Today we begin a new quarter and our theme is “Closer to Each Other”. The goal with this series is to explore Biblical concepts of fellowship and communion. This is a very important topic in the life of a church family. As you will notice in our scripture reading, the author of Hebrews first tells us to, “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” Heb 10:23 This is very important but it also explicitly commands us not to “give up meeting together.” Heb 10:25 I believe meeting together at church and small groups during the week is more than just a time we can study about and worship God. It is also a time we can connect with fellow believers and share pieces of our journey with each other, to encourage one another in our Christian journeys. One activity that encourages this time of sharing effectively is having a meal together. That is why the family life team is creating opportunities like the activity we are participating in today to simply encourage that time of sharing and fellowship that is needed in a healthy and vibrant church family. Welcome, and may God bless you as we learn and participate in that fellowship experience this quarter.
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Over the past quarter, our sermonic theme has been how we can connect and get closer to God. We looked at topics like prayer and how it’s a real connection with God. Expectations and how we may need to re-evaluate some of our own but that God’s expectation for us is to love each other as He loves us. Trials and how God can use them to help us grow and mature spiritually. And our topic last time was on understanding what God is like by exploring the story of the flood. Today is our final part in this series and the topic is on forgiveness. I chose forgiveness because we are celebrating communion today and I believe what Jesus did in the upper room the night before He was crucified paints for us a beautiful picture of God’s forgiveness. We all stumble at times but today we will learn that no matter how many times we stumble, God pursues us and freely offers a fresh start if we want it. I challenge each of you, including myself, to use this occasion not only to ask for forgiveness but to open your heart to allow the God who pursues to change you. May you realize that although we were learning how to connect with God this quarter, it is God’s greatest desire is to connect and come close to you.”
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Today, as part of this year’s vision of Disicpliship for the Seventh-day Adventist Conference in Ontario, they’re holding a ministries convention in Richmond Hill called DiscipleSHIFT. Some of our ministry leaders along with myself are attending the various seminars which are designed to educate and train leaders in different ministries about what discipleship means or looks like in our churches and the 21st century. What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship? Do you think of discipline or following Jesus or something else? When I think of discipleship, of being a follower of Jesus, one common theme always comes to mind. It is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” To me, this is the essence of discipleship. This week during prayer meeting we had a great discussion about what it means to be consumed by Christ and it got me thinking about what we understand when we think of the term disciple. Luke 9 is both a reality check and a litmus test for the Christian and lets us know that perhaps there needs to be a “shift” in our understanding of discipleship. Our speaker today is one of our own members who recently became a father, Ken Urizar. He’s a very gifted Sabbath school teacher and I’m sure his sermon will challenge and inspire us as we discover the topic of “Sonship”
Today is a momentous occasion for our church for two reasons. First, we’ve always loved and supported our Adventurer and Pathfinder programs for our young people but we’ve never had a Master Guide club at our church. Being a Master Guide is the next level of leadership Pathfinders can pursue after they finish their program and is a tremendous honour to achieve. The classes teach our Master Guides to be skilled and Spiritual leaders and as of last fall, we’ve begun a ministry for those interested in this pursuit with Eduardo as the leader. Today the Adventurer, Pathfinder and Master Guide director at the Ontario conference, Pastor Edwin Martin, will be leading out in our first Master Guide induction ever ceremony at Bronte. The second reason today is special is because it’s the International Global Youth Day for our church worldwide. This morning some of our young adults are partnering with young Seventh-day Adventist Christians around the world and will be going out in with Open Door to “be the sermon” in the community to feed those less fortunate. You can follow them by searching the hashtags #GYD19 #bethesermon and #bethesermon2019 in your social media. Thank you for your support of all our youth ministries at Bronte!
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Well, it’s that time of year again! This Sunday we lose one hour of sleep in the morning as we set our clocks forward. But even though this may bother some, I love it because it means that spring, warmer weather and longer days are just around the corner. Not to mention that we won’t have to drive to and from work in the dark. As a pastor, I noticed that many stories about God in the Bible have the same feeling. To some, the same story can be great but for others, bothersome to say the least. For Christians, we read a story about God and we accept it because we know what God is like. But what about those who don’t know the God of the Bible? What happens when they read a story where God’s actions don’t make sense, stories like the one we’ll be looking at today. Let me ask you, what do you think of when you read the story of the flood in the Bible? What kind of image do you get of God in that story? As we move through the topic of getting closer to God this quarter, I’m glad you came to Bronte today because even though on the surface the story of the flood can strike us as odd or even downright troubling, we will learn something new about the character of God.
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Have you ever been through a trial? Are you going through one right now? What does the Bible say about our trials? Our scripture text today says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” James 1:2 As we journey through a series this quarter on having a closer relationship with God, we can’t miss this opportunity to talk about one of the spiritual disciples that none of us actually choose, but can be one of the best teachers, trials. Today we will explore our responses to trials and how we can learn more about God through them. We’re glad you came and we look forward to experiencing God’s blessings as we worship Him and study our topic together. Also today, some of our Pathfinders are in Oshawa with their families and our fearless director Ian Beckford, competing in the Pathfinder Bible Experience. This is a competition where, this time, they will be tested on their Bible knowledge of the Book of Luke. Please keep them in your prayers as they have now reached the conference level of the competition and are representing our local Bronte church.
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