Wednesday, 1/8/20 – Pressing on…

Increasing and Decreasing

black and white people bar men

It astonished me that though the first disciples walked daily with Jesus – that Jesus who as We have been discussing this week is “Jesus is Greater Than ___________.” (you fill in the blank) – though these disciples walked with Him still they argued amongst themselves about which of them was to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke records two instances of this.

The first is in Luke 9. Earlier in this chapter we have the miraculous feeding of 5,000, Peter’s declaration that Jesus Is the Messiah, the astonishing event of the Transfiguration, and the healing of a demonic boy. Twice in this chapter Jesus speaks to His disciples of His coming betrayal and death but they did not understand. Instead, their conversation turns to which of them will be the greatest! In fact, it becomes an out and out argument!!

light sunset people water

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’” (Luke 9:46-48).

So Jesus sets the standard aright. Greatness in the kingdom of God is not measured by how high you can rise, but on how low you will humble yourself. But a humility which seeks humility as a way to Greatness is no humility at all. True humility never thinks to seek greatness. In fact, true humility is completely unaware of itself; it seeks only to minister to the needs of others.

But then the disciples even dare to raise the matter again!

Jesus has just announced that one of them would betray Him. So uncertain are they of their own hearts that the disciples begin to ask among themselves who the betrayer might be. “Is it I?” each asks (Matt. 26:22).

art carving close up crown

But then the ugly question rose again… “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24). Again Jesus, troubled as He was about His own impending task, explained to them that the kingdom of God ran on a different economy. “… you are not to be like that [this world’s system of greatness]. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (v. 26).

Jesus is Greater than all. He is God. May we all learn to say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 5 message.

Tuesday, 1/7/20 – Pressing on…

Surrender to Greatness

achievement confident free freedom

The Christian is one who has made that commitment spoken of yesterday.* The Christian has received the message of the gospel and – more than that – has believed Christ to be Whom He said He was, the Messiah, Saviour of souls, Lord of all: God in flesh. The Christian has invited the Spirit of God to indwell him and God has been true to His Word and begun a transformative work in that person… a rebirth… not natural, or by human resolution, but a rebirth sparked and maintained by God.

The Christian walks with an awareness of “Christ within them, their hope of glory.” (see Col. 1:27). The One Greater than all angels or demons, the One Greater than anything one might imagine now lives within the Christian. As John remarkably understates “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

people on sidewalk selective focal photo

The Christian is now a “little Christ” in this world. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” wrote Paul (1 Cor. 4:7). Our effort is small, but that Greatness of God at work within us can multiply that small effort times upon times, Jesus Himself has told us “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” (John 14:12).

It is all about our surrender of what we have into the hands of that One who is Greater, our Saviour.

Scripture has multiple examples of this. Here are just a few…

• Surrender some waterpots – Jesus fills them with wine (John 2:1-12).
• Surrender a small lunch – Jesus multiplies it to feed 5,000 (John 6:1-14).
• Surrender a face washing – Jesus honors the obedience with restored sight John 9:1-7).
• Surrender a closed tomb stone – Jesus causes the dead man inside to live again (John 11:38-44).
• Surrender a donkey – Jesus makes it His chariot (Matt. 21:1-11).
• Surrender a spare room – Jesus makes it a place preeminent (Luke 22:7-12).
• Surrender a fishnet – Jesus fills it with fish (John 21:1-14).

What will you surrender to Jesus today?

More tomorrow…

* see yesterday’s blog

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 5 message.

Monday, 1/6/20 – Pressing on…

Fill in the blank…

blue and red superman print tank top shirt

Tommy: “Betcha my dad is stronger than your dad!”
Billy: “No way! My dad can lift a motorbike!”
Tommy: “My dad can lift two motorbikes – one in each hand!”
Billy: “Oh yeah! Well my dad could do that with someone sitting on each bike!!”
Tommy: “My dad can do all that while riding on a third bike!!!”

Well, you get the idea. Every kid want to believe in the all-surpassing greatness of their father. I wonder from where they get that desire? Could it be from just a teeny bit of that image of God in us that whispers “You are an offspring of a Great One! You are a child of the Eternal and Almighty God of all creation.” Could it be?

sky space dark galaxy

Well, we are such creatures, though many of us are at present estranged from Him. Jesus came as God among us to teach us this very truth. To remind us of our rightful Father. To teach us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven…” (Matt. 6:9). “The Father Himself loves you…” (John 16:27) He said, and “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). He also said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

person sky silhouette night

Jesus is greater than all! In fact, this was the theme of Pastor Andrew’s message this recent Sunday. “Jesus is Greater Than ___________.” You may fill in the blank and whatever you write will be true! You don’t find many open ended statements like that! But it is true. Jesus is the Eternal expression of God, the “Word” made flesh awhile to communicate God to us (see John 1:1-14). Through Jesus the universe was made and by Him it is sustained (v.2,3). Paul wrote “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17).

Yes, Jesus is greater than all, yet pleased to dwell within any who turn from self and sin and make Him their Lord instead. Though He is infinitely greater than you He will not force Himself upon you. You alone hold that power to refuse or receive Him.

John writes,

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to 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 1:11-13).

Wow!

More tomorrow…

Friday, 1/3/20 – Friday Tough Question

What does the Bible say about Social Media?

man looking at ipad pro

It’s a complicated world these days, isn’t it. Almost daily it seems our world gets more complex — and faster too. In such an environment our minds try to simplify the chaos. We tend to categorize the complex into simpler concepts. Shades of grey things are more easily managed if we classify them as black or white. When we are unsure which it should be we sometimes stamp a thing as evil, and avoid it completely even when it could be put to good use.

Jesus, we must remember, ate and drank with those whom others deemed outcasts… persons to be avoided at all cost…. lepers, tax collectors, maimed and unclean. He turned all of these into that which brought glory to God.

man holding microphone while talking to another man

Movies, money, media and medicines, just for starters. All of these have potential for great evil or great good. They are extensions of ourselves… levers with magnify that which is in our hearts.

person holding opened book

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” wrote Baron John Dalberg Acton back in 1887. In Proverbs we read “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23). Jesus put it like this, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NKJV). Or we could add, “out of the abundance of the heart a Christian uses his authority for good … writes a faith-inspiring movie script…. uses medicine to heal… social media to minister to hurting souls.”

photo of women taking picture

Yet still, there is need for caution here. Paul warned the Corinthians, “not everything is beneficial…. not everything is constructive…” (1 Cor. 10:23). The aim of our use of the things of this world must be “the good of others… [and] the glory of God.” (v. 24, 31).

And as with all these things we must also guard against overuse… against addictive behaviour which consumes our time and influence in this world. “Be wise as serpents,” said Jesus, “as shrewd as snakes” the NIV has it (Matt. 10:16). Paul warned the Galatians to be alert to their limits. “Considering yourself lest you also be tempted” And we must remember that we are always an example to our weaker brother.

So that’s it. No external thing is evil in itself; the evil (or good) resides within each individual. Our job as Christians is to choose the good — and the glorious thing is we have the Spirit of God within us to help us do exactly that.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 1/2/20 – Discipleship – Prayer

Unceasing Communication

photography of women using mobile phones

I was just listening to an episode of Ideas, a CBC Radio program of contemporary thought and intellectual discussion. Today’s topic? – Boredom.

As part of this broadcast three teens were asked to surrender their cell phones for a day then report on their experiences of boredom. The request proved too much for them though so the producers negotiated the experiment down to just a morning.

All of the youth reported the great unrest they felt through that morning — how ‘socializing’ with their friends (who were all on their cell phones) was now impossible! (How this seeming inverted dynamic works I must admit is quite beyond me.) Once reunited with their devices, and only after several moments of getting ‘caught up,’ the teens acknowledge that now their worlds finally seemed ‘right’ again… back to ‘normal.’

woman in gray top using her mobile phone

I wonder what they chatted about on those phones? Did they express to their peers their gratitude for having got back their devices? Did they text through the day while doing other chores? Did they tweet about past and present activities? … sing songs maybe? Did they in every possibly boring moment pull out these communicators: in checkout lines, waiting rooms, traffic jams? If they mis-texted a word and inadvertently sent someone an insult did they admit it immediately so not to damage a relationship? Did they diligently watch and listen for replies?

depth of field photography of woman in pastel color sleeveless shirt and white sunhat

Does this list of possibilities seem familiar to you? If you are a regular reader of this blog it should. I itemized a very similar list in yesterday’s blog. But yesterday the object of such devotion was not a mechanical medium, it was God — God in Christ Jesus, the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24).

To be in fellowship with God as avidly as these teens, to be in constant, even relentless, communication with Him! This is prayer… “praying without ceasing” as Paul urged upon the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:16). These teens prove we can do it… do it effortlessly…. instinctively… passionately… like breathing. Indeed, prayer is our spiritual life-breath.

Unceasing communication with Christ… Walking in the Spirit… Living in Christ… inhaling… exhaling… it’s the way of the Christian. Take a deep breath and try it today!

Press on…

photo of women talking while sittingAre 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, 1/1/20 – Pressing on…

Do you know…

20191230_115329From the late 1960s through to the 1980s a Public Service Announcement ran on TV stations across North America. Moments prior to the 10 o-clock evening news a placard would appear with voiced-over narrative stating the hour and asking parents this one simple question, “Do you know where your children are?”

The ad was designed to provoke awareness in the minds of potentially irresponsible parents. These days these children are now parents themselves. Many, never having learned parental accountability as a child, think nothing of allowing their own children to run wild.

apple applications apps cell phone

Ask some of these same parents, or single parents, “Do you know where your cell phone is?” and you may get an immediate reply… it’s right there beside them, or in use in their hands. Ask, “Do you know where your wallet (or purse) is?” and most will be able to tell you. We keep tabs on what we value.

Jesus said, “Abide [Remain] in Me” (John 15:4)… “Apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5).

Paul urged the believers in Thessalonica to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:16). — Is that possible?! There’s no getting around it, the Greek word, ἀδιαλείπτως literally means: without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing.

The disciples walking to Emmaus did not immediately recognize that Jesus walked with them (Luke 24:16). We too in times of stress or distraction easily forget this. We must train ourselves to be ever Christ conscious, ever in prayerful ‘sync’ with Him.

aerial photo of vehicles in the city

Express to Him your gratitude for every little blessing. Talk to Him while doing your mundane chores. Remind yourself of His workings past and present in your life. Sing to Him. Pray for those around you when in checkout lines, waiting rooms, traffic jams. When you mess up, admit it to Him immediately. Finally, just listen. God desires to speak with you. Perhaps an inner voice, a scripture, the words of a Christian friend, or even the beauty of Creation.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast…” God asks His people through the prophet Isaiah, “… and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isa. 49:15). As unlikely as it ought be for a mother to forget her children, there is no such possibility with God. We are in His thoughts at all times.

How often is He in your thoughts? Do you know where Jesus is?

Press on…

To hear Pastor John’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Dec. 29 message.

Tuesday, 12/31/19 – Pressing on…

Jesus in the everyday…

20191230_063938I used to drive or hop a bus to the Regent Mall in winter months, not to shop but just to walk. It’s warm corridors free of ice and snow made a lovely alternative to battling the frigid and treacherous elements outdoors. Arriving an hour or so before the shops within it opened was a special treat — wide corridors devoid of frenzied shoppers with only the occasional cleaning person or like-minded walker.

It took about fifteen minutes to walk the entire mall, and when I needed a break there was a Starbucks at one end and a McDonald’s at the other. Sometimes I’d stay the morning, relaxing with a snack and watching the people.

person holding opened book

It was an interesting experience to read scripture, pray and meditate on the Lord while at the mall. I’d look at the masses of shoppers and see them as Christ saw them, dearly loved souls for whom He was not willing any should perish, yet whose hearts were far from Him, chasing other ‘gods.’

Being Christ-conscious in the marketplace. This is in fact the calling of every believer… to not only be thinking on Him, but to be living in Him, and through demonstration and words, testimony and challenge bring Christ into the consciousness of all.

Jesus in the everyday… Did not He command us,

“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (John 2:15-17).

Bring Jesus into your world today.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor John’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Dec. 29 message.