Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)
Call to Worship
We gather, looking back to see the paths taken,
while at the same time Looking forward to see our path.
We honour those who have gone before us,
Learning from their successes and failures.
We celebrate who we are today,
And welcome the possibilities and opportunities before us.
We gather to worship God,
the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all of the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
As it is, there are many members, yet one body. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder we laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid: the foundation is Jesus Christ.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom we also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Welcome to Worship!
Lord, we thank You for Your faithfulness in guiding and providing for this church through the years, during times of celebration and challenge. We ask for Your forgiveness for the ways in which we have not been faithful—in the past or in the present, as individuals and as Your congregation—to Your Word and Your ways. Forgive us for our sins and shortcomings. Forgive us for not loving You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and for not loving our neighbors—and each other—as we ought.
Forgive us for missed opportunities to follow You with a greater commitment of trust and faithfulness to the priorities and purposes that You intend for us. Give us a renewed desire for worshiping and serving You, our Great and Faithful God. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
You can count on His forgiveness!!
Emotional Healthy Discipleship
The Power of the Past
198 years ago, would have been the year 1823. That was the year that then American president James Monroe penned the famed Monroe Doctrine – largely claiming the western Hemisphere as the domain of the United States of America. Pope Pius the VII dies and Leo the XII is elected new Pope. Roller Skates are patented, farther from the North American continent, the Great Holland Canal is opened in Amsterdam and closer to home, Canada wasn’t even Canada yet – British North America circa 1823 was comprised of Lower Canada, Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland (including the Labrador Coast). The Northwest Territories were considered British possessions, while the Hudson’s Bay Company controlled Rupert’s Land – Rupert’s Land was a vast territory of northern wilderness. It represented a third of what is now Canada. From 1670 to 1870, it was the exclusive commercial domain of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
While most of these events and facts that I’ve mentioned this morning may not be familiar to you, I can assure you that each in their own way had a tremendous bearing on the here and now of our world in 2021. Oh yes, 1 other significant world event that we should note – What we know as First Baptist Church in Kingsville was founded in 1823.
The past is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “gone by in time and no longer existing”. By this definition, the past is clearly something that should be forgotten and done with.
So, why do we, especially believers, especially Churches still hold on to things of the past? Sometimes objects, sometimes traditions, sometimes feelings – good or bad. Why do we let ourselves and others use the past to impact our lives so powerfully? That’s the question that Scazzero deals with in this last instalment of our journey through Emotionally Healthy Discipleship and it’s a really good question for us as a Church body to contemplate during this time where we celebrate our anniversary and think about the Past, Present and Future of First Baptist Kingsville.
As you can see, the message this morning is titled the Power of the Past – the past is a very powerful presence in our lives, very powerful. Frankly, no one including the Devil himself should have that much power over anyone, especially Christians and the Church, because we have grace, meaning we get a new, clean slate every single day.
The Apostle John tells us that we have been washed clean of our sins:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from ALL sin.”
— 1 John 1:7
Knowing all of this, then why are still letting the past define who we are today, and what could become, tomorrow?
If the Apostle Paul, who had persecuted the early church and killed lots of believers, including Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was saved and, more importantly, tells us that he has forgotten “what is behind”, then who are we to cling onto our past?
Philippians 3:13-14 says,
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
As Children of God, we have been given the luxury of second, third, fourth, fifth, the list goes on, chances.
We have the blessing to wake, every day, knowing that our sins (past) have been cleared and forgiven, meaning it has nothing to do with today, tomorrow and the future. So, why does the past seem to hold so much power over us??
Paul’s opening words, in his letter to the Church in Ephesus, is an extraordinarily rich way of telling the story of Scripture, and Paul’s excitement is such that the original passage is one long, breathless sentence. The flow of his thought goes from past, to present to future. Something very relevant for our conversation this morning.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3 - 14
Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Our past is a mess of good things and if we’re honest, horrible things. The way we tell it at age twenty is different from the way we tell it at sixty or seventy. Paul assumes we all have our particular stories; here, he is telling the deeper one, one that we are all a part of:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ… “
— Ephesians 1:4–5
And so, you might ask, what does this story of being chosen and predestined for adoption have to do with our past, especially for you if your past involves the realities of victimization, rejection, or loss? It certainly does not minimize them. If anything, it shows their wrongness even more vividly because they are against God and His original intent. What Paul shares with us here in fact counterbalances our past with a story of love, grace, and belonging that says, “Evil and misery will not win,” and “Things are not what they seem.” Every retelling of the Gospel story, as it gathers more details of the blessings we have in Jesus, adds more weight to the master story of God’s plan.
This is reality for those who follow Jesus. He pursued us. Did you hear me – God, through the sending of His Son pursued you. We were loved and adopted by Him. This means that life in Christ is not some kind of extended probation. Since His love is not dependent on our varying nature of obedience to the whim of the day, but on choices he made long ago, we rest in Jesus and have a revitalized purpose now that we are in the royal family. Let me tell you, that gives me hope!! Think about how over the recent past the Christian Church has been rocked by scandal after scandal – Bill Hybels, Ravi Zacharius, Indigenous residential schools, all kinds of abuse. Now don’t hear us say that these issues should be dismissed or trivialized in any way – we understand as you do that they represent very real and important issues that need to be learned from and should provide catalyst for change. Even this Church body has a past – much, much, much of it very good but you know as I say it that in just the few weeks we’ve been here, we’ve also heard about the issues of the FBK’s past too – there is great power in the past – for countries, for communities, for Churches and for each of us as individuals but this we also know, and want you to be certain of this morning: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7–8 Jesus’ desire is for the unity of His family. As we’ve said to you before, sin separates us from knowing Jesus…and people. Too often, individualism keeps us in a private spirituality and locks us into being strangers in the pew. Disunity is a sin – According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, there are over 35,000 different denominations. Friends, there is great disunity and division in the Protestant church today.
Thankfully, out of God’s great mercy for His church, the issues of the past don’t define this Church or the people in it – our identity is found in Jesus Christ – Amen?!
Yet here’s another truth that we know, God’s persistent love through the ages moves to redemption and forgiveness of sins in the present. Everything hinges on this. If we are left in our sin, then we are separated from God. Only Christ’s amazing sacrifice for us can bring God so close that He never leaves.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,”
— Ephesians 1:7–9.
Why bother retelling that? It’s because, forgiveness can seem a bit remote to people who either believe that their sins are not too big a deal or believe that forgiveness is too good to be true. Either way, a truth of our time is that Jesus is increasingly marginalized from daily life, and our feelings of thankfulness ends up being dependent on the events of the day rather than the unchanging blessings of God.
This part of the Gospel story should erupt for us when we remember that we are, indeed, sinners who turn away from God and remembering that works best when we are in the habit of confessing sins whether they be of the past or the present:
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
— Matthew 6:12
Lavish grace. That is at the centre of our present story as FBK and of your story too.
We generally believe a good story ends well don’t we. Hope is essential to the human life. Without it we try to stay busy enough so that we are distracted by the bleak realities ahead. God’s master story, of course, is the story of hope.
God’s plan has been set forth in Jesus Christ, a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Him you, when you believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:9–14)
The part about “all things . . . in heaven and things on earth”? Ephesians 1:10 – God’s plans are to restore us—and creation itself. Everything that is wrong in the world is ultimately to be gathered in under the authority of King Jesus. Everything will be made right. Here’s what we see when we peer into the future. Something is happening. Something is stirring. Not only do we personally know forgiveness of sins, not only are we freed from the events and power of the past; we are also brought into God’s plans! We as His Church are commissioned to restore justice, beauty, reconciliation, and mercy. When we come to Jesus, life is suddenly jammed with purpose.
There are so many ways that we participate in those purposes even now, in the midst of this pandemic and so much more so in the days ahead….FBK. We have been brought into God’s reclamation project, you have been given Gospel authority through the name of Jesus Christ in simple acts of love, which echo God’s justice, beauty, reconciliation, and mercy, and by that you are now incorporated into His kingdom plans. Everything done because of Jesus contributes to this final plan. That’s the real power of the past. Death does not diminish them. The past or present hardships we have suffered doesn’t diminish them. WE HAVE HOPE!
This hope strengthens us in the hardships and drudgeries of everyday life. Knowing where all things in heaven and earth are headed, we can wait and persevere if necessary, and that endurance or perseverance is key to a life well lived. With that understanding, we look ahead and tell a different story than the past or present trials seem to tell. Whereas chronic suffering assumes that nothing will ever change, hope knows that our rescuer is committed to our good. Hope knows the love of Jesus and grows in confidence that all the promises God makes have already been answered yes in Jesus.
Church, when God’s people experience union with Jesus, we experience the glory of God! And think about this, this experience is designed to be communal in nature. Our unity as the family of God is a demonstration to the world – and the world is watching us now maybe more than ever – its a demonstration of the power and the glory of God to the whole world. Sure 198 years of FBK is a big deal and should certainly be celebrated but an even bigger deal is tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow, the first day of our 199th year. The first day of the next day of our communal experience of growing out His Kingdom in our community, and far beyond if He calls us to that.
What is the message we want you to take away this morning?
a. Forget your Failures – leave them in the past
Don’t rehearse things in your heart that God has long since forgiven and forgotten. Satan’s favourite desire is to paralyze us with the past, to manipulate us with the memories. Remember Paul says, “I learn to forget the past.” Do not sit around beating yourself up for mistakes. Everybody here has blown it. We as a church have blown it in the past. There are things we are not proud of. I apologize if you were hurt.
Paul, of all people, probably had many regrets that could have haunted him. He was a persecutor of the church. He hounded people who were believers and had them locked up and stoned. Nothing you ever do will change your past. It is gone, over, dead. Since you can’t change it let it go. Learn from it but then let it go.
b. Forget your Successes
Just like failure, you can learn from success, but you can’t live in them. It is easy to rest on your laurels. Sometimes we try to live in the past and base our security on past performance. The “good old days” are gone. Let them go. Success tends to make you complacent and fills you with pride. Then you stop growing and learning and then you’re going to fail.
Do you know the story of the famed Greek artist Timanthes??
Over 2,000 years ago a young Greek artist named Timanthes studied under a respected tutor. After several years the teacher’s efforts seemed to have paid off when Timanthes painted an exquisite work of art. Unfortunately, he became so enraptured with the painting that he spent days gazing at it. One morning when he arrived to admire his work, he was shocked to find it blotted out with paint. Furious, Timanthes ran to his teacher, who admitted he had destroyed the painting. ‘I did it for your own good. That painting was stopping your progress. Start again and see if you can do better.’ Timanthes took his teacher’s advice and produced Sacrifice of Iphigenia, which is regarded as one of the finest paintings of antiquity.
My friends, we must live the life of disciples if we are going to make disciples. We must trust God during the hard times, if we want other people to learn to trust God in the hard times. If we want others to learn to turn the other cheek, then we must turn the other cheek. If we want others to love their neighbors as themselves, then we must do so. …
Heaven knows there are enough back-slidden, wimpy, whining, Christ-doubting, half-hearted Christians and churches in the world, without us adding another one. If you want this church to be different, then you live a life that is different. You can’t change them, and you’re not responsible for them, but you can work on yourself.
Today we celebrate our past, but we cannot live in the past. You can’t run a race looking backwards. You’ve got to focus ahead to what lies ahead – and what lies ahead you ask? This is Paul’s answer:
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.
— Ephesians 1:13–14.
What lies ahead is our promise, our inheritance as His children and as His church - let’s go forward together and claim it!
Faithful Lord, we first offer to You our thanksgiving prayer on this occasion of our church anniversary. Indeed, You are a faithful God. As we have read in Your word that You keep Your mercy for a thousand generations, so we have witnessed in this church, and we give You praise in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lord, You have placed before us Your wonderful world, with its blessings and its difficulties. You have called us to be peacemakers and people who will work for You, offering our lives and our gifts in Your service. But we sometimes hold back from trusting in these gifts You have given to us. We wonder if they will be enough to make a difference. And we become caught in the trap of believing that only the largest gifts have any worth. Forgive us when we slide so easily into our fears of inadequacy. Each of us has been blessed, and each is called to be a blessing. There are no small and insignificant gifts for You to bless and use. Free us from our fears of “not enough” and help us to joyfully place our hopes, dreams and lives in Your care. As we have lifted up names and situations today, seeking Your healing mercies and comforting power, help us to feel those same mercies and comfort active in our lives, reminding us that Your love is poured out on us so that we may serve. Strengthen and encourage us as we move forward in ministry, seeking to be good stewards of all that You have given us.
Heavenly father, we give You thanks for who You are in this church, it’s been years of Your faithfulness that have sustained and guided us. Thank You for Your presence in this church in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our brothers and sisters, as we end our worship together, let us keep our hearts turned to God. Have the mind of Christ, free to live in love. – Walk the Jesus way, to cross the all too prevalent dividing lines of our time.
This morning, we go back out into the world to love and serve the world around us, just as this Body has done for 198 years, so we continue to do so.
We go out held in the loving arms of God who Creates, Redeems, Supports, and Sustains us.
Knowing that we are not alone! Thanks be to God. Amen.