Tuesday, 3/17/20 – Pressing on…

Thinking vs Thanking

men s black and gray collared top

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

But, you may object, that was Isaiah speaking… that was long ago… to a different audience… for a specific situation. Isn’t it just ‘wishful thinking’ to believe this promise applies to me?

Well, Paul didn’t think so. From prison he wrote to the churches,

“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).

photo of man sitting on a cave

He taught his young protégé Timothy to take hold of the same truth, indicating that this peace was something inherent to the Spirit of God Who indwells every believer: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7)

Still not convinced? Well then how about the very words of Jesus Who, speaking to His disciples about a generation of believers who centuries later would see the signs and turmoil of the end times, said…

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)

sky sunset person silhouette

Jesus gives this peace, He said, to “Anyone who loves me … “ (v. 23). God’s promise of peace is just as true to us in this 21st Century as is His promise to believers of hope for eternity: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32).

The fact these turmoil have come us no surprise. Jesus told us, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

No dear believer, God’s promise of peace… peace for you, today, amid wars, rumors, rampant sin, love grown cold, greed — and COVID-19, is NOT ‘wishful thinking.’ His promise is a thing of ‘confident thanking.’

Don’t beg God for peace any longer. Thank Him for it!

man person people italy

With a thankful heart you will find as did Paul — and as have countless other believers — that “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,” the peace of God settles in… a peace “which transcends all understanding,” and a peace which “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Mar. 15 message.

Monday, 3/16/20 – Pressing on…

Because of the current COVID-19 crisis, I have decided that over the next couple of weeks I will use this blog to focus on the believer’s hope and confidence in God. This is not a time for panic, but a time to encourage our hearts. As the scriptures say, “encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25). God has not abandoned us. He is still in control. To all who call upon Him He will grant Peace.

No surprise!

scientist in laboratory

COVID-19 is no surprise to God.

In fact, Jesus gave His Church a heads up on this two millennia ago. He said,

“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11)

woman wearing face mask

That word ‘pestilence’ may sound odd to 21st Century ears. Merriam Webster defines pestilence as “a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.” But the word can also take on a more metaphoric meaning. It can mean anything that is highly injurious or destructive. “I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear,” wrote Shakespeare.

woman in white dress shirt using white microscope

Jesus said that in the last days, the days near His return, there would be pestilence. Other translations make it “plagues,” “epidemics,” “outbursts of disease.” In the Greek, the word is λοιμός (loy’-mos) is clear: it means a plague, disease. Jesus is not speaking metaphorically when He says this. He means things like what we are seeing today. COVID -19 is no surprise to Jesus.

So, if our Lord and Saviour knew these very days would fall upon us, do we not realize that the current crisis can in no way affect His good purposes for His children?

Some 62 years ago C.S. Lewis wrote against panic regarding the atomic bomb. In part, he penned

“It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.” – C. S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948)

man in blue and white striped long sleeve shirt while smiling

God had everything under control three months ago and He has everything under control still today. Take reasonable precautions, but do not be alarmed. By divine protection or by enabling grace God will always be with His children.

What did He say to do when such things as these begin to take place? He said, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).

More tomorrow…

 

Wednesday, 3/11/20 – Pressing on…

Boxing or Running?

Paul makes reference to both as parallels to the Christian’s experiences and challenges in following Jesus.

I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26).
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” (2 Tim. 4:7).

people doing marathon

The runner analogy speaks primarily to the believers need for endurance.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9).
You need to persevere,” writes the author od Hebrews, “so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Heb. 10:36).
“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” (Heb. 12:1).

boxers inside a ring

The boxer analogy reminds us that in this world we need to fight.

Foes spiritual
“…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12-13).

Foes internal
“…the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Gal. 5:17).

Foes external
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.” (1 John 2:16).

athletes audience ball bleachers

This world wants us to quit the race, take off the gloves, throw in the towel. “See all the people out there who are not running… not boxing,” It shouts. “Why don’t you just go join them?”

But the Christian is one on the racetrack… one in the ring. The Christian is not among the spectators!

Fight the good fight of the faith,” urges Paul. (1 Tim. 6:12).
“…press on toward the goal to win the prize…” (Phil. 3:14).

action adult athletes audience

The struggle is worth it! It is more than worth it. We run and fight to reach the goal: the hope of the Christian. What is that hope. It is “a living hope… an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…. kept in heaven… the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (see 1 Pet. 1:3-9).

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Mar. 9 message.

Tuesday, 3/3/20 – Pressing on

Conviction = Confidence = Hope!

man sneaking behind white louvered wall

We should never run from or try to hide from the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. It didn’t work for Adam and Eve and it won’t work for you or I. (Gen. 3:8-9). You first came to Christ by surrendering to His conviction and you can only continue in Christ by this same continuous commitment to walking surrendered.

Remember, your life is no longer your own, yet you get to live it, watching Christ live in, out and through you!

“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).

20200302_073319And believe me, that’s way more fun than continually trying and failing to manage it on your own – a thing you were never designed to do!

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” – Augustine of Hippo

Of course, this all very contrary to the way this world thinks, and that should not surprise us! We are a people made for another world. (John 15:19).

So we should embrace this Voice of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, the Voice behind you that whispers, “This is the way; walk in it,” (Isa. 30:21), the Voice above you that shouts “Come up here,” (Rev. 4:1), the Voice that assures you, teaches you, reminds you, anoints you (John 16:8-15), and the Voice that convicts you when you stray.

white sheep on farm

The fact that you hear that Voice at all assures you that you are Christ’s! “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27). And if we are His, He will fulfill in us that good purpose for which He created us. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6).

Embrace the inner convictions of the Holy Spirit. Walk in surrender. Rejoice in hope!

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Mar. 1 message.

Tuesday, 2/11/20 – Pressing on…

A six letter word for where we find God.

20200210_062418Ask me any time and I will most likely be able to produce for you from my inside jacket or backside jeans pocket my current crossword puzzle. I love doing these things when I’m forced to do no things, like waiting in line at a supermarket checkout, or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or when “on hold” listening to elevator music.

20200210_062530A good crossword question will have an odd little twist to it. You get thinking about it one way, but the answer comes by understanding the question in a different way. For example, a four letter word for “To behave like a wolf.” You may start thinking words like “hunt,” “howl,” “bale,” or “lurk.” But the real answer, “leer,” redefines the question.

What’s a six letter word for where we find God? If you read this blog yesterday, you may think “throne” is the answer. After all, God is in heaven and seated on His throne, isn’t He? Well yes, but that’s not the only place we find Him. In fact, He said of Himself.

“’Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24)

No, the answer is not “throne,” but the word does start with a “t _ _ _ _ _.”

man in red scarf and black nit hat

Indeed, as we saw yesterday, we do “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” and once there we do “receive mercy and find grace to help us.” But the bit I don’t like one bit is that bit at the end “…in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16). You see, sometimes the place where we best find God is in our “trials.”

In fact, Pastor Andrew said it on Sunday, “Trials lead us to the throne of grace.” James turns the screws even tighten and writes “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). He goes on to explain that trials draw us to God in a way that develops perseverance within us. How? Sometimes it is because we do not always find God immediately… we must keep seeking… but as we do, we grow. “Let perseverance finish its work,” James continues, “so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (v. 4).

photo of student inside classroom

Philip Yancey notes, “Human beings do not readily admit desperation. When they do, the kingdom of heaven draws near.” (The Jesus I Never Knew.) He says, “Human beings grow by striving, working, stretching; and in a sense, human nature needs problems more than solutions.” (Disappointment with God).

I don’t like this truth at all, but it does give Hope. Great Hope! Hebrews teaches us that God is found when we allow our trials to drive us to His throne. We may go there when we are broken, and we may go there with great boldness.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 9 message.