When I was a kid, my Dad, who was born in 1919, would tell us tales of life going to school in a one-room schoolhouse and walking there 5 miles in a driving snowstorm, uphill both ways, and having to make a fire in the boiler to heat the classroom! Amazing stuff! Dad had great stories!Continue reading “Being Christian in the Age of Social Distancing”
The Scriptures paint a very bleak picture of the spiritual condition of man. There is no soft-selling it nor candy-coating it, or even dunking it in the world’s most expensive perfume. Take a look at the picture painted by the Scriptures, the Word of God.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ouch!
If that doesn’t shock your system, how about this:
“No one is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned asid; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Even by our own personal experience, everyone of us could testify that our thoughts, intentions, plans and desires are often times not what God would approve. We are trapped by our own desires seemingly unable to escape their consequences.
What do we do? How do we free ourselves from our sinful human nature?
Enter the scene help from the outside. We know by our own frustrations to “dig ourselves out of the ditch”, as it were, on our own we can’t do it! The harder we try, the deeper we feel the desperation of our helpless situation. For that reason, Easter happened.
Christmas brings us the celebration of the arrival of the hope we desperately need. Christmas would make no sense whatsoever without the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope was renewed at Christmas and sealed forever at Easter. Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) That sealed sin’s fate. It was rendered powerless. The Apostle wrote, “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
The hope that Jesus gives us real hope, not just a hopeful wish. Jesus actually suffered on the cross, he actually shed his blood for the forgiveness of sin, he truly died and then he was resurrected to life again. This is such great news that we read the following words, “But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:57)
My friend, is that hope yours? Are you tired of trying to find the solution to life on your own? Reach out by faith to the forgiveness that God offers you in Christ!
In the first ever sermon that was preached in the first church, the invitation to embrace the Gospel of Jesus was expressed by the Pastor in these words,
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 2:38)
That, my friend, is the hope we need today! Embrace it, love it, receive it, live in it!
For His Glory,
“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, thy richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride..”
“See from his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flowed mingled down, did err such love and sorrow meet or thorns compose so rich a crown.”
These are powerful lyrics that point to the greatest need that every human being on the planet has, that of redemption from sin and divine love that took our rightful place of sin’s penalty. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was born at just the right time to redeem mankind (Galatians 4:4), gave his life for sinners like you and I. Undeserved grace was ours because of his willingness to submit himself to the eternal plan of God.
The words of Jesus in John 10 present the stark truth; Jesus willingly was tortured at the hands of those he had created and loved in order for the transaction of salvation to be completed. Stop and think about that for a minute! How unreal that is! Read these words slowly and meditatively, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)
Let the full impact of these verses find their way into your heart this season of the year, and all year-long actually! The bottom line here is that Jesus loved you and I so much that he died the death of a criminal for us! What are the implications? They are life-changing! We quite literally not sit on the fence here. Because he gave his life for you, he loves you! He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
I will never forget when I first heard as a young Christian the full price that Jesus paid for my sin! I was moved by his willingness to be subjected to the cruelty of the crucifixion for me because of his love! Despite of my sin, my rebellion and my wanting nothing to do with him, he still showed his love for me.
Today, I live in gratitude for this divine love that would not let me go. It has grasped my heart with such tenacity that it changed the direction of my life. As a non-Christian, I used the excuse that if I received Jesus as my Lord and Saviour that I could not have as much fun! But, oh how wrong I was! The life that God has now given me because of the cross of Jesus is more satisfying, more peaceful and more meaningful that I could ever have imagined.
Friend, God loved you so much that Jesus gave his life for you! That statement if applied to your heart, soul and mind will change you forever. The world tries to match it but fails every time with its cheap, momentary thrills and shows. Sometimes believers can get their eyes off the cross and shift their sight to the world hoping to find something else but do so in vain.
Embracing the full weight and significance of the cross defines all of life. God’s love demonstrated that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Once we do so, the rest of life is altered forever, we can’t shake it and we live in gratitude forever.
How do you put into words the impact that this one man has had on my generation and the one previous to mine? He served Jesus Christ with faithfulness to the message of the gospel. He was faithful to his wife, his family and to God’s Word. He was willing to do what ever it took to get that message to as many people as he could. He was critiqued by many from within the church but he was more interested in reaching those lost in sin than in placating people who would never be satisfied with him or his style of ministry.
Many times I sat with my Dad watching the Billy Graham crusades. Dad would never go to church but he would watch and listen to Billy. As a young person who was trying to find out what was true, I would listen attentively to the message of salvation. I would not come to Christ until a few years later but the seed was sown.
I thank God for the life and legacy of Billy Graham. His life’s work was to share the message of eternal life in Christ to as many as possible and to live his life for God’s glory ought to be something every person who claims to know Jesus ought to emulate.
May the words of the Apostle Paul encourage us to be faithful, like Billy, in sharing and living the message of Jesus
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…”
Jesus Christ was born to buy back you and I from the cruel taskmaster of sin. I have attempted to draw a picture with words this month of the beauty and humble majesty of his coming to dwell among us.
My prayer is that he would be exalted as the King of my life everyday and that everyday I would worship him with every fibre of my being! Would you join me in that prayer?
Here are the 4 blogs, really personal devotional thoughts, that reflect the desire to live for him daily!
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
The relevancy of the message of the angels to the shepherds is as important today as when they were first spoken. Like those days, the time in which you and I live are days when “good news of great joy” is the right message for today. Our human race has made efforts almost since time began to cure itself with disastrous and deadly results. Peace agreements between nations and neighbours are at best short-term. We are in desperate need of good news of great joy.
As we move closer to the day of the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the world is in a whole lot of turmoil. Personally, I am finding it difficult to turn on the television news because someone is coming out against this group or that policy, somebody is yelling at someone else! The only peace seems to be to ignore others and do your own thing, but someone will inevitably be against the thing you are doing!Continue reading “The Peace Process”
The English author C.S. Lewis wrote,
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks
in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
It has been a tough week. We are witnessing before our eyes the humbling of the fourth largest city in the United States. The images we are seeing on our televisions are real. They are difficult to watch because they are people like you and me who are losing everything, literally everything. Furniture, clothing, televisions, cars, precious memories like family pictures, and in some very heart-breaking way are losing their loved ones.
Near where I live, many people have lost their homes and all their belongings in the fires of Western Canada. Through no fault of their own, they were forced to evacuate their homes without notice. Their lives will carry these moments for many years.
What do we do in times like this? I am reminded of the description of Jesus Christ as he witnessed the helplessness of those who are described as “harassed and helpless”, that he did NOT berate them for being in that position. Nor did he call them out for the evilness of their hearts. Here is what we read about our Saviour, “he had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36)
His compassion was a result of seeing the condition of their heart. They are described by Matthew as being “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The predicament they were in describes them as people who were in some sense being taken advantage of through no fault of their own. The response of our Lord is so unlike us. We want to find someone to blame! Someone’s head had to roll because of the mess these people were in. But Jesus does not go there.
What Jesus does do it absolutely amazing! Here is the Son of God with all the power to change the circumstances of these helpless and harassed people. What does he do? He turns to his followers and tells them to pray. What should they pray about? Pray that God would send people to relieve these hurting folks of their difficulty. I find that fascinating. Don’t you?
The “megaphone” of God in the suffering of these dear folks in Houston has as its response, that God’s people pray that He would send compassionate people to help, people who would give if they cannot go and people who will pray. There are so many agencies that are reaching out right now like Samaritan’s Purse, who are sending chaplains as well as sending physical aid to assist Houston’s hurting people.
God now has our attention! He is moving us to action. Let’s not sit this one out but actively pray, give and if possible, go!
It seems that for most things worth pursuing in life there is a cost before there is a benefit. For example, a medical doctor may earn a handsome living for his/her services but the cost beforehand was the price was that of attending medical school, enduring the stress of internship and building a reputation.
We have some strange phrases in English that are often posted on bumper stickers or websites like: “The one with the most toys at the end wins.” “The survival of the fittest.” Or, how about this one: “My opinions are awesome”. What these all have in common is that people tend to think that he, or she, is always right, always to strongest and always finishes on top. We train our children to stand up for themselves and not take any “guff” from anyone.