Posted on June 9, 2013 by george
Let’s read the Bible together this summer!
I am going to pause my series on the Gospel of Luke for several months. On Sunday, June 30, we are going to begin a ten week series on ten Psalms. I will do five of the sermons and Brian de Visser and a still-to-be-determined guest preacher will preach on the other five Psalms. This series will end on the Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend. Then I will begin a sermon series on the Book of Revelation. Please pray!
I am hoping that as many people as possible will commit to reading the entire book of Psalms during the summer. We will provide a 64-day reading plan to aid you in this. The plan will be posted online. We will also hand out the plan in the form of a handy bookmark.
We will set up a means, via either our web page or Facebook, where we hope people will post their comments and questions and musings on what they are reading. Hopefully many will post and hopefully even more will read the reflection of others in the congregation.
In the classic Anglican Way, each Anglican is encouraged to read the Bible and pray every day. In the Anglican Way, every year, the New Testament will be read through twice, the Old Testament (except for Psalms) is read through once and the book of Psalms is read 12 times — once a month every month.
When the Canadian Church revised the Prayer Book in 1962, they omitted parts of the Psalter. I believe the Canadian church was wrong to do this. I do not believe that Christians have to be protected from the Bible! This summer I will make a point of preaching on a Psalm that was omitted or which had some of the verses removed.
The book of Psalms has long been recognized as having a special place in the Canon of Scripture. They are the prayers and songs God wrote for us to pray and sing. The Psalms anticipate Jesus and the cross and we must pray and sing them mindful of the cross, but it is a good thing to read, pray and sing the Psalms.
Posted on March 3, 2013 by george
John Wesley famously said, “God always has more to teach us from His Word.” On the one hand, the Bible is finite. It has a certain number of words. There are no new words being added. In theory, we could know every word off by heart. However, Wesley’s insight is Biblical and true. Throughout our life, God will continue to speak to us through the Bible. Consider this text, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Heb 4:12-13 ESV.
What do I really think? What do I really intend? We might say one thing, but inwardly think or intend something quite different. The motives behind our words and acts can often be hidden from ourselves. We never know ourselves as well as we should. God knows you perfectly. He knows you more deeply and completely than you know yourself. God’s word written, the Bible, comes from God and addresses you at every level, right down to depths you did not know you had. The Bible faithfully read and taught reveals aspects of ourselves to ourselves. Then we hear the Word in a new way addressed.
Listen to another passage of scripture. Paul is urging us to take on the ‘whole armour of God’. As part of this armour, he says, “…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” Ephesians 6:17 ESV. We see that the Bible is a double edged sword which is not only alive in itself, but is also used by the Holy Spirit.
We are completely dependent upon God’s grace. We never stop being dependent upon God’s grace. Pray that God’s grace will inwardly heal you and free you so that you can bring your mind at its best to the reading and hearing of God’s Word written. Pray as well, that by God’s grace you will not rest on your mind alone, but that the Holy Spirit of God will wield God’s word in and through your life. It is His word and His spirit, ask for His help in laying your mind and your very self at His feet, that He may work in you to His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom. Please pray for me and all who teach at Church of the Messiah.
Posted on December 2, 2012 by george
The Apostle Paul, soon before his death, wrote a letter to a young man named Timothy. We now know this as First Timothy, a book in the Bible. In his letter, Paul says, “… devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” [1 Tim 4:13 ESV]. This exhortation by Paul is important in all cultures, both those cultures where most people can read and in cultures where most people cannot read — but it is especially important in cultures where many people either do not know how to read or where due to poverty or persecutions many people cannot have a Bible. In fact, for most of church history, a large number of Christians either could not read or could not afford a Bible.
Early Christians, and Christians throughout the ages, put some thought into the question of, “what to read when the church gathers for common worship?” Two great Christian leaders of the 5th Century developed Bible reading guides for Sundays when Holy Communion would also be celebrated. Their names were Leo the Great and Gelasius. About a hundred years later, in the late 6th Century, a reforming church leader reformed the Sunday readings. His name was Gregory the Great. With small modifications over time, his guide to Sunday Bible reading was used throughout the western church for over a 1000 years. When the English church experienced its reformation in the mid-16th Century, Cranmer and the English reformers largely kept this tradition of Bible readings. So the Book of Common Prayer has this ancient pattern of Sunday readings; two readings each Sunday or holy day; always a reading from the Gospels; usually a reading from an Epistle, but occasionally a reading from the Old Testament. These readings, repeated year after year, told the basic story of Jesus and covered key doctrines. This pattern allowed the basic message of the Bible to become known by people who either could not read or did not have a Bible.
Every Sunday at Messiah, one of our two Bible readings is from this ancient pattern. At certain times, like much of this Advent of Christmas, both readings will be from this ancient pattern.
Posted on September 30, 2012 by george
September 30, 2012
Rev. George Sinclair
Scripture text: Luke 2:1-20
Download 2012-09-30 or click below to play it.
Posted on September 30, 2012 by george
There are four accounts of Jesus’ life that are based on eyewitness testimony and were written very close to the events. Today we know of these accounts as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John (each eyewitnesses themselves) and Luke. The following is the possible chronology of the birth of Jesus which fits with the eye witness records.
Mary and Joseph are betrothed and live in Nazareth of Galilee. An angel appears to Mary and asks her if God can work a miracle in her womb. Mary says ‘Yes’ to God’s request, and God creates a zygote in the womb of Mary. She is now pregnant with the Messiah and she has never sexually known a man.
Shortly after Mary’s pregnancy begins, she leaves Nazareth to visit her cousin Elizabeth for three months. God has worked in Elizabeth’s life and works in her life again so that she knows of Mary’s pregnancy and believes Mary’s account. Mary returns home to Nazareth and her pregnancy is discovered. Joseph does not believe Mary and he is going to quietly dissolve the betrothal. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him what God has done in Mary. Joseph believes the angel and goes ahead with the betrothal.
In response to an imperial edict, Joseph and Mary travel to Joseph’s ancestral home of Bethlehem. Shortly after arriving, Mary gives birth to Jesus in a cave or stable outside of an inn. Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus find accommodation and stay in Bethlehem for a short time.
While the shepherds had visited them in the stable, the Magi visit the family in their accommodation. The Magi had accidentally told Herod of the birth. After the magi leave, Joseph is warned by an angel to flee Bethlehem because Herod is about to seek Jesus to kill Him. The family flees to Egypt where they live for a short time. When it is time to return to Judea, Joseph decides that Bethlehem might be dangerous, so the family returns to Nazareth of Galilee. This is where they settle and Jesus is raised there until His public ministry begins about thirty years later. Because He lived in Nazareth for so long during His public ministry He is considered to be a ‘Nazarene’ ‘from Nazareth’.
To God alone the glory,
Posted on August 19, 2012 by george
Vince Lombardi was a legendary Football coach for the Green Bay Packers. One story about him concerns a talk he gave to his team after they had lost several games in a row. He sat the team down. He held a football in his hand. He lifted the football up for all to see. He said, “Gentlemen. This is a football.” He then proceeded to take them through the basics of the game. Sometimes it is helpful for long time Christians to be reminded of the basic advice you should receive when you become a Christian. So, if you have just become a Christian, here are four things you should do.
First, you should tell several people that you have become a Christian. For some reason, telling people that you have become a Christian helps to deepen your conversion. It shows that we are not ashamed and embarrassed about following Jesus.
Second, you should begin to read your Bible daily. I suggest that you only read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) until you develop the habit. I also suggest you read a chapter a day. If you miss several days, do not try to make it up. Just pick up where you left off. As you start to read the Bible, say a short prayer to God asking Him to help you to “understand and remember His word and apply it to your life.” The New Living Translation or the New International Version or the English Standard Version are good Bible versions to begin with. Go to biblegateway.com for a chance to read many different Bible versions.
Third, you should begin to pray. It is best if you pray before or after reading your Bible. It is a very good to tie prayer with Bible reading. Just talk to Jesus for a few minutes about what you’ve done wrong (say are sorry) and what you are concerned about and what you need to do. Listen to the prayers at church to get some hints about other prayer concerns.
Fourth, find a good local church where the Bible is preached and where they clearly believe that Jesus is the Saviour and the Lord. Start attending the church weekly, make friends, get involved. We enter the Jesus Way one-by-one, but we walk the Jesus Way with Jesus and others.
Under the mercy,
Posted on July 12, 2012 by george
In much of modern Canadian life, when you want to “become” something, it’s more or less up to you. It is up to your decision, your effort, your discipline. Obviously factors outside of yourself play a significant role: to become a husband you need to have a woman who will marry you; to become a doctor you need to get accepted into Med school; to become Deputy Minister you will need a mentor or patron who believes in you. But your effort is first and foremost. In this true in becoming a Christian?
The answer is “No”.
Some might say in response, “George, you cannot be right on this. My ‘born again’ friends tell of their search and decision to become a Christian. In fact, they love to tell their ‘testimonies’ of what happened to them and the steps that they took to become a Christian. So surely becoming a Christian is a lot like becoming married or a doctor or a Deputy Minister. It is primarily about my effort.”
Now I confess that Christians nowadays often talk about all that they did to become a Christian. They might even think it was “their” search and “their” decision and “their” effort. It also might be that the language of their testimony confuses. To see why this is the case, consider this question, “How do you become a person who, without the aid of any machines or technology, can fly to the moon and back?” The answer is, “This cannot be done.” Human beings cannot fly without the aid of airplanes or space shuttles. Human beings cannot survive in space without a well built space ship that supplies oxygen and warmth and food and propulsion.
A Christian is one who has been reconciled to God and now God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit live within them. How can I, or any human being, ever achieve or create this? To have the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit make their home within me is not something I can make. It is more impossible than traveling to the moon and back without the aid of technology or machine. It is only if God decides to come to us that we can have Him live within us. The initiative and accomplishment is all His. We receive, we do not achieve. We are dependent upon His grace, not our achievement.
Under the mercy,
Posted on July 8, 2012 by george
If you want to become a mechanic or an engineer or a police officer or a doctor there is a ‘way’ to that goal. You can go to authoritative websites where the path and the requirements are set out. If you want to become married, or a parent or a millionaire or a golf pro — there are ‘ways’ to become one or more of these things, but there is no authoritative web site and no clear single way to become a husband or a mom or a golf pro or a millionaire. What about becoming a Christian? Is there an authoritative website and an authoritative way? The answer is “sort of” and “yes and no”. Yikes, is Messiah going all ‘mushy’ and liberal?
Well, there is no authoritative web site, but there is an authoritative source, the Bible. There are some ‘requirements’ to becoming a Christian, but the paths that lead a person to these requirements are highly varied. The biggest external obstacle that many face in becoming a Christian is not the difference between Christian churches — the biggest obstacle is the common Canadian view that sees being Christian and being Canadian as sort of the same, since most Canadians are Christians.
Being a Canadian does not make you a Christian. Saying that someone is a Christian is not the same thing as saying someone is a good person. Acts 11:26b describes where the word “Christian” comes from and what a Christian is. It says, “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (ESV). Simply put, a Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ. To become a disciple of Jesus Messiah will either require a conscious decision or an awareness that somewhere along the line, you made a decision for Jesus Christ. What it means to become a disciple of someone or something varies depending on the nature of the ‘Master’ and the ‘discipline’. So if you become a disciple of a particular golf pro and her approach to golf and technique — this is obviously a limited relationship. You would not normally follow her sayings on marriage or child raising or death and dying.
Jesus claims to be “the way and the truth and the life”. He claims to be able to reconcile us to God and fit us for eternity. He makes big claims. I become a Christian by coming to Jesus Messiah and saying, “Jesus, please be my Saviour and my Lord and my Master. I will follow You as Your disciple. I will start to learn to live under Your word and direction.”
Under the mercy,
Posted on June 24, 2012 by george
People make pretty wild claims about how the Bible was written and when it was written and how it was recognized as scripture. People make pretty wild claims about the number of errors and contradictions in the Bible. People make pretty wild claims about the errors in copying the Bible. No only are these pretty wild, but they are often stated with absolute conviction — along the lines of: “The sun will rise tomorrow”; “Water flows downhill”; “The Bible is riddled with errors and is contradictory”. When the Bible is determined with such calm confidence it can be unnerving to the Christian. Given that at Messiah, we want to help ordinary people be confident, joyful disciples of Jesus Christ, I thought I would point you in the direction of some resources.
First of all, you need to have some confidence in the Bible and its claims. The English Standard Version Study Bible is a great resource. It discusses the date and composition of individual books and it also has handy, brief overview sections on a wide range of issues. Even if you do not use this as your Bible to read everyday, it is a great response to own.
The books by Lee Strobel are also very helpful. The Case for Christ and The Case for the Real Jesus are easy to read, yet contain very solid scholarship. Each book will introduce you to a wide range of scholars. You can then google them to find other articles or books they have written. Each chapter ends with a very helpful brief biography of good books to read to go deeper into the issue raised in that chapter. I always recommend these two books because they introduce people to good scholars and good books.
Secondly, most people who make wild claims about the Bible do not know that their views are wild and wrong. They hold these views because “everyone knows this”. The best way to deal with this is to have read up on the issue yourself and to pray for the person who makes such claims. More arguments rarely accomplish much, but God may provide a time when you can challenge them to read for themselves and then give a good book!
Under the mercy,
Posted on March 25, 2012 by george
Ultimately the Bible is not a collection of stories. It is really one story told by means of many different types of literature. This is what the Bible teaches about itself. It is also what Jesus teaches. After his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus went on a walk with some unnamed disciples, during the walk He said and did the following, ” ‘Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Jesus teaches that while there are many books and literary forms, there is ultimately one Story and it is about Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified Messiah and Risen Lord, God’s Son and our Saviour. A similar message is given in II Timothy 3:15b-17. Note how the separate parts of Scripture, the words and chapters and books have powerfully come from God. But also note how these ‘bits’ are one whole which comes from God. Here’s the text, “…you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching; for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” The Bible is ultimately many different books comprising quite a few different literary genres. Each part is inspired and each part plays its part in telling one Story and this story as a whole is ultimately told to us by God Himself who guarantees that both the parts and the whole are true and trustworthy.
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary is the center and summary of the Story. This is because He is the crucified Messiah, risen Lord and King of glory. We only understand the parts of the Bible when we understand its place in the Story and how that part relates to Him. The purpose of the Bible Story is not merely to give us knowledge in our heads. God’s purpose in the Story being told is that we might hear the Story and respond by turning to Jesus in repentance and faith and thereby become His precious treasure and free children forever. Know the Bible. Know Jesus.
To God alone the glory,