Bits and Pieces is a random collection of news and views compiled by Dr. Frank McClelland for Toronto F.P.C.
The pandemic is still not under control and the second wave is spreading swiftly around the world. Starting from today the churches in Ontario are once more under lockdown for the next four weeks. Any church that holds public services is limited to ten participants. In common with all churches our congregations in Northern Ireland (about 72) have had to close again because of the danger of infection.
The Toronto Sunday services today will be held on-line only on sermonaudio.com at 11.00am and 6.30pm. The pre-evening service prayer time will be at 5.50pm on Zoom. The Wednesday prayer meeting will be at 7.30pm on Zoom.
On March 17, 2020, the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency over the newly acknowledged Covid19 pandemic and life for the Province, and the world has never been the same since. We had heard of it in January, but now we discover that it was in China in September 2019, a fact not widely published in the secular media. The initial response of many was that it was a bit of a novelty with social distancing and masks and a mad scramble to deal with the newly imposed restrictions. For a while, it seemed it was going to go away without much trouble.
Then the second wave hit, and people realized this was much more serious and deadly than many realized. The medical types have been trying to find an effective and safe vaccine that they hope will be available soon. Political types have been placing restrictions in the hopes of slowing down the pandemic while advancing their popularity at the same time. Media types have a ready-made item of news which they broadcast ad nauseam. Not since Noah’s flood has the world been universally under such judgment. Over 60 million have been infected worldwide, and 1.45 million have died, with no end in sight.
THE NEED OF THE HOUR
It must be admitted that God is Sovereign as Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. That being so, and the Bible clearly teaching it, God is not alarmed by Covid19. Indeed, it would be difficult to argue that He has not sent this as a judgment upon the whole earth for its wickedness.
God loved and chose the nation of Israel as His people, yet when they turned from Him to heathen idolatry, He sent severe judgments upon them. Read Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and you will get the drift. Why did He do that? He gives the answer in Ezekiel. Over forty times, He states, “Ye shall know that I am the Lord.” It is evident that God sends these things so the people will recognize and serve Him. That is not happening with this pandemic. We need to turn to the Lord for His help. He is Jehovah Ropheka, “I am the Lord that healeth thee” [Exodus 15:26]. He invites us to seek Him. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.” [Psalm 50:15]
PRAY! PRAY! PRAY ! PRAY!
FORTY YEARS AGO
In October 1980, a special service of welcome was held for the Dalai Lama in St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor Street, Toronto. Eighty members and friends of Toronto Free Presbyterian Church protested at the meeting, many of them bearing signs such as “Christianity and Buddhism Don’t Mix” and “What Agreement hath God with Idols.” Television coverage by one of the major TV companies took the news of the protest to the whole of Toronto and beyond.
The Dalai Lama is the leader of Tibetan Buddhists, a religion of works that believes in reincarnation. When here, the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying, “basically, Buddhists DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD.” Our protest was not so much about him, but his presence as a guest speaker in a Christian Church.
Most church services conclude when the minister pronounces the benediction. The word ‘benediction’ means ‘good word’ or, to speak well of. It is literally a good word with which to end the sermon and the service. Most of the New Testament epistles end with a benediction. Sadly, they tend to be overlooked but they are ‘good words’ and well worthy of our meditation. Here is the one from Hebrews [13:20-21]. We shall give others in future issues.
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”