Wednesday, 4/1/20 – Pressing on…

Pandemic Peace

white toilet paper roll on woven basket

“How do you have peace in the middle of a pandemic?” asks David Platt, Pastor of McLean Bible Church, Washington D.C. “How do you have faith over fear and an unknown future? Here is how — you trust Jesus with your life.”

We must all come to face this at some point – believers and unbelievers alike. Sin has given us all a terminal illness. We will each at God’s foreknown moment be at that place of physical death. To what or to whom will you entrust your eternal soul? To have peace then, and now, we must individually trust Jesus with our life.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14b-15).

The COVID-19 epidemic is not the first mass loss of life to challenge the faithful and terrify the lost.

  • In the mid 14th century, the Black Plague killed an estimated 25 million in Europe — 30-60% of the population.
  • In 1918 the Spanish Flu, another coronavirus, killed 50-100 million people worldwide.
  • 1914-1918 World War 1 resulted in an estimated 20 million deaths.
  • 1939-1945 World War 2 saw an estimated 75 million deaths.

man in yellow coveralls holding spray bottle

If we knew God to be loving and good before COVID-19 (yet after all these previous horrifying losses) we can rest confident He is still loving and good today. Many fine Christians suffered and died during the first half of the 20th Century and many may die by COVID-19. We have no guarantees of particular protection, but we do have the greatest guarantee that God will grant grace for whatever He allows. The unbeliever has no such hope.

Times like these are gracious reminders from our Creator. Our lives in this world are at best but a brief and transient thing. When, how, and if the Christian dies is all in the hands of his loving Father. I’m not trying to be morbid here, but knowing we need not fear the “worst” will settle our hearts amid this world gone frantic.

selective focus photo of woman in blue denim jacket using her phone while holding a book

Having settled that… having entrusted to Jesus one’s life… one needs give the matter no further thought. Once one has dealt with what this world calls “the worst possible thing” one is freed to focus on bringing others to faith and in laying up hope and treasures eternal.

Press on…

To see and hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look for the March 29 post. Or, link to the page from the church website.

Tuesday, 3/31/20 – Pressing on…

“Blessing” and “Fear”

woman in gray tank top covering her face with her hand

Last Sunday during our interactive online Sunday morning service a couple of questions were raised. One participant sought clarification as to the meaning of the word “Blessed.” Another was curious about the word “Fear” – does it really mean we are to “be afraid” of God, or simply that we should respect Him? We can learn much about these words simply by examining the original Greek (NT) or Hebrew (OT) word from which they were translated.

In the O.T. Hebrew the word “fear” ( יראה / yir’âh ) when used of our conduct before Almighty God carries the sense of fear, terror, fearing, as of an awesome or terrifying thing.

city man person people

Job is described as one who “feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) When the Ten Commandments were given the people trembled as Mount Sinai smoked amid thunder, lightning and trumpet blast. “God has come to test you,” said Moses, “so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Exod. 20:20). Years later wise King Solomon wrote “To fear the LORD is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13). It is clear from these passages that a wholesome “fear of God” and a steering clear of sin go hand in hand.

We find a similar sentiment in the N.T. Greek ( φοβέω / phobeō ) which means to put to flight by terrifying, to fear, to be afraid, or seized with alarm!

Speaking of the fear we should have toward God Jesus is very direct.woman wearing red hat and sunglasses “…I will show you whom you should fear,” He says, “Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5; See also Matt. 10:28). “Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth,” writes Peter (1 Peter 1:17). Fear of God is among our most fundamental of obligations. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1 Peter 2:17).

Like it or not, fear of God – real, trembling man before Maker fear – is fundamental to Christian faith. It is essential to repentance, to recognition of our absolute need to make peace with our Creator! Here, “respect” just won’t do. When, in recognition of this, a soul cries out “O God! Save me!” miracle of miracles is this: He does!

What amazing good news it is that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The Christian recognizes what a fearful God has received him and now enjoys “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). He knows how horrid and consequential a thing sin is and he desires never again to arouse God’s displeasure.

selective focus photo of woman smiling

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10) It is the seed… the core of the full grown fruit. Without it we have but a shell, a shapeless religion devoid of eternal gratitude for salvation from wrath.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1).

It is perhaps only against this backdrop of the fear of God that we can best appreciate what it is to be “blessed” of God. Literally, the word simply means “happy” or “fortunate” but what a woefully weak word “happy” is in this context. To no longer be under the wrath of God, but to be graced by undue favour instead – all because Christ bore this wrath for us. To even be accepted by God at all! This is to be blessed!

Press on…

To see and hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look for the March 29 post. Or, link to the page from the church website.

Monday, 3/30/20 – Pressing on…

Christians on the Checkerboard

20191220_091803There’s an optical illusion which has long amazed me. Perhaps you have seen it. It’s hard to believe, I know. Yet it is completely true: both checkerboard squares ‘A’ and ‘B’ are exactly the same shade!

woman in red long sleeve shirt holding her clothes

The reason our brains are tricked by this illusion is that we tend to view things in relation to the things around them. I remember when I was a rough and tumble kid my mom would say the reason she bought me darker colored jeans was “They don’t show the stains as much!” She was depending on the power of illusion to hide my soiled condition.

The devil can play that same trick on us! When Christians stray away from fellowship with other believers they can begin to see themselves in relation to the behaviours and values of the world rather than to the behaviours and values of the kingdom of God!

20191220_091821But God’s standards remain unchanged. His call upon us is to bring light into darkness, not to turn down the dimmer to blend with the sinner. Not that we believe ourselves to be without sin… no, no, no! But we who claim Christ our Lord and Saviour have a mandate to fear as well as to love our Lord. It is the fear of the Lord that purges our sin.

blur bokeh bright close up

We are called also to be lights in this world. To be bright lights in this world we need to be shone upon by the Brightest Light, revealing the dirty spots and soiled bits which need removal so we might shine unhindered. When we stray from that Light we are poorly illumined, blinded from seeing that darkness within us.

Jesus said “…if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23). I think these words have application here. Just as our physical eyes can get accustomed to the dark so can our spiritual eyes. Soon we think a darkened room is bright, but it is not. We need frequent contact with the sun to show us just how dim the room really is.

Let the fiery brilliance of the Son purge you. Fear His rebuke. Embrace His Love.

 “By the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” (Prov. 16:6)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27).

More tomorrow…

To see and hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look for the March 29 upload. Or, link to the page from the church website. 

Friday, 3/27/20 – Friday Tough Question: “What are we supposed to do?”

What are we supposed to do?

Recently I received an email citing a number of Christian leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic. One I’d like to focus on today is this:

“Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when we’re facing adversity or sickness or hardship or death and then we rejoice, we are obeying God. God is on his throne. He loves you and is watching out for you. So rejoice in the Lord.” – Pastor Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, California.

20200326_131206It reminded me of an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters which I had also recently re-read. This is an excellent book and every Christian should read it – it’s right up there with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in my opinion. I believe both can be found and freely read online.

The Screwtape letters is a fictional account of “letters” written by a Senior devil “Screwtape” to his understudy demon “Wormwood.” In each chapter Screwtape advises this Jr devil how to best tempt and destroy faith in us humans. Screwtape writes,

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

We make the devil shake when we show faith despite adversity! This IS a war, but all we must do is stand still — and stay standing. Paul urges,

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:10-13).

abandoned ancient antique architecture

Interesting fact: Paul was in social isolation when he wrote this! He was in prison for the cause of Christ. John, “the beloved disciple” also experienced social isolation. He was in exile on the isle of Patmos – you know, the place from which he wrote Revelation!

I believe Elder Don once urged us to this same simplicity as he shared from Exodus. Facing huge opposition Moses assured the Hebrews,

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exod. 14:14)

Or as I like to put it…

Press on…

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

Thursday, 3/26/20 – Discipleship – God’s Will (& COVID-19)

God’s Will (& COVID-19)

How does one reconcile God’s Will with the COVID-19 pandemic?

woman in white dress shirt using white microscope

Any scientist or logician will tell you that if you are hoping to compare two realities you must certainly understand something about the properties of each. In this matter our comprehension of both is woefully minute! Speculation using all available facts is all that is left to us.

In the case of God, the Bible gives us some sketches of Him, but all along emphasizes also this caveat: No one can grasp the Mind of God. From earliest biblical record to this current moment as you read, this has been so.

sky space dark galaxy

The Almighty “does great and unsearchable things,” says Job. (Job 5:9). “Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him? Who has appointed Him His way, And who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?” (Job 36:22-23). “Do you not know?” Isaiah writes, “… His understanding is inscrutable.” (Isa. 40:28).

In fact, in his great God-given wisdom, Solomon tells us “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter…” (Prov. 25:2). The Lord Himself declares it:

“…My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

If nothing else in this hour we must recognize that God is God and we are not.

baby sitting on man s shoulder

But we do know that God is a loving Father to His children. His interests for us have an eternal focus. Good parents guide their children to eat and to sleep and to exercise, to learn and to work and to endure, so that “When they grow up”…they will be healthy, and strong, and able. No child at the time of direction cares much about outcomes decades in the future. But still, the good parent directs.

God’s good will for His own is that they grow in dependence and love and relationship with Him. (Read Eph. 1:1-23, 1 Pet. 1:3-11, 1 Tim. 4:7-16). “No one is good—except God alone.” taught Jesus (Mark 10:18). The good by which we try to compare and comprehend God is tarnished and carnal, often earthbound and temporal. But God has “something better,” (Heb. 11:40) more enduring in mind for all His children. We must trust Him.

I read something very interesting today from a book by Jan Kempe published several years ago. I was amazed at how appropriately these words are for us all today…

“The truth is that we would rather trust in a bank balance which we can see than in God whom we can’t see. The thought of having no one or nothing but God to trust is sufficient to bring on a nervous collapse…
“‘We are all of us in danger of slipping into this form of unquiet distrust in the fatherly providence of God’ (Samuel Cox).
“God’s will is that our lives should be a perpetual crisis of dependence on Him. We defeat His will in our lives when we lay up treasures on earth.” – Jan Kempe, Faithful Hearts, p. 155

Paul marvels, “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!“ (Rom. 11:33-34) and to the Corinthians summarizes “…the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God…” (1 Cor. 2:11). “But,..” Paul adds, “we have the mind of Christ.” (v. 16).

God is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:31). Let us build ourselves up in trust toward Him. Let us so focus on the kingdom to come that it becomes a testimony to the lost and frantic. Writes Kempe,

“The life of faith speaks loudly to unbelievers and to other Christians. It testifies to all that there is a God in heaven the answers prayer. Faith is the opposite of sight; when you can see, you can’t trust.” – p. 116

believe bible black and white book

Press on…

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

Wednesday, 3/25/20 – Pressing on…

Steer back!

20191110_120829As he shared with us last Sunday Elder Don reminded us of a statement by Alan Baker, one of our Sermonindex Revival presenters. Alan had seen how very quickly a society can be turned upside down. In urgent public warning he pointed to us all, both present and online, and warned “Don’t think that can’t happen to you!

ocean water wave photo

Knowing that a complete and sudden loss of all we’ve relied upon is possible – this is the first step in being prepared for it. Ignoring warnings has always led to destruction: e.g. the people of Noah’s age and the ensuing flood, the Passover and slaying of the firstborn, the residents of Sodom & Gomorrah and its fiery destruction…

In each case God gave warning, but the people ignored it. Scripture teaches God always gives warning:

“Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 Amplified).

He warns us like a loving parent… like the good, good Father that He is.

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11).

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Pastor Andrew touched on this theme in a message he shared some months ago. God warns before He acts. He doesn’t want to see us destroyed – but the clock keeps ticking…

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” (2 Pet. 3:9-10).

God is not trying to scare us… at least not without purpose; He is trying with all His might and with all His Love to steer us, as Don explained.

adult automotive blur car

Imagine a driver training instructor who shouts to his student “Turn around!” as the car heads to a precipice. Though it may startle the student the cry is urgent and motivated by greater wisdom and concern for what is best.

But suppose this student driver ignores the warning? What is the instructor to do? Shout louder?

Elder Don asked “How much does it take for God to get our attention?” How much does it take for Him to get your attention?

“Do not do what everyone else is doing,” said Elder Don, “Come to the Rock.”

Press on…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.

Tuesday, 3/24/20 – Pressing on…

The folly of flight

silhouette of a man in window

“…God’s judgment,” writes Paul to the Romans, “…is based on truth.” I’m not so sure much of our society understands this. Many do not even give thought to such notions of accountability. But each person IS accountable before God for what they have done with the life He has given them.

Do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” Paul asks. (Rom. 2:2-3). Sadly, many run from this question, they “flee on horses” (Isa. 30:16), as Elder Don reminded us last Sunday.

man wearing black officer uniform

But no one can outrun God! God is everywhere! The very idea that one can run “from” God is ludicrous. “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” asks the Lord through Jeremiah. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24). There are no “secret places” to the One Who created all places. Like in any episode of “Cops,” or “Live PD” the one being pursued is ALWAYS better off surrendering than running.

silhouette of person riding horse on body of water under yellow sunset

But in these last few days of grace God is pursuing us not to destroy us but to “proclaim peace” to those captured. Someone has stepped up to take our punishment instead. “Stop running!” He shouts. “You are only running deeper into the prison! The door is this way… follow My Voice for it is urgent. This prison will soon seal shut forever!”

“I rarely raise My Voice” spoke the Lord privately to Don as he prayed. But God is shouting at us now… shouting to the whole of us… “Come to Me! I am your only Hope!”

Paul continues… “… God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ …For God does not show favoritism.” (Rom. 2: 6, 11). To this the author of Hebrews adds,

“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” (Heb. 12:25-27)

lion roaring inside cager

In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe young Lucy asks the Beaver if the God-like figure Aslan is safe. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …. “Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”

Believers, do not fear. This is our Father speaking… shouting… shaking… He’s a good, good Father. Run closer to Him as He rages. It is the safest place to be.

More tomorrow…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.