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Sunday, 16 December 2012

'THIS GOSPEL IS FOR YOU'



Rev. Brian Wilkie
By Rev. Brian Wilkie                                                                                    

Pastor of St. Andrew's Christian Community
Rockland, Ontario



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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, December 16th, 2012:
http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/10291/good_news_031_dec16.mp3.mp3
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Broadcast Notes:
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‘This Gospel Is For You

Segment 1: This program is sponsored by the Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON, K0G 1W0. This is Brian Wilkie speaking.
Today our theme is “This Gospel is for you
Here are a few words from the Word of God. Isaiah 30: 15 (NIV) reads,

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

And Later the prophet Isaiah speaks these words of hope from:

Isaiah 49:1-7 - ‘Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.  He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.  He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”4 But I said, “I have laboured to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.” And now the LORD says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honoured in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength — he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” This is what the LORD says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

This is a Gospel lesson, a prophecy, a message that is so in tune with the season of Christmas, which is rapidly approaching. It is a prophecy about Christ, it is a prophecy concerning the one that God has sent to not only restore Israel to himself, but also to bring back all the scattered people of the earth to himself. It is a message that the Gospel is for you! IT is a message that God has laboured to reach all his people, every person in the world with the message of salvation, so that you can receive Christ, so that you can have forgiveness, so that you can be reconciled to God and have eternal life in Him.

The Gospel is for you. It is a gift of forgiveness, and it is for you. It is a call to a new way of living, and it is for you. It is a demonstration of God’s love, and it is for you. It not business as usual, the world going on as it always has, a small adjustment to our daily grind- it is world shattering, total renewal, a whole new creation,  and it is for you.

This is the theme of our message today: that this Gospel is for you, and for me and for all the earth.

But for a moment, let’s listen to a familiar expression of the joy of Christ’s birth -- in the hymn O Come All ye Faithful sung by the Mississauga massed Choir.

Segment 2: (introduction of Message)

The message O Come all ye Faithful is a message calling all people to faith. God calls us to come and in coming to him we are faithful. He has issued an invitation, and to all who respond He offers repentance and new life. The Gospel is for you. It is for you because God loves you.  Because he made you, and knew you before you were born. He has watched you lovingly, attentively all your days. He has held you, carried you and taught you, though you rarely knew it was Him who guarded your life. He knew all your faults, and still loves you. He suffered on the cross, and still loves you, He was betrayed and abandoned by you, and still loves you.

The Gospel is for you because you need salvation. You are lost without God; you are terminally ill with sin; you are infected with a selfishness that will destroy you, and God wants to save you. You need salvation whether you are on top of the world, or at the bottom of the heap. Such circumstances don’t change the main feature of your life- you are in a mortal body, in a mortal world, and like that world you are passing away. Death is ahead, and only salvation will carry you over that flood. Once saved you wear that salvation like a suit of armour, for you need it every day, you need God’s life in you to survive the daily decay of this present life.

The Gospel is for you because the Father has honoured Jesus with the glory of saving you. The Father did not surrender his Son for nothing. Jesus did not endure the cross to no effect. God is committed to saving you. He is not satisfied that your life should continue dark, and purposeless, filled with grotesque pride, fiery temper, stubborn bitterness, festering sadness, and sin.

It is a gospel of repentance and faith.

I want to read to you a portion of Scripture that speaks of the need for repentance, even for those who have already accepted Christ. When John received a revelation on the Island of Patmos, the first part of the revelation was very clear, and it was a series of massages to the churches of Asia Minor. Here is God’s word to the church of Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1-5 (NIV)  “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:  These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

The message of Repentance is for us. It is a message of repentance that begins with the moment of surrender of our lives to the Lord Jesus and continues throughout our lives. Repentance seems like a bad word, but actually though it is often painful, it is actually a great gift from God. Repentance is not only about the need to turn from sin, but it is also God saying that it is possible to be transformed, to enter into a new life: he gives us the capacity to do that.

We’re in the season of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, of thinking about that little baby in the manger, when the angels and the shepherds rejoiced; when the wise men bowed down in worship. Worship is joy, and even turning away from sin, old habits and selfishness is actually the route to joy. Many people stay away from Christ, thinking that he will not bring them joy, but rather sadness. Yet the message of the Gospel is to come and see what Jesus brings.

Let’s pause here to listen to “Mary did you know” performed by Kathy Mattea.

Segment 3: (Conclusion of Message)

The Gospel which is for us, the Gospel which comes in Jesus Christ -- the deliverance that He brings -- is a Gospel of repentance and faith.

It is a Gospel of holiness- not merely demonstrating the holy love of God in the face of human sin, but creating for himself a holy people, a royal priesthood, a fellowship of sanctity for the glory of the Son. This means that the Gospel is a gospel of change for us. It is not just information it is a gospel of transformation.

Let me just take a moment for those who may feel alienated from the church, who feel that the church is perhaps a cold and difficult place to be part of. Do you realize that every Christian is someone who has recognized that they are sinners? That doesn’t stop them instantly from being sinners. We are going through a process of transformation. We are all going through a process of transformation. It can be difficult to see people in the process of recovery. That does not mean that the church is filled with hypocrites, but rather with people on a journey to toward holiness. Often God can use these very circumstances, of meeting people warts and all, to teach us to love one another more. Entering into a body of believers, not just loving God by yourself, but loving God AND your neighbour is the message of holiness that God brings us. And when we go into a gathering of other people who are trying to learn how to love one another, we do, sometimes get bruised; we do sometimes say the wrong thing and hurt someone else. But God, by His Holy Spirit, wants us to learn holiness in that mix of personalities and temperaments. And so as this Gospel of holiness works into our lives, we join in loving one another as God has loved us.

This Gospel of holiness is a gospel that calls us to turn. And this repentance is due to sin and due to the birth of love within us. Due to sin: because sin is wrong and hurtful. Due to love: because we want to honour God, and bless our neighbour. Jesus died to put an end to sin, and so we who love Jesus seek to cease from sin and follow Christ. We also put sin to death in our lives. Note we do not put sin on a short leash, we put it to death. Repentance is because of love- for love constantly turns from selfish goals, and offers the sacrifice of time, possessions, comfort, etc. as a gift to the beloved. We offer to God the energy and time that we used to use for sin, and he directs us into the life of faith, service and love.

It is a gospel of faith because repentance is a change of mind – it’s a change from trusting self, to trusting Jesus, from believing the principles of the present culture to believing the revelation of God. It is a gospel of faith because it takes courage and trust to invest in heavenly treasure, to risk this tangible life and body for a heavenly future and an immortal life. It takes faith to let go of those things that you trusted in past that you thought secured you.  Perhaps it was putting others down that made you feel that you were better, and you need to turn from trusting in scorn and mockery.

Maybe it was trusting in financial security and using all kinds of schemes to get the better of others. It takes trust to take our earthly treasures and invest them in the Kingdom of God in the service of others, knowing that our only hope is in the heavenly treasure that  God is storing up for us.

It is a gospel for you, and it is a gospel for NOW! It is a response in you to Jesus’ call. Some describe the moment of conversion as though God himself were pushing them to the altar, as the Spirit wells up in them, overcoming their resistance, and moving them to say “Yes, Lord” at the invitation to surrender all to Jesus.

You become a Christian when you begin to repent, and repentance marks every step of the Christian walk. Not always a repentance of tears, more often a joyful discovery of the right path, the opportunity for service. But often we do need to return to our first works (Rev 2:1-5 )- to remember again that our life is no longer our own.

How many times has God caught us drifting- our love grown cold, our faith weak, our flame all but extinguished? How many times has our “Yes” become “Later,” “Maybe,” or “No?” The same Jesus calls again “Repent and believe.” He calls us deeper in to the glory and mystery of his grace; he calls us onward and upward in the wondrous adventure of holy service.

So I want to give you the opportunity to show what God is doing in you right now, to give voice to what the Spirit is saying in your heart. Pray with me, as we say “yes” to Jesus, that says “no” to sin, “yes’ to salvation the graceful gift of life he is pouring over you. Pray, receive the Lord, rejoice anew in His salvation; and fix in your heart, again, to receive the gift that we celebrate in the Christmas season; the gift of a Lord and a Saviour who comes to dwell within us, and who promises to be with us always.

Let’s take a moment now, to pray:

Loving God, We give you thanks for this season of Christmas, when all around us are reminders of your love: the carols that are being sung, the warm greetings that are being exchanged, even the secular symbols of Christmas: the commercial sales and the lights and the decorations; they all remind us that the world was turned upside down by your great love; that this day marks, not just a birth in a stable in Bethleham, but the birth of a new hope.
Thank you Jesus.
Accept us Lord, as we receive the love that you have given us. Accept us, and renew us, and restore us, in your holiness, in your grace, and in your love.
We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen.

Thank you, listeners, for your encouragement, prayer and financial support. You keep us on the air week by week.  If you can, please make out a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries, and send it to Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON K0G 1W0. We will send you a receipt at income tax time. Please also tell others about this program, and don’t forget to visit our website. You will find several of our programs available on podcasts.                             

Don’t forget to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity, and resolve.

Now to conclude our program here is a song by Canadian singer, Carolyn Arends “Is Bethlehem too far away” from the album “The irrational Season.”
May you know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart. And may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.

Rev. Brian Wilkie
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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