In this worship gathering, we hear a message from Isaiah 7.1-17 on “Immanuel”, born of a virgin. What meaning did it have for Isaiah’s time – particularly for King Ahaz – and what meaning does it have for us readers of the New Testament (since Matthew quotes this in his story of Jesus’ birth)? Watch here and find out more about the importance of trusting God. You can watch the whole worship gathering below, or just the message below that.
We’ve just marked the first anniversary of the shooting that took place on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. My friend, Hugh McGreechan, a subscriber to Encouragement From The Word, kindly allowed me to adapt an article he wrote for his church newsletter, reflecting on the event. Read on…
I lead the team of Special Constables at the Ontario Legislature, so needless to say, the tragic incident last October in Ottawa has greatly affected how we think, act, work and carry out our assigned responsibilities of protecting the Legislative Precinct. To this end, much time and effort has been committed to reviewing how we operate, to see if there is a different way to do business. As you may have read, one option was to introduce firearms for our team. This proposal has required countless long stressful hours of meetings, discussions, research, policy writing and training.
As part of the team, I have had the amazing (more now in reflection) opportunity to travel about the province and country for specialized training, but this was quite a step (no, a major leap) outside of my personal comfort zone. No matter how I tried to convince myself otherwise, I knew I was troubled, and unsure of what exactly was to occur. In typical Hughie fashion I have to get myself worked up into a ‘bit’ of a tizzy for such challenges, and this proved to be no different. These multiple courses left me feeling shaken, scared, alone and unsure; and only when I took a breath was I able to get my head back to where it needed to be. Make no mistake: this breath was not a simple pause to gather my thoughts and get it together; this is when I remembered that it could not be too rough, as God was there, too, and through him all things are possible. Through much prayer and conversation, and by his grace, I was able to complete the courses and do what was needed to successfully meet these challenges.
After I successfully got thought the multiple testing stages, I could not believe the feeling of overwhelming joy and enthusiasm. All stress and worries were completely gone, allowing me to see it for what it was and enjoy what I had experienced. During the qualifiers, although aware of the pressure and challenge ahead, a sense of calm was ever-present, assisting me to do what was required. When I looked back at what I went through, I could not believe the time, energy and health wasted worrying about what may be instead of enjoying what was. More importantly, I felt badly that I had not been stronger in my faith at the onset, to trust and seek God’s help sooner; thankfully he is there to help us and does not judge, condemn or disown us when we stray, slip or falter. Like an ever-watchful parent, he is there holding out his hand to support and remind us that there is no need to worry as he is always there every step of the way, even if we forget.
It was absolutely incredible to come to church on my first Sunday back, feeling the joy and security of what had occurred, to see that the hymns and message were all structured around trusting in God and knowing he is always there. It was as if the service had been set just for me. It always intrigues me how things all tie together as constant reminders of what has occurred and is possible. He truly works in mysterious and marvellous ways.
Perhaps if I (maybe we) would take on roles or challenges more often we would learn what is possible or just what we are actually capable of with his help. By staying safe and not taking the venture, we are not sure what to do when called upon to act, and being new it always seem much bigger than it is or has to be. This is one thing I am working on and hopefully one day will master (or at least improve upon) it.
I have often discussed with people how amazing it is to me that the actions of one person on that day in Ottawa could so change aspects of society but now just imagine what could be achieved if that energy was designed to help others.
What about each of us? What could we achieve if we stepped outside of our comfort zone and challenged ourselves to do more, help others and share the Lord’s message? If we seek and find other believers, it strengthens our resolve. If we introduce new people to his Kingdom we get to actually be the disciples he intended us to be. If we faced challenges head on, remembering God was there with us, all of our nervous wasted energy could be used to achieve an even greater result.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4.13, NIV).
While soaking up some of God’s free vitamin D today, I was reading David Benner’s excellent book, Opening To God, in which he wrote these very interesting words:
Coming to God in trusting openness does not mean abandoning our agency and responsibility. Genesis tells us that God invested in Adam and Eve the responsibility for all of creation, and at no time since then is there any reason to believe that God has said: “Since you have made such a mess of things I now absolve you of that responsibility and ask that you simply trust me to take care of things.” Prayer is divine communion that enables us to engage the world with renewed focus, competence and passion – and with all of our natural gifts and abilities. And pondering problems, both personal and communal, can form a central part of that experience of communion with God. (David Benner, Opening To God [Downers Grove: IVP, 2010], 96)
What a great reminder! Even though God is sovereign, and he invites our prayerful communion with him, we are still responsible, and can share our decision making process with God as a form of prayer.