Biblical Messages

Passion For God’s House

Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.”  Of all that should characterize the church, and especially its leadership, indifference should not be part of it!  Jesus’ experience of cleansing the temple in John 2.13-25 helps us understand this.  Have a listen, or watch the Facebook Live feed below (which includes the ordination of 3 new ruling elders!).


Encouragement From The Word

Working for the Lord

Let’s be honest:  there will be times when living for Jesus is not all a bed of roses.  Sometimes, standing up for what we believe to be true in God’s Word will leave us frustrated, lonely, and even persecuted.  And it’s at times like those that we most need to remember the big picture, to look at the forest instead of the proverbial trees.

John Calvin, the great reformer of the 16th century, was invited by the city fathers of Geneva to create a Protestant city-state.  A few years after he had begun his work, though, those same people who had invited him turned around and banished him!  For three years, he lived in exile in Strasbourg.

I love what Calvin’s response was to that banishment:  “Surely if I had merely served (humanity), this would have been a poor recompense.  But it is my happiness that I have served him who never fails to reward his servants to the full extent of his promise.”

Calvin knew that even if people did not respond well to what he was doing, that was less important than God’s response to what he was doing.  He knew that, even if Geneva did not want him, the Lord still had a purpose for him and his work.  During his exile in Strasbourg, Calvin never stopped writing, preaching and teaching; he just did it in a different location.

Three years later, the councillors of Geneva saw the error of their ways and invited Calvin back to continue the work he had begun.  But even if that had not happened, God’s work would have carried on, for Calvin knew that serving God faithfully mattered most.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3.23, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Saving the best for last

There are some helpful lessons that the story of Jesus’ first miracle – changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana – has to teach us.  We look at a few of them in this message, based on John 2.1-12.  Have a listen, or check out the Facebook Live feed, for which you need no account.  At the beginning, I showed this video (which can be heard on the audio recording, but is absent from the video recording).

Encouragement From The Word

Cultivating to serve

I know a guy who slipped on some ice not long ago and broke his wrist badly.  And let’s face it:  there’s never a good time to break a bone, but in the middle of winter, when you have a long driveway to shovel, it’s a particularly bad time.

The story is not all about pain, though.  He had to undergo surgery to reset his wrist, and when he came home, casted, he found his driveway had been cleared of snow.

At that point, clearing the driveway was probably the last thing on his mind.  But some of his friends had not forgotten it.

You might be thinking that a neighbour cleared it out for him, which would have been very kind indeed.  But that’s not what happened.

While he was in surgery, one of his university buddies contacted 9 other mutual friends, and the 10 of them pooled a few bucks together and paid to have their friend’s driveway cleared – for the rest of the winter.

Can you imagine?  Having a broken wrist, and not having to worry about shovelling at all until after it’s healed?  It’s a really thoughtful gift.

What’s particularly heartwarming is that in our very insular and individualistic society, there are signs that people still care – and care enough to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

There are many good lessons from this story, one of which is the importance of cultivating strong relationships.  I mean, I can’t think of the names of 10 people I went to university with, let alone be in touch with them in such a way that they would know I was injured and needed help.  You might not be able to, either – but it’s not too late to cultivate strong relationships now.

Think about your circle of acquaintance, both within the church and outside.  How strong is it?  How can you strengthen those relationships – not so that you would get help if you needed it, but so that you could be helpful if it were needed?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  We can deepen our relationships so we can serve others.  And who knows?  By serving others, by God’s grace, doors of faith might open.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4.10, NLT).

P.S.:  If you’re interested in integrating your faith and your work, consider coming to St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton for a simulcast retreat called “Work as Worship” on Friday, February 23 from 8:30 to 3:30.  Lunch is provided in the $25 registration cost.  Learn more by clicking here.

Biblical Messages

Stairway to Heaven

Some Bible passages just scream out song titles – in this case, a popular song title!  Based on John 1.43-51, you can listen to, or watch, “Stairway to Heaven” here:

Encouragement From The Word

Be attentive

Happy new year!  A new year is a time, for many, to kick old habits and start new ones.  May I encourage you to begin a new habit of being attentive?

It happens to us all, now and again, right?  We may be daydreaming, or looking down at our phones, or distracted by some sight, and we miss something significant.  I remember one time when I was driving on a familiar stretch of road, and all of a sudden, I reached a landmark that made me think, How did I get here?  I had been driving carefully enough, but my mind had wandered to the point that I lost track of my surroundings.

Of course, it would be helpful for us always to be attentive when we are driving, for our safety and that of others.  But how often, even in our spiritual lives, are we just going through the motions?

We read the Bible, but we don’t really seek to understand what God is telling us.

We pray, but we don’t seek answers.

We serve, but we don’t seek to do so in ways that will draw people to the Lord.

When we are attentive, it changes how we live.

Charles Spurgeon once told the story of a school teacher who asked a little girl why she was not understanding even simple things.  The little girl replied, “I don’t know, but I sometimes think I have so many things to learn that I do not have enough time to understand.”

That can be true for us, too; time is short.  So we must prioritize our activities so that we can understand and truly appreciate each task we undertake.

Spurgeon said, “There may be much hearing, much reading, much attendance at public services, and very small result, and all because the word was not the subject of thought, and was never embraced by the understanding.  What is not understood is like meat undigested, more likely to be injurious than nourishing.”

So take time this year to be attentive.  It will enrich your days.

My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

-Proverbs 2.1-6, NLT