It was an exciting week –our sanctuary was transformed into a stage of water, suitcases, rocks, and more! The theme for our VBS kids was “Shipwrecked… Rescued by Jesus!” As adults, we too can learn something from this lesson. Has there been a time when you felt alone or worried? The weight of the world around us feels overwhelming at times. Have you struggled with something – perhaps correcting a bad habit or a solution to a difficult situation? Have you done wrong to yourself or to others and needed to find a way to correct it? Has there been a time you felt so powerless, helpless of things beyond your control? Isaiah 41:10 says, “’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” If we ever feel “shipwrecked” by all that life throws at us, we have the confidence that we can always lean on our Savior, for Jesus is our great Rescuer, and He strengthen us.
We live in an age of despair. The personal and worldly dream is gasping for breath. We find ourselves amid a world in crisis a world that prefers darkness rather than light. A world that is becoming more atheist. A world that is becoming more isolated from reality and meaningful relationships. Shouldn’t the church have something to say? To do? To show? To share? To be? How can we be a church that says to promote and be something when we are really not there yet? The Bible says in John 13:35, “By this shall everyone (the world) know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” How will they know if we do not live it and practice it? How do we become that kind of people and church? How do we measure that love? Only God’s love can compel and change us (2 Cor 5:14). May God help us to become the church of the first century so the world may know that there is God of love who desires to know and save them (Acts 2:47). Will the world see Him through us? Are we there yet?
The summer is going by so quickly and we can hardly believe where the time is fleeting by. We trust that the summer days are treating each of you well. Have you ever had to make changes to your life? Sometimes change can be challenging and difficult, but change is a constant of life; change is inevitable, and we have to learn to adjust. Often times, conflict is a function of that change. By nature, we tend to avoid change and even avoid conflict as much as possible. Consequently, it is inescapable. Hopefully, this change makes us better, wiser, and moves us forward. In this life, there will be changing circumstances, challenges, and conflicts and unless we learn how to deal with change, it can get to the better of us. We much try to adopt an approach that allows us to face any changes that may affect us by “rolling with the punches” or having a “when life deals me lemons, make lemonade” attitude. Most importantly, gain assurance from the Apostle Paul’s words, “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me (to fulfill His purpose — I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace” (Philippians 4:13). No one person can do anything alone. We will fail, make a mess, hurt ourselves and sometimes hurt others, but in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ in us, we can confront any change or challenge and know that He is with us.
Let us focus on Psalm 100, a Psalm for giving thanks, which starts off with telling us to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (v1-2) Do you feel like making a joyful noise now when you come to Bronte? Do you feel like singing? When you wake in the morning and you make the decision to join us at church, what are your thoughts? Do you decide to go to church because it is part of your weekly routine? Or is it perhaps because of a burden in your heart that you need to have lifted? Is it possibly because you “Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” (v3) … and it is our part of the commandments that we are here today? Or maybe you are coming to church because something amazing happened to you and you truly do want to thank the Lord. Whatever the reason, we are to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (v4) How very true! One famous quote tells us that “in happy moments, we are to praise God; in difficult moments, seek God; in quiet moments, worship God; in painful moments, trust God and in every moment, thank God.” No matter what we are going through, no matter what our mindset may have started out like, let us be thankful to God for another day, another breath of life, another opportunity! “For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” (v5) Amen!
We have been experiencing some abnormal and sweltering heat and extreme temperatures. At times it seems unbearable, unless we are indoors, find shade, or get something cold to quench our thirst. Summer is making itself known! Such extreme weather can be compared to spiritual temperatures – whether we are hot or cold for God… whether we are on fire or frozen for Him. Perhaps, the worst is to be in between. Have you ever drank something on a hot day that was lukewarm? It can not quench your thirst and might even make you warm! The Bible says that the Lord knows our works and knows if we are neither hot or cold, but lukewarm. In fact, it specifically states, ”…I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth…” (Revelation 3:15-16). However, there is still hope, as the following verses tell us that if we recognize our condition and temperature, and come to God and seek Him, there is a way we can be hot for God and get our faith on fire. Despite the hot, muggy, and sticky weather outside that we might not enjoy as much, this spiritual heat is one we must have! May we be hot in faith and cool in Christ!
We have been blessed with beautiful weather, warm sunshine, and greenery all around us. Now that school is officially done for the summer, many of our Bronte families are taking some time off and heading to various destinations for summer adventures – be it flying around the world to experience new cultures, going on road trips to explore the path less travelled, or spending some time camping locally in God’s nature. As we travel, let us remember who is guarding our paths. Psalm 121:7-8 says, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” May our Father continue to grant us travelling mercies as we come and go during this exciting time of the year. Blessings to all for a safe summer vacation.
Isn’t it wonderful that we are able to go to church every week without condemnation, have the ability to freely praise and worship, and can pray when we want, how we want, and to Whom we want? Though we may not recognize such blessings day to day, they should not be taken for granted. Such advantages, people in other countries have to fight for, hide from, and risk their lives to do. We are truly fortunate to be living in Canada. This upcoming weekend, as we go to celebrate Canada Day, let us be exceptionally thankful for such blessings. Canada Day is a day which remembers when our country was first able to make its own laws, determine its own rights, and be independent of any other nation. Canada was also founded on Christian principles. Take for example, Canada’s official Coat of Arms, which bears the Latin writing, “A mari usque ad mare” which literally means, “From sea to sea”, a phrase that was taken from Psalm 72.8: “He shall have dominion from sea to sea.” This is a perfect reminder that Canada, just like every other motherland in the world, has a Father and King who rules over all His people. Zechariah 14:9 says, “The Lord will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name.” What a glorious day it will be when Jesus returns and takes us home! Blessings to everyone; let’s be thankful for our privilege to be at church on Sabbath!
Do you ever wonder why we come to church? We may come for many reasons, like the social network, the fellowship, the music, even the food! However, hopefully, we are coming because of the teaching of the Word and, above all, to worship! It’s a call to worship! What’s your calling in life? What are we called to do for God? We are called to serve Him. In whatever way, capacity, or corner, we can represent Him. Oswald Chambers writes, “God did not direct His call to Isaiah — Isaiah overheard God saying, ‘… who will go for us?’ The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.” Our attitude towards God is in direct proportion to the condition of our heart. God calls us to be the best in what we find ourselves to do (Eccl. 9:10). Martin Luther King says it quite aptly, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job.’” So, what will you do? What’s your calling today? Where will you serve God?
Think about when you were last stuck in traffic. Were you angry you were late, sad you were delayed, or upset your schedule was pushed back? Worse than being stuck in traffic is being stuck spiritually. Has your faith dwindled to embers of complacency? Do you feel the fire is extinguished? The passion dissipated? You’re not alone. Many people experience this feeling. At this point, we need spiritual CPR or spiritual booster cables to re-ignite that faith to burn again. Your faith is not for you alone; it’s to be shared with others. But if you don’t have a fire in your soul that burns with passion for God, you’ll lack the power to proclaim the Gospel as He calls you to do. Pray for God to help you see yourself as He sees you. When you have the humility to recognize that you must depend on God to do anything that matters, the confidence to recognize that God made you in His image (Genesis 1:26) for great purposes, and the understanding that He deeply loves you, then you’ll be free to live in ways fuelled by a burning passion to follow where God leads you. The Bible says, the “love of Christ constrains us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14). May God’s love for you re-ignite a burning passion and compel us to live for Him and serve Him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Summer is just around the corner and we certainly appreciate the good weather. This season makes us feel happy, warm, and perhaps energized to get up and get going. However, for some the season may indicate a desire to get things done but may feel inert, incapable, and incapacitated. Have you ever felt that way? Have you felt that you want to do something but can’t seem to find the power to accomplish it? Have you felt setback by circumstances, hindered by the past and hampered by life? Have you ever met someone who is a chronic complainer, a non-stop whiner, and perennial pessimist? I heard someone once remark, “If I had a penny for every time someone said to me ‘You don’t know my circumstances’ I would be able to pay for my dream trip to Bora Bora.” You’re not alone! Many people feel that life has dealt them a bad hand and may blame themselves or others for their present situation. However, God reminds us that “with men this is impossible, but with Him, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God can take your worst and make it better or turn circumstances around so that obstacles become opportunities. I heard a quote that read, “God never gives you a dream that matches your budget; He’s not checking your bank account, He’s checking your faith!” So what do you have to give? What’s holding you back? Stop sitting around – rise up and walk by faith!