2 Corinthians 5:17-21
One of the benefits of living in the house we now occupy is the wood stove in the basement. Even on a cold winter day once it is warm inside we do not need the use of the electric heaters after a good fire is lit. This benefit is increased tremendously by the fact that a lot of yard clean up had been done after the previous tenents moved. At first glanse the pile of branches and downed trees seems like a mess left to be cleaned up taking up a lot of time and effort but look again and you see apossibility of renewing a valuable resource along with the chance of saving considerable money over the next winter. True some of the trees and branches are useless being too small or having rotted from laying outside in the wet mud for almost a year but with a little work much can be saved. This work of sorting good wood from what is rotten or too small to be stored is not so unlike the growth process of a believer in Christ. God sees that though not everything in our former lifestyle is benefical for our new life and some of it is down right deadly for us to hold on to there are things that can be of great use such as learned habits of disciplined living, music talent, artistic ability of other kinds, a network of relationships and, of course, the basic type of personality God created in the first place. God is ever patient and always purposeful in His work of molding each individual into His own image once again. He removes what is harmful or unnecessary and makes a vessel of honor for the Kings of Kings. What is seemingly a daunting task in the power and leadership of Holy Spirit becomes an exciting journey of growing up in Christ our Lord.
Is your life looking like a mess? I close with quote I first heard from Monty Louis once on of Canada’s most dangerous men who became a man of God used to bring hope to countless lives, ” God took my mess and turned it into a message.”,
Windsor Nova Scotia is known as a town of firsts. First agricultural exhibition in North America, the town where the first game of hockey was played and on it goes but here is a first that until recently seemed to be little known.
On Tuesday September 29th it a was pleasure to host the :Loving God Blessing Israel” cross Canada tour here in Windsor. The team wanted to spend some time in Windsor for a very special reason. In 1917 Fort Edward located here in Windsor was still under British control. The British at that time were given special permission to recruit volunteers from as far away as the United States to help form what was to be known as the Jewish Legion made up of the 38th through 42nd battalions of the Royal fusiliers. The 39th battalion was stationed at Fort Edward while receiving special ops training prior to their mission to liberate Palestine from The Ottoman Empire during the first world war. Among the troops 39th was a man named David Ben-Gurion who you may recognize as the first Prime Minister of the restored state of Israel.
This historical connection to Israel prompted our Mayor Paul Beazley to personally welcome the team to Windsor. He expressed his long standing desire to honor the towns connection to Israeli history and proposed the planning of a hundredth year celebration commemorating
Ben-Gurion’s first military experience received at Fort Edward. This opens the door to the church to be a part of something that will build positive relations with the government of Windsor, the Hants Historical society, the local Jewish community, some international ministries and all while sharing the gospel in word and action.
This Event was packed with many blessings from praying over the Town, for Israel, For
Canada. The Shofar was blown that day and a blessing of peace was spoken over the town. It was truly a wonderful time of prayer and blessing.
Read, Phil. 1:3 Rom. 5:6-8
Ask yourself this question; Over the course of my life what people have been the greatest influences for good? Who do I appreciate? Okay, that’s two questions but here’s todays challenge. There have been people that have made a significant difference for each one of us in a positive way. People who have taught us valuable life lessons. People who have sacrificed for our benefit with no expectation of a returned favor or future pay back. People who have loved us when we did not earn their love. People that we will never forget.
The person or persons that come to mind during the time it takes to read this blog are the ones that relate to the challenge for today. Some of the people who have impacted us may no longer be with us now so all we can do is thank God for their personal contribution to our own lives but what about those who are still here quietly making a difference in the lives of people around them? Here are three things you can do to let these unknown heroes know how much their lives have meant to someone else.
1. Pray for them. Even people who encourage others regularly need to be encouraged themselves. They face difficult circumstances, battle negative emotional responses to life’s ups and downs and struggle with unknown temptations. Pray for God’s intervention on behalf of those you care for on a daily basis. Prayer makes a huge difference because God listens to and answers prayer.
2. Tell the ones who have made a difference in your life just how they have been a positive impact when you needed them. Most people at one time or another struggle with doubts as to whether or not their lives have effected others in a positive way. Most likely all of us will ask the question, “Did I make a difference?”, at some point. We all want to know that how we have lived is significant if only in our own circle of family and friends. Hearing how our choices have been a blessing to others gives us great joy, encourages us to keep reaching out to others around us and helps to drive away discouragement.
3. Show them how much they mean to you. People use words all the time. You may say, “No kidding. What was your first clue.”, but think about it for a minute. Unfortunately most of us also know someone who talks much but that is all their words amount to. Talk but no action. People may say I love you but never give any other indication that this is how they feel and so what happens? We believe what they say just because they say it? No. We doubt what they say because we never see any actions that confirm the words we hear. God’s love is not just empty words. God’s love is His living Word who willingly sacrificed His life for ours. How do I know God loves me? I hear His Word and see the actions following that confirm the truth of His Word. For those who have been a blessing to us may we make a decision today to do something to let them know how important their contributions to our lives have been. It may not be something that seems big and it does not have to be some expensive gift. To show our appreciation can look something like a heart felt letter posted in the old fashioned mail or perhaps hand delivered would be a wonderful way to let someone know they are special to you. Take them out for coffee or a lunch and tell them how they have changed your life for the better. Find out if they have a need and meet it. Spend some quality time with the person and let them know why you are doing it.
Taking specific time to demonstrate our appreciation for others is sometimes a difficult thing. We feel awkward trying to express how we feel and with the busy lifestyle most of us have today it is easy to stay busy enough to let ourselves off the hook because of a tight schedule. Don’t allow that to happen. It is often so easy to share what hurts or frustrates us or what we don’t like. Let’s all make the effort together to begin to find ways to share the things we do like about others. Let’s make time for what truly matters; for the things that will last forever; our relationships with God and others. Please don’t just read this but rather after reading put it into action. It is the challenge for today.
Genesis 1:27 5:1-3, 1 Peter 1:23-25, Psalms 8:1, 57:5, Isaiah 40:22
I am sitting here this morning recalling something Luke recorded about an encounter between Jesus and one of His questioners. Jesus was presented with a seemingly unsolvable problem designed to discredit and condemn Him regardless of the solution He proposed. The individual asked whether or not taxes should be paid to Caesar. On the surface this looks like a simple inquiry but hold on a minute to consider the extreme social and political issues attached to the question. In Israel at that time Rome ruled. The Israelites resented their conquerors especially in regards to Roman interference in the temple and worship of God. Messiah, when He came was going to drive the hated Romans from Israel and liberate the people of God or at least this was the prevailing view of the Hews at this point in history. Furthermore, there were among the people those who had committed an act that was considered one of the deepest betrayal to ones fellow Jews in become a tax collector for the Roman government. Often these tax collectors would add insult to injury by not only receiving Roman taxes but also do to lack of specific regulations or the strict enforcement of those regulations which were in place would take by force many times more than what was required in order to become rich off the suffering of their own people. If anyone refused to pay he and his family could be sold in to slavery to pay the tax, have their property confiscated or thrown into prison for resisting the law. To top it all off false Messiahs periodically rose from to insight rebellion among the Jews which created a climate of civil unrest with harsh retaliation from the Roman forces.
Now, ask the question again in this hostile environment. If Jesus had said no then He could have been brought up on charges of insighting rebellion among the people and been likely sentenced to death by the Romans. If Jesus says yes then he is agreeing with all the suffering Roman law has caused his own people, indorcing the actions of the tax collectors and seen publicly to support a government that has interfered with the worship of God. Basically you could die either way. It looks like a loose loose situation.
Jesus shows not only His brilliance in His response but also His grasp of the real important issues involved. A question answered with a question. Should we pay taxes to Caesar? Who’s image is on the coin? Most of us are familar with the final answer, ” Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”, but I recently heard a preacher go a step further by suggesting that the scribes should have asked what it was that belonged to God at which Jesus might have responded by asking who’s image was on the person asking the question.
Who’s image is on you? Just as the image on a piece of money defines its value and shows it to be authentic even so the image of God in humanity gives us our true worth and identity. Let us not reduce God to our image thus creating a false god made to our own preferences but rather let us remember that we are created in the image of God. You and I find our highest place of honor in our surrender and service of the one who has created us. Honor Him today. He is truly worthy.
Hebrews 2:16-18 Romans 4
I have read the book of Hebrews many times but today I noticed for the first time another aspect of the final verses of chapter two. Of course we realize that Jesus suffered terribly on the cross and through the ordeal leading up to His crucixion but have you offten forgotten as I have that Christ suffered being tempted.
Have you ever felt the pull in your physical or emotional make to do something you know wouldn’t be right for you. In fact what you are considering may have devastating effects not only in your personal life but to the livesof others and yet the compulsion is so strong that it requires a great effort of will each moment to resist. Sometimes the struggle produces physical stress or ache and emotional distress.
I find in these verses that Jesus as a faithful High priest having experienced these very things though He does not give assistance to angels does aid all those who have committed their lives to Him as Lord and have excepted Him as their salvation. What a priviledge to know that God stands ready to help at any time and in any situation with full understanding of our feelings and yet through personal experience can by His example show us how to navigate life’s most treacherous moments successfully. Hang on tight to Jesus. He will never let you down.
Psalm 133 Ephesians 4:3
Friday night and all day Saturday the 24th/25th of August reminded me once again of something I have being pondering off and on for a long time. We, God’s people, are told to keep the unity of the Spirit. We do not create the unity of the Spirit merely keep it. When talking about the unity of the Spirit let us keep in mind that we are talking about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the triune God. Each individual believer must come into complete agreement with the Holy Spirit which means to surrender the will totally to God. As we surrender our will we enter into the unity of the Spirit, agreement with God. If every believer is in total agreement with God then we are one just as Jesus prayed we would be. This illiminates all grounds for division or arguments over preferential doctrines since the focus is removed from human vessels and placed squarely on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ whom the Holy Spirit desires to reveal in and through the church. Also the discovery is made that, as our Pastor offten reminds us, “God’s right, your wrong.”, so no man or woman gets to be in a place of final authority. I am not acknowledging a denominational viewpoint which I will defend loyally against all comers nor am I following any one man or woman who’s teaching style and content suits my personal preference but with an honest heart that honor’s the gifts God has placed in the church for the benefit of each individual believer I come into agreement with God’s Word humbly allowing the Lord to have final authority in all subjects.
Even in places where we disagree this principle will continue to maintain unity in the body. For example, though we may disagree on how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be administered we do all agree that we are to love one another just as Christ loved us and therefore though we may disagree we do so with the attitude that in the final annalysis God is right so we all will seek His resolution of the situation while remaining in unbroken fellowship since it is vital that the world see Jesus high and lifted up even in how we disagree.
Many disagreements arise from the fact that different parts of the body have certain emphasis not strongly represented in other groups of believers. Rather than treating each other with suspicion or fear why not benefit wholely from each gift so that each part of the body functions at maximum efficiency. Absolutely we must carefully search the Scriptures to be sure that all doctrine lines up with the Biblical record but please don’t mistake diversity for divergents from the truth.
The ministry or service of reconciliation has be given to us, the church, God’s people. This is a service we need to do for each other. We may never agree fully on every little thing but if we are commanded to love then, under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit we must come to a place of obedience. All selfish motivations, personal preferences, and/or human agendas must at last be brought to the cross and crucified with Christ since it is no longer the believer who lives but the life now lived is lived by faith in the Son of God. It is Christ lives in and through us. Old things have passed away and all things have been made new; all things are now of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 When this takes place we are walking totally in the unity of the Spirit, now all things are of God.
Sound like a tall order? That’s where we are going. To God be the glory in advance for the great things He is doing.
If someone were to ask you, “What has God done for you in the last three months?”, what would you tell them? I was walking to the office this morning and my mind began to ponder this question concerning the wonderful things we have seen God do for our family and friends here at Oasis in the last short time.
How easy it is to go on day to day with all the demands of life and forget the goodness of God including how He has corrected and taught us, as well as His many other gifts. We have seen healings, people rising up into places of productive ministry and new ministries being developed which will be of great value to the church in our community but if we are not careful the excitement, and wonder we feel as we watch God work will fade into the barest of interest because we have become distracted and forgetful.
Psalm 103:1-4 encourages us to instruct our soul to bless the Lord and remember all He has done for His people. Is it fair to put it this way; to remember all that God has provided for us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and give Him thanks. When things are bad we may forget the Lord due to difficult circumstances. When things are good we may forget the Lord because we do not feel an emenient need for His assistance though in truth at all times we desperately need Christ whether we recognize it or not.
Dear people, let us always remember the Lord and all His benefits. Why not take a little time to sit down alone with God and simply thank Him for all He has done recently for you. Search your memory and though it may be slow at first as you thank and praise Him for what you do recall more will come to your mind until you find that much time has passed without your noticing as you were so caught up in your gratitude for all that God in His goodness has provided for you.
Lately, as we all do on occation when growing in the Lord, I have discovered giants in the land look like. Their faces change with the challenging circumstances we face at the present moment. It may not be an Amorite or Hittite but the necessity of conquest and the reality of the battle is no less demanding on our strength. How do we remain strong and vigilant in battle? There are many things God’s Word instructs us in along these lines but here is one thought that I have been working on over the last few days. The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. This joy is mentioned in Galatians 5:22 as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We do not have joy from a human source but our joy comes from the Lord’s own pleasure and delight in His people. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Our reward in Heaven wil be to enter into the joy of our Lord. What joy caused Jesus to endure the cross? The joy of seeing you and me come to faith in Christ. Our strength comes from the knowledge that God is pleased with us. Even our growing times, through all the mistakes and false starts God is pleased with us all because He sees in us the art work He is bringing to an excellent completion. He wil not discard the painting because it is not yet finished but will continue to work until He has presented the world with His masterpiece. Let the Holy Spirit live through you. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength.