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

A Peace that may Plot a Painful Path

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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.

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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!

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.

Friday, 11/26/21 – “Hear ye, Hear ye…”

“Hear ye, Hear ye…”

So began the cry of the medieval ‘Town Crier’ as he walked the streets of England ringing his hand bell. His actual shout “Oyez, oyez, oyez!” (pron. ‘oh yay”) derived from “ouïr,” French for ‘to listen,’ meaning “Listen to what I have to say to you,” or, “Hear ye”.

Folk would gather and the Crier would read out the latest news, proclamation, warning or other urgent or newsworthy information. After completing his rounds the Crier would, for the benefit of the literate, post his news at the entry of the local pub.

Jesus came into this world as a sort of ‘Town Crier’ — indeed much more than that. He was and is both Messenger and Message, “The Word became flesh,” writes John (John 1:14). He was and is the Active Agent of Creation. “In Him all things were created,” affirms Paul, “… all things have been created through Him and for Him… and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17). And of this Creation David results, “The heavens declare the glory of God… their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1,4).

To you and to I He also rings out, “Hear ye, Hear ye…” Repeatedly He pleas, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…” (Mat 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). His message is urgent, and now we must hear. As you go about your business, enjoy your pleasures, stop… full stop, and listen!

You see, there was another job of the Town Crier… one which Christ also will one day perform. The Town Crier was the one called upon during public hangings. His job was to read out the charges against the one to be hung. Afterwards he would also assist in cutting the corpse down.

Are there charges against you in your heavenly account? Are you yet sentenced to destruction? Or have these charges been erased… erased already by virtue of the One who stepped in and was executed on your behalf?

Here is this Crier’s message to you,

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2) and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13; Joel 2:32).

Believers and unbelievers alike – we must ALL develop the habit of listening to God. Whether our prayers be for salvation, for guidance, for comfort or for praise, God has important messages for us. We must stop asking long enough to hear Him speak. Pamela Grey notes, “For every soul that says ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,’ there are 10 that say ‘Hear, Lord! For thy servant speaketh.’” (Pamela Grey, as qu by Philip Yancey, Prayer  Does it make Any Difference?)

Do you have “ears to hear“?

Press on…

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

Monday, 11/22/21 – Pressing on… What’s in You?

What’s in You?

The Norwegian Proverb states, “In every woman there is a Queen. Speak to the Queen and the Queen will answer.” It speaks not only to women, but to that inner part of each one of us that longs for actualization of the person they really know themselves to be, or wish to become.

“In every believer there is a King,” our speaker paraphrased. And he was quite accurate. As Scripture declares of those in Christ Jesus… “[He] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev. 1:6; 5:10).

Kings… and Priests. But that’s just the beginning!

In every believer there is also a child of God (John 1:12), a disciple and friend of Jesus (John 15:15), a soul declared righteous, justified before God (Rom. 5:1), a ‘bought and paid for’ possession of God (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

In every believer there is a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27), a chosen and adopted child of God (Eph. 1:3-8), one with direct access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).

In every believer there is a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20), one who has been given a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7), one born of God whom the evil one cannot touch (1 John 5:18). In every believer there is a branch of Christ, the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15:5), appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16), God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16), a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21), seated in heaven with Christ (Eph. 2:6), God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10).

The Norwegian proverb reminds us that we must remind each other of these things… of who we truly are, or are becoming. One powerful way to do this is by us treating one another as the Saints and kings we are becoming.

The German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe observed… “When we treat man as he is we make him worse than he is. When we treat him as if he already was what he potentially could be we make him what he should be.” Adds Charles Noble: “You must have a long-range vision to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.”

Our Lord has that “long-range vision” for each of His children. In fact, its a super long-range vision – an eternal one. And He invites you and I to reach for that vision… to reach for it in Him, to reach for it in oneself, and to reach for it in others.

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, 11/19/21 – What to do when you’re ‘Under the Weather’?

What to do when you’re ‘Under the Weather‘?

I’ve been having a terribly difficult time today writing this blog! Normally it’s one of the first things I do weekday mornings after a few morning exercises, a devotional time, and my first coffee. Normally it’s something I enjoy doing very much. But today is not a “normal” day, and now it is mid-afternoon!

This morning… afternoon… I am sluggish! My bowels are sluggish, my energy level is sluggish, and my spiritual acuity is also sluggish! — I’m grumpy too!

But that’s not all — My wife too is feeling sluggish, and for the second day now. Two days ago she had a wisdom tooth extracted and the process did not go smoothly. Side effects from Codeine-laced Tylenol 3 and the sheer physical exhaustion from all the pulling, tugging, yanking, twisting and protracted period of jaw agape left her extremely exhausted and nauseous.

But even that’s not all! Our cat, quite put out by our mutual sluggishness, is also grumpy! Twice now she missed her usual morning scratch, not to mention several servings of the chicken & catnip-flavoured treats she was used to conniving! That will never do! She’s probably thinking, “It’s hard to find good help these days!”

On days like these one must guard against falling into the trap alluded to by Solomon. In assessing life’s meaning he repeatedly concluded its vanity with the phrase, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:3, 9, 14, 2:11, 17-22… ) In all, he uses the phrase some 27 times!

Solomon saw life only as it presented itself now. But God’s purposes extend far above what is seen now “under the sun.” Moses reminded the Hebrews, “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deut. 10:14). We too must remember the hope we have in God on even miserable everyday days… days of great grief… days of uncertainty.

Our lives as His children are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). And our Christ, our God, remains the same “yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). Our God, and His plans and purposes for His people “belong to the heavens” — though for now we are “under the sun” and whether or not we are “under the weather.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 11/18/21 – Right, Wrong, and the Word in His Many Forms

Right, Wrong, and the Word in His Many Forms

Why should I not come to your home, force my way into it, ransack and loot, maim or even slay any who oppose my actions? — “Well! Because it’s wrong!” you may gasp.

“What makes you think this behaviour is ‘wrong’?” I would counter. Conscienceless murderers have no sense of ‘wrongness.’ Nor do wolves, lions, stalkers and thieves. Nor do infants, the simple-minded, the brain-damaged or many senile. From whence comes human conscience anyway? What of the over-scrupulous? What defines their excess or lack? What and where is the fulcrum for balanced thinking?… sanity?… morality? Will a poorly informed mind spawn a misinformed conscience? – and what information might ‘rightly’ inform it?

Many centuries past the psalmist posed “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, NASB). What foundations? Are there truly foundations?

If there are no foundations then my opening behaviour cannot be called ‘wrong.’ But “No,” you say, for in your soul you know it to be wrong, “Then wrong is what most people agree,” you say. But yet there are great flaws. On looting and murder one might find good consensus, but what of smaller matters? Fine lines… over- vs under- conscientiousness?

Jesus declared with authority the need of solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-29). Paul underscored that Foundation’s Identity: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11).

Jesus Christ: the Word Who became flesh (John 1:14)… the Word that created all things (Col. 1:16)… the Word imprinted on papyrus (2 Pet. 1:21) and imbedded on hearts (Jer. 31:33).

This Word, now in all everyday practicality, every believer must digest daily… in reading… meditating… praying… and obeying.

There is Foundation, and that Foundation is Christ. Conscience — informed by its body of Truth, it’s assimilation into mind, its activation of heart, and its practice by behaviour – is conscience informed by the Spirit of God and is Truth. He teaches us Right, Wrong, and the Way to Eternal Life.

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.