Author Archives: dmbaldwin

About dmbaldwin

I'm the husband of Louise, the father of Erin, Eric, Mandy & Sarah and the grandfather of David, Aubrey Simeon & Demaris. I am the President & Owner of Furnace Hills Coffee Company -- www.furnacehillscoffee.com I am an avid NY Giants and Newcastle United fan. I enjoy making "frequent" trips to Ukraine. I work with and teach in seminaries and Bible colleges in Ukraine. I enjoy blogging about coffee & leadership.

Ezekiel 1-3 & John 1

This first chapter of John’s Gospel was one I memorized through a memory program we had in our church when I was in elementary school. It’s a chapter I can still roll off my tongue and at any moment without any prep. Several years ago I memorized Romans 12. I was in my sixties. Guess what? I can recite parts of it today, but not the whole chapter. What we learn as children sticks with us our entire lives. John 1 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible for that reason.

There is another reason, however, why this chapter is such a favorite to me and others. In these fifty-one verses one finds the essence of the gospel. You find how the world was created and what one must do to receive the free gift of eternal life. We may find out more — in this one chapter — about whoe Jesus is and where he comes from and what he did in creation than the rest of the Gospels combined. It is a powerful chapter. We find in the chapter the following:

  • Jesus is the Word
  • Jesus was in the beginning with the Father
  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus is the light of the world
  • Jesus is the creator of the world
  • Jesus is full of glory
  • Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
  • Jesus has supernatural powers to see us from afar
  • Jesus called individuals to follow him

All these things about Jesus in this first chapter of John. So what about us? This chapter is filled with who the God of the universe is and our response is to put our trust in him for our eternal destiny. When we read these fifty-one verses we are given strength and confidence to share Jesus’ story with others.

Father God thank you for the revelation we find in your word about the second person of the trinity… Jesus himself. I pray that we would be strengthened and emboldened to share what we have read and experienced with other. In your precious Name we pray, Amen.

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Jeremiah 27, 28, 29, 24; James 4

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29:11-13 [ESV]}

How many of you have at least the first verse of this famous passage framed and hanging somewhere in your home? We get warm fuzzies when we read these three verses. However, like most verses we have hanging somewhere in our home this one too has been taken out of context.

What is the context then? Well the inhabitants of Jerusalem have been carried into exile and bondage. King Nebuchadnezzar had carried a bunch of them into exile to Babylon. Now there were false prophets telling the people it was only going to be for a couple of years. Just a little bit of hardship and then they would come back to Jerusalem.

However the God of the universe had other plans. It was going to be seventy years of captivity and that’s what Jeremiah’s message was to these prisoners. This is the prophesy of Jeremiah from God:

9 … for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord. 10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.…” (Jeremiah 29:9&10 [ESV])

So what should we do? Take down these “sweet” passages from our wall. First lesson is we should always check the context before we take a passage of Scripture at face value. No, second, remember vv. 11-13 are verses of hope, but in the midst of tragedy and hardship. And by quoting this passage it may not make the hardship go away. For these exiles for them all it lasted a lifetime. Yet there was a plan God was working out that was going to bring prosperity to their families. It was just they were not going to see that blessing. When you are walking down the hallway after a difficult confrontation with a teenage child, or a dark medical diagnosis or something that doesn’t look good for you and/or your family and you see those framed verses hanging on the wall think of this. Remember God has special plans for you even through the darkness. Don’t focus so much on the promises — as comforting as they are — but on the God who has made them. He’s where we find our comfort and strength.

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 Habakkuk & 2 Corinthians 7

Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told
(Habakkuk 1:5 [ESV]).

What a beautiful way to start a book of the Bible. Very interesting that it is Habakkuk that starts this way. If God spoke these words to you what would you be expecting?

Perhaps God was going to bless you beyond reason with health and wealth and relationships.

Perhaps God was going to bless you with children that would follow close after Him and be wonderful ambassadors for the sake of His kingdom.

Perhaps God was going to give you loving grandchildren in your old age that would love you and be people you could brag about.

Perhaps God was going to use your church to make a HUGE impact for Him in your region of the world.

Perhaps God was going to give you a long and prospourus life.

Hmmm… but is that what Habakkuk is all about? No. It’s about judgement and ruin. Judah was at a moral low and yet Habakkuk’s message is one of trusting God with our lives and seeing Him eventually bring justice through His activity in the world. And through that time of judgement God will provide a remnant that will remain true to Him.

Sound familiar? Aren’t we in the midst of such a time. There is moral failure and ruin at every turn. But in the midst of all that, God will protect His remnant for future purposes. And really nothing is stopping us from being true to him this morning.

What are you trusting God for today? Don’t let this wicked time in the history of the world take your eyes off of that hope.

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Isaiah 45-48 & 1 Corinthians 13

So today it falls to me to expound on these passages. The best I could do is quote what others have said about the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians so here goes:

G. Campbell Morgan wrote that examining this chapter is like dissecting a flower to understand it. If you tear it apart too much, you lose the beauty. Alan Redpath said one could get a spiritual suntan from the warmth of this chapter.

As it is often detached from its broader context and treated as a standalone paean to love, the significance of 1 Corinthians 13 within Paul’s overarching argument about the Church as a polity is often neglected. When the context of this chapter is appreciated once more, its political significance will emerge (Benjamin Kautzer).

Finally, v8-13 once again pick up the theme of contrast. “Love never ends.” Our other gifts—prophecy, tongues, knowledge—may pass away. But love remains (Timohty Hahn).

Love enables us to endure everything; it enables us in every circumstance to keep on believing, to keep our confidence in God, and to remain patient no matter what happens to us (Young).

Spirit controlled and empowered believers love as a lifestyle by choosing as an act of their will (even that choice enabled by the Spirit Ezekiel 36:27, Php 2:13-note) to cover over in silence, to ”hide” the faults of others, to bear with or endure. Love doesn’t broadcast another’s problems to everyone. Love doesn’t run down others with jokes, sarcasm or put-downs. Love defends the character of the other person as much as possible within the limits of truth. Love won’t lie about weak nesses, but neither will it deliberately expose and emphasize them. Love protects (Stego).

What would be your comment about 1 Corinthians 13? Share them with us. God bless you all.

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Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

It is obvious that there were divisions in the church in Corinth. People were comparing themselves to one another. They were following different individuals who had help plant the church. The Apostle Paul wrote to these people and told them that wasn’t what they needed to focus on. Their focus was building together on what the found fathers had built as a foundation for the church. Paul writes:

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:1–15 [ESV]).

Later in this letter — specifically chapter 12 — the Apostle Paul lays out the whole concept of spiritual gifts. Here he challenges his readers to build faithfully on that foundation he helped lay. If we work where the Holy Spirit has placed us in His kingdom — whether in the most obvious “important” place or the most “insignificant” one — there will be a precious rewards waiting for us when we reach heaven.

Whether you teach God’s Word from the pulpit on a Sunday morning or greet people as they enter your building if you are being deployed by the Holy Spirit according to your gifting and grace you are doing a great work for God. A recent study shows that a visitor to your church decides whether to come back to your fellowship within 10 minutes of setting foot on your property. What does that tell us… It tells us that the following are the most important people in your church:

— Those who mow your lawns and care for the flower beds around your church.

— Those who greet on Sunday mornings.

— Those who brew the coffee.

— Those that greet parents dropping their children off at classes.

Yup, it’s not the worship team or the pastor, it’s those above that welcome those to your ministry. Whatever we do for the kingdom, God will bless now and for eternity. So the next time you wonder if you are making a difference — YOU ARE! Stay the course and there will be a prize waiting you when you step into heaven. Looking forward to celebrating with you.

God bless!

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