Biblical Messages

CAROLS BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Come, Thou long-expected Jesus

In this Advent series, we’re looking at some popular Christmas carols that we love to sing, and what they mean.  Often, we sing along with something mindlessly, without giving attention to what the words mean.  We are enjoined to sing with understanding, so in this series, we’re taking a look at carols behind the curtain.

Today, we looked at Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus.”  Readings in this service included Psalm 33 and Matthew 1.18-25.

You can listen below, or watch the video on” target=”_blank”>Facebook.

Encouragement From The Word

Black Friday

It’s one of the most enigmatic days of the year.

Yesterday, our neighbours to the south spent the day giving thanks for what they had.  Today, vast numbers of them are out trampling over one another to get bargains on things they perceive they need (but probably don’t).

The difference between American Thanksgiving Day and so-called “Black Friday” (named because that’s the day many retailers finally make a profit for the year) is poignant.

It reminds me of the contrast between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when people rejoiced at the presence of Jesus in their community on one day, and less than a week later, had him crucified, convicted on trumped-up charges.

As the popular meme says, “Only one Black Friday brings eternal savings.”

You may think it odd that, with this Sunday marking the beginning of Advent, I would allude to the crucifixion.  But that was his purpose:  Jesus was born to die.

We can’t think of the nativity without also thinking of the passion.

What makes Christmas so exciting for me is that Jesus’ birth is what brings the promise of new and everlasting life through his death and resurrection.

Behind the manger stands the cross.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Encouraging Presbyopia

Jesus is in the business of the impossible!  Today’s message focused on Christian stewardship (hopefully without a guilt trip!), trusting God as we look to the future.  It’s based on 1 Corinthians 1.18-31 and Matthew 6.19-34.  Have a listen!

Here’s the” target=”_blank”>link to watch the video of this message on Facebook.

Here’s the link to the video that was shown near the end of the message.

Encouragement From The Word

Peace and unity

On Remembrance Day, we pause to remember and give thanks for those who have fought for our freedom – a freedom demonstrated earlier this week as our neighbours to the south voted in a presidential election.

One of the things I have noticed in recent years, which was writ large throughout the seemingly-endless US election campaign, is that in western society, we are polarized like never before.  And it seems to pervade all spheres, not least the political and ecclesiastical spheres.

In church and state, people seem pitted on either side of one issue or a multiplicity of issues, and the mud-slinging comes from both sides.  What the world needs is what the church can demonstrate if it will:  peace and unity.

To that end, I will let God’s Word speak for itself.  Receive these words from the Lord.  Read them slowly, perhaps a few times.  Allow the Lord to speak to you through them.  And respond practically.

How very good and pleasant it is

    when kindred live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head,

    running down upon the beard,

on the beard of Aaron,

    running down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon,

    which falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there the Lord ordained his blessing,

    life forevermore.  (Psalm 133, NRSV)

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.  For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.  The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.  So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.  (Romans 13.1-5, NLT)


A Blameless Life

In today’s message, we talked about the importance of what to look for when electing new ruling elders, which we will be doing in St. Paul’s this month.  Titus 1.5-9 gives some helpful pointers in what elders should be like, among them, living a blameless life.  None of us is there yet, if we are honest with ourselves, but when we know what the goal is, we can get on the road to achieving it by God’s grace.  Have a listen below, or watch the stream on Facebook” target=”_blank”>here.

Encouragement From The Word

God’s got this

Fashion comes and goes, but for the devoted follower of Jesus, there is one outfit that is always in style.  Read what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6.10-17 (NLT):

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

There are many times when we become frustrated in life’s battles, but some of them – perhaps many of them – are not of the sort that can be fought with words or pills or therapy; they must be fought with prayer.

Paul invites us to wear the full armour of God so that we will be completely ready for the battles of life that don’t involve weapons or minds.  There are many battles in life that involve the spirit.

Consider a struggle you face today, and re-read those words from Ephesians 6.  Put on all of God’s armour.  Realize that you’re not battling flesh and blood.  Put on the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit.  God’s got this.