Redeeming the Time

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.  (Matthew 21:18 – ESV)

When I was a young man I thought this verse meant that if I had enough faith I could do mighty acts that and could get whatever I wanted from God. What I realize now is that having faith asking for things that reflect the will of the Father. Remember that Jesus did not do whatever he wanted, his faith directed his mind and heart towards God; furthermore, his faith shaped his desires to want God’s will rather than his own. By faith, Jesus went to the cross and rejected the rewards of the devil. Because of Jesus’ perfect faith in God he accomplished things that we, still caught up in our own will, cannot even imagine.  However, Jesus says, if we have even a portion of the faith He did we can do the kinds of things he did.

Do not despair if you do not have the faith of Jesus, or even a portion of Jesus’ faith,  because faith has the potential, in the power of the Holy Spirit to grow! I have read about the concept of redeeming time – to use it for the glory of God.  John Wesley, an 18th Century pastor, wrote

“Think, and speak, and do what you are persuaded Christ himself would do in your case, were he on earth. It becomes a Christian, rather to be an example to all, who was, and is, and ever will be, our absolute pattern. O Christians, how did Christ pray, and redeem time for prayer!

John Wesley

Redeeming time means using the time we are wasting on non-essential activities (binge-watching anyone?) and giving it over to God. My hope is that we will redeem the time we have in our various degrees of isolation by growing in our faith, increasingly transforming our faith into the faith of Christ.

Today, when you feel worried or afraid when you question what tomorrow will bring, redeem that time by turning to God in prayer and trust your health and life into His hands.  Submit to God’s plan for your life, just as Jesus did, and by trusting Him even with the smallest amount of your life, your faith will grow so you can trust Him even more tomorrow.

Living Faithfully in Challenging Times

 

13:1 Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. 13:2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. 13:3 Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 13:4 he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. 13:5 He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself. John 13:1-5
What does it mean to be a Christian in times like these, where the fear of disease is genuine? I believe that this day of global pandemic is one of the greatest tests of our Christian character. What we do, what we say (what we repost?) in challenging times points to who and what we believe!
Jesus’ also lived in challenging times, especially as he approached Jerusalem. At this point in the Scriptures (John 13:1-5), Jesus is approximately one week out from his crucifixion and so the text gives us an example of how Jesus operates under pressure. Notice that Jesus is not lounging about, nor is he running from the task before him; instead, we find him served by Mary (last week’s sermon) and serving his disciples. In other words, when he was in the midst of his greatest trial, death on the cross, he sought not isolation, but a community of people.
The temptation in the days of a pandemic is to isolate completely, body, mind and soul. While all of us understand the importance of taking precautionary measures, even cancelling a church service, some go farther than this to complete separation. However, being separated physically does not mean that we should be separated spiritually. I want to encourage everyone to still pray for one another, still send messages, call, video chat, offer help when it’s needed. We are not just any community of people, we are a family, dedicated first and foremost to God, and secondly, dedicated to His people, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Friends and family, may I remind you that you are not alone, the Church is still here, a physical expression of God’s love and care. The days ahead are going to provide the Church and all Christians an opportunity to shine the light of Christ. To that end, remember, and take comfort, knowing that God not only holds the future, the worlds future, in His hands but that those same hands also washed the feet of those dedicated to Him. Remember that even though Jesus is most concerned about our spiritual health – he doesn’t forget about our physical needs in the process.

Being Part of a Team

A trend of this generation is individuals desiring and straining to be more successful than their peers in every area of life.  People want to rise above others, using others as benchmarks for their success no matter what the field under examination.  The best job, the best house, the best education, the best marks, the best kids, the best spouse – and on and on it goes.

Not only is this is an untenable way of living in the long term, but it’s also unbiblical!  We need others, we need faithful, God-honouring, Holy Spirit empowered people teaming up with us – not competing with us to be the best individual, but to be the best team.  We need brothers and sisters in Christ to bring their spiritual gifts into concert with our spiritual gifts to the glory of God.

The problems and challenges that face the Church of Jesus Christ cannot and will not be met or solved by lone individuals.  The difficulties of today and those of the future require greater cooperation than ever.  I believe that there is no better group of people to facilitate cross-border, cross-cultural solutions than Christians who have already discovered how to work together for the glory of God regardless of outward differences.

So then, your Christian community is your training ground – go find a place to serve and serve with everything you have!

Lent and the Blessing of God

As you know, we are in the season of Lent.  Lent has had some bad press because it seems only to be about giving up arbitrary things we like, such as chocolate, for example.  But this is far from the truth!   Lent is not negatively getting rid of good things but positively making room for greater blessings from God.  You see, we Christians get so tied up in work, social media, gaming, sports, even home life, that we don’t make time for God and lose out on His benefits.
From this perspective, the season of Lent is not about giving up sweets for a few weeks, but for letting go of distractions that are getting in the way of a deep and deepening relationship with God.  While we may choose to give up something we like, we are really letting go of something which interferes with our relationship with God or spending time with Him.
For this Lent, I am giving up my cell-phone.  Yes, you read that right – my cell-phone!
While my cell-phone is a great tool, it is also a great distraction.
What is getting in the way of your having a growing relationship with God? What is getting in the way of His blessings being manifest in your life?  I encourage you to discover one of those “blessing blockers” and let it go it for Lent and in the process discover how God will bless you when you focus on Him!