So, I've been tracking with our summer blog post series about our favourite verses, and I gotta be honest with you. Everyone else's verse is so much more inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging than mine is. My favourite verse is found in the book of James. In Bible college I had a friend named Mark (we called him Marco) and whenever we would see each other we'd raise our fists in the air, and say, in a determinate voice “FAITH AND DEEDS”. Because we both loved the book of James, especially chapter 2:14-26. That's my favourite verse... verses... passage... whatever.
But, since my favourite verse isn't a beautiful Psalm, or something that will perhaps warm your heart, I instead want to talk to you about the verse we taught the kids in Cambodia. We were there for 2 weeks to work with the kids of a group of Missionaries. There were families from Holland, Germany, Brazil, and France. So, we were encouraged to teach these kids about Heaven. Coming from such diverse backgrounds, and being in a country that was not their home, that we should teach them about how we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, have Heaven as a home. We loved this idea, it was something we felt comfortable teaching, and really spoke to us, as we were going to be almost a full day’s travel away from our home. So, we started looking for a memory verse to really round out the week, and this is what we decided on.
But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13)
The kids ate it up. By the end of the week they all had it memorized, and we even had actions to go along with it (ask nicely and maybe I'll show ya). And there is something about this verse that resonates deeply with me where I'm at spiritually, and where I'm trying to lead our youth here at Calvary.
Often times you'll hear these arguments from non-believers about the reality of God; “Well, if God were real, there wouldn't be suffering” “If God were real, this thing wouldn't have happened” “If God were real, we'd all be a lot better off”. And at face value, this argument perhaps sounds like it should be a knockout punch to believers. But when we see this verse in 2 Peter, I think we can pretty easily respond.
We aren't looking forward to riches, wealth, or safety on this earth, rather “we're looking forward to the New Heavens, and the New Earth he has promised. A world filled with God's righteousness”. Jesus didn't come to this earth and promise us health, comfort, or good times here. He promised us comfort, joy, and prosperity in Heaven. He didn't promise us a long life here on this earth. He promised us eternity in Heaven with the Father. All too often we forget about what Jesus actually promised us. We suffer here and we ask why, we struggle here and we have a crisis of faith, “is God even real if I suffer?” Of course he is, he in fact told us that we were going to suffer in this life. But that's okay, because what he's offered is much greater than health and well being here, he's offered us an eternity of perfect love, and happiness, and joy, and comfort, with him in Heaven. A world FILLED with God's righteousness.
And that is a promise I can stand on.
Mike Sanders, Director of Youth Ministries
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
We’re in the midst of a series called “I Love That Verse” where we’re talking about some of our favourite verses and why we love them. As a young teen, Proverbs 26:11 was on my list.
At that time most of my Bible reading was done in the pew on a Sunday morning, using the Word as a diversion from the message or a decoy to make the adults think we were listening to what was happening in the service. I’m embarrassed to say that my friends and I would flip through the Bible, mostly the Old Testament, and look for the most obscure passages we could find and compare them in hushed whispers. It was a game. And as far as games go, a verse with the word vomit in it felt like a gold medal winner.
In my later teens and into adulthood I worked a lot of retail jobs. It seemed as though every day I encountered people who were angry, annoyed, displeased, irate, or just generally having a bad day. Oh, I also met and served lots of amazing people, but sadly it’s the angry ones that tend to stand out in my memory.
It was around this time that I discovered Psalm 25:21-22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
Based on this verse, I felt like God was telling me, “Be as sweet as pie to your critics, because it will just annoy them to no end, and you will have the last laugh at their miserable faces.”
Hmmm… looking back I’m fairly certain this isn’t what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote these words, but nevertheless it became my favourite verse for a time.
So, why am I telling you this? Is it because I want you to see what a lousy Christian I was? Maybe. I am pretty excited at the work of grace and transformation that the Lord has done in my life over the last 20+ years.
Mainly I just want to say this: I have used Scripture for a lot of things. I used it as a game to amuse myself. I've used it to prove myself right and others wrong; to prove myself righteous and others wanting; to show how much God loves me but hates all the sinners of the world. Every motive was centred on me.
But here's the thing. My favourite verse… my absolute favourite verse in the entire Bible… takes the focus off of me entirely and places it firmly on God and the work of Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:4-5 says this, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Check out those beautiful words: Loving kindness. Saved by God. Mercy. Regeneration. Renewal.
I look back now and am ashamed at how I abused God’s Word. What a treasure it is to us, testifying to the heart of the Father, the gift of the Son, and the work of the Holy Spirit. And I missed it for far too long.
If you have a favourite verse (and I hope you do!), make sure it’s firmly centred on God. If reading it makes you feel righteous and puffed up, then read it again. Read the verses around it. What is God saying in the passage about who He is and how He works. Allow Scripture to transform your heart and mind as you dwell on the richness of His Word. You’ll be so glad you did.
And, as the book of Titus ends, “Grace be with you all.”
This month the staff were asked to write about their favourite verses. There are so many great verses and pieces of scripture that have guided my thoughts over the years. The book of Psalm is usually my ‘go-to’ for some uplifting and soul quenching encouragement, hope and joy - plus I love the way it’s written.
Romans 8:38-39 however has always meant a lot to me. When I was a child, we used to walk to our little white church in downtown Halifax. My parents always sat in the balcony and it had rows of foldable wooden seats. Every Sunday, at the silent cue of the worship director, we would rise and sing the same chorus of a hymn without any instruments. I felt pretty good that I had memorized the whole thing. I remember overlooking a sea of people below, all in their Sunday best (there wasn’t a Sunday school class) and thinking how do people know about church and understand what’s being taught? How do my parents know to come to this church? It’s funny what children observe and process? I just knew church was special, that it needed to be part of my life and that God loved me. Plus, I loved wearing my white knitted poncho every Sunday.
Romans 8:38-39 is a reminder to me that I am an ordinary person and believer who is flawed and falls short, but who will also forever be loved by God. Of course we walk through various disappointments, trials, celebrations and successes at some point - our path is unique to us. Paul seems to write these verses with such conviction. I appreciate that the verses seem to go through a checklist of possible dangers or things that might threaten this idea of our security in God’s love. For someone like myself who might say, ‘but what about this’, the verse has it covered.
I may not have understood all about church long ago, but I knew that there was a God who loves us. These verses remain a reminder that nothing is bigger or more powerful and can separate us from His love.
Tanya Chant, Director of Family and Children's Ministry
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