Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

My God Is For Me

This Advent, we’re looking at Christmas through the eyes of a child, and therefore looking at characteristics of God from a child’s perspective.  This week, we talked about God’s goodness.

Based on Romans 8.28-39, you can listen to the message here:

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Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

The desires of your heart

We are only marking the beginning of the season of Advent this weekend, but the commercials advertising everything we should want for Christmas have been bombarding us for a few weeks now. I’m reminded of the reality of desire.

A verse I long ago committed to memory was Psalm 37.4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It sounds kind of formulaic, doesn’t it? “If” I delight myself in the Lord, “the result” will be to gain the desires of my heart. But it’s not so simple, is it?

Context is everything. Consider what that verse looks like in context, in verses 3-6: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Considering the immediate context of the verse, and the wider context of the Bible as a whole, verse 4 doesn’t seem so formulaic, does it? We are called, in the context of delighting in the Lord, to trust in him and commit our way to him. And doesn’t it follow, then, that if we trust in, delight in, and commit our way to the Lord, that the desires of our hearts will begin to look a lot like the desires of God’s heart?

My prayer is always that my will will be so knit into the will of God that mine will be indistinguishable from his. It’s a daily discipline, but there is much peace, and much joy, in finding our desires resembling the Lord’s.

As the ads bombard your eyes, telling you what a truly loving person would give another (or oneself) for Christmas, keep in mind that the Lord will give us the desires of our hearts, when we truly delight in him.

Those desires won’t sell much advertising, but they’ll make a difference for eternity.

Biblical Messages

ELDERSHIP: WHAT IT TAKES 3. Commitment

As we wrap up this series on what it takes to serve as a ruling elder, after looking at character and vision, we turn to commitment.  Based on 1 Peter 5.1-4 and James 5.13-18, you can listen to this final message in the series below.  At the end of the message, I show this video.

Encouragement From The Word

Fear not!

I have a calendar in my home study that has a strange trait: it has two November Fourteenths instead of one November 13th and one November 14th. I suspect it’s an error, and not intentional, since I get a calendar from the organization this came from each year, and this is the only time I’ve noticed two days labelled November 14.

But it does lead one to wonder about that fear of the number 13, and some people’s ‘issue’ with Friday the Thirteenth. “Triskaidekaphobia” is the fear of the number 13; “paraskevidekatriaphobia” is the scientific name for the fear of Friday the 13th. Some say this superstition stems from the notion that Judas was the 13th person at the Last Supper, on the night before Good Friday.

In other cultures, it’s a different number than 13 that is problematic. What they all hold in common is that the fear is irrational.

A common meme that finds its way around the internet now and again says that “Fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times, once for every day in the year. I haven’t stopped to count them all, but it seems about right. When we trust in the Lord, we have no reason to fear, no reason to worry.

Sadly, though, we find it easy to fear, easy to worry, but not so easy to trust in the One who created us, redeems us in Christ, and sustains us by the Holy Spirit. That will change as our relationship with the Lord grows deeper, as we know God’s character better, and are assured more of his love and kindness.

What do you fear irrationally? Think about that, and let it be an occasion to trust in the Lord more fully.

Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.  I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1.17b-18, NLT).

Biblical Messages

ELDERSHIP: WHAT IT TAKES – 2. Vision

Proverbs 29.18 says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.  But whoever obeys the law is joyful” (NLT).  The old King James Version says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Vision – divine guidance, at its root – is key to church life, and especially to the leaders of the church.  In this series, where we’re focusing on what it takes to be a ruling elder, we had a conversation with Donna Marchand, one of the elders on the Session, and looked at the story of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.1-21 over the course of this message:

Encouragement From The Word

Remember, and work for peace

Next week, Canadians will pause for a few moments to remember the sacrifices made in the wars in which our nation has fought for the cause of freedom. The wearing of a poppy, as a symbol of remembrance, has become a cultural norm for us; the challenge comes in keeping that cultural norm from becoming just another rote tradition.

While we remember, we do not glorify war. In fact, our act of remembrance should be a clarion call to peace – not peace at any price, but true peace, the shalom that only God can give us in this world.

Carl P. Daw, Jr., a contemporary American hymn writer, has penned these words which can serve as a prayer for us as we approach Remembrance Day, working for peace.

O day of peace that dimly shines

through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,

guide us to justice, truth, and love,

delivered from our selfish schemes.

May the swords of hate fall from our hands,

our hearts from envy find release,

till by God’s grace our warring world

shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.

 

Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb,

nor shall the fierce devour the small;

as beasts and cattle calmly graze,

a little child shall lead them all.

Then enemies shall learn to love,

all creatures find their true accord;

the hope of peace shall be fulfilled,

for all the earth shall know the Lord.

Let it be so.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;

    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.

The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,

    and a little child will lead them all. – Isaiah 11.6, NLT

Biblical Messages

ELDERSHIP: WHAT IT TAKES 1. Stability

In our congregation, we are electing new Session members (elders) in November.  To aid our process of discernment, we’re spending three Sundays looking at what it takes to be an elder, according to the Bible.  Along with looking at 1 Timothy 3.1-7, I invited John Mullings, our Clerk of Session, up for a conversation.  (I uncharacteristically stumbled over a few things, which I hope you don’t find as distracting as I did!)  Listen here: