Have you ever seen a diamond? They are one of the most beautiful gems in the world. What’s interesting to me is how they’re made. As most of you know, a diamond is created when carbon is subjected to tremendous pressure deep inside the earth. Today, history was made back in 1905 when the largest diamond was found and dug up from the earth in South Africa. The diamond found weighed 3106.75 carats or 621.35g and the value is estimated at 2.6 billion dollars CAD. That’s a lot of money for one diamond. Today I want to take a moment to remind you that to God, you are valued more than anything in this world, so much so that in Romans 5:8 and John 3:16 it says that God gave his life for us. Why would He do such a thing? One word, love. Today, this week, never forget how much you’re worth and that God loves you.
In anticipation of this week’s message let me ask you a question, have you ever felt overwhelmed? Have you ever felt anxious about finishing that project on time or paying a bill before the deadline, catching your flight when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for lab results to the point where you can’t seem to handle the pressure anymore? God knows that we all face a very real temptation to worry about things in our lives but the good news is He hasn’t left us alone. Recently Amazon released a list of the most popular passages in some of its bestselling books, such as The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series, and Pride and Prejudice. Also released, the most highlighted passage in the Holy Bible. Can you guess what it is? Most people including me expect it to be something like John 3:16, Psalm 23, or the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. But, no, it was a less prominent text, but one that’s striking a deep cord in today’s worried world. If you want to find out what it is, have your Bibles ready and listen to the message and I will share it with you. May God bless you as we learn more about Him together and how he helps us when we feel overwhelmed.
We’re a wonderful church family here in Oakville that lives by the word of God, represents the faith of Christ, serves our community with love and strives to be a voice of hope. Last week I was fortunate to spend the weekend at Camp Frenda with my family and a group of young adults from across the province. There was a group of young people from our Bronte church family who went as well. We enjoyed getting to know one another, playing games and listening to great speakers like Pastors Liz and Orlando Pule from the Ontario Conference. This is a once a year retreat called Refresh right at the start of every new year that gives young people a chance to get away and spend time reconnecting with God and making new friends in the beautiful setting of the Muskoka’s. One of the things that was said in a talk by Pastor Orlando Pule came in the form of a question, he asked, “Is the community around your church a happier place because you’re there? Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been around, are people happy you’re in their community or do they even know you exist?” This is a great challenge for me and to all of us. My dream is that we keep building on what we accomplished in 2018 and make 2019 a year that makes people even happier that we’re in this community! Please join me as we pray together and allow God to give us His vision and use us to make a positive impact in our community this year. Happy 2019!
We’re a wonderful church family here in Oakville that lives by the word of God, represents the faith of Christ, serves our community with love and strives to be a voice of hope. Today is the first time we’re meeting in 2019, and I wonder where this year’s journey will take us. I’m sure this year will be full of wonderful memories but what if we want to grow this year? The Bible says that Jesus, our supreme example, “…grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” What this tells me is that He was a very balanced person who grew intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially. How would you like to grow this year? Do you have a new year resolution that you’re trying to achieve? My prayer is that we all grow as Jesus did. That as we will eventually look back on 2019 it may be a year that we grew in all aspects of our lives. What plans can you make now that will help you start the journey off in a good way? Welcome, and God bless you all as we worship together today.
This is the last weekend before Christmas, so I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas from our Church family to yours. We hope that you will make memories with your loved ones, that you stay safe, and most importantly, that Jesus fills your heart with joy this season. I’ll leave you with this Christmas quote as a reminder about the true value of Christmas, ‘Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.’ – C.S. Lewis. Merry Christmas and we can’t wait to welcome you to Bronte!”
Even though December may get a little cold, the Christmas season warms our hearts. This time of the year is special to me because since I was small, no matter where my sister and I were going to school, we always spent Christmas at home with family. We ate together, unwrapped gifts (on Christmas Eve, as most Europeans do) and just spent time together as a family. I’m sure that many of you are busy winding down your work and or school, but I do hope you have a great Christmas holiday to look forward to – whatever your tradition is. Tomorrow morning, our members have prepared a very special program about the Christmas story. Even though we don’t believe Jesus was actually born on December 25th, it is a time of year when we can remember that Jesus came as a baby, lived here among us, and became the greatest gift of all, and my hope is that we learn something new that will inspire and challenge us. Many blessings and we can’t wait to give a big welcome to all.”
One of the news headlines I was following this week was the fires that are raging in California. As of writing this post, there are still 563 people unaccounted for and 83 confirmed deaths as a result of these fires. Some things that struck me was, first, this is the weekend Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Second, many of the people that lost their homes are the Hollywood superstar actors and actresses with multi-million dollar homes. Third, this is also Black Friday weekend where people rush and sometimes step over others to get the best deals at their favourite stores. Isn’t it interesting that while some Americans will be running to the stores this weekend to get that flat screen TV, others are running for their lives from the fires? What an ironic picture. We have so much to be thankful for, but what if everything you owned burned to the ground, could you still be thankful in a time like that? A devotional thought came to my mind as I was thinking about this. In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus reminds us not to focus on creating wealth and comfort for ourselves here on earth where things corrode and break down, but to focus on the glory that’s to come. Let’s make sure we have a grateful attitude all year round not just one day a year, after all, everything can be taken away in the blink of an eye, but that doesn’t compare to the riches in store for those that love the Lord.
Earlier this week was a short-lived white carpet. One person said, “Ole man winter is coming!” To which someone else grumbled, “it’s too soon,” and another pipped up, “I’m not ready!” Negative attitude from others affects our own approach to thinking. Do we know people who criticize, complain, murmur, or whine? When we boil it down, negativity is just discontentment and (in some cases) envy. But underneath that discontentment and envy is an even deeper issue – we’ve got a problem with God. We’re mad at God because we think He was better to someone else than He was to us. Jesus told a parable about a story of a farmer in Matthew 20 who was hiring workers. We may think, when we look at our life, that we are getting justice while someone else is getting all the grace. But before we start any negativity, first let’s thank God for our blessings. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in every circumstance… for this is the will of God…” How much better to say, “I don’t like this situation I am in, but I thank you God for the good things that will come out of it. I will praise you through it, in it, and ever after it!”
Have you ever considered how we are all so very different from other, as a congregation? We have different backgrounds, are different colours, have different shapes, study different subjects or do different jobs, and have different behaviours! Or, considering this on a smaller scale, have you ever met a couple that is vastly different from one another – two people from different countries, with different cultures, having different personalities, being of different sizes, and even speaking different languages! Have you ever thought to yourself, what do commonalities, compatibilities, and culture have to do with our life, who we interact with, and how we become “friends” with others? Sometimes what we see on the surface – our initial perception of “unlikely” – may be skewed by our own bias. But if we contemplate what it would be like if we were all the same (a carbon copy of each other), we would soon realize how incredibly boring would that be! The truth is we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and we are uniquely created so marvellously (Psalm 139:13-14). Perhaps one of our tasks in life is seeing the unique and special gifts, qualities, and characteristics in each other, and appreciating and affirming them… doing so would not only help us get along, but it might even be the remedy for a healthy relationship! Our differences do not mean things cannot work out or won’t be a good thing… for it is usually those differences that make all the difference!
After some cooler weather earlier this month, we’ve been blessed with a few warm days this past week, but this summer-like weather is almost over. We had a lot of rain this last while, and there is more we are expecting. I often think, what would the earth be like if there was only sunshine and no rain? We all wish for sunshine all the days of our lives, but sometimes the dark clouds, overcast canopies, fog-enshrouded days, and rain drenches us. Why do we need such storms and unpleasant weather in our lives? Why not keep it all sunny and bright? Well, the changing weather helps us to adjust our perspective. God allows the rain, the sun, the snow, and the droughts to teach us about ourselves, about life, and about Him. A Chinese proverb that states, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a person perfected without trials.” Whatever we go through, are going through, and will go through, God promises that He will be with us (Matthew 28:20) and that all things “work together for our good, to those that love God…” (Romans 8:28). God has a purpose for every problem, a blessing in every burden, and an opportunity in every obstacle. We should attempt to appreciate and discover the beauty, blessing, and lesson in each weather pattern, season, or changing forecast. The good news is that God has the best forecast of our future, to give us success, to prosper us, and to do us no harm (Jeremiah 29:13). God keeps us in His care, sovereign will, and arms of safety and love. Live, learn, laugh, and love and go with God as He goes with you!