This past Sunday, we discussed God’s law. When the Bible references God’s law, it is generally pointing towards the first five books of the Old Testament (also referred to as the Pentateuch or the Torah). We are often encouraged to meditate on God’s law and to delight in it. You probably don’t often “delight” in the laws of the land, such as traffic laws, but you likely understand the reason they are put in place. In the same way these traffic laws are in place for everyone’s safety, God’s laws should be looked at as guidelines which are in place to protect us.
In the New Testament, we have a few interesting references to God’s law. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus was referring to the Biblical prophets whose writings would have been well known to anybody with religious upbringing. So, He is saying that we fulfill the laws of the Old Testament and the prophecies written by simply doing to others what we would expect them to do to us. Obviously, there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s a great start.
In Paul’s writings, we read Galatians 5:22-23 that, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” When we walk in the Spirit, we automatic fulfill God’s law.
I will conclude with another great point which the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:22-23. “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Paul often discusses this idea of the law bringing slavery when we fall short of God’s requirements and feel imprisoned with guilt and shame. Instead, we should delight in the law as it exposes our sin and guides us back to right relationship with God. In short, understanding God’s law should release you from the anxiety of fulfilling the law.
We see an interesting comparison between the lives of Judas and Peter. They both followed Jesus and knew Him personally. They both betrayed Him. Yet the stories end very differently. Judas realized he sinned and kind of tried to make it right by returning the silver but still took matters into his own hands instead of forgiving himself and moving on. Peter, on the other hand, wept after he realized his sin but continued serving God; and the resurrected Jesus restored him!
Do not let your mistakes define you! You can always, always repent and turn back to God and be used by Him again! That is the beauty of grace and forgiveness!
When you think of King David who famously defeated Goliath and wrote most of the Psalms, it is easy to forget the terrible sins he committed with Bathsheba and having her husband killed (recorded in 2 Samuel 11). Fortunately, he had a friend named Nathan who confronted him about this and he repented. Psalm 51 is where David repented of this. Three things that stand out to me in this prayer of repentance are:
- that he understood his sin was against God alone (verses 1-4)
- he seems to forgive himself as he asks God to restore his joy (verse 13)
- he asks God to help him use this to help others (verse 14)
Not long after this, we see David extending kindness where many would agree that he had the right to deliver vengeance (for further reading, look up 19-Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai). Did you know that Goliath wasn’t the only giant? David and his army went on to defeat Goliath’s son and three brothers (2 Samuel 21:15-22)!
David did not let his failure and sin define his future!!!
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the sower. In this story, He talks largely about making sure that the soil is prepared to receive the seed. If we are going to reach our friends and family for Jesus, we must pray beforehand that God prepares their heart. There are many simple ways to start a spiritual discussion without being pushy or offensive. Here are some things to remember:
HOW TO BE A WITNESS FOR JESUS
- It starts with awareness (is not simply incidental)
- Good conversation starts with good questions (and good listening). (Remember what they say and bring that up in the next conversation to show you’re listening.)
- Do not lecture, label, or manipulate
- ANY positive conversation is a “link in the chain” (Witnessing does not have to always be a conversation about Jesus.)
- Be cautious of “silence or violence” (This means that they are shutting us out or getting overly upset.)
- Sometimes we have to agree to disagree
- Ask “Can I pray with you?” (You can always ask this question as it’s not offensive but we have to be ok with them saying no.)
- The Bible is your source book! SOAK IT UP
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I believe God is sovereign in all things. This means He supremely rules over everything that happens in our universe. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” (NIV)
There are many other places in the Bible where we see the same kind of language. However, it is important to remember that He is not Lording over us waiting to punish us for failure. Instead, He is lovingly watching us with a plan in mind to bless us and redeem us. If we truly believe that He is sovereign, we would not want to step outside of His will for our lives.
It takes work to enter in and live a lifestyle of participation with His blessing. Many of you are doing the work. However, many stand on the outside and scoff, thinking that nothing will ever change. They are the ones missing out; who will slide down a slippery slope and continue to miss out, they will not see God do anything, they will become angry with God…and the whole time, He is waiting right there for you to return to Him.
This past Sunday, we finished the series “Your Brain is Playing Games on You.”
In light of Halloween, I spoke about fear. Fear generally comes from a place of a lack of understanding. In Joshua chapter one, we see a story about Joshua taking on the task of finishing the job of Moses (who had recently died). In God’s opening statement (1:9), He says to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I can only imagine walking beside Moses all that time and watching God doing those amazing miracles through him. I cannot imagine what Joshua felt like knowing that God is now going to be doing those things through him. Talk about big shoes to fill!! We must remember God’s promise and learn to trust Him.
The video we watched (Brain Games, season 3, Trust) reminded us that our brains are actually hardwired to trust. Our amygdala is constantly working to evaluate if we should fear or trust a situation. Due to the way our brain works, there is a constant conflict in us between trust and logic.
Isaiah 26:4 encourages us to, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
It is important for us to know God’s word well enough that the logic side of our brain is encouraged by the trust side and we learn that we can trust our perfect God even in an imperfect situation. This will give us strength in those times where we are fearful.
Have you ever bought a book online because it looked really good in the advertisement (or a friend recommended it) only to find that you were immensely disappointed? Long past are the days when we physically walk into a bookstore and look at all they have to offer. It is only in doing this that we can pick up the book and flip through it. We can look at other books that are beside it and be reminded of other options that we would not have typed into our internet browser. Going to a physical store allows us to get advice from sales people; people that have read the books and know authors similar to the ones we like. I am writing today to tell you all that the times where we could smell the new book scent and hear the crinkling of pages as they are turned are not gone!
Anyone in the Calgary area should never again make a misinformed purchase of a Christian resource. I want you all to check out Better Books and Bibles on 636 16th Ave NW. It is a new and used Christian bookstore which proudly states they are “for the growing Christian.” They have been in business since February 2012 (they bought all of the used books from Pilgrim Books, if you remember that store). Dawn is the manager and she and I have started a great working relationship. She is always very quick to help me when I need any purchase to bless the volunteers or clients whom I serve with at The Mustard Seed. Whenever I do a special event for our residents, she has helped with everything from special orders (both large and small) to gift cards to those new and used, hard-to-find books, as well as DVDs and books on CD. They proudly specialize in servicing every age group from kids to teens to students and seniors, as well as everyone in between. They even have Bible studies there!
However, my favorite reason for giving them my business is that they are committed to promoting local authors! As such, I will be doing my first, official book signing and information session at their store on October 14th from noon to 3pm. Please check it out if at all possible BUT DON’T DO IT JUST FOR ME. Please check out their website: https://www.betterbooksandbibles.com but, most importantly, WALK INTO the store some time. If you are not in this area, please support your local Christian bookstore. We need these businesses to keep our local communities thriving for Jesus!