Biblical Messages, LifeConnect Group Discussion Questions

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS: The buck starts here

How we handle our money is a sign of our spiritual maturity.  Is that news to you?  The Bible has so much to say about how we handle our money, and what it says really points to the reality of our use of money as a part of our growth in Christ.

Harry Truman said “The buck stops here”, relating to responsibility.  When it comes to how we handle our money, the buck starts here, too – we need to be responsible for how we save and use our money.  Scripture tells us much about this, including our text, Proverbs 6.6-11.  You can listen to the message by clicking here.

The LifeConnect Group questions for this message can be found here.

Encouragement From The Word

The Sweet Aroma of Sacrifice

This week, I’d like to treat you to some encouragement from a friend of mine, Dawn Champagne.  You seasoned subscribers to Encouragement From The Word may remember that Dawn has blessed us before with her thought-provoking and beautiful writing.  Enjoy!  – Jeff


 Sacrifice does not always come easy.  It’s interesting how God takes us through the most difficult and pressing times to learn and teach us the things His Word has to offer.

 Most recently I was being harassed at work; not by management, not by my staff, but by co-workers.  Setting limits, boundaries, and making resident care the focus instead of being staff focused was a difficult task.  Missing breaks, and staying late on a regular basis to follow through on the standards set, was perceived by co-workers as not coping and poor management of staff.  Being respectful to authority, and not participating in ungodly situations and conversations, only added to their own misperceptions. 

 Verse:  Romans13:1,2  Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

 After an uncomfortable incident that left me with feelings of anger, I spoke with management.  By using the gift God gave me the issue was openly brought forward.  The support I received from management was incredible.  It was an opportunity to learn as my Director shared how to handle myself in the situation, and gave me the encouragement to continue on in my position. 

 I was humbled by the support I received from the two managers, and the Director.  In appreciation as a token of thanks and led by God I bought them each a Bible for Christmas.  My Director was thrilled how beautiful the book was.  As we met on the morning she opened the gift she shared with me a portion in Proverbs with the page # she had memorized.  It had been the first thing she read when she opened it. As well, a manager gave me this thank-you note; “Thank you so much for the beautiful Bible.  I will treasure it forever.  I plan on reading passages regularly and I will keep it by my bed.  You are an inspiration to us all, and remind me often to be a better person”.

 It warms me on the inside receiving a thank-you note as such, knowing it has been seen that the Bible I believe in is what makes me a better person.  I was further humbled and blessed that God would use me in the process of His blessing on others by sharing His Word.

 It was a huge lesson in perseverance and not giving up in a world that longs to bring those who live their lives on the standards of being followers of Jesus Christ.  It was a huge lesson on putting feelings aside, to continue on, and maintaining control because of needing to do what was right. 

 Verse:  Romans 5:3,4  …but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

 One recent evening after sitting in our bubble tub, my husband prepared the bedroom for me, as I was about to settle for the night.  He lit a small candle in a clear red base with a red shade over top creating a warm red glow.  In addition he sprayed a scent of perfume called “Dawn”, creating a sweet smell of aroma. 

 As I sat in the room meditating in thought, totally relaxed by the calming atmosphere created, I couldn’t help but think of the tabernacle in the Old Testament and its contents.  Within the tabernacle was an area set apart by God.  A Holy place where sacrifice was offered by bloodshed.  There was a candlestick (light), and incense.  God accepted and pleased when there was obedience to the offering…the pleasing aroma that filled the air.

 Just as Denis had to prepare the room for my entry to partake of the pleasure, our lives also must have that ‘preparation’ period.  Being taken through trials and circumstances are not nice things.  But, as the fire engages the light, and the bottle is compressed to release perfume from the inside, it is only then that our sweet pleasurable offering can be sacrificed in His presence, and seen by those around us.

 What comes to mind is that we as a church of God’s people in this land have become so focused on what we are losing.  Yes, I do agree that we are losing some of our freedoms and quickly.  But if we as God’s people are going to move forward with leadership, then we need to use what we already have. 

 While what we have is a land where people around us do not go to church (or in my children’s generation never gone), and do not have a Bible; what we do have is the freedom to still give the Bible out (which was a surprise to my daughter as she watched me do this), and an opportunity of sacrifice to offer…in His presence, and to those around us.

 Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Offering the sacrifice of praise,

Dawn Champagne

Biblical Messages, LifeConnect Group Discussion Questions

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS: Eternal Investments

God has given each of us a business to manage, and he calls us to have a good business plan.  As we’ve explored in earlier weeks, that means getting out of debt and living within our means.  It also means being obedient and faithful to God in our giving.

Giving is a sensitive subject for many, yet the Bible does not shy away from it at all!  Jesus spoke more about money than he did about prayer – a sign that money has always been something with which God’s people need to deal appropriately.

In this message, based on Malachi 3.6-12, we learn what the expectations were under the old covenant…and how the bar was actually raised in the new covenant.  Click here to listen to “Eternal Investments”.

The LifeConnect Group questions for this message can be found here.

Encouragement From The Word

Be a walking Christian resource

You’ve heard before, either from me or someone else, that as a follower of Jesus, you may be the only Bible some people will ever read.  But did you think about the possibility that you may be a walking Christian resource for people, too?

 The former suggests that our Christian walk needs to match our Christian talk.  The latter implies that we do well to know and understand our faith well as we integrate it into our daily living.  This can be helpful as we interact with others, whether fellow believers, inquirers, or sceptics.

 My wife paid a visit to her dentist this week – just a cleaning, thankfully!  Her bubbly personality is a joy to more than just me; her dentist is always glad to see her, and they usually engage in some good conversation.  This week, it was about Santa Claus.  (Okay, you may be thinking it’s a bit late for that, but read on.)

 It turns out that the dentist, a believer, and his wife had told their children about the myth of Santa recently, and the dentist wondered how to deal with the fact that his kids were now asking what other sorts of lies their parents told.  My wife suggested that they revisit the Santa issue by telling their kids the story of the real Santa, Saint Nicholas.  She offered to get a book for the family, which she has purchased and is going to take to the dentist in the coming days.

 A small thing?  Perhaps.  But when a believer grows in Christ and is able to understand and articulate faith matters among other people, it furthers the cause of the gospel.  The apostle Peter wrote, “if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3.15b-16a, NLT).

 Live your faith, and know your faith.  God knows that you will make a difference as you impact others with what you learn as you grow.

Biblical Messages, LifeConnect Group Discussion Questions


Canadians, like the majority of people in the western world, are both among the most affluent people and the most indebted.  Jesus says we cannot serve both God and Money (Matthew 6.24), and being in debt puts us in the service of money.  How can we dig out of it?

Live within, even beneath, your means.  If you will do that, by saying ‘no’ to some things, the time will come when you will be able to say ‘yes’ to many things, and use the money God has given you to manage for his glory.

The message is based on Matthew 6.19-24, and you can listen to it here.

The questions for the LifeConnect Groups this week, based on this message, are here.

Encouragement From The Word

How helping Haiti can help your neighbour, too

The earthquake that has devastated the already impoverished nation of Haiti has drawn unprecedented calls for relief through a previously unusual source – social networking.  There are individuals and organizations that are making, and encouraging, donations to alleviate the suffering of Haitians via Facebook, Twitter, and even through text messaging.  The widespread use of the Internet really has made the world a much smaller place.

This has its pros and cons, of course, but in this particular case it seems to be a very positive thing.  While something like Google’s Streetview has arguably taken a bite out of privacy, the lightening-speed online spreading of news has enabled disaster relief to come much more quickly than even for the tsunamis that hit parts of Asia a few years ago.

And it’s great to see that in many places, followers of Jesus are on the forefront of this wave of information-sharing and aid-giving.

Haiti is, statistically, the poorest country in the Americas – and that was true before this disaster struck.  How appropriate, then, that people who follow the One who said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6.20, NIV) are leading the charge to bring relief to a shattered people.

Christian organizations, like World Vision, are already on the ground in Haiti.  Denominational relief and development agencies (such as Presbyterian World Service & Development) are likewise partnering with the government’s matching program to provide aid dollars to the country.  Individual Christ-followers are seeking to have an impact through social networking and other means.

And this is how it should be.

If God’s people want to show the world God’s love, they need to act.  So many aid organizations in the world have been created because of the impetus of God’s love.  In one way or another, all of us can support the relief of the Haitian people – if not financially, then prayerfully.

Just think:  how you respond to this crisis half a continent away could be a step toward helping your neighbour come to know Jesus.  By sharing God’s love in a tangible way, there are no losers.

Biblical Messages

MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS: Minding the business

God has given each of us a ‘business’ of a sort – the business of managing of our own lives and livelihood.  Today’s message focused on the importance of minding the business by steering clear of debt as much as possible.  Debt is a major problem in our society, and left unchecked, it results in thousands of bankruptcies each year.

The message is based on Matthew 25.14-30, and emphasizes the wisdom of Proverbs 22.7:  “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Listen to the message by clicking here.

The LifeConnect Group questions for this week’s message can be found at this link.

Encouragement From The Word

Hitting the ‘reset’ button

Good morning!
I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m glad when the first week of January comes around.  For numbers of us (and not just pastors), from about the third Sunday in December until the first Sunday in January, every day feels like either Saturday or Sunday!  For me, through those weeks, I’m either getting ready for worship or conducting it – or so it seems.  It’s really not like that, but with the number of extra services, guests, and unusual schedules, I always find that after the first Sunday of January, I have to hit my internal ‘reset’ button.  Then a sense of normality returns.
In everyday life, there are times when we would like to be able to hit a ‘reset’ button, aren’t there?  Maybe there are words you said that you’d like to take back.  Or perhaps you did something that has left you feeling shame or guilt.  Whatever hangs in your past – you can reset it!
How?  Simple.  It’s called “confession”.
The Bible says this:  “If we confess our sins, [God] who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9, NRSV).  No matter what may be in our past – recent or distant – if we will accept that Jesus died to save us from our sins, and confess them before God honestly and openly, he promises that he will forgive us. 
That’s right:  God himself will hit our internal reset button!
This is why daily confession of sin is a spiritual discipline to which each of us does well to aspire.  When we confess our sins, our relationship with God is always at its best.  And life is at its best.

If rhyming off your sins doesn’t come easily to you, you’re not alone.  You could try writing them down, or writing out your prayer of confession in a journal.  But here’s the trick.  Unlike most journal entries, when you write out your confession, tear out the page when you’re done – and recycle it or burn it.  Once your sins are confessed, you should throw them away, because that’s what God has done with them!

So – welcome to January, and to the return of normality.  Have you hit your ‘reset’ button today?  God is waiting to forgive you.

Biblical Messages

On the outside looking in

The visit of the wise men, the “Magi”, to the child Jesus was a prettybig deal:  it meant more than just the giving of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  These visitors were Gentiles, being brought “inside” into relationship with God, who had formerly only been available to Jewish people.  The wise men represented all Gentiles when they visited Jesus.  They represented me and you.

I’m glad they made their way to see Jesus!  Like a walk from Toronto to Lethbridge, these wise men gave sacrificially of their time and their treasure.  How about us?

The message is based on Matthew 2.1-12 and can be heard by clicking here.