Wednesday, 11/17/21 – Pressing on… Big Head, Small Body…

Big Head, Small Body…

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison spoke on “How to be the Perfect Church Member.” He shared with us Four characteristics of maturing church members:

  1. Put up with one another. (Eph. 4:13)
  2. Put leadership in its place. (Eph. 4:11,12)
  3. Put your personal grace to work. (Eph. 4:7,12,14)
  4. Put on Truth – up close and personal. (Eph. 4:15,16)

I loved the analogy given of how a newborn’s head seems disproportionate to its body. Their head is quite large in comparison to their body, but with time and nourishment the body grows to become balanced with it. “Humans grow into their heads,” said our speaker.

What a wonderful God Who builds into our physical experiences such spiritual lessons to guide us. In Ephesians 4 Paul expresses his great desire that the believers “may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ”.

It is interesting to note the run-up to this statement. To what is Paul directing his readers that ends in this climactic statement of God’s desire that we all “may grow up into Him”?

Paul is talking about the structure of Christ’s church. Back in vs 11 he states that Christ gave… He gifted… or called… or provided… persons to serve a variety of functions: “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” What were they to do? They were “to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v.12). They were to help believers to grown in their faith, to use their giftedness and serve others too. And these offices, or functions, or callings were to manage His Church until His return… “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ..” (v. 13). They were to help the Body of Christ to grow up into its Head… “to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (v. 15).

“Humans grow into their heads,” James told us. Who is your Head? Is it Christ, or has your ego swollen your own head? Are you growing up into Christ? Are you being built up to become more in proportion to Him?

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, 11/15/21 – Pressing on… Bridge-buildin’ and Walls-tearin’

Bridge-buildin’ and Walls-tearin’

We’ve got a lot of bridge-buildin’ and walls-tearin’ down to do if we’re ever gonna get to that unity Christ desires. The high rise latte lovers garbed in Gucci gotta sit in the gutter with the soiled and the sullen, and the waifs and wanderers without fixed shelter must shoulder up to those they call snobs. The red, and yellow, black and white gotta clasp hands and hold tight and really believe they are all and equally precious in His sight. The French and English, Arabs and Jews, Irish and English…  redeemed one’s of all races, nationalities, languages, cultures and tribes must all realize they are equal souls only temporarily inhabiting their times and places. The beautiful and proportioned must embrace the plain and disproportionate. The scholar must learn from the simple-minded. The lame and the athlete must walk together. The blind, the deaf, the limbless and the frail must be valued alongside the hardy and the keen.

Jesus knows His children in all these sorts. He sees beyond any and all our carnal distinctions. He looks upon the hearts, speaks to the souls, and woos us all to come near Him… to be in Him, and He in us. This is the only enduring reality. Everything else is but a “test.” Jesus is wondering what will we do? Will we, like He, see past these things too?

He prayed then for them and prays now for us, and “… also for those who will believe…”

that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23).

Paul takes up the plea in Ephesians… the heart of God… that we be drawn together in Him.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received…. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:1-6).

Believer, let me ask you this: 1,000 years from now… 10,000 years from now… long situated in your eternal home… what actions taken now will prove really to have mattered?

that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” (John 4:21).

More tomorrow…

Link to Francis Chan video: Until Unity.

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, 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.

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.

Tuesday, 10/12/21 – Pressing on… The Complaints Dept.

The Complaints Dept.

Big Box stores have a special department for them – the Complaints Department! What s horrible job that must be! Can you imagine waking up every morning to go off to work to listen to angry, dissatisfied, often unreasonable people hour after hour after hour… day after day after day! Well that pretty much describes the job experience of Moses! ”What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” he complains to God, “…the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me” (Num. 11:11, 14-15). Wow!

Last Sunday our guest speaker James Harrison drew our attention to three ways a complaining spirit is destructive. 1. A complaining spirit denies God’s sovereignty. 2. A complaining spirit disrupts Christian unity. 3. A complaining spirit discredits Christian testimony.

CultureWatch

“The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things,” wrote Oswald Chambers. And in relation to point #1 we must believe “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). We must believe that God loves us and is working for our best interest. He can do this because He is sovereign, i.e. He possesses supreme and ultimate power. When we grumble and complain about what God has allowed into our lives we deny all of the above. Even God’s discipline is an indicator of His great Love (Heb. 12:5-11), and the natural consequences of our own willful disobedience for they teach us not to sin again.

Points #2 and #3 are a little more obvious. Within the church a complaining spirit disrupts brotherly and sisterly unity, and without, in our interactions with the unsaved, a complaining spirit discredits our testimony. Why should an unbeliever believe our testimony of transformation when our behaviour demonstrates otherwise?

These days are indeed the last days, and in these days Jesus warned us that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Jesus also said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35).”Paul pled to the Romans: “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18). To the believers in Ephesus he wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3).

Yes sirree, – the Complaints Department: listening to angry, dissatisfied, often unreasonable people hour after hour after hour… day after day after day! Come to think of it, that also pretty much describes the experience of God!

Let’s not add to it. Let’s make every effort not to be among those in that line-up. Better yet, let’s start a new line-up, a “Compliments” line-up… a line-up of joy-filled, thankful recipients of the undeserved mercies and blessings of our Lord!

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, 10/6/21 – 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.

Friday, 10/1/21 – After Unity, Then What?

After Unity, Then What?

If you’ve been following my posts thru this week you will have noticed an emphasis on unity, acceptance of those with differing determinations of conscience on disputable matters, and of reconciliation as an essential soil for unified fellowship. Our World needs unity, our Nation needs unity, our communities need unity and God has called His Church to unity that we might be the sowers of unity to all.

“That we might be the sowers of unity to all” — Catch this vision with me. It is the vision of our Lord… Hear Him praying for you… for you… His Church,

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours… they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name… so that they may be one as we are one. …My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. …As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world….”

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:9-23, selected portions).

Jesus wants us from our unity to go out into this world and touch it for Christ.

In pandemics past this is exactly What the Church of Christ has done. Instead of looking inward, unified congregants sought to bring aid to the suffering. What a great opportunity this is to share the eternal hope that we have in Christ. Suffering and death need not alarm us. Though we take wise precaution to guard against illness, to eat and sleep and exercise, “we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Cor. 5:1). There, there will be plenty of forever to go around… plenty of forever to sing and to worship then. Now, here, we have but a short time to reach outward. Then, there, we will have no such opportunity.

Lord, bring Your great Church to unity that we may glorify Your Name!

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 9/28/21 – Pressing on… We Walk, Work & Worship – as One

We Walk, Work & Worship – as One

At our service this past Sunday I shared with the church family the words to this lovely song of affirmation of our unity in Christ. It was written by Peter Scholtes and dates back to 1966, but it’s simplicity and truth still draw the people of God to oneness today. I reproduce it here for your continued contemplations…

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love  (1966, F.E.L. Pub. Assigned 1991 Lorenz Pub.)

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord; We are one in he Spirit, we are one in the Lord; And we pray that all unity will one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand; We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand; And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side; We will work with each other, we will work side by side; And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come; And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son. And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

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…