Today’s Blog

Friday, 11/29/19 – Friday Tough Question

Why reference Moses to the Gentiles?

Here’s an interesting question which my wife asked a few days ago. It’s a good question yet one in my fifty-plus years of Bible study I never thought to ask.

sky earth galaxy universe

After Jesus’ ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the beginnings of the early church, the first believers slowly learned that the grace of God extended not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Jesus had made the way back to God possible for all people… “God so loved the world!” (John 3:16).

As this fact became evident a council was held by the pioneering pillars of the church in Jerusalem. A group of men from Judea had been teaching believers in Antioch that circumcision was still necessary for salvation. Consequently, Paul and some others had travelled to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders to resolve this matter.

multi cultural people

Both sides of the debate were represented and there was lengthy discussion. Finally Peter rose. He recounted how since God had made no distinction in granting the Holy Spirit to Gentile believers it would be wrong to impose upon them the legalistic practice of circumcision. Paul and Barnabas also testified how God had confirmed His acceptance of non-Jews through signs and miracles, and James cited the prophet Amos who proclaimed God’s intention to one day bring salvation to believing Jews and Gentiles alike.

James was a late-believing brother to Jesus and presided over the Jerusalem council. At length he proposed the following:

“…we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21).

This they did, and Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas hand-delivered the letter to those in Antioch.

row of concrete column

The question my wife raised was this: Why include to Gentile believers the caveat that the Mosaic law was so widely accessible (v.21)? It’s almost as if they are saying, “We’ll tell them they don’t need to follow the practice of circumcision, but in case they want to hear about it they still can.” As well, Gentiles would not have been – nor have intended to become – synagogue goers. Why is this mentioned in the Jerusalem injunction?

Well, though it’s taken thus far just to form the question, the answer may be quite simple.

Matthew Henry offers good insight on this…

Remember, this letter was sent to “the church” in Antioch (Acts 15:30). It was not delivered only to Gentile believers but to the mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians in the newly assembled Church. The letter was intended to give direction to the Gentiles but also to foster Jewish acceptance of the Gentiles into their midst.

Henry puts it this way,

“…great respect ought to be shown to the Jews for they have been so long accustomed to the solemn injunctions of the ceremonial law that they must be borne with, if they cannot presently come off from them… though the gospel has set us free from these things… We must therefore give them time, must meet them half-way; they must be borne with awhile, and brought on gradually, and we must comply with them as far as we can without betraying our gospel liberty.” – Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary

What a great Truth it is that we ALL have access to One Father through the One and only Son by One Spirit. (c.f.. Eph. 2:18).

Press on…

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

Thursday, 11/28/19 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ

The Greatest Return of All

There’s a website out there that lists the top 100 films featuring “The Return of…” in their titles. I won’t list them all but see how many of these sound at least somewhat familiar:

architecture building business cinema
Now Playing: “The Return of…”

In the Star Wars saga we have of course The Return of the Jedi, and the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy has The Return of the King. Darkman has The Return of Durant, and more than a few times we’ve had The Return of the Living Dead. There’s been The Return of Godzilla, The Return of The Wolfman, The Return of the Fly, The Ape Man, Count Dracula, and Dr. X to name a few. Mr. Moto came back, as did The Vampire, The Swamp Thing, some Killer Shrews and The Dragon. Man’s best friend Rin Tin Tin came back. The Gunfighter made a return, as did the Musketeers. The One-Armed Swordsman and Mr. Hook both came back, and No, they are not the one and same person. The Joker came back and (thankfully) Batman too returned. The Pink Panther and Johnny English both have their “The Return of...” movie, and we mustn’t forget the Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the likewise alien Killer Tomatoes.

Animal, vegetable or mineral (Remember The Return of the Blob?) they all came back and with them the ‘ka-ching,’ or ‘tap’ of money machines worldwide. (Oh yeah, ‘The Machines,’ they also made a ‘Return.’)

white popcorns inside of a red and white popcorn box

One thing all these movies all have in common of course is that they are all movies! They are all just made-up tales — pretty spectacular-looking tales perhaps with all their mega budgets, CGI graphics, wide screens, 3-D and other special effects, but tales nonetheless. None of these stories truly happened.

But there is one story that truly is happening and will happen. In the end it is the only story that really matters. This story is His Story….or ‘history’ if you prefer. The story of humanity IS the story of history… the story of His Story. He made us, we strayed, He came to save us, and one day soon He will return.

In His Word He asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

photo of man wearing eyeglasses

It is your business in this life to answer that question. When the Son of Man comes for you, will He find faith in you? When you die and go to Him, will He judge you pardoned by the Sacrifice of His Son? He will if you commit to turn from sin, make Him your Lord and follow His will. Place your faith in Him today. It’s the only story… the only Return… that ultimately matters.

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, 11/27/19 – Pressing on…

The Alternative

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.” – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

fire wallpaper

The pleadings to seek out Christ Jesus are not motivated only because one has found the walk of faith to be the best walk ever. Indeed, it may well be the most difficult. The real motivation is the one the very real devil works very hard to keep from us. The real motivation is to rescue you from your road to destruction.

Understand, this is a most horrible destruction of all. It is not annihilation, though those in it will eternally wish it were. It is eternal destruction, isolation, torment and fire. The real you is not your body, not your mind, not the sum of your memories, not the things which surround you. The real you is that eternal thing. That thing that never will, never can, die. The real you is that thing the Bible calls ‘soul.’ You are a soul… an eternal soul.

God has prepared a very good place for eternal souls. God has also prepared a very bad place for the devil. This place was never meant for eternal souls. But many souls are running along a path which leads there.

Why?

empty winding road

Because this paths is wide and accommodating, its downward slope propels you along making the way easy. This path is lined with pleasures, pleasures which feed the short-lived flesh, pleasures which are now, immediate, new every day. Down, down, down these souls tumble – an avalanche in which you too tumble, lost in the dust, helpless to stop.

You have been duped! The devil too tumbles with you. He has grabbed on to you but you can yet let go! And so the preacher urges you ‘Grab Christ’s hand instead!’ it is right there… amazingly still beside you. Hell was not made for you, not made for you… you the eternal soul. Hell is “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41). But to Hell you will go if you do not reach out to Him.

 

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REACH OUT!

Thus the cries to seek Jesus. Grope through the swirling dust and you WILL find Him. Reach out now for already this path grows warmer and there is a smell of smoke in the air.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:13-14).

Press on…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Nov. 24 message..

Tuesday, 11/26/19 – Pressing on…

Where’s Jesus?

bags black cardboard carry

This is the week many has been waiting for! Excitement builds as Black Friday deals become Black Week deals and get dealier and dealier with each passing day. Got to get the best buy’s, got to get the latest toys, got to get the right gifts for Christmas because Christmas is coming and it’s the next ‘most wonderful time of the year.’

We must get Christmas right.. the tree, the treats, the décor and the dining. Christmas is ‘Showtime.’ It’s ‘Go-Time.’ It’s good host time, and host time takes prep time and prep time means busy time. Busy, busy, busy… the busier I am the better it will be.

We gather for the chaos, we feast beyond surfeit, we give gifts to one another though we have plenty already. It is the birthday of the Great King!

grayscale photography of man praying on sidewalk with food in front

Outside some still tremble in the cold. A prisoner sits lonely in his cell. A widow stares out at falling snow. It is her first Christmas without him. Month-end draws near for the lady in unit 6 as she mashes banana on thinly peanut buttered, week-old bread. Christmas dinner tonight will be just as the last 5 were. In the alley nearby a coatless man stuffs more discarded newspaper down his shirt… feeble insulation against the harsh night to come.

Of Jesus John wrote “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11). Speaks God  through Jeremiah. “My people have forgotten me, days without number.” (Jer. 2:31-32).

Isaiah describes what sort of man this Christ is:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Read the first four paragraphs again. For whose enjoyment is the tree, the treats, the décor and the dining? To whom are the extravagant gifts given? Is it the One Whose birth is celebrated? Where is He in the first three paragraphs? Is He there? What about the fourth? Do you see Him?

people holding boxes

Jesus spoke of the folk in paragraph four. He said “Whatever you did / did not do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did / did not do for me.” (Matt. 25:40 / 45). Read the whole section, v.31-46. What does the Spirit of Christmas look like to Jesus?

But before we can do any of these things in honesty, in the Spirit and not in the flesh, we must open to Him every room in our bodies, and minds, and hearts. We are His temple, His dwelling. The whole house is His.

Let us leave the chaos with all its distraction and walk with reverence into the barn, the lowly places. Let us not hide our faces from Him, nor paint them with hypocrisy. Let us give to Him, the one gift we have power to give or to withhold – the gift of our complete selves.

More tomorrow…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Nov. 24 message.

Monday, 11/25/19 – Pressing on…

A Piece of String…

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography

The story is told by Guy de Maupassant of a peasant on his way to town. He sees a little piece of string on the road. Being thrifty, he leans over to pick it up, then notices his old enemy, the harness maker, watching him. He thinks “He will think I am miserly to pick up a little piece of string out of the dirt.” So he hid the little piece of string in his coat, pretending he was looking for something else that he couldn’t find.

Later, the town crier announces that a rich man’s purse had been lost on the road. The harness maker accuses the peasant to the mayor and the peasant protests, saying “Oh no, it was just a little piece of string!” But no one believed him, even after someone else found the purse the townspeople still believed the peasant had been involved.

photo of man pointing his finger

This so bothered the peasant that everywhere he went he loudly defended himself shouting, “It was just a piece of string!” But the more he said it, the more the people clacked their tongues and knowingly nudged each other.*

To be accused falsely, to be rejected unjustly. We have probably all known it to some degree. Jesus knew if to the fullest degree. Jesus did nothing wrong. Jesus could throw out the challenge “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46) and have it return unanswered, yet with accusation “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (v.48)

The unfortunate thing is that as Jesus is likened to the peasant in the story above, it is we who are the harness maker… the mayor… the townspeople.

grayscale photography of person s hand covered with straps

Jesus wants greater entry into our hearts… into your heart… my heart. Do we fear He will disrupt our ordered lives? Do we reject Him because it is simpler to believes a lie, to hold to our prideful boast, than to surrender ourselves to accommodate the Truth?

It is we who are the evil ones, not He. It is we indeed who need His disruption, His intervention, His transformation.

He is still pleading to us.

What will be your response?

More tomorrow…

*from Criticizing, by William J. Diehm, pgs. 114-115 (paraphrased.)

Friday, 11/22/19 – Friday Tough Question

Yah, but what am I supposed to DO?

I know I know. Though yesterday’s blog is completely true for each Christian it does indeed deal only with the general Will of God — God’s Will for every believer.

high angle photo of roads
Which way do I go?

Perhaps you are facing some specific crossroad, trying to determine the Will of God for your life right now about some particular decision. Here are a few guidelines I’ve always found helpful and which have sound scriptural support.

First, listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit within you. Scripture tells us (John 16:12-15). the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth the Holy Spirit will remind us of things guide us. Listen to the Holy Spirit within you.

Next consider the Word of God. Is this thing you are considering in agreement with the full counsel of God’s Word? The Holy Spirit will never lead you outside of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will apply the Word of God to your specific situation and guide you.

group of veterans
Mature believers…

Next, what are other mature believers saying to you? Do they feel that the thoughts and directions you are having are from the Lord? Does your church leadership support you? This is vitally important if you believe God is calling you to some missionary service. You need the support and commissioning of your local church as you begin to take steps along this significant path.

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise
Open door…   Peace of God…

Is there an Open Door of opportunity? Watch this one because sometimes you may get the first three all in agreement and yet there is no door of opportunity. But this may only mean that though you are on the right track, God’s time has not yet arrived. God will lead you in “the fullness of time” into the Will He has for you. When the time is right the doors will miraculously open.

Do you have the witness of God’s Peace in your heart after coming thus far? God’s Peace about a matter is a wonderful affirmation that you were walking in His Will.

Finally there is the Provision of God. Whom God calls He also enables. God always provides what is needed, when it is needed, but seldom before it is needed! When the time is right God will provide.

1. Still, small Voice of the Holy Spirit within you
2. Word of God
3. Affirmation of others
4. Open door of opportunity
5. Peace within
6. Provision of God

Study the following passages. See how many of the above guidance points you can identify in these testimonies.

Acts 15 – Council at Jerusalem
Acts 16:6-10 – Call to Macedonia, not Asia
1 Cor. 16:5-9 – Great door open to me
Mark 16:20 20 – signs following

Press on…

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

Thursday, 11/21/19 – Discipleship – God’s Will

What is God’s Will for my Life?

Yesterday we looked at the dangers of this world and its rebellion against the Lord. This world does NOT want to know, does NOT want to obey God’s Will. This world wants to assert its own will, be its own ‘god,” forge its own way.

light road landscape nature

But a man-made path can lead only as far as a man can go. Flesh and blood and all its flesh and blood made things — toys, cities, roads and graves – are “destined to perish” (Col. 2:22), not only because the Bible says so but this fact is observable all around you. Living things die, material things decay; God’s verdict is immutable: As for the physical “dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). As to the spiritual “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

John summarized this: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17). Knowing and doing God’s Will is the opposite of following the whims of this world.

The world teaches us God’s Will is something uncertain, something far from our knowing… a mystery. But the world is lost in its darkness! Paul wrote,

“…people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? / Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:14-16).

photo of stream during daytime

We walk by faith, not by sight,” Paul later wrote (2 Cor. 5:7). We have the sure Word of God and the abiding Holy Spirit to guide us. These we understand and trust. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” writes David (Ps. 119:105). “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God,” asserts Paul (1 Cor. 2:10). “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness,” echoes Peter (2 Pet. 1:13).

God’s Will for each believer is not so much a destination as it is a journey. A brook need not concern itself about where it’s mouth meets the ocean. A brook’s concern is only in following the winding brook bed, lapping over the rocks, bubbling all the way. It knows that by diligence to this it is headed rightly and will reach the sea in God’s good time.

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.