Biblical Messages

Defining a Disciple

In this service, we hear a message in which Jesus prays to the Father for himself and for his followers, and in it he defines what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Enjoy the whole worship gathering, or tune in to the message which starts at 34:04.

The message is based on John 17.1-12.

 

Encouragement From The Word

God gives you more than you can handle

People often say that God will never give us more than we can handle.

Malarkey.

God gives us more than we can handle all the time!  The fact is, God never gives us more than he can handle through us.

There can be times when we feel overwhelmed.  I’ve been there, and I imagine you have been, too.  But as followers of Jesus, we do well to remember that he is in our corner.  In fact, he even prayed for our protection.

We tend to refer to “Our Father, who art in heaven…” as the Lord’s prayer, but that is a model Jesus gave his friends.  The real Lord’s prayer – the prayer that came from Jesus’ own heart – is in John 17.  And in the middle of that prayer, here’s what Jesus prays for his followers:

Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.  During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me” (John 17.11b-12a, NLT).

Take comfort!  As Jesus was preparing to go to the cross, dying and rising again, and ascending into heaven, he was asking the Father to protect us by the power of Jesus’ name.

Remember that, next time you find yourself in a difficult place.

Encouragement From The Word

Resolutions or Rule?

Happy new year!  I hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations were deep and rich.

When it comes to the new year, there seem to be two kinds of people:  folks who make resolutions, and folks who don’t.  Fitness facilities everywhere rely on the former, at least for the first few weeks of the year!

It’s one thing to make a resolution, but it’s another thing to create a habit.  This is why I prefer to consider a rule of life rather than resolutions.

What do I mean by a rule of life?

In one sense, you can think of a rule of life as a series of new year’s resolutions that you actually keep, that are integrated into your lifestyle.  A rule of life is a plan that you set out for yourself, prayerfully, that you can achieve, that will enhance your life and your walk with God.

It can involve things you will undertake daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.  So, for example, you might want to make reading the Bible and praying for half an hour, and going for a 2 kilometre walk while listening to an edifying podcast, part of your rule for each day.  A regular day of rest and a date with your spouse or significant other could be part of your weekly rule.  Monthly, you could vow to read a solid work of theology and take a long hike (though perhaps not at the same time!).  Yearly, you could set out to make a retreat, guided or alone, to build your relationship with the Lord, and ensure you take at least two weeks of vacation.

These are just examples, but if you set your mind to them, and seek the grace of God to fulfill them, these are achievable goals.  And if, for example, you miss a day in your Bible reading and prayer, instead of abandoning the idea altogether, you get up and carry on the next day, because you know it’s the right thing to do.

A rule of life can also be shared with fellow Christians who are close to you, as they can help you evaluate the achievability and appropriateness of your chosen rule.

And the good news is that it’s never too late to create a rule of life.  We may be a few days into the new year, but you can start prayerfully discerning your rule of life today!

Here’s more good news:  when you keep a rule of life that strengthens your walk with God, you’re not the only beneficiary: your small group is enriched, your church is enriched, and the Kingdom of God is enriched, because you are growing as a disciple of Jesus.

Give it a try!

To encourage you, here’s a rule of life that the apostle Paul gave to the church in Rome (even though he didn’t call it that):

 Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.  Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself.  Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.  Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.  Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.

 Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them.  When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad.  Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.  Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others,  and do your best to live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12.9-18, CEV).

 

Biblical Messages

One Intentional Day

We had some technical glitches with the recording of this morning’s service, but the message is so important, I wanted to find a way to make it work anyway, so you can try watching it from here.  I’d be interested to know from you if you found it worked.  Make sure the sound is turned on.  You *shouldn’t* need a Facebook account to watch this, but I’d be curious to know if you can.  Apologies for the challenge.  The Scripture focus is from James 4.1-17, and the video I show early in the message can be viewed here.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10220359477594203%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Encouragement From The Word

A Year-end exam

As we round out 2019, I thought I’d reprise an Encouragement from a few years ago at this time.  Happy new year!

One of the great spiritual practices of the ancients that is being revived in these days among Christians is the notion of the examination of conscience and consciousness.  Normally, this is a daily undertaking, whereby we consider the day that has passed, and ask the Lord to help us see both where we have sinned (that we may confess and be forgiven) and where we have seen God at work (that we may rejoice).

This can also be an annual practice, however.  As we sit at the end of the year, let me encourage you to spend some time before God today or tomorrow, asking him to help you review your year, particularly to highlight areas where you have seen his hand at work in your life.  Take some time to sit with that and praise the Lord for his faithfulness.

There’s no formula for it; we can see God’s beauty in a flower growing by the roadside in summer, or in a snowdrift in winter; we can see God’s hand at work in a ministry we undertake or in the lives of our children as they grow in Christ.  God’s fingerprints are all over so much!  The challenge for us is to take time to notice them, and to praise the Lord for his activity in our lives.

At the same time, take time to ask God’s blessing on the year to come.  If it helps, use these words from hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal:

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be

In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.

Another year of progress, another year of praise,

Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

 

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,

Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;

Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;

Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

 

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,

Another year of training for holier work above.

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be

On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

May the Lord bless you with more grace as you look for where he has been active this year, and as you pray for him to be active in the year to come!