July 3, 2021
A Time To Sing
by Joe Sinanan
You likely know the story of Paul and Silas praying and worshiping God while they were in chains after being put in prison (Acts 16). The place was shaken, their chains fell off and prison doors flew open. This led to the jailer and his entire family being saved and baptized. But we may forget the context of the situation and the series of events that led to them being incarcerated.
Paul and Silas were on a missionary journey, travelling throughout the region preaching the gospel. They encountered a demon possessed slave girl who had the power to tell the future. She followed them around for days proclaiming that they were servants of the Most High God and had come to tell the people how to be saved. At first glance, this doesn't sound like it would be something bad, but the Bible describes Paul as being so exasperated (New Living Translation) by the situation that he cast the demon out of the girl. Perhaps the demon was saying these things in a mocking manner...we don't know. But what we do see is that Paul got to the point where he had enough and cast the demon out of the slave girl. It was only at this point that trouble started for Paul and Silas. No one kicked up a fuss about them preaching the gospel and getting people saved, but when the masters of the slave girl saw they could no longer make money from her fortune telling, they dragged Paul and Silas before the city council who had them beaten and thrown into prison.
How many times have we found ourselves doing good and walking out the call that God has placed on our lives, to all of a sudden be blindsided by a situation intended by the enemy for our demise. When our adversary cannot attack us directly for sharing the gospel, doing good, or simply walking out our calling, he will use some other tactic to try and prevent the Kingdom of God from being extended in and through us.
In times like these, it can be easy to start questioning why we were ever doing what we felt called to do, or to blame others for the suffering we find ourselves in. It can lead us to questioning God and ask how He could allow these things to happen. After all, if we were doing what He called us to do, so should we not expect to experience complete victory?
Just imagine one day walking in complete victory like Paul and Silas. They were anointed and called to preach the good news. They were seeing the sick healed, demoniacs delivered and people saved. Then suddenly they find themselves badly beaten, wounded, hurting, imprisoned and chained, not knowing what their fate would be. You may be called to work in a certain field or operate a business. You may experience success in the work place and prosper in everything you put your hands to. Then suddenly, you may find yourself in a set of challenging circumstances - out of a job, dealing with sickness or injury, abandoned, rejected or marginalized. It would be easy to spiral down the dark hole of despair in those moments.
But in spite of everything Paul and Silas endured, the mistreatment and injustice of their situation, they chose to worship and cry out to God in prayer. At this point they let go of any entitlement or right they may have felt to receive God's blessing and favour and simply started to sing praises to God Almighty who they believed to be sovereign and in control and worthy or their worship. What follows is a revival in the jailhouse. Though the Bible only provides a record of the jailer and his family being saved, we know that the other prisoners were impacted by Paul and Silas' miraculous deliverance as the chains on every prisoner fell off (verse 26).
When we choose to worship in spite of difficult situations, the victory not only comes to us but extends to all those around us. As we gather with the intention to worship over our city and region, we do so in faith, knowing that chains are being broken off multitudes and that the spirit of revival is being sown in our land. It's time to sing!
June 10, 2021
by Melanie De Siqueira
You know the phrase "When it rains, it pours"? I've always wondered if that was a self-fulfilling prophecy, as we can begin to expect trouble to be added to us when we are facing hits that come in various forms. Recently we have had several trips to the ER in our family for broken bones and various issues, and I noticed in myself a common thought process of, "Here we go again..."
I felt an invitation from the Lord to arrest the thoughts that would leave me resigned to a belief that we have to grin and bear it, or even become triggered because of past trauma in this area of physical health and well-being. He has been taking me on a journey of finding Him in the midst of pain, and in doing so encountering joy while we walk out our healing. I have been able to lay down expectations of doom and break agreement with a spirit of foreboding. Instead of fearing when the hurts come, I have been experiencing incredible peace that no matter what, He is right here walking with me hand in hand. He's got us. And He's got YOU. There is nothing that can take you out, when you realize He is holding you. There is nothing too great, even in pain, that we cannot endure, and overcome. And in the healing process comes strength, and increase, and beauty for ashes.....everything we are promised in the Word of God we get to have as we embrace Him through it all.
So how about instead of declaring "When it rains it pours...." we can finish that thought with "...but when it pours, HE REIGNS." And we can trust in our good King Jesus to see us through every moment, giving us grace for today; and bright hope for tomorrow!
I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty. - (Phil. 4:11-13 TPT)
May 26, 2021
What Do You Expect
By Joe Sinanan
Living in expectation of God's blessing and favour is something we know we should do as believers. However it is something we have to fight for in these days we find ourselves living in, especially in Canada. With continued shut downs, being isolated from friends and family, not being able to attend church and for many dealing with job losses and more, it can be easy to give into despair.
In the face of hard circumstances, it's important to remember who we are...or rather who God says we are. When we see, understand and accept the promises laid out in God's word, it gives us focus and creates a resolve in our hearts to persevere because we know there is something good for us at the end of our perseverance.
Romans 5:3-5 says "...Even in times of trouble we have joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (TPT)
As disciples of Jesus we have the option to face trouble with joyful confidence because we know that the journey leads us into a deeper experience of God's endless love. And it's not just His love but it's Him. We can actually experience more of Him through the difficulty, hardship and heartache.
Notice there's no promise of resolution to the trouble we will face. In fact there's nowhere in the Bible that we are promised relief or insulation from all trouble while we are on the earth. But we are given the opportunity to be filled with power, love and a sound mind, to step into the role of being an overcomer, to walk by faith and not by sight. And as we do so, God's blessing and favour comes to us in many different ways. His goodness and mercy will follow us as we sit at the table He has prepared for us and cultivate fellowship and relationship with Him. So even though we are walking through a valley and even in trouble and in the presence of our enemies, we can experience blessing.
With this knowledge of who God is and who He says we are, we can live the with expectation of blessing. Whether we're on the mountain top or in the valley, in every season of life, our focus can be steadfast with our gaze fixed on Jesus.
This is what we endeavour to do every time we gather at the Burn to worship and pray. We face our personal, national and even global circumstances with joyful expectation that God is moving and His kingdom is being expanded in our lives and on the earth.
May 16, 2021
By Nola Sinanan
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5
What does it really mean to trust in the Lord?
I trust Him to lead me, to guide me, to direct me. I trust that He will fulfill His promises laid out in His word. I trust that He is who He says He is. But what happens when that trust is put to the test? What do I do when I go through trials and tribulations? What happens to trust when circumstances seem to reveal the opposite of what I believe? What will my response be?
Our God is not a distant God. He is ever near and ever close, even when we don’t feel His presence. He is a God who wants relationship and intimacy with us. It’s easy to “trust” in the Lord when things are going well and we’re having mountaintop experiences. When I was younger, I used to believe that the Christian life was meant to be easy, that being an overcomer meant that life was grand, and everything went well. But God does not promise that. In fact, Jesus said the exact opposite. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world, you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”
Have you ever noticed that in human relationships, when we experience hardships together, if we allow it to, it is the greatest opportunity to bring us closer and deepen our relationship? And so too it is with God. I think we discover our true level of trust when we are confronted with difficult experiences, things that seem beyond our finite ability to comprehend. When we experience chronic pain and illness without being fully healed. When we suddenly lose a loved one too soon and don’t understand why the Lord didn’t intervene. When one experiences infertility or miscarriage. When we experience mental illness, either ourselves or with those close to us. When our relationships fracture and fall apart. When we lose our business or our job and are unable to find another. When we hear of those who have experienced the unspeakable. When our world is seemingly going crazy in all sorts of different ways. There are so many things we see and experience here on earth that do not make sense to us with our limited understanding, that can challenge our faith and our beliefs. And therein lies our opportunity to examine our hearts and our beliefs, to ask the Lord the deep questions in our hearts and to allow Him to take us on a journey into deeper relationship with Him, into a place of deeper trust. This is not an easy journey. It is not necessarily a natural response. In some of the most difficult experiences of my life, I have found it easier to harden my heart, to put up walls and insulate my heart from feeling the sting of pain, doubt and confusion. But I have found that if we choose to do the hard work of keeping our hearts soft, of going to Jesus with our hurt and confusion, He reveals Himself in new ways to the deep places of our hearts. If we choose to lift our eyes up, to lift our gaze higher and focus on Him, to look into the depths of His eyes of fire, to feel the intensity of His love for us, we can gain His perspective and retain His peace that passes understanding.
It is important to understand that the Lord may not give us the answers we’re looking for. Job experienced all sorts of loss, heartache and grief, and he asked the question, “Why?” Do you realize that after Job’s friends made all their foolish attempts to answer his questions, when the Lord finally spoke to him in Job 38-39, He was silent on the question of why. He simply reminded Job of how limited Job’s understanding was and of who God is - of His greatness, His creativity, His power, His might, of how infinite He is. I believe the Lord wants us to ask our questions. That’s part of a loving relationship. But when He does not give us the answers we’re seeking, it’s important to remember who God is and who we’re not. Give Him the honour, the respect, the awe and wonder that He deserves. We are to fear the Lord. My challenge to us all is to trust Him, especially when we don’t understand. When we don’t understand, do we still trust His heart?
“I lift my eyes up, to the mountains
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from You
Maker of heaven, Creator of the earth
Oh how I need you Lord
You are my only hope
You're my only prayer
So I will wait for you
to come and rescue me
Come and give me life”
-Brian Doerksen, I Lift My Eyes Up (Psalm 121)
April 30, 2021
FIRE ALWAYS FALLS ON SACRIFICE
Lately I've been thinking of the way God responds when we step out in faith and take a risk. When we do something that is not safe or comfortable or simply engage in kingdom activity that is not convenient, God always shows up.
This has been my experience, whether it's been on a mission trip to a war torn county like Iraq or praying for healing for a stranger in India or doing street ministry in Calgary. God has always shown up in the greatest measure when I am sacrificing my time, my finances, my energy for the sake of His kingdom. I've seen this principle at work not only in my life but in many others as well.
This is also true with doing the Burn in Calgary. For ten years my wife and I and our team have laboured to create a landing strip for the presence of God to come be enthroned on the worship of his unified church. Even though it is a sacrifice that has cost us time, money and a lot of energy, we and our team happily do it because we love God and we love our city.
I do not share this to be boastful or to pat ourselves on the back but rather to invite you all to come join us in offering a sacrifice of praise, worship and prayer at the Burn. Though it may not always be convenient to come out on a Friday night after a long week, it is well worth the sacrifice to see the Lord move in our city and nation.
1 Chronicles 21:24
But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
David understood the principle of costly sacrifice and that God is honoured when our actions for him is not from a place of convenience or comfort. We can certainly worship anywhere at anytime and the Holy Spirit will show up. But he shows up in a much greater measure when there is a sacrifice of time and effort to come together as one.