All Things Royal

With a royal wedding his weekend, the attention of the world is on London, England. It’s also Victoria Day weekend in Canada. And just a few weeks ago, everyone was excited because Prince William and Kate had their third baby. All things royal is certainly on people’s minds.

In Canada, living so far away from these events makes us feel a little out of touch, even though we appreciate them. Sure, the royals like to occasionally visit our country, but very few of us have any direct links with the royal family. None of us will attend the wedding, cards and flowers will be ignored, and we can’t call them up to congratulate them. It’s as if they are living in a different world.

The apostle John spoke of another kind of royalty in his Book of Revelation. He said the actual words of the book came from “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1:5-6)

Jesus is far above any royal family in this world. While they don’t know it, Jesus even rules them. It’s the personal nature of Jesus’ rule that is so impressive. He gets involved with each of us. He loves each of us, paid the price to save us from our sins, and made us His own Kingdom. Each of us is a priest serving God. We can speak to Him any day of the week in prayer, and He listens. No wonder John exclaimed, “To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The events in London are fascinating, but what we have with the King of kings is much more valuable and enduring. Some day He will welcome us into His home.

To Him be the glory!

– 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 (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 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 indicates a one-time action in the past that still affects us today. John is reminding us that when Jesus gave His blood on the cross, it was all that was needed to free us. It flows 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

Faithful Friends

Life would be dire without a few good friends. I’ve known several people who chose to live alone and isolated, and it produced an oppressive atmosphere around them, magnified worries, and propped up narrow-minded views. But when people have friends, everything improves.

The woman of Luke 15:8-10, who lost an expensive coin, called her friends together to rejoice with her when it was found. Friendship keeps life a little lighter and easier to bear when troubles overshadow us.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one that this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Of course, Jesus was speaking about his upcoming death on the cross, but we can also learn that friends care about you, watch your back, and extend loyalty and sacrifice. Life is a lot easier when friends watch out for you.

The apostle John sent a message to a threatened church and said, “Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 15). Christians are friends who bring emotional health to others.

The writer of Proverbs said, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov.27:17). The author, W.J. Deane said of this verse, “Men’s thoughts are stimulated and sharpened by conversation. Friendship broadens a man’s views. He is able to see how other men think and feel. Thus, he is lifted out of the narrowness of his own single vision. Such breadth gives strength when it is accompanied by an earnest love of truth and right. One good, true friend is more helpful than a score of mere acquaintances. Hence the supreme importance of cultivating friendship with the wise and good.”

The helpful effect of good associates, and the influence we have on each other is evident in all of these verses from the Bible.

Christians work hard to make friends with all kinds of people. We’re open to it. It’s part of our mission. Will you accept our friendship?

– Tim Johnson

No Pain

All of us are well aware it is flu and cold season in our part of the world. It’s almost impossible to escape its clutches and many people suffer through a series of ailments for months. Yet how can we complain when so many suffer with more serious illnesses that take extensive treatments to cure, if at all? Pain and suffering are part of human life.

Statistics Canada says that we fill 300 million drug prescriptions a year (2005 figures), which works out to roughly 10 for each man, woman and child – or 3 billion dollars worth! That’s a lot of medicine to help us fight painful conditions.

In John’s final New Testament book, he describes “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev.21:2). Most people think he is writing about heaven; others believe it is a figurative picture of the church protected by God. Perhaps it is the latter but foreshadowing the former. My point is that He promises “there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (v4). Can you imagine an existence with no pain? John seems to imply there will be no more sickness either. At the very least, we understand that pain will be absent from heaven. Wouldn’t that be nice!

This is not just pie in the sky. Jesus successfully healed people from their illnesses and pain every day. He was the Great Physician, and He knew what He was talking about. One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is Matthew 4:23-25. “And Jesus was going about in all Galilee…healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people…all who were taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.”

Looking forward to a time when there will no longer be any pain helps us deal with our own struggles in life for the present time.

Relief is coming!

– Tim Johnson

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