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Blessed is the Man…

Blessed is the Man…

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

Psalm 1.

Stunned by the events of the preceding seventy hours, the Eleven and friends were huddled in a room in Jerusalem. The arrest, trial, conviction, torture and crucifixion of their Master was devastating, but now all was changed by the sightings of Jesus alive! The women, then Peter, and now Cleopas and friend had all seen him. Suddenly Jesus stood before them all, waved his hands, stamped his feet, enjoyed a fish fillet, and said, “All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.” (Lk. 24:44)

The Psalms of Israel are the Prayer Book of the Hebrews and the Church, and Jesus. In the mystery of God’s workings, the cries and anguish, the praise and petitions of David and others, became the prayers of Jesus. Through them he expressed the highest and richest of human praise, and the lowest and harshest of human anger. For he was tempted in every way that man is tempted, yet he was without sin. (Heb. 4:15)

Consider Psalm 1 – “Blessed is the man”, not the Hebrew word for mankind (adamah), but the gender specific “male” (ish), as ishali is female. (Gen. 2:24,25)
And who does “the man” refer to, at the commencement of the Psalms, but our Lord Jesus. He never walked, or stood, or sat in agreement with the ungodly, sinners or mockers. But he did delight in the Law of the Lord.

Yet, in his last hours he hung out with the ungodly, sinners, and mockers. Stretched between two criminals, lawless robbers, “who heaped insults on him” (Mark 15:32), Jesus prayed, he provided, he promised, but he didn’t threaten or curse. Rather, he spoke words of forgiveness to those who executed him, and to one who mocked him. From “scoffing rude”, one thief repented and asked to be remembered in Jesus’ coming kingdom. And Jesus, the man who would not sit with scoffers, that day welcomed one into Paradise.

Taking up the Psalms in prayer, day by day, we too will hear the healing words of pardon and acceptance, that welcome us into his Kingdom of love and life.

X

X

Submitted by: Marlene Swan

Today we mark an X on a ballot to choose our government. If the party we vote for does not become the ruling party we hope that in the next four years things will change but in the mean time because I made my X I have a right to grumble and complain.

I Corinthians 10:6-11 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, ……………….. 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, …………….. 9 We should not test Christ, ………… 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

Lamentations 3:39-40 Why should any living mortal, or any man, Offer complaint in view of his sins? Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
As Ambassadors for Chirst we should be peacemakers.
The time Jesus walked on earth the Jews were under Roman Rule. No where in scripture could I find that Jesus complianed about the Roman government.
Jeus did say:
Mark 12: 7 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”And they were amazed at him.

John 19:10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Many times in scripture we read that God puts governments in power:
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
God gave Jeremiah the following message: 4 Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: 5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. 6 Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. 7 All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him. Jeremiah 27:4-7

Psalm 33: 10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

When I think way back about the first time I had the blessing of making my X on a ballot I am ashamed to realize how I have conformed to the world and taken my X and the freedom it represented forgranted. I have not been faithful in praying for our governments. (I wonder when Daniel went to his room three times a day to pray: did he pray for Nebuchadnezzar?) To often I have given my X the power that should have gone to God. My X became a blessing from God that has turned my eyes away from God.
Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 96:7 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.

I am so thankful God’s mercy is new every morning!

Making Choices

Making Choices

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

2 Peter 3:12, 13

Leaving Egypt in disgrace, Abram travelled with his wife, great possessions, and his nephew Lot, in search of good pastureland for their sizeable herds.  Settling down near Bethel, it wasn’t long before the competition for grazing rights led to quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot.

Not wanting a family feud to erupt, Abram encouraged Lot to choose an area for his livestock, and Abram would go another direction.  Responding to the counsel, Lot looked out at the Jordan Valley, well-watered like a garden, and, without regard for his elder guardian, chose the best for himself.  “He pitched his tents near Sodom.” (Gen. 13:10-13)
Then God spoke to Abram, “Lift up your eyes … I will give you.”  Abram looked up and saw the promise of all the land and uncountable offspring.  There Abram “built an altar to the Lord.” (Gen. 13:14-18)
Shortly thereafter, God looked down to consider an outcry against the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah.  By this time, Lot had moved in to Sodom.   Was it Lot who cried out to God (2 Pet. 2:6-8) or the polluted land itself, as the blood of Abel cried out to the Lord for justice (Gen. 4:10).
The cities were ripe for judgment, but Lot, his wife and daughters would escape by angelic assistance.  Fleeing down the road, Lot’s wife lingered behind, ignored the angel’s warning, and she looked back.  (Gen. 19:26). The Targum Jerusalem says Sodom was her hometown, and she longed to remain there.  But in that act of disobedience, she was swallowed up by the burning sulphur, encased in the hardening salt.  It was for this reason, when speaking to his disciples of the coming kingdom of God and impending judgment, Jesus warned, bluntly, “Remember Lot’s wife.”  (Luke 17:32)
About thirty years later, Peter wrote to his persecuted brothers and sisters, reminding them of Lot’s rescue from the destruction of Sodom.  Then, concerning the approaching day of the Lord, when the heavens and elements will be destroyed, he challenged the believers, Christians look forward (2 Pet. 3:12), by living holy and godly lives.
This is the kind of people we ought to be, “in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”  (2 Pet. 3:13)
Praise the Lord!

Beauty Tips

Beauty Tips

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

In his quaintly-titled book, “Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw”, Ian Ferguson related this family story:
“My sister was a sculptor, and she often worked with castaway marble, creating fluid figures and haunting human faces that seemed to be emerging from the stone … one of Margaret’s portraits … was a sculpture of a weeping woman I dubbed the White Lady. The marble … was taken from a discounted headstone, marked down because there was a flaw running through it, an imperfect ripple in the stone. Margaret turn that flaw into a defining trait, carving around it, shaping and cutting and polishing until the ripple became the faint trail of a teardrop.”

Making something beautiful out of that which is flawed and fragile is also a work of God‘s grace. During a season of trouble for the nation of Israel, Isaiah reminded Yahweh, “O Lord, you are our father, we are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isa. 64:8). Reflecting on this passage, the apostle Paul emphasizes that the life we receive upon believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is contained in jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7). Ordinary, made of the earth, containers, we are prized by God as his dwelling place.

Within these earthen vessels formed by God in the womb, he has wrought a new creation. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness‘, (Gen. 1:3) made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6). Upon repenting of our sin, confessing our need of deliverance from judgment, and declaring our faith in Christ the Saviour, God illuminates our hearts with the light of eternal life. By this creative work, we gain the knowledge of the glory of God – the fulness of His love, His grace, His goodness, His mercy, His faithfulness. As we continue in the light (1John 1:5-7), looking into the face of Jesus, we know God’s fulness as our refuge and strength.

Like clay pots, we are fragile. We are flawed. By the light of Christ within us, God transforms those cracks into seams of light, like a beacon shining in the darkness, to bear witness to Jesus Christ. “Shine, Jesus, shine…”

The Assembly of the Saints

The Assembly of the Saints

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

In the first recorded encounter of humans with Satan, he is deceptively indwelling a creature of the field made by God. That serpent is described, in several Bible translations, as sly, sneakier, the shrewdest, and more crafty, more cunning, more clever, more subtle than any of the wild animals God had made. Certainly not a being that our first parents should encounter on their own. But God never intended that they should. He walked with them in their garden paradise, and was there for counsel and support. But Eve encountered the lying snake while alone, and he tricked her out of her covering, her clean conscience, and her companionship with God. Everyone of her offspring have experienced such loss, and need redemption and renewal through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan has accomplished a master stroke of cunning and deception through the reaction of government and health authorities to COVID-19. There are many restrictions imposed, but I refer to only one – the limitations imposed upon church gatherings. The Psalmist wrote “Praise the Lord. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.” (149:1) The full-faced, full-throated, full-hearted praise to Yahweh in the assembly is the earthly occupation of a heavenly-minded people.

The “assembly of the saints” demonstrates, first, the identity of those gathered as the people of God – their creator, redeemer, sustainer, and deliverer. Scattered sheep are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of predators.

Secondly, the gathering together of individual members fulfils the integrity of the body of Christ. The church, (not the building) is one body, Christ the head, and each Christian an essential part of his body, united by the life of the Holy Spirit. Human bodies can function with parts weakened or even removed, but needing more effort and assistance, and sometimes less effectively. The accomplishments of the handicapped are heroic, but we desire wholeness for everyone.

Then, the saints gather as the temple of the Holy Spirit, received by the believers in Jerusalem at Pentecost. That day, and since, the church has been invincible. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” Our gathering announces to the world, “Our God reigns“ and we are the invincible, incorruptible, immortal people of God.

Satan‘s apparent victory will be shown for what it is, a sham, a lie, just as the resurrection of Jesus overcame his crucifixion and destroyed death. He lives!

The Lord’s Day is coming!

Choosing Our Diet

Choosing Our Diet

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

John 6:33.

Could there be a more difficult, foreboding, frightening journey in life than that which what is required of God’s people while crossing the Sinai desert? The scorching sands, the suffocating sands, the shifting sands, the sterile sands made destructive by the scorching heat of the sun, the freezing temperatures of the night, and the blasting winds of the open spaces. How could a massive company of 6 million persons – men, women and children – survive for forty years in such a life threatening place? And why would Yahweh expose his people to such hazards? He had just delivered them from the abject poverty of Egyptian slavery, and the mighty power of the Egyptian army by miraculous means. What was the point of this wilderness journey?

The key word was ‘diet’ – which originally meant ‘a way of living’ and then ‘food day by day’. They were to learn by active experience how to live as a holy, distinct nation in the midst of the evil, idolatrous nations. Their source and supply of life was to be different from all others. And it all came down to food! They would depend on God, or perish!

‘Panis Angelicus’. Angel bread! The Jewish Talmud said, “it’s flour was ground in the millstones of heaven”. And the Psalmist exclaimed that Israel ate the bread of heaven. They were to discover and depend upon a provision of food that came down from heaven, because it could not come up from the earth. Every morning, except Sabbath, the ground was covered with a white substance, which prompted them to ask “what is it”? Manna – the word by which it became known. And for four decades, this bread from heaven nourished the entire nation. At ground level, available to the weakest, humblest, poorest, neediest, youngest, oldest. Always sufficient, always nourishing to all who honoured God‘s word of faith.

And when they reached the promised land, flowing with milk and honey, they were to live by that same faith and dependence. Their source, supply and salvation was in God himself from heaven – not the plentiful crops and abundant herds on earth.

And so it is for us. We are surrounded by idolatry and immortality far more violent and destructive than the wilderness. Our sole and sufficient source, supply and salvation is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3). In this present darkness, our hope and confidence are in the heavens and from the heavens, Jesus only.

Go, Show, Bestow

“Go, Show, Bestow”

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

 

Mark 1:40-45.

He was unapproachable, and Jesus approached him.
He was untouchable, and Jesus touched him.
He was incurable, and Jesus cured him.
He was unclean, and Jesus cleansed him.

Filled with compassion for the undesirable,
He was willing to do the unthinkable,

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man “
Jesus responded with his voice and cured the man.

In eight short stories, Mark sets out the dramatic beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Driving out a demon, healing various diseases, cleansing a leper attracted the crowds. They followed him wherever he went, to hear his words and receive his help. Who was this man? Where had he come from? What was his future? The answers then were many and varied. But what about you? “What think ye of Christ? “Certainly, the most important question to be answered by every person in this life, to be ready for the life to come.

The certainty of his earthly life should be unquestioned, given the historical, political, geographical facts recorded in the Gospels and elsewhere, and the archaeological discoveries of recent centuries. Jesus’ character, behavior and teaching set him apart as one to be reckoned with. Taken together, he is a man unlike any other, and he claimed to be God incarnate. Consider these statements reported by John: to a crowd of Jews who had believed him, Jesus declared “before Abraham was born, I am.” Recognizing this to be blasphemy, they attempted to stone him to death. (John 8:58). Later that winter, the Jews challenged his identity. “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” His summary answer, “I and the father are one.” Again they tried to stone him. (John 10:22–39) Then to his own disciples, Jesus offered them this comfort, “I am in the father and the father is in me.” (John 14:1-14)

Concerning anyone making such claims we must decide. If he said what he did to deceive the people, then he was a liar. If he was self deceived in his thinking, then he was a lunatic. If he knew who he was and spoke the truth, then he is the Lord, God Almighty. Herein are the only possible answers to the question, “What think ye of Christ?” On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave the right answer: “God has made this Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Make it your answer.

The Year of the Lord’s Favour

“… the year of the Lord‘s favour “

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

Mark 1:36–39

The excitement and enthusiasm of the Sabbath day and evening, charged by healings and deliverances at the rabbi’s command, energized the disciples as they awakened to a new day. Already the crowds were gathering at their home seeking Jesus. But he was not to be found! The perplexed disciples, almost in panic, took off in search, pursued by the townspeople. Knowing his preference for isolated places of retreat, they finally found him engaged in his practice of prayer. Their first words, almost a scold, “Everyone is looking for you! “

Overnight Jesus was a celebrity, his popularity was off the charts, and Simon and company were eager to make the most of it. Who knows where this could lead!

Jesus quickly burst their balloon, countering, “Let’s move on. We will visit other villages and preach the kingdom of God. That is why I have come.” Driven by the Spirit of God into the wilderness, and on into Galilee, Jesus continued to preach and work under the Spirit’s anointing. His life was swallowed up in the God-given words of Isaiah (61:1-2) “to preach good news to the poor… to bind up the brokenhearted… to proclaim liberty for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor…”.

Capernaum had experienced God’s favor. And so would the other villages.

Jesus came to all mankind, sent by God, to help the helpless. Surrounded by the mighty and the weak, those who would help couldn’t, and those who could help wouldn’t. Jesus came to lift the lowly, and to humble the haughty. To anyone seeking compassion, mercy, favor, Jesus reached out by word and touch and delivered.

But many renounced and rejected him.

Whether suffering underlings or superior overlords, all were in need of God‘s favour – “for all have send and fall short of the glory of God.” ( Romans 3:23) God‘s favour to the suffering was fully expressed in Christ’s suffering in crucifixion. The reality of sin and its consequences, death and judgment, were faced and overcome by the death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ. The wonderful healing and deliverance Jesus provided by his physical presence, are surpassed by the healing and deliverance experienced by the helpless and hopeless in repentant prayer – “God be merciful to me a sinner. “

After Sunset…Before Sunrise

After Sunset…Before Sunrise

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

Mark one:32-35

As the Sabbath ended at sunset, 6 PM, the people of Capernaum became very active. The morning events at the synagogue stirred them to find Jesus, and so they converged at his front door. There were many people sick with many kinds of illnesses. One by one, Jesus ministered to them – a cripple, an epileptic, a blind man – and they were healed. The street was filled with shouts of joy, dancing, and clapping as they acknowledged their healing. But, there were other voices – harsh, grating, growling!

Jesus healed many – but – “He also drove out many demons.” Where was this swarm of demons hiding? We’re they the cause of the various diseases, and Jesus exposed them? How did so many Jews become possessed? Did it happen during the Jewish exile in Babylon – a nation given to idolatry – national idols, civic idols, household idols? During that 70 year captivity, did the Jews name the name of Yahweh in vain, while imbibing the demonic forces of the Babylonian culture? The day Moses died, he recited a song (Deuteronomy 32) to the whole assembly of Israel.. He warned them against “deserting the Rock … the God who gave them birth”, for “foreign gods… detestable idols… demons.” (v15). And when it happened, Yahweh rejected them.

That night in Capernaum a great battle was fought, and the hosts of hell’s angels were stripped of power and silenced. But the conflict of the ages was not ended. If the first appearing of God in human flesh caused such an uproar among the fallen angels, imagine what his second coming in full power, majesty and glory will do. Satan, the prince with all his demonic army will be destroyed and then “our Lord God Almighty reigns forever and ever.” Hallelujah! (Revelation 19:6)

Darkness descended over the town, and Jesus went to bed. But not for long. Before sunrise, Jesus got up and went to the wilderness to pray. Only by regular communion with his Heavenly Father, could Jesus fulfil his earthly ministry to redeem man from Satan‘s bondage. As the body of Christ, believers are engaged in this warfare, and fully armed, Paul exhorts us, “Pray in the Spirit, on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18) From Sunset … to Sunrise.

Kingdoms in Conflict

Kingdoms in Conflict

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

Mark 1:28–34

No one hung around to chat after synagogue (Church) that Sabbath. Everyone headed home to talk about the teacher who said and did amazing things. He set forth a new doctrine and cast out an unclean demon. The people were astounded and the word travelled like wildfire. “Immediately” news about Jesus spread over the whole region of Galilee. (that area would comprise about 800 mi.² or 512,000 acres.) This new teacher with a new teaching and a new authority dominated everyone’s thinking.

Meanwhile, Jesus and his four disciples, “immediately” went home for lunch. The family gathering together for a meal after worship service is a great practice to follow. The five men we’re going to the home of Peter and Andrew. But when they arrived they learned that Peter’s mother-in-law was seriously ill – on fire with a fever. In fact, Dr. Luke did some serious investigation of the facts in order to write his history of Jesus’ ministry. He reported that the lady was held like a prisoner with a “high” fever. And so, they did the best thing they could, they told Jesus. The prayer of faith is our greatest resource in time of trouble and need.

“Immediately” Jesus attended her, and grasping her hand he raised her up by his power. The Greek word for “helped” is Kratos, meaning “mighty, with great power.“ The force of the word indicates that the illness was caused by a spirit attack. As Dr. Luke reported, Jesus “rebuked” the fever, just as he “rebuked” the winds and the waves to calm them. The powers of darkness must yield to the authority of Jesus. Two kingdoms in collision – and the kingdom of God will prevail!

Released by the miracle and the mercy of Jesus, and now restored to freedom and wholeness, she got lunch ready and served the family. The same power and grace demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus, has provided our salvation and established us to serve in God’s household of faith in newness of life. Awesome!