Weekend Wanderings

Good morning! Starting this weekend I want to add some ‘variety’ to my blog.

Here’s a link to Joni Eareckson Tada’s ‘After 50 years in A Wheelchair, I Still Walk With Jesus.’ This is worth reading particularly to combat the false teaching that it is God’s will that everyone is healed.

After 50 Years In A Wheelchair, I Still Walk With Jesus

 

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Greatly Disturbed by Preaching

What is the task of preaching? An oft-quoted statement I’ve heard, apparently is contested as to its origin. Someone proposed that we (preachers) should ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’ Just recently I’ve had some conversations with leaders across this province who have shared me with me some of the ‘complaints’ congregations express regarding their preaching. “It makes me uncomfortable.” “His preaching is too doctrinal.” “I feel like I’m being singled out when he preaches.” I’ve had my share of complaints and compliments. Preaching is no easy responsibility laid upon the shoulders of those called by Christ to speak truth in love as they bring God’s message.

As Peter and John, two of the New Covenant’s early preachers, trained by Jesus, spoke to the crowds, some of their observers were ‘disturbed.’

“The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.”

Sounds like the ‘comfortable’ were afflicted that day! This was not a world of ‘peaceful pluralism,’ as many like to think of modern cultures, but a conflict over the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ divides people. ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ (as the hymnwriter penned) clearly noted, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided….”

I’ve personally met a former Muslim, banished from his home by his parents as he openly confessed faith in Jesus Christ. I knew a former Jewish student, during my years of study at Central Baptist Seminary, whose family held a funeral for him, within a few days of his profession of faith in Jesus Christ. His calls were refused, letters (in those days) were returned. As far as they were concerned he was dead.  These two men felt the ‘disturbance’ caused by the transforming power of the gospel.

The disturbance in Acts 4 came from religious people–religious but not rightly related to God. As far as the priests and Sadducees were concerned Jesus Christ was a blasphemer, a presumptive prophet who falsely claimed to have come from God. He had died, but now two of His followers were speaking of resurrection, of the hope of eternal life, of the free offer of the gospel. This must be stopped. They must be silenced. And so they seized Peter and John, and incarcerated them immediately.

Read this review of D.A. Carson’s book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers  See the reference to the eight years spent in jail by Baptist preachers in the province of Quebec (1950-1952). This was Canada just 67 years ago–quite recent history, don’t you think?

There is a price to be paid by preachers and those who seek to proclaim the true gospel. Affirming Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life sounds so narrow.  It is narrow, just like the way to life spoken of by Jesus in His infamous Sermon on the Mount. While preachers and testimony givers shouldn’t necessarily set out to cause disturbance, they should not be lured into complacency thinking they are free to ‘adjust’ their message so noone gets offended.

 

 

 

When God Turns Me From My Wicked Ways

Have you ever been forced to change directions? Even with our technologically savvy GPS equipped world, there are times when we are forced to alter our ways.  Saturday, as we headed to a ministry appointment, my wife and I had to find an alternative route. We took our ‘usual route’ until we discovered a portion of it was closed due to a multi-cultural festival. We were directed with signs and a few ‘law enforcement’ officers who were assisting the process.

I’m thankful that I worship a God who turns me from my wicked ways. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us all, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” If we simply follow ‘our own thinking’ and the promptings of ‘our own heart’ we will end up on a disastrous route.  Read Romans 1, if it has been awhile, and you’ll rediscover that an evidence of God’s judgment is when He permits people to follow their own desires. His wrath is expressed as people, insisting on their ‘freedom’ are ‘given over’ to evil passions.

I’m grateful God has interrupted my planned course of action on many occasions. Repentance is a gift of God, given in love as an act of His great mercy.

In Acts 3:24-26 the Apostle Peter is seeking to trace for his Jewish audience God’s gracious dealings with their people through history. God sent the prophets. God made a covenant with Abraham and fulfilled the promises of blessing by sending Jesus Christ. In mercy, God sent the Christ (Jesus) to the Jews first. The blessing of Abraham became the blessing of Christ as ‘He came unto His own….’ (John 1:11)

24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

How has God blessed you?

  1. Through His word. We have recorded for us the word He revealed to the prophets of the Old Covenant, preserved for us in 39 books of Scripture.
  2. Through His covenants. We can trace the various covenants God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc and of course the promise of the New Covenant launched through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
  3. Through His Son. God permitted Jesus, in fact, sent Him to die for our sins. He sent Jesus to the Jews first and then to those of us who are not Jewish.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes–to the Jew first, and also to Gentiles!

Let’s thank God for His blessings. Let’s ask Him to turn us from our wicked ways.  Let’s pray once again in this new week, ‘

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23,24)

By the way, check out Calvary Baptist Church’s website later this week. One of our pastors, Rev. Kelvin Kauffeldt, brought a challenging message on idolatry yesterday.  Budget some time to listen to it or watch it – You’ll be challenged! Here’s the  Calvary Baptist Church link.

 

God at Work!

We just recently completed a wonderful trip to Canada’s East Coast.  Along the nearly 5000 km round trip, we saw a number of construction signs. ‘MEN at WORK’ the signs said, though not everyone on the site seemed to a) be men; b) be working. Regardless, summer is often construction season and roadwork needs to be done. I’ve often joked with others that men have to ‘put up signs’ to indicate they are working. Women seem not to follow that pattern!!

As the Apostle Peter explained the miraculous power of Jesus Christ which had healed the lame man outside the temple gates, he sketched for his hearers a picture of GOD at WORK.

18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”  Acts 3:18-23 (NIV)

Walk with me through the steps of God’s activity in this text.

#1. God foretold – God who knows the end from the beginning guided the prophets to predict the Christ-centred work of the New Testament.

#2. God fulfilled – God keeps His promises. We live in a world of broken promises–political, personal, relational  Thank God He always keeps His promises. We may rely fully on what He has said.

#3. God’s Messiah would suffer as He came the first time.  Notice how Jesus Christ is spoken of as ‘His Messiah.’ God promised to send His ‘anointed’ Servant, His messenger, who came to suffer. The cross of Jesus Christ was not optional. Christ (the Anointed One) died for our sins.

#4. God will send the Messiah a second time.  God’s plan is being unfolded through history. The 2nd coming of Christ (the Messiah) will be the complete fulfilment of God’s restoration plan for our broken earth. Maranatha! Even so come, Lord Jesus.

#5. God calls individuals to listen to His prophet and to repent and turn to Him. Moses was shown God’s plan 1500 years before Jesus came. God will decide the fate of every person based on their response to Jesus Christ.

What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ? That’s the central question to be answered. May we respond in obedience to God who is at work in His world through His word. May others see in our lives clear evidence of GOD at WORK!

Acting In Ignorance

Despite a superabundance of knowledge, many people live and act in ignorance. There are different degrees of ignorance–no one clearly knows everything. But some decisions made in ignorance have profound consequences.

Peter, a formerly Jewish leader knew the difference between sins committed with full knowledge–those done with high-handed rebellion, and others committed with a lack of knowledge–sins done in ignorance. Think back to the difference in sacrifices required by those sinning with full knowledge and others who fell short of God’s glory through ignorance.

As he speaks to the crowd, gathered out of curiosity because of a miraculous healing, he charges them with ignorance.

“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”

An interesting assessment of sinners, don’t you think? They acted–they took decisions–they exercised their wills, but they acted in ignorance–they did not realise the seriousness of the sin they were committing. Their eyes were blind to see the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

Did this make them innocent? No. But God’s mercy is available to those who accept full responsibility for their sins. God doesn’t promise to forgive our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our indiscretions–all euphemisms for the evil of sin.

We are born in sin and become skilled at excusing our rebellion. We have a litany of excuses for our conduct and until we acknowledge ourselves to BE sinners and to have committed sins, we remain in rebellion.

The classic example of God’s mercy to a rebel in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus who was shown mercy in a remarkable way by God.

Paul, in his profound testimony of God’s grace, speaks of his own ignorance. “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (I Timothy 1:3)

What level of knowledge do you have? Are you acting in knowledge or in ignorance? May God enable all of us this morning to find our way to the foot of the cross.

As the hymn writer wrote,

“I am not skilled to understand what God hath willed, what God hath planned.

I only know at His right hand is One who is my Saviour.

I take Him at His word indeed, ‘Christ died for sinners this I read,’

For in my heart I find a need of Him to be my Saviour!”

By Faith…What Happens?

Faith is not an optional extra for genuine Christ followers. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exist and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Did you notice the words ‘impossible’ and ‘must?’

The Apostle Peter was one of the early adopters of the newfound faith. His brother Andrew brought him to Jesus and the rest is history. We track Peter’s faith and lack of it through the four gospel accounts. We marvel at his confession of faith, gasp at his being an instrument of Satan almost immediately thereafter (Read Matthew 16 if you’ve forgotten the details. We hear him deny any relationship with his Master and listen carefully to the gracious words of Jesus by the seashore as He presses Peter to acknowledge a new ‘love’ in the process of restoration.

As Peter continues his explanation of how the lame beggar has been healed, he centres in on the subject faith. It is FAITH ALONE in CHRIST ALONE that has brought about this miracle. Listen with fresh wonder as he speaks –

“By FAITH in the name of JESUS, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is JESUS’ name and the FAITH that comes through HIM that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” (Acts 3:16)

The watching crowd had seen and known this man. For many years they had passed his crippled body as he pled with them for alms by the temple gate. They could see he was now strong. They were witnesses of a miracle, but how had it happened?

Jesus had and has the power–the power to forgive, the power to change lives, the power to heal. Peter knew this from firsthand experience. Hadn’t his mother-in-law been restored to health along with a multitude of others of all ages?

Peter knew he had no power–Peter couldn’t forgive, he couldn’t change lives, he couldn’t heal.

But when faithless Peter trusted the faithful JESUS, miracles happened.

Can God heal? Absolutely. Does He always choose to heal? No.

May we ask Him to heal and following James 5 call the elders of a local assembly and anoint with oil? Absolutely. There are no time restrictions placed on this biblical model.

So why don’t we see more miracles? Are we hesitant to ask? Have we been jaded in our praying because of all the ‘fake’ healers who pass off their ‘snake oil’ as God’s genuine power?

Let’s not back into our position on this issue, out of fear, out of abuse by those who may prove to be false teachers. Praise God we may ask. Praise God He still heals. He calls us in this and all areas of our lives to be people of FAITH!

 

 

Psalm 72:8 No matter how you say it, HE shall have DOMINION from sea to sea

Happy Canada Day, fellow Canadians! 

The Canadian Encyclopedia gets it right

“Canada’s official motto, carried on its coat of arms, is A Mari usque ad Mare, which translates as “From Sea to Sea.” The phrase began during Confederation as an aspirational statement, before Canada encompassed enough territory to make it a reality.

Origins

A Mari usque ad Mare comes from the Bible’s Psalm 72:8, which reads in Latin: Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae. The King James version puts it into English: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”

The verse was first applied to Canada when, apparently at the suggestion of New Brunswick’s Samuel Leonard Tilley, the term dominion was chosen to represent Canada as a whole when the British North America Act was drafted in 1867.

Tilley, Sir Samuel Leonard

Samuel Leonard Tilley played the most important role in bringing New Brunswick into Confederation (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/PA-26346).

At that time, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were the founding provinces of the Dominion of Canada. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia gave the new country a border on the Atlantic Ocean. However, “From Sea to Sea” did not geographically apply to Canada until 1871, when British Columbia joined Confederation and the Dominion extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

In 1872 Reverend George Monro Grant crossed the country as secretary to Sandford Flemming, who was then in charge of the Pacific railway surveys. The next year Grant published Ocean to Ocean, his journal describing the journey. The title is akin to “From Sea to Sea.” Tradition tells that from this point on, Grant preached in many places, using Psalm 72:8 as his text and advocating the adoption of “From Sea to Sea” as Canada’s motto.

That was then….this is now (2017) Psalm 72:8 is a text worth preaching – regardless of the translation you prefer!

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.  (KJV)

May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (NASB)

May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! (ESV)

May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (NIV)

On this Canada’s 150th birthday, I feel like singing. Not only our National Anthem but Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun.

Here’s Isaac Watts’ long version.

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barb’rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honours to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!

Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.

The scepter well becomes His hands;
All Heav’n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.

With power, He vindicates the just,
And treads th’oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.

As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall He send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav’nly dew on thirsty hills.

The heathen lands, that lie beneath
The shades of overspreading death,
Revive at His first dawning light;
And deserts blossom at the sight.

The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.

 

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