Today’s Blog

Friday, 7/17/20 – Friday Question: Puzzling Promises

How do I make these promises “work” for me?

person placing hands on bible

I can’t seem to make these two promises “work” for me? Why not? Has God failed me? What’s wrong?

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Before I address the two scriptures about which you specifically ask, I must comment on how you have framed your question.

The promises of God are not commodities that we pull of a spiritual toolbox to make “work” for us. The promises of God are components of our relationship with Him. They are further graces that we enjoy as we walk in fellowship and obedience with Him. They must also be properly understood in the contexts and with the stipulations that may go with them.

20200716_090052Take the 1st Corinthians 10 promise for example. Here God is not guaranteeing that you in your own power will be able to overcome every temptation which comes at you. No, He is saying He will provide a way for you to escape. If you choose not to take that way but choose rather to be “dragged away by your own evil desire” (James 1:14) you will be fully responsible for the outcome to which this choice leads.

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For 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. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15).

Indeed we are often tempted above our own ability to resist. Joseph, for example, when tempted with the brazen advances of Potiphar’s wife, he knew he was in over his head and so he simply ran away. (Gen. 39). “Flee from sexual immorality,”Flee the evil desires of youth,” wrote Paul (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22). Running from sin is not an act of cowardice, but of wisdom.

gray scale photo of a woman about to climb the fire escape ladder
Take the Escape!

Even the Apostle himself acknowledged times of being “under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure.” But why? Paul adds, “…this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” (2 Cor. 1:8, 9). We need to choose the “escape path” He has promised to provide.

As to the second scripture, this promise is clearly to those who “take delight in the Lord.” This means the things of the Lord give you your greatest joy… you desire them. In fact, in the original Hebrew the word “delight” derives from a root meaning to be soft or pliable. The desires of the Lord’s heart, become “the desires of your heart,” and these indeed the Lord will grant.

pensive male teen on gray background

Press on…

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

 

Thursday, 7/16/20 – Fellowship: Team players…

Team players…

child holding bat during daytime

I remember the first time I played baseball. It was in public school, I’m guessing grade four… grade four during the annual ‘Field Day’ at Prince Charles Public School in London Ontario. I must have just learned the rules and now for the first time in my life I found myself ‘at the bat.’ Yessir, inexperienced, nonathletic, young ‘Johnny-at-the-bat.’

baseball player in gray and black uniform running

The pitcher wound up, gave it all he got, and hurled that hard little orb straight at me. I swung and ‘CRACK!’ Much, much to my amazement – and I’m sure to the amazement of most of my classmates – I hit that little missile faaar out into the outfield. Dumbfounded, and shoulder still reverberating, I stood, never having anticipated getting this far! “RUN!” my class screamed in unison. I snapped back to action and I ran. I ran will all my mini-might! From base to base I ran. No one could stop me, and indeed no one did until I had just about made it round to home plate. Everyone had been shouting and I figured I must be the star of the game! That is, until I focussed more on what they had been shouting. Their urgent plea had been this: “You’re going the wrong way!”

ground orange balloon deflated

Deflating moments… we’ve all had them. Some more serious and ego damaging than others. And oh how the devil likes to rub our noses in them. Sometimes however we deserve them. When our noses get held too high we can’t see the roadway. Strutting about like this we can quickly become snobs! A fall may be needed to make us alert again to follow the roadway.

But a humble man can be crushed by an abundance of deflating experiences. It is the weakest of the flock that the predator stalks. We who are strong have a duty go those that are weak. And all of us are strong at some things or in some seasons and weak at other things or at other seasons. None of us can ever boast!

Paul writes,

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:1-2).

four person standing at top of grassy mountain

We see in this scripture the obligation to be a team player in this Kingdom of God family, yet at the same time to keep forefront in our thinking the truth that we do not do this from a position of personal strength. We must ever “watch ourselves” lest we also “be tempted.” The implication is that none of us is any better than our struggling brother or sister in Christ. Any one if us could be the next fallen comrade in need of a lift from a fellow believer.

We all need the team to cheer us on or shout at us if ever we take of running the wrong way. Be a good team player. Don’t be a snob. Give attention to where you are going. Encourage the weak. Run the right way.

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, 7/15/20 – Pressing on…

More! – ?

cat whiskers kitty tabby

Meow,” said Molly, our cat. I had just fed her an hour before but now I was fixing myself a snack and she figured something new must be coming her way too.

“I just fed you,” I said to reason with her (as if she understood people talk)… and I went on… “Look… you’ve barely touched what I gave you just an hour ago. You don’t get any more now.”

Molly just stared at me… looking so impoverished and needy! “No!” I repeated with emphasis on the “No.” But she just continued her mournful gaze all the way through my now undeservedly guilt-ridden snack time.

Kids are like this too. If you’ve raised children you know, it’s not so much what kids eat but what they don’t eat that gets so expensive. “I want more!” they plead, but in the end it’s usually the trash bin that swallows the excess.

bread food basket loaves

“Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” Jesus told His disciples after feeding of the masses (John 6:12). Jesus, it seems, does not like waste either. His Creation even reflects this: Tiny organisms feed on leftover carcases, breaking down and depositing nutrients which in turn feed plants and the food chain cycle begins anew. Indeed, nothing is wasted in nature.

So it makes sense to me as Pastor Andrew mentioned on Sunday that God does not give us more when we have not proven faithful with what He has given us already. In fact, Jesus sets out the principle 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.” (Luke 16:10).

See also this principle at work in God’s kingdom: (Matt. 25:14-30.)

group of people sitting on white mat on grass field

We have been given salvation and the message of the gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. We have also been given His commission to go into the world, every one of us… into our unique worlds, our individual spheres of influence, wherever they may be — and share this gospel with all that world.

Do you desire more from Christ? Do you desire His Spirit to flow through you and outward? Perhaps you ought not be waiting for more from Him; He may well be waiting for more from you!

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook pageof Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 7/14/20 – Pressing on…

Unstoppable!

big waves crashing

An earthquake triggered the great Indian Ocean tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004 releasing energy equivalent to 23,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and causing the death of over 150,000 in just one day. Before that, the Lituya Bay, Alaska tsunami of July 9, 1958 reached a record height of 1,720 feet (524.25 meters) and released some 40 million cubic yards (30.6 million cubic meters) of rock. Damage caused by the Indonesian tsunamis of 2018 and 2020 will require years of recovery – much longer if future tsunamis occur.

big waves under cloudy sky

If you’ve seen the news footage you will immediately realize the unstoppable forces of a tsunami! Yet, to the Lord Almighty, a tsunami is nothing – “a whisper,” says Job! How is it then that puny, arrogant man can think it possible to thwart the power of God?

Suffering, bereaved, and impoverished Job knew something of the power of God. To his accusing “comforters” he summarized…

“God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. He created the horizon when he separated the waters: he set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:7-14).

close up shot of a lion

To the questioning Sadducees Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29).

This past Sunday we sang,

“Who can stop the Lord Almighty?… Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles…. And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb… Oh who can stop the Lord Almighty?”

Who can stop the Lord Almighty?

The question is laughable!

The Lord — our Maker — is to be bowed before… obeyed… When we do, that same unstoppable power works within us… it is mighty… “to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). O Lord, help Your people to obey You this day! Do wonders!

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 7/13/20 – Pressing on…

Balm Squad

photo of person standing inside canyon rocks

Archeologist Vendyl Jones, the real-life inspiration for the legendary film character Indiana Jones, made an exciting discovery in April 1988 while exploring a Qumran cave near the Dead Sea. He journals…

“In the narrow pit closest to the (cave) entrance, about three feet down, we unearthed an object small in size but enormous in worth. It was a diminutive clay pitcher about five inches in height. The little vial held around three ounces of thick, reddish oil. The find was still wrapped in date palm fibers to protect it. In the hours after its discovery, the juglet sat out in the one hundred degree heat and its contents, according to some, gave off a sweet smell.”*

It was a vial of the famed balm of Gilead!

woman using cbd balm

Balm of Gilead functions as an analgesic, an anti-inflammatory, an anti-bacterial, and as an astringent. It can help detoxify and also heal coughs. It is made only from the buds of the Balsam Poplar, the Narrowleaf Balsam Poplar, or the Black Cottonwood. The buds must be picked at just the right moment then soak in a frequently agitated container of olive oil for well over a month. The buds are then strained out and the oil is mixed with melted beeswax, coconut oil and cocoa butter.

Gilead was well known as a producer of this balm. Thus, Jeremiah laments “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (Jer. 8:22). What he is rhetorically saying is this, There certainly is balm in Gilead. The needed cure for the wounds of his people exists. The disconnect is with the people: they no longer had the will to seek it out.

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Of course Jeremiah is not speaking about a physical balm; he does not mean a medical application. Jeremiah is referring to a spiritual wound of waywardness; he is calling his people to turn around and seek out God.

Herein is the timelessness of this truth. We who call ourselves by the Name of Christ, “Christians,” have obligation to bring Christ to the perishing. It was the one great commission He gave us. (see Matt. 28:18-20). We are all part of His great ‘Balm Squad’ and the timer is ticking down.

More tomorrow…

* Source: http://www.land-of-the-bible.com/The_Balm_of_Gilead

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

Friday, 7/10/20 – Friday Tough Question: Why Pray?

Why Pray?

woman sitting on window reading book

Upon cracking open Philip Yancey’s book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? — before Chapter 1, before the Table of Contents, on an otherwise blank page the reader is straightaway met with the stark words of William James:

“The reason why we pray is simply that we cannot help praying.”

Cannot help praying? How is that? To most prayer is at best a struggle: to find the time, the words, the motivation… How can it be said that we cannot help but pray?

Thomas Merton observed, “Prayer is an expression of who we are… a living incompleteness… an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.”

coronavirus

When the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center tower that Sept. 11, morning virtually every reporter on the scene was heard to gasp, “Oh my God!” Around our globe these recent days as the Coronavirus proved its power and our powerlessness, men and women of all nationalities instinctively cried out to that Someone beyond.

yellow sports car during day time

In less desperate moments we substitute Him for almost anything else, anything that makes no demands upon us. We must pray just as we must worship, and that emptiness must be filled. Be it fame, money, power, material things, bitterness of heart, or abundant good deeds, we try to fill that emptiness but in vain.

Some call this “the pursuit of happiness” — a term which recognizes this incompleteness, this emptiness as a fundamental component of the human experience.

Jesus said something like this,

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food… Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” (John 6:27, The Message).

In other words, Don’t try to fill your emptiness with the perishable things of this world, pray! Speak with your Creator! He loves you, and longs for your fellowship. When you do, your emptiness will be filled, your incompleteness will disappear. You will know who you are and why you are here. You will pray rightly as you were made to pray.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 7/9/20 – Discipleship – Prayer

Prayer: When God says “No.”

adult birthday birthday gift box

In Prayer – Does It Make Any Difference? Philip Yancey writes, “I have sometimes found that I get an answer to my persistent request after I have learned to do without it. The answer then comes as a surprise, an unexpected gift of grace. I seek the gift, find instead the Giver, and eventually come away with the gift I no longer seek.”

Often the real point of our praying is just this sort of self transformation. Augustine pointed out that a person should approach prayer not so much that God becomes instructed, but that the one praying be constructed.

man standing in the middle of road

We must take caution that when we, like Jacob, decide to “wrestle with God” we remember that very often God wins. And when He does, we ought be just as joyous as when in His grace He grants our desire. We must be prepared to receive God’s “No” and move on — as Paul did regarding some uncertain personal impediment:

…a thorn in the flesh was given to me,” he writes. “I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

Paul prayed, and the Lord said “No.” What was Paul’s response? He accepted the Lord’s reply and said, “So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.” Paul adjusted his thinking to see this ‘thorn’ as God saw it: a means whereby to keep Paul from arrogance (v. 7).

silhouette image of person praying

As always, Jesus is our example. When faced with His greatest, most urgent and desperate personal desire He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

In praying thus, Christ both recognized the sovereignty and ability of the Father. He prayed in essence, “Father, here’s what I desire, but my greater desire is to do what You desire. If what You desire cannot accommodate my request, then have Your way.”

When we approach God with out requests we must never forget they are requests, not instructions! God is God. We are not. When we do come before Him in this manner—call it bold humility – we may find as did Yancey that God has answers better that our asking, and that very often that answer is simply Himself.

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 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, 7/8/20 – Pressing on…

People…

woman in white crew neck t shirt holding white printer paper

Get a magazine… any magazine will do, so long as it has pictures of people in it… even if it’s just in the ads. People in ads are people too. — No, really!

Pick one… any one. Look into their eyes. Are they real eyes? Blank stare eyes, phoney… all smiles for the camera… all contorted in the news clip… buried in make-up… like masks? What do you see?

Did you know they were once children? Yep… all of them. Cute babies… innocent toddlers… loved. Loved by parents, or sometimes maybe not, but loved by God… always… still.

man reading

They grew, had experiences, made decisions, and now they look like adults… have it all together, or not… resolute, or not… fixed. They look like adults, but they are not. Look at them as Christ sees them. Souls in these growing bodies, but still children really. The best grown adult is still a child in light of what God desires to make of them… of us… of you.

See these souls as they age… wrinkle… forget… ache… next they will die. We all do, you know. And none of us take anything along… Just this soul…. us. Each one… one at a time.

white and black hen beside chicken chicks

Oh how Christ wants each one to come His way… wants to hold each one… “like a mother hen gathers her chicks,” says scripture (Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34). But they have not yet believed.

Yet — they still can! They still may believe. Pray for them! For those on the street. For those whom you meet. Those whom you encounter… at the drive-thru… in the bank… at the till, or across the desk. Your neighbour… your friend… your enemy.

20200706_093154Jesus has called us to be lights… evangels… ambassadors… to take on His burden  Accept this burden. Jesus said “My burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). He bears it with you, as together you pray, and plow.

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Psalm 126:6).

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 7/7/20 – Pressing on…

Honest!

Okay, let’s be honest…

person jogging

Hey – wait a minute, get back here! I know how scary that premise can be to a few folk… well, some…. Okay… honest – right! Being honest is scary to most of the masses. And the first thing we get dishonest about is saying that being honest doesn’t really scare us at all.

Christians know all the right answers to yesterday’s challenge. We like to say how truly burdened we are for lost souls. But we must face the truth: we really have very little burden for the lost at all. At least, just not now. Tomorrow I will certainly have a burden for the lost.

woman talking on phone

Except, you won’t. There will be all the same very good reasons and distractions tomorrow as those you are claiming today. The devil will see to it.

So (stay honest now)… what shall one do about this? Nothing? That’s very easy to do now, but then there is that day of accounting… that chilling statement, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matt. 25:45). And boom: dark Eternity!

man tattooed praying

Here is what we must do: We must stay honest before our God and admit this great hypocrisy. Pray this: “O Lord, I do not have the passion I should… the desire to pray for these lost souls. O Lord forgive me, and work in me the passionate heart of Christ… that heart which compelled Him to the cross… that heart which was in the apostles, and in the martyrs of men such as John Hooper. Oh Lord, help me give up my heart of stone… give me the heart of Christ!”

I know you do not want to pray this. You are too afraid God just might answer it! It is too much right in the heart of His Will. It is the very prayer He is most likely to answer, and then you might just have to give up something, begin doing something unappealing to you now.

people crowd walking

But understand now, you are asking Christ to change your mind about this — and to do it by changing your heart. You must give yourself to this… to His working within you. Do not try to manufacture it yourself. That is faithlessness. But, as His Spirit speaks to you, listen. See that man on the street as Christ does, that store clerk, that pin-up model, that beggar on the corner, that film star. When you do, you will weep.

Pray this prayer today… Now.

And when He does change your heart, believe me, all these things: to give up something, to begin doing something, to weep… all these things will be your chief-most joy!

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 7/6/20 – Pressing on…

Two Prayers from the Flames

ash blaze bonfire burn

It was a windy morning that February 9, 1555. Depending on the calendar used it was either a Wednesday or a Saturday that John Hooper burned. Due to the green of the kindling and the uncooperative wind two fires had failed, burning only his lower parts and scorching his upper. A much stronger third fire was begun.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs recounts…

fire wallpaper

“In this fire he prayed with a loud voice, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit!’ And these were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the mouth, and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips went until they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, while the fat, water, and blood dropped out at his fingers’ ends, until by renewing the fire, his strength was gone, and his hand clave fast in knocking to the iron upon his breast. Then immediately bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.”

Such gruesomeness we like not to consider, but if this be what God allows to try His faithful, can we even imagine what torment awaits the devil? Indeed he likes not to think of it either and so busies himself in temptations and antics which make Him all the more deserving of that great and eternal torment which awaits him.

20200705_133529His goal: to dupe into following him, and not He, as many as he possibly can deceive. His path is broad with room for many and many do take it. As Jesus has said, “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.” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Those who follow this deceiver follow him to the end to which that broad path leads.

In this place and in torment, one such soul prayed, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” That not being possible he prayed again, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” But that too was now not possible. (See Luke 16:19-31).

Do we who believe pray as earnestly as John Hooper? — as desperately as the unnamed rich man begged from Hell?

Pastor Andrew — indeed Christ Himself — pleads that we do so.

Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:38)
The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
My… prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Rom. 10:1).
“…God our Savior… wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
The Lord… [is] not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9).

More tomorrow…

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