Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stay Strong - John 17



John 17:14-26 "But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Stay strong in the Faith

The harvest has not been too far gone, and for what they got off the ground it was decent enough. Bonnie and I were watching a show on the Food Network that showed how they grew certain seedless watermelons. As they are ready to harvest you have these workers walking through the fields and selecting the ripe ones and cutting them off the vine by hand. The tractor then comes along with a big trailer and the watermelons are hoisted up and packed in skids right away and off they go to the market. Modern farming has changed remarkably over the last hundred years, so much so that you can grow almost 10 times as much on the same parcel of land as before, by fewer people. Back in Jesus day He talked about the Sower (Matthew 13) who would throw the seed out by hand. It landed in 4 places: the road, the rocks, the thorns, and the good soil. When it landed on the road, it was quickly eaten by the birds. Jesus said this happens when we share the Gospel in a way the person can’t understand it. That is why we need a variety of ways and places to share the Good News. It is also why the most effective way to share Jesus is when you and I do it personally with our friends and neighbours. It becomes an ongoing dialogue so people can understand the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reveal the Real Deal


Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
John 17:1-12

Verses 1-5 When is the last time you looked in a mirror. As I look out I think for some of you it may be a day or two ago. Actually, I have a bad habit of going out the door without thinking about the mirror and checking my hair. A mirror is made by putting a thin layer of highly reflective silver or aluminum on the surface of a piece of glass. When the glass is flat, the light bounces back so you see a perfect representation. Apparently magicians use mirrors to great effect, though I can never see them. The ministry of Jesus was to reveal the Father. He was to mirror His heavenly Father. Listen to Hebrews 1:1-3: “Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!” (The Message) As we look at the Son, we see the Father.
So, when we see the grace of God extended to the prostitute caught in sin, we see the grace of God extending to fallen humanity. When we see the love of Jesus for the little ones He gathers on His lap saying, “Let them come to me”, we see the love of the Father who says that ministry to widows and orphans is true religion. When we see Jesus walking on water and raising Lazarus from the dead, we see the resurrecting power of God at work. Everything you see and are called to do and be in Jesus is really the call to be like your heavenly Father. In some ways, Jesus did what He did because He was divine and could not do otherwise. When you read Philippians 2:5-11 you see that Jesus emptied Himself in the incarnation, and humiliated Himself by becoming a servant to the point of death. Michael Gorman, a British theologian says that He did this because this is the divine pattern. When you think about it, God Himself almost condescended just be the act of creation, creating something much smaller and more finite than who He is to relate to. It is in the very nature of the trinity that there is this sense of love leading to sacrifice. Jesus showed us that, reflecting God’s agape love character in His life.

Verses 6-8 We talked about how a mirror reflects an exact image. A mirror works by putting that highly reflective surface behind the glass, but when you put small gaps in that covering, you end up with a two-way mirror. From one side you see the reflection, but from the other you can see through it like a window. The second part of this passage we are looking at today speaks not of just reflecting Jesus and God in our lives, but of actively revealing God to those around us. In verse 8 Jesus says that the disciples have received all the words from Jesus that His Father gave to Him. Jesus intentionally spoke God’s message to the people and made sure they knew them, and that resulted in faith. It is not enough to just live the good life, you have to speak it. People all around town today are excited about the game. If you live in Saskatchewan and have to ask what game that is, you are not one of us. I didn’t get here until 4 years ago, but I got here as fast as I could. The people are talking about what they are excited about. They talk about the chances BC have, but most people are pretty confident we can take them. Last weekend I was talking to a lady at Safeway because it was “kinda” slow. She said it will go nuts in a couple hours as people rush out and buy food for the Riders game before it starts. There’s the buzz in the air.

Now imagine if we were just as excited about what Jesus is doing in our lives today. Sometimes I wish at the prayer and share time that I would have to cut people off because so many people want to talk about Jesus. This is our chance to celebrate as a community, as a family. This is your chance to share a word of testimony of what God is doing in your life. I know He is doing something because you are here. Just let me encourage you to verbalize it. Bonnie has been doing our call to worship segment for a few months now, and I really enjoy it. Each week she tries to bring something that God has spoken to her that week about. Sometimes it relates to the kids. Sometimes it is about her or I, but it is about her current faith experience. Jesus had that advantage over us, in that He walked with the disciples for about 3 years. He lived with them, ate with them, slept where they slept, and talked with them after His sermons and miracles, making sure they understood. You and I don’t spend nearly that time together, and most of the people in your life don’t get that exposure. Let me encourage you again to use your voice as well as your actions to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. If you don’t tell them you are a follower of Jesus, they might just as well conclude you are a vegetarian or a Mormon.

 Verses 9-12 Our lives are to reflect the father, as well as our words. The last part of this passage, though, indicates that Jesus had a very specific ministry with His disciples. In this prayer Jesus says that He asks not on behalf of the world, but on behalf of the disciples, whom God had given to Him. Jesus is sharing a very important truth here. He had some very specific people to whom He was accountable for. He had multitudes following Him. He had 70 on His leadership team that He sent out by 2’s to share the Good News. Then He had the 12. It was the 12 to whom He spent the extra time. It was the 12 that He would explain His parables too. It was the 12 to whom He asked probing questions like, “Who do people say that I am?” followed by “Who do you say that I am?” It was with the 12 He ate His last meal. It was the 12 that He entrusted His ministry to when He left. He took them from fisher men and tax collectors, to men about the business of God. He taught them what they needed to be able to teach others. The truth for you and I is this: We all have disciples to whom we are to reveal God - find them! We just observed Remembrance Day. It was a day to remember the sacrifice of those who have allowed us and others around the world to experience freedom. The Act of Remembrance is a touching poem and declaration used in many of the services:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

These vets are remembered for something very specific by their comrades. As I reflect on Jesus and His disciples, Jesus was remembered for some very specific things by those around Him. My question is this: What will you be remembered for? What is your family reminded of now when your name comes up? What about co-workers, or your friends you have had over the years? What is the legacy you are leaving with your disciples. Are they pointed to the grace and love of God through your actions and words? It is never too late to leave a lasting impression. Decide today to pray for those around you that will allow you to speak into their lives the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Decide today to let your light shine before men. Don’t hit people over the head with your faith, but do let it come out naturally. Be true to yourself; be true to your Heavenly Father.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen (21st September, 1914)



With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.