April 26 – Devotional
Since the start of physical distancing, isolation, and stores being closed, our family has celebrated two birthdays and we have another one coming up in May, which will then be followed up by Mother’s day. As I’m sure it is for many other families, a part of these types of celebration is giving gifts, decorating, and sharing a meal with friends and family. What I am realizing as we approach birthday number three is that there is no guarantee that we can do all of those things, at least not as we normally do.
Let me give you an example from the purchasing of gifts for birthday number three. We realized at the end of March that we were going have a tough time finding the desired gifts of a 10-year-old girl given the number of things that are closed, the slightly depleted stock on the shelves of those places still open, and so we started ordering online from stores we have shopped online from before.
Everything we ordered showed as in stock and thankfully a few items have arrived, but the vast majority is still somewhere else. Some items that shipped were lost in transit, so we are back at square one with those. Other items have not yet shipped and all we have is an estimated arrival date. That estimate seemed more hopeful at the end of March when we assumed things would ship right away and Canada Post had yet to declare that they were experiencing Christmas level volumes of parcels!
The point is not whether everything will be here for a birthday. We will celebrate to the best of our abilities, with whatever we have because we still have far more than most people in the world (if we take an honest look at our situations). The point is that guarantees in our world and society are not always what we think they are and they are often dependent on someone else coming through with their part.
I can promise to my daughter certain gifts for her birthday, but unless those online establishments are able to come through, my promise is meaningless. They can promise me delivery by a certain time, but if the shipping company they have can’t meet the demand, the guarantee is meaningless. The shipping company doesn’t know if they will face a worker shortage due to illness or people needing to be home with kids, etc. so while they may have the best intentions of making all deadlines, there are things still out of their control.
While I realize that this may be a little melancholy over some rather trivial things, let’s ask ourselves a couple of questions…
- What is the value of a promise?
- What makes me confident that I can fulfill my promises?
- What makes me confident in the promises of others?
- A person’s word, signed contract, deposit, other???
There is always going to be a risk in trusting the promises and guarantees of people. There are just so many factors at play. With God, it is different. He has an eternal history of faithfulness to what he says he will do and what he does. This is one of the great things (among many) that truly sets him apart from the other things we at times put our trust in. Structures, organizations, and people will let us down, not always, but certainly sometimes. God will always be true to his word.
One of the great promises of God to us, that should bring us daily hope, is that Christ will return. In Acts chapter 1 we read of the disciples’ final moments with Jesus and then his ascension. It is in verse 11 that we read the wonderful promise of his return. It says,
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
This is a promise to them and it is a promise to us. Notice it says “will come back”, not may or potentially, but WILL. Now, if we read this like a promise made by a man or woman we may question it, but this is a promise of God who is faithful and true to his word. God, however, goes a step further in his promise. It is at this time that the disciples are told to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. We understand that the Spirit is the one who will empower believers for the works of service God has planned, he’ll be our counselor, our guide, he will do the work of sanctifying us and so forth, but do we understand that he is a deposit of this promise that Christ will return and all the benefits of that return?
Paul writes in II Corinthians 1:21-22,
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
And in Ephesians 1:13-14,
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
The gift of the Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance. God did not have to do this, but he did. His word is true and that promise should be sufficient, but he gave us a deposit to guarantee what is to come. A deposit that helps us through all the highs and lows of life that we will experience until the return of Christ.
Let’s respond to him by watching or singing along with this YouTube video. (sorry for any pop-up ads)
Statement #11 Second Coming of Christ
The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent and will be personal and visible. As the believer’s blessed hope, this vital truth is an incentive for holy living and sacrificial service toward the completion of Christ’s commission.
Within this series, we have typically ended with the question “So What?”. What difference does knowledge of the second coming of Christ make in our lives.
- Am I Ready?
When I think about readiness, the idea of procrastination comes to mind. When I was a kid, I had a t-shirt that said, “He who plans to accept Christ at the 11th hour, dies at 10:30.” Sadly, I think I used to consider that somewhat humorous when in reality it paints a grim picture that we should never put off our relationship with the Lord.
We shouldn’t put it off from a salvation perspective for sure. If you are aware that you are a sinner (like everyone else) and that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins, and the way to have his life applied to yours is simply to repent and believe, but you haven’t done it, you aren’t ready. What are you waiting for? Call on the name of the Lord and be saved!
It goes beyond salvation and into the day to day call to live holy lives in sacrificial service to him. Is he your first love and priority? Do you live daily in submission to what he wants for you or what you want for you? Is your life a reflection of the life of Christ to the world? This isn’t about you doing everything right, it is about you submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit so that he can bring the character of God to the forefront of your life.
- How Is My Life On Mission?
I shared a statement in the message that says that we are to be
On Mission: Everyone – Everywhere – All The Time!
Is that a reality of your life? Can you say you are on mission looking to make disciples at work, in your home with your family, when you are in a restaurant, at a sporting event or a show, connecting with your neighbour, and anywhere else you can think of?
How does the mission of God impact the decisions you make? How you use your money, what you do with your time, where you live, the job you have, the opportunities you are given. Do you seek God’s direction in these things? This may mean that it isn’t always beneficial to you, but will you still step into this mission with God knowing that he will take care of you one way or another?
- How Do I View The World In Light Of Christ’s Return
Do I sense the urgency to take the good news into a broken world? Am I passive not wanting to risk to much? Does fear drive me to want to protect?
Knowledge of the second coming of Christ is not our goal. Our goal is that we be motivated to be active participants in the work of God until Christ returns. Let’s spend some time in prayer considering our role in the mission of God, the things going on around us today that we maybe need to view differently in light of Christ’s return, and committing ourselves to the work of the Lord.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Although regular office hours are suspended we continue to work. If you need anything please contact myself (email@example.com) or Pastor Greg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- 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.
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)
- email@example.com 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.
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.”’