Lights in our Community

Jesus said in Matt.5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” With the dawn of 2017 upon us, what should the people in our community – especially those near our church building – see in us? Here’s a few thoughts.

1. A godly people. In our profane, modern society people should see something better in the Lord’s people. Peter said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet.1:14-15).

2. A kind people. There are needs all around us, and our neighbours should view us as people who are concerned for them. We can’t deal with everybody’s problems, but we can be kind. Paul said, “…Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12). Will people view us as cold and indifferent, or warm and helpful?

3. An engaging people. If we want the community to be interested in our message, we must be open to them. People have questions and wonder about who we are. Peter, who wrote about the church’s relationship to the world, said, “…always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet.3:15).

4. An enthusiastic people. Many religious groups practice rituals with lukewarm habit. The community needs to see us as people who are happy and enthused about the faith. Few are interested in religion that is sleepy and dreary. “Therefore, gird your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

5. A people of the truth. Some think the church should accept everything and stand for nothing. More respect is given to those who know the truth and stand on it firmly. John wrote to “all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 Jn.1-2).

Let’s be determined to let our light shine effectively in 2017.

– Tim Johnson

Last Apostle

When John wrote his three short New Testament letters, he was an elderly man. It is highly likely that he was the last living apostle of Jesus Christ. He had contributed the Gospel of John, and the great book of victory, Revelation. The shortest of his letters is 2 John; it only has 13 verses. It would have been one of his final letters. As in the case of the book of Revelation, did he write it in exile on the island of Patmos? We can only speculate.

And what did the last apostle have to say in one of his last letters? He reminded us to love one another (v5), uphold the truth (v2), and refuse deceivers (v7-11). THE TRUTH dominates his thoughts. Everything dear to Christians is built upon it. Even love for one another is related to it; “…whom I love in truth” (v1).

It was a violent time in the Roman world and John writes in a discreet way. Rather than identify the congregation of the church that was to receive his letter, he calls them “the chosen lady and her children” (v1). A fellow congregation is mentioned as “the children of your chosen sister” (v13). It is John’s love for these churches that shines through the ages. He speaks of love four times in the letter. They were people in the Lord “whom I love in truth” (v1).

The challenge for us is not just to walk in truth, but to love the church as John did – and to love it in truth. Love without the truth is just sentiment. God calls us to a higher love for His people.

Our care for the church is not because our building is convenient or some of its members may be relatives. We love it for the sake of the truth, because its people know the truth and walk in it, and because the truth abides in them forever.

The last apostle laid down a challenge for all succeeding generations of Christians – love each other in truth.

– Tim Johnson

We Are Free

John looked out over the Agean Sea from the high hills of Patmos, as he no doubt often did, and saw islands tantalizingly close. One wonders how difficult it must have been for the apostle in exile. He speaks of his temporary island in Revelation 1:9. Used to a busy life, it must have been suffocating to be confined to this lonely place surrounded by endless water. He longed to be with his brethren.

In his book he speaks of Jesus Christ “who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood” (1:9). For a prisoner, the word “released” is all-important. John looked forward to the day when he would be released and free again. What made his exile tolerable was the fact he had been released from his sins. No matter his surroundings, he was free.

“Released” in Greek is very close to the word “washed,” which is the way the King James Version translates it. Here we have our cherished phrase, “washed in His blood.” Freedom from sin is the result, so our modern versions translate it “released” or “freed.” His blood washes away our sins and grants us freedom. The tense of the verb “released” indicates a one-time action in the past that still affects us today. John is reminding us that Jesus did all that was needed to free us from sin when he gave His blood on the cross. It reaches down through the centuries and frees us today.

I find it remarkable that John felt free even while confined. Paul expressed similar thoughts in 2 Tim.2:9, “I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.” Freedom from sin’s penalty and practice grants us a tremendous new life inside, even if life seems outwardly shackled in some way. We are free indeed!

– Tim Johnson

How to Gain a Blessing

When the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, Christians were distracted by the growing threat of Roman persecution. In it he faithfully recorded “all that he saw” from the great visions communicated to him by Jesus (1:2). These changed him, and he wanted his letter to comfort and change the brotherhood. So in his opening words he gave them a simple plan: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (v3) Continue reading

We Are Your Friends

We welcome our guests today.  We’re so pleased to have David Knutson as our speaker.  He is a friend to our congregation, and we hope you also feel at home.

Friendship is a precious thing.  It’s rare in life to have close friends for any great length of time.  But in Christ it is different.

At the end of John’s third letter he said, “The friends greet you.  Greet the friends by name.” (3 John 14).  Why did John put it this way?  Why didn’t he call these Christians brethren, or saints, as others did?  He was trying to make an important point: we need to look after each other, especially if your are a brother or sister in Christ.  Life is worthwhile when we have caring friends.  The apostle is also saying that Jesus considered his chosen men to be his friends, not just followers.  “I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15). He felt close to them and was willing to share eternal secrets with them.  He treated them special. Continue reading