Monday, 8/30/21 – Pressing on… Bewitched Believer? – Beware!

Bewitched Believer? – Beware!

It’s easy to do, isn’t it? You begin to learn a new thing… the expert demonstrates it, you get it, and begin to anticipate where the steps go next. You might say, “Oh, now I see… and then you do this and that, right?” But you are wrong. You do not next do this and that, you do something altogether different! Indeed, doing “this or that” would destroy you. What’s more, you cannot even do the first thing—you do not have that ability. If you believe you can, you are deceived.

The Galatians had come to Christ. They had received the Holy Spirit and taken the first steps of faith. But now they had begin to think they could add to it… they could do something more, something further to gain the favor of God. But they were wrong. Long ago Isaiah said it, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).

Paul is amazed at their deviation from the truth — the truth that we can add nothing. The work of redemption is entirely the work of God. Paul uses an odd word. He says they have been “bewitched.” He writes, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Gal. 3:1). He asks, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (v. 3).

Typically the word bewitched means to fall under the spell of someone or something else. It appears twice in scripture. Acts 8:9–11 tells how the Samaritans had fallen under the deceptions of Simon Magus. In this passage the original Greek word is ἐξίστημι and means “to throw out of position, displace, amaze, or astonish.” It can mean “to be out of one’s mind, besides one’s self, insane” Today we might say Magnus simply “blew their minds!” In Galatians the Greek word is βασκαίνω and means “to charm, bewitch, or fascinate by false representations.”

These days people are bewitched by many deceptions: materialism, hedonism, asceticism, science, sex — and yes, witchcraft- doctrines of demons and philosophies of man. A person bewitched of course cannot see they are bewitched. The one bewitched, by very definition, “cannot think about anything else,” anything other than the object off their bewitchment.

This is why despite countless testimonies of the vanity, the inability of these things to bring lasting satisfaction, peace or purpose to one’s life… one’s soul… bewitched persons remain transfixed in their idolization and pursuit of these rewards of emptiness. Jude poetically describes such emptiness: “clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.” (Jude v.12). He says not only are such pursuits or man-made false doctrines ultimately empty but they also keep the mesmerized so focussed upon them that they miss the true Way, the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, for them, writes Jude, “blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (v.13).

Don’t be bewitched! Don’t be hypnotized by falsehoods. Be shaken awake!

Just as you came to Christ by faith, continue to walk that one straight path day by day by faith. As scripture says, “…we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7). “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him” (Col. 2:6).

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 8/2/21 – Pressing on… Exceptional…

Exceptional…

This past Sunday our brother Joseph shared with us from 2 Thessalonians 4…

In this chapter Paul has just written several lines refuting the false claims of deceivers posing to be him and saying the second coming of Christ had already occurred. We have those folks today! Documenting them all would be beyond the scope of these posts!

To allay their fears Paul reminds them the antichrist must first appear. He will deceive many who “refused to love the truth and so be saved” (v.10). Because of this, they are condemned with all who have chosen wickedness.

Paul’s thoughts next turn with delight to his readers, the Christians in Thessalonica. They were the great exception to the wickedness he has just described. “But…” he begins…

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2 Thess. 4:13).

There’s enough theology in that one sentence to fuel a hundred sermons — a thousand! There is the great Love of God, the inclusion of male and female alike, on even ground, the depth of doctrine in the concept of firstfruits, it’s heritage, potential, connectedness to root and vine, fruitfulness, reproductivity, joy and eternity. There is the idea of sanctification… transformation… hope! The truth of God, by His Holy Spirit, indwelling, recreating, redeeming and making actual what at first was only legal: the holiness of a once lost soul! There is the agency by which the soul receives — belief in the truth, Jesus, Who said “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,” and there us none other. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

That God should do such a thing to a creature in itself just as wicked as the worst! What amazing skill! What demonstration of the divine’s grace and mercy! What a creature to point to – redeemed prodigal – that He could do so… would do so… does not that alone cause us, by our very redemption, to be testimony to His Glory? Yes indeed, as Paul writes on…

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.14).

Oh! — Marvelous Saviour! — Blessed Spirit! — Almighty and Holy God!

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.

Tuesday, 3/17/20 – Pressing on…

Thinking vs Thanking

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“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).

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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)

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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…