Today’s Blog

Thursday, 9/19/19 – Discipleship – God’s Will

What does God want?

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

What does the Lord require of me? What does God want from me? What does He want me to do?

These are all questions a growing believer wants to know. In short: What is God’s will?

person holding pen and planner

The answer to this question often eludes us because we are looking for an answer that describes some activity… some sort of busy-ness that we can do for God, an assignment. But God wants first and foremost a relationship. God did not send David to do conquests, and rule a nation until first David proved himself to be “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). In fact, it was because Saul was no longer in right relationship with God that God deposed him from the kingship.

countryside agriculture farm crowd

What message did God give the prophet Micah? What were the people supposed to “do?” In vs. 6 &7 it seems they were seeking something they could proudly “do” for God. “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn…” as if they had done all sorts of “legal ” things as the Law required, but still God was not satisfied. Like they were snapping back at Him, shouting “What do you want–blood?”

God answers through Micah, reminding them that He has already made clear His desire, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good…” What was that? “…To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

sunset person love people

The first two result from the third “to walk humbly with your God.” To be in a child-Father relationship with Him… daily. This statement is similar to Jesus’ response when asked what was the greatest command of the Law. He said,

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. 22:36-40).

God does not ask us to “act like Jesus.” He desires no “repayment ” for salvation, no indebted servitude or sacrifice. His will is that we love Him in return and allow His transforming work within us to actually change us into the likeness of Christ.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 9/18/19 – Pressing on…

Obedience is best

brown clay pot

Yesterday I likened our experience of temptation to the firing of clay… a process which, if we resist “cracking” under the heat of it, deepens our resolve and strengthens our integrity. You could say we become tempered by the temperature of the temptation.

In making this comparison I cannot help but think of the most literal demonstration of it from the Old Testament: the record of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found in Daniel chapter 3.

mummy sleeping statue

King Nebuchadnezzar had made a huge gold statue and summoned all the leaders of his domain to its dedication. The command went out to all, “As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (Dan. 3:5-6).

But these three, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Lord Almighty, refused to obey the king’s command. In fact, they boldly testified to the king,

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18).

Infuriated, Nebuchadnezzar had the men thrown into the blazing furnace – a furnace heated seven times hotter, so hot the flames killed the men who threw them in.

fire wallpaper

But to Nebuchadnezzar’s astonishment he sees four men in the flames – walking around unharmed! He calls the three to come out of the furnace and when they do “…the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (v. 27).

But remember, these men did not know the outcome of their ordeal beforehand. They were equally prepared to die rather than deny their Lord by worshipping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol.

This past Sunday Pastor Andrew made a statement that may have shocked some. But his statement is completely accurate. He said,

“We need to obey God; we don’t need to live.”

When temptations seek to dissuade us we do well to remember this truth and the examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as we fix our eyes upon Christ and the prize before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Heb. 12:1-4)

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 9/17/19 – Pressing on…

Firing the clay

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

There is a strengthening of the Holy Spirit in a mature Christian that fortifies him against seeking evil ends. The new Life within him whets his desire for righteousness and dampens his love of wickedness. This is what John means when he writes, “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” (1 John 3:9 – NLT)

But with this maturing comes also a new danger: the Christian can think himself above sin! This is why Paul sternly warns, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12) Smugness makes one clumsy. Old temptations we thought long defeated  can pounce on us from behind.

man smoking cigarette

As Pastor Andrew outlined to us on Sunday, there is a commonality about these: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). These things are common to us all for we all share in a common fallenness. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Yet for the mature believer these manifest in forms more insidious – often as “shortcuts” to what seems good. Oswald Chambers explains…

Temptation comes to me, suggesting a possible shortcut to the realization of my highest goal it does not direct me toward what I understand to be evil, but toward what I understand to be good. Temptation is something that confuses me for a while, and I don’t know whether something is right or wrong. When I yield to it, I have made lust a god…*

person placing hands on bible

Jesus Christ experienced all these to their highest degree and defeated them with the same tools He has given us: the Word of God and prayer. Stated pastor Andrew, “Jesus was an example of dependence, not one of independence.” He demonstrated to us that we too must be dependent upon the Father.

Chambers continues…

Beware of thinking that you are tempted as no one else — what you go through is the common inheritance of the human race, not something that no one has ever before endured. God does not save us from temptations He sustains us in the midst of them.*

To experience temptation is no sin, but is necessary to fire the clay, to make one a more firmer “vessel of honor” (2 Tim. 2:20-21) in the service of our King.

mountains nature arrow guide

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:18). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Heb. 4:15).

More tomorrow…

*My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Sept. 17 entry

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

Monday, 9/16/19 – Pressing on…

Tempted to do good?

woman walking alone in between purple flower field

Before a man comes to Jesus, admitting his unholy sinfulness, his inability to be otherwise, his consequential guilt before God, and thus need for a Saviour — before all that a man may not be tempted. It is not till a man turns round to swim upstream that he discovers the downstream pull… not until a man walks uphill that the downhill tug is felt fully.

A good man may consider doing bad, and a bad man may consider being malicious, but these considerations more often arise from within him. The Devil has no interest in wasting his precious time on a man already his.

dry animal gift dangerous

But the Christian faces in addition to the desires of his flesh the onslaught of Satan. This enemy works with the flesh to turn a believer sideways at first, never full round as that would reveal him, but sideways, perhaps just a tad at first, then another tad, and a tad more. As Frances Schaeffer put it, “Accommodation leads to accommodation, which leads to accommodation.”

Very often the Christian is duped by the temptation to do good, rather than to do evil.

adult automotive blur car

A call comes, “Can you please help! We need a man (or woman) to drive Emma to the grocer once weekly.” “Can you help? We need people to distribute tracts on Saturday mornings.” “Can you help? We need someone to make sandwiches for the homeless… sing in the musical, make costumes for the play, write letters to prisoners, join the protesters…”

These are all good things… some, very good things… but soon they may make Marthas of Marys as Luke’s gospel records,

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Be wary… Do not be duped to choose ‘good’ over ‘better.’

More tomorrow…

Friday, 9/13/19 – Tough Question – Christians, Alcohol…?

Christians, Alcohol… and all other things…

two corona extra and san mig light beers on top of brown wooden plank near beach

It’s interesting to me that queries from Christians about the consumption of alcohol are generally framed as questions of permission. It’s common to hear the enquiry prefaced “Is it OK for a Christian to…” or “Is a Christian allowed to / permitted to / free to…” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a believer ask, “Does a Christian have to drink alcohol… Must a Christian drink alcohol?”

It seems what believers really want to know is, “Can I get away with a drink now and then once I have committed my life to Christ?”

man doing hand stand on mountain

This is to me a most interesting observation. It suggests quite strongly that the asker is more interested in how near they can get to a disputable matter rather that in how far away they can get from it.

An apparent contradiction in logic also puzzles me. If we accept that what is really being asked is “Can I get away with a drink now and then once I have committed my life to Christ?” then it seems to me we are asking “Can I still be lord of my own life once I have committed its Lordship to Christ?” This thinking is illogical. I may as well be asking “Can I go West while I am still going East?”

Mind you, I am not saying that consuming alcohol is a sin. I cannot boldly argue that from scripture. The clear Biblical teaching in both Old and New Testaments is that drunkenness is the sin. Drinking in moderation may be allowed but the true and tempered heart of a believer will curtail his or her privileges when it in the best interest of a fellow believer to do so.

bread creamy food fruits

At times I enjoy a good slather of peanut butter on a tortilla rolled up round a banana, but in the presence of one at risk of anaphylactic shock I will defer myself of this pleasure.

Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister,” writes Paul. “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall….whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (Rom. 14:13, 21-22). And “Be careful… that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9)*

You see, the real question is not whether or not the occasional drink is permissible, but whether or not the believer has fully surrendered to Christ. When one has, no other questions matter.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phil. 4:5 – KJV).

Press on…

*Read the full passages: 1 Cor. 8:1-13; Rom. 14:13-23.

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

Thursday, 9/12/19 – Discipleship – Evangelism

Evangelism

20190911_054100The best definition of evangelism that I have encountered is this: “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” For years I had attributed this quote to Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and author of ‘The Four Spiritual Laws.’ But as I went looking to verify this this morning I discovered there are several thought to have originated it (see photos).

Regardless of its origin, there are several reasons why I very much like this definition:

  • It acknowledges that the one who has the bread is indeed no more worthy of it than the one who has not yet received it.
  • It demonstrates that there can be no other mediator: the first beggar cannot bring bread for others, he can only point to its Source; each beggar must come to the Loaf oneself. As someone else once said, “There are no ‘second generation’ Christians.”
  • It shows that evangelism is very simple, and is do-able by the most common of humankind. We cannot make the bread, only eat of it. Then, being nourished ourselves, we can point others to it… to Him… to Christ.

You see, we do not need to argue or prove the existence of the Bread. We do not need to argue about the route to the Bread, we need only to have partake of the Bread ourselves, found our bellies now full, our countenance now brighter, and our energies renewed. We need only to tell our story as it is.

20190911_054125There is a lovely incident recorded in 2 Kings 7 which parallels this definition…

The Arameans had laid siege against Samaria. The city was in dire famine. Four lepers sat at the city gate and reasoned “If we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” Caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ they decide to go for broke and take their chances. But when they arrive at the enemy camp they find the entire area abandoned!

20190911_054022Initially they begin to feast and pillage, carrying off as much gold and garments as they can carry. Then they realize, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves…Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” (v.9)

They do so, and in doing become evangels – tellers of “good news” to others who are hungry.

In God’s economy we are all beggars… all evangels. So if you’ve found this Bread, get out there and tell others. Hurry… they are hungry!

Next Thursday: God’s Will

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 9/11/19 – Pressing on…

Word connections…

photo of person flipping book page

I always find word connections and origins interesting, and discovering them often opens up a whole new depth of meanings and associations. Look for a moment at a key word in Elder Don’s message this past Sunday.

He began his message by reminding us of the very basic obligation of every believer to Abide in Christ. I commented on this in Monday’s blog.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary

abide (v.)
Old English abidan, gebidan “remain, wait, wait for, delay, remain behind,” from ge- completive prefix (denoting onward motion; see a- (1)) + bidan “bide, remain, wait, dwell” (see bide).
Originally intransitive (with genitive of the object: we abidon his “we waited for him”); transitive sense “endure, sustain, stay firm under,” also “tolerate, bear, put up with” (now usually with a negative) is from c. 1200. Related: Abided; abiding. The historical conjugation was abide, abode, abidden, but in Modern English the formation generally is weak. Abide with “stay with (someone); live with; remain in the service of” is from c. 1300.

everything is connected neon light signage

In Him we live and move and have our being,” cited Paul [Acts 17:28 From the Cretan philosopher Epimenides]. In short, Paul is saying Christ is where we live — we abide in Him… He is our abode.

More word connections…

Bide = to endure, bear, wait it out.
Abide = to stay; continue in a place; be left.
Abode = where we abide.
Reside = to dwell permanently, or to remain for a long time.

sky earth galaxy universe

The Christian is to bide his or her time on this earth while continuing to abide in Christ until He brings us to our heavenly home where we will reside forever.

Our abiding will strengthen us in our biding until the day of our residing. Of these three only one requires our disciplined attention – abiding.

Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening… the Lord said… There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it…” (see Luke 10:38-42 – NLT)

Have you spent time listening to Him today? Are you abiding in Him right now? It’s the one thing you need to do.

Press on…

To hear Elder Don’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the Sept. 8 message.