Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

God, Keep Our Land

When we sing Canada’s national anthem, we are praying; did you know that?  In this message, we look at where the inspiration for the Dominion of Canada came from, and how we can act as citizens of Canada who are also citizens of God’s Kingdom.  Like people, like ruler!  Based on Psalm 72.1-14 and Romans 13.1-7, you can listen to the message here:

 

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Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

Being like John

On the church calendar, today is known as the Feast of St. John the Baptist.  In Québec, it’s known as La Fête Nationale; it’s their version of Canada Day (which is generally considered moving day there).  I remember camping near the Québec border one year around this time, thinking, Why are there so many people here from Québec?  Then I looked at the calendar.

Most Christians pay less attention to June 24 than do our friends in la belle province.  But we do well to pay heed to the story of John the Baptist and to give God thanks for his ministry of preparation.  Read again part of what John said to introduce Jesus to the world:

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!

    Clear the road for him!’”

 

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”  (Matthew 3.2-3, 11, NLT)

Here’s your question today:  what are you doing to introduce Jesus to the world?  Maybe you’re not walking around in a burlap sack and eating bugs while shouting to any who will listen, but what are you doing?

You can engage with your neighbours in helpful ways (last Sunday I suggested the example of cutting the lawn of an ill neighbour).  You can invite them to dinner.  You can clean up the trash in your neighbourhood.  There are all sorts of ways you can introduce Jesus to your community.  Take some time to pray, maybe right now, and ask the Lord what yours will be.

Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

Judge Not?

Matthew 7.1, some say, has surpassed John 3.16 as the Bible’s best-remembered verse.  Trouble is, context is everything, and it often gets misused, if not abused.  What djudge-not-11oes Jesus mean when he tells us not to judge other people?  That’s what we explored today in looking at Matthew 7.1-6.  Have a listen:

 

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

Consider the ant!

This morning, traversing my driveway on my walk to work, I noticed a misplaced little pile of dirt on the approach.  As I got closer to it, I discovered that this little pile of dirt was moving.  It wasn’t dirt at all; it was an unfathomable number of very small ants.

I’ve had my share of run-ins with ants over the years, but I will say this for them:  they are industrious little creatures.  When I commented to my neighbour about this little pop-up colony, he said, “Darned critters are going to take over the world one day!”

While that might be an exaggeration – I hope it is! – the truth is that we have something to learn from those ants as the church.  God calls us to be active.

As one old preacher once put it, while we are called to be standing on the promises, we are too often found sitting in the premises.  The holy huddle just won’t do anymore; we need to be in our neighbourhoods, engaging with people who are not yet in a relationship with Jesus, modelling for them what it means to love God and love others.

That means being active, though not necessarily busy.  Busyness, says Eugene Peterson, is an illness of spirit.  Most of us are addicted to being busy.  But if we’re busy, that may not leave us time to engage with others as the Lord calls us to.  We do well to find a balance, and to maintain it.

How can you be active, but not busy?  Present a non-anxious presence to your friends and neighbours.  Exude confidence in the God who made you, redeemed you and sustains you.  Don’t be afraid to share the good news that Jesus can do for them what he has done for you.  And be helpful.

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.

    Learn from their ways and become wise!

Though they have no prince

    or governor or ruler to make them work,

they labor hard all summer,

    gathering food for the winter” (Proverbs 6.6-8, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

Stop and smell the roses

Last Friday through Monday, I was a commissioner to my denomination’s annual national gathering.  We met on the campus of York University in Toronto.  We almost always meet on college or university campuses, but the challenge this time is that the walk from the residence in which we were staying to the hall in which the Assembly was meeting was a solid kilometre.  That meant building extra time into the journey to get from the dorm to breakfast and then to the hall.

As much as I need the exercise, though, I found it a nuisance to walk that distance a couple or more times each day…until Monday morning.

About fifty paces in front of me, I recognized a colleague, whom I know to be a gardener.  At one point, she stopped in front of the law building, where there were some lovely white wild roses growing.  She leaned into one of the roses, smelled it, paused, and continued walking toward the Assembly hall.

I was immediately convicted.

Where I saw an annoyingly long walk, she saw an opportunity – quite literally – to stop and smell the roses.

How often do we find such blessings amid the mundane tasks of life?  They are there, if we will be alert enough to see them.

Every time I see white wild roses in the future, I think I will stop to smell them…and ask the Lord what he wants me to notice around all the busyness of the day.

Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are” (Luke 12.27, NLT).