Category Archives: SERMON TOPICS”

Rebecca’s reflections and thoughts in regards to how certain scriptures speak to her. Also, some blogs taken from sermons from other pastors.

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Song – Rejoice in the Lord Always – written and recorded by Rebecca Wills Robinson copyright 1995

Am I the only person who struggles with being joyful? It actually bothers me that I am not naturally filled with joy all the time. It is common that when things are going great we are flying high with joy. When things are not so great, I look more like I was baptized in pickle juice and I know it.  Really, there are times when I need to give myself a shake.

I don’t live in Africa. My parents never died from Aids. I have three meals a day and a nice warm home to live in. I have a wonderful husband and not to mention the greatest gift ever; my Saviour Jesus. For some reason, often I get bogged down with many of life’s darts which seem to penetrate just deep enough to steal my joy.

It can be like when that first wave of warmth comes in Spring. You pull the dusty lawn chair from storage, clean it off, set it in the sun on the deck, get out that favourite book and music with a nice cold drink sitting on the table. You sit down in the chair, put on your glasses and settle into the chair, lift up your drink and go to take a sip and notice a fly in your juice. You get rid of the fly and allow your crinkled nose to go back into place and snuff off the fly. You take a sip, lick your lips and put the glass down, turn the page in your book and begin to read. Next thing you know, the mosquitoes are buzzing in your ears and taking chunks out of your flesh. Frustration begins to build and after you can’t stand the mosquitoes and black flies any longer, you huff and puff your way back into the house where you most likely have been hibernating for the long cold winter. That joy you had five minutes ago has already began to fade. If we are Christians we should have the joy of Jesus. Why don’t we always have that joy. How do we live this life we have been called to live filled with joy? I don’t get it? I don’t always have that joy?

I remember one particular day, years ago. I was feeling really depressed. Actually there have been many days like that one. I was feeling really glum. The hustle and bustle of life, appointments taking the children here and there. Now they are older and live out on their own and oh how I wish I could turn back the clock. If you are a mother, you can relate; especially if you are now in the empty nest syndrome. I need not say more. Mother’s and Father’s can get worn down and the joy can get sucked right out of you. That is how I was feeling on this day. I turned on the radio and there was a very impacting sermon, I needed to hear just at that right moment. My perspective began to change. I actually went back home feeling more joyful and I wrote this song inspired by the sermon on 100.3. It was inspired by the verse where Paul says,

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 KJV)

It is so easy and natural to start looking for joy in the things of the world. While happiness, is an emotion; emotions come and go. They are fickle. Happiness and joy are two different things. Happiness is a state of mind. Joy is the predominant feature of an Epistle. It is so important to have joy. In that verse Paul reiterated it twice. To rejoice in The Lord; find joy in knowing you are in Him and He is in you know (always) even in the midst of the afflictions which are suffering you. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter.

The prison he was in was not like the Canadian prison. He was in a Roman prison, yet talking about joy. Interesting. Paul has no rights or luxuries. In fact Paul’s days were numbered. He knew he was soon to be put to death. Most likely, he was not happy but he was joyful. Happiness and joy are two different ideas. One is from the world – one is from God.

Joy is a gift from God, a quality of life. It does not rely on what is happening. Joy means to leap or spin around with joy. Bliss or celebration. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace. You get one you get them all.

To grow a grapevine takes a lot of work, pruning. Fruit is not instantaneous. It has to endure the weather of the season. We need Holy Spirit to prune away anything that hinders the growth of the fruit. What has happened to all your joy?

“I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.” (2 Corinthians 7:16 ESV)

“Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.” (2 Corinthians 7:13 ESV)

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:12 ESV)

What are some Joy stealers?

1. Unsatisfied expectations – joyless routines. Not content with the way our lives have been progressing. There is a mystery; a secret to contentment. Contentment comes when you want everything you have.

2. Unresolved conflict. When an offence occupies our thoughts and then it obscures our view of God.

3. Un-confessed sin. Sin can send joy away. David ignored the Holy Spirit. Psalm 32:1-5

What are some Joy builders?

1. Recognize God as joyful. Did you know God is joyful? We can be helped greatly if we see him not as a task master, but as joyous.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

2. Rehearse God’s attributes in worship.

Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah (Psalm 66:1-4 ESV)

When we sing or worship God we get more joy. When you focus on the things you love about God you can’t help but be filled with joy.

3. Reaffirm your relationships with one another. If we are not in fellowship with other believers, our joy will leak out. When you start talking to one another and building each other up in fellowship. It is the joy of Jesus (Spirit of God within us) that builds each other up. When we live in loving relationships with one another it is a beautiful thing.

4. Reignite your evangelism. If you have never had the pleasure of leading someone to The Lord, you are missing out on a beautiful thing. This is what you will experience when you lead someone to Christ.

5. Release your problems to the LORD. You can experience Christian joy in the experience of loss. You may not be happy but you can still have joy. Joy is the response of the presence of God in your life. You have that joy because he is living in you.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, (Acts 16:25 ESV) They were not worried about their circumstances, they were rejoicing.”

6. Remain close to JESUS. Be obedient to Christ. Abandon the search for joy, look for Jesus. When you have Him you have joy.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:10, 11 ESV)

“Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.” (John 4:36 ESV)

“and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” (Philemon 1:6 ESV)

Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.

“And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:5-7 ESV)

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Selah. (Psalms 32:1-5 KJV)

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”(Hebrews 12:14, 15 ESV)

“complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2 ESV)

In conclusion:
Do all these points. If you don’t have Jesus living in your life, ask Him into your life today. Joy is continuous as long as you don’t let it leak out. Praise be to our God and Father of The Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Inspired by: Sermon notes Pastor Bryan Vaughan
Hope For Today Fellowship

Prayer Warrior

Be a Prayer Warrior

It was 1990 when I acknowledged my need for a relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ. At that time in my life, my world seemed very small and insignificant. At the very least, I think, I felt insignificant. I wondered, what was my purpose in life? There had to be something more to life than the walls that held me prisoner. 

Songs like, “Rainy Days and Mondays Always get me Down”, played on my radio and I would sing along with Karen Carpenter. Surely I helped her write that song and many of her melancholic songs. The lyrics seemed to fuel my already warped outlook at life. Many days I penned my own ink blot onto the pages, writing poetry and songs every bit as depressing. In some unexplainable way those writings became the conduit which allowed that quiet inner voice to speak, even if no one else ever heard me. Now, some twenty-four years later, I am wondering who the prayer warrior was who interceded for me?

I can remember as a young child being lonely. One particular day, I was making a snow fort out of the deep snow drifts which piled high in our backyard. All those geography documentaries from public school, no doubt, activated my imagination as I made snow caves and pretended to be an Eskimo. I laid in the snow fort while the gusts of wind blew on the outside. It was my cozy, quiet place. I would talk to God. Often, I had experiences like this. It was not until years later when I was adult that I realized, I needed to have that kind of communication with God again, but through His Son Christ Jesus. 

Like I said, it has been twenty-four years of following Christ, praying, and seeking Him at every turn. Has my life been without troubles or trials since? Absolutely not. There have been many devastating moments. Of course Christians have trials and testings. Some trials may be more difficult to bear than others. There are many examples in the Bible of God’s faithful who struggled. Just read the Book of Psalms. I’m sure everyone can relate to many of David’s heartfelt words. We also have to understand that there is also an evil at work against us. He has a variety of names such as Satan, Lucifer, Father of Lies, Beelzebub, Devil and others.

Back to the question. Who was interceding for me? While I’m sure my mother prayed for me all the time. We had our goodnight prayers when I was a child. There was someone else praying (interceding) on my behalf. Other people may be praying for you or me. Maybe my grandmother prayed for me or your grandfather prayed for you? So many times we go to bed and we don’t recognize the ways God has protected us in a certain instance. That protection could have been because someone was praying for you. It is called Intercessory prayer. A derivative of the word, to intercede (prayer of intercession). This happens when someone steps in on your behalf. It is a selfless act. We don’t do this for ourselves. It is for somebody else. As Christians it is our duty and responsibility to do this for others.

The scriptures speak about prayer.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31, 32 ESV)

Do we ever give anyone else credit, even God. Jesus prays for each one of us. We are supposed to do what Jesus did and does. There is a purpose in praying. We pray for others, when they don’t even know what to pray. If we don’t pray for others and only pray for our own needs what does that say about us? Not intentionally, but I think many times I’ve treated God like a genie. Give me this. I want that. Bless me Lord I pray. Help me to be thankful Lord for what I have today. Actually, I heard a song with those lyrics many years ago and it did help to change the way I pray. Most of the time. I realized that often my prayers were selfish. I must confess to God, at times I can find myself back in that selfish mode of praying. We are called to pray for others. Are we selfish in our jobs, relationships, or whatever we do? We can make excuses, but it is selfishness not to pray for others. When we stop in the middle of our day and pray for somebody else, it is then where God moves in our lives and in the lives of those we pray for. 

Look at Job. (Old Testament book of Job in the Bible) “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6-12 ESV)

Satan asked God if he could sift Job. God allowed Satan the freedom and he took away Job’s children, his health, wealth and afflicted him. Job’s wife also spoke evil to Job.

“Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”But he said to her, “you speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9, 10 ESV)

Job’s three friend’s who brought him comfort in the beginning, over time, even they began to accuse Job. What did Job do in response? He prayed (interceded to God) on his friends behalf. His prayer changed everything.

Job cries to God
“My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbour.” (Job 16:20, 21 ESV)

God rebukes Jobs friends
Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:8 ESV)

The Lord Restores Jobs fortunes
“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.  “And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10 ESV)

God said, “this man is selfless” and God restored Job’s fortunes. If you are going through something, pray for somebody else. Stop worrying about yourself and pray for your friends. God will bless you and give you double for your trouble. If you plan on praying for somebody else, make sure you have your righteousness together. Make sure your heart has been cleansed with repentance. Christ gives us His righteousness when we seek His kingdom and righteousness. The prayers of a righteous person avails much. If your heart is not right with God, he will not hear your prayers. Get your heart right with God. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)

Satan is still at work today seeking to destroy followers of Christ Jesus.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. (Matthew 10:16-19 ESV)

The devil will dangle a carrot in front of you. Satan’s temptations can come disguised in a box of chocolates. Satan wants to get you away from God. He will exploit your weakness. He plays on that weakness. Sin will cause you to fall. If you are walking close with God, Satan wants to bring you down. If you are not doing anything for God, Satan will not bother you.Though your fellowship with God may be disturbed, it can be restored. 

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26, 27 ESV)

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour.” (Galatians 6:1-4 ESV)

Holy Spirit Intercedes and Jesus is interceding for you and me that none of us will fall. Jesus told Peter that when he received forgiveness, he was to stop and help the brothers in Christ. He is asking us to do the same thing. Help someone else. Pray for one another and carry each other’s burdens. Amen.

Inspired by sermon notes
Hope For Today

Holiness

Holiness is a characteristic of God.
What is Holiness?
Wikipedia definition – It is that which sets God apart holy or sacred. Holiness is to be clean or pure. to “be ye holy” a biblical commandment from book of Leviticus 20:7.

Years back I read a book called “In the “Pursuit of Holiness”. I remember when I was reading it that my husband laughed and said that I was one of the Holiest people he knew. He obviously didn’t know what the word holiness meant or at the very most what the bible said about being Holy. Now years later I can look back and see that I still have a long way to go, before I ever achieve such status. It is always good to check ourselves with what the word of God teaches. Last Sunday we were given that challenge. It is a big challenge. I can only speak for myself, but I can imagine that I was not the only one sitting in the Sunday service having my conscience seared with the verses our Pastor reminded us to reread. Conviction hung in the air like a heavy cloud on Sunday morning and I’m sure if we are all honest with ourselves and with God, we could have each taken a turn and stood up and confessed our weakness and our sin. In case you missed the service last Sunday, here is a recap. Before we go through the Sermon notes, let us pray for Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and also empower us to seek change and a closer walk with Christ our Saviour. Amen! I’ll use the first person approach as if relating these questions to me personally and you can do the same.

Do I have a heart of holiness? Good question.
Saved, born again. There are three things that are true.
1. People are dead in sin.
2. We are born children of wrath (devil) until we become children of God.
3. Only faith in Christ can save us.

(Acts 4:12 ESV) “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

(John 14:6 ESV) “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The closer you are to someone the more you become like that person. That is why we should hang out with Jesus. Bad company corrupts good character. We should become more like Jesus. We become Holy because He is Holy. How do I get close to Jesus?

1. Read the Word
2. Spend time with Jesus.
3. Talk to Jesus. Communicate.
4. Don’t ignore Him
5. Be obedient to Him.
6. Seek after Holiness.
7. Repent

What Holiness is not: It is not thinking you are better than others.

The world is watching to see how His Holiness is affecting our lives. They are watching to see what you say when you hit your thumb with a hammer or how you react when someone cuts you off. I like that saying, “when you point one finger at someone, there is usually three other fingers pointing back. People are watching how Christians argue and fight among themselves. Is that shinning His light before men? I don’t think so. Many are religious but not lovers of God, not seeking after holiness. Hitler could be used as an example of someone who made free use of Christian vocabulary. He became a pillar within the government. He told many stories, displayed his tattered bible for people to see. The people welcomed him as a man of God. Many people show an outward appearance of being religious, but inwardly they are not.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (1 Peter 1:14, 15 ESV)

(1 Peter 2:12 ESV) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

When you are saved, God Holy Spirit transforms you. Do not be conformed to your passions of former ignorance.
(Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

(Colossians 3:5, 6 ESV)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17 ESV)

1. Strive for peace and holiness or you will not see The Lord.
2. Obtain the grace. Change your the way you live.
3. You may not have holiness and may be rejected and not have an inheritance.

What is wrong with the Church?
We are called to stand out.

(Matthew 5:14, 15 ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

Seeing The Lord is being in His presence.

How often do we feel the joy of Jesus in our life?
You can’t stand still as a Christian. If you are not growing than you are standing still.

a. Because our God is Holy we need to be Holy. Be identified as God’s child. Make Him proud.
b. It is not an option.
c. Be separate from the world.
d. Speak, look, walk like the Shepherd.
e. Our world is watching.

(1 Peter 2:12 ESV)”Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

(1 Peter 2:9 ESV) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

(Colossians 3:2, 3 ESV) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

(1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV) “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.”

A true test of a dogs loyalty. A dog will go out when you open the door and come back when he gets hungry. A loyal, dog will stay by your side when you open the door.

Point: The true test of loyalty is if you run off in disobedience or if you stay in ear shot of Jesus.

(Colossians 4:5, 6 ESV) “We as believers are ambassadors of Christ Jesus. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

(1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV) “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.”

In my pursuit of God’s Holiness I must draw closer to Jesus. First by recognizing the many truths of instruction on how to achieve such a high calling, I have a part to play; choices to make. Our Pastor gave a wonderful illustration to help us understand what many of us do. We have been going to church services for years and are proud to proclaim our Christianity. In the illustration we have three models. One represents God, one represents the Christian and the third represents the world. God stands on one side, the Christian stands to the right side of God and the world stands on the right side of the Christian. Many times, the world moves farther away from God and the Christian moves with the world rather than closer to God. We justify our behaviour by saying well I’m still closer to God. Yet over time the gap between the Christian and God grows in expanse. We wonder why we can’t hear God as clearly. I could relate to the illustration. It is so easy to think we are playing it safe. After all, I’m saved and I’m not like them. How am I different? Yet if one were to look from a distance at the two standing side-by-side, how could anyone differentiate the two. If we as believers draw closer to Jesus, how much more, His Holiness will radiate into us. Wouldn’t it be an accurate conclusion to say that others would see a true genuine difference. Many of the scripture verses we just read would have our name written within each phrase:

1. His light shines through me to all.
2. I am Holy because He is Holy.
3. I am a light on a hill.
4. I do not have only an outward appearance or religion, but an inward Holy Spirit transformation.
5. I am walking in wisdom with His gracious, seasoned salt.
6 I walk in obedience to God.
7. My mind is being transformed to be more like the mind of Christ.
8. My actions would line up with His will.
9. I am better equipped to proclaim the excellencies of the one who called me.
10. My life glorifies my Heavenly Father and His Son Christ Jesus.

(World) + (Christian) = compromise                                           (God = Holiness)

(World)                                                                          (Christian + God = Holiness)

Inspired by Sermon notes – Sunday March 3/14
Pastor Bryan Vaughn
http://www.hopefortoday.ca

Hope Floats

Hope Floats.

Hope Floats

Hope Floats                                                                                                                                                    Image

I want you to know that I don’t particularly feel qualified to give anyone advice. Many times I have had to bail a boat. My parents had a boat rental business when I was a child. Every time the winds blew and the rains came, meant I had to get that big bucket and sponge to work. In life the storms come and sometimes it does seem like our life boat is sinking. What do we do when that happens? I’m going to give one solution which always has proved to help me keep my life boat afloat.

Speaking here to fellow believers (followers) of Christ Jesus: Sometimes we must get out of our comfort zone. We don’t just  accept The Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and then go sit back in the lazy boy for the rest of our lives. Jesus said, “now go and do”.

We all have many things we are good at. As a body of believers we need to all put the buckets in the boat, remove the water, fix the leaks and get all oars rowing in the same direction. So, we figure out what that is and get involved. This morning, is our first attempt at a ladies breakfast. Already, many hands have step forward and helped to put this event together.

You see… Hope Floats with all oars in the Water. I want to encourage the body of Christ to get your oars in the water and get that boat moving for Christ. Share the gospel with as many people as possible. Every part of the Body is necessary for great success. Think of the half empty life boats when the Titanic sank. We the Body represents Christ’s life boats. If we believe what is written within the Bible, we can see the storm is coming. Let each of us offer the HOPE that FLOATS. Have you ever watched that movie called “Hope Floats”? At the end of the movie the mother and daughter are summing up the meaning of life. The mother says, “There are the things we remember from years ago. There is the beginning, the in-between and then there is the future. All good things eventually float to the top.” The topic has nothing to do with the movie. But it did get me thinking about the meaning of Hope.

What is hope?

How do we first receive Hope? By receiving Jesus Christ not only as our Saviour but also The Lord of our lives. Jesus is HOPE.

Once we have that Hope how do we share it with others individually and as a Body of Christ?

1.  By working together with all ores in the water.

2.  By sharing our faith and the truths written within the Bible. That is why it is so important to know scripture, the infallible Word of God”. What are we called by God to do?

Disciples making disciples. That is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is about. teaching, praying for others for healing and deliverance. Building a relationship and always growing in that relationship with Christ Jesus and at the same time reaching out to the lost or hurting.

3.  We also give hope to others by listening to someone who is struggling and helping them to gain a right perspective.

4.  By doing this we are showing God’s love – Jesus and Holy Spirit manifested through us.

5.  By praying for others and with them. Prayer is a powerful weapon. Prayer is effective in helping to restore those who are struggling to either find or regain the hope. We have an enemy who loves to steal our hope and our joy and our faith.

6.  To be an effective part of the body of Christ, we also need to know the enemy’s schemes and recognize his interference. He likes to make the first ripples in the storm. Often the storms can be calmed quickly before they turn into a category 4 storm. Sometimes the little ripples can cause great destruction within our lives or the lives of others. It might be as simple as recognizing our impatience with our spouse or with other people. How quickly a little snap of the tongue can cause a great wound or a quick reaction in our anger.

7.  Be quick to ask forgiveness from God and from those we may offend. Lord knows we are not perfect. Our hope floats like a lily pad. Sometimes that lily pad has to sit in the weed bed for a while before it get picked and set in a beautiful dish of water on someone’s coffee table.  Also quick to forgive. Quick to focus on the hope of Christ.

Dictionary Definition of Hope

Hope is the combination of expectation and desire, a feeling of trust. To set one’s hope on something or doing something, where there may seem a glimmer of hope. Hoping against all odds, a person or things that give cause for hope.

Bible definition of Hope

As for a Bible definition: Our hope is an absolute assurance. We are to have unwavering confidence in Jesus, who is our Hope, as we patiently wait for His return. Our hope is anchored in the Character of God Himself, who is unshakable, and unchangeable:

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful”.

Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

We read many scripture verses where faith and hope work together. Kind of like two oars in a boat.

Bible definition of Faith

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Peace with God Through Faith

Romans 5: 1-5(ESV) “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Where do we find our hope?

Do we put our hope in other things, other people, our security in our jobs or do we put our hope in The Lord Jesus Christ? When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we don’t need to fear or be anxious about anything. That is where faith and hope work together. I think of Jesus and the disciples and their experience or should I say lesson about how hope floats.

Jesus Walks on the Water Matthew 14:22-32 ESV

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[b] from the land,[c] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Also we see another example of disciples literal storm which we can use as a parallel to our personal life storms.

MATTHEW 8:23-27

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great wind storm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

In that storm the waves were almost capsizing the boat and the disciples began to fear that their boat was going to sink. What do we do when we feel like our boat is beginning to sink?

Do we begin to look at the waves capsizing our ship and focus on the problem? Do we react like Peter? or Do we take our eyes off the problem and put them on what floats (Jesus, the one who walked on water and didn’t sink. He is our hope that floats.

I like to watch some movies. Patch Adams. Based on a true story. He tried to overcome depression with humour. While sitting in the insane asylum this genius Mathematician  who was also in the asylum, he asked Patch a question. How many fingers do you see. At first the Mathematician was frustrated because Patch only saw the four fingers. He could only see what was in front of him. But when Patch looked past the four fingers – the problem, he gained an entirely new perspective. He began to see a solution rather than the problem.

In life we all go through the storms. Many people suffer in many different ways. I know of five people within my life time, some family, some friends and a neighbour who committed suicide.

In each case lives where shattered. Their boats capsized by the waves of life. Sometimes many of the waves are caused by many of our own choices and consequences. They didn’t have the Hope that Floats. All they could see was the tangled web (the four fingers) I imagine they could not see any way out of that dark tunnel of despair they were living in. So Sad… Because I know them all quite well, I tend to question if they invited Jesus into that sinking boat. There are so many people out there battling the waves in their own strength. It is a tough way to live life. Even when you are a Christian it can be really difficult at times. We must always remember the Hope that Floats and focus on Him – Jesus Christ.

One of my favourite verses I like to meditate on when my faith is attacked is:

Matthew 6:25-34 ESV “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Sometimes those storms teach us many valuable lessons. I know every storm in my life God has taught me a valuable lesson. These lessons are part of our growth. Our faith grows and with it our Hope grows. When that happens we can walk on water with all ores in the living water.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37, 38 ESV)

As the Body of Christ (similar to the disciples in the boat that day) we put our trust and faith in the Hope that Floats. We are called as a Body of believers and followers of Christ Jesus to work together synchronously with all oars moving in the same direction. A boat full of fishermen or women. We have a job to do. There are many people who desperately need to find that Hope that Floats – Hope that saves and empowers us to keep paddling until we reach that final destination. We only stay in that storm so long. Sometimes self-pity, un-forgiveness, anger, bitterness can keep us shackled to the ores. That is not what God wants. No, he wants us to eventually also get out of that boat and walk on water with him and share that hope of Jesus Christ. My challenge to each one of us is to commit to go and do.

Message written by Rebecca Robinson – ladies breakfast Feb. 15,2014

Place – Hope for Today Fellowship

Looking through the eyes of Jesus

Looking through the eyes of Jesus

When I was a child I acted like a child, spoke like a child and thought like a child. I had the faith of a child. Some children have innocence in their character. That character changes from the day they are born. I often think of my son Kyle and when he was about two years old, I would take him to playgroup to interact with other children. The children had all these toys to play with. I remember the way the little toddlers behaved. Some of these little ones, with angelic faces, had already developed a selfish character. They took ownership of the toys. Some were just nasty and hit the other little children over the head with the toys. I remember my son generously sharing the toys with the other children. It is not just because he is my son that I say this. He seemed different from the other children. Yes I was very proud of him. When the other children would take the toys away from him and say, “that is my toy”, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my son. Kyle was a giver, not a taker. He handled the situation quite well for a two year old.
His character as a two year old was probably better than mine. While he could easily forgive, I wanted to spank their little bottoms. You could do that back in the day. I didn’t. As an adult, I could process things differently than a child. A lifetime of experiences had tainted my adult mind and that affected my character and the way my eyes looked at the situation. We all have had different experiences which have molded our character; some for good and others not so good. Plain intellect can taint the way we see things and our character can be governed more by our experiences. With a steadfast and sure faith in Christ Jesus and the Word of God, we can add a spiritual component to influence both our intellect and character to work together. This changes the dynamics of our reactions to others and can help us to look with the eyes of Christ. When we look at life or other people through the eyes of Christ Jesus, we can see things in a totally different way. We can look at life, people, situations, hardships, circumstances and even our own belief system with different eyes, from a different perspective.
In the physical, people have eye problems. I have a friend who is coloured blind. When my husband and many of our friends neared the age of forty, our vision began to change and many of us wear glasses to read. Some are far sighted or near sighted; others may have eye misalignment or a lazy eye.
In the spiritual we can have eye problems too. Lazy eyes can make it difficult for us to see the needs of other people of a different persuasion. Whether they have different beliefs, language, colour of skin or cultural background, our eyes help us decide how we respond or think. Let’s go to a biblical example:

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida – Mark 8:22-25 (ESV)

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus[a] laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

First of all, if you saw some guy spitting on someone’s eyes, you would probably stop what you are doing, look, and be thinking, what is that guy doing? It wouldn’t make sense. Jesus spits on the man’s eyes and he was healed of his blindness but the man could see people as trees. When Jesus touched the man’s eyes again, the man could see clearly. Many times we are like that man. Sometimes we don’t see clearly. When we don’t see with good vision, everything can be affected in our lives and in the lives of others. There is usually a domino effect. Let’s also look at another example:

Jesus Begins His Ministry – Luke 4:14-15 (ESV)
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth – Luke 4:16-21 (ESV)
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: Isaiah 61:1-11 and Leviticus 25:8-12
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In the previous verses read, this took place on the Sabbath day. Jesus went to synagogue. Today, many Christians and other religions, it is called church and most churches hold the Sabbath on Sunday as the early Christian Church were in the habit of meeting on the first day of the week. For the Jews it is called Synagogue. Determining what day should be observed as Sabbath, is a controversial subject between Christians, Messianic Jews and those of the Yeshua-faith. Messianic Jews keep Shabbat ( Sundown Friday until Sundown Saturday). Messianic Jews go to Synagogue on Erev Shabbat( Sabbath Eve~ Friday) and many meet for Torah study on Shabbos(Saturday) and many meet for Havdalah( End of the Sabbath~Saturday at dusk) service.

The early Church met on (day of Pentecost) what we know as Sunday, for them “the first day of the week”, but most would have continued in the Jewish tradition of Sabbath worship (Acts 2), meeting on Saturday also, with their Christian brothers and sisters. Acts 2:42 seems to indicate that the format they followed was very similar to their worship in the synagogue. It was the celebration of the Lord’s Supper that set apart their worship, as followers of Christ, from the regular Jewish worship. Of course that could not be incorporated into Sabbath worship, so they started to meet on Sunday as well.  If you want to dig further, see http://www.biblelessons.com/origins.html   or http://www.gci.org/law/sabbath1

In the example from Luke, the people in attendance are looking at Jesus as a carpenter’s son (son of Joseph) Jesus reads the scroll (scroll was the Nevi’im, the book of the Prophets, in which were the writings of Isaiah)) Jesus read a verse from the book of Isaiah. Picture all these people sitting there watching Jesus and listening to him read this scroll. The Synagogue is considered a Holy place. After reading it, Jesus hands them back the scroll and sat down. All eyes looking at Jesus (son of Joseph). I imagine they were quite shocked when he said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” If you play basketball, you might call this a slam dunk for Jesus. Can you imagine? Jesus was reading an old testament (scroll) prophesy about himself. Wow! That passage was Jesus mission statement to proclaim the good news to the poor. Save the lost, and set the captives free.

1. Why did he say preach the good news to the poor? Why not the rich?  We are called to do what Jesus did. We are followers of Christ. That makes us His disciples to preach the Word of God as He instructed us to preach it. People thought being rich meant that they were favoured by God or blessed.

“Luke 6:20 (ESV) 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20….”

Poor referred to as an example of those who welcome Jesus’ message, as oppose to the rich, who were less likely to think they needed anything! “While, then, the blessedness he spoke of belonged not to the poor because they were poor, yet it seemed to belong to them especially as a class, because they welcomed the Master and tried to share his life, while the rich and powerful as a class did not.”( http://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/6-20.htm).

2.  “Have you ever fallen from the favour of God? Can you fall out of favour of God? Can you even find favour with God? 3. Jesus came to set the captives free? Who are the captives? Anyone who is enslaved to sin. Everyone who ever lived or lives.

4. He came to give sight to the spiritually blind, to open their eyes to see the truth about life and death and to unveil the truth so that all of mankind would know eternal salvation through Christ Jesus. The gospel he proclaimed in the synagogue could set those who were there listening on that Sabbath day free. Jesus wanted them to see the truth found in Him, the Son of God. Jesus read that scroll for all people who have lived through the centuries and also for us who live today. Those in the synagogue did not have eyes to see. Luke 4:29 and they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.

5. He came to help the oppressed.

6. He came to proclaim the year of the Lords favour, also known as the year of Jubilee. (The Israelites were to periodically observe a year of Jubilee, during which time slaves would be set free, the debts would be forgiven and they would receive many blessings.) They failed to observe this practice and God’s judgement was upon them. When Jesus said this is the year of Jubilee, Christ was talking about all their debts being forgiven. Jesus did that by dying on the cross.

Jesus mission was a people-focused mission. It is what made him see people the way only he could see them, with a heart of compassion. Time and time again Jesus showed his compassion through his life ministry whenever he encountered sick, blind, grieving people. He interacted with people. There are so many examples:

A Sinful Woman Forgiven – Luke 7:36-48 (ESV)
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The woman washed his feet with her tears. Jesus saw her as a loving follower of Christ. He saw her differently than how Simon saw her. Jesus looks at people with compassion in order to help them. Our mission is to be like Jesus. Don’t look with your eyes, but look with the eyes of Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your mission. You will then discover ways to show others the love of Christ, by fulfilling the gospel and doing what Jesus told us to do.

Inspired by Sermon notes.

http://hopefortoday.ca

Pastor – Rev. Bryan Vaughan

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

When I think of the Good Samaritan, I think of the parable Jesus told to the lawyer (an expert in religious law)

Luke 10:25-37 ESV – The Most Important Commandment

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He (Jesus) said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

What is the motive of the lawyer?

When the lawyer asked how to receive eternal life, he was trying to make Jesus look like a fool. Jesus did not fall for the question. Instead, Jesus answered the question with a question when he replied, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer knew the law and answered, 27“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  28 And he (Jesus) said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Jesus answered his question by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:29-37 (Esv) The Parable of the Good Samaritan

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man  was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denari[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

After reading the parable we see that the first people introduced are two robbers (example of evil trying to kill, steal and destroy) and we then read about four other people in the parable. The first man mentioned was the victim. He was robbed and stripped bare of his clothing. The man was beaten to within an inch of his life and then left on the side of the road to die.

The second person mentioned was a priest, who had the first opportunity to help the beaten man. The priest saw the man and crossed over to the other side of the road to avoid him. In that day and age, a Jewish priest was a highly recognized and respected man of God and teacher of the laws. Presently, in 2014, we could put Christians (followers of Christ) into that position because if you are a follower of Christ, you are also considered to be a priest.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Followers of Christ are a people called by God to fulfill the gospel of Christ and adhere to His teachings which would include the many parables of Christ’s teachings. The priest in the parable walked right by the dying man and did not stop to help him. To avoid and not help a fellow Jew would have been a disgrace to him as a Priest. He would have been breaking the law of loving his neighbour. That is perhaps why he chose not to get close enough to find out that the victim was indeed a Jew. The man was unconscious and did not have clothes which would suggest he was a Jew. Before Christ, a priest was the mediator or spokesman between God and man. He had a huge responsibility. Today, we know that because of Christ we no longer need a priest in that way. We are called to pray and we have a mediator.

1 Timothy 2 (ESV)
Pray for All People –  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

The next person mentioned in the parable is a Levite, descendents of Levi and not Aaron. A Levite was not as honoured as a priest. A Levite had responsibilities to take care of the temple and assist the priests. Again, the Levite was someone within the priesthood who held a position of responsibility, yet in the parable he also crossed over to the other side of the road and ignored the man and left him to die.

The fourth person mentioned was a Samaritan; A member of the modern community in the region of Nablus claiming descent from them, adhering to a form of Judaism accepting only its own ancient version of the Pentateuch as Scripture. Footnote

Samaritans were not considered to be pure Jews, but they did follow the law. They separated themselves from the Jews and started a new group of believers. The Jews did not like them. They looked down on them. The Samaritan, while not a full believing Jew, did stop and help the victim.

The Samaritan is a modern day example of how a follower of Christ should respond to someone in need. Many people, if asked, would say that they are Christians. The real mark of a Christian is that they follow Christ Jesus and seek to be like Him and while doing so, also seek to fulfill the gospel of Christ, (what He also taught). The name Christian is actually a Greek word. Anyone can call themselves Christian. In the parable, Jesus, was saying, it is not what you call yourself, but who you really are in Christ.

Let us look at the example of the Samaritan and how he responded. Recognize the characteristics he displayed in helping the victim:

  1.  Samaritan showed compassion and mercy by stopping and caring for the victim.
  2. He put the beaten man on his donkey and walked him to town for help.
  3. He took a risk to his own safety by helping the man. The neighbourhood he was in was also dangerous to him.
  4. He gave up his time and put aside his own needs as to care for the victim.
  5. The Samaritan sacrificed his own reputation.
  6. Without hesitation, the Samaritan gave of his own money to help him.

In the parable the lawyer asked Jesus, which of the people acted like a neighbour? (Like he couldn’t figure it out?) In context – a neighbour was someone of the same religion or race.  The Samaritan was not a full Jew. That being said, if anyone didn’t meet the qualifications than they were released from the law. Based on the law or in that context, the priest and the Levite did not fulfill the law of Moses whether or not they knew the victim was a Jew. In their case one might conclude that they could use that old excuse, we never knew he was a Jew.  Jesus answered the lawyers question and it had nothing to do with the Jewish meaning of ‘neighbour’. Jesus said, “He that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do though likewise.” The Samaritan loved his neighbour by caring for the man. It was that simple.

It is a big challenge to anyone to be like that Samaritan, whether we call ourselves Christians or followers of Christ or if we have no faith at all. The example Jesus was teaching in this parable is not beyond our capabilities. Every one of us, if put into a situation like that, could choose to respond in the same way. Every day we are given opportunities to help others. It could be something as simple as a telephone call to a neighbour. We could start simple, if that is what it takes. Visit a patient at the hospital or someone who is shut in and can’t leave their residence. Visit with a lonely person at a convalescence home and listen to them, pray with them, or make them a bowl of soup. Buy someone a coffee that has to work out in the cold or write a note of encouragement to someone. Make a dinner; give a hug and a smile. Tell someone you love them. Pay for someone’s groceries. Take someone who has no transportation to an appointment. There are so many ways we can be a Good Samaritan.

I’m almost certain that there are many times when many of us try to justify ourselves in the same way the lawyer tried to do. We are afraid of the risk to us. Often, the problem is that we don’t take any risks. We like to be comfortable and safe. “Complacency is like being locked in a can without a can opener. None of the good stuff gets out.” That was my quote. The excuse list is as full as our face book walls. Sometimes it might mean we need to sacrifice our time, money, reputation and safety. Yes, even our safety. All that we have does not belong to us anyway. It all belongs to God. That would include our lives.

AHEAD – Life is full of detours. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and sometimes we do. We might even surprise ourselves by getting off the donkey and helping a stranger in need. We never know what can happen on that detour or how our help could change that person’s life in some way. Sometimes the way of the detour (rarely), but it could mean giving up our life for someone. It may mean, I have to take a stand and do what is right rather than what is safe. I challenge you to ask yourselves these questions which I am asking myself:

  1. Am I the kind of person who is willing to take a detour to save someone’s life?
  2. Am I willing to bless someone else with the things God has blessed me with?
  3. How can I be Christ’s arms reaching out to someone?
  4. Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and offer help to those rejected and beaten down?
  5. Am I willing to help someone even if it costs me financially?
  6. Am I willing to risk my all?
  7. Am I willing to be like Jesus? 

Or

  1. Do I turn my head and walk the other way?
  2. Do I let that person, neighbour or friend succumb to their problem?
  3. Do I leave the elderly person to sit in her loneliness or sadness?
  4. What will be the choices I make? 

The list could be as full as my face book page. A lot of us look for the loop holes. We behave like that lawyer. I must get off that same comfortable, safe path of life, “Stop being a couch potato. They eventually decay.” Do something different for someone else. Store up my treasure in heaven. By doing these things, I will be loving my neighbour. 

To wrap this all together:

1Peter 2:18-22 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”

Praise, honour and glory to God forever.

Quote of the day: “The life you live will soon be past, but the things you do for love will last.” Author unknown

Inspired by Sermon Notes

Hope For Today Fellowship

Teaching: Pastor Bryan Vaughn

http://hopefortoday.ca

Refocus – Turning a New Leaf

Refocus – Turning a New Leaf

For years I have lived in the past by allowing some of my hurtful experiences to continue to have power over me. I’ve built walls around myself to protect me from getting hurt again. Sometimes, I have slowly sunk into a depressed state of mind. I’ve lived in fear of repeating past behaviours, fearing the same devastating outcome.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (KJV)18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Every one of us struggles with past grievances, rejection, death of loved ones. Some deal with memories of abuse, unfaithfulness and the list goes on and on. Consider all these past experiences as nothing more than bullies who love to taunt us and keep us from knowing the freedom we can have when we face that bully and tell him, no more.

Isaiah is reminding us that there is newness in letting go of the past. God can give you new found freedom to move forward, to change old behaviours and find deliverance from sin, find freedom in forgiveness and no longer live in fear. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God has always offered this newness of life to His people. On the other hand, there is also another power working against God and us. We know who he is and he is the father of lies, a wolf in sheep clothing, destroyer, devil, thief or Satan. He has many disguises and also many names.

John 10:10 (NASB) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.

The devil does not want us to have a fresh start. He loves to remind us of our past sins. It keeps us spinning our wheels, until we get caught in a rut that seems too big to get out of. We can begin to think, God could never forgive me. I’m too much of a sinner for God to love me. Or you don’t know the things I’ve done. And on and on the lies go. God can forgive everyone.

1 John 1:9 (NASB) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God wants us to start something new with HIM. Get excited. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of spinning my wheels. I want to be excited about life, about the future. I had to ask myself this question. Do I listen to the lies of Satan more than I listen to the voice of God? I had to admit that the answer has been yes. Many times I listened to the wrong voice and I realize that in doing so, I am hindering my growth. Going forward, I’m going to try to look at the things of the future and see change for the better. God promises to forget our sin.

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB) 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Psalm 103:12 (NASB) 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Isaiah 38:17 (NASB) 17 “Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is You who has [a]kept my soul from the pit of [b]nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”

Micah 7:19 (NASB) 19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all [a]their sins into the depths of the sea.

Most people say they forgive. First time something goes wrong in a relationship, the old things come up. We become historical. What God cares about is that we are in a relationship with Jesus. He is interested in what we are going to do in our future, not what sins we did in the past.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB) 18 “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.19 “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

When we sin, God will discipline His children because He is a loving God/Father. “He disciplines those He loves, but God will not leave us. How many times did God forgive Israel? Too many times to count. Israel could remember how God delivered them and they could remember the former things God did for them, but they could not see their future. I know I have been like the Israelites at times. Have you? There may be times when we might feel like we don’t have a future. Our lives can seem so messed up and it can be so difficult to see or imagine things could ever get better. God is saying that we have a future.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NASB) 11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

So, all this being said, what do I need to do to change?

  1. Stop making excuses and get on with it.
  2. Stop seeing myself as the victim.
  3. People can scar us, but the only person who can ruin my life, is me.
  4. Respond to these hurts and move on.
  5. Don’t allow myself to linger in the stench of my own insecurities.
  6. Evaluate my life experiences and see what I have left.
  7. If I don’t learn from past experiences, I will keep repeating the same mistakes.
  8. Take bad memories and replace them with good ones.
  9. Don’t give up; success is just around the corner.
  10. Faith is the absence of fear.

People who are good at giving excuses are not good at anything. I’m going to stop making excuses and be the change I want to be. God will change us, but I also have to do my part. I have to take that step into the future. Confront the bullies and move them out of the way.

Was it raining when Noah built his ark? It was not raining. It took one hundred and twenty years to build the ark. It probably hadn’t even rained on planet earth up to that point in time. God instructed Noah in how to build the Ark. After much preparation and detail it was completed. The animals were secured within the Ark and the future of the people who lived at that time would be determined. It began to rain for forty days and forty nights and most of us know the story. Some believe the bible to be true and like many who thought Noah was crazy, people today believe God, about as much as the people who stayed outside the Ark believed. We know what happened to them.

Here we are today, standing outside that Ark. God is instructing us with His knowledge on how to build our future. We need to prepare for our future and face the problems which will come. We must be like Noah and listen to God’s instructions. Pride keeps us from listening. I come back to that question, who am I going to choose to listen to?

Proverbs 16:18  (KJV) 18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 24:10  (KJV) 10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

Galatians 3:4 “Did you suffer so many things in vain if indeed it was in vain?”

Romans 12:2  (KJV)2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We can’t change who we are, God changes us (the inward man), the heart of the man (person).

Zechariah 4:6 (NASB) Then he [a]said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.

Conclusion – Will I have a fresh/new start in life? Yes I will, when I act in faith and refocus old thought patterns into new ones. How do I dispel fear of failure? Walk by faith, not by sight. In 2014 what will be changed to make it better than last year?

The goal is to be changed into the image of Christ day after day. If we don’t have Christ, our lives will be no different. We need God to change us and that will change our lives.

Quote “Enthusiasm is the baking powder of life. Without it, you’re flat; with it, you rise.” Author unknown.

Blog inspired by notes taken under teaching.

Pastor Bryan Vaughan
http://www.hopefortoday.ca/
183 Simcoe Ave. Keswick, ON
Making Disciples who make Disciples

Burnt Potatoes

I’m reflecting over the last year of my life. Isn’t that what we do when we begin a new year? We look back at our mistakes as to try to improve. We think of the happy memories, laugh a little, cry a little and move forward. Where did 2013 go? What did it accomplish or what did I accomplish? Hopefully, I did more than burn the potatoes, burn bridges or extinguish the flame on a three wick candle. Did I barely escape the fire of hell with only a smouldering bum?

In 2013 we said goodbye to my Aunt Birdie and my neighbour Chris as they both passed. I spent much of the year still trying to understand all the knowledge within the  bible. I also read other books and learned a lot about change and how to become a good Christian woman rather than a nice one. I learned it is better to do what is good rather than what may seem nice. I’ve enjoyed many wonderful moments of prayer, praise and worship before the Lord. Seen old friends go and new people enter my life.

I’ve experienced struggle with temptation in a variety of ways. To my own disappointment, at times I even lost my struggle when temptation won over me. This is not a confession to you, but a way of processing the things I need to change. Process makes progress. Sometimes it can seem like a continual state of repentance and prayer. Actually that is a good thing. I’ve wondered why at times my flesh (sin nature) seems to be stronger than my desire to please God. I actually heard a woman speaking on talk radio today, who said something that might answer that question. She is an alcoholic who had given up drinking for three years. One night at a bachelorette party, someone gave her some champagne. In that moment she thought, what the heck, one glass won’t hurt me. I’m no different from any other person. I don’t have that problem anymore. She was pregnant at the time. That one drink sent her back into alcoholism and the addiction took over her life. She gave birth to her baby and loved her baby very much, but the power of the addiction was stronger than her love for her baby. End of story, she wrote a book about her struggle and she did finally go back into programs which helped her with the addiction. The point I am making, is that as much as she loved her child that temptation was stronger. It can be similar to the love Christians have for the Lord God. For example it could be as simple a temptation as losing your temper. You know you shouldn’t do that, but you do.  Afterwards, the thoughts of failure set in. For Christians another temptation may enter – a temptation to believe you are not really saved, you don’t have the Holy Spirit, you are a terrible person and on and on the lies of Satan go. The temptation is to believe the lies.

The world is full of evil and sinful temptations. What is a temptation anyway? In my way of thinking, it is when you are enticed to do something that internally you know is not good for you or good for someone else. It  is being enticed, enslaved or even self persuaded to do something you know does not meet your own moral code or  the moral code of the Creator God. I believe every human was created with a sense of right from wrong, unless you are a  psychopath. Who really knows? The mind is one of the biggest battle grounds for evil to capture. Many of our sinful or evils desires are birthed in the mind and through our thoughts. I suppose that is why scripture tells us:

2 Corinthians 10:5

Amplified Bible (AMP)

5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),

It is at that point we must stop the thought before acting on it. Choice will enter the equation. Taking action is taking that thought captive by putting it in that little jar within your mind and snuff the death out of it. Don’t allow that temptation any air to breathe or grow. If you take those thoughts captive, most likely that temptation will be put out of you mind.

Over this past year, I have come to the conclusion that even as a Christian, I will always be faced with struggle and temptations. Even though I am seeking to live better, be a better person and to become more knowledgable, I want to look beyond my little bubble of a world and learn about God, about His love, grace, mercy, and grow in relationship with my Saviour Jesus. Within that idea, I also want to learn about the discipline of God, so I can better discipline myself and also grow in His righteousness.  There is so much to learn. I am really only scratching the surface and my fingernails are not very long.

So, as much as I try not to, I’ll probably burn the potatoes once in a while and in a weak moment, I’ll probably lose my temper and act like an idiot with little self-control.  That being said, I’m not condoning sinful behaviour. We should try not to sin. When or if that happens, I’ll once again be reminded just how much of a sinner I am and just how much I need a Saviour and that Saviour is Christ Jesus.

1 John 1:9

If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful andjust (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

Each time I am cleansed by Him, that sin load becomes a little lighter over time, and with God’s help, I will win more and more battles against temptation.

Now we enter into 2014. We begin the New Year with no mistakes in it, yet. Take one day at a time. Conquer one sin at a time. Be strong and courageous. Take a stand on that battle field, whatever the battle might be against. Do it in God’s strength. There is victory in Jesus. It is not just a song sung at the Salvation Army. Take comfort in knowing that you do not have to fight the battle on your own. We can try to do it on our own, but the likelihood is that we will fail.

I believe there is a big misconception or view about Christians or church goers. So many people don’t go to church or want anything to do with it.  One reason is because they assume that people who go to church every Sunday and claim to be Christians, think they have life all figured out, that we don’t struggle with sin or have problems. That is not true. We all have sinned. People who view Christians this way often say that the church is full of hypocrites. There are hypocrites outside the church too. They are in the workplaces and everywhere. Many of us at times, have a need to pretend to be something we are not because we think we won’t be accepted the way we are. Maybe 2014 is a good time to be real, be you. We can try to fool others or even ourselves but we can never fool God. Walk with me throughout this New Year and follow my blog and we can learn and grow together, and change for the better. One day we will graduate from this world and meet God face to face. Until then, I’ll go to church and meet people just like you and me, people with needs, problems; people who deep down are really seeking something more than this world has to offer. That is one reason why people go to church. Deep down inside each of us, there is a desire to know about God in a personal way. Church does seem like a good place to begin that journey.

I have to close this blog and go and turn down my potatoes. I don’t want to burn them again. Funny thing is, I don’t even remember turning on the burner last time that I boiled the pot dry.

Have a wonderful 2014

In Christ’s love and amazing strength.

If you sometimes feel like you just don’t cut it. Maybe this song will encourage you. All He ever wanted was our hearts.

No Greater Love

No Greater Love – Click here to hear my love song to Jesus.

One might do something nice for a neighbour, a friend, family member or even a stranger. Can you imagine giving up your life for another or giving up your life for someone who hates you? There are heroes, who have done this. Jesus said, “There is no Greater Love than a man lay down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13)

We know that Jesus walked the talk and was the perfect example. He was sinless, yet, He took on the sins of the world. This song is my appreciation to Him – recognition and praise to my Saviour for doing this for me. I too am a sinner. Thank you Father for your perfect son, for your grace and for providing a way of atonement and redemption not only for me, but also for all who receive Your gift of love. I receive your Love and Give back to you my Lord with a heart of gratitude. You, Oh Lord, are worthy of all praise, now and for all eternity.

Love, Rebecca

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