious and the committed. We read, how these early believers met frequently and joyfully together in the temple and in homes, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47). There was a distinction among the populace: those who were “added to the church,” and those who were not.

As it became clearer to the fledgling believers that Christ’s return was not as imminent as they first anticipated but that they must first bring the gospel to as many as would receive it, the young church began to appoint officers and leadership, record its history, and establish fundamental creeds and statements of faith.  

By these creeds (summaries of what true believers believed) heresies could more easily be identified and the “church” could more easily be kept pure. Perhaps the earliest if these recorded in scripture is found in Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve… ” (1 Cor. 15:3-5).

Defending and defining the truth of the gospel in time became known as apologetics, from the Greek apologia, meaning “to make a defense.” See Paul’s use of this word before Festus in Acts 26:6. See also in Philippians 1:7 and 1 Peter 3:15.

From its beginning then, one function of church “membership” was as a means of identifying and maintaining doctrinal purity among the body of believers, “God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15).

More tomorrow…

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

Friday, 4/9/21 – Question: How can a 2,000 year old gospel be relevant today?

How can a 2,000 year old gospel be relevant today?

Folk who ask this point to mankind’s increasing knowledge, advancements of science, diverse governments and ever-changing technologies. “The world has transformed dramatically,” they say, “How can the ancient message of Christianity connect with humankind today?”

The answer is really quite simple. While the world around us may have changed, the human animal has not. We are still a fallen species, estranged from our Maker, lost from His Love.

Writing in the early half of the 3rd century A.D., Cyprian of Carthage mused,

“It’s unavoidable, as it ever has been, that people are intoxicated by love of alcohol, puffed up by conceit, inflamed by bad temper, their peace of mind damaged by the lust for more and more, excited by cruelty, aroused by the urge to be top dog, rushed into ruin by uncontrolled sexual desire, surrounded with alluring things that take hold and won’t let go.”

Numerous similar quotes can be cited from virtually every century.

Some 800 years before Cyprian the prophet Jeremiah cried “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). And this remains true of human hearts today. Whether one covets his neighbour’s lamb or Lamborghini, the wickedness of heart is the same. Murder by a sudden club or by a slow and subtle cyanide reveals the same heartfelt hatred of the schemer.

St. Augustine defined in his day both the problem and the solution of our situation “Thou has made us for Thyself,” he prays, “and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” – St. Augustine (354-430 AD).

And in the mid 17th century (1623-1662) French Mathematician, Philosopher and Physicist, Blaise Pascal summarized, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”

All of these display the timeless relevance of the gospel. It is the answer for every era. It is the enduring answer because no other answer will do. As 1+1=2, and opposite poles attract, so the answer to human unrighteousness is found only in the righteousness of Christ. Look around… there is no other Holy Sacrifice.

Is love outdated? Is sleep passé? How about hunger? The need for shelter… purpose… hope? Are any of these ancient things no longer relevant?

Death and judgment are also unchangeable and unavoidable realities — but by the gospel. Its message remains as relevant and as urgent to us today as it was to those who gazed on atop that bloodied hill so many, many years ago.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 4/8/21 – God’s Will – Best Will

God’s Will – Best Will

In Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? he confesses “I do not doubt that God answers prayer. Rather, I struggle with the inconsistency of those apparent answers.” (p. 220). Why does God answer some passionate prayers yet seemingly ignore others? Why does one praying Christian survive in a plane crash while another equally praying perishes? Is God only good, loving, and powerful sometimes?

God has said of His actions, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” (Isa. 55:8-9). In short, He is saying we cannot now comprehend Him. Like a wise and loving parent speaking to child He says, “You will understand when you are older.” We will understand when we are further along in becoming all that He intends.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; [“only a reflection as in a mirror,” NIV] but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12, KJV).

A time is coming when we will understand God in ways similar to His understanding of us! What grandparent has not said to their now adult and parenting child, “See, now you understand…”? So now is for us simply to be obedient children: to give to Him those things which he takes from us, to receive from Him those things which are disagreeable to us, and to accept his “No” when we desire so much that He would say “Yes.”

The child must know above all else that his parents love him and that it is with good reason that they take from him that dangerous plaything, give him that disgusting medicine, and sometimes must say “No.” Sadly, however, many children do not have loving parents, or do not learn until they are much older that many actions their parents did were motivated by love.

The important thing for us as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ is that we do not make the same mistake — thinking God is not loving at all when in fact we just can’t see the whole picture. Where loved ones or suffering is involved this can be very difficult indeed.

We must remember Christ Our Savior cried great tears with blood that He might avoid the cross but there was no other way. The Father said “No,” and the Son chose to accept that answer, even embrace it. He did so not in order to sit “at the right hand of the throne of God,” but to save lost souls like you and I. He “endured the cross, scorning its shame” for the better plan and Will of God, “bringing many sons and daughters to glory” (Heb. 2:10, 12:2).

God may not always answer our prayers our ways, but God’s Will is always the best Will no matter what that Will may look like today.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 4/7/21 – Pressing on… Resurrection Reverberations…

Resurrection Reverberations…

Easter is over. Chocolate bunnies are now a steal at ¼ price, and we’re sinking back into our workweek routines. Nice! We met together with family, ate our ham, shared some chocolate. Hopefully we attended a church service, or two, and gave at least some thought to a bloody crucifixion.

But if we took anything to heart from our brother Don’s exhortation this past Sunday the truth of that sacrifice should yet be reverberating. Easter is not just a long ago event and an annual commemoration. Easter must impact the believer daily.

What is your first thought each morning as you rise? You had been sleeping, but now you awaken. Perhaps it is to remind us mortals of our dependency upon resurrection that our Creator built sleep and waking into the necessities of His creatures. Jeremiah, the beleaguered and otherwise “weeping” prophet, still extolled “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Jer. 3:22-23).

Every breath you have taken, and all you yet will, are gifts of His grace, allowed by Him, for He has high hope for you. The resurrection of Christ shows that death need not be the end of us. There is another way. “I am that Way,” He said (John 14:6). Christ wants to make us something glorious! He wants to make YOU something glorious!

Though the devil and personal depression seek to destroy us, tell lies to us, and press us to despair, God is for us (Rom. 8:31)! Resurrection to newness is on our agenda! This world and its experiences of sin and failure are but temporary. The believer reaches out, smashes that shell of temporal limitation and believes in what is beyond, “as seeing Him Who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27).

Has Jesus appeared to you in that way? After Easter? In the everyday? While looking at the marked down bunnies and in the routine places of your workweek world? You are yet in this world for a reason… for a mission. You are yet in this world to share this great truth with others.

Even in the middle of the mundane, look up! He is Risen! And so shall you!

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 4/6/21 – Pressing on… Hatch or go Bad!

Hatch or go Bad!

There’s another end result for eggs which yesterday I did not mention. In fact, it is an egg’s primary purpose. Don Longworth alluded to it in his message this past Sunday. The primary purpose and hoped for end result of every egg is to grow to become a living entity – a baby chick!

God plants this purpose in every egg. It is not a matter of chance. Consider the accuracy and patterning of God in His design for the hatching of these eggs…

  • potato bug eggs hatch in 7 days;
  • canary eggs hatch in 14 days;
  • barnyard hen eggs hatch in 21 days;
  • duck and geese eggs hatch in 28 days;
  • mallard eggs hatch in 35 days;
  • parrot and the ostrich eggs hatch in 42 days.

Each of these durations is divisible by seven. Is that an odd coincidence or is it evidence of design?

Scripture informs us that God has also a design for you and I! Fallen sinners though we may be, His intent is to make us – each one of us – holy like Himself, saints forever perfect. But we must accept that plan, acknowledge we are far less than holy now, and rely on His redemption in Christ — not merely content ourselves with becoming painted decorations slowly turning rotten on the inside. To be growing “eggs” we must break through all barriers, smash that shell, reach out and grasp hold of God, accepting His will in all He plans to make of us.

C.S. Lewis comments,

“When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

God intends for you and I to fly! Impossible now, but inevitable then — for all who receive that Way made known to us and which we commemorated this past Easter.

The wise among us will work with Him to this end. We will peck away at that confining shell, smash a leg through its wall, struggle and twist… push and break… peck some more! We will glimpse through its opening… see the bright light… hear His familiar Voice… ever clearly… and one day break full through.

Paul describes his commitment. It has become mine also, and I pray too will becomes yours…

“…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12b-14).

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things,” He adds.  Do not let your heart and mind be scrambled. Christ is “the Way, the Truth, the Life” (see John 14:6). Do not let your conscience be fried. Heed that “still, small entreating Voice” of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Kings 19:12). There is life, “abundant life,” (see John 10:10) outside the shell of this temporal place. You know it. You feel it already pushing outward from your soul. This cannot be all there is. This is not all there is!

Surrender! – Hatch! – Fly!

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 4/5/21 – Pressing on… Easter Weekend Observations from Earth…

Easter Weekend Observations from Earth…

Eggs were on sale this past weekend. But by late Saturday morning when I stopped to buy some they were all sold out! It was Easter weekend… that time when eggs both real and chocolate are in high demand for coloring, eating nutritionally, and eating for fun.

In the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke Paul Newman, as felon Lucas “Luke” Jackson, apparently downs 50 hard boiled eggs in one hour to prove himself good to his boast. Evidently that’s no record. In October, 2013 the first-ever World Hard Boiled Egg-Eating Championship was held and saw Joey Chestnut down 141 eggs in merely 8 minutes — that’s an egg in less than every 3 1/2 seconds! But I digress…

I got to wondering though, just how did eggs – and of course bunnies – usurp the Easter spotlight from the sacrificial suffering and death of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ? The Grinch might have stolen Christmas, but the Bunny certainly got first dibs on Easter.

Well, I’m not going to delve into the long and gooey origins of bunnies, baskets and egg hunts,* but rather consider the wider-angle view of this season. I’ve called this little rant “Easter Weekend Observations from Earth” because the real picture is much bigger. The real picture includes all heaven and earth. The events of those three days so many years ago were in fact the culminating events of our Creator God Almighty’s plan of redemption for humankind, planned prior to His uttering of the first “Let there be…” Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” and “manifest in these last times for you” (1 Pet. 1:20). None who trust Him need confront the fires of hell. Jesus took the heat.

Look in Awe at this gift! — Be silenced.

After ingesting the 50 eggs Newman is seen splayed out on a table, exhausted by his effort. One cannot miss the obvious image of a crucifix. I’m sure it is a difficult thing to down four dozen plus such products, but it pales to ludicrosity against the cosmic compass of the real event.

Paint your eggs, enjoy your chocolate, but never forget the reality this weekend signifies. Carry it with you. Think of yourself against the backdrop of eternity, in light of what God intends to make of you, that high calling for which He has redeemed you. Believer… you are eternal! — Because of Easter!

More tomorrow…

* If you really want to know here’s a fair summary.

Or here if you just want to see Paul Newman.

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