Biblical Messages

Peace with your family

How can we have peace with our families?  If there’s going to be a rip-roaring battle, that’s apt to be where it happens, for a whole lot of reasons.  Listen or watch below to learn how the Bible addresses this in Ephesians 6.1-4.

 

LifeConnect Group discussion questions are here:  2018 09 30 lcg questions

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Encouragement From The Word

A spiritual problem

It’s hard to avoid the reality, when one watches the news, that there are political problems in the world.  Of course, our neighbour to the south, the United States, is getting a lot of press about these things lately, with hearings going on around the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice.

But one tweet I read yesterday reminded me that the problems are not political. They’re spiritual.

The root of all problems in our world today are spiritual.  If people followed the way of Jesus, made clear for us in Scripture, those problems would cease to exist.

We all know that’s difficult; after all, the apostle Paul told the church in Rome that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3.23, NLT).  But we can’t let the reality of human sinfulness become a crutch that makes us shrug our shoulders and leaves us saying that this is just how we are.  God invites us to be better than that, to be sanctified.

To be sanctified literally means to become holy.  It’s not the same as being sanctimonious, which is being holier than thou.  It’s not about being better than others, or giving the impression of being better than others.  Sanctification is a process, one that we submit ourselves to when we say ‘yes’ to Jesus’ work in drawing us closer to God through the blood of his cross.

It’s a process that is lifelong, and God invites us to journey with him toward the likeness of his Son.  Only when we commit ourselves to this journey, this process, will we be formed spiritually, and find that the spiritual problems (which get many other names) will wane.

While you’re at it, will you pray with me, that the Lord will draw people committed to being more like Jesus into political office?  “The System”, such as it is, has discouraged many Christ-followers from serving in municipal, provincial and federal politics.  But that realm needs God’s people as much as any other…maybe more.

Encouragement From The Word

Return on investment

Because we get most of our bills sent electronically, and not many people share handwritten correspondence anymore, except on special occasions, we find that we don’t need to retrieve our mail from the post office more than once or twice a week.

Lately, though, our mailbox has been fuller than usual.  My wife is getting a lot of unsolicited mail – asking for money, of course – from unusual sources.

Yesterday, there was  a letter for her from an organization, and when she got home, she looked at it and said, “Someone is selling their mailing list.”

This happens to everybody who has a fixed address, though perhaps less often than usual, because direct mail campaigns seem to be less effective than they once were.

It got me thinking, though.  Because of privacy laws, fewer and fewer organizations are free to sell their mailing lists, but when they do, other groups will buy them because they hope, and maybe even expect, that they will recoup their investment through new donors. In other words, the cost involved in gaining more names will be exceeded by the results they will get from sending a campaign to those names.

When we share our faith, there is no money exchanged – I don’t think, anyway! – but there is a ‘return on investment’ side to it.  For many of us, talking about our relationship with God has a cost: uncomfortabliity.  Many of us find ourselves outside our comfort zones when we talk about Jesus with others. That’s why we don’t do it.

But consider the return on that investment: if we share our faith with others, and even one person says ‘yes’ to Jesus, what is gained from that act far exceeds the uncomfortability we may have had in sharing.

Think about that the next time you have the opportunity to open a door of faith for another person.  What you’re feeling is nothing when compared with the changed eternity for that person who may come to the Lord as a result.

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5.20, NLT).

Biblical Messages, LifeConnect Group Discussion Questions

Cannibalism!

A lot of people over the years have assumed that when Jesus talked about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, there was cannibalism involved.  A lot of others have assumed that Jesus was foreshadowing the last supper.  But is that what Jesus really was talking about?  Follow along in John 6.52-59, and listen to or watch this message.  I began the message by showing this video.

LifeConnect Group discussion questions for this message can be found here:  2018 09 16 lcg questions

Encouragement From The Word

Get growing!

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know:  it’s important always to be learning.

Like many of us, when I was younger, I thought I had it all figured out; I knew everything there was to know.  But one applicant at a company had a different slant on it.  When the human resources director asked him what he expected to be paid, she said, “You certainly expect to be compensated well for a beginner.”

The applicant replied, “Well, sure.  Work’s a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

It’s true that work is harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.  And one of the challenges of being the church today is that every week, we aim to hit a target, only to find that it has moved.  Culture is changing more rapidly than the world has ever seen.  And if God’s people are going to be effective in reaching others for Jesus, we need to be aware of the culture into which we’re speaking.

The challenge, for some, is that they get so sucked in by the culture that they become indistinguishable from the culture, and lose their voice to speak into it. We can’t give up the truth of the gospel – which is, by nature, counter-cultural – in favour of popularity.

(Besides, churches can’t compete with other organizations in the popularity department. And they usually have better coffee.)

As the people of God, we are charged with the responsibility of steady growth, learning more each day about what it means to follow Jesus in our changing times. The question is, What are you doing to learn and grow?

Sunday morning alone won’t cut it; we need involvement in a small group (what we at St. Paul’s call LifeConnect Groups) and some sort of service outlet, whether it’s helping the youth group or in kids’ ministry or perhaps some community group – these help us grow in Christ.

What are you doing to learn and grow?

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God” (Hebrews 6.1, NLT).