We continued our series on Christianity on Sunday by talking about the reasons for Jesus’ death. You can watch the sermon right here.
Christianity is the only world religion that claims victory through the death of its leader. This goes against what makes sense to the world. In fact, Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 1 — what seems like foolishness to the world is exactly what God used to bring about salvation. Christ crucified is God’s power and wisdom.
We talked about three reasons Jesus died:
- Jesus died to take away our sins.
We talk about this a lot, but it’s really a magnificent thing when we stop to think about it. Our sin sentences us to death. It is an offense against God and separates us from Him. But because of His great love for us, He didn’t leave us to die. He sent Jesus, His Son, to die in our place. He is the atoning sacrifice for sin, and is able to cover us in His righteousness. Jesus purposely was born to die — for us.
2. Christ died to reveal the character of God.
At just the right time, Romans says, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Christ died for us while we were still rejecting Him. While we were wallowing in our sin and celebrating our evilness. He knew how things were supposed to be — the garden of Genesis before sin. He wanted to bring us back to that spot.
3. Christ died to conquer the powers of evil.
Pastor Dan referenced Colossians 2 when talking about this yesterday. I just reread it and it gave me chills:
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
God nailed our indebtedness to the cross. And He triumphed over sin and evil — making a spectacle of them — through the work of the cross! It’s amazing, and it makes me look forward to the end of days when that triumph will be complete and whole!
I loved what Pastor Dan said about appealing to God’s justice when we call on Him. Because of Jesus, the price for sin has been paid. God won’t require more payment because He is just. The debt is paid in full. So we call on God’s justice, knowing His character as revealed through Jesus.
Jeremy Riddle has a beautiful song that emphasizes this point. The lyrics state: “To the cross I look / To the cross I cling. Of its suffering I do drink /Of its work I do sing. On it my Saviour, both bruised and crushed / Showed that God is love and God is just.”
God is love. And God is just. Both are true. And the beautiful, tragic, magnificence of this was demonstrated to us through Christ crucified.
I also wanted to mention John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which Pastor Dan mentioned in his sermon. I read a simplified version of it when I was much younger, and this made me want to read it again! It’s available in lots of versions on Amazon.
As we head into this week, take a moment to thank Jesus for what He did on the cross! And ponder, with me, the following questions:
- Which of the three reasons for Christ’s death stood out to you the most? Why?
- Why do you think God chose to bring about victory through the death of His Son?
- What are some ways you can work on demonstrating God’s love and justice to others this week?
You can watch Sunday’s sermon right here.
This week Pastor Dan continued our discussion of the basics of Christianity by addressing the uniqueness of Jesus.
We talked a bit about the reliability of the Gospels, and I want to go a bit deeper with that today. How do we know that what we have about the life of Jesus is true?
It is important to remember that the Gospels were written during a very different time period than ours. When we read a newspaper article today, we expect exact numbers and quotes and fact-checking (although even that seems to be disappearing in some of our “news” today!). In the Ancient Near East, the mindset was different, and it’s not our job to force our modern-day practices on the past. In his book, “Jesus and the Gospels” Craig Blomberg makes the following points:
- Memorization was a highly-cultivated tool for Jews during the 1st century. Memorizing was a practice, something people were excellent at during the time of Jesus. It was a skill that allowed people to commit the entire Old Testament to memory! So to acknowledge that many had memorized much of Jesus’ teaching, which was often conveyed through story, makes a lot of sense.
- The presence of eyewitnesses to the words and acts of Jesus would have worked as a fact checker to the oral tradition of Jesus’ stories. (Keep in mind that many of these eyewitnesses were not believers in Jesus, so if people were saying untrue things, they would have put a stop to it.)
- Much was handed down through oral tradition (word-of-mouth memorization), but many people also took private notes.
There are other reasons to trust the Gospels as well. We have just under 6,000 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament that usually date about 100 years after they were first written. Now let’s compare that to other ancient sources. Plato wrote around 400 B.C. The earliest manuscripts we have of his comes from 900 A.D. and there are 7 copies. Aristotle wrote in the 300s B.C. We have 49 copies of his manuscripts and the earliest one comes from 1100 A.D.
We don’t often question the reliability of these classical authors, although we have barely any manuscripts and there are about 1000 years in between their writing and their earliest copies. We have much more evidence for the New Testament Gospels and can have a great confidence in their reliability.
I also want to quickly remind us of the three claims of Jesus that Pastor Dan mentioned in his sermon.
- Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament. All throughout the Old Testament, we see promises of Someone who is going to save the world from the sin that has plagued us since Adam and Eve. These promises get more and more specific throughout the Bible, and finally, Jesus arrives on the scene and says that He is the One!
- Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God. Through Jesus, God was made visible and accessible.
- Jesus claimed to be the Saviour and Judge of all people. He was the one who could forgive sins, and He is the one who will be at the judgment seat — our eternal destiny is in His hands.
So, then, to be a Christian is to believe the claims of Jesus and confess Him as Lord. And this confessions changes our lives and our actions.
Some questions for you to consider this week as we ponder the claims of Jesus and how they changes our lives:
- What did you grow up believing about Jesus Christ? Has anything changed?
- Which claim of Jesus from the sermon stands out to you the most? Why?
- What is your story about how you came to know and believe Jesus?
- How has the way you live your life changed because of Jesus?
On Sunday we started a new series that we’ll be in together for the next couple of months. We’re going to be discussing the basics of Christianity — what it is and why it matters. This series will shore us up on what it means to be a Christian, what we believe as Christians, who Jesus is, what the Bible says, and so much more. This will be a great foundation for us — to know what we believe and why we believe it, and to be able to share our faith with others.
If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can watch it here.
On Sunday Pastor Dan introduced us to this series by discussing what Christianity is and what it means to be a Christian. I loved how he started out by making the distinction of what kind of Christianity we hold to here at CrossRoads — biblical Christianity. This means that our authority comes from the Scripture, not solely from the leaders of the church or from our experiences.
I went to a university where the authority of the church was emphasized as equal or above the authority of the Bible. I had never been in an atmosphere like that, and it was challenging to me. I had a hard time with it because there were instances where the authority of the church changed its mind. So one thing that had been true before was no longer true, depending on who was in charge. And as Pastor Dan pointed out, in today’s world, many people depend on mystical or experiential Christianity. So what we experience or feel becomes our authority. But again, the danger in this comes from the fact that our experiences and feelings change often. And, what’s more, our feelings can often lead us astray because we are sinful people.
The only thing that is unchanging and reliable is the Word of God. And that’s where our authority ultimately comes from.
Pastor Dan talked about three claims of Christianity. 1. We can know God. 2. We can know God through Jesus Christ. 3. We can know God only through Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him.
Much of this comes down to who we say Jesus is. Pastor Dan went through four claims about Jesus — that He was simply a person, that he was a person exalted by God, that He was a divine being who inspired others to be divine, or that He was the unique God-man. The biblical view is the last one — Jesus was and is fully God and fully human. He is God’s Son, the only one who could save us from our sins.
My family and I were sick with a 24-hour bug the other day, so we spent a lot of time on the couch watching TV. The movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was on, and my husband and I found ourselves getting swept up in the story. C.S. Lewis, a Christian, wrote these books, and so much of the story in his novels point us toward Jesus. In one scene in the movie, there are two siblings who are struggling with their younger sister’s story that she has found a magical world called Narnia. They don’t believe her. They have a conversation with an old professor and he asks them why they don’t believe her. He asks if she’s a liar. They say “no.” He asks if she’s crazy. They say “no.” And he says that if she’s not a liar, and she’s not crazy, then she probably should be believed.
This is what the argument for Jesus and His deity/humanity makes sense. Jesus died for His claims to be God. His disciples and hundreds of His other followers died and suffered for their claims about Jesus. Were they all liars? Were they all crazy? If not, maybe they should be believed!
Christianity claims that Jesus was fully God and fully human and came to save us from our sins so that we could know God.
Here’s what’s so amazing about this: the fact that we can truly know God. The fact that He invites us to know Him! He is the God of the universe, and we are sinful people who don’t deserve His love, grace or company. But because of God’s great love and compassion for us, He sent Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin.
What an amazing God! What an awesome faith that we have been invited into. What an amazing grace that saves us from hell and separation from God! These are the claims of Christianity. This is what we believe, and it is good news!
Looking forward to discussing this series with you! See you next week!
My heart has been heavy all week with the tragedy of what is going on in Syria. As a new mom, I have been thinking of these families who are suffering and whose children are dying. How can they bear it? And this week Pastor Dan shared an update from his trip to Greece — hearing about the refugees who are trapped in these camps, perhaps for the rest of their lives is so disheartening. Where is their hope?
These are the questions the Psalms ask often. Where is the hope? Why is God far off? And so this Sunday we prayed through Psalm 10 in the service. I am reposting it here as a reminder to pray through these words, asking God to remember those who are suffering around the world today.
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by[b] him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
OK, on to this week’s sermon, which you can watch right here.
We read Luke 2 and Revelation 7 this week, and I loved the connection! We’re in the season of advent right now, which anticipates Christ’s coming — both His birth and His return one day. And although the Christmas season is joyful, there is an aspect of advent that is meant to make us ache. Advent encourages us to long — to beg for the long-awaited Saviour who is going to make things right. As we prayed through Psalm 10, we felt this. We longed for God to defend those in need, to step in and punish the evildoer. We asked Him to no longer hide Himself, but to show up in glory and triumph.
And this is what advent is about. We are waiting for Christmas — the day when Jesus is born and God’s answer is finally here. And now, day-to-day, we are waiting for Christ’s return. We are wanting the restoration to be complete, for every tear to be wiped away, for suffering to be gone. We want the pressure, the tribulation, to disappear forever.
And so reading Revelation 7 at the Christmas season is just perfect. It is here that we get a glimpse into what is coming — the Lamb worshiped by every tongue, tribe and nation. All is as it was meant to be. There will be no more need for advent, no more longing for His coming. He will be here, the ache will be gone, and hope will be realized.
So, at Christmas a few things come to mind:
- Pray and do. Let advent do its work. Allow yourself to feel the ache and longing. Things are not yet restored, and so many are in need of spiritual salvation and physical help. Pray for those who are in need. Do what you can to serve and love those around you. Pray for the salvation of those who don’t know Jesus.
- Make a choice. If you are not sure your salvation is secure in Jesus, get on it! We all face a choice — and we will either spend eternity with Jesus or we will not. God asks us to repent, to turn from our sin and acknowledge Him. Without Jesus, there is no other way. If you have accepted the Lord, make a choice to be that radical disciple Pastor Dan talked about. What does it truly mean to be a disciple of Jesus? As Dan said, it means we are secure, but not safe. We may be called out of our comfort zone for the sake of His name. Make a choice to step out.
- Rejoice! Jesus came, born as a baby to fulfill the promises of God and bring us salvation! And Jesus is coming! He will return one day to make all things new! We have such great hope in this. Rejoice in it this Christmas season!
Pastor Shawn’s sermon on joy can be found right here.
This week we talked about joy and what it actually means. During the Christmas season, we often hear about being joyful, but what does that look like, exactly? Does it mean we’re always happy, always smiling, always jumping up and down with excitement? I hope not, because if so, I’m probably not a consistently joyful person.
But Pastor Shawn talked about joy as something that comes with great news. We read from Luke 2 when the shepherds heard from the angels that a Saviour had been born. This good news would ripple for the rest of eternity — it would change lives and bring the joy of eternal life!
I liked how Pastor Shawn pointed out that great news comes with a choice. We don’t have to be joyful about the news of Jesus. We can choose to reject it. Each of us has a choice to make when it comes to Jesus, who He is, and our need for Him. That choice has consequences of eternal life or eternal death, but we are free to make it. But for those of us who choose Him, the joy that we experience is not controlled by outside circumstances. It is made complete in knowing that He is in control, He is our salvation, and He is our hope.
So, as Pastor Shawn pointed out, we are now rooted in the one who brings joy, even when our situation isn’t joyful.
As we prepare for Christmas this season, I know we have a variety of different situations in our church body. Some are happy, some are in pain, some are suffering, and others are rejoicing. No matter the situation, if our salvation and rest is found in Jesus Christ, our response can be joyful. It is the hope we have in the great news of Jesus that brings us joy!
You can watch this week’s sermon right here.
We are in the first week of advent, and Pastor Shawn led us through a message of hope. But what is advent, exactly? Advent is one of the seasons that many churches celebrate in the church calendar. It is a month to anticipate and prepare for our celebration of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus! Advent is a version of the Latin word for “coming.” We are preparing for the coming of Jesus — born as a baby long ago! During advent, people often reflect on when Jesus was born as a baby, but also look forward to the hope of when Jesus returns someday. Oftentimes, churches focus each week on a different theme of hope, love, joy and peace.
If you’re interested in celebrating advent with your family this year, all you need is to do a quick Google search! You can find lots of info on the themes, Scripture readings, and ways to celebrate and anticipate Jesus’ birth and His second coming. If you’re looking for a good book to read as a family this advent season, I highly recommend John Blase’s “Touching Wonder.” It is a beautiful book about the Christmas story and you can order it from Amazon here.
Pastor Shawn talked about hope today as he led us through 1 Peter 1. In this chapter, Peter reminds his listeners that God has given us a living hope, no matter what is going on in our lives. If things are temporarily good, we have hope. If we are temporarily suffering, we have hope.
I love the reminder that our God is a God of hope. This is what He gave us when He sent His Son into the world. He showed us that He had not forgotten us. He showed us that the plan of redemption He had been working on for so long was going to be fulfilled.
And what’s incredibly powerful is that in the here and now, we have hope. We are not just waiting for someday when God returns and restores all things. Yes, we hope for that, but we also know that right now, Jesus has begun to make all things new. When Jesus died and rose again, He put God’s restoration in motion. So for those of us who are Christians, we walk in that restoration and work with the Lord who is redeeming. We bring hope to others. We, as disciples of Jesus, have the honour of partnering with Him as He works good out of every situation.
So, this week, dwell in the hopeful promises of God and bring that encouragement to others!
This week’s sermon is available to watch right here.
This week, we took a look at Revelation 4, an amazing chapter where we get to enter into the throne room of God. Were you there during worship when it was read aloud? I got chills thinking about and praising our amazing God who is holy, holy, holy!
This vision John receives is amazing — this glimpse into heaven gives me goosebumps as I picture the majesty of our God who is worshiped endlessly in heaven.
I like how Pastor Dan pointed out that we all worship. We were created for worship — and all of us honour someone or something. We either worship God or something else — money, power, ourselves, sex, etc. And I know in my own life — although I say I worship the Lord — I often find myself spending more time focused on “worship” of things that have nothing to do with Him. How grateful I am for His great grace and mercy in my life!
In this beautiful throne room of God, there is a lot of activity taking place. And what is most notable is that the activity all centers around God. He is the one who receives all of the focus and praise. There are lots of images here that we may not fully understand. There are 24 elders — who do they represent? The apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel? Maybe. But what is most important is what they are doing — worshiping the Lord continuously. In his book, “Reading Revelation Responsibly,” Michael Gorman says about this passage:
The worship of God is the heartbeat of the cosmos, even when we humans on earth do not see it, participate in it, or value it. Only God is worthy to receive what others, especially powerful political figures, may want or demand: our total devotion, our praise, our crowns.
Only God is worthy. And so we must decide — will we worship the Lamb or will we worship the things of this world? Will we accept His way and understand our need for His salvation? Or will we go at it on our own. Pastor Dan pointed out that when we die, all of us will be in the hands of God. And it will be then that, according to what we’ve decided about Him, we will either spend eternity with Him worshiping and rejoicing, or we will spend eternity separated from him in hell. The Bible reminds us that all of us are separated from God from our sin. None of us is righteous enough to reconcile ourselves to Him on our own. But, thanks be to God, He loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for our sins. He offers us salvation because of His great love and mercy. The offer is there. It is up to us to recognize our sin, to repent and accept His gift of salvation, and to start living our lives as His disciples. He offers His grace freely. Don’t push it away!
This week take some time to ponder Revelation 4. Read it in different translations and soak up the beauty of this chapter!
Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.
You can watch this week’s sermon, “Wholehearted” right here.
This Sunday we continued in Revelation 3 by looking at what Jesus had to say to the church in Laodicea. This church was wealthy and unconcerned — neither hot nor cold. Jesus goes so far as to say that He’s about to vomit them out of His mouth because their lukewarmness is so disgusting. While last week’s letter to the Philadelphians was the most positive one, this week’s letter to the Laodiceans is the most negative. Jesus has nothing good to say about this church.
While listening to this sermon, it was easy for me to make connections between the church in Laodicea and the church in North America. We are wealthier than most of the world, and we are not in fear of true suffering. This likely makes us complacent and seemingly self-sufficient. It is probably normal for us to feel this way, which is why it is something for us to be aware of and work against. I know that in my own life, when things are going well — when my relationships are good, when I feel comfortably financially, when things are going my way — I suddenly lose my desperation for God and His Word. I find myself praying less. I cry out less frequently for God’s mercy and grace. But when something goes wrong in my life, I am reminded of where my true strength and comfort comes from.
We tend to forget when things go well. That’s why this chapter is such a good reminder to us — we need to remember all the Lord has done, in the good times and the bad. Personally, that’s why I love taking a look at all the holidays God wanted His people to celebrate in the Bible. They were all throughout the year and they encouraged God’s people to remember His great deeds. God knows we are forgetful, so all throughout Scripture, you see Him asking His people to take the time to remember and not forget.
This is a negative letter to the church in Laodicea. However, as Pastor Dan pointed out, Jesus loves this church. He says that He rebukes and disciplines them because He loves them. (Similar to me sternly saying “no” to my little boy when I found him swishing his hands in the toilet water this morning … I do it because I love him. 🙂
Jesus asks them to be earnest (zealous) and to repent. He asks them to open the door of every area of their lives, to welcome Him in so that He can change them for His glory.
Jesus was disappointed with the church in Laodicea, but He wasn’t finished with them. He moved toward them and asked them to hear His words and listen to the Spirit.
We might be right to compare ourselves here to the church in Laodicea. But that does not mean that God is done with us. He invites us to repent. I just finished reading all of the prophets in the Old Testament, and God spends so much time asking people to repent, to turn around, to remember Him. He wants to show them grace instead of discipline.
He does the same for us. He invites us back to wholehearted love and service of Him!
Hello! My name is Denise Snyder, and I am one of the pastors here at CrossRoads. For the past year, I’ve been on maternity leave taking care of my little guy, Theo. I am now back at work part-time, and one of the things I’m excited to be able to do again is some blogging for our CrossRoads blog.
One of the things I used to do last year was a bit of commentary each week after the Sunday sermon. I’m going to be picking that back up again, so if you’re wanting a bit more after the sermon each week, or if you’re in a sermon-based group and want some extra info, here’s the place to find it!
You can watch this week’s sermon right here.
So, I’ve been loving this sermon series in Revelation. I always kind of stayed away from Revelation because I find it confusing (along with everyone else). There are all kinds of things in this book of the Bible that can be hard to understand, which is probably why people have so many different theories about exactly what it means. Ultimately, though, I think the main thing we need to remember about the book of Revelation is that it is about Jesus! He reigns. No matter what. He is victorious and one day everyone will acknowledge it.
This week we looked at the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13. Of all the letters we’ve been looking at addressed to different churches in the book of Revelation, this one to Philadelphia is the most positive. The people of Philadelphia have kept God’s word and not denied Him. As Pastor Dan pointed out, God has opened the door for evangelism in Philadelphia. They have the opportunity to share their faith and to continue to proclaim the name of Jesus.
Pastor Dan mentioned that here at CrossRoads, we like to pray for three people who don’t know Jesus. Those three people are the ones we regularly lift up, asking the Lord to reveal Himself to them so that they might come to know Jesus as their Savior. What struck me about this yesterday is that — whether it’s for the three people I’m praying for or for someone else — part of this prayer should include asking God to open my mouth to share the Gospel!
I know some people who love to evangelize. They talk about Jesus all the time and sharing the Gospel — our need for Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins — comes easy to them. But this is not true for everyone. Sometimes it feels awkward or pushy to talk about Jesus. But the Bible reminds us that it is God’s power that can help us share the truth. In Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul asks for prayer that God would give him the words to speak. It is the Holy Spirit that draws people to Himself, and He can give us boldness to share! This is a comfort to me, and also a challenge. I must be obedient to share the Good News about Jesus with others. And, if I truly believe it is life-changing and life-saving, I will want to share it!
Ultimately, as we looked at this passage, Pastor Dan pointed out three things: We can trust Jesus, our unshakeable foundation. We can walk through the doors that He opens for us to share the Gospel. And we can trust that He does and will reign over all the earth!
October 16 to November 13, 2016
The Mission of Operation Christmas Child is “to demonstrate God’s Love in a tangible way to needy children around the world and together with the local church worldwide, share the good news of Jesus Christ.”
We can all be involved in packing SHOE-BOXES! Anyone can bless a child by filing a box with school supplies, toys, hygiene items, clothes and more, and then adding a personal note and photo. Each box is an expression of hope, joy and love to hurting children. Our Canadian boxes will go to Haiti, Nepal, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Senegal, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
A Story from Uruguay:
A teenager named Florencia had been attending church for a few months when a shoe-box distribution event happened. She was happy when she opened her shoe-box and school supplies were there. She was even more amazed that her shoe-box also contained kitchen tools, which are not a common shoe-box item. But they were perfect for Florencia because since her mother started working outside the home, Florencia was the one who cooks for everyone in her family!
God knows what each child needs and He is faithful to provide it.
For more information and stories about OCC visit Samaritan’s Purse or call 1-800-303-1269. Check out these Facebook sites: Operation Christmas Child Canada or Operation Christmas Child – Central Alberta
Empty shoeboxes, brochures and coloring sheets will be available in the foyer on October 16 to November 6, 2016.
Church contact: Peggy Kingcott: email@example.com or 403-342-1227
It’s so simple! A Box, A Label and Shop!