Monday, 12/13/21 – The J.O.Y. Group!

The J.O.Y. Group!

We used to have a group in our church called “The J.O.Y. Group.” The group was comprised mostly of seniors, and they were indeed mostly joyful. But the reason this group was so named had more to do with its acronym: Jesus + Others + You = J.O.Y.! You see, these folk had figured out the proper priorities for a joy-filled life.

The greatest commandment, Jesus said, was this: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,'” Then added, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

In another place Jesus said,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11).

Yes sir, the old guys had it right: Jesus + Others + You = J.O.Y.!

I know if no greater joy myself than in bringing joy to another. Joy is way better than happiness! Dictionaries define happiness with phrases like these: “a feeling of great happiness,” “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires,” “a state of felicity,” “to experience great pleasure or delight.”

A feeling, emotion, state, experience – all things that come… then go. Then, when they’re gone, we’re back at whatever feeling, emotion, state, or experience we were at before happiness “happened.” The root “hap” carries with it the sense of a thing occurring by chance or good luck… by “happenstance.” Happiness is just something that occurs. There is little you can do to hold on to it.

But Joy… the sort Jesus gives to us… that Joy is eternal. As many translations put the above verse, “that my joy might remain in you.” And in verse 16 Jesus adds, “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). And “Joy” is one of those “fruits.” (See Gal. 5:22). It is found in only in Christ, and remains — even in times of sorrow.

This Christmas, consider J.O.Y.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

Are you a member of “The J.O.Y. Group?”

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, 12/10/21 – Knocking or Nagging?

Knocking or Nagging?

Before long most spiritually nourished Christians become familiar with Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The phrase is repeated in Luke 11:9-10 along with the illustration of the persistence of the man seeking loaves at midnight to feed a hungry houseguest. He tells a similar story in Luke 18 regarding a widow woman seeking justice against an adversary. His purpose in the parable is stated at the outset, “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1).

Ask… seek… knock…” All three verbs are gerunds denoting ongoing activity. Yet there are other passages which point to times when one must simply stop.

In one of Paul’s epistles to the Corinthian church he writes of an an undefined “thorn” which beset him, “a messenger of Satan, to harass me,” he says, only later learning its purpose. He recounts “Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

Three times Paul prayed, only three, and then he stopped! What made the difference? Surely he agreed with our Lord’s teaching on persistence. “Pray without ceasing,” he urged the Thessalonians. (1 Thess. 5:17). Yet, here, three times, and he stops.

We must be very humble when we pray, cognizant that we are approaching the Almighty for His answer. We are knocking for there is something we do not know, and want Him to tell or to show us. We must not confuse flesh with Spirit. We must come to Him as Christ also came to the Father — also only thrice — ever willing to say to Him, “Not my will, but Your’s be done.” (Matt. 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, John 6:38).

When His answer is clear, we are done.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 12/9/21 – What is Evangelism?

What is Evangelism?


Today’s Discipleship topic is Evangelism. Dictionaries vary in their definition of Evangelism, such as “the zealous advocacy of a cause,” “the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ,” “a militant or crusading zeal,” “spreading the gospel,” or “telling the gospel message.”

I suppose these definitions depend largely on whether or not the one making them is a believer. Things most usually look different from their inside than they do from without. But perhaps the more important question is “What did Jesus mean by evangelism?” Or, even without the word altogether, “What does He tell us to do?”

We know He had in His heart the desire that through Himself His disciples, indeed all believers “…be brought to complete unity” in order that “…the world will know that You [the Father] sent Me [the Son] and have loved them [the believers] even as You [the Father] have loved Me [the Son].” (John 17:23). We know His parting command to all believers was “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). We know that the need is great, “The harvest is plentiful,” and “the workers are few,” and we know His command to “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37-38).

We know also that He blessed His Church with persons especially gifted in this: “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11) and that these ought not shirk their duties. “Do the work of an evangelist,” Paul adjured Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5). Yet we know we are allChrist’s ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20), salt and light to a dark and tasteless world. And we know too that we must “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Our job is to testify (tell), to witness (what we know and have experienced ourselves), along with the many other testimonies which enter the courtroom of each individuals heart, to add our bit to sway them to faith, away from the sentence of death which otherwise bears down upon them. We need not be lawyers for their defense. The Holy Spirit will do that.

What is the definition of evangelism? Perhaps the best I know is the one I learned in Bible College many years ago: “Evangelism is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results with God.” It is “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

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, 12/8/21 – Pressing on… Otherworldly People; Otherworldly Peace

Otherworldly People; Otherworldly Peace

There’s an old 1957 Sci-fi horror flick called “Not of This Earth” in which an eyeless, death-ray emitting human-like being from the planet Danvanna is transported to Earth to collect human blood for transfusion to save his race. It’s a pretty corny, black and white attempt with a plotline familiar to numerous subsequent films. But it’s parallels to the gospel are interesting.

In the movie, the aliens are evil… they are a race not of this world. But the glorious gospel of God is the truth that the One from above has come not to destroy us, but to rescue us. We are the evil ones, but He wants to take us to His world, and He offers to make it our world. In the movie, the aliens come seeking the sacrifice of human blood, but the gospel tells us Christ has come to sacrifice for us His own blood.


John tells us what happens when we surrender ourselves to His most loving plan. He writes, “All who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13). Through Him… through the sacrifice of His blood, we become transformed… we become new creations, citizens of His world… for ever.

In His great prayer for His people, His Church, He spoke to the Father of us saying, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16). So completely new does He make us that we, as Hebrews tells us, “…are made holy… of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call [us] brothers and sisters.” (Heb. 2:11).*

To us He gives the privilege of an otherworldly citizenship, and otherworldly heart, otherworldly gifts of the Holy Spirit, and an otherworldly Peace in the midst of the turmoil of this lost and dying planet. He said this:


Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). “In Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Because of this amazing otherworldly Peace we can be at rest, presenting all our needs and concerns to Him, we can know a peace that we cannot comprehend.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Press on…

*The Greek word “adelphoi” refers here to all believers.

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, 12/7/21 – Pressing on… A Peace that may Plot a Painful Path

A Peace that may Plot a Painful Path


Paul writes the Corinthians,

When we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.” (2 Cor. 7:5).

This must have been very puzzling to Paul for he knew God had called him to go into Macedonia. After the Holy Spirit had strongly impressed upon Paul not to enter Asia, he and his companions began traveling through Phrygia and Galatia. At Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but again the inner tug of the Holy Spirit said ‘No.’ They travelled on to Troas and there God spoke to Paul…

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:9-10).

Yet, once there, Paul had times of unrest in his spirit. How so?

If you remember, from the beginning God’s call upon Paul was to include suffering. A believer, Ananias, was privy to this plan. In a vision God told him “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.”

Jesus too, the Prince of Peace, struggled with this plan of suffering. Through that hard night of prayer He found peace only in that one plan of the Father, a plan which included pain.


Peace led Paul, yet it led him through seasons of turmoil. Peace led Christ to the cross of Calvary, and Peace will lead us through this world of troubles. “Pain and suffering are often the catalysts for life’s most profound lessons” wrote ultrarunner and author Dean Karnazes. But when we rest in the purposes of God we can accept pain with joy. Then, in this acceptance, we find peace. Adds Karnazes, “… pain is inevitable. Suffering, however, is optional.”

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

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, 12/6/21 – Pressing on… When Peace Don’t Come Easy!

When Peace Don’t Come Easy!

I guess I always thought the peace of God should be immediate, a matter of just finding that right spot… that “cleft of the Rock,” that “shelter in the time of storm,” or that focus of one’s thinking. Indeed, do not the scriptures affirm this?

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isa. 26:3).

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Col. 3:15a).

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Ps. 29:11)

Certainly there is that initial peace, that oneness with God that comes by salvation: by agreeing with God as to one’s sinfulness, helplessness, and need, turning to Him in surrender, turning about and following Him. This is the peace of which Paul wrote: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). “For He Himself is our peace…” (Eph. 2:14a). Even as the angel announced and which we celebrate this season, “…on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14). And certainly too there is that hiding place in Him to which we can turn and settle our hearts at rest: “…green pastures… still waters…” (Ps. 23:

But there are also times when peace must be sought… when a battle for it must be fought… “Seek peace and pursue it” wrote the psalmist (Ps. 34:14), words repeated by Peter (1 Pet. 3:11). Such a pursuit is at times required, and of late, such a struggle has been mine.

About such pursuit Matthew Henry comments, “If peace seem to flee from us, we must pursue it; follow peace with all men, spare no pains, no expense, to preserve and recover peace; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal, both in honour and interest, for peace’ sake.” – Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary

Note the verbs in that statement: pursue, follow, take pains, expense, preserve, recover, deny oneself. Sometimes a hard decision is necessary, only after which one senses that affirming hand of assurance upon one’s shoulder, that peace of the Holy Spirit, the “peace which passes understanding” (Phil. 4:7) for there appears no visible basis for it. It is a peace borne by faith, very real faith.

Such is our case today. Peace may wish to flee from us we face uncertain tomorrows; we must pursue it. We must remind ourselves of the Love, and Promises, and Purposes of God and by faith follow them. We must take pains to refuse negativism and rather “encourage one another more and more” (Heb. 10:25). In time, whether or not troubles cease, peace will come.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

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, 12/3/21 – Understanding Nothing…

Understanding Nothing…

Restless, I was awake at 3:30 AM this morning; by 4:00 AM I had given up sleep and begun my morning exercises. On the CBC Radio One program “Ideas” the viewpoints of poet-philosopher Martin Heidegger were contrasted with those of empiricist Rudolf Carnap. Their 1929 debate probed the meaning of “nothing” and led to as yet unresolved tensions regarding the very nature of philosophy. The question: is philosophy closer to art, or science?

The discussion was amusing yet brought to mind several warnings of scripture: “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking,” Paul cautioned the Colossians (Col. 2:8). “Avoid foolish controversies” he urged Titus. (Titus 3:9-10). To Timothy Paul emphasized “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the pointless discussions and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.” (1 Tim. 6:20). And James reminds us all, “Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3:15).

Now I thank the Lord for the great apologists of the faith, the defenders of truth, those skilled intellectual debaters who can clearly refute such “opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20, NIV). Paul himself engaged with the philosophers of Athens (see Acts 17:16-32). But Truth comes only from God. Philosophy plays with the mind but, as the story of Job so clearly illustrates, the answers of infinity are not intellectual.

The wise believer will combat philosophy with the Truth of God, by “the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21). “We do not use words that come from human wisdom,” explains Paul. “Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.” (1 Cor. 2:13). “For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:19).

A man with an argument is always at the mercy of the man with an experience. “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know,” said the former blind man. “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:23).

What is “Nothing”? “By faith we understand…” (Heb. 11:3).

I think now I will try to catch a nap!

Press on…

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

Thursday, 12/2/21 – Discipleship: Fellowships of Fantasy and of the Family of God

Fellowships of Fantasy and of the Family of God

Moviedom of Hollywood and Television has marketed many spins on fellowship since the turn of this century as the following title movie bills reveal:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Fellowship of the Dice (2005), Rise of the Fellowship (2013), Artifice: Loose Fellowship and Partners (2015), The Fellowship Of The Shamolyn (2017), and The Fellowship of the Farmers (2017).

I’ve seen none of these flicks nor is it my desire. Christendom knows fellowships far superior and has known them since the very first of centuries.

One of the earliest was the “fellowship of the apostles” enjoyed by them and soon after by the 3,000 souls saved at Pentecost (Act 2:42). Included and binding to this fellowship is the reality that all believers are “called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). This fellowship is the church of God amongst whom obedient believers enjoy the “fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” (2 Cor. 8:4). We minister to one another with our giftedness, our physical and practical help in times of need, our emotional and prayer support, and at times our prudent financial aid.

James, Cephas, and John, “pillars” in the Jerusalem church, extended to Paul snd Barnabas “the right hands of fellowship in affirmation of their unique calls to ministry (Gal. 2:9). Shared among us is our understanding, if not intellectual certainly existential “the fellowship of the mystery—the living Christ within (Eph. 3:9), a “fellowship in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5) made possible by the “fellowship of the Spirit” (Phil. 1:5).

In time, as we walk with our Lord, we experience surprisingly, then learn reluctantly, then value profoundly “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) which bonds us deeper in true “fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3).

Such superior fellowships require our diligence to retain, to keep pure from other so-called “fellowships” in this damaged and dirty world (1 Cor. 10:20, Ps. 94:20, 2 Cor. 6:14, Eph. 5:11, 1 Jn. 1:6-7).

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, 12/1/21 – Pressing on… Omicron!


Just two days ago the World Health Organization announced a new Greek alphabet-based system to name COVID-19 variants. The UK B.1.1.7 will now be known as the Alpha variant. The South African B.1.351 becomes the Beta variant, and the India B.1.617.2 variant will now be referred to as Delta. Numerous other variants of lesser concern have emerged since these but only a few are of ongoing concern.

Alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron are considered “variants of concern,” lambda and mu are “variants of interest,” kappa, iota and eta were variants of interest but have now been downgraded to join epsilon, zeta and theta as “variants under monitoring.” Omicron is the 13th variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the world awaits the details as to its danger.

How are you holding up? In this season of Hope in Christ, of Peace on earth, of Joy to the world, and of the amazing agapé Love of God, does your anchor hold in these storms of life… in the straits of fear… through the morning light?*

Our world is in upheaval: floods, fires, falsehoods, rebellion, perversion, pandemic! God is clearly calling us to look to Him. He warned us of days such as these. He said, “there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes” (Matt. 24:7, KJV), and He said these would appear with ever greater frequency and intensity… like birth pains… “the beginning of birth pains,” He said. From here on in things only get worse!

But then He said this: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28). The destruction of a womb is no loss when the birth of a new life results. And God is making something new. Since the fall of mankind, and if we could comprehend it, even before that, God has been making a new thing. Isaiah announced: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isa. 43:19).

Those who do see it rejoice!

Press on…

* We Have an Anchor, Priscilla J. Owens, 1882

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, 11/30/21 – Pressing on… Knowing and being Known

Knowing and being Known

In Psalm 139 David marvels at the Lord’s intimate knowledge of him. He writes,

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” (Psalm 139:1-4, NIV).

In awe of the scope of such Divine interest and scrutiny David confesses, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (v. 6). I rather like how The Message puts this verse: “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!”

But such intimate knowledge ought not surprise us. We have been fully informed of it in scripture. How minute is God’s knowledge of every individual? “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” records Matthew (Matt. 10:30), a tax collector familiar with numerical precision.

In the depth of great trial a bewildered Job affirms “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Despite his troubles Job knew the Almighty knew Him, and in Him he would yet trust.

David knew his Lord was everywhere: “in the heavens… in the depths… on the wings of the dawn… on the far side of the sea… [in] the darkness … and the light.” (Psalm 139: 7-12, NIV)

Job felt the Lord was nowhere: “But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.” (Job. 23:7-9).

But both knew, whether God was hidden or revealed, whether they presently experienced His presence or not, the one most important fact remained: God knew them!

“You know me,” sang David to the Almighty’s Face. “He knows the way that I take,” declared Job to the silent darkness on all sides. Both were men of great faith… men of “that same spirit of faith,” available to you and I today. Whether we shout praise from the mountaintop or reach out through darkness. “…we do not lose heart,” knowing this: “…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:13, 16-18).

This too is our HOPE, in which we rest —  this present week of Advent, and beyond.

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.