Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Parenting Advice - Raising Children

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Parenting can be a very challenging experience but it is a great honor. We are very blessed to be entrusted with these precious children to raise up to love and serve the Lord. We all come into it unexperienced so it is always a time of learning for both the parents and the children as well.
It is very important that we live our lives intentionally - that we do what we do because we are making an intentional choice. We do not want to live in regret for having made unwise choices when emotions run high in difficult circumstances. So that is why it is important to set up some goals for oneself in life and that would include parenting.
I was listening to Back to the Bible recently and in the program Woodrow Kroll shared some of Susanna Wesley's parenting advice.  I jotted down a few notes and so I would like to share it with those of you who come here to my blog.
Susanna Wesley is the mother of the well known brothers Charles Wesley and John Wesley. ( Sometime ago I wrote  a post on the life of John Wesley - link to post here:  http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/08/heroes-of-faith-john-wesley.html  )
Susanna Wesley was married to Sammuel Wesley and they had 19 children. So we can see that Susanna Wesley had a lot of practice at parenting over the years.  Susanna Wesley would take 1 hour per week for each one of her children individually to have one on one time with them to talk about spiritual matters with them. She was truly a great woman of faith.

Here are Susanna Wesley's Six Rules for Raising Children
1) Subdue self will in a child and thus work with God to save him.
2) Teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
3) Give a child nothing he cries for, and only give him what is good for him and he asks for politely.
4) To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, BUT never allow a rebellious sinful act to go unnoticed.
5) Command and reward good behavior.
6) Strictly observe all promises that you have made to your child.

Note - for more parenting tips please read my post titled  "Snippets from my Fridge - Family Rules and Discipline"  link to post here

Monday, 28 January 2013

Wisdom of Solomon - Sunday Sermon Review

January 27,2013 Sunday Sermon Review
( from my home church I attend regularly )
Topic - The Wisdom of Solomon
Guest Speaker:  Pierre Gilbert from CMU

1 Corinthians 1:18  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The service started with singing several songs including "Be Thou My Vision" ,  "Name Above All Names", and "It Is Well With My Soul".

The worship leader read from Isaiah 44:6-8 and reminded us that there is purpose in our present sufferings.
Isaiah 44:8 says Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

We had a presentation from GoMission. Our church is connected to this. You can visit their website at www.gomission.ca

Our speaker today is a professor at CMU university in Winnipeg. He was very interesting but I found it bit harder to take notes. I would like to share some of his insights as best as I can here.
So here is some of what Pierre Gilbert said:

Choosing the Way of Wisdom in an Age of Freedom
Wisdom - what is it good for?
King Solomon started well but finished badly.
What is wisdom? - We think of those with grey hair and gray beard.

Some thought provoking wisdom questions:
Why is it necessary to nail down the lid of a coffin?
Why do we never see this headline in the news - psychic wins lottery?
Why do doctors call what they do  "Practice"?
Why is the word "abbreviated" such a long word?

Money or Wisdom?
If you were given the choice - money or wisdom, which would you choose?
Solomon chose wisdom.
Wisdom is discernment. It's purpose is to put evidence in that which favors life.
The time of youth is the primary time to impart wisdom.
But wisdom is needed for us in all our years.
The time of youth presents great potential to mess up. Senior years present less potential to mess up than in youth.
The life of the elderly is pretty basic, while in youth your whole life is before you.
Youth are tempted to reject traditional values.
Youth can be cynical and try new stuff even if it is stupid stuff.

Choose the way of Life rather than the way of Death
There are many options in life.
Real excitement is in faith in the Holy God of Israel.

Four Levels of Wisdom
1.0 - The wisdom of a trade
2.0 - The widsom of intelligent shrewdness
3.0  - The wisdom of common sense
4.0 -  The wisdom of Understanding the Fundamental Question -
 Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
4.0 Wisdom is the highest level of wisdom. It cannot be bought. It is a choice. It is to choose God - to love and serve God.
Solomon had every level of wisdom except 4.0. He did not choose to serve God. He went after the religions around him, idols and after foreign women.
( 1 Kings 3: 5 - 13)

verses 9 and 10 say  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
  And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

1) Solomon asks for wisdom. He makes the right choice.

2) But things go south for him. 1 Kings 11: 1-11
note verses 1-2  But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:
Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
3) Why, Why do things go badly for Solomon?
He got:
1.0 knowledge,
2.0 shrewdness,
3.0 common sense BUT
Solomon did not choose 4.0 the fear of the LORD for his life.

Remain Faithful to God
1 Kings 9:4-5 says  And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.

Wisdom 4.0 must be chosen. It cannot be given. Solomon did not choose this. He chose idols, false gods and women. Solomon got an F.

We are face with critical choices. We need to seek the wisdom that only God can give.
The choice is ours!


Friday, 25 January 2013

The Word of God Strengthens me.....

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works

Bible    ( obcwaterloo.com )

O God, You are my God;    Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name

Monday, 21 January 2013

President Obama Inauguration January 21,2013

Micah 6:8  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

President Obama -January 21, 2013 (guardian.co.uk)

Today was an exciting day in US politics. President Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States - a busy day for the President and his lovely family.

President and Mrs Obama greet the crowds ( NBC politics.com )
1 Timothy 2: 1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

In his speech today, President Obama laid out some goals for his second term as President. Among other things, he mentioned three issues which I would like to comment on.
1) Gun control - I believe President Obama is on the right track with gun control. With the gun violence that the USA has experienced in recent years, the President must do whatever he can to stop these massive killings of innocent people. For the President to not take action regarding this matter at this time would be morally wrong. I believe it is the President's responsibility to act on this issue and for the general public to support his efforts in this matter. We are our "brother's keeper".
Genesis 4: 8-11
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
  And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
  And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand.

2) Gay rights - Here I firmly disagree with President Obama. It is 100% clear in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin against God. It can not be compared to the skin color or male/female equality in society or the workplace since those are not sin issues. Homosexuality is a sin that requires repentance before God and for such individuals to turn to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. I believe President Obama is seriously misguided on the issue of homosexuality. He needs prayer. If one swears on the Bible, should he not also live by the words written in it?
Romans 1: 22-32
 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
1 Corinthians 6: 9-10   Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

3) Climate change -  I believe that everyone one of us should do what is reasonable to take care of this beautiful earth that God has given to us. It is sad to see the pollution, the immense amount of food that is wasted etc. Also the chemicals and fertilizers that are used to produce our food can not possibly be healthy for any of us. I believe God is in control of this planet and though we should do what we can for the good of it, it cannot be our main priority. To me the "green" issue is not a matter that is worth getting really upset about. Our focus needs to be on winning lost souls to the Lord Jesus for salvation. This world is not our home - we are just a passing through!!
Some additional comments: In my discussion on point #2 on gay rights, I mentioned male/female equality. I would like to expand on this just a bit. While in God's eyes, male and female are equals this does not mean that they are interchangeable. Family is God's idea, as is marriage. One man and one woman united before God for life, till death do part. God has created the males and gifted them with fatherhood, while the female has been given the gift of bearing children and motherhood. So two homosexual men together raising children is wickedness in the sight of our God. As is two lesbian women raising a family. God's ways are best. Sometimes circumstances of life are hard and we see Grandparents, or other loving family raising a child in need, this is pleasing to the Lord.
As we see in Titus chapter 2, the ideal place for a woman with children is to be a stay at home Mom and raise the children up for the Lord. Please take time to read these verses from Titus 2:
 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
May God guide President Obama to make right choices - choices that honor the Lord! May I encourage everyone to pray for the leaders of your country!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rocking the Boat - Sunday Sermon Review

Sunday Sermon Review - January 20, 2013
( from my home church I attend regularly )

Topic "Rocking the Boat" - Matthew Series

Text - Matthew 21: 12 - 17

Thought for the week - "Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

The service started with singing several songs including "Where He Leads Me I Will Follow" and  "It Is Well With My Soul".

Matthew 21:12-17
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,
16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Pastor Ben was the preacher today and here is some of what he said:

In last Sunday's sermon we saw how Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Great King with the people praising Him shouting Hosanna! The book of Matthew is a book about the Kingship of Jesus.
Having been proclaimed King, now Jesus begins to act like a King and He begins to take care of business. He cleanses the temple.
At Passover time, thousands of Jews came to the city of Jerusalem. They needed animals for their sacrifices. It was essential. That is why the moneychangers were there as well as those who sold the doves.
Where is this selling going on? - in the temple court which was designated for the Gentiles to come and worship God. The market had been set up in the Court of the Gentiles.
The inmost part of the temple was the Holy of Holies in which only the High priest was allowed to enter once a year. He would wear bells and a rope tied around his body in case he died for some reason while in the Holy of Holies. This way it would be possible to get the high priest out in the unfortunate event that he would die in the Holy of Holies. The next part was reserved for the priests and religious leaders to worship , then the Jewish men, then was the area where the women and children could worship and finally the outer court was designated for the Gentiles to come to worship God.
The blind and the lame had not been allowed by King David to enter Jerusalem but Jesus allows the blind and the lame to come to Him and He heals them. ( verse 14 )
The children are still praising Jesus saying " Hosanna to the son of David". The chief priests are upset but Jesus defends the children.

The Cleansing of the Temple was a deliberate act by Jesus
Jesus is intentional and deliberate here as He cleanses the temple  - he is not impulsive or flying off the rocker in anger. Jesus would have seen these moneychangers here many times before and most likely things were back up and running again there in a short time after.
Jesus shows Himself to be the Messiah
He is provoking the people to make a decision - the religous leaders also must decide
Are you in or out?
Jesus rocks the boat - shakes things up
He is the King and things must change!

It is the Same Today
If we come to Jesus, things must change
God will rock our boat
He begins with us personally

The people were waiting for the Messiah to drive out teh Romans but Jesus starts in the temple.

First - Judgement begins with the house of God -
1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
It begins with us!

What needs to change in my life?
We need to hate and despise the sin our own life
God will expose the sin we hide - our hypocrisy will be exposed. A good example is Lance Armstrong.
We have to deal with the sin inour lives.
It is an act of grace when God exposes our sin and we must deal with it!
It starts with us.

Secondly - Rock the Boat in the Church
God expects us to grow - to be better, grow closer to Him
What things need to be stirred up?
How can God's people be better?
Do we exclude people on the fringes?  We need to include them.
Annual meeting is coming up.
The budget is a reflection of our priorities as a church

Thirdly - Our Comuunity
Stir things up in our community
Bring change to the world
God places things on our hearts for a reason
Example 1) - Idle No More Protests - Does the church have a voice in this? What does God say? We are God's ambassadors.
Example 2) Slave Trade in our world
Example 3) Abortion
Example 4) The Way Christians do Missions

Stir things up to bring the voice of God to these situations!!
We need to stop playing it safe in our lives!
Be willing to stir things up!

We are called to extend God's Kingdom!

Note - next Sunday we will have a guest speaker

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Jesus our King... Sunday sermon review

Sunday Sermon Review - January 13, 2013
( from my home church I attend regularly )

We are back in our Matthew series study. Today's sermon was based on Matthew 21:1-11. The speaker was Pastor Ben.

Thought for the week: "Good words bring good feelings to the heart. Speak with kindness always."

The service began with the singing of several songs which included - "To the River I am Going" ( a favorite of mine ) and another new song "Left my Fear by the Side of the Road"

Psalm 63 was read entirely - a chapter penned by King David - chased as a wanted man in the desert.
Psalm 63:1-2 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary

Text Matthew 21:1-11
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Pastor Ben came up to speak and here is some of what he said.

We are here to worship Jesus as King. We hail Jesus as King. Every Sunday we gather together praising Jesus and pledging our allegiance to Him as King.
The portion of Matthew we are studying is usually a Palm Sunday message but since we are in the Matthew series, this is where are at.
Jesus rides into Jerusalem as Messiah. This is the first time He accepts such from the people.
Jesus was fulfilling prophecy by doing this. Zacharias 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
The term "Son of David" is a title of Kingship and what the people did to Jesus by waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks down for him to ride on was what was expected to be done for a King.
A similar thing was done for Jehu in 2 Kings 9: 13  Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.
The word Hosanna means "save us". The people were shouting for Jesus to save them - "Save us Son of David!"

We want God to Rescue Us - To Save Us
We have cried out to God to help us, to rescue us, to save us!

How Did They Get From Declaring Jesus as King on Palm Sunday and five days later they cried "crucify Him"? The crowds will turn on Jesus. Why and how does this happen?
Is it possible that we could do the same - worship Jesus here on Sunday and then betray Him a short time later?
Jesus comes to us in gentleness. Jesus is described as gentle, meek and humble - a gentle King.
The people did not want a gentle King. They wanted a warrior like King David - a fiery person.
Jesus was gentle but this does not mean cowardly - He went straight to Jerusalem knowing He would be killed.
Jesus was not weak - He has great power - power to calm storms, raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons.
Jesus has strength and power - can do whatever but He comes to us and will not overrule our choices and decisions. He does not force himself on us. We are free to choose just as Adam and Eve were free to choose.
We often want microwave Christianity - but God sometimes will allow the process and with time we become what He desires for us.
God will not over ride our free choice that He has given to all human beings.

With Our Choices Come Consequences
Reap what you sow - good or bad
When we walk against God's ordinances - bad things will happen
When we walk with God - good will happen
We may ask God to rescue us from our consequences but He mostly will not - ( He will allow the consequences to do their work )
Though we may not want to do the hard work of doing right, we must.

Does God Save us?
Yes, yes, yes!
He doesn't over ride our will.
He walks with us, beside us.
He allows us to make our own decisions.
He works in the small things.

We have to choose to be different.
Pray for wisdom.
Be faithful in all our small decisions.

Resolve to Hail Jesus as King in our lives.
He will empower us as we make the commitment and decision to live for Him in our day to day life!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Winter in Manitoba

Job 37:5-7 God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend. 
 For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
 He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.

January 12, 2012 - We had a blizzard come through here yesterday and throughout the night. The storm is done now and we've got a lot of new snow in the yard. It's going to be a cold night as it is -21C ( about 5 below Farenheit ) already.

Pictures I took today
Time to blow some snow!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Who Holds Tomorrow (Newsletter) - Part 2

Recently I wrote a post titled "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow" - link to post here http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/11/i-know-who-holds-tomorrow.html
I shared how the song "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow" holds a special place in my heart.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this song is also a favorite to the Dr Thomas Wyatt.
I am on the Wings of Healing mailing list so I am blessed to receive their letters regularly. In his most recent letter, Dr Wyatt included a New Year's message which I would like to share with you here:
I will share parts of his letter here below. His letter includes warnings, prophecies, comfort and encouragement. I believe you will be blest by reading Dr Wyatt's insights.

The Newsletter:

Newsletter from Wings of Healing

You can link to his website at -  www.thomasrwyatt.org

He begins by saying:

My faithful friend:
The New Year, traditionally, has been the opportunity to envision what the year ahead and even beyond may have in store.......
Regrettably, just as our Lord prophesied, our world is one of "wars, and rumors of wars, ( meaning wars close by, and wars half a world away), but we are not to be alarmed, for this must happen, but it is not the end... there will be famines, and earthquakes in various places, but all this is but the beginnings of the birthpangs.....and you will be delivered up to tribulation, and put to death, you will be hated by all nations for My name sake... ( Matthew 24)
What our Lord describes is a world of chaos and lawlessness, and He will add, one of falsehood and treachery, which will cause many to fall away. But He affirms "those who endureto the end will be saved, and the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached as a testimony to all nations. Then and only then, He declares, the end will come......

What the world and it's princes have done is to excude God for centuries, and of course they have made matters worse. So as we see markets and governments crumble, as it results in carnage in places we have never heard of before, needless, heartache, the deprivation of far too many, and increased uncertainty and unrest, remember it is the consequences of ignoring God. This will result in unimaginable events, not just in some far corner of our globe, but very close at hand. Evil will raise its hand against even the innocent, as we have discovered in a small town in Connecticut.
As I see such evil I remember the old hymn by Ira Spanphill, and yes, find myself singing, "...I don't worry o'er the future, for I know what Jesus said, and today I'll walk beside Him, for He knows what lies ahead. Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand".

We should know Him, and His love, and thus be able to say, regardless of the evil, regardless of what may confronts us, we have " The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive... you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you" ( John 14:17 )......

So as this coming year unfolds, as the frequent chaos persists, as the futility of human and governmental meddling continue, I would have your remember with me just who it is "who holds tomorrow" and that it is He "Who holds ours hands." He has promised to always be there for His people, those who He has called unto Himelf. He will, with His strong arm cover us, undertake for us, and enable us......

 The above are the words from the letter written by Thomas Wyatt.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Questions & Answers about heaven...

One of the Bible teachers that I listen to on a regular basis is James MacDonald. His teaching approach is a very down to earth and practical style. So recently I was listening to him teach about heaven. I took notes as I listened and so I'd like to share them with you here.I will also be adding a bit of my own commentary as I write.

Questions and Answers about Heaven

1) Will we know each other in heaven?
Short answer is - Yes
In Matthew 17 we find the story of the transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John onto a mountain top and there He was transfigured before them. It says Jesus's face shone and his clothes became white as the light. It was here that Moses and Elias ( Elijah ) came to talk with Jesus. Pastor MacDonald pointed out that there was no need for introductions as this time. Moses and Elijah knew Peter, James and John and likewise the disciples knew Moses and Elijah though though they had never met before. This indicates that in heaven, not only will we know the people we have known on earth here in our life time but we will also know everyone from other generations and people whom we have never met before. There will be no need for name tags in heaven!
Matthew 17: 3-4 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

2) Will we be married in heaven?
Short answer is - No
In Matthew 22 is the story where the Sadducees came to Jesus with a trick question - If a woman has been married to seven husbands- whose wife would she be in the resurrection?
Jesus answered them very well. Read Matthew 22: 28-30 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
There will be no need for people to be married in heaven. A man will not need a helper and a woman will not be in need of a protector. There will be no procreation in heaven.
You will know your spouse in heaven though - you will be united in perfect friendship . The focus of heaven will be on the Lord - not on each other. Heaven will be a place of perfect relationships.

3) What about angels - what will they do?
Here on earth, the angels are messengers, they instruct people, they protect and comfort believers.
In heaven the angels will still be messengers - Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
And they will be worshippers as well - Revelation 5: 11-13  And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

4) Will there be pets in heaven?
Short answer - No
Many people like to joke around and say there will be dogs in heaven but no cats - but we all know that is not actual truth. I remember Billy Graham saying that people would sometimes ask him if their pets would be with them in heaven - Billy's response was that heaven will have everything that you need to make you happy. But James MacDonald says no, no pets.
The Bible teaches there will be some animals in heaven but they are not the animals that we have in our lives today.  Ecclesiastes 3:19 - 21 NKJV says  For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.  Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?
Here we see that the spirit of man goes upward while the animals have no soul and thus do not live on after death.
Isaiah 11:6 talks of animals in heaven - The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
We also see animals mentioned in the book of Revelation.

5) What will we do in heaven?
Short answer - We will serve the Lord, worship the Lord, rule with the Lord, have fellowship with the Lord and with others.
This reminds me of my husband's grandmother. As she was nearing death and looking forward to her going home to be with the Lord, someone asked her this question - "What do you most look forward to about going to heaven?" Her answer was "visiting". She was longing for the fellowship that will be ours in heaven - fellowship with Jesus and with everyone else there!
While we are here on earth, we often feel like we do not fit in or we do not know where we fit in or exactly what to do - it can be hard to find your place here on earth. But in heaven that will not be the case. We will fit in, we will know our place and our job. We will do what we were created to do. It will be fruitful work.
Revelation 22: 3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

6) What will we get - will there be rewards?
Short answer - yes
 Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Here is a good description of heaven found in Revelation 22. I want to post the entire chapter.
 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Epiphany - Sunday Sermon Review

Sunday January 6, 2013 - Sunday Sermon Review
( from my home church I attend regularly )

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Thought for the Week: "Prayer is as important as breathing".

Topic: Epiphany

The service began with singing "Worthy is the Lamb", "How Great Thou Art", and "I Stand Amazed in the Presence".

Text : Matthew 2:1-12
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Our speaker today was our Pastor in Training - Pastor Ryan. Here is some of what he said.
The Magi from the east were not Jews but Gentiles. They were men of stature. The star signaled the coming of the King of Israel. They were determined to find Jesus. The wise men worshipped Jesus and gave Him gifts. They believed the Child was worthy of worship and to be given gifts.
What do we bring to King Jesus our Saviour?
*our offerings at church ( an act of worship and submission )
*financial donations to camps, and other ministry organizations
*our talents and gifts ( we are all gifted with unique talents and abilities )
*gifts and talents come with variety and include - music abilities, working with children and adults, encouraging others, being a good friend, cooking, the list is endless
How do we give our gifts to Jesus?
Our gifts should be given to bring glory to God.
We give our gifts through service
* we use our gifts to serve God and others
* its not about what I can get out of life but how can I serve and bless others?
1 Peter 4:10 - 11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
When we use our gifts and talents to serve others, we bring glory to God!
Sometimes we may feel like we are not as gifted as other people are - Some gifts and talents get more spotlight while others are done privately ( God sees! )
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
Some are visible while others are more behind the scenes but just as valuable.
Diversity and Unity in the Church just as in the Human Body
The church needs all the people's gifts to function
There are many churches in our town - If they are grounded in Christ then we are of the same mission. We have the same goal. We are a body.
Personally Speaking - am I using my talents and gifts for God? - to bless others in service to God?
Use your work to bless others and intentionally encourage others in the faith.
The hardest gift to give is our time. We are busy people. Make time to serve God and others.
The Magi brought gifts to Jesus.
Let's bring our gifts to Him also!

Romans 12:4-8 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Note: Next Sunday we are back to our Matthew series.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Franklin Graham Speaks - Warnings to America!

Sometime ago I posted the letter where Billy Graham put out a warning to America - link to post here: http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/07/billy-grahams-letter-to-america.html

Now Billy Graham's son Franklin has put out a letter warning America once again. I believe that the warning is relevant to all people in all the world - we all need to get right before the Lord. Repent before the Lord and seek to follow the Lord with all our heart. Unless we as individuals and as families, as churches and as a nation turn to the Lord once again, the Lord will continue to allow disasters and troubles to plague our land as warnings to repentance.  I want to post the letter from Franklin Graham here. You can also find it at the BGEA website link here: http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=9127

Franklin Graham writes the following: ( While all of it is highly important to read, I have highlighted some portions that I know are extremely important to consider. )

December 27, 2012 - My hope and prayer is that the Lord will once again move in our land. It can happen, and we are trusting that a fire of revival will ignite as tens of thousands of homes are opened up this year to share the Gospel through My Hope with Billy Graham.

Fiscal Cliff? What About Our Spiritual Cliff?
Calling America back from the edge of a spiritual and moral cliff.
Fiscal Cliff? What About Our Spiritual Cliff?

Dear Friend,
As we come into the new year, America is facing many challenges. For the past few weeks, the media has been focused on what has been termed as the nation’s “fiscal cliff.”

Our country’s financial problems, however, are nothing compared to the spiritual and moral cliff that is far more destructive to our nation than any economic concerns.

Since the recent election, we’ve seen same-sex couples lining up at courthouses in several states to receive their marriage licenses, and hundreds of people gathering in public places to light up marijuana cigarettes in the states where it has just been decriminalized.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. The moral decline we see on television programs—blatant immorality, senseless violence, media-friendly gay and lesbian behavior—is just a reflection of the moral corruption that has infected our entire nation. These are indeed dark days ... but there is hope.

The Bible says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, ESV). No question our country’s foundations are being destroyed, but I am reminded of an era in the Old Testament where the Lord moved in a dramatic way to bring godly change to a spiritually dark and depraved nation like Judah, whose moral foundations had been seriously eroded.
Manasseh was the wickedest king to rule over Judah. Throughout his 55 years of evil reign, the land had been defiled with innocent blood. He led Judah into witchcraft, sorcery, and the worship of false gods and idols, including the fertility goddess Asherah. He even sacrificed his own son in the fires of idolatry.

Not many years later, God worked in an extraordinary and unexpected way to bring national revival.
Josiah, Manasseh’s grandson, became king at age 8. Ten years after becoming king, Josiah asked his high priest, Hilkiah, to collect funds to repair the temple that was in disrepair. As they worked, they uncovered the book of the law (the first five books of the Bible). Apparently it had been lost and neglected for a number of years. When Josiah heard the books read aloud by a scribe, he tore his clothes and said, “Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13).

When the Word of God was then read aloud to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, it pierced their souls and the stage was set for national repentance. Idols were smashed, spiritists and mediums forcibly removed, and the worship of the one true God reinstated. Once again, righteousness ruled.

For far too long, as a nation we have neglected—and even rejected—the Word of God and His commands. Yet the Scriptures are mighty, able to penetrate even the most hardened and darkened hearts with convicting, life-giving power. They are God-breathed, and any new season of repentance and revival in America can only come through a renewed focus on the great truths of God’s Word.

Just as the Lord used an 18-year-old king to begin revival in a corrupt nation more than 1,500 years ago, He can use us as we earnestly seek Him, stand for His truths, and pray for America. This is the only cure for a sin-sickened country that is about to slip into a moral abyss, and it is why we must proclaim the Good News.

My hope and prayer is that the Lord will once again move in our land. It can happen, and we are trusting that a fire of revival will ignite as tens of thousands of homes are opened up this year to share the Gospel through My Hope with Billy Graham. It will be a tremendous outreach across our country, the most extensive we have conducted in the history of this ministry, and we need your prayers and financial support as we put this massive evangelistic effort together.
Only the Lord Jesus Christ knows what lies ahead of us in the coming year, but I do know that He promises to be with us every step of the way, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Thank you, and God bless you. We appreciate you.

Franklin Graham

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Portzelky - A Mennonite New Years Tradition!

Happy New Year! With the arrival of New Year's Day come family traditions - maybe you have something special you do on New Years. As many of you who follow my blog and have read more of my posts will know, we are Mennonites. And as Mennonites we have traditional foods that we enjoy as part of our heritage. So growing up in my Mennonite family, my Mom always made Portzelky for New Year's Day, as also her Mother did before her. And now I carry on that tradition with my family - so today I made Portzelky for lunch. What is Portzelky? It is a deep fried treat that is very closely related to the apple fritters you can buy at most bake shops or even at a Tim Hortons except that these Portzelky have raisins in them and not apples as other fritters have.
Here is a picture of my New Years Day Portzelky!
My New Years Day Portzelky
 And here is a recipe for you in case you decide to try them!
Portzelky Recipe
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 and 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, well beaten
6 cups flour ( more or less to make stiff batter )
2 pounds raisins  - I use about 2 cups but you can use more
Stir the yeast into lukewarm water. In large mixing bowl beat together the milk, sugar, oil or butter, salt and eggs. Add the yeast/water mixture and stir well. Stir in raisins and flour. Stir in a cup of flour at a time and stirring it in well with wooden spoon. Batter should be very stiff but still sticky. Set batter in warm place to rise about 45 minutes. Drop by tablespoons in hot oil in deep fat fryer. Fry on both sides till done - a medium golden brown. Cool on absorbant paper towel. Serve with granulated sugar to dip or coat with icing sugar. Enjoy!