Checking In and Looking Up

As the fight against the COVID-19 virus continues, how are you holding up? Are you feeling discouraged, deserted, despondent, defeated or depressed? Are there any other “d” feelings you are experiencing? How about deflated?

I remember the year Marion and I got engaged. It was 1989 (not bad for a male eh?). She knew I was going to pop the question sometime that summer. I booked a Hot Air Balloon ride for her birthday in August and she thought that would be the Day! Well I actually popped the question earlier in July at a beautiful picnic for two at Toronto Centre Island. We took a ferry to get there and it was a romantic, life changing day.

When the Hot Air Balloon ride came along it was also an exciting memorable moment. It was always a dream of mine to take the flight and experience an open air view of lifting off into the wide blue yonder. Every moment was a thrill from inflating the balloon with the burner heating the air which fluffed out the balloon into its tear drop shape to getting the sense of weightlessness at take-off.

As we ascended, we could see the objects on the ground get smaller and the air current take the balloon over farmers’ fields and forests. Dogs didn’t like us as we invaded their sky and their boisterous barks could be heard loud and clear. When we reached about two thousand feet our pilot stopped firing the burner and we quietly drifted. The feeling is hard to describe, but it was angelic if that makes any sense? One thing we quickly noticed was that the air in the balloon “envelope” was cooling causing our balloon to slowly, but steadily decline. Our pilot fired up the roaring burner and instantly we ascended again. I had no idea in watching hot air balloons from the ground that the flight is actually a continual ebb-and-flow, up-and-down experience with the heating and cooling of the mass of air in the envelope.

Well as they say, “What goes up must come…” I remember, as a young lad, watching a cartoon or comedy of a hot air balloon ride and the silly characters in the basket found themselves crossing a sea when suddenly the burner quit. They ran out of gas! There descent began and so did their panic. They had to maintain enough height to cross the sea so they began throwing things out of the basket to lessen the weight. They cut sand bags loose which helped a bit. They threw out their food supplies. Every thing they tossed seemed to help for a short time, but the reality of plunging into the water seemed inevitable. Now it was time for real sacrifice. They tossed their dearest possessions like trunks full of clothing, dishware and it went on and on. Finally, in desperation they tossed their own shoes and boots and trousers. This must have been a Charlie Chaplin film. You just can’t stop laughing!

In what we’ve gone through lately, we have to be serious in our attempts to stay above the COVID-19 virus sea. The reality is we could all plunge into these troubled waters. What we need is a pilot who has enough gas to keep us safe and ascending. Insert Jesus here! Yes, of course Jesus needs to be our pilot. The gas that fuels the burner can symbolize our obedience and faith in Him. When we lose faith and we lose our desire to obey our balloon begins to descend. Panic, fear and unnecessary cargo like sinful habits or desires must be tossed over to keep the ascent strong. However, the reality is in this world we will always have the downward pressures of sin, Satan and the gravity of the world working against us. People of wonderful faith and obedience may even plunge into the troubled waters, but the good and encourage news is this – our pilot will not abandon us. He can speak to those waters and say, “Peace be still!”

Let me encourage you today to keep your eyes on Jesus and keep looking up! He can take us to new heights as we throw off the things that so easily entangle us and weigh us down. And if we should find ourselves in those troubled waters He will float your boat. In the End He will be there as He was in your Beginning if your just trust in Him. Do you believe this? If so trust in Jesus to pilot you through this time. He will get us back to solid ground eventually – if not here then in His glorious kingdom.

Here are some verses that will inflate your faith and courage to keep going…

Hebrews 12, 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. NIV 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Sunday Worship Service ~ March 29,20

Welcome and Prayer
Only a Holy God By CityAlight
It is Well with my Soul ~ This song is from the album, “Together for the Gospel Live” from Sovereign Grace Music
At the Cross performed by Chris Tomlin
Great is Thy Faithfulness performed by Maranatha! Music
Prayer of Confess and Intercession

Warnings from the Apostle John

In my series of messages, on the first letter of John, we are at the point where it is clear that the apostle has upheld some fundamental truths about God in order for believers to have assurance that they genuinely know God in relationship. John writes that believers must: 1) walk without sin (walk in the Light as He is in the Light); 2) confess our sins; 3) live in “Real Faith” and focused obedience to His Word which is authenticated by our love for our brothers and sisters in the LORD.

After giving the recipients of this letter some sound theology and doctrine, John encourages them as a loving elder who is speaking to family. He addressed their three different levels of maturity in 1 John 2:12-17 READ.

Reading 1 John 2:12-17

As you may have noticed after this poetic encouragement, John pleadingly gives them a strict warning. Let’s take this warning seriously and apply it to our own lives so that nothing will hinder our relationship with God. This warning stresses the following…

The Warning

1. Do not Love the World

In the final part of this passage, John stressed a very important warning in verse 15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”

Alasdair from Flickr.com

I remember teaching this passage at a camp many years ago and a young girl came to me looking devastated. She asked, “Is God saying that we can’t love the world?”

I said, “Yes, that’s what the Bible says.”

“So does that mean I’m not supposed to care for animals and trees?” she asked.

“No that’s not what it means. It means you can’t love the man-made things of the world.”

 She looked confused. She walked away heartbroken.

The word that John uses in verse 15 for world is “kosmos” meaning “ornament (cosmetics) or order”, which is used to describe the universe, but more specifically the human world order. The human world order includes: social, political, economic, religious, scientific and environmental orders. Today these teachings and idealistic philosophies fall under the secular-worldview as opposed to the biblical (formerly Christian) worldview which was generally accepted until postmodern ideologies took root after the Second World War. Relativism a main foundation of postmodern thinking believes that there is no absolute truth rather truth is relative to a person’s point of view. In other words, “Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth and don’t you dare impose your truths or morality on me.”

Today, as you may be aware the secular world-view, and its humanistic postmodernism, is widely taught and accepted in our public and post-secondary schools.

What I needed to tell this young girl (who was distraught) was that God created the physical world of which we must be stewards and more specifically God loves men and women and children who He placed in His created order (John 3:16), even though they may be ruled by a worldview unpleasing to Him. In the same way, this is how we should love the world. We should love the world with the view that God saves people. However, we should not love the world with all of its false teachings, trends and trappings. If we do then we do not love the Father in heaven. We place the human world order and its secular view above God. This is the way of the unbeliever or the weak, undisciplined carnal believer who tries to please both God and man making him or her double-minded, lukewarm or mediocre. Do one of these states describe you this morning? I hope not. If it does, please repent and give your life over to Jesus in full commitment. As I am learning in my men’s small group God does not want fans He wants followers who deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

2. Warning Against the Terrible Trio

In verse 16, John now warns his readers and us of a terrible trio of worldly desires. We read again, v. 16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Let’s first of all look at…

A) The lust of the flesh (cravings of sinful man)… The Greek word for lust is (epithumia) which is used in the negative sense here to mean desiring something that is forbidden. The word for flesh from the GREEK is sarx  and the way it used here is to mean that the flesh or the body is a willing instrument used for sin. Therefore, John is warning not to love the secular world because it will lead to selfish, fleshly acts and desires of the will coming from the sinful nature which is in rebellion against God. The lust of the flesh is the root to self-sufficiency, materialism, racism, sexism, injustice, overlooking the poor and every other unrighteous practice. A person caught in this lust has put self-gratification in charge of his or her life.

Chuck Swindoll writes, “The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure. First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism. Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes. Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit. Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: “If it feels good, do it.””

When was the last time you fell into the lust of the flesh? What were you lusting after? How did the Holy Spirit convict you? Have you ever had any of these regrets?… “I shouldn’t have had that extra piece of cake. I shouldn’t have held back in my giving? I shouldn’t have been so lazy and grumpy when I was asked to help around the house.” Confess these sins to God now and He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from this lust of the flesh.

B) The next forbidden worldly desire to avoid is – the lust of the eyes. This person is captivated by that which is appealing to the eyes. This person sees it and wants it so bad that he or she becomes mentally or emotionally enslaved to having it or possessing it. We have Eve’s example of her lustful look upon the forbidden fruit, and David’s lustful look upon Uriah’s wife Bathsheba.

Thomas Costain’s history, The Three Edwards, described the life of Raynald Ill, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. Raynald was grossly overweight.

After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew bigger.

When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year . . . a prisoner of his own appetite.

Lust is an insatiable appetite that demands fulfillment. Have you been struggling with the lust of the eyes lately? Pornography? Food? Shopping? Sales? Stock Markets? Netflix Binging? Social Media addiction? Kijiji? Gaming (computer and/or gambling)? The only way to combat it is to talk about it with people you trust. You need someone to keep you accountable and help you say, “no to lust of the eyes.” The first person to talk to for help is Jesus and He will lead you to a friend or counselor who will help you to free from lust.

C) The final forbidden worldly desire to avoid is the pride of life. A person who lives by pride is the person who boasts about who they are, what they have accomplished and what they possess. Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.

For the kids!!!

The story is told of two ducks and a frog that lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, which could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well–so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?” The frog said, “I did…”

Sometimes it’s better just to keep your mouth closed. Have you ever come across a person who wants to give advice to you without being asked? A humble person waits to be asked whereas a proud person, or a person caught in a proud moment, wants to solve your problems because they know better. People who are not approached for guidance and they believe they should be are dealing with pride. Often we get the biggest compliments from loved ones, but we dismiss those compliments because we want someone of great status or accomplishment to compliment us like a boss. This is pride. When we get angry that we were overlooked in an invitation – this is pride. Self-pity, a poor me syndrome and complaining are all tied into pride because the focus is on self.

Are you ready to empty your life of pride?

D. L. Moody said, “I believe that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride, selfishness and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts.” (Source Unknown).

Conclusion

Verse 17 is a fitting conclusion for this message today. It says, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”  Do you understand this verse? Our focus should be on two things here on earth: 1) Desiring God and 2) Doing His Will. This leads to everlasting life beyond this fallen world.

Q: How well are you desiring to know God and enjoy Him while doing His will in your life?

Do you want true happiness in your life? Read these words from David inspire you from Psalm 63:1-5.

Benediction

Season will follow Season and a call to Prayer and Fasting

“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭8:20-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/111/gen.8.20-22.niv

People make a lot of predictions don’t they? What is a prediction? Google defines it this way, “a thing predicted; a forecast.” Instantly we think about the weather. What is today’s forecast? Cloudy with a high of 8 degrees with a chance of afternoon rain and meatballs. Meatballs? Why not kale? How did we get from predicting the weather to food?

We are such predictable creatures. We get up in the morning and we think about the future. What the weather will be like. What we will eat. What our day will look like with the activities we have planned. It’s called life on earth, as planned by self and hoping to have some fun, love and fulfillment on the way. There is nothing wrong with fun, love and fulfillment unless it is self-centred or about the big “ME.” In fact when someone consistently lives for self it leads to evil. This is not just a prediction. It is the truth ten times out of ten.

Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8). Noah was a man who put his trust in God. While the world around him was enjoying wicked and selfish pursuits, Noah thought about pleasing God and living for Him. Ultimately his relationship with God, the Creator of all life and elements, saved his life. Noah was instructed to build an ark (big, big boat like a cruise ship) for himself, his family and the living creatures that God brought to him. This ark would be his salvation from the global flood that would wipe away God’s creation and bring a new start. Why? Find an answer by reading more about Noah in the Holy Bible in the first book called Genesis chapters 5 to 9.

Is the coronavirus God’s punishment upon the earth? Is it the new flood to wipe out selfish humanity? Today’s forecast is cloudy with a chance of COVID-19. Death and destruction is serious stuff. This is where the skeptic will say, “God is sadistic!” Google can you define that… “deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.” “How can a loving God allow this to happen?” some ask.

How would you answer a skeptic who believes God is sadistic? I told my skeptical friend that God is a God who provides. He provided Noah with a plan of salvation through the ark. This is not a make-believe story! Ask any evolutionary minded scientist about the earth experiencing a catastrophic flood. They will agree, “Yes it happened!” [Visit creation.com for more insight here!] I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know why God sent the flood over the entire earth, but I know it wasn’t done with pleasure. God’s holiness demands the punishment of sin or He would cease to be a Holy God. One of the best books I ever read on the holiness of God is R.C. Sproul’s book, “The Holiness of God.”

Here is the encouraging news! Jesus is God’s final and perfect plan of provision for salvation from sin and its wage of death and eternal separation from God. The Ark is a foreshadowing and foretelling of Jesus’ life and purpose on the Earth.

Today, Jesus is our Saviour as He was to Noah and His family. Jesus died on the cross for our sins! Have you entered into a relationship with Him? No matter what the predictions are out there about life on this planet – season will follow season as long as the earth endures because Jesus is the Beginning and the End of our timetable.

The last book of the Bible Revelation reveals the words of Jesus, ““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation‬ ‭22:12-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬ https://www.bible.com/111/rev.22.12-17.niv

Is it time for you to step into a relationship with Jesus as Noah stepped into the Ark with his family? Your salvation awaits by saying and praying, “Jesus be my Saviour. Forgive me of my sins! I turn from the big ME and turn my life over to You! Make me a new person by Your Holy Spirit and teach me to follow You every day.” Let that door of self and the old nature close behind you and hang on to the adventure of your life. It won’t be easy, but it will take you to God’s place of peace as you keep abiding in Jesus our Ark of salvation.

A Call to Prayer and Fasting

If you are able, and your health permits, I would like to ask you to fast and pray at some point this weekend for God to be glorified in this time that is comparable to the time of Noah. Fasting is abstaining from food in order to focus on worshiping and seeking God in earnest prayer. Fasting can not be done by those who have diabetes or have certain medical conditions, but such a person can fast from T.V. or the internet for at least a day. During this time of fasting repent of your sins (confess them and turn away from them). Ask God to show His love and mercy for the sick, the dying, for the lost and the mentally ill. He may ask you to show an act of kindness to the ones you are praying for. Visit https://tearfund.ca/donate/ Pray for God to visit the elderly, the lonely and the faint at heart. He may ask you to phone someone. Pray for God to strengthen our governing leaders and front-line workers (medical staff and first responders) with wisdom and knowledge as they fight COVID-19. Pray for peace and calm for all of us as we put normal life on hold. Pray for humble sacrificial cooperation and goodwill for all in our nation, province and Lanark county. Pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, “The LORD’s Prayer.”

Join the national & global call to prayer and fasting at https://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/COVID-Prayer

When you pray God will provide His rainbow! The rainbow is the sign of God’s promise to Noah that He will never flood the earth again (Genesis 9:12-17). God’s covenant with Noah was fulfilled at the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus! God made a new covenant in the blood of Christ who died in our place that we might live forever. That rainbow now encircles His throne in Heaven.

Remember it might be cloudy out there, but God’s rainbow will eventually shine through because God is Holy and Loving!!!

A call to prayer. May God be glorified in this Time

What floor are you on?

MY WELCOME TO YOU ~ Start HERE BY LISTENING TO THIS AUDIO RECORDING

Today’s text is John 11:21-27. To get the context read verses 1 to 44.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, we love You! We thank you for this beautiful day you have given us. Every day with you is a day worth celebrating and giving you the glory because of your great love for us and You are the Author of our lives. Father, open our hearts to You and speak to us as we read and meditate on your Word this morning. Hear our cry for help as we feel stuck in our homes! Find delight in our times of personal worship and creative ways of being together through media and conversation with each other! Speak to us through Your servants who love Your Word and Your Son Jesus as much we do. Protect us from false teachers and teachings by those who may use this crisis to spin their interpretations of scripture. Thank you that You live in us through Your Holy Spirit who will encourage us to know Your truth and convict us of our sin. Father, keep us from falling away from Your holy path for us. Increase our faith, test it, refine it and bring it forth of greater worth than gold for the praise and glory of Your Son Jesus Christ.

Pause and take a moment to pray your prayers of confession and intercession right now…(Pray silently or together as a family. Please intercede for loved ones who don’t know Jesus. Pray for Shirley in the hospital. Pray for the prayer chain items you may have received this week. Pray for our Queen, Country, our political leaders, our province, Lanark County and Smiths Falls) …In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

“What floor are you on?” Devotional Thought – Message from the LORD starts here…

Have you heard of the humorous story about the back country farmer who rarely came into town. He knew very little of innovation and was definitely behind the times. One day he hitched up his wagon and decided to take his son to town and visit the bank.

Upon arriving at the bank the father and son were amazed at its size. When they entered the lobby it was as if they entered a different world. Looking around at the marble floor, the high ceiling and the big lights they noticed off to one side a plump elderly woman walking toward these metal doors. The doors opened. She entered this small room. The doors closed behind her and she was gone.

The farmer and his son were puzzled at her disappearance and then heard some chimes and saw a moving arrow above the door. After a few moments the doors opened again and out walked this beautiful, stylish young woman. The boy gasped as he asked his father, “Papa, what is that thing?” The father quickly replied, “I do not know my son, but we better hurry home and get your mama. I want her to get into that room!”

The elevator is a marvellous invention. The majority of them go straight up and down to your chosen floor. Some are faster than others. Have you ever had the ear popping experience of going up the CN Tower elevator in Toronto? The ascent is breathtaking as you look out the elevator windows and see a city fall beneath you and Lake Ontario emerges in its vast blue array.

Elevators can also be a big pain if they are not working or if you get stuck in one. If you have a chance, ask our sister Georgina about what she thinks about our church’s elevator. Her prayers and yours will soon be answered as we are about two or three weeks away from a new hydraulic elevator/lift ready to serve you. It won’t be transformational in making you become younger, but it will do it’s job to elevate you. Can I get an Amen?!?

It was three years ago that Marion, Leah-Joy and I were in New York City at ground zero in lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center Towers once stood. It was our March Break get-a-way during a freak snow storm in the Big Apple. On a side note: there is a different storm there now with the coronavirus and they need our prayers. As we came to the 9/11 Memorial site and looked at the reflecting pools that commemorate those who lost their lives there – we were overwhelmed by the heaviness of that moment that still lingers. This is definitely one of the lowest places on earth with respect to feelings of death, loss and pain. I believe this is the purpose of memorials to bring us to the bottom and have us reflect on the consequences of tragedy, hatred and human sin.

The good news is this – from ground zero has emerged a new level of hope! Someone once said, “When you are at the bottom the only way to look is up!” This is what New York City, it’s Empire State and it’s country have done. From ground zero they are looking to new hope and life. God knows how to bring new life out of the ashes. In fact this hope is well symbolized by a structure (not far from the 9/11 Memorial) designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls. It is the World Trade Center Transportation Hub or Oculus. This white-ribbed skeletal structure is an encouraging monument of hope. To me it looks like a dove emerging from the ground, breaking through the concrete to allow the light of heaven to shine were darkness once was. Does this description remind you of some other amazing event?

photo courtesy of http://www.govtech.com

It symbolizes to me the resurrection of Jesus Christ to life from His grave on the third day after His death. Easter Sunday is the greatest elevation of hope for all mankind. Breaking-forth on that hopeless morning, was our Saviour, our Redeemer and LORD Jesus Christ. A great declaration of victory filled God’s created order when His Son was raised and He conquered death!

Jesus’ resurrection was predicted, and He prepared His disciples for it. He also prepared His good friends Mary and Martha about His own death by attending to their sorrow. In the Gospel of John chapter 11 their story of heartache and death unfolds before us. Jesus came to a village called Bethany, not far from Jerusalem, He entered the pain of Mary and Martha’s ground zero. They saw their beloved brother Lazarus slip away and die. They couldn’t stop it. They knew Jesus could. Jesus should have been there at their first request, but He didn’t come. Lazarus had to go through the pain and suffering of dying before Jesus came on the scene. From a human perspective, how could Jesus be so insensitive to the plea of good friends? Martha expressed her lament in faith when she saw Jesus coming to her home…

John 11: 21-27…21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” New International Version NIV

Jesus proved that He is the resurrection and the life by raising Lazarus from the grave and yet this miracle was overshadowed by the events that led to Jesus’ betrayal, denial and the fear of His disciples. This miracle was overshadowed by the darkness of religious oppression by Jesus’ enemies. This miracle was not considered by the state who sentenced Him to death. All the miracles, and the power of God the Father, that flowed through Jesus’ earthly ministry were forgotten.

How easy it is to forget God’s love and His miracles as recorded in His Holy Word when we face trials of many kinds including our current pandemic. We feel so hopeless and our default reaction can be to panic, be fearful, get angry, become depressed or just be overcome by deep sadness. Have you had any of these reactions in the last couple weeks? I have.

Do you realize that life can be like riding an elevator? You want things to always be on the up and up! When things are going in the right direction and the circumstances around us are in line with our expectations we are happy, satisfied and feel fulfilled. But when things go down, backwards in our lives and we “mistakenly” come to the level below Main level -the elevator doors open and it isn’t pretty. Have you ever been in a hospital elevator and you end up at ground level? Its were the service people are or it leads to tunnels that take you to other parts of the hospital underground. It isn’t pretty, but ground level has it’s purposes. It is vital to the functioning and maintenance of the hospital. This is were Jesus often takes us in our lives, because we need some maintenance, some adjustments to our souls before we can be elevated to new heights in our spiritual growth and ministry for Him. Jesus wants us to come to ground zero where there is death and sorrow in order that we will die to self and die to our expectations and die to our plans and die to our agenda. It is at ground zero that we say, “Jesus I can’t go any further until you fix me and transform me to the person you want me to be.” Then Jesus says, like an elevator operator, “Going up!”

What floor are you on today? I have been to ground level, to ground zero this week with attitude, sadness, anger and doubt. I’ve been there more then once. Each time, Jesus has met me through loved ones, through encouraging words and prayers of others, through Bible verses, through spiritual songs and He has embraced me and forgiven me for my active fears and ungodly beliefs that were fueled by the distress of this world. I thank God for the distress because it brought me to Jesus in greater dependence of Him which is the heart of revival. Revival is born at ground zero!

What floor are you on? Don’t resist Jesus’ call to reflect on how finite and how hopeless we are without Him. Going up?

I hope you have the encouraging testimony of coming to Jesus like stepping into an elevator. The apostle Paul describes it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (NIV)” Will you accept Jesus as your resurrection and life? Do you believe that He can raise you from the dead as He did with Lazarus? If you believe in Jesus even though you physically die you will live forever. This was His promise to Martha. This is His promise to you.

The apostle Paul was transformed on the road to Damascus where he met Jesus. He discovered he was going in the wrong direction when Jesus met Him at ground zero. Paul (called Saul back then) felt the gravity of his sins when He met Jesus. He was blinded at ground zero so he could feel the pain of his pride and arrogance toward God. The good news is Jesus forgave Him and made him a new person born of His Spirit. Paul wrote in Romans 10:9,10, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Pray with me, “Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I accept you as my Saviour, and at this moment, I deny myself, take up my cross and follow You as my LORD! Make me into the person you want me to be even if I have to keep coming to ground level so that you can use me at your main level. I’m Yours! In Your Name Jesus – I pray. Amen”

If you prayed to accept Jesus as Your Saviour and LORD welcome to God’s family. You are in for the greatest adventure of your life as you hold on to Him and abide in Him every day. If you contact me or visit http://www.calvarybiblechurch.ca we would love to help you grow in your faith. Once our church is open and running beyond COVID-19 we’d love to see you too.

Closing Remarks

What’s ahead?

Tomorrow, Sunday, March 22, I will be passing on a devotional thought for you to incorporate into your personal worship time if you wish.

Please keep praying for those infected by the virus globally and nationally especially those in Ontario. If you are not on our prayer chain please contact Mel Coker. You can also connect to our church’s website http://www.calvarybiblechurch.ca or use my contact form under “Contact.”

Operation Pairing People (OPP) is underway. You should have received a person, via email, that you should contact during this pandemic. Please contact your person via phone or text to see how they are doing. If your person is elderly, has a weaker immune system or they have just come back from Florida (or from their snow bird destination) you might want to ask them if they have enough groceries while they are in quarantine. You might want to go shopping for them if they are low on food. Make sure you take precautions if you chose to do so. Wash your hands whenever you go out and don’t touch your face. When you get back home wash your hands again.

Here is something encouraging! Rob More has equipment on loan to make videos for online purposes. We are going to video a couple sermons and have those available soon. Keep praying about us setting up a virtual church service. There is no rush to do so since there are so many awesome church services online out there and podcasts too. Many of you are enjoying great biblical teaching already – praise God!

Please take the time to praise the LORD everyday not just on Sundays. Don’t forget to remember that God can handle our laments, sadness and emotions in this time. As believers and followers of Jesus, nothing will separate us from His love. As children of God, our Father in Heaven knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are feeling and thinking. Do you think God can handle your anger? Yes He can! It is better to voice it to Him than take it out on your loved ones. Remember to repent if you have chosen to act on emotions that have led to sin. Ask for forgiveness of those you may have hurt. Also give forgiveness to those who may have hurt you. We need to keep short accounts with each other and with God so that the devil will not get a foothold in our families in this important time of revival.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/rom.8.37-39.niv

Keep calm and carry on! Keep washing your hands! Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is our Risen Lord! Keep telling people about Jesus through social media! This pandemic will pass away with this fallen world, but our citizenship is in Heaven! Hallelujah! We are going to live forever in Christ Jesus our LORD!

What to do this Sunday? Me and my media…

Hi church family! I’m listening with one ear to our first Calvary Youth Zoom meeting while I’m writing this post. I’m encouraged by our Youth Steward and leaders who are embracing social media to keep meeting (virtually).

What can we do? Well I’m hoping to incorporate some audio and video into this encouraging site. Stay tuned! I’m also desiring to put links to RightNowmedia videos that can feed your soul. One of the fellows from our men’s small group told us about a website that offers free Christian audio books. If you are aware of more links and podcasts and even worship music that you want me to post feel free to contact me.

Encouragement in Flattening the Curve and Prayer

I regret to inform you that our services will continue to be suspended/cancelled until further notice. We are hoping to be back to worshiping in our sanctuary by Sunday, April 6th, but that is to be determined. Here is the encouraging note…because we (and our governments) are taking such a hard-line, radical approach to slowing down the COVID-19, I am convinced (by the Grace of God and the Almighty Name of Jesus) that we will “flatten the curve” of the spread of the virus sooner than China, South Korea, Italy, Spain and other nations.

I am proud of all levels of government putting aside their partisan ways to fight this virus in tandem and as a team. Our medical professionals, experts and front-line workers are our generals, captains and soldiers in this fight. We are so blessed to have our health care teams ready and able to go into battle.

Let us pray for all those on the front-lines. Let us pray for our government leaders that they will receive more wisdom. Let us pray for those affected by the virus that they will recover quickly. Let us pray for those travelling home that they will be healthy and unaffected. Let us pray that, as Canadians, we will pull together like we have in past crises (The Great War) and see a Passover miracle this Easter. May the coronavirus see the blood of Christ at the doors of our hearts and passover (not only for us, but for our town and county). Do it again LORD for your glory!! And may we never forget to repent of our sins and confessing them one to another so that we may be healed (James 5:16).

State of Emergency – Now what?

In the past 48 hours we have heard from our Premier Doug Ford that we are now in a state of emergency. This seems so uncanny and even frightening, but there are emerging plans in place to keep our church people connected during this state of emergency. Mel Coker released a prayer chain message that will encourage us to partner with another family (or person) during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The details are forthcoming. Look for another email from her soon.

Keep Calm and Carry on

Do you remember those T-shirts, bumper stickers and banners from a few years ago that stated the phrase, “Keep Calm and Carry On?” According to wikipedia.org it originated from the British Government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The purpose of the poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public.

Can this same statement be an encouragement to you while we are facing an invisible enemy called COVID-19 (coronavius)? It is one thing to look to a motivational poster, but how about turning to God to keep calm and carry on? There are many Bible verses that point to God’s omnipotence (He is all powerful); God’s omniscience (He is all knowing) and God’s omnipresence (He is everywhere). Can you think of some of these verses that may bring you the encouragement that God has you covered (safe, secure in the midst of trial) both now and forever more? Take a look a these passages from the Psalms…Psalm 32:7, Psalm 37:39, Psalm 42:11. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (NIV 2011).”

In our time of crisis you have the best antidote which is knowing who God is as revealed to us through His Son Jesus, His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word (the Bible). How well do you know Him? I encourage you to take you Bibles or get a Bible App on your cell phone and find passages like John 17:3 and read them in their context. When we focus more on God and His Greatness our problems, losses and fears are put in perspective.

It’s like looking at our dark world at night with a LED flashlight and we can see a number of metres ahead of us. We can stumble along if we are not careful, but when the sun comes up in the morning how useful is our flashlight? The Sun out shines the little flashlight and darkness is dispelled around us. The Son of God outshines the little hope or the little faith we have when burdened by the circumstances around us. Let’s keep calm and carry on as we keep Jesus the main Light to our daily experience and marvel at how He loved the Father and how God brought Him through all His challenges right to the resurrection from the grave!

John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.