Sunday Morning Live Stream: Committed

Committed
Mark 14:1-11, John 12:1-8
April 18, 2021

How many of us have ever been, or known someone who was so committed to something that others may have viewed it as crazy?

Have you ever heard of Fauja Singh? What a story! So here is a guy who is a runner, now is 110, and didn’t retire from official running events until 104. That is crazy! That is commitment right there. He, at an age where most of us would probably like to relax a bit and slow down is doing more than people 1/3 his age. He started running at the age of 81 and ran his first race at 89. At 100, ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 42 kms in just under 8.5 hours. At 102, he ran a 10km race. And now, he is the subject of a children’s book!

As crazy as this example is, it is truly an example of commitment to a cause – a cause he believes in and has devoted his life to. He is truly committed.

What are you committed to? What do you believe in? What are you devoting your life to? There are lots of things that we can be committed to aren’t there. Many are good things too!

Key Idea:

Jesus invites us to be committed to His cause

That cause can be loosely summarized in three parts:
a. Love God with all of yourself
b. Love others how you want to be loved
c. Help others find and follow Jesus

I Invite you to turn to John 12. A parallel story is found in Mark 14. I am going to reference it a bit to fill in on some details, but my main focus in on John 12. I will give you a bit of background as you flip.

Passover is just around the corner. For those unfamiliar, Passover was a major annual yearly celebration for the Jews that dated back some 2000 years prior, celebrating the freedom of Israel from Egyptian slavery by the hand of God. Check out Exodus 11-12 for further reference.

What you need to know is that it was expected that all males over a certain age were supposed to come back to Jerusalem to be a part of the temple worship and celebration to God in this yearly event. Even Jewish males who were in jail could even be released for Passover and then taken back after. This was a big deal! Jesus (knowing that He will also be killed at Jerusalem) still heads there with His disciples for this yearly celebration.
On the way, he comes to a town called Bethany where 2 sisters live with their brother (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus). Lazarus is dead, but Jesus comes, and calls Lazarus out of the tomb where he is buried and back to life again!

Read John 12:1-8

Later that night, still in Bethany, we see from Mark 14that they are at the home of a man named Simon the Leper, where there is a feast being held in honour of Jesus. Simon (not to be confused with Simon Peter) likely was the man that Jesus healed prior that had leprosy. He would have been referred to as “the Leper” because at one point he was a leper, not that he is presently. He wouldn’t be having people over for a party if he still was fighting leprosy as those with leprosy lived in a secluded isolated colony away from people.

At this dinner is Simon (the host), Jesus, His disciples, Lazarus, maybe others, and Mary / Martha who would, according to custom, be serving. What happens next gives two completely different pictures of commitment.

1) Mary – the committed follower:
Everyone is reclining at the table, talking, listening to Jesus speak maybe. Then, it all stops as Mary comes into the room with an ointment – made from an aromatic plant in India. This ointment was used for burial (which is interesting because of what is about to happen to Jesus. And it is worth lots of $$$. 300 Denarii was equivalent to 300 days of work for a laborer. An extravagant and expensive gift indeed!

She then takes this ointment, breaks the jar it is in, and lets it pour over Jesus’ head (see Mark 14) – In the process she also anoints His feet with the oil and chooses to wipe His feet with her hair.

The men in the room were likely already talking. Mary had come into a place that, in their custom, she was not to be. She was not to gather with the men. And now, she is doing this really uncomfortable, awkward public display of love and honour. And in the process, she is wiping the dirtiest part of the body, the feet, with her hair. Awkward….

Here we have a picture of the depth of her love and commitment to Jesus – that she loved Jesus so much, with all she was, that she was willing to lay it all out there – at a cost to her personally, and even to her “dignity”. There was no taking it back now. Out of love and commitment she ensured that her Lord got the anointing that was the best she could do. Her commitment to Jesus, to her God was on full display for all to see.

2) Judas – The committed crook

Here is a guy who is the complete opposite of everything Mary was committing to. He was, by all accounts, a committed crook who deserved to be committed. Judas is one of the 12 disciples – He is in Jesus’ inner circle, but he never seems to be engaged at a heart level in what is going on. Judas was concerned with his own gain, and we see
that in this passage.

Mark 14:4-5 talks about the disciples getting worked up about Mary anointing Jesus with the expensive ointment. But in John 12, we see one disciple in particular being a mouthpiece for the others – Judas… He is the one speaking up. That is not to say that the others were not taken back by this, in fact I am sure that everyone in the room was talking (maybe in disgust and disbelief), but he is the one who is vocally bothered enough to speak up.

He hides under the disguise that this is a bad use of resources when there are so many needy people around. 300 days wage could really help the poor after all. I like the insight John 12 gives to this passage. Judas really couldn’t care less about the poor. He was a thief at heart. As keeper of the communal money bag (as there were not ATMs and Bank Accounts in those days) he frequently helped himself to the moneybag of the disciples for his own desires. We have a term for that today… Robber. Judas was a thief and robber who saw Mary’s possession as an opportunity to get rich. She could sell the perfume, put the money into the communal money bag, and he could get rich through taking some of that money for himself.

If we were to jump to Mark 14:10-11, we further see the heart of Judas in this whole true story… some point after this whole exchange, after Jesus rebukes him, Judas goes off in secret to agree to betray Jesus to the religious leaders with a promise from them of money when he would hand Jesus to them only days later. So not only is Judas a thief, but he is also a bounty hunter who is guilty of conspiring and an accomplice to murder.

Judas was committed to himself, his sin, and his darkness. And the love of money was driving many of his actions. He was the complete opposite of Mary.

Applications:

A) True commitment to Christ may invite the critics.
Look at Mary… she experienced that first hand. As she did this extravagant form of worship and honor to Jesus that came from a place of wholehearted passion, respect, and honor to Him, people got uptight. The whole scene of Mary being “undignified” and Jesus allowing her to wipe His feet with her hair or anoint His head was a bit too much for some. As well, Judas, and possibly some of the other disciples took exception to what was viewed as a misuse and waste of resources. Mary had her vocal critics.

As we wholeheartedly commit to follow Jesus individually and as a church, we may be called upon to do something that may not make sense to those around us. It may actually invite criticism, harsh words, and in some cases anger. But we shouldn’t be surprised as the Bible tells us to expect it – John 15:18-21.

Bottom line – as we commit to His cause, as we commit to follow Jesus passionately, whole heartedly, and obediently; desiring to see His work and purpose unfolded in and through our lives, some people will object, get uptight, oppose, and criticize. Expect it.

B) True commitment to Christ may come at personal cost.
Mary’s act of worship and commitment came at the cost of ointment worth over 300 days wages as a laborer. In the eyes of her critics, it cost her human dignity.

When we commit to the cause of Christ, it could come at a personal cost. I am not going to speculate on what that will look like as for each situation and person it might be different, and we could spend all day talking about it. But this I know, following Jesus, committing to His cause could come at a personal cost. And this is something that the Bible speaks about in Mark 8:34-35. If you want to be a follower of Jesus, if you want to be committed to His cause, you and I need to be willing to deny the things in our lives that would stand in the way of following Christ, take up our figurative cross (which was a tool of death), and give up the things on that cross that are standing in the way of us living the life Jesus wants for us. When that happens, you and I find true life in Christ.

These first two applications sound a bit heavy, and maybe are a bit discouraging to some of us this morning…. Here is the great promise in all of this though:

C) True commitment to Christ leaves behind true blessing
What did Jesus say in Mark 14:8-9? To paraphrase it, Mary’s obedience, passionate worship, and true commitment to Christ will be remembered wherever Jesus is preached, and we are blessed with a wonderful example to follow of how to love God with all of ourselves. And even today, over 2000 years later, we are blessed with that legacy, that example of true commitment to Christ.

What is our legacy as Hanover Missionary Church? I have asked before in this church “will we be missed if we as a church disappeared?” Think about that… even if 50 years passes, will we be remembered? How many churches have even folded in a 40km radius around Hanover in the last 50-100 years that people have forgotten about?

Remember: Jesus invites us to be committed to His cause. My conviction is this – If we:
a. Love God with all of ourselves
b. Love others how we want to be loved
c. Help others find and follow Jesus
…the result will be that we will be a blessing to our community, we will be remembered for the right reasons, and our commitment to the cause of Christ will make a deep difference in our community.

Why? Because following Jesus involves a life altering, people shaping, world shaking, radical commitment that others notice. It changes who we are and what we do. We stand out in a good way like a light stands out in darkness. In a society that seems taken by scandal and hypocrisy in the church, living committed to Jesus is a rare concept that people can’t forget. Let us then be committed, and be a blessing to our town, province, country, and world.

Sunday Morning Live Stream: I Can Face Tomorrow

I Can Face Tomorrow: He Holds My Tomorrow
EASTER SUNDAY
April 4, 2021

There is hope for today and hope for tomorrow because of Jesus. That is the message of this weekend isn’t it?

On Friday, I talked about how the message of the Cross is one of meaning, belonging, purpose, and significance. I talked about how by what Jesus did by going to the Cross and dying on it for our sin and brokenness, we have the opportunity to find forgiveness. We have the opportunity to find healing. Our relationship with God that was broken could be restored. No longer would we have to walk around in darkness, but we could be welcomed in to belonging as a child of God. We can have hope because we can have spiritual wholeness.

Today I want to share with you a message of confidence. Because Jesus lives, because He beat the power of death by raising from it on the 3rd day proving that He is all powerful and able to do all things, we can find comfort in knowing that our God is all powerful and that nothing can hold Him back. We can face tomorrow! We can confidently look at our lives today and every day beyond, knowing that he holds our today and our tomorrow in His hands and that nothing is too big for Him.

I don’t know about you, but this wasn’t the Easter I was planning for. As late as early this past week, I had a bit of a different idea where I was going to land today. Our lives are already complicated, difficult, and in many ways stressful. The last year, between all our personal stuff, and then a pandemic and lockdowns, it has not been easy since last Easter. Then this week, lockdown 3.0 hit. Are you getting tired like I am?

I want to briefly share with you three ways in which Jesus coming back from the grave gives us, in the face of all the struggles we are facing, hope for today, tomorrow, and beyond.

1) The promise of a life to come
ROM 6:23, 1 Pt 1:3-4, John 14:1-3, Rev 21:3-4
Jesus died and came back to life again so that we too could have a chance to die to our old selves that were plagued with sin and brokenness. And just as Christ was raised from the dead into a new life, we get to also be raised into a new life. It is a life where we are not only walking in a new and restored relationship with God as His children, but it is a life that looks forward to a life yet to come where we will, in eternity, be with Jesus in Heaven. And it is a place where there is no more sickness, no more death, no more crying, no more pain.

What does this mean? As bad as things get here, as stressful as your week, month, or year has been, as much as you may dread the week that is ahead, and as hard as the road is that you are walking on, this life isn’t it. There is so much more. As easy as it might be, don’t be discouraged in your situation now because this life is filled with troubles. But for those who have become part of God’s family, we have the future hope of Heaven that can not in any way be destroyed, stolen, or taken from us. We can face tomorrow because we know that there is a tomorrow coming that is worth waiting for.

2) The promise of inner peace today
John 16:33
The message is this: life will not always be easy. There will be things that are hard, painful, and stressful on a daily basis. There will be things that happen in your life that wont be fair. There will be things that you will be upset about. There will be conflict. There will be a lot of unpleasant things as a part of this life. And some things will be much harder than others to endure.

But we can have true peace because Jesus, by His coming back to life again truly overcame the world. He showed the ultimate display of power. He proved He was indeed God. And when we put our trust in Jesus, we know that we can have peace, knowing that the same Jesus who beat the power of death by coming back to life again is walking with us through whatever we now face. And as we experience the peace that comes from walking with Jesus through everything, knowing that He has overcome everything including death itself, we can face not only today but tomorrow with confidence because we are not alone.

3) The promise of unfailing love
The amazing thing today is that the love of God that comes through what Jesus did in dying and rising back to life cannot be stolen from us. Because Jesus has overcome the world and all of its darkness, His love can endure through the darkest of days, even when we don’t feel it. His love never gives up on us. And His love cannot be stolen away from us.

I want to, as I wrap up, leave you with the words of Romans 8:37-39, re-written a bit for our present lives:

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation including financial problems, friendship troubles, church conflicts, fighting with the kids, marriage struggles, work stress, health concerns, and even COVID 19 and its many lockdowns will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And to that, I say AMEN.

Sunday Morning Live Stream: God Reigns and the Son Shines

God Reigns and the Son Shines
Pastor Lyndsay | March 21, 2021

Introduction

Many people have a fascination with the weather…. and whether we have known a person for a long time or are meeting someone for the first time, talking about the weather has its place in a conversation. The conversation has often drifted to the weather as my friend and I plan an activity. What I have found interesting is that an Android phone and iPhone can give slightly different forecast for the same location – it reminds me that in life we can be looking in the same direction or reading the same material and our answer can differ…. it is all a matter of perspective. We want to know the future – even if it just a day or two ahead.

Somehow having the ability to plan – to be prepared for the day – is often great benefit – our day has direction. Well what if the future – our lives – have a solid direction each day!

The forecast was perfect ….
God reigns and the Son shines.

I enjoy this forecast as it reminds me that as we desire to live like Jesus how different the world would be – love, forgiveness and reconciliation would abound.

Each year I enjoy planning reflections around the events leading up to Easter, inviting us to be drawn closure into the loving presence of God. This morning I am going to offer those reflections to you. Love – forgiveness – reconciliation – were key topics Jesus taught disciples and people who gathered to hear him teach. I looked at Jesus’ response to the events leading up to his trial and death, and see love, forgiveness and reconciliation been lived out.

Station #1 – Preparing
Jesus teaching and response to Friendship & Love

For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have external life (John 3:16)

As Jesus as he began his public ministry he chose 12 men (his disciples) to journey with him. They lived in community, listened to Jesus teaching, were present at many miracles, and witnessed first hand how Jesus lived/responded to life.

Jesus constantly poured his love into his relationships with others.

Jesus was full aware that this Passover Festival would be different for him and his disciples, for Jesus’ “hour had come”. Even after all the teaching and time spent together – Jesus know the disciples would fall apart, their lives would be shattered.

In those final critical hours Jesus prepares his disciples – he gave them his departing gift, saying to them know this for this is important, key:

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. This is my command: Love each other.” Taken from John 15:9-15

Jesus is ensuring the disciples:
Knew his love for each of them and for them to remain in that love.
2) That they are friends of Jesus. Jesus is emphasizing the relational component.
3) Jesus combine this love & friendship – giving a new commandment; to love one another as He loved them.

Jesus loves and nurtured a deep friendship with his disciples:
even though they often “didn’t grasp his teaching,”
even though they lack courage to be to be a supportive friend to him
even though one friend betrayed him….
Jesus knew:
People disappoint.
People will misunderstand sometimes fail to hear what it is that we are saying.
People will accuse & judge you.
People will betray you.

However when time is short and the core message becomes important – he speaks of love.
Jesus could find love, compassion for people;
for Jesus knew – it was God, His Father he lived for
for Jesus was continually praying…. prayer nourishes of soul… as we talk with God, draw strength from God, as we lead by the Spirit of God.

QUESTION:
This Easter season:
How healthy is your friendship with the Lord?
Jesus command: “we love one another” – we get along
Are there friendships, relationships that need attention?

Our lives need to be focused on God’s desire for us … not people.
Jesus did not give up on you or me, he did not walk way from tough times – he went to the cross for us… so we may be forgiven…so we may be reconciled to God and to one another! Please don’t give up – find strength in prayer… even if all we can utter is one or two words.

Station #2 – The Trial
Jesus teaching and response to being …Accusation

Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of the religious law stood shouting accusations. Luke 23:10

In the heat of moment comments are misunderstood… spoken out of context – misrepresenting what was said. During these moments as accusation intensify…. It is tough to stay calm for for our human nature/instinct is to defend ourself. However Jesus remains claim, he don’t defend himself against the accusation.
Mark 14:55-59  The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him:  “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
Then the entire council took Jesus over to Pilot, the Roman governor. They began to state their case: “This man has been leading people astray by telling them not to pay taxes to the Roman government and by claiming to be the Messiah, a king.” Pilot turned to the leading priests and the town crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!” Then they became desperate. “But he is causing riots everywhere he goes, all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!” Luke 23:1-5

I wonder:

  • how did Jesus remain so calm – not engaging in a heated debate,
    `why did he not defend self.. pointing out their errors – Jesus was so level headed?
    Jesus did not look for people approval.
    Jesus remained true to God’s plan… Jesus had prayed for strength to endure… The power of prayer!
    Recall the story (Luke 8:1-11) As he (Jesus) was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus “this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What did you say?”

They keep demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “all right, stone her. Let those who have never send throw the first stone!”

Every clenched rock intended to be aimed at her held the weight of their own sins. How quickly they must have dropped the heaviness in their hands, knowing Jesus accurately named the truth of the callous hearts. When Jesus turn to the woman being accused, he met a fragile human being caught in the net of her weakness and confusion. Instead of harsh words of condemnation at her, Jesus spoke kindly and offered a way out.

Jesus provides the same opportunities for us when we are caught in the mess of our failures. We are not condemned by Jesus; instead he extends an invitation to amend our ways … graciously giving us a new beginning.

We need to be more like Jesus, offering a merciful attitude towards those we would prefer to condemn, criticize.

We need to acknowledge the injustice and sinfulness, yet we must also look at the stones in our heart and words we have spoken, a willingness to examine our own involvement.

QUESTION:
This Easter season:
Where do you find yourself in this section of the story?
What part do you play?
Are you the one being accused?
Are you the one accusing?

Station #3 At The Cross
Jesus teaching and response to…. forgiven

As we read through the Gospels – we encounter narratives where Jesus forgives someone or teaches on the topic. He not only does Jesus speaks about this; he acts on it, forgives those who caused him pain.
As Jesus hang on the cross, he prays “Father forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Forgiveness – because Jesus was focused on God, not people.

Jesus knew what was ahead and he knew Peter would abandon him. Jesus knew the heaviness, the pain Peter would carry as a result.
What was Jesus response to knowing Peter would deny him? Jesus spends time praying… Jesus prays for Peter…. specifically Peter’s faith – for Peter to believe he is forgive… listen.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthened and build up your brothers. (Luke 22:31-32)

When we stumble, when we fall, when we fail….Jesus knew our human response is to wallow – sit about – tumble around – in self pity. Jesus prays that Peterss faith should not fail…. come to me (Jesus), tell me you are sorry – I (Jesus) will forgive you… and entrust to you to strengthen and build up your brothers.

When we are hurt by others, our first response might be a natural, human one of anger, hurt, or desire for revenge. Being stabbed in the heart by another’s harsh words and actions leaves a sharp, emotional wound. Our wounded spirits do not heal quickly. Old, painful memories get triggered, attaching themselves to the pain which now intensifies.

As we begin to address the wound and begin to cleanse it…. the process stings….. Don’t let scar tissue grow over the wound….

QUESTION:
This Easter season: What are your wounds? There is cleansing, healing for our wounds… and it begins with
“Will I forgive and the love as Jesus has loved?”

Station #4 The Resurrection
Jesus teaching and response to…. Reconciliation

Reconcile: “to restore friendly relationship.” Restoring friendship does not come easily – for we want the one who hurt us – to come to us – to admit they hurt us and to expressed their regret. However, reconciliations do not work that way.

When it comes to rifts in human relationships, life was not all that different in the time of Jesus than it is in ours. However Jesus response is different to our natural/instinctive response:
Jesus doesn’t harden his heart,
Jesus doesn’t make others apologize first,
Nor does Jesus hold grudges.

I look to the story after the resurrection – when Jesus meets his disciples on the beach…. Peter is present this time. Jesus did not wait for Peter to say he was sorry. Peter never left Jesus heart, and Jesus wanted him to know that. Jesus restored their relationship and welcome Peter’s return with the questions: “Do you love me?” Peter’s – “You know that I love you” (John 21:15). Their relationship, their love was restored – it had grown deeper and richer. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, entrusting his sheep, his lambs into Peter’s care.

Resurrection – The stone to the tomb was rolled away and Jesus arose from the dead….victorious over sin & death…. Jesus offers Life.
Jesus invites us into a loving relationship where forgiveness and reconciliation abound.

QUESTION:
This Easter season:
Do you need the stone that is on your heart to be rolled away so the love Jesus offers can flow through you?
Pray ask God if you need to take first steps to reconcile with another?

Easter is a glorious season – a season that reminds us to always focus on God… know and receive friendship, love, forgiveness and restoration.

At the foot of the cross we, the church, are equal so let us continue to pray to God as individuals and as a church family for his leading, his guiding.

Sunday Morning Live Stream: God Has Come to Help His People

God Has Come To Help His People
Luke 7:11-17, Psalm 121
March 14th, 2021

This past week, God spoke to me and encouraged me in a powerful way through a passage, and I sensed that He wanted me to share that same passage with you this morning because there may be someone this morning who also needs to be encouraged by it.

If you have a Bible, please turn to Luke 7:11-17. As you are flipping there, I want to ask you to think of a time where you needed help, badly. And at just the right time, someone showed up (maybe someone you didn’t expect) to help. Maybe it was someone who helped you study or finish a project at school. Maybe it was someone who helped you finish a job. Maybe it was someone who came along and was a listening ear when you needed it the most. Maybe it was someone who brought over a meal to your house on a stressful day. Maybe it was someone coming over to watch the kids to give you a break. Maybe it was someone who was just being a good friend.

Everyone remember something? How did you feel when you were all by yourself – when you knew you needed help, but none was there? And do you remember how you felt when you got the help you so desperately needed? I want to share with you a time where Jesus showed up, very unexpected, and helped in a way that likely no one had planned for.

Luke 7:11-12
Jesus is walking to a town called Nain, SE of Nazareth, his hometown. He is being followed by his twelve disciples, and a large crowd. Crowds have been following Him for a bit now as word spread about who He was. People came to hear Him teach, to see Him perform miracles, maybe in some cases hoping that some of His power might rub off on them, or that He could do a miracle for them. Whatever the reason, a large crowd is walking with Him on this day.

As they likely are getting close to the town, they are already hearing a commotion, a racket, a lot of noise… but hold on to that for later.

As Jesus gets to the town gate, he meets a procession of people carrying out a man on an open coffin, being taken outside the town to be buried as in those days, dead bodies were considered unclean, and they would have to burry them outside of the city walls to remain ceremonially clean according to the religious law.

This particular man who had died was the only son of a widow woman. This is important to know as this mom was about to have her life change drastically. When her husband died, she became considered one of the weakest members of society. The reason is that her husband would have been her provider and protector in that culture. In those days, women did not enjoy the same freedoms and rights that we now are blessed and enjoy having. She would not of had a job and would have not had the protection that her husband would have brought.

Her son would have taken over caring for her, but with him dying, she now had no family to care for her. She was on her own with no one to protect her or provide for her. She was all alone, was hurting from the loss of her son, and needed help. Can you picture her pain, her heart aching, her loss?

Remember I mentioned about Jesus hearing a commotion as He got close to town? There was a large crowd that was with the widow, and they would have all been mourning, but not like we think of funeral processions now with all the quiet respect. There would have been noise, and lots of it. There would have been professional mourners hired who would have been wailing loudly and publicly, leading the crowd in doing the same. There would have been flutes blowing randomly, and cymbals crashing. It would have been a racket!

Luke 7:13
Jesus approaches the woman, and what do we see? He was moved to the core of His being. When we see that His heart went out to her, the exact translation of “heart” or “compassion” is that He was moved to the very depths of the seat of the emotions – in our culture, the heart. Yet to understand His reaction, we need to understand where the seat of the emotions was in those times. The bowels were considered where the seat of the emotions was.

Rather than just His heart breaking, He was moved with a gut wrenching sorrow and compassion for this woman, one that would have affected Him to the pits of His stomach. And as He saw her, it was almost like an inward gasp because of feeling so strong a compassion for her. And out of that, He says to her with absolute love and care (plus maybe a bit of knowing what He was about to do), He says “don’t cry”.

Luke 7:14-15
Jesus goes to where the attendants are carrying this man out on this open coffin, and He touches it silently. And instantly everything freezes. (Kind of like when I used to live in Davidson and went for coffee at the local coffee shop and everything stopped when I entered the door as the locals watched this ‘outsider’ come into their coffee shop).

The reason why everything froze? Jesus just knowingly made Himself “unclean” according to the law. He had just touched where a dead body was. This would have almost been scandalous. And in shock, they stop.

And then Jesus does something even more weird. He talks to the dead man and says as if this dead guy can hear Him, “hey young man, I say to you (note that…. it is important as Jesus is placing His authority and power on the words He is about to say), get up! And then the unbelievable happens. This guy, even though dead, because of the authority and power of Jesus’ words (due to Jesus being God) heard, came back to life again, and sat up and began to talk. Anyone ever thought how odd this would have seemed? Maybe unbelievable? Yet, this shows the power of the God we serve, that on His very command, everything comes under authority and power, and He even has power over death and life itself.

At that, this man goes back to His mother. And his passing only a short time before is a thing of the past.

Luke 7:16-17
The people were filled with a holy fear, reverence, an awe. It was like they said “wow… what just happened here?? That was so incredible….God is so powerful.” And then they worshipped God.

They say that a great prophet has come. Why? Because several hundred years prior, in the same region, the prophet Elijah did a very similar miracle where he brought back to life the only son of a widow (1 Kg 17:17-23), Elisha also, in the same region (after Elijah) brought a son back to life. These people would have known those miracles. They would have heard the accounts in the Torah. And here is Jesus, doing the same thing.

Then notice what they said: God has come to help His people. I don’t think anything needs to be added to that. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came that day and helped His people. And because God showed up, because Jesus did what only He could do as the Son of God, news spread, and people heard about the amazing power of Jesus Christ.

So what??

God has come to help His people. And He has come today to help you. He sees whatever you are facing, and He knows your need. And He wants to meet you in it today and bring you to a place of wholeness and healing.

-> Who are you today? The mother, or the son?

Maybe you are the mother. You are carrying the pain of life. You are carrying the pain of loss. Something has happened and it has wounded you, hurt you, left you feeling alone. Something has happened that has you worried about your future. Something has happened and you feel like you can’t carry on. You need hope.

Maybe you are the son. Something has happened, and truly, you feel like the very life you used to find purpose in has been robbed from you. Something has happened and you feel empty and of no value. You feel day to day like you are just existing, but with no direction, no focus, no anything – you are just going through the motions. And you need to be brought back to life.

This week, God used this passage to personally speak to me about who I was and where I was at. I can tell you who I was even up to earlier this week. I was both… I needed hope, and I needed life.

-> But let me tell you an amazing truth: God has come to help His people! I say this from personal experience. And today, wherever you are at, He wants to help you too with whatever it is you are facing. He feels compassion for you, He wants to comfort you, He wants to restore hope to you, and He wants to breathe new life into your weary and empty feeling spirit.

-> God has come to help His people. And when we walk in the healing and wholeness He brings, the hope and the life, through those things this church becomes a vibrant life giving place, this community becomes attractive, and the news about what Jesus does and who He is spreads around our community and the world.

May the words of Psalm 121 be an encouragement to you:

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Sunday Morning Live Stream: Protect Your Head

Finding Strength: Protect Your Head
February 21, 2021
Ephesians 6:17

I think we would all agree that what you put on your head is very important. When you are doing a dangerous job, or something where there could be a hazard of injury to your head, you want to be wearing the right gear. A hard hat or helmet is a very good idea. The reason why is because it only takes a split second for an injury to happen, and an injury to the head can drastically change your life. Having the right gear on is a must.

Just as wearing the right gear on your head will help save you and your brain from some potentially dangerous and life changing injuries, making sure you are wearing the proper gear spiritually will keep your spiritual mind safe.

I want to invite you to flip to Ephesians 6:17, where we will pick up today. And once again, a quick recap where we are at. We are in a series together (that will take us a few more weeks) about the fact that as followers of Jesus, we are engaged in a battle. It isn’t a physical battle against people. It isn’t a religious battle against those who we view as being against the Christian faith. 2 Cor 10:3-4 has a description of this battle. It is an internal spiritual battle. And this series is about us putting on the strength, the protection, and the armor of God so that we can face the challenges and battles of this life that seek to bring us down spiritually.

As we talk about this protection and armour, there are now five things that I think we need to remember that are crucial in our understanding of the battle and the armour we are told to wear.
1) The same grace that restores us to God through Jesus puts us into conflict with Satan. Our enemy does not like it that we are following Jesus and are in a restored relationship with God. So he will do whatever he can to stop us from having that closeness.
2) It is in the routine of life that we face the challenges from our enemy. It isn’t always some big, easy to spot attack. It is in the routine things where our guards are down and we aren’t expecting it.
3) You can’t get by on your own strength and being strong enough. We do not have it in us to be able to win this battle.
4) The Armor we are told to put on isn’t decorative, it is foundational. We need this armor to be able to properly live as a follower of Jesus and engage in the spiritual battle that comes as a result. The armor, because of who it belongs to, and because of who puts it on us, is a tool of victory.
5) We need to stand firm in what Christ has already done. The armour that we are being told to put on, the protection in the battle is possible because of what Christ has already done for us. Because of His love, His giving of Himself, His forgiveness, and the restoring of peace with God, we are able to have this protection and armour, and stand firm in it.

Key Question:

Are you wearing your helmet? Is your spiritual mind protected?

EPH 6:17
1) The helmet: The soldier’s protection and confidence
We have talked about many of the other important armour pieces, and how they all protected vital areas or did important things. Of equal importance was the helmet. The reason for this is because the helmet protected the head. The head is the control centre for the whole body. It is from the head that all your organs, limbs, and other body parts receive their marching orders. And when the head (specifically the brain) gets injured, your body might function dramatically different, or stop functioning all together.

The head was a vulnerable spot, and a soldier who left their head unprotected was a soldier who was asking to not return home. The helmet was needed for protection of the head and brain. It was generally made of bronze, like a bowl with padding on the inside that one wore on their head. And it covered enough to also protect the brow, cheeks, and neck. The helmet was strong enough that it would deflect much of the attacks that would come against it. The helmet brought protection.

As well, the helmet was traditionally the last piece of armour that they would put on after everything else was put on. And as a soldier went into battle, they could march in with confidence knowing that their head (which was vital) was fully protected from the attacks, as well as confident that they were fully dressed for battle.

2) The helmet: protecting our thoughts, feelings, and actions
Our spiritual mind needs protection too. What the brain is to the body, the mind is to the soul. The spiritual mind is the control center for our spiritual body. This is why it is so important to guard what we think.

What you think, you begin to feel. What you then feel, you decide to do. Thoughts lead to feelings, which then leads to action. And if you are thinking wrong, you will be feeling wrong, which then causes you to function wrong. And if you are not careful, out of functioning wrong, you drive yourself further into thinking wrong.

Let’s look at an example of how this works out:
a. The person who is on a diet, but decides they are hungry when driving by A&W. They are not hungry, but they start thinking they are as they drive by. And if they don’t check that thought as being false, they will begin to feel hungry. And if they don’t treat those feelings as just being a fickle thing, they will likely go in and buy the burger. They eat, and then feel bad afterwards. They may start thinking of themselves as a failure, then feeling like a failure, then act on it by not doing the diet anymore.

Remember how I said earlier that the enemy uses whatever tactic he can to stop us? This is one of those things, and it is very effective. If Satan can get us thinking wrong about ourselves, he is aware that unchecked thoughts lead to unchecked feelings, which then can lead to wrong choices. The mind is probably the most vulnerable spot because what happens in the mind can affect the rest of the body. Even this week as I was working on this message, this was a reality for me as Satan used something to put negative thoughts, thoughts of doubt, thoughts of inadequacy in my head. And very quickly I saw how those thoughts turned into feelings. And I had to bring those into check. And praise God, they did come into check.

This is why we need our helmet also. Our spiritual mind needs protection. And in it,
our feelings and actions also become protected.

3) The helmet: our confidence

Why does our helmet bring us confidence? It is because of what our helmet actually is. If you haven’t figured out by now, I am not talking today about a physical metal helmet. I am talking about what Eph 6:17 calls the helmet of salvation. It is the reality and assurance of what Jesus did for you by dying for you and taking on the cost of your sin and brokenness that you could not pay so that you could be made right with God, have your brokenness toward Him repaired, and live in a renewed relationship with Him. It is the assurance and reality of who we belong to that protects our spiritual minds from harm.

I like how 1 Thess 5:8 talks about the ‘helmet’. The future hope of salvation brings confidence. And when I say this, I am not saying that if you are saved now, you need to re-ask Jesus into your life again later. If you have done that, you have already received the gift of salvation. It is referring to the daily putting on of the hope of what you know will be coming in the future because of what you have already accepted by faith. The reason why your eternal position with God is called a helmet is because the hope of what you have through Christ undercuts every attack the enemy can bring into your mind. You see, if Satan can cause us to doubt our standing with God, we become vulnerable. The reality is that on a daily basis, our minds are bombarded with thoughts that challenge every notion of who God is, who He says we are, and what He has done for us.

But if we can guard our mind with the truth and assurance of what Jesus has done, it renders the enemy completely powerless. His attacks aimed for our minds hit and bounce off. It is only when we walk without guarding our minds that those attacks get through.

Are you wearing your helmet?

Sometimes keeping on our helmet is hard. We get distracted, we let our guards down, and the enemy causes thoughts to creep in. And I would suspect that even today, some of us are being taken captive by thoughts that we know aren’t right, things we know don’t come from God, and are not true. And we may have allowed them to take root in our minds, work their way into our souls, and come out in the way we live. Things like pressures of who we should or shouldn’t be, the heaviness of expectations, the need to overachieve, the lures of power and prestige, or the rawness of old emotional wounds and bitterness, the fallout of failures, etc…

So what are some ways that we can consciously keep our guard up and keep our helmets on?

a. Take every thought captive 2 Cor 10:5

Make use of the power you have through Christ to demolish and knock down those strongholds that come into your mind. Recognize the thoughts that are not from Him, call them for what they are, and ask God to take those thoughts from you and replace them with His truth.

b. Set your mind on things above – surrender your thoughts Col 3:2

Focus on eternity, the things of God, the things that truly matter. Don’t get bogged down in the nitty gritty of the daily grind here. Don’t focus on the small distractions. Focus on what it means to live as a follower of Christ.

c. Remember God’s character and proven faithfulness

God’s character and faithfulness do not change, even when everything else around us does. Focus on God’s unchanging character, and let that be a rock and anchor point for you.

d. Have your mind renewed and transformed Rom 12:2

Let Christ change the way you think. Let Him renew your mind and restore it from the brokenness of life and into a new pattern of healthiness.

Sunday Morning Live Stream: Faith

Finding Strength: Faith
Ephesians 6:16

Feb 14th 2021

Several weeks ago I mentioned that I like some of the Marvel Superheroes, like Iron Man, because he has a really neat suit of armour that allows him to fly, has its own built-in intelligence, and seems almost indestructible. I also like another superhero… Captain America. He is strong, he is generally an all-around nice guy, and he has a really strong shield that he uses to protect himself. It is so strong that you pretty much can’t destroy it. That shield is used to defend himself from the attacks of his enemies, but he also uses it to go on the offense and take his enemies out.

Do you know that we have a shield that can defend us against the attacks from our enemy, but can also be used to help us push our enemy back on the offensive as well?

I Invite you to turn to Eph 6:16, and as you do, just a reminder where we are at. We are in a series together (that will take us to Easter) about putting on the strength, the protection, and the armor of God so that we can face the challenges of this life that seek to bring us down spiritually.

There are four things though that we need to understand that are crucial as we talk about putting this armor on:
1) The same grace that restores us to God through Jesus puts us into conflict with Satan. Our enemy does not like it that we are following Jesus and are in a restored relationship with God. So he will do whatever he can to stop us from having that closeness.
2) It is in the routine of life that we face the challenges from our enemy. It isn’t always some big, easy to spot attack. It is in the routine things where our guards are down and we aren’t expecting it.
3) You can’t get by on your own strength and being strong enough. We do not have it in us to be able to win this battle.
4) The Armor we are told to put on isn’t decorative, it is foundational. We need this armor to be able to properly live as a follower of Jesus and engage in the spiritual battle that comes as a result. The armor, because of who it belongs to, and because of who puts it on us, is a tool of victory.

With that in mind, I ask you the following question:

Are you leaving yourself open to attack or are you walking in, fully dressed for battle?

Ephesians 6:16
1) Every soldier needs a shield

Paul mentions a shield here because it was a very important part of a soldier’s armour and uniform. When you think of a shield, chances are you are thinking of a round metallic shield worn on the arm. And while that was a shield that they would have used, there was another shield that this was referring to.

This shield measured 4ft X 2.5ft. It was the size of a small door, and covered much of the soldier’s body. It was made of two layers of laminated wood and overlaid with canvas and leather. It would have been quite thick.

It was useful, because of it’s thickness and strength in protecting against a javelin strike, or the blow of a sword. It was also was a good defense against flaming arrow attacks. Sometimes from the walls of a city / fortress, flaming arrows would get shot at them. So not only would they have arrows coming at them, but flame balls too. These shields could be raised overhead and would catch the arrows. As well, shields were often soaked in water so that when these flaming arrows were shot, they would be extinguished upon contact.

The shield was a great defense tool. There is something called the “phalanx formation” where soldiers would all huddle together and build a surrounding wall of shields on all sides around them and above them and would be able to put their spears and swords through the gaps to fight off any enemies. With that in mind, they also used an offense tactic called “tertudo” or tortoise where they would, in that huddle slowly move forward. They were protected against arrows overhead, of enemies coming at them, and they could, in this large fortified, armoured mass, push forward against their foes.

A shield was an important part of the armour. Every soldier needed a shield.

2) Our protection is a person

Like I mentioned before (the whole premise of this series) we are in a battle, and are under spiritual attack as followers of Jesus. As we engage in this battle, we have a shield to protect us. Our shield is a person. Our shield is trusting in God through Jesus Christ.

Do you notice a recurring theme in all the messages in this series? While each piece of armour is different and has a different function, the foundation of them is all the same. They all the pieces of armour all come back to one thing: faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ.

This is not a novel concept. This is how God views Himself. See Ps 3:3, 18:2, 33:20, Prov 30:5. God is our shield. Jesus Christ is our shield. And it is faith in Him that puts Him between us and our enemy.

When we think about trust and faith, it is important to note that this isn’t a blind faith. It isn’t a gamble where you are closing your eyes and putting your trust in a protection that you are not sure you know even is there. It isn’t an unknowing faith that does not come through relationship. When we think about the faith that protects, we need to agree that this is a committed, intentional, informed, and conscious faith that is based on a first hand growing knowledge, love, and relationship with God. It comes out of you first trusting in Jesus as your Lord and growing from that.

Our protection is a person. Our shield is trusting in God through Jesus Christ.

3) Our shield completely protects

Remember what I said about “phalanx formation” and “testudo”? This is important to remember as we think about how God shelters us, how Jesus protects us.

We have flaming arrows, we have darts dipped in combustible, flammable material that have been set ablaze that the enemy is shooting at us. And at times, it may feel like we are walking in a rainstorm of flaming arrows falling down or coming at us.

Yet if we allow Him to, if we get out of the way and stop trying to defend ourselves on our own and take what God is offering, God longs to completely protect our hearts and minds, by His Spirit, through Jesus Christ. He longs to completely surround us (like the shields in the formation) so that the flaming darts of the enemy don’t get through. He wants to completely guard our hearts from the emotional attacks, our minds from the mind games. He wants to completely protect us in His presence so that as the attack is going on, and we experience the attack all around us, the enemy can not destroy.

He wants to surround us and help us to walk in the victory over the enemy that He has already won. He also wants to surround us in His protection so that we can, in Him move forward and push back against the enemy and take back the ground the enemy has tried to steal. As our complete shield, He wants to help us on the defensive, but also on the offensive (as we walk forward, guarded by the shield of faith, walking with the shoes of the Gospel of Peace – remember that from last week?).

The image of the flaming arrow reminds me why we need to walk in His complete protection. Arrows pierce and flames engulf. You see, the enemy wants to shoot his arrow at you and wound your heart, and keep you from walking with God. He wants to knock you down. But beyond that, the enemy wants your mind to be fully engulfed with whatever distraction or desire that he can grip your mind with so that you are too distracted to follow Christ.

We are our own worst enemies at times. In our own feelings of strength and independence, we place ourselves outside of the daily protection of God by not submitting our hearts and minds daily to Him. When we walk in this independence, we walk in a place where we are inviting ourselves to get hit by the attack.

The good news is though that even when we do this, even when we walk in this independence and find ourselves wounded in the war, Jesus, in His love always invites us back into His complete protection. He continues to forgive us, heal us, and protect us. Our shield completely protects.

Are you leaving yourself open to attack or are you walking in, fully dressed for battle?

Are you prepared for the flaming arrows?

What are some of the flaming arrows today that the enemy fires at us in an attempt to knock us down? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here goes some things that not only have the ability to wound us, but also engulf our minds: Doubt, Fear, Bitterness, Discontentment, Materialism / Consumerism, Temptation / Compromise, Narcissism, Inadequacy, Insecurities.

One more thing: Where do the flaming arrows come from? The big picture is obviously Satan and his legion of demons, but let’s think small picture. When we think of the flaming arrows flying, we think of them coming from the enemy forces on the wall in front of us, shooting them towards us and those flaming arrows raining down on us. But do you know where one of the biggest places the enemy likes to shoot the flaming arrows from is?

The enemy likes to find the gaps in the armour that we have created, and shoot one arrow of division, strife, and conflict in. And then he watches as we turn on each other and engage in a fight of friendly fire. The reason why he does this is because it is one of the most effective ways to stop a church from moving. “Some of the most lethal arrows come from within our own camp”, our own side. Sometimes, our tongues become those flaming darts (see James 3). With what we say, we can inflict a lot of damage.

The good news is that when we walk wearing the shield of faith, we rob the enemy of the chance to stir up conflict, division, and bitterness among us. When we are walking with the shield of faith on, surrounded in the presence of Jesus, we do not shoot our own. But instead, we walk together in unity, harmony, and love, focused together on following Jesus. And in the bigger picture, when we walk wearing the shield of faith, we can stand in the face of the enemy and his attacks, and say what David did before he fought Goliath in 1 Sam 17:45.

Let’s walk in that boldness, with the shield of faith protecting us, knowing that He is fighting for us, He is protecting us, and He has already won.