As Christians, we just finished celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past Easter weekend. Our message at Calvary Chapel came out of John 20 and focused on three encounters that Jesus had in his resurrected body. (The bible documents ten post-resurrection appearances of Jesus!)
Here’s those three appearances:
- Mary Magdalene. She went from broken-hearted to full of life and joy.
- The Ten Disciples. (Thomas wasn’t with them.) They went from fearful to full of courage as they shared the message of Jesus with the world. (See the book of Acts.)
- Thomas. He went from skepticism to proclaiming “My Lord and My God.”
Check out the video of the full message and let me know what you think!
If there is one question that every Christian has asked, if there is one issue that every believer has thought about it is the issue of “God’s will for my life.”
“What is God’s will for my life?”
“Should I go here or should I go there?”
“What does God want me to do?”
Sometimes it has to do with education – what school should I go to?
Sometimes it has to do with work and career – what job should I take?
Sometimes it has to do with ministry – should I quit my job and “go into the ministry”?
Sometimes it has to do with marriage – what person should I marry?
This issue certainly is an important one. How do I make decisions according to God’s will?
Acts 16:6-10 is a very interesting portion of Scripture. It is a passage that has to do with “discerning divine direction”. In these verses God leads one of His children into a certain geographical place, by preventing him from going one way and then giving him a vision of a man asking for help.
The book of Acts is an important book in the Bible because it traces the growth of the church from a small group of 120 Jewish followers of Jesus, meeting in an upper room in Jerusalem, to a very large, perhaps innumerable group of disciples all over Judea, Samaria, and into the western world of what we now call Europe.
The Apostle Paul is the man that God used to take his message throughout the areas of what we know as Turkey, Greece, and into western Europe.
Here in Acts 16 Paul and his companions Silas and Timothy are traversing the land, talking to people about the Messiah, the Saviour Jesus, whom God confirmed through signs, miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and through raising Him from the dead.
As they are spreading the message of the gospel, God re-directs their steps.
They want to go one way, but were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit.”
The try to go another way, but “the Spirit did not permit them.”
Two closed doors that ultimately led to an open door. Sound familiar?
This might be an important topic for you because you are wondering about God’s direction as it pertains to your decisions about your job, education, residence, or an important relationship.
These are huge areas in our lives. They not just impact our future, but the futures of those who love us.
The first thing that is important to realize is that God does have a plan for you.
Take a look at these passages:
““I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“For those whom he foreknew…he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:29)
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:16)
“Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”” (James 4:15)
Yes, God has a plan for you. Beyond that, there are several things that we can learn in this passage about making good decisions. This coming Saturday, February 18, I will be taking a close look at these verses and uncover these “tools” that you can use as you “learn to discern” God’s will and direction for your life.
Hope to see you there!
(This week’s post is by Sarah, age 16.)
Last weekend a few of the youth and I spent two nights at the Word of Life Bible Institute’s “Recharge” snow camp. I was really excited because I’ve heard so much about Word of Life, and have wanted to go for a long time.
The campus in Owen Sound was covered in two feet of snow when we got there Friday evening, and it kept snowing all weekend; a huge change from our warm winter here in Oakville. But we were all ready for it, and snow camp did not disappoint!
There were way too many activities for us to try everything, but we had a great time tubing, playing soccer, running around completing a scavenger hunt, climbing the high ropes course, jumping into freezing water for the “ice cube” challenge, and eating super delicious food. The cardboard sled race Saturday night was extremely exciting, and our “Fishers of Men” fishing boat took home 1st place for design!!Over the weekend there were four sessions to attend. First of all we got to watch a creative skit the staff had put together that really got everyone thinking, then a gospel meeting on Saturday morning. We also listened to a workshop about modern culture and how to approach some difficult topics with a Biblical attitude, which was really very cool. And before we left on Sunday, there was a wonderful session about sharing your faith, which I hope most kids enjoyed and learned from as much as I did.
Above all, the highlight for me this weekend was the Word of Life staff: honestly some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Every one of them was so pumped to be there, eager to get to know us, and passionate about Christ, I would be so down to go again just to spend more time with them. I can’t imagine better role models for the hundreds of young kids that attend their camps every year. They truly, truly inspired me.
Overall, I’m so so grateful that we had this opportunity. I had a really great time at Recharge; we all did, I think; and I will definitely be first in line if we decide to go back in the summer.
In just a few days, 2016 will be in the rear view mirror. I really can’t believe it! I am seeing too many years flying by, but I am thankful for each one of them. Some years are harder than others, but every year is full of God’s blessings!
The dawning of a New Year is the dawning of a new opportunity – an opportunity to change. Do you want there to be change in your life – good, lasting change? Do you want to grow closer to God this coming year? What if 2017 was the year for you and God?
Here’s what you can do to see good, lasting spiritual change occur in your life: Seek God with all your heart. The bible promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him. One of the best ways to seek God, is to read the Bible with an open heart.
During 2017, the community of people at Calvary Chapel Oakville are going to be reading the New Testament. In order to read the entire New Testament in one year, you have to read five chapters a week. That’s only one chapter a day, for only five days of the week. It’s something anyone can do!
Here’s the part I am really excited about. Every weekend service, my message is going to come from the five chapters that everyone has read.
The Bible says that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). In order to seek God, we need to prayerfully read the Bible.
He wants to speak to you. He has something to say. Will you listen?
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)
Do you have a manger scene set up at your house?
I like manger scenes. But they remind of a problem in the church today, my friend Scott calls it manger danger.
Our mangers are in the basement, the attic, or the closet, 11 months out of the year. Then we bring them out sometime in November or early December, as we decorate our house for Christmas.
That’s what some people do with Jesus. They bring Him out only on certain days of the year or seasons of their life, or when they need Him.
But most of the time, he’s in a box, with a couple camels and some wise men, He’s locked away where he has no influence, where he can’t see what’s on your TV, where he can’t hear the way you talk to your family, and where he can’t help you solve any problems.
It’s manger danger.
In reality, though, Jesus is not in a manger.
You see, Mary and Joseph only had him in that manger probably, what, a couple weeks or so?
But eventually, he grew up, he got his own bed, he learned to read, grew out of his little boy clothes, and he became he man.
Eventually, He died on the cross for your sin.
And he stands ready to help you, to heal your brokenness, to forgive your sin.
But he’s a gentleman. He’s not going to force his way out of the Christmas decoration box, breaking all the bulbs and climbing the fake tree to find you. He’s going to wait for you to ask. He’s going to wait for you to invite him.
For you, for me, all it takes is a prayer and a little bit of faith. Ask him today to help you. He loves you.
Set up your manger scene, have a Christ centred Christmas. but come January, as you take down the tree, and put away the decorations, maybe, just maybe you leave the manger scene set up all year. If not in actuality, don’t put the real Jesus away.
Let Him shine through your life, every day.
Where does your imagination go when your mind wanders? Do you ever catch yourself thinking about things you ought not to be thinking about? The battle for godly living so often takes place in our minds. We might be engaged in a conversation, going for a walk, or doing some work on our computer when all of a sudden — BAM! — a crazy thought hijacks our mind. Here’s three things you can do if you’ve had this experience.
1. Guard the input.
Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” The same verse in the New Living Translation says, “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” If we are going to minimize bad thoughts, we must guard what we set before our eyes. Whether it be pornographic websites, excessively violent movies, or anything else that drags you down, if it’s garbage in, it will be difficult, if not impossible to keep your mind on a good track.
On the other hand, if you are putting into your mind good things, it will be much easier to think about those good things when your mind starts drifting.
2. Memorize Scripture.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He responded three times by quoting Bible verses. I have some passages of Scripture that I have memorized years and years ago that still come back to me at will. Memorizing Scripture is, BY FAR, an excellent practice to set your heart and mind on things above. Find just one or two verses that deal with your need. Commit them to memory. You will never regret it!
Prayer is how we connect with the Lord. We must discipline ourselves to maintain an active and consistent prayer life. When I hear of a Christian who has fallen into sin, I often wonder how they were doing in their prayer life. Spend time with God in prayer. This is a way to be a strong and mature believer.
One of the best passages about controlling your thoughts is Philippians 4:8-9. We will be taking a look at this passage at Saturday Night Church this coming November 12. Make plans now to join us!
What other ways do you think are helpful to keep your mind where it needs to be? Start the conversation below.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13–14, NLT)
Do you have a hard time letting go of the past? As Christians, we are gloriously able to live in the now. We are forgiven. We have a goal, a prize. It is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Whether it is evil things that have been done to you, failures that hang over your head, or even past spiritual, emotional, or vocational success, our past does not define who we are in Christ.
The only way to run the race, is to run to win. The only way to do that is to keep your eyes on the finish line. Don’t look back, dear brother. Don’t look back, dear sister. You have a future and you have a prize awaiting you. Reach for it! God loves you!
What’s your greatest achievement? How impressive is your résumé? What sets you apart? What is your passion? What do you do better than others?
One of the greatest and most intelligent leaders in history was a man named Saul of Tarsus. He lived in the first century and was a very promising up and coming Jewish rabbi. His list of achievements is impressive: “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6).
Saul, later known as Paul, was the cream of the crop in the Jewish religion. After he met Jesus, he successfully reasoned with many, many people, convincing them that Jesus was the Christ. He was responsible for planting churches, spreading the gospel, and writing a good portion of the New Testament.
He considered all of his accomplishments “rubbish,” in comparison to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ. Both his past (Philippians 3:7) and present (Philippians 3:8) he counts as loss. The King James Version of the bible uses the word “dung.” Paul considered everything in his life a pile of manure, compared to knowing Jesus. What a powerful sentiment!
Paul was a man who was apprehended by an insatiable desire to know Jesus. He was a man who had seen Jesus in a vision, who had been used by Jesus, and who was encouraged by Jesus, and yet he wanted to know Jesus more.
Likewise, all of our achievements, passions, and skills are manure compared to knowing Jesus. Knowing Jesus is the greatest knowledge we could ever have. I want to pursue Him more fervently and love Him more deeply. I pray that is your desire as well.
I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
Last Saturday, we had our annual Thanksgiving Dinner and Service. My favourite part was not tasting all the AMAZING food, but hearing all the AMAZING stories. God is real and He is moving in our hearts and lives. It was also great to see all who came out.
Some people have had very difficult times this year. Whether it be medical, personal loss, or other challenges, God has been faithful. He loves us so much. He always carries us through the tough times. He is patient to wait for us. We can be angry with Him, or disappointed. Those emotions are ok as long as we take them to Him in prayer. It has been well said that God loves us too much to leave us where we are. It is through community where He so often works.
This coming Sunday, October 16, I will be speaking about “The Excellence of Knowing Jesus.” You can read the passage I’ll be sharing from here: Philippians 3:1-11, or in your own Bible. There’s nothing greater in life than knowing Jesus. As we open His Word, He will be faithful to meet us. He will be glorified as we talk about how wonderful it is to know Him.
This Sunday is significant because it will be the last time that we gather at Film.ca to worship God. Starting October 22, we will be meeting every week at the Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre, 2200 Sawgrass Drive in Oakville. We are also switching the time that we get together. From now on, it’s Saturday night at 6:00pm, instead of Sunday morning.
I am looking forward to this new season in the life of our church. Meeting at Oak Park, I believe, will help us to develop a greater sense of community. We have been praying for the Oak Park neighbourhood and are believing that God has called us there to share the love of Jesus. We would be honoured if you would join us. God has great things in store for you! He wants to use you in His mission to reach the world and make disciples. We want to help you do that!
See you Sunday…..and then Saturday, October 22!
God is on the move. He is in the business of changing lives. The way He does it in each life is a little bit different. It always has to do with Jesus, forgiveness, and the cross. But the circumstances that bring each person to a place of surrender varies considerably.
We all have a God-story to tell. Telling someone what God has done in your life can be an encouragement to them, and a faith building experience for you.
If you have never written out your testimony, take some time and give it a try. Then, you will be more prepared to share it when God gives you the opportunity.
Here’s a short article about how to do that.