Today’s Blog

Thursday, 1/17/19 – Discipleship: The Soon Return of Christ

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A devotional I read recently referenced John MacArthur’s book, The Second Coming (1999). In it MacArthur summarizes nine items which await the second coming of Christ:

1. The Promise of God.
2. The Teaching of Christ.
3. The Testimony of the Holy Spirit.
4. The Program for the Church.
5. The Corruption in the World.
6. The Future of Israel.
7. The Vindication of Christ.
8. The Destruction of Satan.
9. The Hope of the Saints.

Some 300 Biblical prophecies regarding the first coming of the Messiah were all fulfilled in Christ. Our Discipleship manual refers to Peter Stone’s book, Science Speaks, in which he describes the odds of just eight of these prophecies occurring by chance (the birth in Bethlehem, a ministry preceded by a messenger, entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, betrayal by a friend, the price of 30 pieces of silver, money thrown in the temple, his silence before accusers, and the piercing of hands and feet.)

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The odds of these eight occurring in the life of one individual are 1 in 10 to the 17th power, or one in one hundred quadrillion. That’s 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000!

Remember, that’s the likelihood of just these eight prophecies being fulfilled, yet all 300 were fulfilled in Christ!

Many of these were events outside of anyone’s ability to control. For example, the star which led shepherds to Bethlehem, the tyranny of Herod which directed the travels of Joseph and Mary, the independent assessment of the magi, Simeon’s prophecy, and many others.

With all these faithfully coming to pass, how can anyone doubt that the second coming will also happen just as the scriptures predict, and as the Angel pronounced, “…This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

So… knowing this, what are we to do?

Peter asks, then replies to this same question: “…what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:11, 12)

John MacArthur resonates,

The Second Coming is not supposed to make you stop what you’re doing to wait for the Lord’s return. And neither should it motivate you to focus all your attention on the events and political developments of this world. Instead, it should prompt you to holiness as you direct your heart toward Christ, whose coming every believer anticipates with joy. – John MacArthur, The Second Coming

Press on…

Are 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, 1/16/19 – Pressing on…

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During his message last Sunday Pastor Steve reference a “tree” – really just a branch, stuck in a pot and used as a sanctuary decoration during the Christmas season. The branch of course could not know it had been repurposed. It just did what it had always done: it sought nourishment and desired to grow. Evidently it had found some in the soil… in the place where it was “planted,“ stuck really, with no gardener’s care or expectation. But still, it had blossomed!

Pastor Steve’s eight-week sermon series is entitled “The Person, the Presence, and the Power off the Holy Spirit.” *

Now, as we look into this it is helpful to remember Jesus’ directive in John 15. “Abide in me,” He said. Like that branch… staying put…. In the pot… in the nourishing soil. It stayed the course and drew power from its source.

Here’s more of what Jesus told his disciples,

…No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:4-8)

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The sap working in that vine represents the working of the Holy Spirit in us! We need to draw from Him… fill our branches with His flow. “Be filled with the Spirit,” wrote Paul (Eph. 5:18). Then we too produce “fruit.” Paul talks about this in a letter he sent to the Galatians: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23). All good things, things that can nourish others, things that we may be able to generate to some degree but
things for which we need some other power to generate to their full.

The Person, the Presence, and the Power of the Holy Spirit. We need them all, and we need not fear any of them — the gentle dove which descended on Christ at His baptism (Matt. 3:16 Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32), the impetus to worship rightly (John 4:24), and the fruit-bearing power source in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23).

What do we need to do? The same basic stuff as that “tree” — seek nourishment, and desire to grow.

Press on…

* Follow Pastor Steve’s message series by logging on to our website: www.lincolnbaptistchurch.ca and look under Media. 

Tuesday, 1/15/19 – Pressing on…

Merriam-Webster gives us this definition for “holy”: “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness” It cites Psalm 99:9, “for the Lord our God is holy” as an example of its usage. There can really be no other example. Only God is holy, worthy of complete devotion, perfect in goodness and righteousness. Any other definition merely describes people or things in relation to God.

Consider for example the synonyms we use: devout, sacred, godly, pious, religious, saintly. All of these describe something or someone being like God in some way and to some degree. God is the ‘gold standard’ so to speak, the definition of holy.

It is because God is holy that God must be worshipped. He demands it. Not that He is egotistical, for holiness has no egotistical streak within it. Rather, God’s very nature of holiness requires that He be worshipped! Think of it like this…

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A group of teachers assembled for in-service training workshop. “What do you teach?” the workshop leader asked. Various answers echoed back from the floor. “Science,” said one participant. “History,” shouted another. “Mathematics,” said a third.

Wrong,” shouted the instructor. “You are all wrong…. You teach students.”

Well of course! If you are teacher you require students. If you are a leader, then there must be followers, or, as they say, you are just an individual going for a walk! The one requires the other.

God has a heaven of angels which worship Him, and they must. He also has people… people who have recognized that He indeed is holy… people that have been touched by His love… people who rely on Christ’s sacrifice to restore them… people who have the Holy Spirit indwelling them… transforming them… leading them… and teaching them how to worship this holy God.

Jesus said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24). We have the great privilege to be a worshipper. Note well, God will be worshipped. When Pharisees tried to silence Jesus’ worshipping disciples He replied “…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

What a need we have for the Holy Spirit!

More tomorrow…

Monday, 1/14/19 – Pressing on…

I like watching the old English sit-com “Keeping up Appearances” (Vision TV). Patricia Routledge plays Hyacinth Bucket — which, she insists, must be pronounced “Bouquet,” in keeping with her upper class persona.

Hyacinth’s doting about presenting herself as the absolute epitome of eminence drives everyone around her to distraction. Her neighbor, Elizabeth, played by Josephine Tewson, is constantly flustered when responding to Hyacinth’s daily summons to tea. Elizabeth becomes so nervous in Hyacinth’s presence that she constantly spills things which only adds to her tension.

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It can be a nerve-wrecking experience when one is forced into a social situation with folk a class or two above one’s own. Imagine the panic you might experience if you were suddenly told you had royalty coming for dinner! What a scramble… what a privilege… yet, what a relief once the visit was over!

Some people approach the notion of sidling up to the Holy Spirit like that too. After all, His very Name sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? — The Holy Spirit. If the “Holy” part doesn’t spook you then the “Spirit” tag certainly well could. Then there’s all those fanatics, and ‘holy rollers,’ and weird cults, and…

But wait a minute! The Holy Spirit is nothing like that. Jesus called Him “the Comforter” – that doesn’t sound so spooky. He also called Him “the Spirit of Truth.” – a rare and valuable thing in today’s world of ‘fake news,’ deception, and modernism.

The Holy Spirit is not the Tasmanian devil of the Trinity, but more like a butterfly or dove, which will land on the quieted and patient heart. At creation God (the Father) willed, then spoke (The ‘Word,’ the Son) things into being, but the Spirit ‘brooded‘ over creation… calmly present, loving, assessing… and God said about it all “It is good.”

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When you encounter the Holy Spirit you encounter the Spirit of Christ, the Love of the Father. You come to an assuring Voice, to One Who informs your conscience correctly, Who empowers you with courage and wisdom, aids you in your prayers, and comforts you in your sorrows. The Holy Spirit speaks into your heart in words that cannot be uttered. The Holy Spirit transforms you. He wants nothing but for your being to glorify both the Son and Father. He lifts you up so that in time you too may be holy.

The Holy Spirit wants to pour as you sup with Jesus. He will steady your hand… you need not spill a drop!

More tomorrow…

Friday, 1/11/19 – Tough Question

“What does it mean to ‘tempt’ God?

I have never been tempted to eat a cockroach.

20190108_081730Although I have heard these insects can be eaten toasted, fried, sautéed, or boiled, I have also read that ingesting them raw can result in sickness and possibly death. So no, I cannot be tempted to eat a cockroach.

In a similar way, God cannot be tempted to do evil, as James says, “…God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (James 1:13-14)

We are tempted because sinful passions still exist within us. As long as we are in this flesh we must work with God to subdue these, to, as Paul wrote, “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24). The old man is “crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2:20), but he’s not yet expired; he thrashes about, tugging at the nails, longing to wreck more havoc.

But God Himself has no such evils, no point at which temptation could allure Him. Barnes explains this more fully:

(1) There is no evil passion to be gratified, as there is in men;
(2) There is no want of power, so that an allurement could be presented to seek what he has not;
(3) There is no want of wealth, for he has infinite resources, and all that there is or can be is his Psalm 50:10-11;
(4) There is no want of happiness, that he should seek happiness in sources which are not now in his possession. Nothing, therefore, could be presented to the divine mind as an inducement to do evil.

God cannot be tempted to do evil just as I cannot be tempted to eat a cockroach!

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In His incarnation, divinity and humanity united, allowing Christ to share in our experience. Matthew and Luke both record Christ’s very real external temptation by the devil (Matt. 4:7, Luke 4:12) testing God against all three challenges: flesh (turning stone to bread), world (demonstration of dramatic spectacle), and devil (handing over the devil’s own power in exchange for one instance of satanic worship). Jesus defeats all three by skillfúl use of the Sword of the Spirit, the written Word of God.

The author of The book of Hebrews reminds us “…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). In His humanity Jesus shared in our experience of temptation for purpose of identification with us, but In His Divinity, as James stated “God cannot be tempted by evil.”

The term ‘tempt’ can also mean “to put God to the test.” While God cannot be enticed to do evil, we certainly can irritate Him by our lack of faith and sinful waywardness.

At one point during the wilderness wanderings the Israelites complained to Moses saying, “‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’… And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” (Exod. 17:1,2, 7) See also Deut. 6:16, Mal. 3:15,

God has chosen to respond to us with grace. We do not merit this grace and we dare not take it lightly or arrogantly impose upon it. If we do, we “tempt” God. We become like a sassy child pushing a parent’s patience.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 1/10/19 – Discipleship: God’s Will

We are responsible to do the will of God that we know to do. Scripture is quite clear that such faithfulness in performing the duties assigned results in greater direction and responsibilities being entrusted. (See Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-26).

The principle is also laid out clearly in Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

God asked Moses “What is that in your hand?” (Exod. 4:2). What do you currently know to be the will of God that you can “do with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10)? Do that and God will show you more.

Scripture is also very clear on a number of things God requires of all His faithful:

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We are to pray, to study, and to boldly share our faith and the gospel of salvation in Christ. We are to minister to the sick and needy, the widows, the imprisoned and the weak. We are to offer hospitality to the stranger, and by all these we also minister to Christ and provide a testimony to others! (See Matt. 25:31-46; James 1:22-25).

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We are to assemble together regularly, give ourselves, our tithes, and our offerings freely and joyfully in service to His Body, the Church. We are to demonstrate love to our neighbors (and enemies) and all its graces of patience, hope, faith, endurance, patience joy, and more. (See Heb. 10:24-25; 1 Cor. 16:2; Gal. 5:22,23)

We are to look to Jesus in all things, asking ourselves what is the mind and heart of God here? Where we need wisdom we are to ask Him to provide it, then faithfully implement righteous judgment. (See James 1:5; John 7:24)

We are to forgive the offending, correct the wayward, pray healing over the sick, share our resources, natural talents, and spiritual gifts. (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12 & 14)

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We are to pray for one another, share our burdens, and rejoice in our blessings and in the blessings of others. We are to worship God, always remember Him, sing His Praise and store our treasures in heaven. (See Acts 2:42-47; Col. 3)

These are just a few things that flooded into my thinking as I type. Search the scriptures, listen to your heart, listen to His Spirit, be attentive to the needs around you. As you do what you know to do daily God will make clear the path before you.

See also Jesus’s parable in Matthew 25:31-46

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21)

Press on…

Are 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, 1/9/19 – Pressing on…

Joash was a tall, stocky Kenyan man with a booming African accent. He had come to study theology as I began my second year in Bible College.

I was tending to business one day in one of the dormitory bathroom stalls when I…. well, let’s just say I made an embarrassing noise! (Hey, we’ve all been there, right?) There was a slight pause, and then from the stall beside me I heard that deep booming Kenyan drawl, “It’s all right John,” he began slowly…. then added with emphasis, “…even the Prime Minister does it.”

Well I cracked up, Joash chuckled, and I think we both made s few more noises.

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Some minutes later after regaining my composure and completing my task I reflected on the truth in Joash’s comical, dry retort. Yes indeed, at certain points we are all really very similar creatures, aren’t we? As an old saying goes, “We all put our pants on one leg at a time.” We all hunger, thirst, love and cry. We all laugh, grow tired, seek approval and need friends. You, me, he, she – even the Prime Minister. Human animals every one of us, all created ultimately… equally… by God, loved of Him, and potential vessels for His purposes.

“Elijah was a human being, even as we are,” James wrote. “He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17, 18).

Imagine that! Elijah was just like you… just like me… like any person at all. The only thing that made anything of note about him was “he prayed earnestly.”

When The Lyconians saw God work miracles by the hands of Barnabas and Paul they mistook them for gods, but what was Paul’s retort? “Why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you.” (Acts 14:15). Again, on Malta, when Paul suffered no ill from a venomous snake bite the locals determined he must be a god (Acts 28: 1-6), but he was not. He was as we are today, a mortal human…. yet one daring to believe and act.

What action is God asking you to take for Him today?

Press on…