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Welcome to Good News In the Morning a program of
words and music bringing a Christian message of hope and encouragement to those
who are looking for intelligent meaningful and spirited approach to faith and
This program is sponsored by Good News Christian
Ministries PO Box 184 Rideau Ferry, Ontario K0G 1W0. I'm your host today, Brian
Wilkie of St. Andrew's Christian church in Rockland. As always I want to start
by thanking you our listeners. We are so grateful for your encouragement and
support. Please remember that you can always visit our website for materials to
encourage and support you in your Christian walk.
If you miss an episode of the show you can go to
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be found on our website.
have you Believed?
Today I want to speak to you about the topic of why
you have believed. One of the scriptures I associate this with is the story of
the conversion of the jailer in a city in the Mediterranean area.Paul and Silas are his prisoners and this is
Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the other
prisoners were listening to them.Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the
prison were shaking. At once, all the prison doors flew open and everybody’s
chains came loose and the jailer woke up.And when he saw the prison doors open he drew his sword and was about to
kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself, we
are all here.’”
called for lights and rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He
then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
They replied, ‘Believe
in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.’Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him
and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took
them and washed their wounds and then immediately he and all his family were
baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before
them.He was filled with joy because he
had come to believe in God, he and his whole family.”
That reading was from Acts 16:25-34, a reading from God’s Holy Word.
We see here one man coming to Christ in one
particular circumstance, and we’re going to take a look at some of the
different ways people have come to Christ.Perhaps you’ll be recalling your story as we look into this.
Now before we look further into it, why don’t we
take a look at what Michael Card has to say about faith in his song, That’s What Faith Must Be.This is from Michael Cards album Present
Reality.Have a listen with me.
I hope you enjoyed that music from Michael Card and
the message that he had about how faith responds in the world and our lives.
How did you come to faith? What’s the story about
the time when you came to put your trust in Jesus Christ?When did you discover that your sins were
forgiven and that God was offering you his love and the promise of eternal
life?It happens in different ways for
different people, and there are as many different testimonies as there are
Christians.But I think in many
respects, we can put the causes of faith into three categories.The reasons that people call out to God, and
put their trust in Jesus, roughly fall into three categories.Now I’m not a preacher who normally uses
alliteration but here goes:
I think we can categorize people as responding to
God because of desperation. We can see people responding to God because of a
desire, and we can see people responding to God because of duty.
When we come to Jesus Christ we might be like this
jailer who is scared for his life. You see, we have this man whose job is to
watch a prison, and this is a strange night for him. Normally it’s an
uneventful kind of life.The locks are
solid, the bars are firm, the walls are in good shape, and he sleeps peacefully
at night because there’s never been a prisoner escape. But here he’s gone to
bed and after spending an evening listening to some prisoners, who, rather than
moaning about their condition, were singing hymns, praying and praising some
God that he never heard of, giving thanks to Jesus Christ for their
circumstances.And other prisoners were
listening to what they were doing. And the man went to sleep, this jailer, and
he was awakened by the shaking and crashing of an earthquake.Now, the prison doors are open when he wakes
up, but he sees that they are open and he assumes that the prisoners would have
left.So he takes out a sword and he’s
about to kill himself, but Paul calls out, “Don’t
harm yourself, we’re all here.”Now wouldn’t that be a relief thinking that you just failed at the most
important job in your life and suddenly discovering that these prisoners had
decided to stick around, that they were concerned about your well being.
Certainly would be a relief, but wouldn’t there also be a sudden crushing
realization that your life consists of this job? This jailer, if he’d failed at
his job, he would lose his life. So he was ready to kill himself to avoid the
shame and dishonour that he would receive.
I don’t know if you have ever been at that point
when you wonder what your life means.Is
it really worth living? I mean, if that’s what life is about – just doing your
job well and dying if you don’t do it well – it’s got to be a horrible feeling
in the pit of your stomach that remains.This jailer, when he looks at how tenuous his grip on life is, when he
sees how closehe came to death at his
own hand and how these prisoners were thinking abouthis well being, he rushes into them and asks
them thegreat question, “What must I do to be saved?”
You see, he was in despair for a moment. He
realized that his life amounted to just a breath, a whisper, and he was
prepared to turn that around.
Desperation is what a lot of people have as their
testimony towards Jesus Christ.People
who have reached the bottom of their life:People like Michael W. Smith, the Christian singer and song writer, who
found himself at the end of a long trail of drug abuse and drunkenness, and
broken relationships, and a life going nowhere, and he found himself on the
kitchen floor crying out to God for help. He was desperate.He called and God saved him.That’s such a common testimony that it almost
seems like a cliché. It almost seems like that’s what happens when you get to
the bottom.Maybe these testimonies are
nothing.Maybe they’re just what people
do when they reach the bottom. But here’s the amazing thing: That years and
years and years later, they’re still sharing a testimony of a life that was
headed downward.Downward into death,
and now this moment of desperation, this cry out to God has changed it, and
they been on an upwards trajectory ever since.They’ve had their struggles, they’ve had their difficulties, but the
change that occurred when they cried out to God was absolutely an about face.
Their desperation, their desperate cry worked out.
One of my favorite plays on words is an accidental
one that happened in Newfoundland.It
concerns a little community on the south shore of Newfoundland at the end of a
long and lonely highway. It’s a fairly isolated community, and it’s name, when
it was settled by French settlers was, Baie d’Espoire, Bay of Hope.Now I don’t know why they named it that.Maybe it was a bright sunny day and
everything looked great.Or maybe they
thought they’d name it something nice because they were trying to find hope in
the midst of a mid-winters storm on the Atlantic.But at any rate, Baie d’Espoire it was. Now
when I was in Newfoundland serving the church there, I lived in an English
community and the pronunciation changed over the years. You know how they
pronounced the French expression Baie d’Espoire?Sure enough, they called it Bay Despair.Bay Despair! From hope to despair! But we’re
talking about going from despair to hope.And many people have made that turn.When we cry out in desperation, we’re also crying out in hope. It may be
our last hope. It may feel like there’s no other place to turn.But hope calls us to cry out, and God
responds with his graceful, faithfulness.
If that’s your story, you have a great story to
tell to people who are going through the same experience. That there is a God
who can turn lives around and take it from meaninglessness and death and bring
it to new life.
We’re going to talk about another couple of ways
that God brings people to himself and we’re going to do that after we listen to
this next song.
This is a song that talks about how difficult it
can be for people to believe.How people
can find it hard to be convinced.It’s a
song by a friend of mine, Stephen Cowley from his album, Dross to Gold, and the
song is called, We Would Not Believe.
Well Stephen Cowley was one of the people who had a
great deal to do with my early formation as a Christian.He was the leader of a youth camp and it was
at that youth camp that I came to Christ. But my religious experience started a
little bit earlier.When I was about sixteen
years of age I was with a church youth group. I wasn’t a Christian. I wasn’t
even a believer in God, but a young lady decided to have us all take a time to
give thanks. And she was a Christian and she said that if you believe in God
you can give thanks to God, “But if you don’t believe in God, just give thanks
to each other for something nice that somebody’s done to you this weekend, as
we’ve been together as a youth group.” It was in that setting that I had an
experience of God, when I felt the love of God in my life.Two things happened at once.In my heart I said, “Lord if this is who you
are, I want to be with you.” Another part of me realized with some sense of
shame, what I had called love, the love that was in me, didn’t hold a candle to
the love of God, and I knew that I needed to change.
That was coming to Christ out of a desire for him.
Some people hear about Christ and they are attracted to him.It’s not desperation.Christ fills an emptiness they didn’t even
know they had.Christ warms their heart,
draws them with ‘cords of loving kindness,’
as the scripture says, and they love God, they want to draw near to him, they
say, “Jesus come and be with me forever.”
Is that your story of coming to Christ? That you
desired him? There’s thanksgiving that sometimes draws people to Christ.They feel the love of God, and they’re
thankful for the things that God has provided.Desire is such an important reason why so many people come to
Christ.If you look in the Old Testament,
you hear so many stories about people loving God.David, King David, tells about his love in so
many of the Psalms.How much God appeals
to him.How much he enjoys God.When he prays at the end of his life for the
temple that his son Solomon would build, he talks about all the good things
that God has done for him.How thankful
he is.How God has been so wonderful and
he looks around him and sees a community that has donated to the cause of building
a temple and he sees that God has blessed them too.And that they too desire God.They are so thankful and filled with joy at
God’s presence in their midst.There’s
so much in the scripture of people turning to God in joy.
If that’s your story.If you know Jesus as one who is just
attractive.Someone who’s wisdom is so great.Who’s love is so pure.Who’s kindness is so complete.Then you have something to share with people
who God has already touched with a love for beauty, with a love for goodness,
and you have a story to tell to people who can come to God through that
A less attractive channel these days is the idea of
duty. People speak about the importance of our relationship with God, about
love and desires.But duty is an
important part, an important way that Jesus comes to people.Duty is also the third leg of this stool that
keeps faith stable, because desire can come and go.We can feel great warmth at one point and
then go back to selfishness and thinking only of ourselves.We can be desperate at one moment and then
when everything is going well we leave God behind.That’s the story of Judges in a
nutshell.In the book of Judges, the
people of Israel are desperate.They cry
out to God.God helps them and once
things are going well again they forget about God, and eventually they fall
back into the old problems again.
Desperation can come and go.Desire can come and go. And duty can help to
balance out our lives when we recognize God is God.That’s how C.S. Lewis came to Christ. He wasn’t
particularly looking to fill a hole in his heart.He wasn’t a very emotional person.He wasn’t desperate.His life was going fine. But he says that, he
was pondering the claims of Christ and the evidence towards his death and resurrection.
As he pondered these things and thought about all that he’d encountered in
studying the issues philosophically about God, he realized that Jesus Christ
was in fact, Lord. And he said he became the most unwilling convert in the land.He didn’t come to God because he thought it
was an amazing thing to do. He came to God because he knew he had to, to have
integrity and to have peace; to know that he’d done what the evidence pointed
You might have read the book, The Case for Christ <by Lee Stroebel>, which is a story of
another man, a journalist who searched out the evidence.And when we come to Christ through duty, we
have a story to tell people who also are searching for truth.God has put a love of truth into some people’s
heart.They may have been turned off
from the faith, because people have said, “just believe, just believe, just
believe!”But if you’ve examined the
claims of Christ, either as part of what brought you to Christ, or as part of
your devotion to Christ after you became a Christian.Then you have something to share with these
people that God has touched with the love of truth.
Whatever your story is,however you came to Christ,God has given you a testimony to share with
others, and I do hope that you will think about what God has done for you, and how
that might be a help to someonein the
world around you.
We’ll bring this message to a close now, and I like
to pray with you for a moment and then I’m going to close it with thanking you
“Dear God, thank you so much that
you have brought us to yourself, and you’re drawing us to yourself each day,
more and more. Lord we pray that you will help us to remember our testimony;remember what you have done for us, your
goodness; remember how you helped us in hard times, and how you’ve warmed our
hearts through your love. And teach us these things so we can help others as
well.We pray this in Jesus’ name.Amen
Once again I want to thank you listeners for your
encouragement and support. We do thank you because you keep us on the air week
by week. We want to encourage you to support our ministry financially. Did you
know the good news ministries has only one major cost? The four hosts Brent
Russett, George Sinclair, Juliet Schimpf and myself are volunteers. So are the
people who manage our website, organize our events and operate our board. Your
gift can help us to continue to meet that one vital expense, the cost of
broadcasting, which enables us to reach you and over 7000 listeners in the
Ottawa River Valley. If you can please make a cheque payable to Good News Christian
Ministries and send it to P.O. Box 184 Rideau Ferry, Ontario K0G 1W0 we will be
happy to send you a receipt at income tax time. I also want to encourage you to
tell others about this program
Be sure to worship in a church where the gospel is
soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity and resolve.
And now to conclude our program, I would like to
have you listen to this song.A
traditional hymn sung by the Grace Presbyterian Chapel Choir of Houston, Texas,
from their album Hymns of Praise, and the hymn is, Come thou Font of Every Blessing.
I do pray that the Lord will hold your heart and that you would know
Jesus 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.....
Good News In The Morning is produced in the Studios
of News Talk Radio 580 CFRA.
- Rev. Brian Wilkie