Remember the sacrifices

On November 11, we remember the sacrifices of those men and women who went to war so that we could have the freedoms we have today.



A historian noted that over the past 3400 hundred years, there had been peace for only 268 of them.  Wars often begin with one group of people wanting to take away or restrict the freedom of another. No one enjoys having their freedom curtailed and the pursuit of freedom often has led to conflict. There is evilness at the root of these conflicts, and many have paid a heavy price in the pursuit of peace.

On Monday, we remember that cost: in WW I – 7 Million civilians and 10 million military personnel killed and an additional 20 million injured; in WWII – 50 million civilians and 21 million military – 3% of the world population. We remember the Canadian men and women who have lost their lives in what was in defence of our freedom; since confederation approximately 111,000 Canadian soldiers have died in wars, including 157 in Afghanistan and 121 on Peacekeeping missions. It seems that even peace comes at a cost.

In Psalm 37, King David tells others not to be worried about the activities of evil people because he knows God will conquer. He says the evil people will get their punishment in the end. He tells us to trust in the LORD, seek God’s wisdom, look out for others, and enjoy what blessings we have been given. He said peace would come. Peace because there will be no more wars, no fighting against ourselves, and no fighting between humanity and God. Peace that comes because the evil influences will be defeated by God.

Armies can cause havoc, but we must remember there is an enemy seeking to interfere with our freedoms and destroy our eternity. It is an evil that the might of all the armies on the earth can never conquer. Scripture shares, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6: 12. It is an enemy that only God can defeat.

Jesus went to the cross to defeat the hold Satan and his minions have had on humanity. He died to liberate everyone from the ego-based mindset that separates us from God. It is a mindset that affects our faith in God’s power and authority over the physical, emotional and even the financial aspects of our lives. Only the sacrifice of Jesus could free us from the grip of Satan’s influence over our mindset.

His sacrifice granted us the freedom to choose victory over the oppressive and destructive nature of sin, and freedom from falling to temptation and making poor choices that destroy families, marriages, and communities.


Jesus’ sacrifice freed us from hopelessness and offered us joy, peace of mind, and eternity with Him.


On November 11, we remember the sacrifices of those men and women who went to war so that we could have the freedoms we have today. However, their sacrifices are in vain if we do not accept the freedoms given to us by Jesus. The freedom to make choices that affect our lives, the lives of our families and our community and the freedom of choice that affects our eternity. The freedoms earned by our military can be taken away from us by our government or a foreign aggressor, but the freedom Jesus gave us over sin can never be taken from us.  Remember the sacrifices.

Listen before you speak

If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.”
Job 13:5



In one day, Job received four messages telling him that his livestock, servants, and ten children had died due to invaders or natural catastrophes. Job rightfully becomes distraught and wanted to know why. Later his body breaks out in boils adding physical anguish to his already troubled mental health. Job was considered blameless, righteous, and God-fearing and even God said of him, “For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity” (Job 2:3). So why were bad things happening to this good person? Human nature wants to explain this, and most feel especially compelled to provide answers when a friend comes to us with a tale of woe.

Even though every person faces a unique set of circumstances, adversity is an experience that runs throughout human history. Some people face medical problems; for others, the challenge may be financial, psychological, or interpersonal. Sooner or later, everyone experiences pain. The story of Job resonates with us because Job walked down the same path of misfortune that all humans do. Like Job, we too find ourselves asking why bad things happen in a world in which the good God is in control.

Although Job did not seek out the guidance of his peers, three came to visit him and tried to explain why his situation turned sour. His friends would have done much better had they listened to Job’s heart instead of offering solutions he was not seeking. The human body has two ears and one mouth. Maybe we should do twice as much listening as we do speaking. If we are known as one who can listen, we can be a blessing to those around us. Currently, when mental health issues are plentiful, we should not feel compelled to provide the answers to our friends. Maybe they want to vent, and our role is to let them speak about their troubled heart without judgement or condemnation.

We have all experienced someone’s mindless chatter or dismissive judgment at a moment when we needed to be deeply understood. When we listen, really listen, we speak with our ears and our heart. We communicate our respect, and we tell that person we value them. We can be the non-anxious presence in that person’s life and listen to their struggles. Wisdom comes from listening.

God is Sovereign

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. Proverbs 19:21



Scripture shares that on the fourth day, God created the heavenly bodies which we call the sun and the moon. Although the bible does not assign these exact names at creation, these are the globally accepted names. Today we know that the earth and moon rotate around the sun but, that was not always the belief. There was a time in our history when humans thought the sun rotated around the earth. Although many people wanted to believe that theory to be true it did not make it true. It took years of discussion and scientific verification to establish the fact that the earth rotated around the sun and not the other way around. Today because of our intellectual curiosity and a desire to know the truth, science is able to tell the world much about the sun and moon’s role and their impact on earth; which includes Genesis’ account of the greater light ruling the day and the lesser light ruling the night.


It should be noted that even if people do not believe God created and placed the sun and the moon, it does not deter from the truth that they exist, and they have a purpose.


Christians believe God is sovereign which means there is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of His influence and authority. He has a purpose for all He has created. God established the purpose of the sun and the moon, and He gave us abilities to discover their purpose. He also gave us the free will to challenge His sovereignty and, so we can decide what we want to believe about the intended purpose of His creations. However, when we challenge God’s intended purpose because it does not line up with what we want to believe, we risk suggesting we know more than God.

What would be the response if a group of people gathered tomorrow and decided that they were not comfortable with the thought that the earth depends on the sun? Would that change the truth? These individuals could be very passionate about their position and despite all scientific proof, could declare that they believe that the earth and the sun rotate around the moon. Should their beliefs or desires be enough to change the known facts? The world appears to be getting more complicated everyday and worldly beliefs challenge Christian beliefs. Desire seems to outweigh reality and often we are encouraged to ignore facts when we do not feel comfortable with them.


Do you question God’s sovereignty because it doesn’t fit nicely into what you want to believe?


Do you look in the mirror and want to challenge God on what you see? Western culture accepts that everyone is entitled to an opinion however should one’s desire to hold a contrary opinion to something factual alter the reality? We do not have to agree with another’s viewpoint, but we do have to show Christian compassion and love to those offering one. We also do not have to understand God’s sovereignty, but we do have to accept it because, in the end, it will still exist.

DRAW ON GOD’S POWER

This past weekend I attended the Atlantic Region Challenge cup hockey tournament. During the finals, which was a nail biter, I noticed one person with her head turned to the side as to avoid watching the game. We know this person and so my wife asked if she was ok. Her response was: “yes, I was just sending positive vibes to the boys on the ice.”

There is some truth to the fact that our mindset can influence our day as well as our health. Our doctor will tell us that the long-term health effects of uncontrolled anger are anxiety, high blood pressure and headaches. The Japanese practice of Reiki, which means “spiritually guided life force energy” speaks of accessing the energy of the cosmic to aide in our wellbeing or that of another. However, the sending of positive vibes or positives thoughts has always seemed mystical to me. When we were upset, our mother’s words, “count to ten” or “go take a short walk” calmed us and reduced the chemical interaction in our body when we were upset. She offered wise counsel to gather our senses.

However, God who is the power behind all creation, can be accessed by all those who believe. We can be assured that not only is He available, He is also concerned about us, His creation. Jesus told His disciples that when He would leave, He would send a Helper. (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit convicts us when we are about to go astray or have gone, guides us to the truth, and reminds us of Jesus words in Matthew 11:28-30.

God has invited us to pray for each other as well as for all others. Paul urges us in (1 Timothy 2:1). He does not tell us “to send prayers your way” or “send positive thoughts” but to speak with Him about anything and anyone. I do not want to just have the mindset of those who use the “good vibes phrase” because their intentions are probably good, however, the expression, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” or the verse found in the Message translation, “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell” (Proverbs 14:12 references good intentions).

Our desire should be to remind people, “For by him {God} all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him” Colossians 1:16.

Being a Christian “Count the Cost!”

The Christian community uses the term “saved” to imply a person has chosen to be a disciple of Jesus. Being saved is easy. You trust in what the Lord Christ has done, receive Him as Saviour, repent of your sins, and trust in nothing else, including your own “good works”. Getting saved is easy. The hard part is what follows when you become a Christian, when the Lord comes to live in you and then begins to work change in you. Sometimes it is quite difficult and other times, it is very rewarding.


Like anything you do, you should count the cost before you commit to something.


You should know what to expect if you become a Christian. It isn’t always easy. The Lord calls us to integrity, honesty, faithfulness, truthfulness, etc. If you become a Christian and then continue to live in sinful ways, the Holy Spirit will gently and convincingly prod your heart and bring you to a place of repentance. He is persistent. He won’t give up and sometimes that repentance can be difficult, especially if He brings you to confess your sins to others and make things right.


You must understand that if you become a Christian, you are no longer your own.


You have given yourself to the Lord, and He takes that commitment very seriously. He will not leave you in your sins. He will work in you and gradually bring you to a new place in your life. He will work bad habits and bad things out of you over the rest of your life. Of course, this does not mean that you will become perfect. It means that God will work in your heart to make you more like Jesus.

As a Christian, you’ll experience both answered prayers and unanswered prayers, but usually won’t understand why the answered prayers were answered and the unanswered prayers were unanswered. When you are weaker in your faith, you’ll look at stronger believers and wonder how they got where they are. When you are stronger in your faith, you’ll look at weaker believers and yearn to help pull them closer to God. You’ll change your mind about your beliefs on certain theological points multiple times. You’ll realize that’s OK because there are things for which we don’t have clear answers. God will seemingly disappear from certain periods of your life. It may be in ordinary times, times of joy or times of pain. But when you look back on those times, you’ll often realize that it was you who moved away from God, not God, who moved away from you.


Being a Christian means, you must seek Jesus to remain connected to Him.


At His last meal with the disciples Jesus told them, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If … This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5-8.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving weekend, remember to give thanks to God because he created us to be in relationship with Him for all of eternity. When we went our way in the garden, He allowed us to make our own choices but stood by us trying to guide us back to Him. Thank Jesus, who died so our sins would be forgiven and thank the Holy Spirit who comforts and guides us on our path to righteousness.

Repent and Enjoy God’s Grace

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23



Sometimes when I think about our expulsion from the garden, I wonder if we got off lighter than we should have. We had it all, but that was not enough, and we ended up breaking the first-ever Do Not Touch rule. Our first act of disobedience resulted in God kicking us out of the garden but, He did not kick us off the planet. He did not erase us from the earth, nor did he add an obedience upgrade to our nature. We remain version 1.0 created in His image.


Despite His disappointment, He showed love and hope in His creation.


God had given Adam the garden rules, including the one about avoiding the tree of knowledge. Adam shared this rule with Eve but didn’t seem to emphasize God’s direction well enough. I often imagine that day as starting like any other. Adam and Eve planned a stroll in the garden, but Adam, like all the men that followed him, probably didn’t take the time to ask directions to where the walk was going to take them. He may have walked aimlessly, possibly hoping they could get back on the path that leads to good things. But, before they knew it, they were looking up at the place they were told to avoid.


Who was lurking about ready to take advantage of the situation? Satan! 


That walk had eternal consequences, including the introduction of the blame game. When caught, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed Satan. On the advice of Satan, Eve took the fruit off the tree and had the first bite. However, scripture suggests Adam watched this whole scene unfold and did nothing; he even had a bite himself. I think God wanted to make a point about blame because we read that although Eve touched and bit the fruit first, it was after Adam had a piece, did they both recognize they were naked. The sin of vanity overtook them and appeared after their joint act of disobedience.

Sins and pointing fingers started in the garden and flourishes today. God knew this to be a human shortfall, but He did not abandon us. Even as he was chastising us at the garden gate, He revealed His plan to reconcile our relationship with Him. He spoke of a future heir that would correct the wrongs. He handled the situation as the loving Father we know Him to be. He even shared a couple of lessons for us to take away from the garden.


The garden was a taste of what God had in store for us in eternity.


In the garden, God showed that disobedience must be addressed, blame is irrelevant, and that only by His grace will we have another chance. He also pointed out that no matter what path we take or how disobedient we become, He will meet us wherever we end up and will offer reconciliation. Throughout His scripture we learn that the One who spoke the universe into existence wants to speak with us. He freely offers eternity and allows us to accept or reject it.

In the garden, God did not hide his intent or expectations; He told Adam. He has used scripture to share His intent for us (eternity with Him) and His expectations (the wages of sin is death). God wants us to recognize that we all have sinned. He wants us to accept responsibility for our actions and to repent for our transgressions. He also wants us to recognize and believe that He sent and allowed the blameless one, Jesus, to die so that we could get back on the path to heaven. God reveals the truth, helps us understand that truth, and while we have breath in our lungs, He longs for us to accept that truth.


Have you accepted the truth? If not, ask God now, and you will receive it. Do you know someone who has not accepted the truth? Pray now for their salvation and seek them out to share God’s intent for their life.

10 Daily Living Tips

1. READ your Bible every day – Psalm. 1:2-3 

2. TELL God you love Him every day – Mat. 22:35-38  

3. SET your mind on Heaven every day – Phil. 3:20-21 

4. PICK UP your cross every day – Luke 9:23 

5. EXAMINE your life for sin and confess it to God every day – 1 John 1:9 

6. PRAY for lost people every day – Romans 10:1 

7. ASK God to meet your needs every day – Matthew 6:11-12 

8. ASK God to protect you from the evil one every day – 1 Pet 5:8 

9. ASK God for strength every day – Gal 5:16,18 

10. ASK God for wisdom every day – Proverbs 2:3-6 

“I AM”

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” Exodus 3:14



I AM the one who created you. I AM the DELIVERER who will deliver you from sin and death through sin. I AM the EVERLASTING God, the one without beginning or end and who will never cease to be. I AM the FATHER OF MERCIES because I have mercy for my people and desire, they show the same for others.
I AM the GOD OF THY SALVATION. I AM the GOD WHO SEES all and am not detached from you or refuse to be part of your life. I AM the HOLY ONE perfect in all moral excellence. I AM the KING OF GLORY worthy of your praise. I AM the SHEPHERD who will guard you and protect you.

I AM the FATHER of the LORD JESUS CHRIST who has told you that you need to ask for anything in His name and I will answer. I am the God who sees you crying in the night, struggling with family issues, broken by addiction, and ravaged by disease and I want to draw you close to me if you will surrender all. Come for I AM GOD OF ALL COMFORT. I AM THE FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATER who gives eternal life to all those who come and drink.

I AM GOD OF THE WHOLE EARTH with dominion and authority over all things. I exist everywhere and invite you to show my presence with others. I AM the KEEPER and have my watchful eye on you. I AM your KING worthy of your worship and unquestioning obedience. I AM ABBA who gave you salvation through the sacrifice of my Son. I AM a loving and forgiving Father and await your prayers so I can give you answers. I AM, regardless of who you will let me be in your life and will never abandon you if you seek me.

 

Don’t be tied down

The circus has landed in Miramichi. They offer clowns, acrobats, aerialists and daredevils, but no elephants. Seeing an elephant in a circus today is a rarity because it is difficult to properly care for such a large animal. Owners have been persuaded to have them placed in facilities where they can be properly looked after. Most circus elephants were purchased when the elephant was a calve, making the owners responsible for its training. Part of the training included chaining the elephant to a stake in the ground to keep it from running loose. The elephant would have spent a significant part of its youth chained to this post and after a while would eventually learn not to struggle. The chain was never going to come loose and tugging only caused them pain.  Ironically, if you were to see an elephant at the circus today, you would observe only a small rope attached to its ankle. This rope is tied to a stake that is loosely pegged into the ground. This painful memory of pulling against the chain would have followed the elephant into adulthood and it would have prevented it seeking its freedom.

Painful memories are hard to forget and often keep us from moving forward, even seeking freedom in our relationship with God. It is not unusual for Christians to feel tied to past sins because they have problems dealing with that guilt. We need to remember that when we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we were freed from the bondage of all sin, including our past sin. Many have an overwhelming feeling of freedom and release from the bondage of sin and death.



Then, we remember something from our past and it tugs at our conscious. Sometimes pride keeps us from admitting our sin thereby preventing us from forgiving ourselves. When this happens, we need to tell ourselves the truth about who we still are… sinners saved by grace.



We can’t let our past keep us from enjoying our relationship with God. We mustn’t believe that we are above the need for God’s ongoing grace in our life. We can live in God’s grace and accept His ongoing, unconditional forgiveness for the sins we still battle, or the memory of past sin. Don’t let a painful memory from your past keep you tied down or stagnant in your relationship with God. Begin to bask in the forgiveness of Christ! We are no longer condemned. We are forgiven! We can make a new start every time we sin… just sincerely confess it and ask God to change you from the inside out. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If you have repeatedly fallen into the same sin or are tied to past sins such as pornography, lying, unforgiveness, substance abuse, gossiping, etc., then go to God and ask for His help. But also consider going to your pastor, a mentor or a Christian counsellor and ask for their guidance, prayer, and instruction on how to loosen the ties that bind you to your past.

Live free and enjoy your relationship with God. 

BE INTENTIONAL

“Three times a day, he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10.



Do you pray more today than you did a year ago? Do you have a specific set time in which you speak with God or do you pray on the fly? What causes you to pray? Do you feel a nudge from the Holy Spirit, or do you pray when something good or bad is happening around you? Do you feel prayer is intermingled with all other parts of your life or is it just another activity that may or may not happen during your day? Do you know the purpose and value of prayer?

Daniel was a bible hero noted for his obedience and loyalty to God. Despite the significant efforts of his Babylonian masters to change him, Daniel continued to rely on God, while a captive, in the same way he had in his youth. He had developed habits that were part of his heritage, and he chose to follow them even when thrown into a culture that had no time for his Lord. He prayed during the traditional hours of prayer (the third, sixth and ninth hours). These prayer times were not meaningless checkbox gestures because we know God spoke to him during these times. Daniel, like others of the Old Testament, were taught that several times during the day, they needed to stop doing whatever they were doing and connect with God. They were taught to acknowledge God’s importance in their life and give Him praise. They were taught to use prayer as a time of restoration with God so that they could survive their circumstances. Whether he was in a lion’s den or the King’s court, Daniel knew that prayer had to be an intentional act which put God first in his life.

Many Christian have opinions that promote the purpose and manner of prayer. Unfortunately, there are also many Christian opinions that downplay the value or necessity to have intentional prayer times. We know Jesus prayed and that his example was not just teaching moments for His followers. It was necessary for His ministry. Jesus was asked to teach His disciples to pray not because they did not know about prayer but because they had seen the effect of prayer on His ministry and wanted the same. They had possibly prayed during the set time more out of habit vice respect for God and wanted to know what Jesus was doing differently. Jesus’ example serves as a reminder of need to stop and set aside time during the day to connect with the Father.


Intentional prayer did not stop once Jesus ascended as we read in Acts that Peter and John went to the temple “at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon” (Acts 3:1). They took time to stop what they were doing and pray.


Prayer is meaningful for any hour of the day. It is an important part of the Christian life, and unfortunately many people have forgotten about the fact that talking to God can improve our life in so many ways. God wants us to talk with Him and even when we do not know what to say. He still wants us to stop and come before Him; He will read our heart. Continue to pray whenever you feel compelled but consider being more intentional about setting up time to stop what you are doing and acknowledge our Saviour.