Tuesday, 10/19/21 – Pressing on… Which is your King?

Which is your King?

On this date, Oct. 19, 1987, 34 years ago a second “Black Monday” shook stock markets worldwide. The first had occurred Oct. 28, 1929, a part of the huge Wall Street crash which began four days earlier on Oct. 24, and resulted in a 24.8% drop in the Dow. It led ultimately to the Great Depression. But the 1987 crash was global! The Dow fell 22%, a shocking 508.32 points!

Other “Black Mondays” followed:

1929 Crash – Headlines | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
Sept. 29, 2008 – A financial crisis since 2007 and real estate bubble burst crashed world markets into the Great Recession.
Aug. 8, 2011 – Stock markets crashed due to a credit rate downgrade of the United States’ debt.
Aug. 24, 2015 – Chinese stock market crash. SSE Composite Index declined by 8.45%.
Sept. 16, 2019 – Federal Reserve interves in the repo market 5 months prior to 2020 stock market crash after overnight lending rate spiked above 8%.
Mar. 9, 2020 – Investor panic over COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Saudi oil price war prompt worst losses since Great Recession. Mar. 16, 2020 – Larger falls than the week previous!

These were huge disasters for those whose trust was in money. Many fell into deep depression. Many found themselves penniless and without hope. Some committed suicide.

Nothing is secure in this world. But the Christian’s confidence is in Christ. He has chosen Christ, not cash, as King. Money may make the world go round but the Christian trusts “the God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24). This world is passing away (1 John 2:17) but the Christian trusts in a world to come. Paul writes, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:19). But in Christ, Paul says, we are “…poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor. 6:10).

As I chat with homeless folk on our downtown city streets I uncover both the lottery playing hopefuls and the heavenward praying faithful. Regardless of social strata the distribution of trusters in cash and trusters in Christ seems about the same… and each of us will choose.

Christ drew the first line in the sand on this and pointed out the decision we each must make. “No one can serve two masters,” He said. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24). He pointed to the simplicity of faith found in His creation , “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 6:26).

Ultimately we must all surrender everything. As Paul points out, “…we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” Chasing riches is always short-lived.  “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that,” Paul continues.”Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:6-10).

Choose God over money and He will see to the rest. He has given this promise: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:33-34).

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, 10/11/21 – Pressing on… Good Medicine

Good Medicine

Today in Canada is “Thanksgiving Day!” Typically, it is a day for reflecting and feasting on the good things of the earth, of others, and of God. “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord” begins Psalm 92, and science has further demonstrated it.

Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.

Psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough asked a group of study participants to write a few sentences each day about things for which they were grateful that day. They asked another group to record their daily irritations and negative experiences.  After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives, they had begin to exercise more and had fewer visits to a doctor than the group who tracked negative things.

Gratitude improves relationships with spouses, co-workers, shopkeepers, anyone with whom social interactions occur – including God!

A thankful heart “does good, like medicine,” wrote Solomon (Prov. 17:22); it is “good medicine,” “good for your health” as some translations put it. But a broken, saddened, thankless heart “dries the bones,” it “saps a person’s strength,” it will “leave you bone-tired.”

A thankful heart’s first “go to” response is gratitude. It’s default world view is that It is blessed! It is a contented heart, a happy heart. It teaches one to appreciate what one has instead of always reaching for the next new thing.

From a dank and dreary prison cell Paul writes the Philippians,

“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11b-13).

Paul says he had to “learn” contentment… thankfulness. He did! And so can you! Learning is worth the course. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6).

Thankfulness makes one rich! How? A thankful heart has learned that true wealth is not found in having many things, but in having few wants.

The Christian ought demonstrate thankfulness above all. A Christian has Christ and has found that Christ alone satisfies all wants. A Christian has found peace with God. He has surrendered self and is unafraid to die. A Christian knows he is eternal and that his eternity is very good indeed.

Today, be Thankful….”be content… because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Gen. 13:5).

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.

THANKSGIVING BONUS: Click here to link to a special Thanksgiving Worship Special with Christian recording artist Becka deHaan!

Thursday, 9/30/21 – Fellowship: Truth & Reconciliation

Fellowship: Truth & Reconciliation

Today has been designated a “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” a day to honour residential school survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process. Great wrongs were committed against our First Nation peoples. This truth must be faced, and wrongs must be confessed and corrected for reconciliation and true fellowship to be restored.

The Creation of Adam, Michaelangelo

The parallels between this reality and the much broader gospel of God are very clear: Great wrong is committed against our God and Father. Each one of us is guilty; our best efforts are all “as filthy rags” before Him. This truth must be faced, and our sin must be confessed and corrected for reconciliation and true fellowship with our Maker to be restored!  

What must we do? We must admit to the Truth that wrought our alienation, we have turned away from our God, we have each gone our own way, we have rejected and abused, and sought to put to death His Son. What is the Truth? Christ this Son is the Truth. Making peace with Him by Him, is our only path to Reconciliation with the Father, to Unity with the saints and household of God.

And God has appointed a day, a Global Day, a day of Truth and of Reconciliation. God has appointed a day, and that day is Today: “Today is the day of salvation…” (2 Cor. 6:2).

He invites you to call upon Him this day, to come to Him, that He may draw near to you. Then He calls upon you: He calls upon you to call upon others as Paul outlines,

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:18-21)

Then, reconciled with our God, we are in the best place from which to build reconciliation with others, with our First Nations people and all others.

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, 9/15/21 – Pressing on… An Echo from Carthage

An Echo from Carthage

Cyprian of Carthage (200-258) was one of the great early fathers of the Church of God on this earth. He died a martyr under the persecution of his age. When told of his soon to follow fate he replied, “Thanks be to God,” so honored was he at being chosen to give our Lord such a final sacrifice.

On the incarnation, self-emptying, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, Cyprian wrote, “What humanity is, Christ was willing to be, that humanity may become what Christ is.”

Now, the Christian is called to that same self-emptying and sacrifice of one’s own life in exchange for Christ’s life throbbing through him. Paul captures this duty and confesses,

I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:19-22).

Of Christ Cyprian extols, “He was proclaimed as the Illuminator and Teacher of humanity. He is the Power of God, the Reason of God, the Wisdom and Glory of God. He enters into a virgin. Although holy and spiritual in His nature, He is clothed with flesh – God made one with Man. Behold our God! Behold Christ! He is the Mediator between God and humanity. He put on human nature that He may lead humanity to the Father.”

Can you see it? Now, if you have received Him, Christ has inhabited youyou are the flesh He has put on, that He indwells … and one in whom He desires “to live and move and have His being.” Through you… and you… and you… many ‘Christs,’ doing many “greater things” allowing Him through each to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means [He] might save some.”

This requires you too to die — to die, at least, to ‘self.’ Can you shout with Cyprian “Thanks be to God!” ?

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.

Monday, 9/13/21 – On Training wheels and Water wings…

On Training wheels and Water wings…

There comes a time in the young cyclist’s life that the training wheels must come off. And there comes a time in the young swimmer’s story that the water wings must be removed. The centrifugal and gyroscopic principles were always the cyclist’s real allies, as was the principle of buoyancy in the case of the swimmer. For a time the respective supports were necessary, but never were they intended to continue.

So it is with the faith of Abraham in looking forward to that promised Seed, the Mosaic Law, and the faith of the Christian in looking backward to that same Seed. The Law was there till we learned our fallenness… gave up our trying to make it our full support… our self-made righteousness.

And when that time arrived, that time to toss off that old and it’s bondage, that time to embrace the new, Christ came… that promised Seed, the eternal Word, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) — “we have heard… we have seen… we have looked at and our hands have touched,” writes John (1 John 1:1). And then He was not. And now we look back.

But His coming, tho brief, was at that divine and perfect time, that time known by the Father from the foundations of the worlds, from before time, from, to, and within the eternal! Paul writes the Galatians, “…when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son“ (Gal. 4:4).

God has a time, and a purpose, and when the time is right, God will do.

Solomon in His wisdom observed this rule: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl. 3:1). Or, as some translations have it, “a time to every purpose.”

Nothing is random in God’s universe, unless it is random by purpose. Nothing is rogue, even the devil and his hosts ultimately will serve His purposes. And nothing can thwart these. As Gamaliel cautioned regarding the presumptions of some to do so, “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39).

And so, in God’s good will and purpose, He waited. And then, “…when the set time had fully come” God acted.

Believer, this is so even today. God has His times and purposes for you too. And like the cyclist… like the swimmer… like the gift of God’s Son… these things are made actual to you not by vain effort, but by Faith.

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.

Wednesday, 9/8/21 – Pressing on… Paint rags amid the linens…

Paint rags amid the linens…

I don’t know about you but I know in our home if after my wife has washed and spun the sheets, pillowcases and hand towels, hung them to outdoors to finish drying, brought them in again with that fresh outdoors smell of cleanness, folded them and stacked them neatly, she would not appreciate it if I “added” to the pile my several oily or paint stained rags from the garage! My “addition” would certainly not be seen as an “addition” at all! Immediately the rags would need to be removed and much off the laundry would need to be washed again. My “addition” would prove only to have been a “subtraction.”

Scripture informs us that God is Holy (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 11:16; Rev. 15:4). No unholy thing may stand in His Presence, and fallen man has become an unholy thing! The prophet Isaiah summarizes: “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…” (Isa. 64:6a). If I try to add my works to God’s grace it is like adding oily rags amid the linens.

Jesus is the only qualified God-man, the only Righteous One capable of being our Mediator. He satisfied fully the sin debt (propitiation) owed to God, and bought us back (redemption) by the purity (efficacy) of His sacrifice. Because He was sinless He owed nothing on behalf of Himself and was thereby qualified to die on behalf all who trust Him.

But if we try to add to that by trusting in our own goodness, by trying to “top up” the work of God, all we do is to mix impurity to purity. When a thing is already perfect nothing more can be added to it.

This is where Pastor Andrew’s illustration from algebra comes in. Human effort added to grace does not add to it at all, but instead only subtracts from it. Like adding a negative number to a value the whole is not enhanced but is diminished:  e.g. 5 + -3 = 2.

Jesus paid 100 % of each believer’s redemption. He has paid 100% of my redemption. In this transaction His righteousness is given to me. In the eyes of the Father I, a believer, stand justified — “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. All I have to offer is unrighteousness. My job is simply to understand this is true, keep my filthy hands off the perfect grace of God, and trust fully now in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Press on…

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

Friday, 8/27/21 – If death is natural why does it feel so wrong?

If death is natural why does it feel so wrong?

Here is a modified something that I posted back in 2017, before I began blogging.

One of the most convincing evidences of the truth of the gospel is the fact that we all feel that death is something that ought not happen. Every other aspect of our natural being makes sense: we hunger, there is natural food and we are nourished by it; we have a drive for sex, there is a mate to fulfil that and it results in multiplication of humankind; we fear a danger, and adrenalin provides energy for battle or escape; we have creative ambition and can create. But then comes death. It makes no sense. We want to go on… but the fact of death thwarts us.

God has created us with a sense of eternity in our hearts. Death feels wrong because it is wrong. The fact that all around us and within us death exists is not God’s fault, it is ours – ours because of sin. Long ago we chose, and every day we choose, sin over God. Death is not what God our Creator intended. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts….” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Tozer comments…

“We take it for granted and we are not surprised at all about the eternal nature of God but the greater wonder is that God has seen fit to put His own everlastingness within the hearts of men and women….
I believe that this is the truth about our troubles and our problems: We are disturbed because God has put everlastingness in our hearts. He has put a longing for immortality in our beings. He has put something within men and women that demands God and heaven—and yet we are too blind and sinful to find Him or even to look for Him!…
Men and women need to be told plainly, and again and again, why they are disturbed and why they are upset. They need to be told why they are lost and that if they will not repent they will certainly perish. Doctors and counselors will tell troubled men and women that their problems are psychological, but it is something deeper within the human being that troubles and upsets—it is the longing after eternity.” – A.W. Tozer, Christ the Eternal Son, pp. 52-54

The wages of sin is death,” (Rom. 6 :23a) But the gospel tells us there is a way back to eternality. There is an answer to that inner longing, and that answer is Christ! “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23b).

May the Lord, help all who read this see past the commotion and chaos of this world and listen to that longing within. May they all reach out and grasp Christ, our only hope of salvation and the gift of eternal life.

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 8/24/21 – Pressing on… Bandages Are Bondages

Bandages Are Bondages

Roman stoic philosopher and statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) stated “It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor.” Second century Greek philosopher Epictetus (50-138 AD) observed “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” And in more recent times The Beatles sang“I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.” (Can’t Buy Me Love, 1964).

Centuries before any of these the wisest of all men, Solomon, lamented “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.” (Eccl. 5:10). “All the labor of man is for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied,” he added (Eccl. 6:7, NKJV). Jesus completed the equation teaching, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27).

Epictetus

All of these echo the eternal truth… a hard truth to many… that only Jesus satisfies. Any time our hearts seek satisfaction outside of Him… any time we turn to a gospel that tries to add to Him… any time we try to subtract from Him or dodge what He requires of us we will most certainly come away empty.

Sin has created a great problem, a great alienation from our God. Our souls instinctively cry out to God but in our sinful self-will we refuse to surrender to Him. We try to drown out our soul cries with the constant noise of this world, but these attempts only make us suffer more. Addictions, conflicts, self-hate and isolation – just a few of the fruits and still the soul cries out! We try to bandage our wound but our bandages only become our bondages. The only answer… the only answer is full surrender to Christ!

This is Paul’s message to the Galatians: we must surrender all to gain all and that which we gain is Christ and Christ is all that we need.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

The Christian has made this surrender and makes it again with each new day, each new challenge, each temptation, snare and allure of this world. One step is not the journey; the journey is in one step, and then another… and another… and another… following Jesus in the Way.

More tomorrow…

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

Tuesday, 8/3/21 – Pressing on… Brilliant!

Brilliant!

But what, if after all that — all that we touched upon in yesterday’s post — what if after that great grace given us no one availed themselves of the fullness of that provision, plan, and possibility? That provision, plan, and possibility is this: “…God chose you …to be saved …that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 4:13-14). To share in the glory of Christ is not vanity in self, but magnification of Him.

Take for example the creation of the first light. In Genesis we read:

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.” (Gen. 1:16-18).

Now the moon has no light in itself, no glory of its own, but the moon obeys fully the Creator’s provision, plan, and possibility for it. It stays in its orbit around this earth, near it, yet apart from it, and it receives and faithfully reflects upon this earth that light which it receives from the Sun, the only true source of light. In doing so it does not boast of any personal brilliance, but only of that brilliance which is the Sun’s.

The Creator’s provision, plan, and possibility for us is the same. “You are the light of the world,” said Jesus of His faithful. So, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We shine to glorify our Father…. Our Maker… and Lord.

Paul wrote, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14).But we cannot boast in… i.e. we cannot glorify… our Lord Jesus Christ unless we bow to the lowest of humilities… unless we “die to self” and “yield to Him”… to His provision, plan, and possibility – His purpose to show in us His Glory.

This is our purpose in this world now, not later in glory. Glory shines its own light… there is no night there (Rev. 21:25, 22:5). The moon cannot be seen in daytime because of the greater brilliance of the Sun. It was made for that time when it is night. Likewise we must exercise ourselves to reflect His Glory now, where it is dark. It is His provision, plan, and possibility for all who will receive Him.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4).
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Pet. 1:5-7).

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, 7/30/21 – More thoughts on Christ and Temptation…

More thoughts on Christ and Temptation…

One of these days I really must look at changing my blog layout. Though I do like the one I’ve been using there is one aspect I wish were different: the poor visibility of your comments, and the even poorer visibility of my responses to them.

If you look very carefully, down at the bottom of each post you will find in small, very light font a list if options… something like this,

but it looks like this,

Most miss-able indeed!

If you click on the “Leave a Comment” link you will be able to do so, but few readers notice the link and consequently comments are rare. Once a comment has been left, however, it is easy to be seen following that blog.

The July 9 post, “Could Jesus Have Sinned,” was such a post with a good reader comment. Because these are easily overlooked I repeat my responses here as today’s post for your consideration…

* * * * * *

In Gal. 5:16 Paul writes, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” We tend to walk in and out of the Spirit and likely will until heaven. Jesus walked always in vital union with the Spirit and Father, excepting that dreadful moment on the cross (Matt.27:46).

A Spirit filled Christian seeing someone drop their wallet would be compelled to chase after the owner and return it. If this Christian is asked, “Why didn’t you keep it?” he may well reply, “Oh, I couldn’t do that!” Well, he could, but He couldn’t. Why? “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set [him] free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). So long as he walks in the Spirit, and until all sin is taken from him. Christ always walked by the Spirit.

On the matter of Christ being tempted “in all points like as we are” (Heb. 4:15), I think it important to distinguish between the virtue being tested and the means used to effect that testing.

When a man is tempted to vanity he may be enticed to purchase and flaunt an extravagant sports car, a fine yacht, or expensive electronics. When a woman is tempted to vanity she may be excessive in her clothing, beauty treatments, or socializations with some elite clique. Both are tempted on the same point, vanity, but the bait must necessarily be different. Christ was tempted to vanity also. It was the second of his great temptations while Jesus was in the wilderness.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’” (Matt. 4:5-6).

The devil had been taunting Jesus, challenging His identity. He dared Christ to prove His divinity by performing this act of indulgence. “If you are the Son of God,” he said. But Jesus asserted the Word of God over competition of vanity. He said, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”(v.7).

Like the man and the woman, so too Christ was tempted on the point of vanity, and as in the case of the man and the woman, so too with Christ the bait had to be tailor-made.

* * * * * *

Press On…

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