Biblical Messages

TRUE[ISH]: What do we do with truth?

If we’ve come to a place where we believe in Jesus as the Truth, and we have seen our own sinfulness and accepted his healing and forgiveness, what happens next?  What do we do with truth?

On this Thanksgiving weekend, it’s appropriate that we should give thanks for the Truth, and live a life characterized by gratitude.  It is that Truth living inside us by the Holy Spirit that allows us to be grateful, to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5.17).

This message is based on Colossians 3.1-17, and includes this video.

You can listen to the concluding message in this series by clicking this link.

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Encouragement From The Word

The Root of our Thanksgiving

This weekend, we celebrate Thanksgiving.  For many, it’s an opportunity to gather with family – a widely-touted excuse to consume remarkable amounts of turkey.   For others, it’s a time to go to church (not as popular as Christmas and Easter, but close).  To be sure, there are some who will sit down to dinner this weekend and pray before they eat who are not usually pray-ers before they are eaters.  But heaven rejoices when anyone talks to God, for whatever reason!

For those of us who follow Jesus, Thanksgiving is another Sunday in the year, but one that holds special significance especially for those with an agricultural background.  What we call “Thanksgiving” is really “Harvest Thanksgiving” – an opportunity to praise God for the crops yielded in the summer just past.

 Do we often think about why we are thankful?  The simple answer, I suppose, would be that we are thankful for all that God provides.  After all, the old hymn says

All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;

So thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love.

We gather at Thanksgiving to thank the Lord.  But that answers why we celebrate Thanksgiving – not why we are thankful!

 Here’s a hint:  God is the object of our thanks, but he is also the source.  It is through God and in Christ Jesus that we are able to be thankful.  Colossians 3.17 says, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (NLT).  We are thankful to God, through Jesus.  It is through Jesus that true thanksgiving is offered to God.

 Thus it’s possible for anybody to be thankful; after all, it’s part of the array of manners we are taught as children (hopefully!).  However, those who are in Christ are best able to thank the Father.  Why?  Well, we who have been rescued from slavery to sin are able to look back on the evil behind us (read Martin Luther’s “Fourteen Consolations” to go deeper on this).  When we see what we have been, and see what God is making us into now, we have greater cause to be thankful – quite apart from the bounty of food we enjoy.

 There are many blessings for which to be thankful.  The greatest of these is our relationship with God, which matters for eternity.

 I’m especially thankful that I get to share my relationship with God with my church family at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton.  The past week-and-a-bit have proven to be a most interesting adventure, as some unique and thoughtful (and unexpected!) gift has shown up at my door each day since October 1 – to celebrate Clergy Appreciation Month (a story about this can be found here).  Like all thanksgiving, my thanks in this context are rooted in grace.  We do nothing to earn God’s love, our salvation, or even a bountiful harvest!  Likewise, I have done nothing to earn the appreciation of the people among whom I serve.  That’s why, through Jesus, I am humbled in grace to be able to say to God, and to these wonderful people, “Thanks.”

Biblical Messages

TRUE[ISH]: As long as I don’t hurt anybody…

Most people, if you ask them why they think they’ll go to heaven (if they care at all), would probably answer, “I’m a good person.”  It’s a pretty common understanding.

Yet one of the most true[ish] beliefs we can hold is that we’re basically not bad people, that we can do whatever we want, that anything can be true as long as we don’t hurt anybody in the process.

This is what people want to hear, but 2 Timothy 4.1-5 tells us that stuff like this is just what our itching ears want to hear – but it’s not the truth. 

You can listen to this message by clicking this link.

Encouragement From The Word

The Phoenix Coyotes: What Would Solomon Do?

So it looks like neither successful Canadian businessman and ardent hockey fan Jim Balsillie, nor the NHL itself, represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman, will be the owner of the Phoenix Coyotes!  A court in Arizona ruled on Wednesday that neither bid to take over the team was acceptable, but that the fate of the team will rest, nonetheless, in the hands of the League.

In a sense, it was a victory for the NHL Board of Governors, which retains the right to select its owners and the locations of its franchises.  The judge did say that it wouldn’t take much to bring the NHL’s bid up to snuff, but the bid of the Blackberry Billionaire is over.  And he’s not appealing, saying that he has done all he can to attempt to bring a seventh NHL franchise to Canada.  To be sure, it was not a victory for fans who would love to see another team in Canada, and particularly in the most densely-populated part of the country:  southern Ontario.

When I heard the result of this bit of legal stickhandling, my mind immediately went to a story that is recorded in 1 Kings 3.16-28, whereby King Solomon demonstrated just how wise he was:

Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled.  “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house.  Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house.

“But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it.  Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her.  And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”

Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.”

“No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.

Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other.  All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king.

Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”

Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!”

But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!”

Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”

When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.  (NLT)

Of course, the analogy breaks down, since most Canadians would think that Balsillie would be the ‘real mother’ of this ‘baby’!  And yet, the analogy works, because many of us would reason that Balsillie really is the party to this case that wants the Phoenix Coyotes to live.  He just doesn’t want them to live in Phoenix, and the NHL can’t handle the sort of spirit with which the RIM boss comes to the table.

Will this ‘baby’ die?  It wasn’t cut in two, but its creditors would say it was already on life support.

Solomon demonstrated his God-given wisdom in his order to cut the baby in two, because he knew that love would prompt the real mother to give up the child rather than see it die.

I sometimes wonder if churches are like that.  There are times that churches die because bickering parties can’t agree on what is usually not a life-and-death issue.  For all churches everywhere, let’s pray for wisdom from God to see them live and thrive!

As for the Phoenix Coyotes, well, I guess time will tell.