April 19 – Devotional
In some reading I have been doing this week, I came across the following quote…
“Peace is a deep well of confidence that God is who he is and that he will do what he says he will do. Peace comes from resting in the promises of God.”
What a great reminder to us in times like this of what peace is and where it comes from. However, the challenging part in reading this is that it reveals to us that our confidence is often misplaced. Consider how things have been peeled back over the last four to six weeks.
We used to be quite confident with our own health and the health of those around us, but now we walk around and see masks, Plexiglas dividers, and we keep distance from one another. This is all very responsible given the issues we are facing, but our confidence in our health has been removed.
Then there is our economy. How many people have lost their jobs, even temporarily? There is an impact we see as something we felt was secure is currently gone. What about investments? How many have taken a look at investments and swallowed hard looking at loss or making tough decisions. From the immediate to the longer term we wonder how the economy will re-start, what jobs will come back, which ones won’t, and what will taxes look like in the future to pay for the subsidies and benefits needed today? As with health, there are responsible things that need to be done in the area of finance and the economy, but the confidence that many have placed here is disappearing.
One last example is what we like to call freedom, but really it is our own desire to control. A desire to control what I do, when I do it, how I do it, where I do it, etc. It really is a me first mentality and it too has been pulled back as a place of confidence as we are now needing to make decisions for the broader good of our society. Don’t misquote me on this, there is an extreme loss of freedom that can happen too where someone else is controlling everything, that is not good either.
My point in all of this is that if we want to be people of peace, we need to go to the right well. The wells of health, economy, and freedom/control are shallow wells that dry up and let us down. The well of God is a deep well that never dries up and is always available to us.
- As you consider your own level of peace, is there a “well” that you go to thinking it will be satisfying only to realize it lets you down? It may be one from above or something totally different.
- Confess and repent of the places you have placed confidence in instead of God
- Pray prayers acknowledging who his is and the promises that bring peace
- Receive from him his peace today
With last weekend being Easter, we have recently been reminded of the great reason that we can have confidence in God and rest in him. The death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything. God had shown his sovereign power before, but nothing quite like this.
Paul speaks of it in I Corinthians 15:1-8…
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
The word gospel simply means good news and hear Paul associates very clearly that good news with the death and resurrection of Jesus. He gives us reason to have confidence in God and the truth of his actions.
First, he connects it to the sin problem we all have. He links the death of Jesus as the payment for our sins. No one else would or could do this.
Second, he points out multiple times that this is “in accordance with the Scriptures”. This gives confidence in that there is alignment with what has been prophesied in the scriptures and what actually happened. More so, it says we can and should have confidence in the other things God has declared through the scriptures (i.e. Christ will return).
Third, he speaks of the resurrection appearances. It wasn’t just to one or two, it was to individuals, to the twelve, and to more than 500 at once! This brings to mind the Charles Colson quote that says,
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me… Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. Your telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
The point being that the more people that Jesus appeared to, the more confidence we can have in the truth of the resurrection.
Paul has given multiple reasons we can have confidence in God and I’m learning that we need that. Consider the many different ways, times, and circumstances that people have come to place their faith in Jesus. There are unique elements to the stories that helped people finally put their confidence in him. The good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is the same, but confidence has been built through many avenues.
- To share what it is that gives you confidence in God
Let’s respond to him by watching or singing along with this YouTube video. (sorry for any pop-up ads)
Statement #10 on Life After Death
There shall be a bodily resurrection of the just and of the unjust; for the former, a resurrection unto life; for the latter, a resurrection unto judgment.
Within this series, we have typically ended with the question “So What?”. What difference does knowledge of the coming resurrection make on our lives.
- The resurrection changes our view of death
While we know there is still the reality of the process of death, we understand that it is not the end. I Corinthians 15:54-57 says…
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t need to go out in pursuit of death, foolish in our actions or downplaying the emotional loss that it causes for us, but we do live as people knowing that death is no longer the end.
- The fate of those who do not know Jesus should motivate us
While we cannot make decisions for people, we have a call and a responsibility to take the good news into the world. I Corinthians 15:58 ends saying…
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The work of the Lord is taking the good news to all people, to bring the presence of Jesus into the lives of those who do not know him that they may see his goodness and turn to him.
I Peter 3:15 also says…
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
Always be prepared to talk about hope with people, but do it like Jesus did it. Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. This is the gentleness and respect portion of Peter’s words for us. We can be well aware of the filthy stains of sin on a person and still present them with the good news of Jesus!
- The reality of resurrection power as strength for daily living
There is a saying that some people are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. The idea being that they are always looking to the future, that they miss the present. I think the same can be said that sometimes we over-emphasize the present reality that we lose sight of the future.
When we find balance in these things, we realize that our hope for the future actually allows us to view our present reality differently. We begin to realize that if Jesus is Lord of our future, he is also Lord of my present. Whether life seems good, bad, or ugly, Jesus is Lord.
A couple of questions that we would do well to start including in our lives both to ask ourselves personally and to ask of others are these:
- Where do you/I see Jesus working in your present situation?
- Can you see and acknowledge Jesus as Lord in this situation?
Before we close, I just want to share a few announcements:
- Tuesday Prayer Meeting – We will again meet for prayer online via ZOOM. Watch your email for the link to join and share your prayer requests with me at email@example.com.
- Although regular office hours are suspended we continue to work. If you need anything please contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Pastor Greg (email@example.com).
- Feel free to share this and other email communications with others. Some from the church are not on the email list and we have had a few that have not received it even though they are on the list. Please help us make sure that people are keeping connected.
Offering: I encourage you to do two things with your giving that may help a little.
- Do your giving each week as part of this devotional/worship time. I know it is not exactly the same thing, but it does help us view our giving as worship rather than simply a financial transaction
- Take time to pray as you give. Thank God for what he has given to you, acknowledge your trust in him for tomorrow, and tell him why you give to him and the work of his church.
- Best – E-Transfer (no fees)
- firstname.lastname@example.org is the email address you will need to make an e-transfer
- Please include your first and last name in the memo box
- If you know your envelope number please include it in the memo box (*Do not include the # sign as it will not accept that)
- Still good, but with fees – Canada Helps
- https://bayridgealliance.ca/give-with-canada-helps/ and click on the donate button to give
Thank you for honouring God by supporting the Church.
Now, let’s close with one final song and our benediction…
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’