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Sunday, 8 July 2012


PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, July 8th, 2012:

Rev. Brent Russett
God wants you to THRIVE’ 

By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:                

            I want to talk about something that I believe is written deep within the heart of God. It is this: God wants us to thrive. God really wants us as human beings to thrive.  In fact Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.” -(John 10:10b). This morning I want us to see more clearly the plan that God has for us.

            I don’t know about you but I have some days where it seems like the sun is shining, there is a bounce in my step, and it feels like I am on top of the world. But there are other days, days when I feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders. I don’t feel like I am thriving – in fact I feel lucky to be just surviving.

            That is why I am so glad we have God’s word. God’s word reveals God’s heart for our lives. The best view of God’s heart comes when you look at his son Jesus. Jesus said of himself, “If you have seen me, you have seen the father”. When you see Jesus’ attitude toward things, you can see God’s attitude towards things.

            With that in mind I want to take a Jesus story found in Mark chapter 3. I am reading it from the NLT

3: 1Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.
He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

            Remember if you have seen Jesus you have seen the father.

            Jesus walks into the synagogue and he noticed the man with the deformed hand. The easiest thing would have been to pretend to not notice the man. Or at least not to make this man’s business his business.

            He knows what was going on in the heart of his enemies. They wanted to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. They want to accuse him of being a law breaker.

            But Jesus doesn’t take the easy way. He seldom will let sleeping dogs lie. In fact he shines a light on them. He says to the man, come and stand in front of everyone.

            Now the clash of values is profound, Jesus cares about the man with the withered hand, his enemies care about keeping the law – or at least their interpretation of the law.

            Watch how Jesus frames the argument.  “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? In Jesus mind, healing this man would be good, doing nothing for this man on this day would be doing evil.  He goes on to frame the argument a little further. Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?  In Jesus’ mind healing this man’s hand was saving his life, leaving it as it was, was destroying it.

            Now step back for a moment. It was a deformed hand. Of all the miracles Jesus did, maybe this was, in the natural, the least consequential. Leprosy, blindness, paralysis these are the big one. This guy has one hand that doesn’t work. Sure that is problematic, but it seems like Jesus is saying, if I don’t heal this man today, that would be doing evil. If I don’t heal this man today I would be destroying life rather than saving it.

It is in the heart of God to save life. It is in the heart of God to give fullness of life. Jesus is showing us God’s heart.

            God’s heart is that we would know the fullness of goodness. God’s heart is that we would know the fullness of life – body soul and spirit.

            So Jesus asks his questions.  “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But the people would not answer him.

            Now catch this next verse. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Remember Jesus is exposing the heart of God.

            Why was Jesus angry? Jesus was angry because they were using a law that was intended for good to thwart good and actually promote evil. They were using a law to destroy life rather than to save it. They were using a law to promote death and thwart life. All of that made him angry.

            The bottom line was they were trying to get in the way of Jesus doing good – and in Jesus mind that was really problematic. Jesus wanted this man to thrive – and they were getting in the way.

            If you were this man’s mother, or best friend, and you saw the dynamics going on here you would be angry too. Things that get in the way of people thriving make Jesus angry. Why? Well if you really love people, then of course you are going to be angry when things get in the way of them thriving.

            Remember, Jesus is exposing the heart of God.

            What are the things that make you fail to thrive? Now I recognize that when I ask that question that it becomes very easy to blame others. If my boss was better, if my finances were better, if my marriage was better – those may all be valid things. I also recognize that  many times when I am tempted to blame others, I am failing to thrive, not so much because of what was done to me, as it was my response of what was done to me.  So I want to encourage you not to go there too quickly.

            Some times it is my handling of money, my attitude towards what is going wrong, my stuff that gets in the way of relationship.

            I also realize that many of things that cause us to fail to thrive are past messages and past hurts. The messages you tell yourself about yourself. “I’m a failure. I can never do anything right, I am so stupid and the messages go on. –Some of you have been caught by legalism and you are stymied by messages that you heard growing up.

            Some of you have been hurt by the church. Some of you have been hurt by clergy. What do you think Jesus would think of those things. Those things that get in the way of you thriving.

            Back to verse 5
He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts.

            Now please hear this, Jesus is not angry at you, but he is angry at the things that get in the way of you thriving.

                        He looked at his enemies, and was deeply saddened.  He was angry at what they were doing, he was saddened for them. He was saddened at the hardness of their hearts. He was saddened that they couldn’t see what God’s plans and purposes were, and so they were stuck in this trap of promoting death rather than life.

            You would think, these people are his enemies, why should he care. But if your son or daughter were to astray, and were doing stuff that brought them death, you would be deeply saddened. If your enemies were doing something that were poisoning them, you might be secretly glad. Jesus was not glad. Jesus, exposing the heart of God, loves those who stand opposed to him. They are his enemies, he is not their enemy.

            Think about this, all life comes from God and is sustained by God. So God is actively sustain the lives of those who are doing their best to thwart his purposes. That is grace.

            In this vignette of Jesus‘ life, Jesus really loves and cares for the man with the deformed hand but he also really loves his enemies. His heart is that they would both thrive.

            Jesus said in John 10:10 The thief comes only to kill steal and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.

            Jesus wants you to have full abundant life. God cares about the diet I am on right now. God cares about what you watch and listen too. God cares about how you deal with your money. God cares about how you use your free time. God cares about you having great times with friends. God cares about your career and how you do in it—and how fulfilled you are in it. God wants you at a level that you can really thrive – He wants you in the sweet spot.

            I believe that many of us fail to see many of those parts of our lives as only tangential to the purposes of God. Going to church is spiritual – going to a good party where there is celebration and joy – that is not. – that is not scriptural thinking.

            And you know what? I think God is deeply grieved over the hardness of our hearts and mediocrity of our lives. He wants so much more for us.

            But here is what you need to know about becoming really alive, about thriving. The opposite to thriving is sin. The bible says that sin brings death. The reason why God hates sin so much is that sin brings death – and death is against everything that God is.

            The reason why Jesus came and died on the cross is to take your sin and my sin, so that we could really live.

            I know that sometimes we think that if were just to indulge in sin, that that would be real living.      Sin will never get you to where you want to go. Don’t get me wrong, sin is tempting – and some sins are more tempting for you than they are for me – and some sins are more tempting to me than they are for you. The temptation is always, if I indulge I will thrive more.

            If I could get hook up or misuse power or get unearned money; If I could indulge in pornography, or drunkenness, or overeating; If I could manipulate that person, or that situation, or blow my stack – it will feel better. I will thrive, at least in the short term. Some sin does allow you to thrive in the short term. But sin has a shelf life--- some a shelf life of moments, others has a shelf life of a few years. But sin always leads to a failure to thrive.

            Many of you now are failing to thrive now. You know your heart is burdened down. But remember God’s heart. God’s heart is that you would really thrive.

            Some of you are thinking that if sin brings death, that I must really be dying. I have done a lot of bad things. The reality is that sin disconnects your with God – and whenever you are disconnected from God your soul will shrivel and it will die.

            The bad news is this, you can’t do anything about your sin. Some people try to make their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. Some people try to earn they way into God’s good graces. It doesn’t work like that.

            The only way to deal with you sin is through Jesus. Remember his heart. He wants you to thrive. Sin will block you from thriving. Jesus came to take away your sin, and give you real life. All you have to do is ask. Tell Jesus that you want his plan for your life. Tell him you want to really thrive. Ask him to take your sin away. Tell him that you will follow him, because he knows the way of life. When you do that you are on the path way to thriving.

            I know that there are many of you who are on the pathway already. Some of you see God’s heart, and you see your life and you see the road blocks to thriving. I know some of you have some really difficult situations right now.

            God does not promise to change your circumstances, but God does want to give you life where you are. He is able to give peace in the middle of turmoil. He is able to give a sense of well being even in the middle of grief. He is able to give you joy, peace, love. God wants you to thrive.
            I want to invite you just to pray this simple prayer along with me:

Dear Jesus, I see there are areas in my life where I am failing to thrive.
I need you to come into my life, forgive me of my sin and to put me on this pathway to life, full and abundant. That is what you promised and that is what I want.
God, help me to follow you into the life that is really life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

- Rev. Brent Russett

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:


  1. Originally Posted on Twitter:

    Dane Ortlund - (‏@daneortlund on Twitter)
    The hard times, the times of failing, discouragement, cold-heartedness, are not gospel obstacles. They are what the gospel is FOR.

    James Robison ‏- (@revjamesrobison on Twitter)
    "If we will return to God, He will forgive us and restore the years of productivity."

    2 Peter 1:3-8

    New Living Translation (NLT)
    Growing in Faith

    3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

    5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

    8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Originally on Twitter:
    30 Jun Cici Holmquist Cici Holmquist ‏- (@lil_holmieC on Twitter)
    God has a plan for you. thrive to your full potential and never think anything less of what He has planned. #trust #noaccident

  2. Originally on Twitter:
    PassionNetwork ‏- (@PassionNetwork on Twitter)
    "God's desire to bless us will always exceed our ability to receive."

  3. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Burk Parsons ‏- (@BurkParsons on Twitter)
    "However difficult your circumstances are today, remember that greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world."

  4. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Speed Prayers - (‏@speedprayers on Twitter)
    "God thank You that we are all free to thrive through Your Holy Spirit. Amen"

  5. Jeremiah 29:11 -(NKJV)

    "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."