Posted on August 4, 2013 by Rev. George Sinclair
Christians talking about “waiting” and “spiritual desert” is potentially dangerous. We need to acknowledge and face this. Indiscriminate talk about waiting can encourage passivity and cowardice and surrender to evil. It’s not God’s plan for us that we become passive, cowardly and surrender to evil. His plan is more along the lines of the Polish Solidarity Movement. The people in this movement were described as being ‘on their knees before God and standing before tyrants’. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in you faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Pet.5:8-9(ESV)
Sorting out suffering and resisting and enduring is tricky. We need to read the Bible and pray and seek Godly counsel. A famous prayer by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is very helpful as we seek God’s will. It goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
This prayer is not without its problems. Sometimes I am called to endure things I can change. I might be able to change a situation by lies or by violence and I endure instead. I go the extra mile or turn the other cheek. As well, sometimes I should seek to change what I am enduring. This is especially true if I call out to God in prayer knowing that what is impossible for me to do with my power He can do with His power.
However, there is still much wisdom in this prayer. There are many times in our life where we should begin and continue in this prayer. I will experience suffering which God calls me to endure. I should not always use feeling “at peace” as a means to discern God’s will. Sometimes I need the serenity of God to endure suffering. Sometimes I should flee, resist, move on, fight against what should not be endured. I always need God to reveal His will to me and grant a far greater wisdom which I possess on my own. Pray. Seek God. Take courage.
Posted on July 21, 2013 by Rev. George Sinclair
Listen to Paul – If anyone was “owed” or “should” have an easy “successful” life, it was Paul. Evangelist, Church planter, Apostle, Bible-writer, missionary, apologist. Yet, “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me…” 2 Tim. 1:15 (ESV) “Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardships, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Cor. 11:25-27 (ESV)
I do not write this to depress you. I do not write to make you feel guilty because you have not suffered enough for Jesus. But when things get difficult, many of us ask, “Why me?” There are different ways to ask this question. One way to ask this question implies that God “owes” us a particular outcome – that He owes us to not have certain outcomes.
God is never in our debt. He never owes us anything. When we ask “Why me?”, it should be in the context of asking “What do You want me to learn?” and “What do You want me to do?”
When we have to do difficult things or hard things, rather than feeling that “I’ve got to do this”, it is better to come to God and say “I get to do this.” I do not want to undermine a sense of duty or a sense of obligation to keep our promises. One way that we can see the withering power of consumerism in our culture and in our own lives is that people love their sense of duty and obligation to keep their word. But, as we keep our promise, as we fulfill our duty, to say, “I’ve got to do this” can contribute to a grumpy and half-hearted follow-through. Saying to God and yourself and others that “I get to do this” can help your attitude, your mood and demeanor as you fulfill your task – to the glory of God!
Posted on April 28, 2013 by Rev. George Sinclair
Does the Bible want to keep us poor, uneducated and content?
After my sermon last week, and in light of some of my other sermons over the past month, several people have posed this question to me. I really appreciate the question! I have decided I will write about issues of ambition and oppression and money and God in this blog over the next couple of weeks. Please pray for me!
I often think about questions of ambition and oppression when I talk about topics like: money, contentment, and simplicity. Usually I have in the background the way people used the Bible as a tool of social control over Christian slaves. One person who posed the question at the beginning of the blog used the example of how the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec encouraged Roman Catholics to not pursue higher education and to marry and have large families. This allowed others to rise to positions of power and privilege. I am not going to discuss the accuracy or the inaccuracy of this historical example. I am going to acknowledge that the Bible has been used at times to keep people poor — or poorer than they needed to be.
The Bible writes with approval of both the faithful poor and the faithful wealthy. Jesus was working class. During His 3+ years of public ministry He lived a simple low-income life. At the same time, the Bible notes with clear approval such women as Mary Magdelene and such men as Joseph of Arimathea, who were wealthy. The Bible is frank in warning about the potential dangers that money can play in our life. At the same time, the Bible’s encouragement for people to be generous to the poor implies that being poor is hard and we should want to help people get out of poverty. If poverty per se was a blessing, the Bible would tell us not to help the poor.
If we have Jesus’ high view of the Bible, that it is God’s word written, then we should be very careful about ever using the Bible to our advantage and to the disadvantage of others. If it is God’s word, how dare we use it as our ‘tool’ to manipulate others? I need to hear it as God’s word addressed to me. I need to struggle with how to apply it to my life. Please pray for me and for our church!
Posted on April 5, 2013 by Rev. George Sinclair
In my devotions the other day I was reading Genesis 50. Jacob has died, and Joseph fulfills his promise to his father to take Jacob’s body back to Canaan for burial. After Joseph (and his brothers) return from Canaan, the brothers invent a message from Jacob to Joseph. The sum of the message is: Joseph, forgive your brothers and do them no harm. The brothers try deception to insure their safety.
Joseph’s response is very interesting. He ignores the invented message and he communicates 3 things to his brothers (remember that 10 of them had earlier sold Joseph into slavery). First he says that they meant him ill. Second he says that even though they meant him ill, God used their wrong actions for good. Third he forgives them.
The depiction of forgiveness is also very interesting. He expresses it in three ways. First, he says that he is “not in the place of God”. Then he tells them not to fear him. Lastly, he provides for them.
I think this is instructive for many situations in our life. Followers of Jesus are invited to believe that God is sovereign and that he can use a harmful action by another for our good. So we need to be prayerful and diligent and wise, but we do not need to be anxious about the next steps and the future. We also need to forgive the one who harms us – and if they still stick to their guns and stand by their harmful action, we still need to forgive them and move on. We also can clearly state to the one who wronged us that we believe we have been wronged by them. The sovereignty of God can use the wrong for different purposes than was intended. However, the fact that God in His sovereign power and wisdom used the harm for some good purpose does not make the wrong action good, nor does it remove the need for the one who does the wrong to repent.
When we hold on to bitterness after being wronged, it is as if we are daily drinking poison hoping the other person will be hurt by the poison. Forgiveness is asking God for healing so that we stop drinking the poison and drink life from Him instead. When we hold on to bitterness after being wronged and are now anxious about the future it is as if we allow the one who wronged us to chart our future. Forgiveness is a healing from God that restores His role to guide us day-by-day.
Posted on March 29, 2013 by Rev. George Sinclair
Good Friday, March 29, 2013
Every year at our Good Friday service, it is our custom to have individuals from the congregation prepare reflections on the seven last words of Jesus before His death, that is, the seven phrases recorded in the Gospels that Jesus says while on the cross. Below are these reflections with the corresponding scripture text.
Posted on March 24, 2013 by Rev. George Sinclair
March 24, 2013
Rev. George Sinclair
Scripture text: Romans 8:1-11
Download 2013-03-24 sermon or click below to play it.
Posted on December 29, 2012 by Rev. George Sinclair
“… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).
Some of you might be having a really great Christmas and so the verse is a great verse. Some of you might be having a terrible Christmas holiday so the above verse just seems like another pebble in your shoe — one more thing to irritate and pain you. The verse is easily misunderstood so that it sounds either trite or foolish. Properly understood, it is very wise, both for those times in our life when things are spectacular and when things are horrendous.
The Bible is not telling you to be thankful for everything that happens to you. It is not telling you to be thankful for tragedy or sin or pain or heartache or depression. If the Bible text were to be telling us to be thankful for everything, then it would be inviting us to be shallow — only remembering the verse when we were “up”. The Bible is not telling us to be thankful for everything that happens to us. It is telling us that for a Christ follower every circumstance is one where we should pause and give thanks. The Bible is inviting us to develop the habit of daily thankfulness to the end that thankfulness will form our day-to-day lives.
Who do we say thank-you to? We say thank you to the living God and to His Son and our Saviour Jesus Messiah. Many people today feel thankful at the sight of a sunset or at a moment of triumph, but the feeling goes nowhere because they do not think of thanking God. For a Christ follower we need to daily understand our dependence upon God — upon His grace and mercy in Jesus; upon His sovereignty over our life. So taking time every day to “count our blessings” to “say thank you to God” is a way to live in the real world where we are not god but are in fact fallen finite creatures redeemed by unmerited grace.
So take time to thank God. Even if it has been a terrible day in a terrible season, thank Him for: creating you, redeeming to, the province of heaven, for your breath, for prayer, for Him listening, for grace, for your mind, for the Bible, for the angels, for the sun and the moon and the stars, for His love that will never let you go; that He does not weigh your merits but instead pardens your offences, for Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, for every simple pleasure, for God Himself.