Wednesday, 12/8/21 – Pressing on… Otherworldly People; Otherworldly Peace

Otherworldly People; Otherworldly Peace

There’s an old 1957 Sci-fi horror flick called “Not of This Earth” in which an eyeless, death-ray emitting human-like being from the planet Danvanna is transported to Earth to collect human blood for transfusion to save his race. It’s a pretty corny, black and white attempt with a plotline familiar to numerous subsequent films. But it’s parallels to the gospel are interesting.

In the movie, the aliens are evil… they are a race not of this world. But the glorious gospel of God is the truth that the One from above has come not to destroy us, but to rescue us. We are the evil ones, but He wants to take us to His world, and He offers to make it our world. In the movie, the aliens come seeking the sacrifice of human blood, but the gospel tells us Christ has come to sacrifice for us His own blood.

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John tells us what happens when we surrender ourselves to His most loving plan. He writes, “All who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13). Through Him… through the sacrifice of His blood, we become transformed… we become new creations, citizens of His world… for ever.

In His great prayer for His people, His Church, He spoke to the Father of us saying, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16). So completely new does He make us that we, as Hebrews tells us, “…are made holy… of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call [us] brothers and sisters.” (Heb. 2:11).*

To us He gives the privilege of an otherworldly citizenship, and otherworldly heart, otherworldly gifts of the Holy Spirit, and an otherworldly Peace in the midst of the turmoil of this lost and dying planet. He said this:

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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). “In Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Because of this amazing otherworldly Peace we can be at rest, presenting all our needs and concerns to Him, we can know a peace that we cannot comprehend.

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).

Press on…

*The Greek word “adelphoi” refers here to all believers.

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, 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.

Thursday, 11/4/21 – Today’s Discipleship Post: Freedom!

Freedom!

I remember as a child growing up in a Christian home, struggling with my Bible memory verses and puzzling over Psalm 23 verse 1. The only translation I knew back then was the King James version and the way it read was “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

In my young mind I reasoned: Okay, the Lord… that’s God. He made me and everything, and He is my “shepherd.” That’s good too, isn’t it? I mean He guides me and looks after me and stuff like a man looking after his sheep. But “I shall not want”–? Why wouldn’t I want Him?

As I looked at the possibilities from all angles I eventually came to the conclusion that the verse must mean that because the Lord is my shepherd I probably shouldn’t want anything else. I mean, I should just be satisfied with Him… right? I quietly scolded David for not completing his sentences. He should have written “I shall not want anything else!

Then one day I came across the passage in a more recent translation. It rendered the verse “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not lack any good thing.” Aha! The dusty old light in the back corner of my attic brain clicked ‘on’! “Want” meant lack, to fall short of having enough of something. Because the Lord is my shepherd and looks after me He will see that I will always have enough of what I really need!

Almost immediately another Old Testament passage also clicked clear — the one about King Belshazzar* reading the handwriting on the wall of his Palace informing him he had been weighed in God’s balances and found “wanting.” I got it! It meant his life had fallen short… his kingship had not pleased the Lord, and now God was about to take it from him. (In fact, Belshazzar was killed that very evening.)

But no such worries for me! “The Lord is my Shepherd!” He will see that I always have all that I need. Sometimes He gives His Sheep green pastures, quiet waters, and refreshed souls. Other times He gives guidance in which path to take, or courage when we must walk through dark valleys.

What Freedom indeed it is to have the Lord as one’s Shepherd!

Is He yours?

Press on…

* Daniel 5:27

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.

Tuesday, 11/2/21 – Pressing on… The Four Words and You

The Four Words and You

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison spoke on the topic “Four Words that will Change Your Life.” Whether one realises it or not, each one of us is in desperate need of hearing these words – of hearing these words spoken to us by Christ.

The four words are these: “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48).

These words must be spoken to us by Christ for, as their first hearers in another such instance rightly judged, “Only God can forgive sins.” (Mark 2:7, NLT).  And Christ indeed is God!

We prefer in our pride to compare our shortcomings with the comparably greater shortcomings of others, and one can always find a far worse sinner than oneself when one only searches among the fallen. But God demands we compare ourselves against His holiness. This is not an unfair standard. It is the unfortunate (for us) fact of God’s Nature that as light precludes darkness His holiness excludes all sin. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus commanded (Matt. 5:48, c.f. 1 Pet. 1:15). “…without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews warns (Heb. 12:14).

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them,” Paul writes young Timothy. These perhaps are those made plain when measuring one man against another. But God looks upon the heart (1 Sam. 16:7); He sees not only the visible sins of flesh and fancy, but also those sins of one’s spirit, as the verse continues, “… the sins of others trail behind them.” (1 Tim. 5:24). Whether or not we yet see our sinfulness the objective reality of it and our desperate need to hear the four words remain. Once heard, these words will indeed transform.

What must you do to hear these words? You must first come to this recognition of your unrighteousness in His sight. You must realize your helplessness to make matters right and acknowledge that His pure sacrifice in your behalf is the only plea upon which you may secure pardon. You must confess to Him this trust, turn away from all known sinful behaviour, make Him your Lord to obey and begin to grow by prayer, ongoing surrender daily, in Word and in fellowship with like believers.

Do these, and as John makes promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). You will know He has spoken the four words to you, and your life will begin to change.

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.

Thursday, 10/28/21 – Assurance: the day after

Assurance: the day after

The day after you decide to do as we discussed yesterday, the day on which you call on Christ Who has been calling on you, the day on which you see you are not holy, not worthy, less than not worthy of standing in His Presence, the day you realize you are indeed worthy of His wrath, eternal removal from His Presence and that there is nothing, nothing, nothing that you can now do to rectify this apart from His amazing rescue… His willful stepping up in your place to take that wrath for you, on the day after that day you will immediately awake to doubts.

You see, not only have you gained that “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:45), received that “deposit” (Eph. 1:14) of the Spirit and become heir to that “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…. kept in heaven for you (1 Pet. 1:4), but you also gained, for a time, an enemy. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8).

But within you now resides the far greater power of the recently indwelling Spirit of God – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). You must learn to do battle with him lest he pollute your mind with his lies: “for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).

As soon as new seed (the gospel) is planted, the devil seeks to snatch it away. Jesus once told a parable to illustrate this (see Matthew 13:1-23). But we can defeat him by speaking Truth to his lies. The Truth of your acceptance by God by the sacrifice of Christ, the Truth of your salvation by reliance upon Christ:

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. … ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Rom. 10:9-10, 13).

Jesus too was tempted, tempted right at the beginning like you. He too spoke Truth to the devil’s lies and the devil had to flee. (Read about it in Matt. 4:1-11).

Bury the Truth in your heart and mind. Read the gospel of John and the 1st Epistle of John. Jesus said also this: “…you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32), and “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). Finally, Christ Himself gives us these fine words of assurance…

I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24).

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

God rules all things!

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“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…

Thursday, 4/23/20 – Discipleship – Priorities (& COVID-19)

Priorities (& COVID-19)

20200420_143646“Abide in Me,” said Jesus to His disciples then, and to all believers since (John 15:4). “We walk by faith,” wrote Paul, (2 Cor. 5:7) and to have “faith” in someone requires having known them, having seen their past faithfulness. The friendship and confidence is proven by time and consistency, intimacy and reliance.

So it is with Jesus. He has called His own His ‘friends’ and ‘siblings’…

“You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).

“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” (Heb. 2:11).

John The Baptist personified Christ as the Bridegroom and himself as the Bridegroom’s “friend.” (John 3:29).

Oswald Chambers writes about this friendship the believer is privileged to have with the Lord… it is a friendship which grows from the habit of abiding… of remaining in Christ as He is in the believer.

To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (March 25 entry)

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Unshakable faith, writes Yancey, “is the result of faith having been shaken.” – Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God.

Those who have walked long and abide in Christ have found Him faithful. Those who have not, but will trust Him now as their faith is shaken indeed will find Him faithful. Even to the faithless, Christ is ever faithful (2 Tim. 2 13). He cannot be otherwise.

So what is our priority amid the COVID-19 crisis? It is simply this: to remain in Him.

“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).

Press on…

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Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you 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, 4/1/20 – Pressing on…

Pandemic Peace

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“How do you have peace in the middle of a pandemic?” asks David Platt, Pastor of McLean Bible Church, Washington D.C. “How do you have faith over fear and an unknown future? Here is how — you trust Jesus with your life.”

We must all come to face this at some point – believers and unbelievers alike. Sin has given us all a terminal illness. We will each at God’s foreknown moment be at that place of physical death. To what or to whom will you entrust your eternal soul? To have peace then, and now, we must individually trust Jesus with our life.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14b-15).

The COVID-19 epidemic is not the first mass loss of life to challenge the faithful and terrify the lost.

  • In the mid 14th century, the Black Plague killed an estimated 25 million in Europe — 30-60% of the population.
  • In 1918 the Spanish Flu, another coronavirus, killed 50-100 million people worldwide.
  • 1914-1918 World War 1 resulted in an estimated 20 million deaths.
  • 1939-1945 World War 2 saw an estimated 75 million deaths.

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If we knew God to be loving and good before COVID-19 (yet after all these previous horrifying losses) we can rest confident He is still loving and good today. Many fine Christians suffered and died during the first half of the 20th Century and many may die by COVID-19. We have no guarantees of particular protection, but we do have the greatest guarantee that God will grant grace for whatever He allows. The unbeliever has no such hope.

Times like these are gracious reminders from our Creator. Our lives in this world are at best but a brief and transient thing. When, how, and if the Christian dies is all in the hands of his loving Father. I’m not trying to be morbid here, but knowing we need not fear the “worst” will settle our hearts amid this world gone frantic.

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Having settled that… having entrusted to Jesus one’s life… one needs give the matter no further thought. Once one has dealt with what this world calls “the worst possible thing” one is freed to focus on bringing others to faith and in laying up hope and treasures eternal.

Press on…

To see and hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look for the March 29 post. Or, link to the page from the church website.