Biblical Messages

The Powers That Be

In this worship gathering, we hear a message from Revelation 13.1-10 that illustrates how the apostle John shared his vision with the early church, illuminating the Roman Empire for what it was – an ugly beast. We apply the passage to our own situation as we learn to discern what really constitutes persecution. You can watch the whole gathering below, or just the message below that.

Biblical Messages

Love Wins?

In this week’s worship broadcast, we hear a message that challenges our understanding of love – a debt we cannot repay. It’s based on Romans 13.8-14, with support from Ephesians 6.10-17 and 1 Thessalonians 5.1-10. You can watch the entire broadcast below, or just the message below that.

Biblical Messages

Not Quite Libertarian

There has been no time such as this in our lifetime to share the relevance of Romans 13.1-7. In this service, we hear a message about what it means to submit to civil authorities, and how that relates to the uprising in the US last week and the current pandemic. You can watch the whole service below, or just the message below that. Apologies for some of the poor video; we had some technical issues this morning.

Encouragement From The Word


Happy new year!

A week in, and we’re already on pins and needles, eh?

I have to admit, I was going to write about the sad lunacy of the whole “Amen and A-woman” debacle in the US House of Representatives, but then this past Wednesday happened.  I’ll save the other one for another time.

It might be the first time the White House was stormed since, well, the Canadians burned it during the War of 1812!

I’ve never believed in coincidences, not even homiletical coincidences.

When 9/11 took place, I was preaching through the book of Jonah.

This Sunday, returning to a series I broke from for Advent and Christmas, I will be preaching on Romans 13.1-7.

I’ve been looking forward to this passage for quite a while, but I wasn’t expecting such a current illustration as we got on Wednesday!

Everyone must submit to governing authorities.  For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13.1, NLT).

Amid the rioters on Capitol Hill, amid the pandemic and the lockdown, where lies the boundary for submitting to governing authorities?

The key comes in understanding the verb, “submit”.  Rather than meaning “blindly obey”, its definition has more to do with appreciating the hierarchy that exists within the rule of law.  

God is at the top of the chain, but he places governments – through various means – in place over us, and we are called to respect them.

For some, though, the question becomes, “To what extent do I submit?”

If the government forces you to do something that is patently and obviously contrary to God’s will in Scripture, that may be the point where civil disobedience kicks in.

If you want to know how that relates to the widespread lockdown we find ourselves in currently, tune in live on Sunday at 10:00 a.m., or on demand any time after 4:00 p.m.

Encouragement From The Word

Government by public opinion

Warning:  Today’s Encouragementis about as political as I’ll ever get.  I’m not looking for a debate.  I encourage you to consider the broader issue and what God’s Word has to say to that broader issue.  Thanks for reading.  JFL

Government by public opinion is almost never a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that we should ditch democracy; after all, as Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”  I think it’s good that the people should elect their governments; I’m blessed to live in a country where that happens regularly.

But when that government, elected by me and many thousands of others, decides to rule by public opinion, we are in trouble.  Big trouble.

Take, for example, the report that came out earlier this week that the public health department in the city of Toronto believes that all drugs for personal use should be decriminalized.  Why do they believe this?  They say that the city’s current policy regarding drugs is not working, and furthermore, they say that a public health consultation has indicated that in general, people favour decriminalization.

Now, personally, I think this is a dangerous idea (that carries a dangerous precedent with it), but let’s set aside the issue of drug decriminalization, and look instead at the principle of government by public opinion.  Why is it such a bad idea?  After all, if the people elect the government, shouldn’t the government do the people’s bidding?

In theory, at least, we elect people to public office to govern us because we believe they have the necessary gifts, talents, skills, and wisdom to undertake the task.  And when a majority of the people in a given geographical area share that opinion, individuals are elected.  At the federal and provincial levels, at least, a particular party is declared to be the governing party when a majority of its representatives are elected by the voters.  We then entrust the responsibility of governing to these people.

When a government decides to legislate based on opinion polls and consultations – particularly on issues of morality – that government to which we entrusted responsibility then abdicates its responsibility to do what it discerns is best for the people.  Instead, it does what the people want…and in this fallen, sinful world, that’s not always what’s best for them.

Imagine if your family ran like that?!  If you and your spouse decided to do public consultations with your toddlers on what they should eat, when they should go to bed, whether or not they should look both ways before crossing the street, etc., how does that demonstrate responsibility for your children – and love for them?

In theory at least, the government is supposed to be the parent, and we are supposed to be the children.  That certainly seems to work when it comes to the Canada Revenue Agency; why not in other areas?

The Bible says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God…. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good” (Romans 13.1, 4, NLT).

Of course, some will cite National Socialism in Germany in the 20th century as a “but” to that passage, yet we cannot let our interpretation of the Scriptures be based on exceptions.  The Nazi regime was a notable exception, but it is an exception.  In general, governments (even harsh ones, as in the context in which the apostle Paul wrote Romans 13) are put in place for us to follow, not for the government to follow us.

Pray for your elected officials at all levels. Pray that God will give them wisdom and strength to do the hard work of governing placed before them.  Write to your elected officials; encourage them to make hard decisions that they believe will benefit society.  If you think they make the wrong decisions, let them know at the next election!  But let’s not tie the hands of government by suggesting that they should rule based on public opinion.

Above all, pray for the salvation of your elected officials.  Pray that these people will have a life-changing encounter with the living God, made known in Jesus Christ!  Imagine what God could do with a government composed of Spirit-filled men and women who want what God wants for your city, province or nation?

Encouragement From The Word

Peace and unity

On Remembrance Day, we pause to remember and give thanks for those who have fought for our freedom – a freedom demonstrated earlier this week as our neighbours to the south voted in a presidential election.

One of the things I have noticed in recent years, which was writ large throughout the seemingly-endless US election campaign, is that in western society, we are polarized like never before.  And it seems to pervade all spheres, not least the political and ecclesiastical spheres.

In church and state, people seem pitted on either side of one issue or a multiplicity of issues, and the mud-slinging comes from both sides.  What the world needs is what the church can demonstrate if it will:  peace and unity.

To that end, I will let God’s Word speak for itself.  Receive these words from the Lord.  Read them slowly, perhaps a few times.  Allow the Lord to speak to you through them.  And respond practically.

How very good and pleasant it is

    when kindred live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head,

    running down upon the beard,

on the beard of Aaron,

    running down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon,

    which falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there the Lord ordained his blessing,

    life forevermore.  (Psalm 133, NRSV)

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.  For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.  The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.  So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.  (Romans 13.1-5, NLT)

Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

God, Keep Our Land

When we sing Canada’s national anthem, we are praying; did you know that?  In this message, we look at where the inspiration for the Dominion of Canada came from, and how we can act as citizens of Canada who are also citizens of God’s Kingdom.  Like people, like ruler!  Based on Psalm 72.1-14 and Romans 13.1-7, you can listen to the message here:


Encouragement From The Word

God, keep our land

On Monday, Canadians go to the polls to elect a new federal government. It has been a long campaign, and filled with more rhetoric and attack than visions and promises.

For followers of Jesus, it would be nice if there were one party with whose platform we completely agreed with, for that would make it easier to cast a vote. But we are not likely to find such a thing. And there are Christians in all parties (as well as people of other faiths, and no faith at all).

So what’s a believer to do?

Really, there are three things we are called to do around an election.

First, learn. We need to go through an election campaign prepared to learn what each party (and candidate) espouses in terms of platform, core values and promises. Try to wade through the propaganda, which is everywhere, and learn what each party and candidate stands for. Then ask yourself, How does this mesh with what I believe?

Second, pray. Once you have learned as much as you can, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you prepare to vote. Don’t just take sixty seconds to pray before you mark your ballot; pray as you learn, and ask the Lord to help you discern what is going to be best for Canada before you get to the polling station.

Third, vote. God appoints a government for a nation through the people who vote. It is both a civic and a Christian responsibility to participate in the democratic process that has the potential to shape the future of the country.

As we approach election day, join me in praying those familiar words of our national anthem: God, keep our land glorious and free!

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13.1, NLT).