Month: February 2020

Pastor's Blog

Breathing the Same Air as Jesus

Titus 2:11 tells us that “the grace of God has appeared.” In other words, grace is not just an abstract quality, something that may be true but doesn’t ever touch us or affect us. The grace of God appeared in the person of Jesus. It showed up in space and time. It moved to town. Jesus is, so to speak, the grace of God in skin and bones.

And so this verse reminds us that it all really happened. Jesus was really born, He really lived, He really died, and He really walked out of His grave. The grace of God has appeared.

I know that this concrete reality of Jesus in the flesh can seem distant to us, after 2,000 years of human history has passed. And so I want to encourage you to bring it home for a moment by taking a breath. Literally: just take a breath right now. Here’s the stunning truth: according to statistics, as you took in that breath, you drew molecules of air in your lungs that were inside the very lungs of Jesus.

There’s only so much air in the atmosphere, and so as we breathe it in and out, it all gets mixed around over time. We literally do all share the same air, and that goes for Jesus, too.

In fact, in your lifetime, you have probably breathed some of the air which flowed out of Jesus lungs when He breathed His last breath on the cross. And you have most likely breathed air that flowed into Jesus’ lungs when He took that first breath in when He rose from the dead. Some of that air may even be in your lungs at this very moment.

This is all just just science and statistics—which you can find out more about here—but thinking about things in this way brings the reality of Jesus to bear on my heart. The grace of God really did appear, bringing salvation. And like we heard yesterday, that same grace is still at work in our lives today, training us for godliness as we wait for Christ’s return.

Pastor's Blog

The Biblical Imperative to Commit to One Church

In yesterday’s sermon, we spent a few minutes talking about church membership and how Titus 1:5 speaks to the importance of committing to one local church.

Back in 2014, someone asked John Piper about “church hopping” and the importance of committing to one church. If you’re still unsure about the importance of church membership, his eight-minute answer (below) is well worth your time. You can also read a transcript here.

Pastor's Blog

The Honour of Service

In yesterday’s message, we heard how Paul described himself as a “servant of God” (Titus 1:1). The word “servant” can be translated as “slave,” and points to Paul’s humility. He understood that, like a slave or servant, his life belonged to his Master. His life revolved around doing what his Master wanted, not what he wanted. Put simply, his life was not about him; everything was about his Master.

All of this is true, and yet there is another angle to this phrase “servant of God.” In the world of Paul’s day, while being a servant or slave was a humble position, getting to be a servant to a great person was honourable. If you were Caesar’s servant, for example, that was nothing to be ashamed of. It was a great thing.

And so to be a servant of God was no small matter. We see this even clearer when we look back across Scripture and see the other people who are referred to as God’s servants. They include Moses (Psalm 105:26, Revelation 15:3), Abraham (Psalm 105:42), David (2 Samuel 7:4-5, 8), and the prophets (Jeremiah 7:25, 25:4, Amos 3:7, Haggai 2:23, Revelation 10:7). Being a servant of God puts you in very honourable company.

This perspective is important to help us through the times when we struggle to submit to God’s will, or the times when we want to run our lives instead of obeying Christ’s commands. In those moments, being His servant feels lowly and limiting.

That’s when we need to remember that being His servant is a high and noble calling, one we don’t deserve in the slightest. Apart from His grace, we would be condemned criminals, enemies of God. To be saved and forgiven is a gift beyond our wildest dreams. To be then invited to serve our Saviour with our lives should take our breath away.

And it’s when we embrace our identity as God’s servants that we actually find our greatest freedom. We were made for Him, and serving Him is how we, ironically, discover our truest selves. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).

This week, may the Lord help you to see yourself as his servant, and then to live like one.

Pastor's Blog

The Secret to Financial Freedom

Managing your money can be a real burden. You may have missed it, but in yesterday’s message, we uncovered the true secret to lifting this burden. True financial freedom comes from understanding that your money isn’t actually your money. It’s God’s money. Therefore, you are not really managing your money. You are managing God’s money as one of His stewards.

God has promised to provide for our real needs of food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Timothy 6:8). If He gives us anything beyond this, it’s so that we can use it for good (1 Timothy 6:18). This perspective changes everything. Your money is not your money, so it’s not a question of you deciding how much you’re going to give away. It’s all God’s money, and so you just need to decide how much of God’s money you’re going to keep for yourself, freeing up the rest for His purposes.

This principle is one of the reasons for why I don’t believe in tithing. The main reason is that we are in the New Covenant, and tithing, as a part of the Law of Moses, does not apply to us any more than the temple sacrifices do. But beyond this, a strict adherence to tithing encourages us to think about our money as being ours, and to imagine that we’ve done our duty once we’ve given 10% of it away.

It’s far better to see things in reverse. How much of God’s money do I need to survive on? How much of God’s money is He okay with me using for recreation, and even entertainment, as a part of Him richly providing me with everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17)?

Once we’ve answered these questions, then we get to figure out how to use the rest of the money God has entrusted to us to accomplish as much good as possible.

The same questions apply to our time. You belong to Jesus. You’re His. Therefore, your time is His. So it’s not a question of how much of your time you will give to Him. It’s a question of how much of God’s time you need to use for work, family, rest and relaxation, and other responsibilities. Then the rest gets used for Him.

As you think about these matters more, I’d highly recommend the following article written by Randy Alcorn. Randy has thought and written much about a godly use of money, and this article distills many of these wise principles into some practical next steps you can apply to your life today.

Are you ready to seriously re-think how you can honour God with the money He has entrusted you with? Prayerfully read and apply these words, and be prepared to experience a new level of freedom in your heart.

The everyday choices we make regarding money and possessions—which affect nearly everything we do—are of eternal consequence.
Pastor's Blog

Keep On Keeping On

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.

1 Timothy 6:11, ESV

In last week’s passage, we learned Timothy was not just supposed to deal with the false teachers. He also needed to make sure that he never became like one of them himself.

You may have heard that old phrase, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and there’s some scary truth to those words. I’ve seen many times over the years how easily people can become the very thing that they used to fight against. Often, it’s not a deliberate process. It “just happens” as they drop their guard and stop fighting.

How do we avoid this? What is the secret to long-term endurance in faith and ministry? The answer is just that: long term endurance. We never quit.

Just think about those commands Timothy received:

  • “Flee these things” (1 Timothy 6:11a). If something is chasing you, if doesn’t matter if you do a great job fleeing for a period of time. If you stop fleeing, it will get you.
  • “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11b). If you are pursuing something, it doesn’t matter how well you have been chasing it. If you stop, it’s going to get away.
  • “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12a). In a battle, it doesn’t matter how well you fought. If you stop fighting now, you’re going to loose.
  • “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:12b). If you take hold of something, you will only obtain it if you keep holding on to it.
  • “Keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:14). It only takes one stain to make something dirty. Keeping the commandment unstained and free from reproach requires continual care and vigilance.

So many professing Christians only ever try to avoid sin and dabble in the fruit of the spirit and reach out for eternal life every once in a while. This passive approach to the faith is a sure path to wasting your life and often, sadly, wandering away from the faith entirely.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 shows us that the Christian life is one of motion and action. One of fleeing, pursuing, fighting, holding on, and keeping, all empowered by the Spirit, all for the glory of God, and none of it stopping until we are at rest in the presence of Christ.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 

2 Timothy 4:7–8, ESV