June 20, 2021
I love a good, fresh baked cookie. I really love a good Peanut Butter cookie actually. Not the ones that are hard like a brick because they have been baked too long… no, the really soft ones that melt in your mouth when you eat them.
We have a friend of ours who one day made Peanut Butter cookies. I wasn’t there that day, but I can imagine the scene as she got all her ingredients together and prepared to make what was hopefully to be wonderfully tasty peanut butter cookies. She was following a recipe that was in the family, passed down from someone else, and was known to be quite good! And all should have been good, except that on the copy she was given, the measurements on one thing were wrong.
Rather than calling for teaspoons of baking powder, the recipe she was following called for tablespoons. She thought that sounded odd, but followed the recipe anyways. Subsequently to say, said cookies did not turn out as planned. And as she tasted the cookie, it was obvious… they were dry, powdery, and tasted like eating sawdust.
The best part of this story though is that knowing these cookies were bad, she purposely waited until some unsuspecting company came over and gladly served it to them like nothing was wrong. Rumor has it that they were so dry that when the company coughed as they ate it, dust came out their mouths.
Having the right measurement matters. It is pretty hard to have an accurate recipe if the measurements are off. What do you use to measure your own personal value and worth? What do you use to measure whether you are worthy of acceptance or love from others, or even God Himself? What are you measuring yourself by? It is pretty hard for you and I to have an accurate view of who we are and who God sees us to be if the measurements we use are off.
Truth has to be the standard of measurement
Unless we come to the standard of actual truth, we will never be able to see ourselves accurately. I want to land in Scripture to show you the standard of truth by which we need to measure ourselves, but first, we need to look at the problem at hand.
There are lots of things that we mistake for the truth. There are lots of things that we use to measure our worth, value, acceptability, likeability, lovability and status with. Yet as good as they may sound, yet are impersonal, biased, unfair, ever changing, and not trustworthy. And as good and solid as these standards seem for measuring up who you are, because they can’t do the job accurately, they will always disappoint and leave a core part of your life feeling empty.
a. Possessions & Wealth:
i) The idea that the more I have, the more I buy and accumulate, the greater my material value, the more important I am. Because of what I have, I am better than others.
ii) We see this happen today in the wide disparity between how those who are in higher classes are treated vs lower classes.
iii) The pitfall of this is that no amount of stuff or money can truly make you complete and satisfied. There will always be someone who has more, and seems more successful. Even those who appear outwardly to have everything are driven to have more by their own insecurity and belief that they need more to be someone. And you could become driven, no matter how much you have, to have more so you can be more. iv) Truth has to be the standard of measurement.
b. Body image
i) If I look a certain way, have a certain figure, have a certain style, etc… then I am attractive, then I am noticed, then people want me and will like me and maybe love me.
ii) Social media, tv, internet tells us what body image we ideally need to have.
iii) Starts young, and continues on through adult years.
iv) No matter how you look, there is always someone who will be more fit, be better looking, etc…
v) Truth has to be the standard of measurement.
c. Position and Power
i) If I have the prized spot on the team, the #1 job in the office, I move up the corporate ladder, I am someone who can tell everyone else what to do, then will I be respected, then will I have value, then will I matter.
ii) Often, the view from the top seems to be the loneliest. And the higher you get, the more isolated it seems you can get from those who used to accept you just for who you were.
iii) Truth has to be the standard of measurement.
d. Driven to be perfect – grades, sports accolades
i) This is the idea that what ever you do, just don’t fail. Those who fail have no value. This could be at school with grades, on the sports team (scoring and being the best of the best), never letting anyone down at work and never failing, being the perfect parent who never does wrong to your kids. And if you fail in any of these, you must be the worst person on earth.
ii) It sounds drastic, but it is a real fear people have. Failure scares people, and that failure needs to be avoided because somehow, failure makes you less of a person.
iii) Some of us have grown up in homes where failure wasn’t an option. Maybe today on Father’s Day, the image you have of your dad was someone who pushed you really hard, and drove into you the idea that failure made you less of a person.
iv) Being driven for success with no chance ever to fail isn’t a healthy standard. Why? Because it is impossible, and it sets you up to fail. Avoiding failure = failure. And when not failing becomes how you measure up to others, you will become more and more insecure, more and more driven to have to be better and prove yourself, and in the process, you fail.
v) Truth has to be the standard of measurement.
i) This is the idea that as long as I have a relationship, (a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, the right amount of friends) that I suddenly have value, meaning, belonging, acceptance, etc… I need others to complete me and make me measure up to where I should be.
ii) If this is you today, don’t buy in. People cant fill that need. First, it puts an unhealthy expectation on others that they can never fill. Second, if the relationship hits rough times, your own sense of worth and value is shattered. Third, you are putting unhealthy expectations on yourself that you have no value outside of what being with someone gives you. And when you don’t have someone, you feel empty, unlovable, unacceptable, worthless. Fourth, it opens the door to people pleasing and co-dependancy.
iii) Truth has to be the standard of measurement
i) This is the idea that as long as I am busy doing for others, and busy doing things, I have value to people, to society. People will want me, I will measure up to everyone else around me.
ii) Two words: Burn out. And when that hits, you wont be able to do all those things that give you “value”. And that is devastating. Identity and meaning is lost.
iii) Truth has to be the standard of measurement
g. Image and reputation
i) What people think about me is ultimately what gives me value. So I work hard to always put out a good image, always be strong, always be likable, always have an image that people can accept.
ii) Problem is, when image and reputation are what matter, the rest of life that does not match up gets ignored, hidden, and shoved away behind a mask. And you live a double life.
iii) And at some point, the mask always crumbles and the truth always comes out. You can’t base your value off of how well you live a double life.
iv) Truth has to be the standard of measurement
All of these things that we often find ourselves looking to, even without realizing it, lead us down a road to disappointment. They leave us longing for more. And they leave us with a failed view of who we are. And they certainly do nothing to show us how God sees us.
This is why truth has to be the standard of measurement. And the only place we can ever find solid, foundational, 100% trustworthy, complete, and perfect truth for our lives today is in God’s Word, the Bible. So let’s take off our clouded lenses for just a few moments, and look with fresh eyes, and hearts open to the Holy Spirit to speak to us the TRUTH by which we can base ourselves in.
1) He knows you
God knows everything about you. He knows you intimately and personally, completely in a way that no position, no amount of power, no possession, no reputation, no relationship, nothing else ever can. He made you, formed you, knew every detail of you whom He was creating. Every day of your life has been detailed before Him, and He wrote the pages. And even now, He watches closely and personally because He wants to know you. And there is nowhere you can go where He can’t see you, hear you, or reach out to you.
Truth has to be the standard of measurement. And in this case, the first truth is that you have a Father who truly does know you… every detail.
Jer 31:3, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:37-39,
2) He loves you
Not only does the Father know you, but even in spite of knowing your failures and mistakes, He still loves you so much. He loves you with an everlasting love. This means it never ends. From before time began to after time ends, He will still be loving you.
He loves you so much that He, knowing even that you and I didn’t deserve it, came in the person of Jesus, so that He voluntarily could give up His life for the consequences of all the wrong and evil you and I have and ever will do, so that we could be made right with Him. When we didn’t deserve it, He showed His love by dying for us.
And this love does not end. It can not be stolen or taken away. There is nothing that can remove us out of His never ending, all surrounding, overwhelming, impossible seeming love of God, our Father.
1 John 3:1, 1 Pt 2:9, Gal 4:7, John 1:12
3) He invites you into the family
Because of His seemingly crazy and unexplainable love for you, through what He did for you in Jesus, He invites you to be a part of His family as His child! He is your Father, you can be His child.
He invites you out of the way of life you used to live, where it was empty in relation to eternity, was driven by yourself and your desires, into a life driven by His light and goodness. He invites you to become His child, His special people, chosen by Him to be set apart for Him to share the wonderful goodness of your Father.
He frees you from being a slave to disobedience into being His child, living in the legacy of an heir to the rich family inheritance of eternity with Him that He leaves for you.
And through receiving the truth of His invitation to you, and believing in it and acting on that belief, He gives you the right (legal right, not just a fleeting option) to become His child.
Truth has to be the standard of measurement. And when we are looking at who we are, whether we have worth and value, whether we are accepted, likeable, and loved, we measure up simply because He knows us, He loves us, and He invites us into the family. This gives us value, purpose, and meaning. This gives us significance. This gives us life. This is the measurement that matters.
The amazing thing is that we had nothing special about ourselves. Nothing that should attract God to us. Nothing that He should show us any sort of consideration. By any other standards, we did not in any way measure up. Yet God, even though He is the creator and King of the universe, even though He holds all of life in His hands, even though creation trembles before Him because of his sheer power, awesomeness, and majesty, even though we can not physically be in His full presence and fully see Him physically because we would be annihilated, even though we are told to have a healthy holy fear and respect for Him, even though we by nature are people who continually sin and disobey on an epic level towards Him and there is nothing in this universe that would cause Him to show us any special consideration, this very God also is our Father. And as our Father, His heart is filled with love for us. Through Jesus, He invites us into relationship with Him. His heart is filled with infinite mercy towards us. And He longs to spend all of eternity with us, a Father with His children forever. And this Father’s Day, you have the option to bring Him the gift of your heart and your life.
How Are You Shaped In Challenging Times?
Sunday May 9, 2021
Children and those with a childlike heart – I have an activity for you. I would like you to make a paper airplane….. you can do that right? Go ahead. How long does it take you to make a paper airplane…. 15- 30 – 60 – 90 sec – what you are done! That was amazingly quick…. does it fly? Cool. If you have not made your paper airplane let us make one together – listen to some instruction of how to make one… it flies too.
“Todays focus is on How Are We Shaped In Challenging Time”
Now I wonder what are some challenging times you have faced?
- Each time we come up with a tough challenging time – we are going to trim the wings of the airplane: (because we know it is challenging to fly when wings are cut)
** Can you help me with what is a tough time…..?
not getting a hug when I see people I love …. that is tough!
Now your turn….. call out a challenging time
yes that is tough
wow that is tough
Challenging times, difficult times, shape us. Just like the airplane has changed its shape.
Let us all open up the hood of our paper airplanes to see its engine…. open up the paper and lay it flat…. see anything?
This one has the shape of a cross… it took a little longer to make! However it reminds me:
that in tough/challenging times God is with me.
that it is God who is my strength
3) not to rush ahead on my own …. it is important to pray – listen for/ask for God to help…. for God will carry us in tough/hard/difficult times.
So remember be shaped by God’s word…
We all face difficult/tough/challenging times in our lives and how we navigate the situation is critical as it shapes us – it impact our call to respond to life. So when I face those times – I think about biblical stories or a biblical character – trying to see if there is one that resonates with my heart, my soul, my mind during that circumstance.
My favourite biblical character is Moses … So I often look at Moses’ journey in life. For today I share what resonated with me as life presents challenges/tough times. This Scripture is taken from the story of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) and their tough/difficult/challenging experience in Egypt.
Then the Lord said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated in Egypt; I have heard them cry out to be rescued from their slave drivers. I know all about their sufferings, and so I have come down to rescue them.
Did you hear that?
God had seen cruel treatment,
God has heard them cry out and
God known all about their suffering
God response is to his people -
“so I have come down to rescue them.”
Our relational God “comes down” to be in the midst of the people and their circumstances.
Our Relational God -who knows us – knows our need for guidance. So he comes to be with his people.
Does that not give you hope?
Does that not encourage you in the midst of you challenges, tough times?
****That is the story of the Israelites. What is your story – what is/are the challenges you face in life?
Who are you crying out to in challenging times?
who or what is shaping your heart, your soul, your mind during challenging – difficult- tough times?
who do you call out to…. ?
who are you listening to…?
who is walking/guiding you…?
God is in the midst of our life circumstance – in our object lesson the cross was at the core of the paper airplane – it did not look like it originally did – beautifully and unexpectedly – at the core was the cross!
…are you allowing God to be at the core?
…are you allowing God to shape you?
In life our character:
can grow by feeding on external circumstances or it
can grow by feeding on the internal strength and love of the Lord
What shape is your internal – spiritual heart in?
Has hardship/challenges hardened your spiritual heart? If so, delight and rest in these words
Hear these words from Ezekiel 36:26
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
God can turn a heart stone to flesh pumping love of Lord through us
b) Do your actions align with your spiritual heart? Do you present well/health to people yet your heart holds grudges, bitterness, anger Hear these words form 1 Samuel 16:7b
“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God sees – turn to him and release the grudges, bitterness – receive in return joy and peace.
c) Our relationship with God takes time to nurture…. we need to tend to it otherwise like the Parable of sower who scatters seed ….found in Matthew13:6-9
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
The world is facing challenging times – Allow God to shape you. Allow the cross to be the at the core of who you are. Jesus at the centre of your life circumstance. Perhaps you long to experience joy again, the abundant blessing of God – pause right now and talk with God tell him…. your longing, your desire.
Let us long to be people God shaped to encourage others to come follow Jesus – who is the Giver of True Life… Jesus our hope and strength.
Some ideas that can help us be SHAPED by God so we have strength and hope in times of trouble/challenges.
Read the Word of God – get to know God – discover that God is relational – we talk about how important relationship is and spending time building into one another life …. it beings with a healthy relationship with God.
There are great Bible Apps that can keep us daily in the Word of God, present a daily devotion. Reading an actual copy of the Bible. These can be a few verses , they need to be Meaningful, helping us Grow in faith. Keeping is connected to scripture presents opportunities to discover more about God.
Memory verse – Mrs Faye has been helpful and I know she has plans to continue with Bible memory verse – let us rise up and learn to grow strong in God Word.
Talk openly to God sharing what is truly going on in our heart. Importantly we also need to LISTEN.
sit and be still in God’s presence… God I just want to be with you.
Sometime we struggle to find words:
use a passage of scripture – often psalms
use lyrics from a song or listen to a song as a prayer
- literal breath – Yahweh inhale & exhale
- short prayers
Name of God which reveal his attribute
(Shalom (peace); Jehovah Jire (Provider); El Shaddai (All sufficient One/ Lord Almighty)
Image of God – Shepherd, Light, Gardner, Potter
I CANNOT (hands down) – YOU CAN LORD (hands raised)
Gather up concerns/needs (cup hands), then offer (keep hands cupped and extend them forward to God) and then give release them into God’s care (raise and open hands).
lift hands in thanksgiving or pleading with God
tears – of sadness, grief or joy
Immense yourself into a biblical story
Engage with the story and pray as if talking to Jesus who is present in story.
Being in God’s Word, Praying are ways in which we are shaped by the Spirit of God.
So I encourage you to allow yourself to be shaped by God rather than being shaped by the circumstances surrounding you.
Be assured that in joyful times, in challenging times the Spirit of God which is within us…. longs to lead us, guide us, counsel us… providing wisdom from God to shape our response to life.
Let us be shaped into relational people of God, reflecting the love of God to those who are around us.
Let us be generations that gather together, grow together, goes together into the world – our homes, our community – shaped by God sharing generously the Good News of Jesus.
continue to reach out and connect with someone within the generation and someone from your community
continue to read scripture & pray
continue to pray for leadership in world, country, province, church
Special – we ask that you take time this week to draw a picture (children & you can call the office and) and send it to a shut-in from our church family
you can call the office and provide a name and address
or drop picture off in mailbox and we will post
Mother’s Day – take time to connect your Mother today, the women who have been positive influences in your life. If not possible to connect offer silent prayer of thanks or perhaps forgiveness.
Please remember Verlie, Doug, Jasmine, Nick and Chris – mail a card
Please remember Pastor Dave, Shannon, Josh, Andrew & Caleb too – meal, cards
Please remember Carol and Peter – call, card, email
Please remember Larry and Joan too.
Remember our paper airplane – those built quick did not have the shape of the cross. Those that took a little longer to make for they took time to listen to instruction – were shaped by the cross.
i) Please slow down – sit with God – immerse yourself with a few verse of scripture each day. Commit to memory the Word of God.
ii) Pray – be honest as you talk to God and allow God to shape your heart. iii) Don’t react to circumstances – allow the Spirit of God to shape our response to life circumstance.
Lord be gracious – the world is in turmoil and we desperately need you … we long for your return. Lord
Peace: Communion Reflections
May 2nd, 2021
Has your heart ever been troubled? Have you ever been scared about something? Been concerned or uncertain? Maybe a bit worried? Or have anxiety?
Back when I was in grade 11, so about 23 years ago now, I had something that caused me to have fear. It was an afternoon like any other. I was walking home from school like I would any other day. I had only been going to that school for a few months as my family moved halfway across the city, roughly the distance of Hanover to Walkerton. By coincidence, on the walk home, I crossed paths with a guy from my old school that was on the other end of the city. He did not know where I moved to and had no idea that I would be there at that time. But what he did know is that he didn’t like me, and for whatever reason, he had a score to settle. And this was in the day when wearing army boots, black leather jackets, and dog collars was the in thing…. And this dude who was the better part of 6’4 decided that as I was walking down a walkway between two buildings, that he was going to come running at me. I turned around and stood there as he planted his army boot square in my chest. By the grace and protection of God, I didn’t fall… which then caused him to run.
After the attack, I remember how much fear I had. For a few days, I did not want to walk home because this guy knew where I lived. And even as time passed and I began to feel safer, I still was always looking over my shoulder. And if I saw someone down the street who looked like they were wearing a dark jacket, I would feel fear.
And because the police got involved with dealing with the attack, I had to go to court to testify against him. And I remember the fear when I saw him sitting in the hallway outside the court room, and all the anxiety that filled my heart and mind.
Concern, fear, worry, and anxiety are things that we all experience at some time or other. Is your heart troubled today?
The disciples even had ‘troubled hearts’. There were things that bothered them. Prior to Jesus death:
a. Jesus gathers them for a final Passover supper.
b. During the supper He shares that He will be going away from them. Can you picture their anxiety? Their teacher, their leader who they devoted three years of their life to was now leaving them. What would happen next?
c. He breaks bread and pours the cup as a symbol of His impending death, and talks about his death that is about to come.
d. John 13:21 says that Jesus was troubled in spirit as he talked.
e. He says that one of the disciples will betray him. Peter asks John to ask Jesus who it could be as they all wonder.
f. He tells Peter that he will deny Jesus 3X after Peter pledges his allegiance to Jesus.
This was not an easy dinner conversation. On top of that, Jesus knows what is about to happen to all of them in the coming hours, days, weeks, and months. It is out of this that Jesus speaks the following words:
Jesus says to them: don’t be troubled. Paraphrased, He says:
Don’t be afraid, anxious, worried, uncertain, concerned, or on edge. Yes, what is coming wont be easy. I know what you are about to face, and I know what you are thinking even right now, and I know things will be hard. But don’t be discouraged by all that is going on and will happen. Instead, keep believing in God, and believe in me! Keep your eyes on me. Everything I am about to face is so that I can give to you a life beyond compare in Heaven, for eternity, with Me and My Father. Through what I am about to go through, I am going on ahead to get ready your place, your room in God’s big house. Don’t get caught up in the worries of the here and now. Don’t get caught up in what could happen. Instead, know that I am the way to life. I am the way to eternity. I am the way to God.
The lesson to us is that when we are living life with God, and living Jesus’ life through us, with life in Heaven before us, the things around us suddenly begin to lose their value. We know that as difficult as things get here, this life isn’t it. Yet even when everything around us seems to be falling apart, and even in the face of incredible difficulty, somehow we can still have hope because of what is to come.
Last week I talked from the very next chapter in John about being connected to the Vine, and finding life because we grow out of the Vine. When we understand, accept, and receive that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and that no one comes to God except through Him, we are connecting ourselves to life in the Vine. In that Vine, even when things seem uncertain, chaotic, frightening, stressful, anxious, and concerning all around us, because of what Jesus did for us through His death on the Cross and His rising from the dead, through Him beating the power of darkness, evil, and death itself, we have the hope of a life yet to come that continues on and can not be taken away from us. We do not need to let our hearts be troubled.
Jesus says in John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
As we take communion in a moment, it is a statement that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is a statement that He is the Vine and we are the branches. And it is a statement that because of the hope of eternity in Heaven that He gives us, we do not need to let our hearts be troubled here, knowing that nothing here can change what is waiting for us on the other side in the presence of our God and Father.
So this morning, ask yourself this question as we prepare for communion: Where is your heart troubled today? And where do you need to embrace, accept, and receive the life of Christ, the life in the Vine today?