SO HERE WE ARE AT THE BEGINNING OF ANOTHER YEAR AND A WHOLE NEW ONE AHEAD OF US. 2019! SO HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE MADE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS? WELL…
Bible Text: Jeremiah 18:1-12 and Luke 14:25 - 33 | Preacher: Speaker: Jan Clapp When you hear the word hero, what comes to mind? Perhaps it is a favourite movie start, or an admired influence in your life. Or maybe you immediately thought of a fantasy hero like Superman or Spiderman. The next question is: so what is a hero anyway? Interestingly, when I googled hero, it said “A hero is a person, typically a man who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities”. Well, we know that heroes are not restricted to only men!! At our last SENS game there was a young boy sitting beside me and I said to him, “do you have a hero ?” His reply “Yes I do!” I was expecting him to say superman! But he replied with a point of his finger to the man beside him. So I said “Is that your father?” “Yes” he said, “It is” So I told the father what his son had just said and I said to the Dad “You must be doing something right! And just maybe you should write this down and show it to him when he is 15 and maybe not thinking of you as his hero!” Another day I asked a ten year old boy who his hero was and without any hesitation he said “Jesus!” Pretty amazing!! So what is a hero anyway? I think when we are talking hero or heroine, we usually are referring to a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities or who has performed a heroic act like saving a drowning child. I think we have so many examples of heroes and I would suggest that there is a common denominator among all heroes. They appear safe, they meet our expectations, they capture our attention, and they encourage us. So I believe they are a real influence in the lives of everyone in one way or another. If you listen to a person long enough you can even tell who their hero or heroes might be. We’ve all had people in our lives that have made a positive impact on our lives. Maybe it was a grandparent, or parent, an uncle or an aunt; maybe a teacher or a coach; maybe even someone you saw shining shoes for a living. So when you think of a hero, who do you think of? A firefighter? A police Officer? Or someone like superman with a cape? The truth is that heroes do come in all forms, shapes and sizes. They can be men, women or children; Rich or poor, old or young. In fact some of the most heroic acts in the world have actually been performed by kids. And what about all those men and women who served in the wars? What about those who travel to impoverished countries to help improve food production and health? What about the wishes that are granted to children who have terminal diseases? What about foster parents who take in children and give them a good life? What about those volunteers who provide transportation to those who are in need of treatment for cancer? What about those who are involved in educating young girls in Kenya? What about those who are committed to protecting our environment? So I think that there definitely is a common denominator among all heroes. They appear safe, unbeatable and eternal. They achieve our dreams, meet our expectations and build our faith. They capture our attention, set our focus in life and encourage us to never give up. Heroes are a real influence in the lives of everyone in one way or another. So who is your hero? Who would you say is the hero of all time? Kind David wrote: “I will exalt you my God the King. I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1,2) The Lord is Gracious and Compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all. He has compassion on all he has made. So the New Testament tells us that Jesus is the hero of all times. He is the hero that is safe, undefeatable and eternal. The first attraction of a hero is that he has the ability to keep you safe. Jesus is that Hero! For in the book of Revelation we read that he is the one who will return riding upon a white horse. His name is faithful and true. Jesus is the Hero who realistically meets our needs and expectations. Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us. To Him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations forever and ever.” And we know the bible teaches that Jesus has power and demons. He healed the sick and raised the dead. It does not matter if your heroes are fantasy or real people. Fantasy heroes do not really exist and they make no difference in the reality of our living. We can admire our sport heroes, movie starts and people of influence from a distance but we cannot have a meaningful relationship with them. But Jesus is the hero of all time. He is the one we can connect with on a daily basis. He knows the deepest thoughts in our hearts. He is the redemption and salvation. He promises to keep us safe and care for us. He won’t be defeated. His oversight for our soul is eternal. Someone once said “Be careful who you choose as your hero. You put all your hope and all your dreams and all your ideas about stuff into one human being. They are a human being. They are going to let your down.” Jesus is the only character who has the nature of a realistic hero and who will never let us down. He will meet all our expectations. Even behind the scenes there are people doing amazing things to help other people. As we know, Jesus, as that young boy said, is the true superhero. He never made a mistake. He knows all things, created all things and has authority and power over all things. Jesus never possessed a spirit of fear. His faith was so strong that is allowed Him to wilfully submit to the plan of God. He was even tempered, though he displayed righteous anger for the misuse of God’s House. He never possessed selfish fleshly anger. I think he is a Hero because of his powerful words. His very words still cause peoples’ hear to change. I love this quote by John Wesley: “Do all the good you can; by all the means you can; in all the places you can’ as long as you can. Be a Hero! The Catholic School Board has an award for Unsung Heroes – an award for special contribution. And it says you have made a difference in the lives of those around you and you have put others ahead of yourselves in many circumstances. Everyone has inside him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be. How much you can love, what you can accomplish and what your potential is. So go from this place praising God who sends us into the world to proclaim the gospel and to work for justice, tolerance, equality, freedom, humanity and peace. Be a Hero. May the Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you in your work. May God’s love and the Holy Spirits friendship be yours. Go in Peace and Serve the Lord. Amen
Bible Text: Luke 1:68-79 and Philippians 1:3-11 | Preacher: Speaker: Jan Clapp Peace with Ourselves, with Each Other, and with God When you’re in the middle of conflict, it’s not hard to remember to cry out to God. And as soon as we cry out to God, during our battle, whatever that battle may be, the battle becomes God’s and not ours. Our part is to fight – to learn the skills of standing up against God’s enemies, and to wield the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. As we trust God and thrust our sword, we gain ground. All of us need to gain ground in the battle between good and evil. Some of us are fighting for our homes and families. Some of us are fighting despair, fear, worry or depression. Some of us are fighting to gain confidence. And if we will only cry out to God during the battle, we would occupy the land so to speak. Prayer helps us to remember that above all – the battle is God’s and he will fight for each one of us if we ask him. So take for example, the gift of a good night’s sleep. We take the gift of peaceful sleep too lightly. We forget to be grateful for such slumber – that is, until we cannot sleep. There are many causes for not being able to sleep. Sometimes the pressure of leadership can cause worry and worry causes you to lie awake. Sometimes caring for wealth or material goods can cause insomnia. Ecclesiastes 5:12 tells us: the Rich are always worrying and seldom get a good night’s sleep We can lose sleep thinking about how to get money, and then once we have it, we can lose sleep worrying about how to keep it. Sickness can also keep us from sleeping. Job 7:t5 – Job said.....when I go to bed I think “when will it be morning?” But the night drags on and I toss until dawn. Old age – or should I say – Older age can also cause sleeplessness. Grief and sorry can stop us from sleeping. But the good news is that there are always to deal with our sleepless nights, if pressure is keeping you awake, you could reach for the good book. A right attitude toward wealth leads to contentment that in turn leads to slumber. If the rigors of sickness or old age, or the pain of grief and sorrow forbid the blessings of sleep, we can use the night watches to pray and praise the Lord Sometimes it is a song in the night that comes to us as we lie awake. Then you can say with the psalmist, “I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone Lord, will keep me safe.” And for this, may Jesus Christ be praised. Grace and Peace are two of the greatest words and Paul used these two words as his greeting in all his letters, Sometimes he began his letter with “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. So the common Hebrew greeting was “Peace” or “Shalom”. This word has to do with a harmonious state of being – a lack of hostility from others and a harmonious state of well being within. We cannot have true peace until God’s grace has dealt with our sin. Grace summarizes god’s gift while peace summarizes the result of that gift. Peace describes felt grace. Paul often described God as the God of Peace or the god who gives peace. Paul prayed for peace of mind for his converts. May the Lord of Peace himself always give you His peace no matter what happens? To the believers in Corinth, he wrote “Live in Harmony and Peace.’ Then the God of love and Peace will be with you. And in Philippians Paul said “Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing and he god of Peace will be with you. God gives us peace as we remember what he has done and as we put his instructions into practice. So do you know anyone who needs peace of mind? Or Heart? Tell that person about the God of Peace. Do you know anyone crushed? Do you know anyone who needs to put right what is wrong? – to live rightly, speak rightly, and think rightly? Encourage that person to that end and give him or her a model to follow. Just as Paul the apostle did,. And as you model the life of peace that comes from grace, others will be impelled to follow suit. It’s not always easy to have peace in our heart, in our home and with God. But I think if we remember these simple ways to incorporate into our daily life, we can experience this peace we are talking about. So RECOGNIZE YUR CREATOR a give Him thanks every single day for all your blessings and what He has done in y our life. SEEK OPPORTUNITIES to put more love into the world. Strive to be a vessel of love, to fill the world with more compassion and kindness. This will also make you loving and lovable. BECOME MORE ACCEPTING. With every single interaction, surrender any tendency to judge another person. Pray for a more accepting heart. This step will make you gracious. FORGIVE anyone you have not forgiven. Whenever you withhold forgiveness, you keep yourself bound to your own feelings of guilt. Forgiving will make you kind. RECOGNIZE your mistakes – admit where you yourself have been wrong and be willing to be corrected. TRY TO SEE GOOD IN OTHERS. When you’re tempted to judge someone, make an effort to see their goodness. Your willingness to look for the best in people will subconsciously bring it forth. This step makes us positive. TAKE STOCK of your thoughts and behaviour. Each night ask yourself, “When were you negative when you could have been positive? When did you withhold love when you might have given it? This will help you to grow. BLESS THE WORLD. Pray not just that your own life will be blessed but that blessings are poured on everyone. And FINALLY Set aside time each day to spend in reflection and contemplation. Dwell in the presence of our loving God. And however you choose to do that, whether it is praying, meditating, reading the Bible or other spiritual material, taking a long walk through nature, or all of these.....But take time EACH Today is the second Sunday of Advent.....the Candle of PEACE. So as I conclude, I would once again, ask our living and loving God to help us to recognize his presence whenever we strive for PEACE. And ask Him to teach each one of us to be peacemakers so that we would have peace in our hearts, in our homes and with God TRUE PEACE WITH GOD. Amen
Bible Text: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 & 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9 | Preacher: Speaker: Jan Clapp First Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give Thanks in All Circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So today we are celebrating Thanksgiving and we celebrate this once a year. But you know God wants us to be intentional about our Thanksgiving every single day of the year. He wants us to develop this spiritual habit of giving thanks and the more deeply we understand God’s Love, the more grateful we are going to be. So what does it mean to be grateful in all circumstances? Well, we can thank God in every circumstance because God is in control. He can bring good out of evil. He can turn around the stupid mistakes we’ve made and no matter what happens God isn’t going to stop loving us. So there are a hundred things to be thankful for in any circumstance even when the circumstances are not what we might like. I think being thankful in all circumstances is God’s will because it creates fellowship. Gratitude always builds deeper relationships between us and other people and also between us and God. So whoever you want to get closer to, start expressing gratitude to that person. If you’ve moved a bit away from a spouse, for example, then perhaps you need to start doing what you did when you were dating: Express gratitude; write little notes of kindness and encouragement; make calls or – hey – even text during the day. Just to tell that person that you are thankful for them. Do those things you used to do!! Maybe you’ll find that the reason you’ve lost that “lovin’ feeling” is because you stopped doing the things that created that loving feeling early on..... and just maybe you are taking each other for granted. Look at your group of friends: Do you encourage each other? Do you build each other up? Because as you build others up you will find that God builds into your life as well and you will find you have a deeper relationship with Him as well as others. Psalm 69 verse 30-32 says “Then I will praise God’s name with singing and I will honour Him with thanksgiving. For this will please the Lord more than sacrificing an ox or presenting a bull with its horns and hooves”. There are just so many places in the bible about being thankful and magnifying our Lord. So we should arise each morning and lie down each night with thankfulness in our hearts. No matter what else is going on, no matter what battles we face, what trials we endure, what shadows come our way to cast darkness over the light of our joy, at the end of the day, no matter what – we are FORGIVEN! We are set free and we should always, always remain thankful. Although this sounds obvious, it’s sometimes hard to live that way - because we face battles and trials and shadows – because, worse than all of these is the sometimes exhausting monotony of life. The 9 to 5 grind or the Monday to Friday weekly routine. As we know we hear from many retired folks that they are busier than ever so this does not exclude them. As life goes on we know that it is often made up of repetitive tasks and routines. Sometimes those things have a way of dulling our shine – of making it hard for us to remember to be thankful. It is hard to remember that we have been given the gift of salvation and everything else we have – whether it be a little or a lot is simply icing on a very - very good cake. So what do we do then? How do we fight routine, fight monotony, fight the repetitive nature of life? Well if we take our cue from the Old Testament we begin by remembering; by telling the story; by saying once again what God has done for us. So we have to remember – we have to be thankful for what God did for us yesterday. We also have to have our eyes open today because today Gods is doing something in your life; in my life; and in the lives of all who love and serve Him. If we’re not careful we will quite simply miss it. It’ll zoom past us like a million other moments that we didn’t notice. Sometimes we don’t see well what is happening around us – especially if we are carrying a heavy burden..... or struggling through a difficult season....that can cloud the way we see things. So just like the fog that gathers on the windshield in your car on cold mornings, our emotions, the stresses we are feeling, the hurts or losses we are trying to come to grips with....these things can fog up our vision and make it difficult for us to see. Sometimes the best way to clear the fog is to stop and make a list of the things that you need to thank God for RIGHT NOW...THIS MOMENT...THIS INSTANT. Not from yesterday, not for tomorrow – but for RIGHT NOW. And when you are making your list, leave the gig things off the list....like your health....your home....your income. Those things are fairly constant in your life. Limit yourself to things that are only happening today. So what is the thing that you will do today that you don’t get to do every day? What is something unique at this moment? Make a list, focus on what you are thankful for RIGHT NOW and that fog begins to lift – just like when the car warms up and the heat begins to clear the windshield. Now I’m not saying that the burdens will leave you, but it’s hard to be so weighed down by them when you are focusing on things you have to be thankful for. So I think it’s good to remember and be thankful for what God is doing for us RIGHT NOW... TODAY! I mean....here we are able to come together and worship God. Not everyone in our world can do that. Uncertainty is a constant in our world but it is a blessing to know that God holds the future. That is what we call HOPE. We may not know what the future holds but we know who holds the future. We have to trust that God will continue to be at work tomorrow. I do think that hope if vital to our faith, vital to our lives and vital to what is means to live thankfully. The Psalmist wrote: “All who worship God, come here and listen” I will tell you everything God has done for me. I prayed to the Lord and I praised Him. If my thoughts had been sinful he would have refused to hear me. But God did listen and answered my prayer. Let’s praise God. He listened when I prayed and He is always kind. Tomorrow is in His hands and HE is always kind. So at this time let’s remember what God did for us yesterday. Let’s also remember what he is doing for us today. Let’s trust in the fact that God will give you more reasons to be thankful tomorrow. October is a time to acknowledge and to Give Thanks. It is a time to reflect, a time to give thanks, a time to acknowledge the little things...the big things...all the things others do...to make your life better. Happy October! Happy Thanksgiving!!