Security and Care

People everywhere are working hard to build security. Young families long to own a home. School graduates search for good jobs. Broken homes scramble to find their footing again. The poor try to make ends meet. Even the rich worry about the future.

Notice what Jesus said one day when he described his followers as sheep: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)

Security is more than owning a house or money in your pocket. Too many non-material things can knock our lives down – like illness, cruelty, loneliness, lack of opportunities, and plain bad luck. God wants to give us a type of security that can withstand even these.

In our scripture about the sheep, two great things stand out. The first is that God gave His sheep to Jesus. After saving people from their sins and failures, He hands them over to His Son for safekeeping and care. It’s like the owner of the flock arranging the best care possible. Not just anybody will do; God wants the best shepherd for his sheep, and we get that in Jesus.

The second thing we can draw from our verse is that God Himself protects us from those who would “snatch them out of His hand.” Shepherds go to battle for their sheep when any danger arises. We have the best security possible in life because God does that for us. Of course, we have responsibilities too if this is going to work (verse 27): “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

All of us want security in life and to experience the care we need to thrive. Are you looking for it in the right place?

– Tim Johnson

Vimy’s Lessons

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first world war battle of Vimy Ridge. We’re hearing a lot about it because it was won mostly by young Canadian men. There had been 150,000 French casualties from prior attempts to win control over the infamous ridge, but the Germans resisted. In three days 100,000 Canadians threw themselves into the battle and took the hill. Over 3600 of our men were killed and 7,000 wounded.

Historians have developed many theories to explain how we did it when others couldn’t. In his 2008 book Vimy, Pierre Berton explained that most of our young soldiers were farm boys used to horses and fixing machinery. Both skills were invaluable in WW1. Nervous horses were dealt with in the noise of battle, and there was plenty of help to keep the machines of war going. The result was a very patient army that slowly and firmly overcame the Germans. Patience and skill won the day.

James wrote about the need for patience when we encounter trials. He said, “And let patience have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (1:4) The writer of Hebrews also said, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (12:1) And, “You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promises.” (10:36)

Patience gives us the energy we need to endure, it helps us deal with obstacles in the way, and it guarantees victory. It won the battle at Vimy. How many battles will it win for you?

– Tim Johnson

When Everything is Falling Apart

The past few weeks have seen many upsetting things happen in the world. Terrorist violence in London, England, outraged people around the globe. Our national budget promised to plunge us into tremendous debt, sparking worries in the financial sector. Similar anxiety took place in the United States with the realignment of their finances, possibly leaving the poor and elderly in difficulty. It seems that every week brings new worries and surprises. Many people tend to throw up their hands and give up.

When young Daniel was taken to Babylon, he and is Jewish friends faced a barrage of upsetting events and changes that would cause any normal person great stress. I’m sure he longed for home, but Jerusalem had been destroyed. New uncomfortable responsibilities were demanded of them, and soon their lives were threatened by a demanding king who insisted on an interpretation to his dream. Like many people today, Daniel could have thrown up his hands and given up.

But he was smarter than that. He got together with his three friends and spent time in prayer to God, who promptly gave them wisdom. When his appointment before the king arrived, Daniel stood before him with the confidence that only faith can bring. One of his first statements is something we always need to remember: “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Dan.2:28) The king had demanded something impossible, “however, there is a God in heaven.” Daniel’s life had been threatened, “however, there is a God in heaven.” They had been forced to move to Babylon, “however, there is a God in heaven.” Do you see the point? When things seem hopeless and people can’t see beyond the clouds above, we need to remember God. He’s still in control; He gives wisdom generously; He promises to look after His people; He has a plan.

Yes, our world regularly seems bent on falling apart and nobody seems to have adequate answers. God is not acknowledged, and few seek His compassion. That’s when we need to remember what Daniel said: “However, there is a God in heaven.”

– Tim Johnson

Ownership

We have very little say in what kind of neighbours we get, and how they treat their properties. Some are proud of their homes and work hard to keep everything in good repair. Others seem to think it doesn’t matter that their gutters are broken and the fence is falling down. If you own a home you have the right to decide what you do with it, how it looks, and what goes on there. One person may turn their place into a party house with loud music and drinking, while another may have three dogs that tear up the yard. It’s your property and you have the right to decide what character of place it will be. You can keep your vehicles in a nice garage or, as one neighbour of mine does, jam the driveway and lawn with trucks and cars. It’s up to you.

God tells us in the Bible that we are His possession. “He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession…” (Titus 2:14). Christians gladly give their lives to Him because we are grateful Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins. Along with His ownership, the Lord has the right to expect a certain kind of behaviour in our lives. We are His house, and He directs our ways. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

The Lord gives us tremendous freedom in Christ. We can make our own minds up about our lives. But we don’t have the freedom to live ungodly lives now. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal.5:13).

Respect God’s ownership. Is your life like the house with the gutters and fence falling apart, or is it becoming a house that is in good repair?

– Tim Johnson

Fake Medicine

I once met an elderly preacher who supported himself by selling home-made medicines. He wandered the forests and picked plants he believed could help people, and then ground them up and made liquefied products. But their effectiveness was called into question. He gave people false hope for physical problems. The same thing happens when people think parts of the Bible are not inspired, yet insist God’s word can save us. It’s like trusting in medicine you have decided is fake.

For example, in the late 1700’s, German scholars taught that since Isaiah prophesied events that would take place over huge amounts of time, he couldn’t have written all 66 chapters of his book. They decided the first 39 chapters are his, but others wrote the rest much later. Some claim the book was completed by up to four people, and that half the book is just history recorded by men.

But if half of Isaiah is not inspired, how can we trust the rest of the Bible? And if it can’t be trusted, how can these same scholars teach us that its message can save us? They have turned God’s word into fake medicine.

Jesus and His apostles thought differently. All of them quoted from the book of Isaiah and never gave a hint that there was any more than one writer. For instance, Jesus quoted from Is.6:9-10, 42:1 and 61:1-2 (see Matthew 13:14, 12:17, and Luke 4:17 respectively) – the first, middle, and last sections of the book. Jesus said he was quoting “the prophet Isaiah.” He meant just one. Further, the apostles quoted from many sections of Isaiah in their inspired books. Just look in a Bible concordance under “Isaiah” and see how many times he is quoted. All of them simply state “Isaiah said,” or “the prophet Isaiah,” etc.

These New Testament quotes indirectly tell us that there was only one Isaiah, and all 66 chapters of his book inspired by God. This is what Jesus believed, and He knew what He was talking about. There’s no legitimate reason for us to believe otherwise.

The book of Isaiah, like the rest of the Bible, is the real thing. It’s completely trustworthy, powerful, and can cure the sicknesses of the soul. Don’t settle for something that doubting men water-down and render useless – like fake medicine.

Have you taken God’s medicine today?

– Tim