Biblical Messages

Seal of Approval

In a consumer society, it can be hard to separate our consumer-ness from our faith, but landscape-1427235701-ghk-seal-indexit’s easy to follow the sizzle rather than the steak.  In this message, based on John 6.22-27, we look at the fact that the Giver is more important than the gift.  Listen, or watch, below.

 

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Biblical Messages

Kids mimic what we model

Today was children’s Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton – the kids and youth led much of our worship.  I shared a brief message from John 4.31-38 that helped us understand what it means when we appreciate that kids mimic what we model.  Watch or listen below.

 

Encouragement From The Word

A muscle you use

Someone wise once said, “Faith is not a pill you swallow, but a muscle you use.”

It’s possible that we might go to church once in a while, perhaps to get a ‘dose of Jesus’ to keep us going for a little while, in much the same way we might take a couple of Tylenol® to keep us going and mitigate the throbbing pain of a headache.  But, of course, the medicine wears off, eventually, since it’s designed to deal with symptoms, but not root problems.  After all, if your headache is caused by having had a whittling knife stuck in your temple, Tylenol® isn’t going to solve that problem – it’s only going to take the pain away for a while.

Faith is not something designed to take the pain away for a while.  Faith is a gift given to us through God’s grace that enables us to deal with the root of the pain – and so much more.   If we just show up to worship once in a while, there might be a temporary ‘high’ we receive that encourages us for a short time, but that’s not what the Christian lifestyle is about.

Faith is, as the wise person once said, a muscle you use.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that my muscle mass is declining.  I see it especially in my arms, which are not called upon to do a lot of heavy lifting.  Periodically, I look at the dumbbells that I have and think, “I ought to start using those.”  Even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.

The same is true with faith:  even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.  When we read the Bible and pray at home and in small groups, and when we gather regularly with the community for worship and fellowship, we’re using our faith muscle in ways that will strengthen it – something a periodic ‘dose of Jesus’ just can’t do.

Let me encourage you today to make your faith a lifestyle choice.  Engage daily with the basic disciplines of prayer, Bible study and worship.  Engage weekly with the basic disciplines of corporate worship and community.  Use that faith muscle.  As you exercise it, it grows.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation. – Psalm 100, NLT

 

Encouragement From The Word

Hope

Hope.

It’s one word that nearly everybody can identify with.  For many people, it’s what fuels their lives.  Hope is what makes people put one foot in front of the other, what makes people decide to get out of bed for the day.

I hope I will have a better day at work than I did yesterday.

I hope I will do well on this test. 

I hope my spouse will not get cancer.

Sometimes, hope is misdirected, though, isn’t it?  We can hope for something that we think might solve our problems.

I hope I will win the lottery.

I hope I will get a big inheritance so I’ll never have to work again.

I hope that nasty so-and-so falls into a pit and is never seen again.

Even hope can have its ugly side.  But that’s not what God intended.

Hope is invariably tied to faith.  What we hope for is often what we place our faith in.  If you re-read those “I hope” statements, they can all seem pretty vapid, even when the best of intentions are behind them.

There is a lovely little gospel hymn that reminds us where to direct our hope:

My hope is in the Lord

Who gave himself for me,

And paid the price for all my sin

At Calvary.

For me he died, for me he lives,

And everlasting life and light he freely gives.

Jesus is the one on whom we rightly place our hope, because it is in him that we rightly place our faith.  Is your hope in Jesus?

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11.1, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Do you suffer from tridecaphobia?

Do you suffer from tridecaphobia?

That’s the irrational fear of the number 13.  It doesn’t get much press, except on days like today:  Friday the 13th.  Motorcycle enthusiasts in southern Ontario love Friday the 13th, because it gives them an excuse for a road trip.  (Many motorcycle enthusiasts meet on Friday the 13th in Port Dover, Ontario, for a rally.)

Some folks, though, get a bit tied up about the number 13, to the point that they won’t stay in a hotel room with that number, or buy a house with that number, or put a 13th floor in a building.  It’s a bit of an odd phobia, if you ask me.

The word phobia just means ‘fear’.  And in theological terms, ‘fear’ has two opposites:  ‘faith’…and ‘love’.  As Scripture says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4.18, NIV).

Followers of Jesus have no reason to fear anything, but especially something like the number 13.   So what makes us afraid of things?

We live in a sinful world, in which seeds of fear and doubt have been sown in abundance.  Jesus came, and lived and died and rose again, because God loved the world just that much.  His purpose was to redeem us from the sin to which we are enslaved, which includes our fears.

The antidote to fear is faith.  Trust the Lord, and give him your fears…even your fears of Friday the 13th.