Monday, 26 August 2013

The Good Samaritan ( Sunday Sermon Review )

Sunday August 25, 2013

Our speaker today was Jacob Friesen from Winnipeg. His text was the story of The Good Samaritan and he spoke of how to practically love our new neighbors.

The Good Samaritan helps the man fallen by the wayside.
picture from vimeo.com

The Story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37 reads as follows:

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Here are my notes from the sermon and also some of my thoughts.

*In the Old Testament we see how the people are always on the move. In our day and time we see many people on the move and foreigners, refugees and displaced peoples making their home in Canada.

*God is in the midst of all that is happening. He is working in the lives of people across the globe - both in the lives of people who know and love Him and He is also moving in the lives of those who do not know Him yet reaching out to them to bring them to Himself.

*Our neighborhoods are changing.

*In our text an expert in the law comes to Jesus to test Him. He asks Jesus a very important question "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus responds with a question - "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" The lawyer responds using the Old Testament to answer. Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. and Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
Jesus tells him that he has answered correctly and then instructs him to do this. But the lawyer is looking to justify himself and so asks the question " And who is my neighbour?" So Jesus tells a story.
We ask ourselves the same question. "Who is my neighbor?" Does Jesus mean it includes more than our friends and family and those living in close proximity to us? Does it include those who are suffering in far off places such as Egypt and Syria? 

*The Jews did not like the Samaritans. The Samaritans had willingly chosen to live outside God's directions. Therefore the Jews rejected them. But in our story today a Samaritan comes to the aid of a Jew ( a man who normally would reject all Samaritans )
We are to do as this Samaritan did. We are to go to people who are not like us, people who do not look like us, even to people who believe in false religions. We can show the love of Jesus to all people regardless of background or position in life.

*Everyday we see opportunities to participate in what God is doing all around us. Often we become overwhelmed and do not know where to begin. We feel that the small impact we could make would be but a drop in the bucket of the overwhelming needs of those near and far. This should never stop us from doing a small kindness. We need to respond where and however we can as the opportunities present themselves.

* We need to be careful to not pass by the needs of those close by.

* We are conditioned to be neighborly to certain people, people who are like us but we must begin to step outside of our normal circle of friends and outside of our comfort zone.

*Jesus says to love our enemies.

*Let's stop passing by people who really need our encouragement, people who need a friendly "hello" or "how are you". Remember to always make the next right and loving choice.

*When we do the hard stuff we will experience the love and grace of God in our own lives.

*God is faithful, God is at work!

*We must not stay within our own little bubble - be open to God's leading, and obey His leading!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Are you in a time of trial and suffering??

1Peter 5:10 - But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Psalm 93:3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their wave

No storm is so great, no wave is so high, no sea is so deep, no wind is so strong, that Jesus cannot either calm it or carry us through it. ( Anne Graham Lotz )

As every one of us can testify we all go through times

of trials and suffering. For Christians this is equally as

true as it is for the non believer. Many times we ask 

the question why or why me. These are hard 

questions to answer but what we do know is that God

 allows trials into our lives and through these trials He 

helps us to become stronger. Just like in nature 

helps the plants and trees to become stronger so 

it is also in our lives. The trials force us to either 

become strong in the Lord or we will break under the 

pressure of it. I have sometimes planted tomato 

seeds in early spring and set them on the windowsill

 in my house. The plants come up and grow up 

spindley and weak. These plants have no strength or 

endurance in the sun and wind once I transplant  

them to my garden. While if I plant the seeds right 

into the soil in the garden, the plants grow strong and


Another reason for our trials is that through our 

sufferings we grow in character to become more like

 the Lord Jesus. The fruits of the Spirit are developed 

in our lives through trials and suffering.

Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The Lord Jesus endured greater suffering than any of us will ever be called upon to bear. Therefore we must always remember to bring our burdens to the Lord.
So what can we do in the midst of our suffering?

1) we must not give in to sin - 1 Peter 4: 15-16  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

2) we must not take revenge - Romans 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

3) we must give it all to the Lord - 1 Peter 4:19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Christians should be preparing for suffering. If you are not currently going through a period of suffering, it will come some day. Suffering will be a part of our life as a Christian until Christ returns. Those who remain faithful to the Lord during their suffering will see that sinful behaviors have no appeal any longer. Living for the Lord Jesus and to be ready to meet Him at all times takes on a new reality.
1 Peter 4: 1-2 
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

I feel that the song "Take up Thy Cross and Follow Me"  is very fitting as we go through our own personal struggles.

Take up Thy Cross and Follow Me
(by Alfred H Ackley - 1922 )

  1. I walked one day along a country road,
    And there a stranger journeyed, too,
    Bent low beneath the burden of His load:
    It was a cross, a cross I knew.
    • Refrain:
      “Take up thy cross and follow Me,”
      I hear the blessed Savior call;
      How can I make a lesser sacrifice,
      When Jesus gave His all?
  2. I cried, “Lord Jesus,” and He spoke my name;
    I saw His hands all bruised and torn;
    I stooped to kiss away the marks of shame,
    The shame for me that He had borne.
  3. “Oh, let me bear Thy cross, dear Lord,” I cried,
    And, lo, a cross for me appeared,
    The one, forgotten, I had cast aside,
    The one, so long, that I had feared.
  4. My cross I’ll carry till the crown appears—
    The way I journey soon will end—
    Where God Himself shall wipe away all tears,
    And friend hold fellowship with friend.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mary Mother of Jesus - Hero of the Bible

Mary the mother of Jesus

This summer my home church is doing  a series on Heroes of the Bible and so this Sunday we studied Mary the Mother of Jesus as another hero of the Bible. The basic point of the sermon was that Mary was available to God to use her however He would see fit. We see this clearly in the gospel of Luke where the angel's announcement came to Mary.
Luke 1:38  And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

So here are the notes I took from Sunday's sermon:

Why would God choose Mary?
There was nothing super special about Mary - She is poor, she is a peasant, she has no power or influence. She is not already well established to be able to give a child the best of everything.

Just as we sometimes ask why would God want to use me she may also have asked why me? Why would God pick me? Why would He choose to use me when there are so many other people who seem to have it all together?
God chooses to work through me, I am not that smart nor am I worthy of such an honor.

Then we may also look for excuses and ask "why should I do this?" or "what is special about me, who am I that I could think even for a moment that I could do this?"

Mary is available for God to use her.

We see this at the wedding in Cana where they run out of wine. Mary sees the need and goes to Jesus for help. We find the story in John 2 - And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

When Jesus responds in verse 4 by saying Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.,  he is really asking her to slow down. She knows Jesus is come as the Messiah but His time to reveal Himself as Messiah is not yet come. Then Mary says these important words " 
Whatsoever he saith unto you, do itshe says this because that is exactly how she lives her day to day life - in obedience to God the Father. 
I will do whatever God tells me to do. She is available to God.
Are we available to God to use us?
When God calls - do you respond " I'm here" ?

God works with our weaknesses. We must be open to doing what God calls us to do.

Regarding the recent tragedies in our community -  ( the deaths of two teenagers in separate tragic accidents ) we do not understand why things happen but we can see how God responds in tragedy.  We are called to be available to extend love and mercy to those around us.
 Every morning start your day by praying to God making yourself available to Him. Be open to God's Hand and leading.

Last Sunday we saw how God was working behind the scenes in the life of Esther. God is working on our character to make us more like Jesus. God is setting up work for us to do.

Are we available??

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Esther - Hero of the Bible ( The Girl who Became Queen )

Last Sunday at my home church the message was about the story of Esther. You can find the sermon  notes at the bottom of this post.

Esther 4:14  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther the Ordinary girl who became Queen

The Biblical account of the story of Esther is a favorite to people of all ages. An ordinary girl who becomes a royal queen and heroically saves her people ( that is the Jews.)  King Ahasuerus has a royal feast for his male friends which lasts many days. One day Ahasuerus in his drunken condition decides that his royal Queen Vashti should be brought out so all his male friends can see how beautiful she is. Vashti refuses to be put on display like this and that is why she gets dismissed and King Ahasuerus begins to look for a new queen to replace her. This is where Esther comes in. We will continue by reading a condensed account of this story from the Veggie Tales website. I am a Veggie Tales fan and always enjoy their Dvds. You can link to the Veggie Tales page  HERE

( You will notice that King Ahauserus is referred to as King Xerxes here. Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name while Xerxes is the Greek name of the same King.)

So we continue the story now from Veggie Tales -
King Aheruerus and Esther  ( veggietalesitsforthekids.wikia.com )
King Xerxes of Persia was searching the entire kingdom for a beautiful
woman to become his new queen. Esther was a very beautiful Jewish girl
and was one of the women brought to the palace as a possible queen successor. Esther did
not tell anyone about her Jewish family. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin who took care of her
because she had no parents, worked for the king and was able to check on her daily. When
it was time for Esther to go before King Xerxes, he was very pleased and crowned her as his
new queen.
Two of the king’s officers became angry at King Xerxes and were planning to kill him.
Mordecai overheard their plans and told them to Queen Esther. Esther reported the plot
to the king and gave Mordecai the credit for saving the king’s life. After all of these things
happened, King Xerxes promoted another of his officers, Haman, to a higher rank, and all of
the other officers had to bow down and kneel to him. Mordecai was a Jew and refused to
bow down or kneel to anyone but God, so Haman became very angry and convinced the king
to sign an order that all of the Jews in the land were to be killed. Mordecai told Esther that
she must tell the king of Haman’s plot, but Esther knew it was against the law to approach
the king unless she was invited. But Esther was courageous… her people were depending
on her. When she approached the king, he was pleased and held out his scepter for her to
come forward. Esther told King Xerxes of Haman’s plan to destroy her people. The king was
so angry with Haman that he had him killed, and Mordecai was promoted to his position.
Because of Esther’s courage, all of the Jewish people in the kingdom were saved.


Sermon Notes
My home church is doing a summer series on Heroes of the Bible. So this past Sunday we covered the story of Esther. So what can we learn from Esther?
Here are a few points from the sermon from Pastor Ben:

The Name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther. So why is it in the Bible?
The Bible is not primarily written to record history, nor to tell amazing stories.
The primary purpose is to reveal the character of God. To give us an understanding of the God of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ.

How can the book of Esther teach us about God?

* Just because God is not mentioned does not mean He is not there.
* We see God's hand throughout the story.
* God is in every situation.
* God works in the background in behind the scenes in the circumstances making things happen.
Most of our lives are that way - God working in the background, working though our circumstances.
We see God working in our world, we have to pay attention to figure out what God is doing.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God is working in your life. He is forming you - making you the person He wants you to become. He is working on your character.

God wants you to do good works.
Just as Esther stood up and risked her life so must we.

God is working in you not just so you can sit there.

God has prepared good works in advance for you to do.

He is getting things ready for you to do.

See God's work around you.

Thursday, 1 August 2013


This past Sunday I was at my uncle's funeral. He was just about ninety years old. It was a nice funeral, the preacher preached a good message of hope and love. Seeing the body lying there in the coffin brings out the reality of the finality of death. We know that the soul has departed to live eternally with the Lord but the life lived here has ended. No more chances to give your loved one a kiss and tell them "I love you". No more chances to seek or to give forgiveness. What has been left undone remains undone. We can not deny the reality of the finality of death. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:3  and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

Here is a poem that is about the game of baseball but it also fits when thinking about the finality of death.  The poem is  Game Called and is written by Grantland Rice.

Game Called ( by Grantland Rice) 

Game Called. Across the field of play
the dusk has come, the hour is late.
The fight is done and lost or won,
the player files out through the gate.
The tumult dies, the cheer is hushed,
the stands are bare, the park is still.
But through the night there shines the light,
home beyond the silent hill.

Game Called. Where in the golden light
the bugle rolled the reveille.
The shadows creep where night falls deep,
and taps has called the end of play.
The game is done, the score is in,
the final cheer and jeer have passed.
But in the night, beyond the fight,
the player finds his rest at last.

Game Called. Upon the field of life
the darkness gathers far and wide,
the dream is done, the score is spun
that stands forever in the guide.
Nor victory, nor yet defeat
is chalked against the players name.
But down the roll, the final scroll,
shows only how he played the game.