Breakfast with Jesus

“Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. (John 21:12)

These are some of the most mundane words you will ever find in all of Scripture. But in context, they are some of the most moving words of all.

“Come and have breakfast.” I’ve spoken these words myself a few times, and they’ve been forgotten almost as soon as I’ve said them. But when Jesus spoke these words, they were unforgettable. That’s why they are recorded for us in John’s Gospel.

Consider the context. The crucified and buried Lord has risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples on two separate occasions. In the process of adjusting to this life-altering event, Peter and some of the other disciples decide to do something familiar. They go fishing. (Remember, they were fishermen before Jesus called them to follow him.)

They get into the boat, fish all night, and catch nothing (not the first time this had happened). Then, just as day is breaking, Jesus calls to them from the shore, but they don’t realize it’s him. “Cast your net on the right side of the boat,” he tells them. And the resulting catch is so large, they’re unable to haul it in.

When they arrive onshore, there is a charcoal fire, some fish laid out on it, and some bread—a welcome sight to weary fisherman. Jesus tells them, “Come and have breakfast.” Then we read that, “Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish” (John 21:13).

What is so moving about this breakfast scene?

Partly it’s the miraculous catch that had just happened after a fishless night on the water – a reminder that “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). It was an unforgettable object lesson for those who would soon be fishing
for men.

Maybe it’s that Jesus has invited those who had earlier fled from him to the intimacy of a shared meal on the shore. For Jesus to feed breakfast to such failed men must not only have provided food for their stomachs, but grace to
their souls.

And then there is the charcoal fire. Peter had warmed himself by a “charcoal fire” (John 18:18) just moments before denying three times that he knew Jesus. Now, this same Jesus is inviting Peter (who had just jumped into the water from the fishing boat and swam to shore) to the warmth of a charcoal fire. The grace-filled irony of this should not be missed.

John doesn’t mention it here, but even after his resurrection, Jesus’ hands bore the marks of the nails that were used to crucify him (John 20:27). Consider that Jesus handed out fish and bread to his disciples with nail-scarred hands that morning. Jesus—the risen Lord who defeated sin and Satan and death—is there, on the shore, serving breakfast to his tired and hungry disciples. 

Along with the net full of fish, the crackling fire, the fresh baked bread, and the satisfaction of a hot breakfast, the presence of the risen Lord signals to those weary disciples that everything is going to be okay. And that is true for anyone who receives grace from those same, nail-scarred hands.

To turn for a moment to our own time and place, for the second year in a row, we will not be having breakfast together in our Fellowship Hall on Easter Sunday. Like many others, I will miss this. But isn’t it good to know that the same risen Lord that invited his disciples to breakfast on the shore that morning, invites us to have fellowship with him by faith? Jesus calls us, failed and flawed though we are, to find warmth and strength and satisfaction in him, the one who defeated death for us.

And so, as we remember Good Friday’s cross and Sunday’s empty tomb, let’s not forget Jesus’ invitation to his worn and weary disciples, to come and have breakfast with him.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Ravi Was My Hero. Now What?

The recent revelations about the immoral behaviour of the now deceased speaker, author, and apologist Ravi Zacharias have shocked, angered, and grieved many. This is especially true for those whose Christian lives have been profoundly shaped and influenced by his speaking and teaching. Some who are reading this may even attribute their conversion in some measure to
his ministry.

This provokes an unsettling question for some: If Ravi Zacharias has had such a profound influence on my Christian life, what do these revelations about him mean for my Christian life? Or, to state it more generally, if the person who has led me to faith or has shaped my faith proves unfaithful, does that somehow call into question the validity of my faith?

This question is not new. In the fourth century, the Donatist controversy (named after the bishop Donatus Magnus) dealt with this very issue. The Donatists argued that if a minister renounced Christ or became disqualified from ministry, it would invalidate that ministry. One implication of this teaching was that if the minister who performed one’s baptism later fell away from the faith, the baptism itself was no longer valid, thus requiring one to undergo another baptism by a minister in good standing.

Thankfully, Augustine led the church to condemn Donatism as an unbiblical heresy. He affirmed that baptism is not rendered valid or invalid based on the presence or absence of holiness in the minister overseeing it. This makes good biblical sense. To say otherwise would make too much of the minister, and too little of the power of the gospel itself. And this same reasoning would apply to other aspects of ministry as well, like preaching, prayer, and pastoral counsel.

When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Philippi, he was fully aware of the mixed motives of some gospel preachers. Some were motivated by love, others by envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition. Yet Paul declares, “What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).

Paul could rejoice because the gospel is true even if the preacher’s motivations are false. And it would be consistent with Paul to say that the gospel is powerful to save, even if the preacher of that gospel is later exposed as a fraud and a scoundrel.

There are many lessons to be learned from the tragic news of Ravi Zacharias. Pastors like me ought to tremble. Christians everywhere should mourn, not only for the victims of such immorality, but for the ways such behaviour has damaged the witness of the gospel.

However, those that have benefitted from Ravi Zacharias’s ministry need not doubt the good they have received from it. If you were saved through Ravi’s teaching, know that it was Jesus that saved you, not Ravi. If you were blessed by Ravi’s ministry, know that it was the Holy Spirit that blessed you, not Ravi. And if you were strengthened or equipped or encouraged in your faith from Ravi’s ministry, know that this was not ultimately the work of any man, but the work of God, who alone does all things well.

Ravi may have been your hero. He no longer is. But that might not be such a bad thing, if it means setting your hope elsewhere, on the only true and perfect Hero that will never let you down.

By Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



How to Get Along

“Pursue peace with everyone…” (Heb. 12:14)

Aside from the usual stresses related to Covid-19, it’s been unsettling to find myself at odds with like-minded people.

Whether masks, lockdowns, vaccines, or how the church should behave, the past eleven months have sometimes put me in tension with others. At the very least, it’s disorienting. At worst, it threatens to unravel relationships with people I love. Can you relate to this?

There’s no quick fix. But there are some practical ways to pursue peace and minimize damage to friends, family, and church. Here are three of them:

1. Assume the Best of Others

Sure, maybe that friend or sister-in-law or church member is part of a sinister global plot to destroy religious freedom and usher in the Man of Lawlessness. But probably not. Or, maybe that friend or brother-in-law or church leader is selfishly obsessed with their personal rights and uncaring about the elderly or vulnerable. But probably not.

We all want others to assume our best intentions and motives. The Golden Rule tells us to treat others the same way. So, when you find yourself at odds with someone over their views about _______ (insert favourite subject), don’t immediately assume that their position reflects selfishness, stupidity, or worse. Assume that they want the best for the church and the community and the country, as you do.

2. Admit your Own Ignorance

For all its perks, the bane of Google is that it’s made experts of us all. But a few clicks, a few websites, a few articles make one an expert in nothing. Some of us are so afraid of admitting what we don’t know that we come across as know-it-alls. And who wants to be friends with a know-it-all?

Even if you’re a Nobel Prize winning epidemiologist or have a PhD in Eschatology, there are things you don’t know and things you don’t see about this world and our present moment in it. Only God is all-knowing and all-seeing, and as someone once said, “You ain’t Him.” So, have the humility to admit the things you don’t know, and to admit that you don’t know all things.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have convictions or come to our own conclusions. It does mean we should hold those convictions and conclusions humbly, especially when they concern matters that are new and unfamiliar.

3. Affirm What you Have in Common

Covid-19 has thrown gasoline on the fires of controversy. Whether medical or political or theological, this pandemic has exposed our worldviews—how we see the world and the church and the government and our roles and responsibilities therein. This is not a bad thing. But, along with this, Covid-19 has also pressed on the fractures in our churches and families and friendships, which is painful. Somehow this disease has magnified our differences and minimized our deepest and most common concerns.

A way to put things in perspective and proper proportion is to affirm what we have in common with others. It may be family history, fond memories, shared experiences, common values. If it’s a fellow believer that you’re in tension with, then affirm what you have most in common with him or her—faith in the gospel, love for the Lord and his church, and the hope of the kingdom that is
to come.

Following these guidelines won’t solve every disagreement or save every relationship. But it may save some pain, prevent some unnecessary conflict, slow the fires of destruction, and keep us together. To put these into practice might just help us get along with others and be at peace with those we care about. And that’s worth pursuing.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Is the Covid-19 Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?

For some, it’s a strange question. For others, it’s one that needs answering.

It’s an idea that’s been travelling the Internet lately and is perhaps on your mind or the mind of someone you know. Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of a text message, email, or social media post claiming that anyone who gets the Covid-19 vaccine has received the “mark of the beast” spoken of in the Book of Revelation, and will therefore be numbered among the eternally condemned.

It’s deeply distressing – not only the idea itself, but the fact that such a theory has gotten traction in some Christian circles and is now troubling so many people.

How did the Covid-19 vaccine become associated with the mark of the beast? Maybe it’s a combination of mask mandates, travel restrictions, government lockdowns and economic setbacks mixed with the global hope of a vaccine produced at “warp speed” that has plowed the soil into which this theory can be so easily planted. But however the idea came to be, it’s one that needs a biblical response.

When answering this question, it’s important to know that speculation and controversy about this is not new. People have, at various times, associated the mark of the beast with such things as driver’s licences, bar codes, credit cards, and Social Insurance Numbers. Back in the 1980’s, some even believed that U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the beast of Revelation because his full name, “Ronald Wilson Reagan,” was made up of three names, each with six letters, thus making the number “666.”

I suspect that few would claim to believe any of this today. Which should lead us to approach this subject with humility, caution, and biblical discernment.

What is the Mark of the Beast?

The Book of Revelation depicts those who worship and serve Jesus Christ as being “sealed” on their foreheads (Rev. 7:3, 9:4, 14:1, 22:4). Likewise, in a kind of Satanic counterfeit or parody, those who worship and serve the beast are “marked” on both on their hands and foreheads (Rev. 13:16). In the highly symbolic and vivid imagery of the revelation given to the Apostle John, we read about a beast who comes up out of the earth and…

“makes everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead,  so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a person. Its number is 666.” (Rev. 13:16-18; CSB)

There has been endless speculation about the number 666. Some have suggested that the number represents human imperfection, falling short of the divine perfection symbolized by the number 7. Others associate the beast with Nero, who was the Roman Emperor at the time when John was given this revelation. John’s original audience would have easily regarded Nero as a “beast” of a ruler, infamous for his ruthless persecution of Christians and his perceived status as a divine being worthy of worship. Not only was Nero’s image stamped on Roman coins, but under his rule, the local trade guilds would have at times required that those who bought and sold offer worship to an idolatrous image, making it near impossible for Christians to buy and sell without compromising their faith.

Whether the mark on the hand and forehead is literal or symbolic is debatable. I think it’s symbolic, in the same way that the seal on the forehead marking those who belong to God appears to be symbolic. Perhaps the mark on the forehead represents a way of thinking, and the mark on the hand represents a way of behaving. This would be consistent with God’s command that the Israelites “imprint” his words on their hands and foreheads, thus signifying in a symbolic way that God’s commands were to be central in their attitudes and actions (Deut. 11:18). 

Whether literal or symbolic, it’s clear that the seal of God and the mark of the beast ultimately serve to distinguish between believer and non-believer, between those who belong to the kingdom of Christ and those who belong to the kingdom of the Antichrist. In other words, the mark identifies what you already are, it doesn’t turn you into something else.

Which leads to a related question:

Can a believer receive the mark of the beast by accident?

Imagine a well-meaning Christian who gets the vaccine out of a concern for the well-being of others. Does anyone really want to claim that such a person is eternally condemned for, say, wanting to keep grandma safe?

The Book of Revelation closely connects receiving the mark of the beast with worshipping the beast (Rev. 14:9). Those who refuse to worship the image of the beast are said to be killed (Rev. 13:15).  Therefore, receiving the mark of the beast is not some arbitrary or accidental thing, but rather a conscious and deliberate rejection of Jesus Christ, and an expression of loyalty to the beast and all that it represents.

So, the answer to whether a believer can receive the mark of the beast by accident is clearly “no.” To say otherwise trivializes or even undermines the gospel, because it suggests that what is most important is not trusting, worshipping, and serving our crucified, risen, and returning Lord, but rather making the right decision about

a vaccine. And it’s easy to see how that kind of thinking could produce all kinds of self-righteousness, legalism, and division in the church. May God have mercy if it does so in ours.

So, when it comes to your decision about the vaccine, do some research (using credible sources—send me an email and I can point you to some good ones). Talk to your doctor, consider your neighbour, and by all means follow your conscience. But don’t fret about whether getting the vaccine itself will somehow mark you out as belonging to the beast. On the contrary, that very concern, arising from of a heart of faith in and love for Jesus Christ, is a good indication that you don’t.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Living on God’s Word in 2021

Jesus said, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
(Matthew 4:4; Christian Standard Bible)

It’s the start of a new year. What better time to kick-start or re-start a daily habit of reading the Bible?

There is perhaps no single more important practice in the life of a healthy and growing Christian than regularly feeding on God’s words in the Scriptures.

Prayer is important too, of course. But how will we know how to pray, or what to pray about, or who we are praying to unless the Bible tells us?

Loving others and doing good deeds is also important. As James the brother of Jesus said, being a “hearer only” and not a doer of the word is a dangerous deception (James 1:22). But what James is against is not hearing the word, but hearing the word without doing what it says. And how will we do what it says unless we first hear what it says?

I recently read through the Book of Genesis. In reading about the creation of the universe, I was again struck by the fact that God created everything by speaking. Everything that we see around us exists simply because “God said” (Genesis 1:3). Not only did God create all things by his powerful word, but Scripture also tells us that he sustains all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3).

Consider what else the Bible says about God’s words:

  • Faith comes through hearing God’s word

“So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Romans 10:17).

  • God’s word creates the new birth
“you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable – through the living and enduring word of God”
(1 Peter 1:22).
  • God’s word makes us wise for salvation

Paul tells Timothy, “from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

  • God’s word testifies about Jesus Christ, so that we will have life in him

Jesus tells the religious leaders of his day, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me” (John 5:39).

  • God’s word searches the thoughts and intentions of our hearts:

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

  • God’s word trains and equips us for every good work

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

  • God’s word encourages us and gives us hope

“For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures” (Romans 15:4).

Much more could be written here about all that God does in our lives through his powerful word. What a privilege it is to own a Bible in our own language! But there is a vast difference between having God’s word and hearing God’s word. We all know It’s good to have food in the cupboards, but we also know that nourishment comes only by eating that food. In the same way, it’s good to have a Bible, but the spiritual nourishment comes from reading, receiving, and responding to God’s word in faith. 

In 2021, let’s read and receive God’s word as if our spiritual life depended on it. Because, according to Jesus, it does: “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
 
Pastor Jonathan Kroeker


Prepare Him Room

…there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

“Let every heart prepare Him room,” says the first verse of the well-known Christmas carol. The season of Advent is for doing what the song tells us to do. It is for preparing room in our hearts for Jesus Christ.

Just as our homes can get cluttered with all kinds of junk over time, the same thing can happen to our hearts, if we’re not careful. Our hearts can become preoccupied with the trivial instead of the meaningful, the material instead of the spiritual, the temporary instead of the eternal.

For many of us, December is usually the busiest month of the year. The calendar is full, and the to-do list is long.  But not this year. This December, many of us will have space and time and room like never before, and perhaps like never again. What will we do with that time and space? What will we do with that room?

Here are three practical suggestions for how to prepare room in your heart for Christ this Advent season:

1) Repent of sin in your heart

As the Holy Spirit exposes selfish attitudes, petty grievances, ongoing resentments, besetting sins, confess them, turn from them, receive forgiveness for them, and get rid of them like you would get rid of mould on your walls or rats in your basement or asbestos in your ceiling. Do this, and you will make room in your heart for Christ.

2) Reconcile with people in your life

Nothing clogs the arteries of the heart like relationship strife. Has a family
relationship been stressed? Has a church
relationship been strained? Has a friendship been severed? When that happens, it’s not always our fault. But sometimes it is. And when it is, we need to admit our fault, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. And even if it’s not our fault, we may be in a position to do something about it. Repair the breach. Hold out the olive branch. Make the first move. Do this, and even if your efforts fail, you will make room in your heart for Christ.

3) Read and reflect on the
Christmas story in the gospels

It’s in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. To say the obvious, these things really happened. Read about them again, slowly and carefully. Or listen to an audio version. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal more of the glory of Christ to you as you read or listen, so that your heart is warmed and enlarged with love for your Saviour. God’s word is powerful, but we need to give our full attention to it. Do this, and you will make room in your heart for Christ.

When Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the inn. There was no room for Jesus in that place. May the same not be said of our hearts this Advent season. Instead, let every heart prepare him room.
 
Pastor Jonathan Kroeker


But How Are You really?

That’s what a friend asked me once, after I told him I was fine. I was caught off guard. What do you mean how are you really? Are you saying I’m not being real with you? What’s with the really annoying addendum to your question?

But the question was a good one. It opened me up. I told my friend about some struggles, and he encouraged me and prayed for me. And, as much as I was surprised by the question, it was exactly what I needed to be asked.

So, I want to know, how are you really?

How is your faith? Are you holding on to your hope in Christ? Or are you losing your grip on the gospel? Is the world and all its madness drowning out God’s truth?

How is your prayer life? Are you pouring out your heart to God, or just perusing the daily news? When was the last time you read your Bible, not because you have to, but because you get to; because you love God, and want to hear his voice?

How is your mental health? Are you anxious or at peace, fearful or confident, happy or depressed, feeling useful or useless, in pain or feeling good, or feeling nothing at all?

Are you stressed? Lonely? Under pressure? Ready to CRACK?

Does God seem far away, or up close and personal? Do you think God loves you? Do you feel it? Do you know it? Do you doubt it?

How are you doing in your battle against sin? Are you concealing it or confessing it? What’s tempting you these days? Are you asking the Lord for help in it? Telling a close brother or sister about it?

Are you planning to come back to church when we can gather again? Do you want to come back to church when we can gather again? Have you thought, “What is the name of that church I belong to again?”

So, how are you really? I want to know. And, I’d be honoured if you’d ask the same of me. Really.

If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
 
Pastor Jonathan Kroeker


Herod Liked a Good Sermon

“When Herod heard him he would be very perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.” (Mark 6:20)

What was it like to hear John the Baptist preach? We don’t know exactly what he sounded like, but the gospels record some of what he said:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matthew 3:2)

“Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Luke 3:7)

“The axe is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9)

John was no ear-tickler or people-pleaser. He was bold, uncompromising, fearless. A case in point: he rebuked Herod for his unlawful relationship with Herodias, his brother’s wife, “and all the evil things he had done” (Luke 3:19).

Maybe Herod liked to listen to John because not many people had the courage to speak to Herod the way John did. Presumably, that kind of honesty would have been rare in Herod’s court. We can imagine Herod surrounded by an entourage who flattered him and fawned on him and tiptoed around him. Then, like a thunderclap at a picnic, John arrives and tells it like it is.

To hear John speak would have been a novelty at a time in history when there were no sermon podcasts, conference recordings, or YouTube channels to speak of. How different from our opportunity to hear the best and boldest preachers on earth with a few taps on a phone.

What did Herod like so much about John’s preaching? Was it his conviction? His simplicity? His sincerity? His pithy use of metaphor? We don’t know exactly. But we do know Herod liked to listen to him.

But he didn’t like it enough to repent. That much became clear when, after having locked John up in prison for a while, Herod had him put to death as a result of a foolish vow he made at his own birthday party (Matt. 14:6-12).

I’d like to think I’m more like John the Baptist than Herod. But, I confess, it’s often easier to like a sermon from one of my “preacher heroes” than it is to live it out. But listening to and liking the message is not enough:

“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

Those who, like me, like listening, remember this: Herod liked a good sermon.

More importantly, remember the words of Jesus, the one whose sandals John said he was not worthy to untie:

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
(Matthew 7:24)
 
Pastor Jonathan Kroeker


Every Word of God Proves True

When I was a kid, growing up in the 80’s, there was no Internet. If you wanted to learn something and there was no skateboarding to do, you would go to a library and take out a book, read the newspaper, watch the news or listen to the radio. Not all of this content was good content, of course, but at least there was a certain level of scholarship, research, cost, critique, fact-checking, etc. that was needed to publish the media.

Today, with the Internet, it is quite different. Anyone can weigh-in on anything and reach everyone at any time. Now there are some huge benefits to the Internet with freedom of speech, accountability, fact checking with the general public, etc., for information to not be controlled by the people in power, but there for sure are some disadvantages! The playing field is levelled and those who have the most influence are not necessarily the most qualified or trustworthy.

There are some bizarre outcomes of the Internet that have deeply shaped us that I think we should be aware of. Have you ever thought of how weird it is that when you want to know the answer to a question that we just “google it”, ask Siri or Alexa? I think this is stranger than we realize.

I wonder if the effects of information overload or “infobesity” are going to have a lasting impact on us in ways we can’t imagine. The volume of information is coming at us non-stop. I find myself really struggling to know who to listen to. I doubt we are better off with all of these options, with on-demand access, with the perpetual noise of opinions and information.

Do you feel this way? Are you also tired of the noise?

Why is the Internet so successful at what it does? I don’t know exactly, but here’s one thought. I believe the Internet scratches the itch we have to know everything because “knowledge is power.” I’m using “knowledge is power” negatively here, of course knowledge is a good thing. But our sinful, ceaseless striving for knowledge can be a bad thing in at least a few ways. For example, you have the upper hand if you are “in the know,” you can stay in control if you know what’s happening, you can ignore authority and be your own boss if you have the right information, etc. If you know everything, there is no need to depend on our All-Knowing God.

This human behaviour has existed from the beginning. I believe since the “Fall” (Genesis 3), humans have not been content with God’s word being enough. “Did God really say…” this was Satan’s attack on the trustworthiness and goodness of God’s word, and the humans fell for it. Somehow God’s word was lacking or missing important details.

Do we fall for that same lie now? As Christians, do we look to the Bible to give us the direction we need? Or do we search for signs, miracles, hidden insights, or gnostic mysticism because we secretly think the Bible is not enough? Do we spend just a few minutes in the Bible but hours online, taking in information? I hope not. If so, we are in for some cloudy vision, noisy thinking, anxious feeling, selfish serving, lustful wishing, and crooked walking.

Today, the mind of God, by his providence and goodness, has been revealed to us in his word. Let us build our life on his word, be content with his word, test all other words according to his word. May his word guard our minds and hearts! May we know from experience that “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Proverbs 30:5 (ESV)
 
Pastor Dave Miller


Remember Who He Is

I sometimes joke that calendars and schedules are my love language. I like order and structure. It almost goes without saying then that the stress of coronavirus has been hard, as it has come with so many unknowns. My favourite book of the Old Testament is Deuteronomy. I recognize that it’s an unusual choice!

Moses spoke the words of Deuteronomy at the end of the Israelites’ 40 years in the dessert. The overarching theme of the book was that as the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, they were to remember who God is, what He had done for them, and how they were to live as His covenant people.

Deuteronomy 4:32-39 (CSB): “Indeed, ask about the earlier days that preceded you, from the day God created mankind on the earth and from one end of the heavens to the other: Has anything like this great event ever happened, or has anything like it been heard of? Has a people heard God’s voice speaking from the fire as you have, and lived? Or has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? You were shown these things so that you would know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. He let you hear his voice from heaven to instruct you. He showed you his great fire on earth, and you heard his words from the fire. Because he loved your ancestors, he chose their descendants after them and brought you out of Egypt by his presence and great power, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you in and give you their land as an inheritance, as is now taking place. Today, recognize and keep in mind that the LORD is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.”

I know I need to keep those same things in mind as I look ahead to the fall and all the unknowns. That God remains the same, that through the blood of Jesus and His work on the cross I belong to his chosen people through the new covenant, and that my thoughts, words, and actions should be evidence that I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Breaking it down even more practically, it means being understanding to family members who may hesitate to see us because our kids will be attending school. It means praying for our government as they make tough decisions, instead of grumbling about mandatory masks. It also means finding creative ways to safely reach out to my unbelieving neighbours who have hardly stepped out of their house in the last 6 months. Remembering who God is and what He has done gives me peace as I look at my very empty September calendar, and it should shape my response going forward.
 
Bonnie Reimer