Today’s Blog

Thursday, 4/9/20 – Discipleship: Assurance (& COVID-19)

Assurance (& COVID-19)

What one must first identify is just what it is of which one seeks assurance?

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Do you desire assurance that your body will not die? Christ cannot help you there. Was it not God Himself who long ago commanded “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen. 2:17). But we did, and it broke our Creator’s heart. After that, “…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people…” (Rom. 5:12). Indeed you WILL die! But Christ offers life beyond death — eternal life!

man wearing gas mask standing beside store facade

Do you desire assurance that your environment will be one of ease and comfort? You will get no assurances of that either! Our sin has touched it all. Paul writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning ...” (Rom. 8:22) “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one” states John (1 John 5:19). and Jesus promised “in this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). But Christ offers strength and grace to carry us through it.

Do you desire assurance that your body will not be touched by COVID 19? There is no guarantee of that either! Many good believers of ages past and around our world today have suffered or are suffering much from pestilence and persecution. But Christ offers a soul at peace with Him that cannot be severed by any threat (Rom. 8:38-39).

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Just as Christ has promised to allow no temptation to come our way without providing us a way to escape (1 Cor. 10:13) so He promises to grant sufficient grace to endure whatever miseries and sufferings this world may throw at us. Christ speaks to us as well as Paul when He says “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). When you need it, it will be there. Christ gives the Christian an abiding assurance… a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isa. 26:3).

“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).

What is needed on our part is s steadfast mind frequently refreshed by the Promises of God’s Word and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. The seas ahead may be tumultuous or they may be calm, but the Lord is a strong ship. Safe shores are secured ahead.

Press on…

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There is really only one thing of which each individual must be assured… that one has made peace with God by repentance from sin and faith toward God through the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Need help making that commitment or growing in God? Use the Contact page.

Wednesday, 4/8/20 – Pressing on…

A Time For Giving and Forgiving

20200407_092204I’ve always liked Colossians, chapter 3. It’s a chapter full of homework! A chapter which commands certain things of us that may take us some time to “work out” in our habits and behaviours—a checklist of points which we would be wise to return to for ongoing self-assessment.

This morning I felt drawn to focus upon v. 13. In context, it reads like this:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:12, 13, 14).

Note the first word, “Therefore.” A good rule of understanding scripture is whenever you see the word “therefore,” stop and determine what it is there for.

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I believe in this case the answer lies back in the first verse: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…” As new creations of God it is incumbent upon us to work with the Spirit of Christ within us to adopt, or “put on” godly virtues. God has made us, Jews and Gentiles alike, His “chosen people” (v. 12) so we must give diligence to behave as such… to behave like Christ. Christ has made it possible for us to do so, and now we must make it practicable. We must seize the opportunities He gives us to deny the “old” man and respond instead with the “new” man.

two people being isolated

Here in Canada we are now several weeks into physical distancing, self isolation, and homeboundness. Tolerances may be diminishing; tensions may be rising. But still Christ expects no less – He Who from the cross prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) also taught us to pray “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12). Then He added, “… if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (v. 15).

Forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” writes the Apostle.

Jan Kempe in Faithful Hearts tells of the American Red Cross founder Clara Barton who was once asked, “Don’t you remember the mean thing that that woman said to you?” Clara replied, “I not only don’t remember; I distinctly remember forgetting.”

Forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 4/7/20 – Pressing on…

A Stance Worthy of Worship

man in black turtleneck shirt

Part of any good training in human service work is a section on Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVCI). NVCI employs specific “non-threatening” postures to assume when dealing with a potentially violent individual. Training in anger management includes developing a sensitivity to bodily tensions which could erupt in an episode. Criminal interrogators are experienced in spotting body language that reveals a suspect is lying.

All of These indicate the truth that body and mind very much work together. Try it yourself: Stand with feet spread, arms on hips, and brow furrowed and soon you will begin to feel anger. Sit down, lean forward, give eye contact and smile and you will appear — and actually become — more engaged with the one to whom you are speaking. We communicate things both verbally and non-verbally…to others, to ourselves, and also to ourselves about our approach to God.

woman in a colorful knitted shirt and gray headwear

Scripture mentions many postures in our approach before God in prayer: standing, kneeling, bowing, lifting our eyes to heaven, lying prostrate, and raising our hands.

Long ago God spoke through Isaiah, “…I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.” (Isaiah 45:23).

Nehemiah records a variety of physical stances at the reading of the law by Ezra…

“Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Neh. 8:5-6).

Faces to the ground reminds us that we come before a Mighty One indeed — Creature in audience with Creator! Yet still alive. What grace admits this possibility! “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,” writes Paul, “…Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Augustine writes “The bodies of irrational animals are bent toward the ground, whereas man was made to walk erect with his eyes on heaven, as though to remind him to keep his thoughts on things above.” (City of God).

In The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis has senior demon Screwtape advise understudy demon Wormwood “At the very least, they [humans] can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget… that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.”

brown snake on brown surface

Indeed, was not the serpent’s punishment to crawl upon the dirt also a symbol of God’s dominion over him? (see Gen. 3:14-15). So with us when we lower ourselves we direct our bodies to physically express this same truth that God is Supreme.

Certainly God hears our prayers and receives our worship whatever our posture. To “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) requires it. Those physically limited can still pray, still worship. But to set aside a special hour, a special place, and a special stance is to honour God in ways most befitting… most conducive to the mortal touching the immortal.

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 4/6/20 – Pressing on…

A Life Worthy of the Gospel

person throwing fish net while standing on boat

John and his brother James were offspring of Zebedee & Salome. Both made their living as fishermen in the regions of Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Jerusalem. They must have been rugged men until Jesus began to transform them. There must have been something bombastic or at least energetic about the two of them for early on Jesus gave them the nickname Boanerges which means “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).

When some Samaritans refused to welcome Jesus and his disciples John and James seem a bit vindictive: “Do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” they asked Jesus — a query that met his rebuke. (Luke 9:54). It was John who reported to Jesus “We saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Again a rebuke from our Lord. (Mark 9:38).

Then, just after Christ confided in his disciples for the third time regarding his coming crucifixion it was James and John who earned the ire of the other disciples by asking Jesus for favoured seats in the kingdom of Heaven (Mark 10:35-37).

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Yet John became known as “the beloved disciple” His heart and ambition mellowed and in the end it was John to whom Jesus entrusted from the cross the care of His mother Mary (John 19:26). John’s attitude so transformed that he became the most loving disciple of all. As a matured believer he wrote… no, crafted, the most unique gospel of all in which in each ‘chapter’ portrays Christ in some new way. He wrote three epistles also in which he references love some 25 times.

John labored among churches of Asia Minor, and in particular Ephesus. Banished for a time to the isle of Patmos John’s love and fervor for His Lord did not diminish. It was there that, continuing diligent in devotion to Christ, the Lord revealed to him the mysteries of events to come as he recorded what we now name the book of Revelation. John was later freed from his isolation and eventually died a natural death.

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Paul writing from his isolation in prison urged, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Phil. 1:27). Peter wrote…“In all this you greatly rejoice… ” (1 Pet. 1:6, 9).

God used all sorts of circumstances and difficulties to shape these men and many others who comprised the early church. He does no less for you and I.

During this current crisis, let us conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Consider what transformation John experienced… Christ will do the same in you. Grasp hold of the challenges of this day and as James wrote “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete…” (James 1:4). He is making of the rawest materials of all things glorious and eternal!

More tomorrow…

Check out Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message at the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the page from the church website.

Friday, 4/3/20 – Friday Tough Question

What’s possible?

woman in workout gear hanging upside down on doorway near green plants

I did a word study this morning on the occurrence of “possible” / “impossible” in scripture. I was surprised to discover there were no occurrences of either word in the Old Testament and only about 25 instances in the New Testament.

Of these 8 ask IF a thing might be possible: 2 ask if the “elect” could be deceived (Matt. 2424; Mk. 13:22), 2 occur where Christ entreats whether redemption might be accomplished some other way (Matt. 26:39; Mk. 14:35-36), and the rest in the context of Paul wondering if he might make it to Jerusalem by Pentecost, might navigate the ship a certain way, or if the Galatians might have given him their eyes and finally if men might live together peaceably (Acts 20:16; 27:39; Gal. 4:15; Rom. 12:18).

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Though all things are possible with God it is impossible for God to act contrary to His attributes. Thus it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18), or for the sacrifices of sinful mortals to provide atonement (Heb 10:4). A sinless sacrifice is necessary lest God act in ways contrary to His holiness, justness or purity. Since that sacrifice had to be Christ it is impossible to be saved apart from Him (Heb. 6:4). Because Christ is Himself Eternal God it is further impossible that death could hold Him (Acts 2:24).

Throughout these passages the definition of the Greek word used of things impossible is constant. The words ἀδυνατέω [adunateō] or ἀδύνατος [adunatos] mean “not to have strength, power, or ability, to be weak, unable, to be without strength, impotent, powerless, weakly, or disabled.”

Three times the incarnate Word draws the contrast that what man cannot do, God can:

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is IMPOSSIBLE; but with God all things are POSSIBLE.” (Matt. 19:26)
“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is IMPOSSIBLE, but not with God: for with God all things are POSSIBLE.” (Mark 10:27).
“And he said, The things which are IMPOSSIBLE with men are POSSIBLE with God.” (Luke 18:27).

man standing near snow field

This word “possible” in the Greek, δυνατός [dunatos] carries the meaning of “able, powerful, mighty, strong, mighty in wealth and influence, strong in soul, able to bear calamities and trials with fortitude and patience, strong in Christian virtue, to be able (to do something), mighty,  excelling in something, having power for something, powerful or capable.”

This is our God.

As we rest our faith in Him He works His power and peace in and through us. (Matt. 17:20; Mark 9:23). We walk by faith not sight. Do not be moved by fears all around you. God is in control. What He allows He meets with His Grace. Grace to endure or grace to overcome. Both require faith (Heb 11:6). “For with God nothing shall be imPOSSIBLE.” (Luke 1:37).

Press on…

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

 

 

Thursday, 4/2/20 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ (& COVID-19)

Soon Return of Christ (& COVID-19)

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No doubt you’ll be hearing all sorts of “end of the world” declarations amid this COVID-19 global pandemic. You’ve likely heard several already. And I’m not about to tell you it is or it isn’t the final few days before Armageddon. But it is most definitely one of the more severe “labour pains” of the end times spoken of by Jesus in the gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). However, the fundamental fact remains that the final date and hour remains unknown to us.

“…that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36).

Our business in this day is, as it has always been, to be found ready:

Lamps burning, lights shining

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning… because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:35, 40)
“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).

Doing the will of the Father from the heart

“…as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.” (Eph. 6:6).

Loving God and neighbour

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37,38).

Living purely, free from bondage to sin

“…now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness” (Rom. 6:19).

Keeping ourselves unspotted from the world

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27).

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Our Lord has told us the signs of the end times not to frighten us but to cause our hearts to draw ever closer to Him. Remember Jesus words to His faithful “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). The perils and torments of this world do not change the Father’s Love. They do not alter His greatest heart desire. He is still “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)… still desiring “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4).

The soul of the Christian is secure. The counsel of Micah still stands

“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).

Not so for the rebel! Not so for the soul who runs from his Maker! For that soul there is nothing but the greatest fear indeed — “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” as says the author of Hebrews (Heb. 10:27).

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Does this describe you? If so, what must you do? You must agree with God that you are indeed a rebel, stop running from Him, ask His forgiveness, turn about and obey Him, recognize that Jesus has paid for all your sin, believe that knowing there is nothing you can do for your own self. Christ has done it all. He alone is your Saviour. Determine now to follow His leading, making Him your Lord to obey.

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This day forward speak often with Him in prayer, read, study and meditate up on the Word of God, find a Bible-believing church to grown by and learn to share and serve.

Here are some passages to get you started: John 3:16, Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; John 1:12. After that, begin reading the gospel of John… and keep going.

Want more help? Use the Contact page (see below) and we’ll be happy to help.

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 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

white toilet paper roll on woven basket

“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.