Thursday, 11/25/21 – Prayer: Is it Real?

Prayer: Is it Real?

As it turns out today’s discipleship blog is also on the topic of Prayer — our speaker’s message this past Sunday and the focus of every post this week. Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell us something? What do you think it might be? Do you believe in prayer? Do you believe that prayer can actually accomplish something? Do you truly believe there is Someone out there listening? Or do you think prayer is just an exercise religious people do to make themselves feel better?

These questions are extremely important. In fact, they have a lot to do with whether or not one’s prayers are answered at all! Scripture is very clear on this. In Hebrews we read: “…anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him..” (Heb. 11:6b). In other words if we don’t believe that God is out there and listening there’s no point in pretending we are talking to Him. If we don’t believe that God can answer our prayers there’s no point in making them.

This is only reasonable. Who among us would pick a random number from a telephone directory, call it, and ask for someone whom we know full well not to be there? Or who would call a lumber yard and order a pizza knowing full well they cannot provide it? And so it is with God. As the verse cited above actually begins, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6a).

Ah yes, this stuff called “faith” — this intangible ‘something’ the definition of which opens this chapter: “…faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1). Confidence… assurance… but how do we get such confidence and assurance in such a silent, unseen a Being as God?

Truth is, most of us already know quite well! We grow in confidence and assurance in God just as we grow in confidence and assurance in people. We spend time with them. We learn over time whether they do or do not keep their word. We ask them for help and they give it. They ask a thing of us, and we do it! A mutual trust grows.

It is the same with God. We trust Him, put Faith in Him, just as we do other silent and unseen things. Things like love, convictions, To Thomas, who doubted then saw, Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). That’s you and I. Do you believe?

The Apostle John wrote,

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:13-15)

Be assured in that belief… and pray.

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.

Thursday, 11/11/21 – Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (470 BC–399 BC) is credited with the comment, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Enduring wisdom to which many present day scholars and philosophers agree. Even actor Dwayne Johnson, double negatives aside, notes, “The one thing that I keep learning over and over again is that I don’t know nothing. I mean, that’s my life lesson.”

To both Socrates and Johnson the “one thing” that was primary was this intellectual humility. Others hold other “one things” in top spot as the following quotations demonstrate.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…” – Neil Gaiman
“…the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education.” – Michelle Obama
“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” – Jerry Seinfeld
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” – Albert Schweitzer
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar
One thing is clear to me: We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.” – Barbara Jordan
Truth-telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: Every single one was a liar.” – J. Edgar Hoover
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a cruel, cruel world.” – Danny DeVito
“I think one thing I’ve learned over the years is just that you’re not going to ever please everyone, and the most important person to please is yourself.” – Jeremy Scott
“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” – Ryan Gosling

Well OK, some of these may have been spoken with tongue in cheek, but they do reveal something about the individual. Jesus also recommended “one thing” as primary above all others. He demonstrated it in His lifestyle, habits, and ministry, and it reveals very much about His character and the kind of people He longs for each of us to become.

He shared this priority with Martha: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” He told her, adding “Mary has discovered it” (Luke 10:42, NLT). What was it? It was what Mary was doing… what she had set as her Number One focus: “Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught” (v. 39).

Elsewhere in scripture Jesus urged “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.” (Matt. 22:37-38). Even prior to this He commanded “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Socrates was condemned to death for his method of questioning. Jesus became “the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.” (Rev. 13:8) so that we could once again know Him as we ought. The Apostle Paul made “to know Him” his one great quest (see Phil. 3:13), and so may you.

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.

Monday, 10/25/21 – Pressing on… There is a Call to Know Christ

There is a Call to Know Christ

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” writes Paul. Why? “since as members of one body you were called to peace.” The Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is its Head. Every true Christian has become a part of that Body. It is a great Body, a Body extending through all present, past and future time and space. And Christ is the Head of that one Body.

I don’t know about you but I’m very grateful when all the parts of my body have the same interest in mind: the health and safety of the whole body. In fact when parts of my body become at war with other parts of my body something is wrong. I usually have to go and see a doctor!

And I’m also quite content to have just one body. Two bodies and one head would be very difficult to manage. Perhaps you have seen some unfortunate persons whose physical bodies developed wrongly in the womb. What should have been one became more than one. Life is most difficult indeed for persons with such bodies.

But the Church, the family of God, is one Body, and as one Body Paul is saying it has been called to peace; it is to function as one with one Mind and one Spirit. “Peace” is something its members are to allow to take rule. He says “Let the Peace of Christ rule…” [because] “…you were called to peace.”

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison shared with us from the book of Philippians. He spoke to us of Phil. 4:7 “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

On both a personal level as a believer, and on a corporate level as the Body of Christ I wonder if perhaps what makes this “letting” of God’s peace rule difficult is that we try so very hard to understand it. We set up understanding as a gateway to allowing God’s blessings to manifest in our hearts and in our minds.

But we do not need to understand it; we need only to be in vital union with the Head… with Christ. “He Himself is our peace,” Paul wrote in another place (Eph. 2:14).

Do you want to know Peace? We are called to peace.

Do you want to know Christ? Our brother James’ first point this past Sunday was just this. There is a call to knowing Him. Know Him, and you will also know Peace.

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, 10/20/21 – Pressing on… “Come here,” — or stay there?

“Come here,” — or stay there?

193 years ago this day (year 1818) the “Convention respecting fisheries, boundary, and the restoration of slaves” was signed between Britain and the United States. This Treaty established fishing rights along Newfoundland and Labrador, and joint control of the territory of Oregon. Land struggles continued until on June 15,1846 the Oregon Treaty finally confirmed the 49th parallel as the boundary between the United States and British North America to the Pacific Ocean.

What’s mine, what’s yours… Come here, stay there… Now especially, during this global pandemic, regulations and requirements regarding social movement are complex and varied indeed. But not so with Jesus. Jesus continually says, “Come to Me…” (See Matt. 11:28-30). Yet, even in coming to Him there may be some things that are disallowed or some things we must first make right. Oswald Chambers comments…

“When you hear those words, you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, and it will involve anything that will uproot whatever is preventing you from getting through to Jesus. And you will never get any further until you are willing to do that very thing. The Holy Spirit will search out that one immovable stronghold within you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him do so.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Oct. 8 entry

“Just think of the invincible, unconquerable, and untiring patience of Jesus, who lovingly says, ‘Come to Me….’” Chalmers adds. Well, OK… let’s…

Invincible = “too powerful to defeat, overcome, or prevent from doing what is intended.”

Unconquerable = “not able to be defeated, controlled, or placed in another’s possession or control.”

Untiring = “continuing at the same rate without loss of vigor.”

Jesus patience is too powerful to defeat, overcome, or prevent from doing what He has intended. No one can control it, and it will continue to the end of the age at the same rate without loss of vigor. “He is patient with you,” writes Peter, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b).

Isn’t it time for you to obey what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do? Isn’t it time for you come to Him today?

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.

Friday, 10/15/21 – Why can’t I stand the one I love most?

Why can’t I stand the one I love most?

It’s a strange dilemma the way God has constructed us human animals. We sense our incompleteness and are drawn to someone who compliments our deficiencies. Together we find balance. But the trick is that balance is found at the fulcrum of our differences… in the middle of our opposites.

Imagine two children of equal weight trying to balance horizontally on a teeter-totter. To accomplish this each must move equal distance toward the centre and in relationships the same principle holds. Each must depart to some extent from their extreme and move closer toward the centre point. It involves both sacrifice and closeness. And it remains always a balancing act.

I found this rather interesting chart somewhere online. It shows very clearly how extremes can be the enemies of each other, yet, how when met in the middle there is wholeness and health.

I believe that this balancing act, this need to “work it out,” is exactly what our Lord had in mind all along.

Scripture tells us that in eternity “people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt. 22:30). Paul taught the Galatians that in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female.” (Gal. 3:28). And John wrote “now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.” (1 John 3:2). All of these passages point to the fact that we are a work in progress. The end result, as John summarizes, is “we shall be like Him.” We shall be like Christ.

Brothers and sisters let us not make our time on this earth a ‘tug-of-war’ or a competition, but let us make it a cooperation… a teamwork… a unity… the body and bride of Christ. Let us pull together, toward the center, becoming that one new creation made in the Image of Christ.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 10/14/21 – Knowing God’s Will

Knowing God’s Will

God expects us to pray that His Will is done and to understand what His Will is. On these two points scripture is explicit: “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10); “…do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Eph.5:17).

Understanding the Will of God is not something mystical, or hidden. It begins with relationship – in knowing thoroughly that God is God and you are not! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). God is Supreme. He is not a magical genie to have in one’s back pocket! He is to be obeyed, and not questioned.

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Eccl. 5:2).

Micah states the broad strokes of a man’s obligations before his Creator: “What does the LORD require of you?” He asks.“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

To train us in the standards of righteousness God gave us the Law. Then, in Christ, He gave us the means of righteousness through confession, repentance, surrender and the workings of His indwelling Holy Spirit. He gives us also His Word in which much of His Will is made clear to us.

But God is not only a God of justice, rules and punishment! God is also a God of great Love… so much so that He paid a great price to restore us…

The Lord is… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) “[He] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)

But that’s not all! God wants you to work with Him to become like Him. In fact, it is God’s Will for us to become set apart… sanctified… holy! “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thess. 4:3). “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:14-16). And it is God’s Will that our lives be a testimony to others in this world. “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” (1 Pet. 2:15).

Finally, (for now), it is God’s Will that we love Him and one another, that we put to death all sinful pleasures, unashamedly accepting reproach for His Name, and persevere in following Him. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23); “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Heb. 10:36).

Oh! And in keeping with our theme these past few days it is also God’s Will that we be thankful! “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

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, 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.

Tuesday, 10/5/21 – Pressing on… A Matter of Reparations…

A Matter of Reparations…

Last Friday residents of the six-plex in which we live gathered in a huddle along a boundary of our properties adjacent to where a newly constructed apartment block had been built. We gathered there to meet with the contractors of the new development which was now in its landscaping stage. Apparently in grading his development for drainage the sloping of the soil had inadvertently buried our property boundary stakes and encroached upon our land.

The apartment complex had already been built. Tenants had already begun to move in. Clearly what had been done could not now be undone. The contractors sincerely apologized, but the question was what now could be done about it? What reparations could be made so that all parties concerned could move forward in harmony?

They listened with empathy to our concerns and eventually an agreement was reached. The developers would build up our land with new soil to divert water pooling, they would channel this water to a nearby ditch and hire a surveyor to install new boundary stakes — and they would do all this at their expense.

This, on a much, much smaller scale, is similar to the situation Canada’s indigenous people faced when early settlers encroached upon them. But our ancestors did far worse than encroach…

“North America’s indigenous peoples were systematically uprooted from their traditional homes and villages, either through war, forced relocation, or threats of violence, and pushed into remote areas where they wouldn’t get in the way of European colonization. …uniquely susceptible to European disease, the vast majority of Canada’s aboriginal population quickly declined to a small minority as their death rate skyrocketed and European immigration increased.” [Source: https://thecanadaguide.com/history/early-history/]

Oh, what a different history Canada might have enjoyed had we approached this land’s inhabitants with kindness and with gratitude! In these days as more and more injustices are being revealed it behooves us all to make great reparations indeed!

As Christians we ought demonstrate the greatest love and compassion of all! Within us dwells the Holy Spirit of God Who grows in us the Agapé Love of God. This God is the One Who created all races and has determined their placement (Acts 17:26). He is the One to Whom in eternity all races will gather to praise (Rev. 7:9-10) – One kingdom, One Body, brothers and sisters all!

Oh Lord, help us to behave as One now!

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, 9/22/21 – Pressing on… God rules all things!

God rules all things!

Pixabay

“God rules all things by His power,” wrote Cyril of Jerusalem (310-386 AD). “He rules over the idolaters… rules over the heretics… He even rules over the devil…”

God has this astonishing knack of contorting evil into good. Take, for example, the life of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his envious brothers God twists it into good as Joseph remains faithful. He raises Joseph to great power and by his management of a great famine saves the lives of many including his evil-plotting brothers. Joseph, trusting the hand of God through all this, in the end assured them,

You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20, NKJV).

In these days we face great opposition from our true enemy, the devil. He hopes to sow discord among us. Our job is to shun him as Joseph shunned the temptation to vengeance against his brothers. It is for victory that this foe exists.

Cyril elaborates,

“God has allowed the devil to exist, for two reasons: first, that he might shame himself all the more in being overcome; and second, that humanity might be crowned with victory over him… God allowed the devil to make war, that we might be crowned victors! When our victory is gained, the devil is even more shamed, conquered by the weaker party; mortal humans are mightily honoured, having defeated a fallen archangel!”

The psalmist David praised, “Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve You. (Ps. 119:90, 91).

All things serve God. His end purposes will prevail. Our job — your job as a Christian — is to hold steady against the devils wiles, to maintain unity and harmony amongst your brothers and sisters in Christ and “as far as it depends on you… with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18). God is in control and His purposes will prevail!

I like the way Max Lucado puts it:

“Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” – Max Lucado

Press on…

Tuesday, 9/21/21 – Pressing on… Hearts and Heads in Equilibrium

Hearts and Heads in Equilibrium

Pixabay

The Apostle Peter became a great leader of the early church. His epistles and testimony have continued to inspire, encourage, comfort and warn all believers after him. But Peter had his season of rashness. He was the first – and only – disciple to step out on the angry sea, his reflexes acting faster than his faith could follow. He blurted out the incongruous notion to build huts for the miraculous guests at the transfiguration. He thought he knew best by first refusing and then requesting more as Christ washed the disciples feet. He, in his rashness, denied his Christ in three instances of unanticipated consequence.

But Simon (the stone) became Peter (the rock) just as Jesus had seen in him upon their first meeting (John 1:42). Satan had desired to sift Peter, as he does all of us, but Jesus had prayed for him (Luke 22:31-32). He knew the man that Peter was to become.

And Jesus continues and prays on today, for us… for you… and for I (John 17:20; Heb. 7:25). We are all journeying home. We must not by our convictions on disputable things quarrel and toss others from the ship. We are all our Father’s Family… His Forever Family.

Rashness is a thing to be guarded against in the heart of every believer and it is best guarded by fostering a heart of prayer and love. As Peter learned, and warned,

“…with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you… The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7).

“Judge nothing before the appointed time,” Paul cautioned the rash and argumentative Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:5). Choose your battles wisely and when you must fight, fight not one another with the weapons of the flesh but fight that true enemy of the Church with the weapons of the Spirit, “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Cor. 10:4). Do so especially now as we face great challenge and transition.

In times like these I appreciate the words our now long-departed brother in Christ, Martin Luther, who, urging sobriety during the great plague of his day wrote,

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” – Martin Luther – On “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague”

Pray, and Press on…