Wednesday, 10/6/21 – Pressing on… A bellyfull of one another?

A bellyfull of one another?

An expert in the law, once tested Jesus by asking Him: “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus made no hesitation but citing from the Pentateuch answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:34-40, NIV)

Paul, in writing the Romans, restates this,

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom. 13:8-10)

John, the disciple whom the Lord most loved, extends this plea:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)

We do well to remember that to love one another is not merely a suggestion, it is not dependent upon emotion, and it is not at all an option. To love one another, despite our differences, is a command of our God. In fact, as the above scriptures emphasize, it is the CHIEF command.

In Galatians Paul warns,

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Gal. 5:13-15)

The fruit of the Spirit is love…” writes Paul (5:24). But if we instead “bite and devour each other,” if we are with a bellyfull of one another, we find ourselves too full for the Spirit, for Living Water and Bread of Life.

Love one another, and

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, 5/31/21 – Pressing on… Gracious You!

Gracious You!

Merriam Webster gives no less than 17 definitions and sub-definitions for the noun “Grace,” but for the Christian one simple 2-word definition will suffice: “unmerited favour.” God’s grace toward us is demonstrated in this, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). And because of this grace to us, we ought extend grace to others.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15, KJV)

As Christ is gracious in bringing salvation to we who do not deserve it through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, so we ought to be gracious in kindnesses toward others who by their behaviour and attitudes do not merit it. We must be diligent in this, not allowing a fleshly bitterness toward them to creep up and take root in us, but remembering that they too are lost souls for whom Christ died – and that now we are the only arms of His grace upon this earth through whom He can yet reach out to them.

Not only for their sake do we guard ourselves, but also for our own, for bitterness can defile our own hearts too. As Solomon warned by the superior wisdom God gave him, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23, NKJV).

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Prov. 4:23, NIV

God has every right to be bitter against us. He created us, gave us paradise, and forbad us only one thing. But we spat in His face, defied Him and did that one thing. He ousted us, for He had no choice. God is light and cannot mix with darkness. Light is what it is, and by its nature must disperse all darkness; God’s very Presence expelled us.

But God is also Gracious. Though banishing us He must, still He makes a way for us. He sends Christ among us, within those who will give Him entry, and He illuminates us. He makes us light again, that immediately we may rejoin our Maker… He gives us also promise of a new Paradise… an eternal communion.

In the prologue of his gospel John writes, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (John 1:16, NIV), ”grace for grace” as the KJV has it. To the humble of heart* God gushes grace, fills us…. overflows us. From that overflow we are to extend His grace to others. To refuse, carries a fearful consequence. The author of Hebrews continues…

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29).

More tomorrow…

 * see James 4:6.

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.