Read Psalm 91 to start. Then open in prayer.
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
The passage we just read is actually one of my favourite Psalms. I’m not doing a study on that Psalm today, but we are going to reference part of it in a few minutes. But right now, I have question to ask. Have you ever heard the term confirmation bias? It’s something we all experience, but may not realize it. When we encounter new information, we tend to use it to confirm what we already think. What’s more, confirmation bias says that we are a lot more likely to listen to answers that we already agree with or expect. We hear what we want to hear. We interpret things to agree with us, and we generally want to hear voices that agree with us. This is a common and normal thing, we generally don’t like to be challenged about what we think, what we believe. Continue reading Authority, Divine or Otherwise
Let’s talk for a moment about invitations. We associate them these days with weddings and with children’s birthday parties in particular, but there are all sorts of invitations. I recently, well, back six months ago, received an invitation to a wedding in Calgary. It was for my cousin’s son’s wedding, someone who I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years, he must have been in kindergarten back then, don’t think I’d recognize him on the street unless he was holding a sign that read “Hey Marko, my mom is your cousin”, and even then, it might take a minute. I was not expecting to be invited to his wedding.
When it came, I assumed it was just a courtesy invite, they were inviting all the relatives, and they were not expecting us to travel out to Alberta on the Canada Day weekend. I promptly forgot to actually RVSP. At least until I got a message from my cousin in April wondering if we’d be able to make it. Apparently it was a real invitation, and they were quite prepared to have us, kids and all. Not that it was viable to go, mind you, but the invitation was real. Continue reading Location and Loyalty
Read Joel 3: 11-14 to start. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
Let’s talk for a moment about geography. Not about nations and borders, but about land, and topography, the actual surface of the earth. Ever look at a topographical map? It’s a map that shows the land features rather than the political lines, showing the height of hills and mountains, that sort of thing. When you think about valleys, that’s the sort of geography we’re talking about.
Continue reading The Valley of Decision
10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment. 11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work. 12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. 14 The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. 15 In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.
Who here has ever wanted to be a king? Or queen, or emperor, or president, or any other title you can think of, really, for that matter. I don’t mean any sort of serious intention here, I can’t imagine that anyone has actually taken steps to try to become royalty, but more of a fanciful wish or a dream. We probably all have had that thought. I know I have. Oh, to be king for a day. It sounds so very wonderful. The things you would do, the things you would change. The things you could fix, the problems you could solve. Continue reading Rulers, Respect, and Responsibility
Who here remembers high school? For some of us, it’s been a while. My own high school 20 year reunion was a couple of years ago, or at least it should have been. I didn’t go. I’m not even sure if it actually happened or not, because, well, I didn’t go, I wasn’t too terribly concerned about going. It’s not like I look back on high school as the best years of my life. Not the worst years, either, pretty sure that would be junior high.
Continue reading The Perils of Popularity
Leviticus 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Sometimes, quite often, in fact, it’s what you don’t see that is most important. Each and every one of us here this morning is alive because we are carrying around somewhere in the ballpark of five litres of blood. Without that, we would immediately die. There is no substitute for blood, you can’t fill your body with five litres of coffee or alcohol or cola or some other fluid, although we probably all know some people who drink those things like they are trying to do that. No, blood is unique, and blood is absolutely essential. The life of the flesh is in the blood. Continue reading The Life of the Flesh is in the Blood
Read Psalm 37:1-9 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
Sometimes I choose a sermon topic a week or so before speaking. This time, I had my subject picked out a while ago, pretty much from the last time I spoke, as it was a topic that’s been on my bulletin board as a possible sermon topic for a while now. So having decided, I looked up a number of scripture verses to act as possible starting points, which is always a good place to start when you are preparing a sermon. Wouldn’t you know it, more than one of the passages I chose has been spoken on, or at the very least referenced, from this platform, since I came up with my list. As recently as last Sunday one of the key verses I had found was featured in the Sunday sermon.
Continue reading The Problem of Anger
With it being the 20th of December, preaching a Christmas message seemed the right thing to do when I was deciding what to speak on this morning. That would make sense. After all, Christmas is but a few days from now, we had the Christmas concert last week, we sang carols this morning, and we just read a couple of very familiar passages from Matthew and Luke chapter 2. You would think that this is going to be a Christmas themed sermon, and while it starts out that way, I’m not so sure that it’s really a Christmas sermon. Think of the carol “We Three Kings” which starts off with a Christmas theme, but once you get to the fourth and fifth verses, it’s not talking about Christmas any further, it’s talking about Christ’s death and resurrection. This sermon is a bit like that. It’s all bundled in Christmas themed wrapping paper, but I could get away with preaching a very similar sermon in April or October. Continue reading Seeking, Finding, and Following
Read John 3 11-12 to start. 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? Then open in prayer.
There is an idea today that faith and science are incompatible, that if you would follow Christ, then you cannot study science, not with any serious effort, at least. And likewise, if you are well educated and scientifically minded, then you cannot possibly believe in something so unscientific as Christianity. This is a commonly held idea today, and frequently one that is supported by those on either side of the science/faith divide. They look at us as being ignorant and backward, and say that if you have science, you don’t need faith. We look at them as cold and deluded, and say that if you have faith, then science doesn’t matter.
On which side of this divide do you fall? Faith or science, which will it be? Have you picked a side? If you have indeed chosen a side, I have bad news for you. You’re wrong. The side you have chosen is wrong.
Continue reading Blinded by Science
Love One Another, Volume 2
Read John 13:34-35 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Then open in prayer
If you heard my sermon last month, you might be thinking that those verses sound familiar. Yes, I spoke on John chapter 13 a month ago. I’m not speaking on the same chapter this time, but I am speaking on the same topic. Think of this as something along the line of picking up where I left off. Continue reading Love One Another, Volume 2