From the pastor, 1998 - 1999
YOUR PLACE IN CHURCH (September 1998)
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42
Christians cannot survive spiritually on their own. They find the
support, fellowship and the opportunity to serve that they
need, only by being part of a group of believers, the church. Let me
explain, by using 3 little stories and a hymn.
"Long, long ago in a village of crafty and careful peasants, the village
Chief arranged a great community Celebration. He
prepared a great Oak Cask and told each family to put a wineskin of
their best wine into the Cask. He said, if each one
supplies us with his best there will be sufficient for all of the best
quality. One crafty peasant thought, if everyone else
puts in their best wine, no-one will notice if I just pour in water and
let the others put in their best. My little bit won't be
missed. Finally on the day of the Celebration the Oaken Cask was tapped
and only water poured out. Everyone thought
that their contribution was so small that it would not be missed. And
so there was nothing at all."
"Up the Fraser Canyon on a side road to the west of North Bend lies a
lonely abandoned farmstead. The house has been
destroyed by fire and the barn is falling down."
"There is evidence of an attempt to have a garden and some shrubs and
trees have survived the passing years. In what
used to be a flowerbed near the ashes of the house a lone yellow tulip
blooms almost smothered by the encroaching
weeds. The tulip is very small and is almost choked by weeds. As I saw
it I wondered how many years can it survive all
This is like our Christian life; alone we shrink and perhaps fade
away; together we stand strong encouraging each other.
We all need each other in the Church."
"In the city of Pasadena, California a man was waiting for an
appointment. He put in the time in Pasadena's famous rose
Garden. At the appointment a friend commented: "I know where you were.
You were in the Rose Garden. The perfume
of the roses has stayed with you." The sweetness of Christ remains with
those who stay with Him."
Carol Rose Ikeler wrote this hymn describing what the church should be.
"The church is wherever God's people are praising,
Singing His goodness for joy on this day.
The church is wherever disciples of Jesus
Remember His story and walk in His way.
"The church is wherever God's people are helping,
Caring for neighbours in sickness and need.
The church is wherever God's people are sharing
The words of the Bible in gift and in deed."
Remember, you are the Church. You are needed in worship, service, and
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IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS (October 1998)
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." l
Should we give thanks to God even in the face of adversity, suffering
and loss? Who can give thanks to God for a life
threatening disease, the loss of job, or the sudden death of a loved
one? Not many of us. It is easy for us to be joyful in
happy situations, but what is so special about that.
As one person has said, "when you get right down to brass tacks, only a
few options are available for handling adverse
circumstances. We can curse God or curse our luck. We can be angry
with the universe. We can indulge in
whimpering self-pity." Someone else had said, "human beings are
specially prone to three temptations: to whine, to
shine, and to recline! Many of us are whiners. Or we can become
embittered and cynical. Or we can become defeatist
and despairing; we can say, 'Stop the world, I want to get off."
How then are we to take Paul's words, "give thanks in all
circumstances". If we are not to handle life's calamities by
giving expression to anger, self-pity, bitterness, cynicism, or despair,
how are we to respond? Perhaps the key is to
make a distinction between giving thanks FOR all things, and giving
thanks IN all circumstances. There is a world of
difference. Surely Paul does not mean that one can thank God for
everything that happens. One cannot be thankful that
people starve. One cannot be thankful that many people suffer from the
ravages of war and disease and economic
oppression. And certainly one cannot be thankful when suffering comes
to someone else.
What the Apostle Paul is stating here is something deeply personal. He
is suggesting that while believers may not be
able to give thanks to God for everything that happens, at least they
can give thanks in spite of everything that happens.
While we may not be able to praise God FOR everything, we should be able
to give thanks IN everything. And why not?
This much we do know; no matter how bleak our circumstances may be, we
are not forsaken by God! This, in itself, is
cause for rejoicing! How much more our witness is, if in the midst of
adversity we can give God praise born out of faith
in God's unchanging goodness.
It is helpful to consider more closely Paul's ability to be thankful in
all circumstances. We discover that there were a
variety of things for which he was grateful.
The Apostle Paul was grateful to God for the supreme gift of his life in
Christ. In writing to the Corinthians he exclaimed,
"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." This had to be the
driving force of Paul's life: gratitude for the
unspeakable gift of God's salvation in and through the life, death and
resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Why was
Paul willing to endure hardship, persecution, scourging, imprisonment,
shipwreck, and even martyrdom? There can be
but one answer: gratitude.
Then too, Paul was grateful to God for victory even in suffering. To
the Corinthians he wrote, "But thanks be to God, who
always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ...." 2 Corinthians
2:14. What is so unique about the Apostle's attitude is
that he exhorts his fellow believers to "rejoice always," "on every
occasion," "in every set of circumstances." The
Apostle both taught and practised the principle of praying unceasingly
and of giving thanks in every conceivable
circumstance. It is quite possible that few of us achieve this kind of
One day, we are told, Johann Tauler of Strasbourg met a peasant. "God
give you a good day, my friend," he greeted
him. The peasant answered briskly, "I thank God I never have a bad
day." Tauler, astonished, kept silence for a time.
Then he added, "God give you a happy life, my friend." The peasant
replied composedly, "I thank God I am never
unhappy." "Never unhappy!" cried Tauler, bewildered. "What do you
mean?" "Well," came the response, "when it is
fine I thank God, when it rains I thank God, when I have plenty I thank
God, when I am hungry I thank God, and
whatever pleases Him pleases me, why should I say that I am unhappy when
I am not?" Tauler looked upon him with
awe, "Who are you?" he asked. "I am a king," said the peasant. "A
king?" Tauler gasped. "Where is your kingdom?"
The peasant smiled gravely. "In my heart," he whispered softly.
I do not know about you, but I covet this kind of spiritual maturity;
in every situation to give God thanks.
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CAN YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIST AND GO TO HELL? (November 1998)
"And those he predestined, he also called; those he called,
he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."
On the last Sunday in October we remember each year
the contribution made to the Christian Church by such
reformers at Zwingli, Hus, Luther and Calvin. One of the
questions answered by the Reformers was: Can a person
who has become a child of God by his faith in Jesus
Christ, ever be disowned by God his Father."? Or, can a
person receive eternal life and then go to hell forever?
Most Christians, before the Reformation and since that
time have said in answer to both questions, YES. One
notable exception is the Presbyterian Church. The
Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way: "They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither
totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be
eternally saved." (Chapter XVII-I)
In other words, if you have come to God through faith in
Christ, by repentance, belief and commitment to Jesus
Christ and therefore are a child of God, no matter what,
you will always remain his child and will one day go to be
with Christ. The reason we can be so sure of this, is not
because of us or our faithfulness, or we would never
persevere, but because of God. It is not that we have a
great faith in God, but that we have faith in a great God.
Our sovereign God, all wise and all powerful, before the
foundation of the world, loved us and claimed us for
himself, drew us to himself, declared us righteous and is
making us in the very likeness of Jesus by the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit, and will most assuredly complete what
he has started, bringing us safely through life and death to
dwell eternally with him in heaven. Now, this belief is not
just wishful thinking; it is founded and rooted in Scripture.
Read passages such as John 10:28,29; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2
Timothy 4 18; Romans 8: 28 - 30.
In helping us to understand this biblical truth, there are
three points I would like to make.
1. First of all, WE DO NOT PERSEVERE ON OUR OWN.
If we depended on our good works, our faithfulness and
obedience to God, we would hardly last one hour, let
along one day, one year, all of our lives. Fortunately,
Scripture assures us, "We are kept through the power of
God unto salvation." Romans 1:16. The very omnipotent
power of God keeps us and holds us in this salvation. If it
were not for that, none of us would ever persevere.
2. The second point I wish to stress is this: A CHRISTIAN
PERSON CAN AND DOES FALL AWAY, PARTIALLY
AND TEMPORARILY BUT NOT TOTALLY OR FINALLY.
As long as the Christian remains in this world his state is
one of warfare. He suffers temporary reverses and may
for a time appear to have lost all faith; yet if he has come
to the Lord in humble faith and repentance, and is
therefore saved, he cannot fall away completely from
grace. He will sooner or later return to God confessing his
sins and asking forgiveness, and rededicating his life to
His Father and Sovereign Lord.
3. Finally the third point I wish to make is this: THOSE
WHO BEGIN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ON EARTH WILL
CONTINUE IT IN HEAVEN. Notice the words from
Romans 8 verse 30, "whom he justified, he also glorified."
Justification is the first act of the Christian life; glorification
is the first act in heaven. Justification is the first thing that
happens to a Christian on earth. He is pardoned for his
sins. He is accounted righteous in the sight of God.
Glorification is the first thing that happens to the Christian
in heaven. Every last vestige of sin is removed. He is
made absolutely pure and holy, fit to stand in the presence
of God. Those who begin the Christian life on earth will
continue it in heaven, because we are kept by the very
power of God.
Jesus said, "My Father, who has given them to me, is
greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my
Father's hand." John 10:29 Isn't that a wonderful truth.
Will you let it thrill your heart. Will you let it encourage
you to be faithful and obedient in all things to the Lord.
Will you allow it to make you a more joyful person, on fire for
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IS CHRISTMAS MORE THAN A TRADITION? (December 1998)
Christmas is no longer only or even mainly a Christian celebration. It
is celebrated by people of different religious persuasions, or of no
religious conviction at all, and it is easy to make it simply a secular
event. That is why it is so important for the Christian Church and for
each Christian to affirm the basic meaning and significance of
Christmas, and to put these beliefs into practice.
We must make clear what it is that we believe in. For us to declare to
the world the significance of Christmas, we must know ourselves why we
celebrate it. What would you say if some asked you why you celebrate
Christmas? You might say that you celebrate Christmas because it is a
time of giving and receiving, or that it is a family tradition. These
are or may be true.
But I hope you would also be able to say, "I celebrate Christmas
because of Jesus," and you might go on to say, "I celebrate Christmas
because on the very first Christmas God expressed Himself in a unique
and decisive way for the salvation of His people, in the babe born in a
stable in Bethlehem to die on a tree in Calvary. God was acting to save
us." Would this be your answer?
I celebrate Christmas, because I have always celebrated it. It has
been part of my life since I was born. Most of us would say that. But
I celebrate Christmas for some other reasons also. So do you. We
celebrate Christmas because something has happened to us spiritually, and
therefore as we are receptive and give ourselves to it something now can
happen in us again. As Luther once put it: "There is a sun that smiles
at me, and I can run out of the dark house of my life into the
A theologian has said: "I live by virtue of the miracle that God is not
merely the mute and voiceless ground of the universe, but that He comes
to me down in the depths. We see this in Him who lay in the manger, a
human child, yet different from all of us. We see that He, whom all
the universe would not contain comes down into the world of little
things, the little things of our lives, of men and women who are afraid,
into a world in which people cheat and are cheated; in which men and
women die, where people are murdered, where there are droughts, floods,
volcanoes erupting, wars, earthquakes, airplane disasters, disease and
unemployment. And we wonder if there is any meaning or purpose or hope
in the world. Yet we see God's special person, His son, reaching out
with one hand and gripping the hand of God the Father, and with the
other hand, gripping the hands of men and women. By His birth in a
lowly manger and His death on the cross a great reconciliation was
The word 'reconcile' means to bring together two parties that should
have been together all along. This is what Christ has done for us by
His death on the Cross. He has brought us to God. When we come to
understand this, something happens in our lives and to our lives.
Therefore Christmas will always be more than just a tradition. It is a
living experience. Christ has become the focal point in our lives.
Therefore Christmas can never be simply a tradition. The same is true
for everyone who has met the Saviour. We must celebrate and shout:
"thanks be to God for this indescribable, unspeakable gift.'
Paul the apostle had met Christ face to face, and afterwards he wrote:
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed
away, behold all things are become new." As the angel said: "I bring
you tidings of great joy, for unto us is born this day a Saviour which
is Christ the Lord."
It is that Saviour, the living Saviour, who brings hope, meaning,
purpose, and joy to life, and to Christmas.
Sincerely in Christ our Lord,
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A WORD OF HOPE FOR 1999 (January 1999)
Each new year brings with it all the uncertainties
and fears that are part of life. Yet the Christian
has cause for hope and confidence. In
Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 27, we read:
"THE ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR REFUGE, AND
UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING
1. THE ETERNAL GOD. God has no beginning
and no ending. A line from the Hymn "Abide
With Me" is "Change and decay in all around I
see; Oh Thou who changest not, abide with
me." Change is a constant factor in our lives. It
can be either good or harmful. In contrast, the
one who is CHANGELESS is God. He cannot
change because nothing can be added to His
perfection. We are stronger in the midst of
change, when we are living in harmony with the
2. This ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR REFUGE. A
refuge is a place of security no matter what may
happen. Nothing can interfere with the Eternal
God nor those who take refuge in Him. Even
death, a serious matter and a great worry to
many, does not harm us. Death for a Christian
is "Good night" here and "Sunrise" in God's
Eternal World. The Refuge applies to this life as
well as to the next. A person whose life is in
God's protection is spared the frustration and
hurt that is experienced by those who are
carried away by the passing fads of human
behaviour. For example, those who take refuge
never get to the real issue of the matter. Those
who find REFUGE in the ETERNAL GOD are
able to meet the problems Of life with clear
minds and a careful consideration of the facts.
They have an infallible centre in the reality of
3. UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS!
The picture is that of a child falling into
the protecting arms of a loving parent or that of a
child tired from a day's activity falling asleep in
the arms of a loving parent. We live and die in
the ARMS OF GOD!
Yes, 1999 has its uncertainties. But each step
of the way, we will be able to experience GOD
AS OUR REFUGE, AND HIS LOVING
PROTECTING ARMS SURROUNDING US AND
HOLDING US TO HIMSELF.
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LET US DO WHAT WE CAN FOR JESUS IN 1999 (February 1999)
In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 14, verses 1 - 9, we have the
beautiful story of a woman pouring expensive perfume on the head of
When some of those present Ďrebuked her harshlyí Jesus said, "Leave her
alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me."
"She did what she could."
"She did what she could," or "she has done what was in her power
to do." This word of commendation from our Lord seems to be the pivot
around which all the teaching of this incident centers. Two great elements are
contained here: first, the element of worship and then that
and as Christians we enjoy these two very wonderful privileges: that of
worship, which is giving something to the Lord, and that
of service, which is
doing something for the Lord. Both these privileges blend together in Maryís
loving act. Her worship is seen in verse 3,
where she expresses her love to
the Lord in such a wonderful way; her service is seen and commended by the Lord
in verses 6 and 8. Think now
of the privilege of Christian service, and of
its permanent value in Godís estimate.
- THE MEANING OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:
What do we mean when we, as believers, talk about serving the
Lord? Often we think it means being a Minister, a Missionary, a
Sunday School Teacher.
Does Christian service only consist of these! No! We
are all saved to serve. Christian service is doing things for Jesus, and
there are boundless
opportunities open to us all to serve the Lord, and even
if we give a cup of cold water in His Name, we are doing this for His glory.
the qualifying word in our definition of Christian service.
It is doing things FOR JESUS - that is, out of love for Him and in order to
bring glory to Him.
So all of us can serve.
- THE MEASURE OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:
How much are we to do for Him? All our Lord expects is that we do
what lies in our power. This is the meaning of our Lordís word in verse 8.
"She did what
she could." If we really love the Lord, in the most unconscious
ways, we shall do what we can for Him; we shall do it for others, but in doing
it for others
for Him we shall be ministering to Him. What are you doing for
Jesus? Are you doing "what you can" and serving Him to the limit of your
- THE MOTIVE OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:
What was Maryís motive? Why did she worship the Lord in this way
and express her appreciation of Him in such loving service? She did not do it
recognition or to gain the Lordís praise, but simply out of love for
Him. And that is the true motive for Christian service.
- THE MEMORIAL OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:
In verse 9 we are told a very wonderful thing. Our Lord declared
that Maryís loving act would never be forgotten. Maryís simple act of
service, done for
Jesusí sake would never be lost. The record of what Mary
had done, the pleasure it brought to the Lord, and the blessing that it would
bring to millions
of others, would never pass away. This tells us that every
little act done out of love for the Lord Jesus abides forever.
Let us do what we can for Jesus in 1999.
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SPIRITUAL RENEWAL (March 1999)
Sometimes it is possible to find ourselves in need of
spiritual renewal, in our own personal lives, and as a
congregation. We may find ourselves lacking the joy,
enthusiasm and commitment we once had or know we
should have. How do we become spiritually renewed?
Here are three suggestions.
1. Return to "your first love". This was the apostle
Johnís advice to the Congregation at Ephesus (Revelation
2:4). The members of the Church were known for their
hard work, good deeds, perseverance, righteous
behaviour, and endurance of hardship. But they had lost
the reason for being faithful. They had lost their love of
Christ. They had lost sight of the cross, the fact that
though they were sinners destined for eternal separation
from God, Jesus intervened on their behalf and
reconnected them to God, through the Cross. They had
once loved Christ with all their hearts, but they had lost
their first love. John advises them to repent, remember
2. Make use of the "means of grace". These are gifts
God has given to us in order to help us stay alive
spiritually and to help us continue to grow spiritually. The
Bible speaks of personal and corporate prayer, the study
of Scripture, fellowship with one another, worship, taking
part in the Sacraments, giving of oneself for the benefit of
others, the sacrificial giving of our money for the support
of the Church, fasting, etc. These are opportunities
offered to us to enable us to become more Christ-like in
3. Use the "spiritual gifts" God has entrusted you
with. In Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4,
we are reminded that God gives each of His children
"gifts". A "spiritual gift" has been described as "a special
attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the
Body of Christ according to Godís grace for use within the
context of the Body". Whether your gift is teaching,
encouraging, giving, mercy, leadership, cooking,
administration, service, faith, pastoral care, hospitality or
some other gift, it is needed within the Body. Be sure to
offer yourself with your gift to the Church.
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DEATH WITHOUT FEAR (April 1999)
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". When He had said this, He breathed his last. Luke 23:46
During the past couple of decades, we have made several significant advances for the
prolonging of life. Perhaps the most spectacular have been the dramatic heart operations.
Heart repair, insertion of artificial values, and heart transplants have given new hope,
and indeed new life to men and women who otherwise would have been doomed to a premature
We have learned a great deal about life and about how to prolong it. But everything
we do will remain a little hopeless so long as we continue to be hounded by the horror of
the grave and death. Though we are glad that we have learned how to control life and how
to prolong it in new ways, we must admit that there is still one force in our world that
we can do nothing about. That is the force of death.
In spite of all our new surgical techniques and in spite of all our new preventive
procedures, death still stands there, unmoved, and essentially unchanged. It may have to
wait just a little longer before we finally surrender to its relentless power, but
surrender we will.
With all our joy about the delays we are able to make because of new medical
discoveries, the truth is that we haven=t really won very much so long as the reality
of death still sits there waiting for us at the end of the road.
If only there was some way we could break through the fear barrier when it comes to
death itself. If only we could look our grim enemy squarely in the eye and say,
"I'm not afraid of you, you can never harm me." If only we could come to that point,
there would be a relief greater than the relief that a heart patient feels when he
discovers that he can breathe freely and walk confidently once again because a new heart
pumps in his chest.
To be able to face death without fear; that is the greatest gift of all. Medical
science cannot help us attain it, for most doctors bow out just at that moment when the
eyelids are pulled down over the unseeing eyes and the sheet is pulled up over the setting
face. The only way to be fearless in the face of death is to follow the one man who died
without any fear in his heart. That was Jesus. For Him, dying, in the end was like
stepping through an open door into victory and joy. Death without fear - what a priceless
gift that is. It=s more valuable than a borrowed heart that can only put death off for a
few years, at best. Death without fear - those who follow Jesus through the door of death
can experience the full victory of it.
Let us listen to the gospel of Luke where the record of Jesus' last words and of his
actual death have been carefully preserved. This is what Luke says in the 23rd chapter of
his book, verses 44 to 46. It was not about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the
whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the
temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I
commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
There are a couple of things to notice in Luke's report. First, of all, Jesus'
strength was still quite strong when he died. So, he wasn=t overpowered by death, he went
out to meet it courageously. And second, there was no terrifying mystery about death for
him; he knew what it meant going from that flesh and blood body that hung on the cross and
entering into the presence of his father. For him, death meant simply entrusting himself
to his Father in heaven.
The good news for us in all of this is that we can experience the same thing Jesus did;
we can face death without fear ourselves, if we believe that he suffered and died for us
on Calvary's cross.
Death without fear; this is more precious than all the ways we have found to make life
linger on a little while longer. Once we have conquered the fear of death, our lives take
on new strength and purpose and we are to live with new courage.
May we be able to say with Jesus, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
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SALTY CHRISTIANS (May 1999)
Jesus spoke in a simple and easy-to-understand way. He used ordinary everyday events and things with which everyone was familiar to illustrate His teachings. One could hardly find a more well-known substance than salt, for it is a daily necessity and so ordinary that we speak of it as "common salt". Jesus said His followers, you and I, play a role in society similar to what salt plays in the food we eat.
SALT IS A PURIFIER: Salty water has been used to wash cuts and bruises and to prevent infection. It is a simple antiseptic which washes away the dirt and kills the germs. Christians, by their ideals, principles and example, are purifying factors in society. In the process of purifying, there is some discomfort, for when salt gets into a wound it smarts and stings. The temporary pain is endured for the long-term benefits and because it prevents more severe and serious future pain. Christians who seriously follow Christ, are sometimes an embarrassment to people who feel uncomfortable and guilty because their actions are judged and condemned by the different life they live. Than language that is used, the stories that are told, the deeds that are performed are all different because the Christian’s presence purifies the life of non-Christians and makes the whole of life different. Christians purify like salt and make life less vulgar and profane.
SALT IS A PRESERVATIVE: With refrigeration we no longer depend upon salt to preserve meat as we once did. In Jesus’ day, however, everyone knew the value of salt as a preservative.. Sin is destructive and spoils life. This is true in the life of an individual and it is the same for the nation. A power is needed to counteract the destructive forces of selfishness, envy, greed, lust and pride. Life is so tainted with sin and a disposition to destruction, some powerful preservative for it destroys the destructive power of sin, and Christians themselves become a saving factor in society. Because Christ is our Saviour, we become saviours who are preservatives in society. Like salt we keep society from spoiling.
SALT GIVES FLAVOUR: For so many today life is flat and tasteless. We hear so much about people feeling alienated, bored and lonely, and finding no purpose in life and no purpose for living. Salt improves the taste of food, it gives it flavour. Christ came to "give life and give it more abundantly." Christians ought to be a continual inspiration to members of their own families, to the people with whom they work, to the people they meet in daily living. For most people, life is not easy and they need something to give life a better flavour and improved taste.
As a Christian, how do you improve the flavour of life for others? Christ said our presence in the office, the school, the home, at work should be like salt in food,
May God help us to be Salty Christians, who purify, preserve, and improve the lives of all the people with whom we come in contact. The only way many people will know our Saviour is by seeing the effect He has had on our own lives.
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THE KIND OF MEMBERS THE CHURCH NEEDS (June 1999)
A good example of the kind of person the Church needs is Barnabas. His real name was Joses
or Joseph. He was a native of Cyprus and was a Levite.
He had a stewardship rather than
an ownership view of property. He was well known for generosity in disposition and in
material things. Being
nicknamed "Zeus" probably meant that he was huge in size. In
Acts 9, we learn of his magnanimous spirit. With the "blood of Christians
still on his hands"
Saul found himself friendless, but when he sought fellowship with the Christians, they were
afraid of him. How gracious
and good it was of Barnabas to befriend and commend Saul to
the Lord's people! No wonder he was called the "son of encouragement". In Acts
11, verses 19 - 30 we catch a glimpse of THE KIND OF MEMBERS THE CHURCH NEEDS. The
particular thing about Barnabas is mentioned in
verse 24 - "he was a good man". No
greater thing can said of any person than this. We may not be great, talented or
prosperous, but we can all be
good; and how the Church of Christ needs good people of the
Barnabas type. Notice the following characteristics of a good person.
- WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE SAW.
In verse 23 we read of Barnabas that he "saw the evidence of the grace
of God." In a
strange place, and in unexpected ways Barnabas saw God's grace at work. He saw people
coming to faith in Christ, lives being transformed,
and Christians who were rejoicing in
the Lord. He saw the grace of God in action; and a good man or woman will always see the
grace of God, that is,
what God is doing, in others. The first mark of goodness, then, is
to see the best in others, not the worst.
- WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE FELT. What were his
innermost reactions when he saw the grace of God? Verse 23
tells us "he was glad....". He
was thrilled when he saw what God was doing. Barnabas rejoiced in the work of God although
he had no part in that work.
Do we rejoice when God is using others? Are we glad when
someone else is the special instrument of His power?
- WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE SAID. Speech is a
good barometer of character, and our tongues certainly have
a great power for good or for
evil. In verse 23 we are told that Barnabas "encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord
with all their hearts."
He encouraged new Christians; he urged them to be "out and out"
steadfast believers; he helped them to "look unto Jesus" and to keep close to Him.
Barnabas had a glorious opportunity of starting a new sect, denomination or movement; but
his great concern was that these new believers should make
much of the Lord Jesus.
- WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE DID. There is
something very wonderful indicated in verses 25 and 26.
Barnabas sent for Paul, the better
man, the abler man, the more gifted man. This was a mark of true humility. He did not say,
"I will keep this
work in my own hands!" It is a mark of grace to be willing to discover a
more talented person than yourself and then to be willing to fade out
of the picture.
Obviously Barnabas had a self-forgetful heart. He was content to fill a little space, so
long as the Lord was glorified.
- WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE WAS. The real test
is not what we see, feel, say or do, but what we are;
and verse 26 tells us that Barnabas
lived a whole year among the Christians at Antioch, which suggests that his life was
consistent. He practiced
what he preached.
How greatly our churches need members of the calibre of Barnabas! But what was the
secret of the his life of goodness? Was he inherently good
in himself? The secret is in
verse 24 - he "was full of the Holy Spirit and faith". He had emptied himself of Barnabas,
and allowed the Lord Jesus
to have control.
Barnabas was not perfect; but he certainly was good. The church needs good people - of
the Barnabas type.
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