Biblical Messages

No Excuse!

In this service, we hear a message from Romans 2.1-16 that discusses the fact that followers of Jesus have a responsibility to uphold God’s way, and that sometimes, we’re no better at it than those who do not follow Jesus.  We are called not to judge, but to live in such a way that people will want to follow Jesus.

And if you ever wondered if it’s possible to be saved by being good and doing good, you’ll learn through this message.  You can watch the whole service in the first video, or just the message itself in the second one.

 

Biblical Messages

Jesus Wept

On Palm Sunday, we tend to pay a lot of attention to the story of the Triumphal Entry (the version we read was in Luke 19.28-40), but not to the part that immediately follows it.  In Luke 19.41-44, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, and he teaches us the value of lament.

In today’s message, we look at lament: how we can lament our current situation before God, and the sense in which we are facing judgment in our current circumstance.  We consider an example of lament from Psalm 42.

The message begins at 11:02.  Watch the whole gathering, or just the message if you prefer.  But if you only watch the message, watch the WHOLE message!

The Lord be with us in these challenging days!

Biblical Messages

The Dead Will Rise

“What happens after we die?” It’s a question not often enough asked.  There is much mystery to life beyond this life, but the Bible does address it in many places.  In our passage for today, John 5.24-30, we learn a few things that should encourage followers of Jesus…and should encourage people to become followers of Jesus!  Listen or watch below:

Biblical Messages

Here comes the judge

Jesus is equal to God.  Jesus is sovereign over life.  Jesus is Judge.  The second section of John 5 deals with some foundational theological issues that deserve our attention.

This message starts with the first part of this video from Laugh-In, from back in the day:

You can watch or listen to this message, based on John 5.16-23, here:

Encouragement From The Word

A parking lot encounter

A friend gave me permission to tell you this story that happened to her recently.

She and her family were getting parked at a big-box store; they’d pulled into a space, and someone was about to pull out of the space in front of them, so they prepared to advance in order to be able to drive out of the space instead of backing out – makes good sense, and keeps the insurance people happy!

Trouble is, not seeing her vehicle, someone decided to pull into the space they were advancing into. My friend and her family backed up, graciously, and got out of the car to go into the store.  Her son stared intently at the other driver, who became confrontational.  The other driver shouted at the young man to stop staring at her.

His parents said, “It’s okay, really.”  The other driver became quite belligerent about it, until, finally, young man’s father said, “He’s autistic.”

Mic drop.

The driver gave a quick shock apology.  Everybody moved on.

In the store, however, the driver encountered my friend, hugged her, and apologized profusely.  “We live in fear.  We don’t know how people will act toward us.”  She had felt threatened by the stares from the young man.

This driver was a woman of Islamic faith.

Mic drop number two.

She told my friend, “I couldn’t sleep tonight if I did not apologize.  I wouldn’t want to treat others the way I feel I am treated.”

Then, as she walked back to her cart, she saw my friend’s husband and son, and she apologized to them, too, and they spoke at length.  “Lately,” she said, “everyone is living in fear and judging us.”

This isn’t just one of those parking lot rage stories that had a happy ending.  There is a lesson for us all here, a multi-faceted lesson.  There is more to it than this, but at the very least we are called not to judge a book by its cover.  That was a lesson for both the autistic young man and the Islamic woman.  Beyond that, though, it is a lesson for us all, at the very least, to be kind to one another – even, and perhaps especially, people who seem different, or dress differently, or hold views that are different from our own.

Jesus may have told us not to judge, but he didn’t mean that we should check our brains at the door.  We are to judge to discern; we are not to judge to condemn.  We can judge for discernment in a manner that honours another person as a human being made in God’s image, even if that person’s views or lifestyle or what-have-you varies greatly from our own, without condemnation.

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7.12, NLT).

If you want to see a great example of how we can look at others differently, watch this video.

Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

From Judgment to Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary…and I will give you rest.”  Many are familiar with these words of Jesus, but do we realize what their context is?  The section right before Jesus utters these words unique to the Gospel of Matthew finds him condemning entire communities where he and his miracles were well known, but the response was underwhelming.  The key question in this message is, “How will you witness for Jesus?”

Based on Matthew 11.20-30 in The Message, you can listen to the message here:

Encouragement From The Word

It’s a different world!

As my friend Carey Nieuwhof has pointed out, the much-publicized decision of the United States Supreme Court in late June should come as no surprise to followers of Jesus, because it’s foolish of us to expect a secular society to follow Christian principles and practices.

We who are old enough to remember what a more ‘Christian’ Canada was like may have more adjusting to do than the younger generation. Just as some young people today are astounded to learn that the world existed before the Internet, some mature followers of Jesus are astounded to learn that we no longer live in a world where Christian principles and practices are universally known and lived out.

That’s a challenge for the church going forward, but it’s a challenge the church can meet if it has the will to do so. What will that look like, for us as individual believers?

First, it will mean pulling back the reins on judgment of people who aren’t Christians. Years ago, that judgment came out when someone showed up to church not dressed appropriately. Nowadays, that judgment can be unleashed in other ways, but we should refrain from judging, and welcome people who are brave enough to cross the threshold of the church and check us out.

Second, it will mean taking the church outside the four walls of the building and into the neighbourhood. As Alan Roxburgh has written in several of his books, the church in the 21st century must become “missional”. That means we don’t go to church, we take the church out into the neighbourhood. We get to know our neighbours, and learn how we can serve them in Jesus’ name. We take God’s love to them, wherever they are and in whatever state they find themselves; we don’t wait for them to come to us.

Third, it will mean being more intentional as Christians and as the church at living out God’s Word and his love, since we can’t assume anyone knows anything about the faith. I heard a story last Sunday about an individual who was asked to put on some music at work, and it turned out to be Christmas carols…and it wasn’t Christmas. This person simply didn’t know what Christmas music was; she or he had no Christian background (and, it seems, never visited the mall in December!). By not assuming people know anything about the faith, we can be sharper in our witness and more clear in our expression of God’s truth – with care and concern, not condescension.

Living Faith, a statement of faith of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, says this: “…in the spirit of humility, as beggars telling others where food is to be found, we point to life in Christ” (9.2.1).

God’s love for the world has always been sacrificial. Though the world around us – right now, anyway – might seem less Christian, God’s love is no less powerful. How will you be the living expression of God’s love today?

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3.15b, NIV).