In this worship gathering, we hear a message entitled, “As We Were Meant to Be”, based on 1 John 2.28-3.3, concluding our series on heaven. Now that we know what we know about heaven, what should be our response? That’s what we cover in this message. You can watch the whole worship gathering below, or just the message below that.
Earlier this week, I saw a tweet from a fellow named Dustin Benge that put a lot of wisdom in a few words. He said:
There is a 0.0296% chance that your child will become a professional athlete.
There is a 0.0086% chance that your child will become a famous celebrity.
There is a 100% certainty that your child will stand before Jesus.
What are you teaching your children?
Even if you’re past the stage of parenting, or are not a parent, there is still helpful instruction in that short tweet.
Each of us has a measure of influence over some children, whether of our own family, our church family, or our neighbourhood. We have an opportunity in each interaction to have an influence. Are we taking advantage of that opportunity?
It can be through our use of words, our actions, even our gestures. What are we saying to the kids with whom we have contact?
No matter what or who they become as adults, there is a 100% certainty that they will stand before Jesus one day. And you might be the conduit through whom they come to know him as Lord and Saviour.
Think about that as you engage with kids of any age.
“Children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127.3a, NLT).
When we think of sifting, we tend to think of wheat, even though most of us probably have never actually done that, unless we’ve lived on a farm.
Sifting is the separation of the grain from the chaff. The grain (wheat is the commonest one) is useful, but the chaff is not.
Metaphorically, the Bible makes use of this term in a number of places, particularly in the separation of followers of Jesus from those who don’t follow him. Jesus even told Peter, as Jesus was preparing for his death on the cross, that Satan wanted to sift the disciples like wheat (Luke 22.31). In that case, the evil one’s desire was to attempt to separate believers from their faith.
There’s a lot of that kind of sifting going on in the world today.
The devil is doing his level best to try to get followers of Jesus to walk away from the Lord. He is putting all manner of trials in people’s lives in an attempt to separate people from Jesus. He is trying to sift us.
But guess what: he can’t pull it off.
Because Satan doesn’t have that kind of power.
It actually takes very little to fend off the devil. All you have to do is resist.
How do I know that? Well, there’s some personal experience, but better than that, I know it because it’s right in God’s Word:
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4.7, NLT)
That’s all it takes. You need merely to resist the devil, and he will flee from you. As a follower of Jesus, you have the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through you.
Can I ask a favour of you?
Whether you’re in a challenging season or not, I’m asking you to commit that verse to memory.
Even if you don’t feel like you need it right now, it’s a pretty safe bet that you will need that word of encouragement at some point along your journey of faith. If you put that piece of Scripture in your arsenal right now, you’ll have it forever.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Memorize that, starting today, and then you’ll remember, at any point that Satan is trying to sift you, that all you have to do is resist, and he’ll leave you alone. This may sound simplistic, and I assure you, it may be a long process; it may even be a daily struggle. But if you resist, again and again, in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will overcome.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(By the way, I’ll be talking about Satan’s role in the end times on Sunday, and this verse will play an important role. You’re welcome to join us at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, or on our YouTube channel if you’re too far away to come.)
I spent part of Labour Day learning something new. I love learning new things.
This week, it was learning how to strop.
Not “stop” – it wasn’t a typo – “strop”.
In recent years, I have amassed a modest collection of pocket knives. Having a knife in my pocket is a handy thing, especially with the uncanny number of Amazon boxes that have shown up on my doorstep during the pandemic.
It’s also handy when there’s cheesecake. You never know when that might present itself.
But if one is going to have a pocket knife or two, one must also learn how to maintain them, and part of knife maintenance involves sharpening.
However, if I sharpened my knife every time I used it, before long, there’d be no steel left to cut with.
That’s why I’m learning how to strop. It involves infusing a piece of leather with a compound that I then rub my knife on. (If you were ever in a barber shop when you were young, and saw a chunk of leather hanging from the barber’s chair, that’s what he used to keep his straight razor keen between uses.)
Stropping a knife allows me to hone the edge without sharpening it. It’s sort of like a mini-sharpening between sharpenings. It keeps the knife useful, and safe…because a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife, whether you’re cutting packing boxes or chicken legs.
This has parallels with our faith life. Let’s say that coming to worship, confessing your sin, hearing the Word, and listening to the preaching is like sharpening your walk with the Lord.
But between Sundays, you can keep your walk with God ‘on edge’, as it were, by ‘stropping’ your faith. You do this through participation in a small group, through the daily reading of Scripture, through prayer, through acts of justice and kindness done in Jesus’ name and power.
If ever your faith feels dull, you can strop your faith between sharpenings, and find that your faith is quickened, built up, and ready for engagement. If you’re not doing that now, give it a try in the coming days. You won’t regret it.
“Using a dull ax requires great strength,
so sharpen the blade.
That’s the value of wisdom;
it helps you succeed” (Ecclesiastes 10.10, NLT).
In every generation, there have been self-proclaimed prophets of the end times. In the time of Jesus and even before, people have thought they had the end of the world figured out.
So far, it seems, they didn’t. We’re all still here. Jesus has not returned.
Some people have dismissed the notion that Jesus will one day come back, that the world will be consummated. But other still look for clues.
Most who look for clues comb through the pages of the final book of the Bible: the Revelation. They think they can find answers there. And often, they create their own formulas to force upon the text.
In the end, though, they are frustrated.
Revelation is a hard book to understand, in no small part because of its genre. Apocalyptic literature is hard to understand for those who are not living in the time in which it was written. Revelation, having been written near the end of the first century, when Christians were experiencing severe persecution from the Romans, would have made perfect sense to its first hearers and readers.
It makes less sense to us.
But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to figure it out, or even imposing their own approaches to make it say what they want it to say.
When we think about the end times, the one thing we can know for certain is that we don’t know much about it. There are not fewer than five ways of interpreting the book of Revelation held by sincere, Bible-believing followers of Jesus today. (I talked briefly about these last Sunday.)
Commonly, in any given generation, one view will gain the upper hand among believers. (This is less true with scholars.) The predominant view in popular Christian culture today, despite its popularity, is somewhat confusing and is based on a very small portion of Scripture.
When will Jesus come back? We can’t know for sure.
In what order will the events of the end times take place? Some think they know for certain, others are unsure.
But this much we can know: if you have confessed Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and sought to live for him, and are ready for his return, nothing in the book of the Revelation should scare you.
Take comfort in that, if you’re a follower of Christ.
This Sunday, I will be tackling the question of what will happen at the end of time as we know it. I’ll look at some of the alternatives, and why I think the predominant view among many followers of Jesus is definitely not the only one, and might not even be the right one, from a biblical perspective.
Feel free to join us at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning if you don’t have another church to go to in person, and we’ll learn together. (If you are too far away to come, join us live online at 10, or watch the whole gathering or just the message, which will be posted to our YouTube channel later that afternoon.)
We know the end will come. We know Jesus will return. We know followers of Jesus will be safe for eternity. Beyond that? Let’s explore some options together.
“I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!” (Mark 13.37, NLT).