Biblical Messages

LOVE ONE ANOTHER: Don’t be a fool!

There are better titles I could have chosen for this message, and you’ll learn why I didn’t choose one of them as you listen.  In this new series, we’re taking a journey through the first letter of John, near the end of the New Testament.  Written by the same John who penned the Gospel, the Apostle, the first letter of John is primarily a story about God’s love – and right thinking about the person of Jesus Christ.

Based on 1 John 1.1-10, you can listen to this message here:

Biblical Messages

STAYING TRUE: Four Beasts

It’s not an especially inviting title for a message:  “Four Beasts”.  But that’s the central theme of Daniel 7 and the meaning may not be as obvious as we might expect!  This message is about personal and corporate sin, more than anything else.  Listen to it here:

Encouragement From The Word

Getting at the olive pit

About a week ago, our dishwasher started making a really nasty noise. Not being too familiar with the internal workings of this marriage-saving appliance, we weren’t too sure what to do. We began by running some vinegar through the system, but that didn’t help.

As you may know, the majority of the ‘guts’ of a dishwasher are suspended underneath the tub, mere millimetres from the kitchen floor. To see anything, you have to lie down on the floor in front of the dishwasher.

Like lifting the hood of your car, staring under the dishwasher doesn’t remedy the situation at all.

I called a repair shop and described the noise as sounding like a motorcycle running in my kitchen. The helpful chap on the other end of the phone politely suggested I clean out around the pump, and check for things like olive pits around the macerator.

I managed to clear some time last night to disconnect the electricity, water, and drain, and pull out the dishwasher. Of course, staring at it then rendered no positive results, either.

Thankfully, YouTube is a great resource for many things, including dismantling our brand of dishwasher. With just one video (played and stopped and played over again and again!), I had all the help I needed to know how to get the circulation pump dislodged from the tub of the dishwasher.

And what did I find around the macerator? Yes. An olive pit. (There were a few other offending bits, too, but the pit was probably the real culprit.) After giving the guts a thorough cleaning, I reassembled the dishwasher (with a couple of false starts), flipped the breaker back on, and ran a rinse cycle. Our quiet-running dishwasher was back.

To find the problem, I had to get to the heart of the dishwasher. Only after a serious dismantling process did I discover the offending pit.

Life is like that. We live our lives, managing our sin, trying to keep it quiet, in a sense. We might even make other noises so that the sound generated by the sin isn’t noticed. (At one point I suggested to my patient wife that she could just turn the television up louder. Probably not the best answer!) Do you see what I mean, though? We manage our sin; we don’t get rid of it.

In many ways, we’re afraid to get rid of it, because, like taking apart the dishwasher, there is a lot of work involved in dealing with sin at its root.

But it totally worth it.

It can be hard to do this alone. Sometimes, rooting out sin works best when we share that difficult journey with another person who loves us and wants God’s best for us. It begins, of course, with confession and repentance. And it must include seeking the Holy Spirit’s power and grace, because even though we may repent, without the Spirit at work in us, we are likely to go back to old ways.

Have you identified the proverbial ‘olive pit’ that you need to get out of the core of your life? Have you sought the help of God’s Spirit, and maybe a Christian friend, to excise the sin?

It may be hard work, but you will be glad you did it when your life isn’t so bothered by the noise of that sin impeding God’s work in you and through you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139.23-24, NIV).

Encouragement From The Word

Whiter than snow

Talking about the weather is something that’s about as Canadian as it gets.  And there’s been plenty to talk about this year.  Earlier this week, we had a remarkably balmy day, followed by a dreadful snowstorm.  I remarked on Facebook that the only redeeming quality of the storm was that the fresh snow made the dirty snow look much cleaner.  A friend remarked that there was a sermon illustration in there somewhere.

Since I’m not using it on Sunday, I thought I might as well use it today.  And there are at least two ways to look at it.

One way to look at fresh snow covering dirty snow is that it’s a pretty covering over something not very pleasant that’s still there, even when covered over.  Unfortunately, we humans are inclined to treat sin that way at times.  Rather than confess it, repent of it, and walk away from it, we cover it up somehow.  As the late Dallas Willard was known to say, this is a form of sin management; we play with it without actually getting rid of it.  That’s not God’s way of having us deal with sin, though.  We are called to confess our sin – to name it before the Lord – and to repent of it.  When we repent of a sin, we tell God we’re sorry, but we go a step further by walking away from that sin in a more holy direction.  This is a more spiritually healthy way to face sin in our lives.

The other way to look at fresh snow covering dirty snow is that it makes the landscape seem new again.  Where the analogy breaks down is that the time will come when the snow will melt (please!) and we’ll see the dirty “brown sugar snow” (as my wife calls it) once again – but it, too, will melt in due time.  In the meantime, we enjoy the new covering that has come.  Forgetting the breakdown of the analogy, though, this is what Jesus does for us:  he covers our sin with his blood.  When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the price for our sins, and in a sense cloaked us with his righteousness so that when God looks on us, he sees not the sinful beings that we are, but he sees the righteousness of Jesus that covers us, just like freshly-fallen snow.

In this season of Lent, we do well to examine ourselves and be honest with ourselves so that we can get rid of sin in our lives.  Most Christians don’t believe that we can ever fully be rid of sin in this life, but we can work toward that goal!  Let’s not merely manage our sin; let’s invite Jesus to cover it with his righteousness, letting his blood wash it away.

Each morning is new, each day filled with grace.  God is for us.  The snow will melt, and new life will grow.  But that may be an illustration that has to wait a few weeks more.

Though your sins are like scarlet, 
I will make them as white as snow.  
Though they are red like crimson, 
I will make them as white as wool” (Isaiah 1.18b, NLT).

Biblical Messages

CHRISTIANITY 101: A Costly Decision

The decision made by Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a costly decision, and its consequences have been Adam and Evehumanity’s lot ever since.  But there is good news, for God made a costly decision to send his only Son to remedy our sin problem.  Based on Genesis 3, Romans 5.1-11 and Romans 6.1-14, you can listen to this message by clicking here.

Biblical Messages

Having Faith-Filled Friends

It takes quite the group of friends to cut a hole in the roof to get Jesus’ attention!  But that’s what a group of friends did for a paralyzed man in Luke 5.17-26.  We need to be faith-filled friends who will help others come to Jesus.  What keeps us from making it easy for our friends to come to the Lord?  Listen to this message that will give you concrete steps to consider when keeping yourself from being a barrier to another person following Jesus by clicking here.