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)

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