The Story of the Seeds

14 Aug 2017 In: Sermons

“One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable…” Luke 8:4

Now we’re just going to stop right there. Before we go any further, we need to talk about this verse – specifically about this word “parable” that we just read. Now if you don’t speak Christian-ese, this word “parable” might seem a little foreign. It’s not really a common, everyday-language kind of word. The guys at the shop don’t usually tell ‘parables’. But Jesus did. And lots of them. In fact the count in my Bible says that Jesus told 46 different parables. And I’m sure He told many more than that – they just weren’t recorded in the Bible.

So what exactly is a parable? Simply speaking, a parable is really just a short story about something very common and very familiar that illustrates a unfamiliar spiritual truth. For example, Jesus would tell a story about something very common like a farmer planting seeds – something that everybody in that time would understood and know what it was all about – many of his listeners would have been farmers themselves, so they knew about planting seeds. But within that story of a farmer planting seeds, Jesus would have a hidden spiritual truth that would be illustrated by the characters and events that happen in the story.

You could almost think of a parable as a parallel. You know how parallel lines run directly beside each other? Well, in parable, the story and the spiritual truth would run parallel to each other – you could compare the two. In fact quite often Jesus would begin his parables by saying something like “The kingdom of heaven is like…. THIS” – then He would tell this story – drawing a parallel between the story and the spiritual truth about the Kingdom of heaven that He wanted His listeners to learn.

So when we read in Luke 8:4 that…. “One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable…” we know that Jesus is about to tell us a story about something very common and very familiar – something we already know all about – and that in that story will be a parallel, hidden spiritual truth that Jesus wants us to learn and understand.

So let’s try this again: Luke chapter 8 – starting at verse 4:

One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it.6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out,“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Luke 8:4-8

So you can see that the story in itself is not all that profound. It’s just a farmer tossing seed around – some of it grows – some of it doesn’t. There’s no unexpected plot twists along the way. No surprise endings. It’s just a boring, mundane event of life. But there are some significant spiritual truths that are hidden within this story. So let’s see if we can wrap our heads around what those parallels might be. Read the rest of this entry »

What Do I Still Lack?

7 Aug 2017 In: Sermons

Last week we looked at the story of Paul & Silas, and we were reminded that the Bible never promises that following Jesus will be easy. In fact, it tells us to expect trouble and persecution and hard times. The good news is that the Bible does promise that it will be worth it.

Paul and Silas had to endure some pretty rough stuff – being arrested and beaten and thrown into jail. But God was with them. And even in that dungeon, God gave gave them hope for the future, joy in every circumstance, and an unusual love for the people around them – even the ones who hurt them. And because of that joy and that hope and that love for others, Paul & Silas were able to sing and praise and worship God even in their suffering – which is pretty incredible! Its a great example for all of us!

And as God always does, He took their lousy situation and He turn it all around and used it for good. Through God’s miraculous intervention, Paul & Silas were able to tell the jailer how to be saved and he and his whole family where baptized and became followers of Jesus that night.

It was a great reminder that God can redeem any situation and use it for his glory.

Now today I want to follow this train of thought a little further as we look at the cost of following Christ. You see, the Bible teaches us that while salvation is a free gift from God – following Jesus always comes with a cost. I think we tend to emphasize the free part, but we neglect to talk about the cost. But both sides are important. It’s important to understand that there is nothing we can do to earn our Salvation – it’s was completely paid for by Christ’s death on the cross. Romans 6:23 says…

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Salvation is certainly a free gift from God, but accepting that free gift comes with a cost.

It’s like winning the Stars Home Lottery! You win the gigantic mansion of a house – and it’s totally free – but owning a giant home will cost you in heating, repairs, insurance, and all those other things that come with owning a home. The house is a free gift, but there’s certainly a cost that comes with it.

Following Christ is like that. Salvation is absolutely a free gift, but following Christ comes with cost. You can’t have one without the other.

So this morning, I want to look at the story of the rich young man as found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 19, to see an important crossroads in his spiritual journey. You see, he was pretty excited about gaining the free gift of eternal life, but he wasn’t so sure about the cost that went with it.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Matthew 19:16-22 NIV

So that’s the passage I want to look at this morning. It’s not a very long or complicated story – but there’s a lot packed in there, so let’s see if we can work our way through this. Read the rest of this entry »

Joy in Suffering

7 Aug 2017 In: Sermons

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at a couple different kids camps.  One, of course, was Camp Little Red – and we’ve done that for several years. I think there is only a handful of summers since we’ve been married that we haven’t spent at least a week out there. But we also got to go out to River’s Edge Camp this summer – and that was new for us. In many ways it is very different from Camp Little Red – but at the same time, it’s just the same. It’s a bunch of people who love Jesus and want these young kids to know and love him too!

So it was a real blessing to be at both camps – and I thank you guys for giving me the opportunity to go and do that. Camp has certainly made a difference in my life – and I know it’s made a difference in the lives of many here in our church! So I am excited for our church to continue being involved in camp ministry – I think it’s a fantastic way for us to be involved in sharing the Gospel and making disciples.

But to get back to the message for this morning – when I was speaking at River’s Edge Camp – my theme for my messages for them was “The Adventure of a Lifetime.” And we talked about how following God is always an adventure. Peter walking on water, David going up against Goliath – Moses leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. We talked about all of these incredible adventures that we usually hear about in Sunday School. But I didn’t want to paint a picture for them that following God is always easy. It is always an adventure – but it’s not always easy – it’s not always fun. There are times when following God is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

And so, I told them the story about Paul and Silas getting thrown in jail. But as I was preparing for that message, pulling out the points that I was going to share with the kids – I found that God pulled out several points that He wanted to share with me. Things that He wanted to challenge me on and encourage me in. Some of those thoughts have really stuck with me for these past couple weeks and so this morning, I want to share some of that with you too.

I want to read from Acts 16 this morning. This will be the extended version of what I shared with the campers. Just to give you the background to this story – Paul & Silas have headed out on what is known as Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul had in mind to go to Asia, but God kept closing those doors and instead redirected him to Macedonia. And so that’s where we pick it up in Acts 16, verse 11. And by the way, this is Dr. Luke writing this account… He says in verse 11…

11 We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

Acts 16:11-15

And so, so far, things are going really well for Paul & Silas. As missionaries they are having great success. They’ve only been there a short time and already they’ve met this Lydia lady, they’ve shared the Gospel with her, and she and her household believed the Gospel and are baptized! It’s a fantastic start!

I think we could see some parallels in our little church here. As a church, we’re only in year two and God has been so good to us already! We’ve grown to be a wonderful little family – we’re so thankful for each one of you. Through the different ministries of the church – and just through different people talking with friends and neighbours – our church has had many opportunities to share the Gospel with many people, we’ve had people believe and accept Jesus and we’re started to make plans for our first baptisms this fall!

It’s super exciting! Just as I’ve said in my camp theme, following God has been an incredible adventure. However, as Paul & Silas were about to find out – it’s not always fun and games!

16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”

18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials.21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” Acts 16:16-21

I can certainly see some parallels here too. That last statement sounds just like what you might hear about Christians today. People might say of us – “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Canadians to practice!”

Although Canada was founded on Christian principles and on the truths of Bible – our country is increasingly moving in the direction where speaking the truth of the Bible and living according to that truth is becoming illegal. There are more and more laws that obligate us to live and act and speak contrary to how God has instructed us. Read the rest of this entry »

Investing in Eternity

14 Jul 2017 In: Sermons

I want to start off today with a question: And this is the question: What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

And you would think that it would be unnecessary or even redundant to ask such a question in church of all places. Surely we all know what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. But do we really? Do we really grasp the implications for our lives we say we are a follower of Jesus Christ?

Is it simply that we’ve prayed a prayer and asked God to forgive our sins? Is that what it means to follow Christ? Does it mean we’ve been baptized and we regularly attend church? Is that following Christ? Does it mean we’re trying to be more good and less bad? Is that following Christ? Or does following Christ mean something totally different?

Well, this week we want to take a brief look at what Bible has to say about following Christ. And we’re sure not going to be able to touch on everything – because the Bible actually has a lot to say about what it means to follow Christ. But I want to at least pull out a few key points today and perhaps that will motivate you to do some further study on your own!

Because according to the Bible, there’s a lot more to following Christ than just praying a prayer, being baptized, attending a church, and trying to be more good than bad. So let’s open our Bibles and have a look.

Let’s get started with a passage from Colossians. If you have your Bibles with you, you can turn with me to Colossians chapter 2 – verse 6 to begin with. It goes like this:

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.” Colossians 2:6

And I’ll just pause here for a minute. If you were here last week, you’ll recall that we talked about the spiritual journey that each of us is on and how we always need to keep moving forward in our journey with God. There’s no standing still. If we think we are standing still, we’re actually most likely drifting away. We need to keep moving forward – always taking those next steps of obedience to Christ. And that’s really what this verse is telling us. “Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.”

That means that getting to that point where you accept Christ as your Saviour is not the end of your journey. That’s why in our little “spiritual journey” handout that we gave you last week, we find “Faith Commitment” in middle. It’s not the end. Salvation alone is not our goal. Our goal is to follow Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »

Your Spiritual Journey

4 Jul 2017 In: All the other stuff

Every person on the planet is constantly in motion. We are always moving. For example, scientists tell us that the earth’s continents are slowly drifting apart. They figure that North America moving at a rate of about 2 to 4 inches every year. And actually in 2011 when Japan had that large earthquake and tsunami – it moved Japan about 8 feet closer to our west coast. That’s amazing! That’s some serious motion.

And not only are our continents moving – the entire planet is in motion. You know how the sun comes up every morning and goes down every evening? That’s because the earth is spinning in an easterly direction at about 1000 miles per hour. Not only that, the earth screaming through space in an orbit around the sun at about 67,000 mph. That’s a lot of movement!

But the sun is moving too… Our entire solar system is rotating within our galaxy at a speed of about 500,000 mph. And if that still doesn’t blow your mind, our galaxy is not only rotating, but it is also moving away from other galaxies at a rate of about 1.2 million mph.

That means, even if you were to try and stand perfectly still within your own home, you would actual move approximately the distance between here and Cuba!

The fact is, from the day you are born to the day you die, you are always moving. You’re never standing still.

And that leads me into what I want to talk about today. Just like we are always physically moving, we are also always spiritually moving. From the day we are born to the day we die, we are on a spiritual journey. Everyone of us. It doesn’t matter if we are a Christian, or an atheist, or a muslim, or a hindu, or a whatever else. We’re all on a spiritual journey. The difference, of course, is where our journey leads us. (And we’re going to get into that a little bit later on.)

But all of us are on a spiritual journey. We’re either moving towards God or away from Him. There’s no standing still in this journey. Read the rest of this entry »

Iron Sharpens Iron

20 Jun 2017 In: Sermons

Well, last week we wrapped up our series talking about the unlikely heroes in the book of Judges, so normally I would start a new series today. However, we’re just about into the summer months and most of us, including myself, will likely miss several Sundays as we take vacations, spend time at Bible camp, or whatever else we find ourselves doing this summer. So I didn’t really want to kick off a whole new series at this point.

But it is Father’s Day – and so I thought it might be good to do a message that was really geared for the men. Now that’s not to say that it won’t apply to you ladies – I think there’s lessons here for all of us today – but I really want to try to connect with the guys this morning. And so to that end, today’s message will be shorter than usual, it will include power tools, and it will end with food.

I think most guys would be agreeable to all that – so we here we go! Let’s jump right into it.

The main verse that I want to focus on today is Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17

Now of course, when I was a kid, I memorized this verse in the 1984 edition of the NIV – and back then, the translators weren’t so concerned about being gender neutral – and so that edition put it like this…

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV 1984 Edition)

So while, obviously this verse can apply to anyone – both men and women, today I want to focus on applying this verse to us men. Because I think this is really a missing ingredient in our Canadian culture today. We really don’t have that element of men sharpening men.

But I guess, before we get too far along, I should probably define this whole concept of sharpening one another and why its so important. Read the rest of this entry »

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