Today’s Blog

Monday, 1/13/20 – Pressing on…

Eat like a sheep!

white sheep on plant field

A sheep has four stomachs. Now, while that may sound great to a gourmand, what I’m about to explain next is much less appetizing.

The sheep’s first stomach is called the “rumen.” When a sheep ingests food it goes first to this “rumen” where bacteria, protozoa and microbes begin to digest it. But then the sheep “regurgitates” (causes to flow backwards) the food into its mouth again to re-chew it and swallow it several times! This is called “ruminating.” In this manner the food eaten by the sheep is broken down and its nutrients are absorbed.

20200112_070213We also use the word “ruminate” to mean to think deeply about a thing. Merriam-Webster suggests synonyms such as consider, contemplate, deliberate, meditate, mull (over), ponder, and wrestle (with).

man wearing a jacket sitting on brown wooden crate

We can take wisdom from this. Jesus likened believers to sheep, and His teaching and the scriptures to food for our souls. We are not properly “nourished” spiritually if we take in this food but do not “digest” it… cause it to take root in us and change us (see James 1:25). The Bible is filled with reminders of this fact:

Joshua, faced with the great task of filling Moses sandals, was warned multiple times what was expected of him:  “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it….” (Josh. 1:8)

David, himself a shepherd, must have learned well from the habits of his charge. He wrote of the righteous man: “…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:2). “I will meditate on your precepts.” (Ps. 119:78 ) he determined. “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Ps. 77:12; see also 143:5).

Paul wrote the Galatians “…I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Gal. 4:19), and urged the Colossian believers to ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly“ (Col. 3:16). He taught the Philippian Christians to train their minds to focus on that which will promote a Christ-like spirit within them: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8). And to Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Tim. 4:15)

person woman relaxation summer

Yesterday, here in New Brunswick, many church services were cancelled due to freezing rain and ice pellets. But just as a sheep has the ability to ruminate, to pull back from its resources the nourishment needed, so do we. Jesus once said, “…every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matt. 13:52). In Acts, Luke noted of the Berean believers, “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11). Likewise Paul urged Timothy “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Be a ruminator. Eat like a sheep!

More tomorrow…

Friday, 1/10/20 – Friday Tough Question

Star Wars and “The Force”

men s black and gray collared top

A soul running from God loves to console itself with imaginations that there really is no God in pursuit. It could be safe to slow down, to rest, to accept instead the latest or currently most popular imagination of the society of runners around it. The existence of God is relative to each individual one finally seems to convince oneself. Thus, if I believe, truly believe in some alternative it will suffice for me.

But these thoughts are fantasy.

There are at present many widely touted alternatives one may wish real: “Mother Nature,” evolution, personal truth, philosophical thought, reincarnation, mystical energies and Gnosticism to name a few. No doubt there will be others.

Here, C.S. Lewis comments on the imaginings of “Creative Evolution” and the “Life Force ”but his words have relevance to all of the above…

One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen? – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

mountains nature arrow guide

How can we know the way?” Thomas asked. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus replied. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Real truth is usually something quite simple. Gravity simply pulls everything down and we must respect it. No amount of alternate belief will cause you to float upwards. You must learn to live within its principles. Work with it and you may indeed find a way to fly. Run from it, trying to imagine it away, and you will most certainly perish.

“May the Truth be with you.”

Press on…

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

Thursday, 1/9/20 – Discipleship – Fellowship

Whats a “fellow”?

“Fellowship.” The suffix “ship” in this context refers to all the people in the group defined by the noun. So here, all the “fellows.” But what’s a “fellow”? Is a “fellow” the same as a “guy?” Is Christian “fellowship” only for men?

men s white button up dress shirt

“What is the female equivalent of fellow?” someone once asked. Though the term “fellow” is often used in reference to a male person, etymologically the word is not masculine. We kinda know this as most folk have no problem saying of a woman “She’s a fellow traveler,” or “She’s a fellow surgeon,” for example. And we know we mean both genders in phrases such as “My fellow Canadians…” or when singing at the office party “For she’s a jolly good fellow!” But in other contexts it seems strongly masculine, e.g.: “Who’s that fellow?”

Many English words have gender pairs: guy/gal; man/woman; boy/girl; lad/lass; brethren/sistren, etc. But Christ calls both genders into unity. Paul writes,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:26-29)

angel art black and white clouds

It seems that in Heaven genders will be nonexistent. Jesus taught that “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt. 22:30). Angels are genderless beings, and scripture says we will be like them.

So, how does all this relate to our discipleship topic today, “Christian fellowship?”

Christian fellowship is rooted in something deeper than surface characteristics… something deeper than physical appearance, financial or professional influence, common interests or gender. Christian fellowship is a bond with the Spirit of God which resides in every believer. Paul wrote, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 7:16). Christians sense this when they come together. Something ‘clicks’ deep within them. They know they are coming into a unity, a family, a “fellowship of the saints.”

backlit dawn foggy friendship

When it comes to “Christian fellowship” one could say the noun is Christ! Christian fellowship is that common bond we have in Him. It includes all the people in the group defined by Christ. If you belong to Him, you are among that great fellowship of all believers, the body of Christ, the Church universal!

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

Press on…

20200108_072526Are 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 by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 1/8/20 – Pressing on…

Increasing and Decreasing

black and white people bar men

It astonished me that though the first disciples walked daily with Jesus – that Jesus who as We have been discussing this week is “Jesus is Greater Than ___________.” (you fill in the blank) – though these disciples walked with Him still they argued amongst themselves about which of them was to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke records two instances of this.

The first is in Luke 9. Earlier in this chapter we have the miraculous feeding of 5,000, Peter’s declaration that Jesus Is the Messiah, the astonishing event of the Transfiguration, and the healing of a demonic boy. Twice in this chapter Jesus speaks to His disciples of His coming betrayal and death but they did not understand. Instead, their conversation turns to which of them will be the greatest! In fact, it becomes an out and out argument!!

light sunset people water

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’” (Luke 9:46-48).

So Jesus sets the standard aright. Greatness in the kingdom of God is not measured by how high you can rise, but on how low you will humble yourself. But a humility which seeks humility as a way to Greatness is no humility at all. True humility never thinks to seek greatness. In fact, true humility is completely unaware of itself; it seeks only to minister to the needs of others.

But then the disciples even dare to raise the matter again!

Jesus has just announced that one of them would betray Him. So uncertain are they of their own hearts that the disciples begin to ask among themselves who the betrayer might be. “Is it I?” each asks (Matt. 26:22).

art carving close up crown

But then the ugly question rose again… “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24). Again Jesus, troubled as He was about His own impending task, explained to them that the kingdom of God ran on a different economy. “… you are not to be like that [this world’s system of greatness]. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (v. 26).

Jesus is Greater than all. He is God. May we all learn to say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 5 message.

Tuesday, 1/7/20 – Pressing on…

Surrender to Greatness

achievement confident free freedom

The Christian is one who has made that commitment spoken of yesterday.* The Christian has received the message of the gospel and – more than that – has believed Christ to be Whom He said He was, the Messiah, Saviour of souls, Lord of all: God in flesh. The Christian has invited the Spirit of God to indwell him and God has been true to His Word and begun a transformative work in that person… a rebirth… not natural, or by human resolution, but a rebirth sparked and maintained by God.

The Christian walks with an awareness of “Christ within them, their hope of glory.” (see Col. 1:27). The One Greater than all angels or demons, the One Greater than anything one might imagine now lives within the Christian. As John remarkably understates “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

people on sidewalk selective focal photo

The Christian is now a “little Christ” in this world. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” wrote Paul (1 Cor. 4:7). Our effort is small, but that Greatness of God at work within us can multiply that small effort times upon times, Jesus Himself has told us “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” (John 14:12).

It is all about our surrender of what we have into the hands of that One who is Greater, our Saviour.

Scripture has multiple examples of this. Here are just a few…

• Surrender some waterpots – Jesus fills them with wine (John 2:1-12).
• Surrender a small lunch – Jesus multiplies it to feed 5,000 (John 6:1-14).
• Surrender a face washing – Jesus honors the obedience with restored sight John 9:1-7).
• Surrender a closed tomb stone – Jesus causes the dead man inside to live again (John 11:38-44).
• Surrender a donkey – Jesus makes it His chariot (Matt. 21:1-11).
• Surrender a spare room – Jesus makes it a place preeminent (Luke 22:7-12).
• Surrender a fishnet – Jesus fills it with fish (John 21:1-14).

What will you surrender to Jesus today?

More tomorrow…

* see yesterday’s blog

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 5 message.

Monday, 1/6/20 – Pressing on…

Fill in the blank…

blue and red superman print tank top shirt

Tommy: “Betcha my dad is stronger than your dad!”
Billy: “No way! My dad can lift a motorbike!”
Tommy: “My dad can lift two motorbikes – one in each hand!”
Billy: “Oh yeah! Well my dad could do that with someone sitting on each bike!!”
Tommy: “My dad can do all that while riding on a third bike!!!”

Well, you get the idea. Every kid want to believe in the all-surpassing greatness of their father. I wonder from where they get that desire? Could it be from just a teeny bit of that image of God in us that whispers “You are an offspring of a Great One! You are a child of the Eternal and Almighty God of all creation.” Could it be?

sky space dark galaxy

Well, we are such creatures, though many of us are at present estranged from Him. Jesus came as God among us to teach us this very truth. To remind us of our rightful Father. To teach us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven…” (Matt. 6:9). “The Father Himself loves you…” (John 16:27) He said, and “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). He also said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

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Jesus is greater than all! In fact, this was the theme of Pastor Andrew’s message this recent Sunday. “Jesus is Greater Than ___________.” You may fill in the blank and whatever you write will be true! You don’t find many open ended statements like that! But it is true. Jesus is the Eternal expression of God, the “Word” made flesh awhile to communicate God to us (see John 1:1-14). Through Jesus the universe was made and by Him it is sustained (v.2,3). Paul wrote “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17).

Yes, Jesus is greater than all, yet pleased to dwell within any who turn from self and sin and make Him their Lord instead. Though He is infinitely greater than you He will not force Himself upon you. You alone hold that power to refuse or receive Him.

John writes,

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:11-13).

Wow!

More tomorrow…

Friday, 1/3/20 – Friday Tough Question

What does the Bible say about Social Media?

man looking at ipad pro

It’s a complicated world these days, isn’t it. Almost daily it seems our world gets more complex — and faster too. In such an environment our minds try to simplify the chaos. We tend to categorize the complex into simpler concepts. Shades of grey things are more easily managed if we classify them as black or white. When we are unsure which it should be we sometimes stamp a thing as evil, and avoid it completely even when it could be put to good use.

Jesus, we must remember, ate and drank with those whom others deemed outcasts… persons to be avoided at all cost…. lepers, tax collectors, maimed and unclean. He turned all of these into that which brought glory to God.

man holding microphone while talking to another man

Movies, money, media and medicines, just for starters. All of these have potential for great evil or great good. They are extensions of ourselves… levers with magnify that which is in our hearts.

person holding opened book

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” wrote Baron John Dalberg Acton back in 1887. In Proverbs we read “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23). Jesus put it like this, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NKJV). Or we could add, “out of the abundance of the heart a Christian uses his authority for good … writes a faith-inspiring movie script…. uses medicine to heal… social media to minister to hurting souls.”

photo of women taking picture

Yet still, there is need for caution here. Paul warned the Corinthians, “not everything is beneficial…. not everything is constructive…” (1 Cor. 10:23). The aim of our use of the things of this world must be “the good of others… [and] the glory of God.” (v. 24, 31).

And as with all these things we must also guard against overuse… against addictive behaviour which consumes our time and influence in this world. “Be wise as serpents,” said Jesus, “as shrewd as snakes” the NIV has it (Matt. 10:16). Paul warned the Galatians to be alert to their limits. “Considering yourself lest you also be tempted” And we must remember that we are always an example to our weaker brother.

So that’s it. No external thing is evil in itself; the evil (or good) resides within each individual. Our job as Christians is to choose the good — and the glorious thing is we have the Spirit of God within us to help us do exactly that.

Press on…

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